Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 1, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Seizure Helped Speed Libyan Cooperation on Weapons - Robin Wright (Washington Post)
    U.S. and British intelligence services in late September discovered that a freighter bound for Libya was hauling thousands of parts for centrifuges, a key component for producing nuclear weapons, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday.
    Officials said the interception of the cargo, worth tens of millions of dollars, was a factor in squeezing Libya to give up its deadliest weapons programs.
    The shipment was headed from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates - an interim transshipment point - aboard a German ship.
    With help from the German government and the German shipping company, the U.S. was able to get the freighter, BBC China, diverted to a southern Italian port shortly after it passed through the Suez Canal.

    See also What’s Behind Libya’s Decision to Renounce WMD? - Yehudit Ronen (Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies/Tel Aviv University)
    Libya's recent announcement constitutes an about-face that is explained, in the first instance, by fear of an American military attack.

Israeli Population Hits 6.7 Million - Moti Bassok (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's population at the start of 2004 stands at some 6,750,000 people.
    According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 81% of the population - 5,450,000 people - are Jews and 19% are Arabs.
    Some 23,000 new immigrants came to Israel in 2003 as opposed to 34,000 in 2002.

Aliyah from North America Up 20% in 2003 - Shlomo Shamir (Ha'aretz)
    Despite the intifada and economic difficulties in Israel, the rate of immigration from North America has risen by about 20% in 2003, according to Jewish Agency statistics released Tuesday.
    About 2,400 people immigrated from the U.S. and Canada in 2003, compared to about 2,040 in 2002.

Useful Reference:

Palestinian Sermons from 2000-2003 - Steven Stalinsky (MEMRI)
    Each preacher is a paid employee of the Palestinian Authority. The sermons are broadcast live every Friday at noon from mosques under control of the PA and are shown on PA television.
    The common themes of the sermons include calls for the destruction of the U.S., the perceived American Crusader war against Islam, the rewards of the martyrs, educating children to martyrdom, and antisemitism, including calls for the killing of Jews.

Key Links

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Mulled Seizing Gulf Oil Fields in '73
    The U.S. gave serious consideration to sending airborne troops to seize oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Abu Dhabi during the 1973 Arab oil embargo, according to a top-secret British intelligence memorandum released Wednesday. The British document - one of hundreds released by Britain's National Archives in an annual disclosure of government papers that are 30 years old - assesses as unworkable such options as replacement of Arab rulers with "more amenable" leaders or assembling a show of force. Instead, it describes an airborne military operation as the most feasible alternative, although "a move of last resort."  (Washington Post)
  • Gaza Strip Walls Become Militants' Murals
    A bleeding hand clutching a knife rises out of the Quran on the walls of Gaza. Across town Israeli tanks explode in a colorful mural. Palestinian militant groups have turned the walls of Gaza into the medium for their message - rallying their supporters, extolling their fighters, and memorializing their dead. In colorful script, the groups thank their militants for a job well done. They praise their members for killing collaborators. They call on Gazans to visit the families of suicide bombers and militants killed in fighting. Some images appear over and over: dripping blood, masked fighters, and plenty of knives and rifles. (AP/Newsday)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • No New Towns Planned for Golan - Nathan Guttman, Uri Ash, and Aluf Benn
    A ministerial committee on the development of rural areas Tuesday approved a plan to develop sources of employment on the Golan Heights by upgrading the tourism infrastructures in nine established towns. According to a senior source in the Prime Minister's Office, Sharon "regrets that the rural development plan is being exploited in a distorted and unnecessary way for political purposes." "Identical plans have been adopted in the past and have been approved for the Negev and Galilee," he said. The plan does not include the establishment of nine new towns, as reported by Yediot Ahronot on Wednesday. About 17,000 Israelis now live in the Golan. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Paralyzed PA - Arnon Regular
    A video documenting the military parade staged by Hamas in Gaza two weeks ago shows hundreds of members of the military wing in matching uniforms, machine-guns mounted on Jeeps, and tens of thousands of supporters. Hamas is generally very disciplined and well-organized, much more so than Fatah, the PA, or other Palestinian security agencies, and it has come out a step ahead on every parameter involving control of the Palestinian street.
        Theoretically, the government of Ahmed Qurei was established a month and a half ago, but in practice, Qurei makes almost no decisions. The government, like other Fatah and PLO organizations, is completely paralyzed and, above all, cut off from the street. Various Fatah factions in each city are occupied with infighting, some of it lethal. Fatah people queried in recent days about the reason for the total paralysis of both Fatah and the PA say that the main reason is the confusion and helplessness that have overcome the Palestinian leadership - all coming after Sharon's speech in Herzliya. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rafah Protesters Bully PA Officials - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A senior official in Ramallah said that the situation at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt has become "intolerable and dangerous" for PA officials. "Almost every day we receive complaints from officials that they were harassed or assaulted by demonstrators at the border crossing," the official said. Some officials complained that the demonstrators pelted them with shoes and rotten eggs and accused them of stealing financial aid earmarked for the Palestinians.
        When some of the Palestinians who participated in the launching ceremony of the Geneva Accord arrived at Rafah on their way home, they were confronted by hundreds of angry protesters, including scores of Fatah gunmen, who smashed the windscreens of several cars and stole the suitcases of some of the delegates. Hassan Asfour, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, fled back to the Israeli side of the border after he was attacked by the mob.
        In a separate incident, some 30 Fatah gunmen raided the offices of the Khan Yunis local government on Monday to demand that they be recruited to the PA security forces. The gunmen evacuated the building only after the PA agreed to absorb them in various security organizations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Thinking About Iran - Thomas R. Pickering and John Newhouse
    Iran is creating an option to develop and deploy nuclear weapons. But whether it actually does so will depend on how the U.S. and other governments deal with the issue. If the regime sees the country threatened by the instability (or intentions) of its neighbors and by the Bush administration's open advocacy of regime change in Tehran, it is more likely to go forward. Hence, the administration should agree to work with other governments on steps aimed at strengthening Iran's security and internal stability. But first they should continue to discourage Iran's apparent intention to develop an independent nuclear fuel cycle. (Washington Post)
        See also Iranian Futures - Nir Boms
    President Bush must send a clear message to Tehran, saying that he will not allow the clerical regime to silence Iranians who are brave enough to speak out or act against brutality at home and terrorism abroad. (National Review)
        See also Israel Plans Diplomatic Counter-Offensive to Iranian "Nuclear Threat"
    Prime Minister Sharon and his senior cabinet ministers decided Wednesday to launch a diplomatic counter-offensive against the "threat" posed by Iran, a source close to the premier said. (AFP/Space Daily)
  • Hawks Tell Bush How to Win War on Terror - David Rennie
    An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, by Pentagon adviser Richard Perle and former Bush speechwriter David Frum, demands regime change in Syria and Iran, and calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also What We Will Do in 2004 - Colin L. Powell
    With our quartet partners, we will help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace, so that a free Palestine will exist alongside a secure and democratic Jewish state in Israel. (New York Times)
  • From Spain In Favor of Israel - Marc Tobiass
    A Catalan from Barcelona and former Spanish parliamentarian, Pilar Rahola is known for her feminism, as well as for her frank and direct manner. She has decided to step forward to denounce the flagrant imbalance in the handling of information from the Middle East. Her most recent piece, "In Favor of Israel," is to be published in a book in which fifteen Spanish intellectuals, including Jon Juaristi, president of the Cervantes Institute, and Gabriel Alviac, a well-known journalist with El Mundo, seek to address the anti-Jewish school of thought in Spain. "The goal of our book is to launch a debate about Judeophobia in Spain," said Rahola. "It is unbelievable how Europe continues to hate its Jewish soul, even after it has expelled it." (FrontPageMagazine)
        See also Naive Spanish Judeophobia- Gustavo D. Perednik (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Observations:

    Why the Logic of Nuclear Disarmament Does Not Apply to Israel - Matti Golan
    (Jerusalem Post)

    • If the Arab countries are being required to give up weapons of mass destruction, why isn't Israel required to do the same thing?
    • We have to tell the world that the situation is simply not the same because we are not out to destroy any country. We have no reason to do so and we are not made that way. We don't have anything equivalent to the Arabic battle cry of itbah al yahud - "slaughter the Jews."
    • From the outset, Israel became involved in the entire matter of nuclear weapons for only one purpose: defense. If we did not have these weapons at our disposal, we might not exist anymore. The thing that deters the Arab countries more than anything else is the knowledge of a possible nuclear response.
    • If Israel did not have these arms, no Arab or Muslim country - Egypt and Jordan included - would have been willing to talk peace. Their acceptance of the existence of the State of Israel, and acceptance of the fact that we cannot be erased from the face of the earth, is the direct result of their knowledge that we have nuclear weapons.
    • The state, in essence, owes its very existence to a single individual - Shimon Peres - who brought nuclear weapons to Israel out of a sober understanding of the reality in this region, a reality that has not and will not change.
    • For the Arab countries, nuclear weapons are weapons of destruction. For us, they are weapons of defense, which make our continued existence possible. To allow Muslim countries to continue to possess nuclear weapons is tantamount to agreeing to global suicide. To demand that Israel disarm itself of these weapons is like asking it to consent to commit suicide.

      The writer is the former editor-in-chief of Ha'aretz and Globes.

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