Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 8, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

PA Seeks to Buy Illegal Arms - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Senior PA security officials have been negotiating with members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in an attempt to persuade them to hand over their weapons in return for money.
    The Preventative Security Service has promised its members a bonus of $500 for each rifle or pistol they manage to purchase.
    The Palestinian media is full of advertisements by ordinary people appealing to Arafat to put an end to the presence of gunmen in towns and villages.
    Sources in Ramallah said they do not expect the new weapons-for-cash campaign to succeed.

Report: U.S. Planning to Attack Terrorist Bases on Syrian-Lebanese Border - Omer Carmon (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
    The London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Wednesday that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is planning to widen the American war against al-Qaeda and its associates, and is weighing a military attack on terrorist bases along the Syrian-Lebanese border.
    The report also says an attack on al-Qaeda bases in Somalia is expected next month.
    The U.S. has claimed for some time that Islamic terrorists from Iran and Chechnya trained at bases on the Syrian-Lebanese border prior to fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.

Design By Israeli Envoy’s Son Chosen for WTC Site - Julia Goldman (New York Jewish Week)
    Architect Michael Arad, the son of Israel's former ambassador to the U.S. Moshe Arad, has won the design contest for the World Trade Center memorial site for his submission "Reflecting Absence."
    See also A Worldly, Winning Architect (Newsday)

Useful Reference:

Throwing Stones? See For Yourself (
    Media outlets regularly charge the IDF with over-reaction to Palestinian stone-throwers, described as mere "protestors."
    An Associated Press photographer captured an actual scene of stone-throwing "protest" in Nablus on Jan. 2, showing Palestinians hurling cement building blocks on those below.
    "Protestors" carry placards; they don't hurl cinder blocks. Western courts have convicted those who threw boulders onto roadways of first-degree murder.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iraq's Arsenal of Ambitions
    Iraq's former government engaged in abundant deception about its weapons development ambitions. Interviews among Iraqi weaponeers and investigators from the U.S. and British governments turned up unreported records, facilities, or materials that could have been used in unlawful weapons. But investigators have found no hidden arsenal of old weapons or advanced programs for new ones. The remnants of Iraq's biological, chemical, and missile infrastructures were riven by internal strife, bled by schemes for personal gain, and handicapped by deceit up and down lines of command. (Washington Post)
  • Zeal for Palestinian Cause Motivated Alleged Spy, Prosecutors Say
    Khaled Dumeisi, 61, publisher of an Arabic-language community newspaper in Chicago's south suburbs, is accused of spying on Iraqi dissidents for Saddam Hussein's government, prosecutors said Monday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria Peters told jurors that Dumeisi furnished Iraqi agents with lists of phone calls made by a leading dissident in the U.S. that he obtained through a friend who worked for a long-distance company, and that as a Palestinian, "he believed that Saddam Hussein was the only Middle Eastern leader that really supported the cause of the Palestinians." (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Recovery Seen for Israeli Economy
    Economists are predicting growth of 2-3% this year, driven by rising high-technology exports. A strong recovery would be a setback for Palestinian militants, who have counted the recession as proof that their campaign of suicide bombings can help them wring concessions from the Jewish state. "It's possible to say that this is the end of the recession," said David Klein, Israel's conservative central bank chief, in an interview with Ha'aretz daily. Foreign tourism, another victim of Israeli-Palestinian violence, also is expected grow this year. "These signs of improvement are because after three years of intifada, we got the idea, and the economy has adjusted itself," said Shmuel Bar, a fellow at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center's counterterrorism institute. "Obviously, the improvement of the economy improves the all-around feeling. It improves the national resilience." (Washington Times)
        See also Israel Passes Budget of Cuts and Austerity Measures (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Washington Concerned about Security Fence Discussion at The Hague - Yitzhak Ben Horin
    The American government is very concerned about the discussion of Israel's security fence by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, due to begin on Feb. 23. A Washington source said elements in the Bush administration are concerned that if the legality of the fence can be taken up for discussion by the court, this could provide an opening for discussion in The Hague of issues related to the American occupation in Iraq. Americans believe the international criminal court in The Hague has no jurisdiction over the matter of the fence since it is a political and not a criminal issue. On Thursday, Foreign Ministry legal advisor Alan Baker arrives in Washington for discussions to develop a joint position with the U.S. on the issue. The decision of the court is not binding on Israel because it is to be in the form of an opinion and not a judgment. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • IDF Combat Intelligence Corps Growing - Arieh O'Sullivan
    The IDF Combat Intelligence Corps has tripled in size in the past two years. The units are equipped with state-of-the art cameras, binoculars, and sensors the army believes can allow it to deploy fewer soldiers. For example, according to the IDF, a properly trained eight-man surveillance squad can replace a 30-man platoon keeping watch on an area. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • War of Ideas, Part 1 - Thomas L. Friedman
    Sept. 11 amounts to World War III - the third great totalitarian challenge to open societies in the last 100 years. 9/11 was about religious totalitarians, Islamists, using suicide bombing to try to impose the reign of the perfect faith, political Islam. At the end of the day, the Soviets loved life more than they hated us. With the Islamist militant groups, we face people who hate us more than they love life. When you have large numbers of people ready to commit suicide by making themselves into human bombs, you create a weapon that poses a much more serious threat than the Soviet Red Army. So we must improve our intelligence to deter and capture terrorists before they act, and find ways to get the societies where these Islamists come from to deter them first. (New York Times)
  • Soviet-Style Justice - Editorial
    Does the international community wish to continue the systematic destruction of its institutions on the altar of the Arab-Israeli conflict? First the UN General Assembly let tyranny reign when automatic majorities routinely treated one nation, Israel, as a pariah, "racist" state. Next the politicization spread to the UN Human Rights Commission where 30% of the resolutions condemn Israel alone. Now the venerable International Court of Justice may fall victim to the same plague as it considers the legality of Israel's security fence. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Real Battle in The Hague - Aluf Benn
    Israel will be present at the discussion about the separation fence in the International Court of Justice in The Hague mainly in order to lose honorably. After the ruling, the case will return to UN headquarters in New York, where Israel will be in need of American assistance in order to bury the conclusions and guarantee that they won't be translated into a hostile resolution in the UN Security Council. (Ha'aretz)
  • How to Reform the UN: Create a Caucus of Democracies - Max M. Kampelman
    Since 1964, the UN Security Council has passed 88 resolutions against Israel - the only democracy in the region - while the General Assembly has passed more than 400 such resolutions. Under UN auspices and with UN funding, three separate entities with large staffs advance the PLO's anti-Israel agenda: the Division for Palestine Rights; the Committee for the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Human Rights Practices Affecting the Palestinian People, while no Arab state has ever been chastised by the UN for actions against Israel and for its defiance of the 1948 UN resolution. At a minimum, it is essential that the U.S. take the lead in establishing and strengthening a Caucus of Democratic States committed to advancing the UN's assigned role for world peace, human dignity, and democracy. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Hamas's Political Wing: Terror by Other Means - Matthew Levitt
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • A recent U.S. Treasury Department fact sheet described Hamas's political wing as the organization's "most effective and powerful wing" because "it controls the West Bank and prison branches of Hamas and has gained total financial control." The Treasury report identified some of the strictly military functions served by several senior Hamas political leaders:
      • Imad al-Alami, a member of Hamas's external leadership in Damascus, "has had oversight responsibility for the military wing of Hamas within the Palestinian territories. As a Hamas military leader, al-Alami directs sending personnel and funding to the West Bank and Gaza."
      • Khalid Mishal, head of the Hamas political committee in Damascus, personally oversees Hamas terrorist cells and supervises their operations. Not only are there "cells in the military wing based in the West Bank that are under [Mishal's] control," these cells "have been implicated in efforts by Hamas to plan large attacks that would undermine the road map peace plan." In fact, Mishal "has been responsible for supervising assassination operations, bombings, and the killing of Israeli settlers. To execute Hamas military activities, [he] maintains a direct link to Gaza-based Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi. He also provides instructions to other parts of the Hamas military wing."
    • Aside from the activities of Hamas political figures outside the territories, Hamas political leaders in the West Bank and Gaza also plan and participate in attacks.
    • For Hamas, political activities are an extension of terrorism. The international community must respond with the unequivocal message that no cause, however legitimate, justifies the use of terrorism.

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