Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 9, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Syria Renews Role as Conduit for Iranian Weapons to Hizballah: Raises Questions about Peace Intentions - Aluf Benn and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Iran has resumed supplying Hizballah militants in southern Lebanon with weapons and supplies transported via Syria.
    Israel Television reported Thursday that Syria dispatched a number of planes to Iran last week posing as humanitarian aid transports for Iranian earthquake victims.
    When the flights returned to Syria, they were filled with weaponry which was unloaded in Damascus and transferred to Hizballah militants in Lebanon.
    Details of the weapons transfer became known to the U.S., which demanded an explanation from Syria.

Hamas Plays Down Yassin "Peace Offer" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas officials on Thursday played down the significance of statements attributed to their spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, that his movement was prepared to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip only.
    A top Hamas official accused the Israeli and foreign media of "misquoting" Yassin and making false assumptions about his remarks.
    "Sheikh Yassin also stressed in the interview that his acceptance of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip does not mean that he recognizes Israel's right to exist," he said.
    See also Hamas Would Weigh "Temporary Peace" - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas would agree to a "temporary peace" with Israel in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state "on the basis of the 1967 borders," the evacuation of the settlements, and the resettlement of all the Palestinian refugees inside Israel, movement leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin told the German news agency DPA Wednesday.
    "The rest of the land, within Israel, we will leave to history," he added. However, "this does not mean recognition of the State of Israel, but rather a cessation of the violence for a number of years."

Israel and Turkey Join Forces vs. al-Qaeda - Uri Dan (New York Post)
    Israel's chief intelligence agency, the Mossad, is now working with Turkey to track down al-Qaeda agents in the region.
    Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, confirmed the ties to Mossad in a recent interview with Israeli TV.

Saudis Dismisses Head of Charity Targeted by U.S. (Reuters)
    Saudi Arabia has dismissed Sheikh Aqil al-Aqil, the head of the Al-Haramain Foundation, a leading Islamic charity which the U.S. says has militant links, Saudi newspapers said Thursday.
    Al-Haramain has provided aid to Muslims around the world for a decade, mixing relief work with programs to promote Saudi Arabia's austere Wahhabi school of Islam - blamed by some U.S. critics for fostering militancy.

Terror Groups Share Tactics with Iraqis - Gethin Chamberlain (Scotsman-UK)
    Iraqi guerrillas using hidden roadside bombs to attack U.S. troops appear to have been taught their tactics by Chechen rebels and Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.
    Major Thomas Sirois, chief intelligence officer of the U.S. Army's 3rd Corps Support Command, said Tuesday it seemed Iraqi rebels had been using e-mail, telephone, and personal visits to communicate with foreign fighters.

Despite Violence and Bureaucracy, Students Return to Israel Programs - Rachel Pomerance (JTA)
    More than three years into the Palestinian intifada, American undergraduates have adjusted to violence in Israel and the ongoing conflict in Iraq, officials at Israeli universities say.
    In some cases, the unrest even has piqued students' interest in the region.
    Taken together, these factors have caused U.S. enrollment in Israeli universities to climb.

Israel Philharmonic to Open U.S. Tour in March (Cleveland Jewish News)
    The world-renowned Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will open its 2004 U.S. tour on March 7 in Cleveland, followed by concerts in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and seven other cities.

Israel Scientists Make Colon Cancer Cell Breakthrough (AFP)
    Researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute said Tuesday they have managed for the first time to halt the spread of colon cancer cells in laboratory tests.
    "It offers hope of reversing the metastatic process or even preventing it in the future by designing a drug that targets" a cancerous gene, said chief researcher Avri Ben-Zeev.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell Rejects Abu Ala's "One-State" Idea
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said at a press conference Thursday:
      Question: The Palestinian Prime Minister said in an interview that if the Sharon government goes forward with some of the ideas that were outlined in Prime Minister Sharon's December 18th speech, that the Palestinians would effectively abandon the idea of a two-state solution and demand full rights with the Israelis in a single state. I wonder if you think this idea of a single state has any sort of viability?
      Powell: No, we're committed to a two-state solution. I believe that's the only solution that'll work: a state for the Palestinian people called Palestine; and a Jewish state, the state of Israel, which exists. And what we have to do is get to a table where we can negotiate the terms of existence.
        What we need right now is for the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority to get control of security forces and to use those forces and use the other tools available to him to put down terror and to put down violence. And if that happens and we see that kind of commitment, then I am confident that we can move forward on the roadmap. Mr. Sharon begins all of his discussions by saying he would like to see a solution; he is looking for reliable partners he can work with. And his plans that he has spent some time presenting recently suggest what he feels he might have to do if he doesn't have a reliable partner. What we are trying to do is to get that reliable partner to stand up and start acting. (State Department)
        See also Powell Faults Palestinians for Impasse (AP/Washington Post)
  • Lebanese Chafe under Syria's Quiet Occupation
    Lebanon's devastating civil war ended following the 1989 Taif Agreement, which gave Syria limited rule over the wrecked country. The agreement called for Syria to withdraw its troops and hand power back to a reconstructed Lebanese government after two years. Yet today, 20,000 Syrian soldiers remain in Lebanon, and Syria's grip on Lebanese politics is stronger than ever. It is an invisible occupation, in which Lebanon's leaders must seek Damascus's approval of their policies, and Syrian plainclothes agents roam back streets, ears cocked for political dissent.
        Syria also supports the terrorist Islamic group Hizballah and allows it run of the Lebanese-Israeli border. Syria has allowed 1 million Syrian workers into Lebanon (equal to a fourth of Lebanon's population) and flooded the country's market with cheap Syrian goods. Beirut's renovation, which Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri contracted to his own company, has pushed Lebanon's foreign debt to $33 billion. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon: Syria Waging War Against Israel - Herb Keinon
    Jerusalem will not negotiate peace with Damascus while Syria is actively waging war against Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told a U.S. congressional delegation Thursday. Sharon said Syria can't use Hizballah - armed with some 11,000 missiles - to fight a proxy war against Israel from Lebanon, and at the same time say it is interested in peace. "We want peace, we want to negotiate, but the Syrians must stop supporting terror, end aid to Hizballah, and close down the headquarters of the terrorist organizations in Damascus," diplomatic officials quoted Sharon as saying. Sharon said the "new wind" blowing out of Damascus is a result of the threat of U.S. sanctions in the recently passed Syrian Accountability Act. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Makes More Humanitarian Gestures to Palestinians - Margot Dudkevitch
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Thursday ordered the immediate implementation of steps to improve the conditions of Palestinians who are not involved in terrorism. The steps include deploying additional soldiers at crossings along the security fence to speed up security inspections, increasing the hours crossings remain open, and improving the treatment of those who live in close proximity to the fence. An IDF officer and an Arabic-speaking soldier will be deployed at all permanent IDF roadblocks to help Palestinians seeking humanitarian or medical assistance. (Jerusalem Post)
  • How Many Outposts, Where? - Matthew Gutman
    As the pressure mounts on Israel to dismantle illegal settlement outposts, confusion has mounted over the number, location, legality, and even existence of the outposts. Most of the outposts in question, even those considered illegal, were founded with the help of funds from government coffers, documents obtained by the Jerusalem Post show. The Defense Ministry has said it evacuated 66 outposts over the past three years and is still "mapping and judging the legality" of West Bank outposts. According to Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip spokesman Yehoshua Mor-Yosef, some 20 outposts were abandoned by settlers of their own volition. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Settlement is a Settlement - Khaled Abu Toameh
    While Israelis distinguish between such settlements as Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion, which they regard as within the national consensus, the Palestinians make no such distinction. The issue of the illegal outposts does not seem these days to be at the top of the Palestinian agenda. Many Palestinians admit that they do not even know where most of these outposts are located because they do not distinguish between one settlement and another. According to Hatem Abdel Kader, a Fatah lawmaker from Jerusalem, settlements include the Jewish neighborhoods built in Jerusalem after the Six-Day War, such as French Hill, Ramot, Gilo, Pisgat Ze'ev, and Armon Hanatziv. "We believe there will be a rise in the number of attacks against settlers once the fence is completed," says another Fatah legislator from Ramallah. "These settlers will become easy targets because the fence will make it very difficult to carry out an attack inside Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF on Both Sides of Security Fence - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Even when the security fence is eventually completed, the IDF will continue to patrol with impunity wherever it likes and settlements will continue to be given security aid. Defense Ministry officials dismissed the idea that Israel would ever abandon an official Jewish settlement to its fate. "The situation after the fence essentially exists already. We will continue to be on both sides of the fence," says a senior IDF officer. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • After Saddam - Editorial
    The coalition's swift victory against Saddam Hussein and, more recently, the circumstances of his capture have been the single biggest factor in convincing the old guard in the Middle East that it has to change. The exception to all this has been Syria. President Assad came to power with promises of overdue reform, political liberalization, and a new realism. The result has been deeply disappointing. There have been no real steps to domestic reform. During the Iraq war, Syria behaved with duplicity, bordering on outright hostility. The evidence that it has allowed weapons and terrorists to cross into Iraq and encouraged Baathists to cross the other way is incontrovertible. Assad has foolishly boasted of his weapons of mass destruction which he intends to keep. (London Times)
  • The New Multilateralism - Editorial
    The Bush Administration has embarked on a burst of "multilateral" cooperation called the Proliferation Security Initiative, and in only a few months it has already had more success than the UN in controlling weapons of mass destruction. Just ask Moammar Gadhafi after the U.S. and its PSI allies halted the illegal shipment of uranium-enrichment equipment headed for Libya's nuclear-arms program. The 16 PSI allies have agreed to interdict shipments of WMD, delivery systems, and related materials at sea, in the air, and on land, and more than 50 nations have signed on to PSI's principles and may be called on should their help be needed. Call it mix-and-match multilateralism. Countries participate or not, depending on the need at hand and on their own capabilities. The one common thread is U.S. leadership.
        The spread of WMD is the gravest threat to world security and will sometimes need to be met with force. The U.S. needs all the help it can get, but the old global institutions aren't up to the job. The PSI is a herald of the real new world order, multilateralism with teeth. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Going It Alone Won't Work - Aaron David Miller
    Unilateral actions as a substitute for negotiations cannot work, and will only exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Under current circumstances, unilateralism has a powerful appeal. If it can enhance Israeli security, preserve a Jewish majority, and disengage Israel from the Palestinian problem, why not pursue it? First, Israeli withdrawal without reciprocity is an unmistakable sign of weakness that could easily diminish, not enhance, Israeli deterrence and security. The strategy of the liberation of Palestine in phases would be given a boost. Second, unilateralism simply cannot produce the practical economic, security, and political arrangements required to end the conflict. This strategic predicament can only be resolved by cleverly negotiated and imaginatively conceived bilateral solutions. Unilateralism will leave an angry and alienated Palestinian population with nowhere to go and nothing to lose. (International Herald Tribune)
  • A Chance to Change the Agenda? - Gerald M. Steinberg
    The public proceedings at the International Court of Justice may provide an opportunity for Israel to demonstrate the core morality of its case. A high-profile presentation of the history of Palestinian and Arab rejectionism, beginning in 1947 and continuing to this day, could be an important opportunity. The Israeli team would need to demonstrate that unilateral separation is necessary to protect lives, and that there is no other realistic way of preventing terrorism. The alternative of maintaining the status quo would sentence hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of additional Israelis to death from terror attacks.
        The Israeli team will also need to show that the armistice line that was drawn in 1949, following the Arab invasion, and held until the 1967 war, lacks the status of an international boundary and is not, therefore, sacrosanct. In addition, the history of the 1967 war will need to be presented, including the fact that the Israeli capture of the "occupied territories" was an appropriate response to Arab preparations to drive the Jews into the sea. Under international law, territory gained in a defensive war has an entirely different status than the ill-gotten gains of an aggressive one. (Canadian Jewish News)
  • Martyrdom and Murder
    The Koran is unequivocal about suicide: as a mark of despair in Allah, it earns eternal damnation. On the other hand, martyrdom - death in jihad, incurred in Allah's name - earns eternal bliss. Especially since the advent of Wahhabism, a branch of Sunni Islam that evolved in the 18th century, the notion of jihad as external warfare has been revived. Counter-intuitive though it may seem, terrorists regard suicide attacks as low-risk, given the scale of devastation they can inflict. As Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's right-hand man, has put it, "the method of martyrdom operations [is] the most successful way of inflicting damage against the opponent and least costly to the mujahideen in terms of casualties." (The Economist-UK)
  • Self-Defense Fence - Clifford D. May
    It takes some nerve to scold people for defending their children from terrorists - the more so when their method of defense is simply to erect a fence to keep the murderers from reaching their intended victims. Using fences to keep out those intent on committing crimes is hardly an innovative idea. The U.S. has a fence along its southern border to keep out Mexicans seeking jobs. (Townhall)
  • The Academic Boycott Against Israel - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    Since early 2002, a variety of attempts to boycott or discriminate against Israeli academic institutions and scholars have been undertaken in several Western countries. The boycott has been internationally condemned by many institutions and politicians, while not one major academic institution or organization has supported it. These and other discriminatory actions against Israel are likely to become indicators and precursors of a long-lasting general reassessment in the Western world of issues such as free speech, academic freedom, uncontrolled campus extremism that includes incitement to violence, university autonomy, the politicization of science, and the discrepancy in norms between parts of academia and society at large. (Jewish Political Studies Review)

    Weekend Features:

  • Israelis Reexamine Warfare - Joshua Brilliant
    Imagine a battlefield saturated with sensors, drones, intelligence-gathering balloons, and planes that see everything the enemy has. All data is fed into very advanced communications, command and control systems that fuse it, identify targets, transfer the information hundreds of miles away to systems that fire accurate weapons, attack the targets in quick succession, and destroy them. "Who would want to enter such a battlefield (knowing) that in a short time he would be destroyed?" asked the outgoing Head of the Israeli army's Strategic Planning Division, Brig. Gen. Eival Gilady at a Tel Aviv University conference last week. The Israeli army is already developing such a capability, Gilady and other generals indicated.
        Israel still faces "a danger to its existence," stressed Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon. Israel needs "a strong defensive army in the foreseeable future. It should be able to react to current security activities along the borders, fight terror, engage in a high intensity (conventional) conflict, (cope with) the threat of rockets and surface-to-surface missiles, as well as a non-conventional threat," Yaalon added. It should seek "a relative advantage in every arena so that it could contribute to deterrence," he said. Should Israel's deterrence fail, the most likely scenario would see a deterioration along the Lebanese border spread to Syria, prompt Palestinians to escalate their attacks, and possibly lead Egypt to violate the peace treaty and send troops into the Sinai Peninsula, several recently retired generals and security experts said. (UPI/Washington Times)
  • No Hi-Tech Replacement for a Good Army Tracker - Arieh O'Sullivan
    "With all of our advanced technology, we haven't come up with a replacement for the tracker," said Chief Infantry and Paratrooper Officer Brig.-Gen. Yossi Hyman, who attended the ceremony of the 21st graduating class of the army's Trackers Course, most of whom are Bedouin. Among the 29 who began the course four months ago was an Ashkenazi Jewish recruit who grew up herding sheep in Kiryat Arba. "I personally tested him," said Lt.-Col. Kassem el-Hib, commander of the Tracker's School. "He was a great guy and blended in with everyone here," but he was dropped from the class. "The guy couldn't detect footprints right next to him," one of the instructors said. Lt.-Col. el-Hib insists that only Bedouin can do the job well, but that their urbanization has taken its toll. "Actually, the more educated they are, they worse they are as trackers," he said. He said the army once had a few Yemenite trackers. Today there are three Ethiopian trackers and Wednesday's class had one Druze graduate. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Forensics Team Tackles Grisly Task at Bombings - Megan Goldin
    The technicians of the Jerusalem police forensic unit have become specialists in suicide bombings. A suicide bombing forensic kit comes complete with 100 sets of numbered identification bracelets and plastic bags, forms, and stickers so the body, body parts, and personal effects of each victim are clearly marked and stored. "We learn how to look but not to see. To see but then to forget about it quickly," said officer Ronen Levi. "The moment you start to think about it is the moment you can't do this job anymore." (Reuters)
  • Canadian Senator, a Muslim, Cut Ties to Paper
    Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer said she will no longer write for a British Columbia newspaper that published an article accusing Jews of faking the Holocaust and staging the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Jaffer, a Muslim who holds meetings in Canada and Israel between Palestinian and Jewish women, said she was saddened and sickened by the anti-Semitic tirade in The Miracle, a weekly newspaper published by a local mosque. (Vancouver Sun)
  • Israelis to Teach First Aid in India - Jenny Hazan
    The Israeli Medical Cadets program is to send 14 volunteers to India this month to teach emergency medical care to villages in need. The 10-day program is the third of its kind. After teaching the villagers CPR and basic first aid, previous volunteer missions helped them to create a simple drip irrigation system. The villagers taught the volunteers how to cook and play music. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    When Is Israel's Turn? - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • In the past, it was claimed that Pakistan would be the source of the "Islamic atom bomb." French experts say that the Islamic element was not the determining factor for Pakistan in selling the nuclear know-how, but rather the money. The evidence for this is the deal with North Korea, which, in return, gave Pakistan know-how for developing surface-to-surface missiles.
    • The steps that have been taken by Iran and Libya following the war in Iraq derived from the sense of threat they felt when their lies were uncovered. The lies that have been exposed demonstrate that an extra measure of caution, close supervision, and invasive inspection are needed in countries that have been involved in deception.
    • The lesson for Israel is that it cannot see the promises of the International Atomic Energy Agency as an insurance policy.
    • It is impossible to get to the roots of the threats without the existence of a peace agreement between the sides. Yitzhak Rabin said that Israel would be prepared to discuss becoming a party to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons two years after it signs peace treaties with the Arab countries and Iran.

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