Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 14, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Palestinian Journalists Vow Fealty to Arafat - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Some 100 Palestinian journalists converged on the presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Tuesday - not to interview Arafat, but to pledge allegiance to him.
    The journalists read poetry and delivered emotional speeches in his honor before they lined up to have their pictures taken alongside their leader.

NSA Confirms Israel Liberty Attack Was Accident - Joel Leyden (Israel News Agency)
    New information released by the U.S. National Security Agency at the request of Florida Judge Jay Cristol about a friendly-fire incident which occurred between Israel and the U.S. in the midst of the Six-Day War of 1967 confirms that the tragic event was a case of mistaken identity.
    Audio tapes released by the NSA corroborate Israeli Air Force tapes on the issue of mistaken identity.
    Ten official U.S. investigations of the incident, five of them congressional, all reached the same conclusion.     According to Admiral "Bud" Edney, former NATO supreme allied commander, Atlantic, "Only those with an ulterior motive can still cling to the conspiracy theories" about the mistaken attack.
    Judge Cristol's book The Liberty Incident is the result of ten years of research, including a doctoral dissertation, and three years of writing.

PM: State Firms Must Have Arab Directors - Yair Ettinger (Ha'aretz)
    Prime Minister Sharon told a meeting of the ministerial committee on the non-Jewish sector Tuesday that every one of the 105 state-run companies must have at least one Israeli-Arab director by August of this year.
    The move was part of a plan proposed by the National Security Council for more equality for the Arab sector.
    There are currently 31 Israeli-Arabs on the boards of state-run companies.

Not All Terror Sanctions Enforced (AP/Washington Post)
    Nearly 100 countries have failed to enforce UN sanctions against the al-Qaeda terror network and Afghanistan's ousted Taliban and they should be publicly identified, the chairman of the committee overseeing sanctions, Heraldo Munoz, the Chilean ambassador to the UN, said Monday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Panel Probes Alleged Terror Ties of U.S. Muslim Groups
    The Senate Finance Committee has asked the Internal Revenue Service to turn over confidential tax and financial records, including donor lists, on dozens of Muslim charities and foundations as part of a widening congressional investigation into alleged ties between tax-exempt organizations and terrorist groups. The Senate-led probe follows more than two years of investigations by the FBI, the Treasury Department, and other federal agencies into the activities of Islamic charities suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S.
        The charities named include the SAAR Foundation, Global Relief, and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., which was singled out by President Bush for allegedly supporting Hamas. "This is not a fishing expedition targeting Muslims," one Senate aide said. "All the groups we're looking at are suspected of having some connections to terrorism or of doing propaganda for terrorists." (Washington Post)
        See also List of Organizations Under Scrutiny (Washington Post)
  • Ohio Muslim Leader Arrested; Terror Link Cited
    A leading Islamic cleric who runs Ohio's largest mosque was arrested Tuesday on charges that he concealed his ties to terrorist causes when applying for citizenship to the U.S. a decade ago. The indictment said Fawaz Mohammed Damrah "had previously incited and/or assisted others, including terrorist organizations, that advocated the persecution of Jews and others by means of violent terrorist attacks." (New York Times)
  • Annan Calls for Action to Combat Rising Islamaphobia and Anti-Semitism
    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Tuesday called for action to address rising Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism, warning that complacency in the face of intolerance amounts to complicity. Annan noted that Islamophobia is one of the most disturbing manifestations of bigotry today. Annan also pointed to anti-Semitism as "another dangerous hatred" that blights the world. He called attention to the scars left by the history of persecution against the Jews, adding that a recent upsurge of attacks shows this hatred to be "virulent still." "Criticism of Israeli policies is one thing," he said, "but it is quite another when such critiques take the form of attacks - physical or verbal - on Jewish individuals and the symbols of their heritage and faith." While criticism of Israel must not be allowed to mask anti-Semitism, he added that Israel's supporters should not use the charge of anti-Semitism to stifle legitimate discussion. (United Nations)
        See Text of Annan's Remarks (United Nations)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Female Bomber Kills 4 Israelis at Gaza Entrance - Amos Harel
    A female suicide bomber blew herself up Wednesday at Gaza's main Erez crossing terminal into Israel, killing four Israeli security personnel and injuring 12. David Baker, an official in the prime minister's office, said, "The Erez crossing allows Palestinians to cross over into Israel for the purpose of work. Here we see how Palestinian terrorism not only strikes at Israelis, but also is a clear detriment to improving the Palestinian economy." (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Terrorists Murder Father of Five in Shooting Attack - Margot Dudkevitch
    Roi Arbel, 29, a father of five, was killed and two other travelers injured Tuesday when terrorists shot at their vehicle near Talmon in Samaria. The perpetrators are believed to have fled toward Ramallah. The attack was claimed by the Fatah's Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade. (Jerusalem Post)
        In the last two months, the army has gradually lifted the sieges around most West Bank cities and has allowed partial Palestinian traffic on some roads. Military sources said the relaxed rules about travel also made it easier for terrorists. (Ha'aretz)
  • Assad Speaking Publicly of Normalization - Gideon Alon
    Syrian President Bashar Assad is speaking publicly for the first time about normalization with Israel. He has told the terror organizations operating out of Damascus to lower their profile and ordered Syrian government spokesmen to moderate their rhetoric, Military Intelligence commander Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. Ze'evi-Farkash said the change is a result of the war in Iraq, the American threat of economic sanctions, and the vehement Israeli response - the air attack on the terror camp near Damascus - to Syrian involvement in terror against Israel. Ze'evi-Farkash confirmed reports of Syrian rescue planes to Iran after the earthquake returning with arms for Hizballah.
        On the Palestinian front, Ze'evi-Farkash said Prime Minister Qurei has effectively relinquished the few powers he held, and that Arafat was the absolute ruler in the territories. He said Arafat is unwilling to crack down on terror attacks against Israel, is blocking reform of the PA, and continues to fund the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arafat is No Nelson Mandela - George Kerevan
    In recent times, we have acquired a simplistic, erroneous vision of a racist, colonial Israel oppressing downtrodden Palestine. Yet Arafat not only walked away from the negotiating table, but sanctioned an unbelievably murderous terror campaign inside Israel that is designed to bury any form of negotiations. In Europe - where there has been a naive tendency to turn the Palestinian terrorists into freedom fighters - the EU supplies Arafat with ample amounts of your tax money both to fill his own Swiss bank accounts and to fund the appalling official Palestinian television service, with its constant diet of music videos extolling Palestinian youths to become suicide bombers.
        In Europe, this security fence is castigated as a new Berlin Wall. In fact, as I've seen for myself, it is, for the most part, a rather fragile barbed-wire fence, with electronic sensors to detect the passage of any would-be suicide bombers. Arafat's pointless intifada has manufactured a passion for martyrdom within the Palestinian youth that can't be switched off easily. Arafat is no Nelson Mandela, and that is the tragedy of the Palestinian people. (Scotsman-UK)
  • What Makes a Terrorist? - James Q. Wilson
    To cope with terrorism, my colleagues felt, one must deal with its root causes. I was not convinced. My doubts stemmed from my own sense that dealing with the alleged root causes of crime would not work as well as simply arresting criminals. German and Italian authorities, faced with a grave political problem, decided not to change root causes but to arrest the terrorists. Within a few years the Red Army Faction and the Red Brigades were extinct. But Islamic terrorism poses a much more difficult challenge. These terrorists live and work among people sympathetic to their cause. Those arrested will be replaced; those killed will be honored.
        Imagine what it would have been like to eliminate the Baader-Meinhof gang if most West Germans believed that democracy was evil and that Marxism was the wave of the future, if the Soviet Union paid a large sum to the family of every killed or captured gang member, if West German students attended schools that taught the evils of democracy and regarded terrorists as heroes, if several West German states were governed by the equivalent of Fatah, and if there were a German version of Gaza, housing thousands of angry Germans who believed they had a right of return to some homeland. (City Journal)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Security: The Hard-Learned Lessons - Yaakov Amidror
    (Middle East Quarterly)

    • The most significant aspect of the Oslo experiment, from 1993 to 2000, was the surrender of control over Palestinian populated areas. It was due largely to this that the Palestinians were able to launch and fight a war that, in its first three years, cost Israel nearly 900 lives, mostly civilians. In comparison, during the final seventeen months of Israel's military deployment in southern Lebanon, Israel lost a total of just 21 soldiers - fewer casualties than the number of civilians killed in many single Palestinian terror attacks.
    • Control of territory is an essential advantage in fighting terror. It is the key to gathering intelligence. A military force without control of the territory from which terrorism emanates cannot destroy the infrastructure of terrorism.
    • When Israel maintained control of the populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza, its line of defense against terrorism was in the cities and towns from which the terrorists set forth. In the absence of such control, Israel's real line of defense is its own cities and towns.
    • Based on this experience, Israel must realize that it would be a grave risk if it were to cede total territorial control to the Palestinians in any future agreement.
    • Israel must insist on retaining the right to operate throughout the territories in perpetuity, not only for a limited number of years, not only in emergency situations, and not only upon the approval of third parties.

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror commanded Israel's National Defense College and headed the research and assessment division of Israeli military intelligence. He was the Ira Weiner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy when he prepared this study.

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