Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 15, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

IDF Evacuates Palestinian Families After Gaza Floods - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    IDF forces assisted in evacuating three Palestinian families after their homes were flooded near the Kissufim crossing in Gaza after heavy rains on Tuesday.
    Lt.-Col. Ya'acov Shalomov, head of the district coordinating office in the south Gaza district, said the area where the homes were flooded is known for its constant terrorist activity, where bombs and shooting attacks are daily occurrences.
    "Tuesday's assistance was purely humanitarian, despite the dangers involved," he said.

Joint Israel-PA Industrial Zone Initiated (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel-Palestinian coordination office has initiated the creation of a joint industrial zone along the security fence south of Tulkarm that may eventually provide jobs for more than 5,000 Palestinians.
    A similar zone is currently administered by Israel near the Erez crossing in the Gaza Strip.
    Additional areas are planned for the Jenin area and Kerem Shalom, near Rafah in Gaza.

Israeli Team Will Fence at Tourney in Jordan (AP/MSN)
    Israel's fencing team will compete in a World Cup foil event in Aqaba, an Israeli official in Jordan said Wednesday.
    Jordan had earlier banned the Israelis from competing in the five-day event because Arab states might boycott.
    At least 32 teams from the Middle East, Asia, Europe, North and South America are schedule to compete in the tournament in which a fencer can move closer to qualifying for the Athens Olympics.

U.S. Diplomat: Al-Qaeda Launders Money in Africa (Reuters)
    Extremist groups like al-Qaeda are using mafia-type methods to launder funds and hide their financial footprints, including through diamond trading in West Africa, Richard Allan Roth, the U.S. ambassador to Senegal, told a seminar on money laundering Tuesday.
    He said al-Qaeda is trying to infiltrate the illegal diamond market in West Africa.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Probe of Saudi Embassy Widens
    U.S. federal banking regulators looking into the Saudi Arabian Embassy's bank accounts are examining numerous transactions totaling tens of millions of dollars in cash that weren't properly reported, according to documents and interviews with lawyers and regulators. It is unusual for the U.S. to scrutinize finances of a close ally such as Saudi Arabia. But since Sept. 11, the Justice and Treasury departments have been trying to track the origins and destinations of money to fund schools, mosques, charities and Islamic groups, some of which are considered extremist by the U.S. (Wall Street Journal, 14 Jan 04)
  • The EU-Funded Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit
    The Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit (NSU) was created in 1998, and funded by the British and other governments, for technical assistance in the Palestinians' preparations for permanent status talks. After the collapse of Oslo, the NSU has continued to operate, primarily as an information and propaganda arm of the Palestinian Authority. The European Institute for Research on the Middle East has completed a study of the NSU, available on the Internet. (European Institute for Research on the Middle East)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Suicide Attack Meticulously Planned - Amos Harel
    Reem Salah Riashi, the mother of two young children, was the first female Hamas suicide bomber, killing four Israelis and wounding 12 others at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza Wednesday. She took full advantage of the weak spots that planners of the attack had identified. When Riashi passed through the metal detectors and set them off, she told the security guard that she had metal pins in her leg. She even lifted her dress slightly to show the guard a bandage. At one point the bomber began to cry, lying on the floor and begging to be let through. A female guard was called to conduct a physical examination. When the guard turned away to find gloves for the examination, the bomber advanced some four meters into the terminal and detonated the explosive belt she was wearing in the midst of a group of guards. (Ha'aretz)
  • FM: World Must Oust Syria From Lebanon - Gideon Alon
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the Knesset Wednesday it was time "the whole world takes it upon itself to get Syria out of Lebanon." The Syrian army has occupied Lebanon since 1976. "A million Syrians work in Lebanon and the thriving Lebanese narcotics industry is intended solely for the purposes of the Syrian Ba'ath people," Shalom said. "The U.S. is demanding that Syria fulfill its commitments to Secretary of State Colin Powell in his visit to Damascus in May 2003, including dismantling the terror headquarters, closing the training camps, stopping the arms to Hizballah, and closing the joint border between Syria and Iraq," he said. Shalom called on Syria to come to negotiations with Israel without prior conditions. "We will test Syria's readiness for peace talks by its conduct, and not its statements," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Preparing Position for Hague Debate - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon met Wednesday with the steering panel preparing Israel's position on the separation fence that will be presented to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Israel will say the ICJ is not authorized to discuss the separation fence, that the hearing is damaging the peace process, and that building the fence was justified for security reasons. The U.S. objects to using the ICJ in political disputes, but is still weighing its stand because it objects to the route of the fence. (Ha'aretz)
        See also below - Observations: "Why Does It Matter What They Think in The Hague?"
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Damage Suicide Bombings Do to Palestinians - Bradley Burston
    Nothing has done more to tarnish the image of the Palestinian national movement than suicide bombings. Nothing has done more to align Palestinians in the foreign - especially the American - mind with the likes of al-Qaeda. Nothing has done more to alienate Israelis from the Palestinian cause. Nothing has done more to fortify the argument that with suicide bombings, Palestinians make no distinction between Tel Aviv and Tel Romeida [in Hebron] - nor between Israeli soldiers, settlers, or leftist bleeding-hearts - and that their true goal is the eradication of the entirety of the Jewish state and the annihilation or exile of its non-Arab inhabitants. (Ha'aretz)
        See also "It's Simply Stupid" - Matthew Gutman
    "It's simply stupid," spat 40-year-old Ashur Salha. "Whoever ordered the bombing," said Salha, who is among about 150 Palestinian factory owners at Erez, "must have known that 30,000 mouths depend on our employment here. After all, this hurts us [the Palestinians] much more than it does the Israelis." (Jerusalem Post)
  • CNN's "Palestinian Swimmer" Story Sinks - Alex Safian
    CNN recently reported the sad tale of Palestinian Olympic hopeful Raad Awisat: "Because he was Palestinian, he was given two choices. Either join the Israeli swim team or pay to use the [Jerusalem YMCA] pool." A YMCA official denied that the organization demanded Awisat join the Israeli swim team. The YMCA is an independent organization with no connections to the Israeli government. According to the YMCA official, Raad's father, Hussein Awisat, who is also the coach of young Awisat's swim team, demanded special treatment for his swimmers. Yet it seems that for CNN, AP, the Washington Post, and the London Times, any Palestinian charge, no matter how outlandish, is worth reporting, but the facts are never worth checking. (CAMERA)
  • Bringing Democracy to the Arab World - Joshua Muravchik
    There are 22 Arab countries. Of the world's 170 other governments, 121, or 71%, are elected. The number of Arab countries with freely elected governments: zero. Nine (20%) of the predominantly Muslim countries have elected governments - Turkey, Albania, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Niger, and Djibouti - proving that democracy is possible in a majority Muslim country. In the past 30 years, the proportion of states ruled by governments elected (in meaningful, competitive elections) by their citizens has gone from less than one-third to nearly two-thirds. Democracy, or at least its rudiments, has suddenly become the norm - a norm that one day will extend to the Arab world. (Current History/FrontPageMagazine)
  • Observations:

    "Why Does It Matter What They Think in The Hague?" - Yuval Yoaz (Ha'aretz)

    • A conversation with Prof. Jeremy Rabkin of Cornell University, a world-renowned researcher of national sovereignty, international law, and political thought, leaves the impression that the proliferating international judicial tribunals are nothing but diplomatic vanity: relating to them seriously would be a bit of an exaggeration.
    • The International Court of Justice "is actually an international arbitration institute," says Rabkin. "It was set up on the idea that if there is an international dispute and both sides are willing to have it arbitrated by the court, then such an institution is a good thing. But Israel did not authorize the transfer of the debate on the fence to arbitration by the court."
    • "If Israel accepts the [court's] decision, it will actually be allowing its security matters to be decided by a bunch of bureaucrats at The Hague, which is illogical....What does it matter what they think at The Hague? They will not ensure peace and security for Israel."
    • "Neither the ICJ nor the UN is a world government, and the simple fact that there is a majority of nations that think a certain way does not make it the law."
    • "It is important to view this as a political challenge and not as a legal challenge. The only reason Israel has to fear such a procedure is that it would cause it negative headlines in the international press."
    • "The U.S. is not prepared for other countries to judge American war measures, period....Everyone in the U.S. knows we will surely go to war again sometime, and when we do, we do not want anyone in The Hague telling us what to do."

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