Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 19, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Husband Took Wife to Gaza Suicide Bombing - Hala Jaber and Uzi Mahnaimi (Sunday Times-UK)
    A Palestinian mother of two small children who blew herself up at an Israeli checkpoint last week, killing four other people, was chauffeured to her appointment with death by her husband.
    According to the teachings of Hamas, Reem al-Riyashi's mission required her husband's consent if she was to attain "martyrdom."
    She believed her death would turn her into one of 70 nymphs who would welcome her husband to heaven if he carried out a similar suicide attack.
    "The fatwa of Sheikh Yassin to this wretched mother, permitting her to commit suicide, and further declarations... that more such female suicides will follow, will force the IDF to apply its best ingenuity in order to stop this madness," said one security source.
    "Unfortunately, Israel will henceforth have to treat Palestinian women and men equally - they are all suspect and there will be no special consideration for women," said Itzhak Levanon, a senior Israeli foreign office official.
    See also Hamas: Women Who Shame Family Can be Bombers - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday that Riyashi was compelled to perpetrate the terror strike to atone for having betrayed her husband.

Libya's Black Market Deals Shock Nuclear Inspectors - Ian Traynor (Guardian-UK)
    The ease with which Col. Ghadafi acquired complete sets of uranium enrichment centrifuges on the international black market for his secret nuclear bomb program has stunned experienced international inspectors.
    The scale and the sophistication of the networks supplying so-called rogue states seeking nuclear weapons are considerably more extensive than previously believed.
    "What was found in Libya marks a new stage in proliferation," said one knowledgeable source. "Libya was buying what was available. And what is available, the centrifuges, are close to turnkey facilities."

Muslims Protest Rushdie in India (London Sunday Telegraph/Washington Times)
    Author Salman Rushdie fled the city of his birth last week after demonstrations calling for him to be killed were staged outside his hotel in Bombay.
    Rushdie, who was forced into hiding in 1989 after a fatwa (decree) demanding his death was issued by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, was visiting Bombay for the first time in 15 years.
    The fatwa, accusing Rushdie of blasphemy, never has been lifted.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Diplomat Defends Attack on Bomber Art in Stockholm
    Israel's ambassador to Sweden Zvi Mazel said Saturday that he had physically attacked an art exhibit at a Stockholm museum because it "glorified suicide bombers." The exhibit was linked to a coming international conference on genocide sponsored by Sweden, in which Israel was scheduled to participate. The piece, "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," by expatriate Israeli artist Dror Feiler, featured a large basin filled with red fluid. A boat floated on top carrying a photo of a smiling Hanadi Jaradat, a woman suicide bomber who killed 22 people in an Oct. 4 attack on a restaurant in Haifa. "There was the terrorist, wearing her perfect makeup and floating on the blood of my people," said Mazel. "This is an expression of hatred for the Israeli people. This has glorified suicide bombers." He said he had ripped out electrical wires lighting the exhibit and tossed a spotlight into the basin. (New York Times)
        See also Israel Supports Its Ambassador to Sweden - Gideon Alon
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon opened Sunday's cabinet meeting with a statement that he had spoken by phone with Mazel, to thank him for standing up to "mounting anti-Semitism," and telling him that the government was behind his actions. "Mazel behaved properly," he said. "The trend is so outrageous that it could not be ignored without a response. I hope - and am sure - that everyone joins me in backing up Mazel." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Cabinet Communique (Cabinet Secretariat/IMRA)
  • U.S. Presses Palestinians on Attack Probe
    U.S. officials are pressing the Palestinians to find those behind a deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy three months ago, warning that lack of progress may harm American aid programs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a Palestinian cabinet minister said Saturday. A U.S. Embassy official said, "we're not entirely satisfied with Palestinian cooperation" with the investigation into the Oct. 15 roadside blast that ripped apart a diplomatic car in the Gaza Strip and killed three American security guards. U.S. officials have not traveled to the West Bank and Gaza since the bombing, an unprecedented attack on Americans in Palestinian areas. The U.S. State Department has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the attackers. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Iraq Riches Whisked to Syria
    Syria's Central Bank and the Medina Bank in Lebanon are holding at least $2 billion in cash, as well as gold bullion and platinum, that was smuggled out of Iraq, according to a letter written on the stationery of the Syrian army's intelligence department. The document was sent to Nizar Nayouf, an exiled Syrian human-rights activist living in Paris. The letter names two members of the Lebanese parliament as go-betweens: Emil Lahoud, son of the pro-Syrian president of Lebanon, and Talal Arsilan, a Druze. American authorities have long suspected that Syria took Saddam Hussein's money into safe custody shortly before the war. "The U.S. has Syria firmly in its sights," said one analyst, "and Assad may feel compelled to admit the Iraqi money is there, if only to reduce American pressure for changing his regime." (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Government Stands Firm on Fence Route - Herb Keinon
    "We are not discussing a change in the route of the fence, and there will be no change as a result of Palestinian or UN demands, including those from the [international] court," Prime Minister Sharon told an inner cabinet meeting dealing with the fence on Monday. "A new discussion of the fence's route will take place only as a result of internal Israeli deliberations." "I am personally monitoring the problems arising from the operation of the fence and am familiar with the complaints about it. It is possible that additional thought is needed to allow for the possibility of changing the route to reduce the number of mishaps in operating the fence without harming security," Sharon said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Injured in Ramallah Area Shooting Attack - Amos Harel
    Gavriel Abadi, 40, a resident of Nahliel, sitting next to the driver, was wounded in the shoulder in a shooting attack Sunday on the Nahliel-Neveh Tzuf road northwest of Ramallah. Fatah's military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, took responsibility for the attack. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Slams Blair for "Obscene" Remarks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority on Saturday lashed out at British Prime Minister Tony Blair for saying that it would be impossible to restart the Middle East peace process without a credible security plan from the Palestinians. The PA's official news agency, Wafa, said, "We find this British call to the Palestinians to be obscene. Even more, we consider it to be hypocritical and unbefitting of a prime minister who is fond of his fame and wisdom." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Mother of All Hatreds - Editorial
    We favor a Palestinian state, but we've started to wonder what kind of viable state can ever be founded on suicide bombings. In a certain sense, a suicide bomber's sex is irrelevant. Male or female, they're all reprehensible and tragic figures - primarily because of the victims they create and secondarily because of the perversion of humanity that these acts represent. It's a strange kind of mother's love that abandons two young children. But, then, it's a strange kind of love of country that's founded on suicide attacks. In a farewell videotape released after the attack, the Gaza bomber said, "It was always my wish to turn my body into deadly shrapnel against the Zionists and to knock on the doors of heaven with the skulls of Zionists." So the overriding reason, it turns out in the end, is hate, not love. (Oregonian)
  • The Roots of Hatred - Matthew McAllester
    The exasperated psychiatrist with the British passport he uses every two months to get out of Gaza because the place drives him nuts laments the spiralling anti-Semitism in Europe and the Arab world. "How could Israel believe we want to make peace when we talk about them in such a negative way and only make them more paranoid?" asked Eyad Serraj, one of Gaza's most widely respected intellectuals. "When you're so frightened, you only believe in the use of force to protect yourself. Israel is a culture of fear fed by Arab demagoguery, by Arabs' hateful slogans." But do Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the other extremist Islamic group, really want to kill all the Jews? "Yes, of course, absolutely," he said. (Newsday)
  • A "Syria-First" Peace Plan Can Only Be a Distraction - Aaron David Miller
    U.S. policymakers would be well advised to avoid succumbing to the temptation of a "Syria-first" strategy. Not only is there much less possibility in the Syrians' signal than meets the eye, but the allure of a peace-with-Syria-first strategy can only distract attention from the real strategic threat to the region: the bitter and bloody Palestinian-Israeli confrontation. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Ambassador Zvi Mazel, Iconoclast - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • Ambassador Mazel unplugged the spotlights illuminating the exhibit commissioned by the Stockholm International Forum, the sponsor of a conference of international leaders on "Preventing Genocide: Threats and Responsibilities" to be held later this month.
    • Israel has no business attending a conference on "Preventing Genocide" that is oblivious to the slow-motion genocide being perpetrated against Israel. We use that word deliberately, since these are not individual murders, but representative of the genocidal threats made by nations and groups against Israel that remain unimplemented only for lack of ability, not of will.
    • It can be said that Mazel behaved undiplomatically. But we're past the point where we can pretend that the demonization of Israel will go away if we don't call attention it.
    • Mazel was communicating his point in the only way possible. A formal protest would merely have been "duly registered," filtered and lost in the back channels of European diplomacy.
    • Now we are told that Mazel's response was inappropriate. But what would have been the appropriate response by Israel's representative to depicting the spilt blood of its citizens by "Snow White" as a form of art? Perhaps a strongly-worded letter to the editor?

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