Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 21, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Al-Qaeda Suspects in Jordan May Face Death for Slaying U.S. Official - Jamal Halaby (AP/Washington Post)
    Jordan's military prosecutor Tuesday recommended the death penalty for 11 Libyan, Syrian, Palestinian, and Jordanian men accused in an al-Qaeda-linked plot to carry out terror attacks on Americans and Israelis that began with the slaying of U.S. aid administrator Laurence Foley in Amman on Oct. 28, 2002.
    Four are in custody; the other seven are being tried in absentia.
    "They killed an American diplomat in the name of Islam," said military prosecutor, Lt. Col. Mahmoud Obeidat.
    At least half the suspects had links with Jordanian Ahmed al-Khalayleh, allegedly a top al-Qaeda figure and better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
    He is believed to be hiding in Iraq and allegedly provided the weapons and $62,000 for the plot.

Terror Ruled Out in Red Sea Crash (BBC)
    French investigator Gerard Legauffre said, "the first quick reading of the black boxes and the cockpit voice recorder" from an Egyptian plane that crashed into the Red Sea on January 3 killing 148 people, mostly French holidaymakers, shows terrorists played no role in the disaster.
    "It is obvious the plane had not exploded in the air," said the head of the French-Egyptian investigating team, Shaker Qelada.

Arab League in Cairo Bars Israeli Journalists (Aljazeera-Qatar)
    The Arab League headquarters in Cairo has denied entry to two Israelis who had been sent to Egypt by a Spanish television station on Monday to help conduct an interview with Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa.
    Israel has had diplomatic ties with Egypt since 1979, but has none with most of the 22 members of the Arab League.

Bulge in Temple Mount Wall Repaired (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Jordanian experts have completed a year-long renovation project on the southern wall of the Temple Mount compound to fix a bulge caused by centuries of erosion, Jordanian Minister of Religious Affairs Ahmad Helayel said Monday.

First Bedouin Border Policewoman (Maariv-Hebrew, 16Jan04)
    Amira al-Hib was sworn in last week as Israel's first Bedouin border policewoman.
    She comes from a family in northern Israel with many sons in the security services.
    "An Arabic-speaking border policewoman in contact with Palestinian women at checkpoints could prevent many misunderstandings," said the commander of the Border Police training base, Brig.-Gen. Gabi Orgil.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: A Forward Strategy of Freedom in the Middle East
    Referring to the Middle East in his State of the Union speech, President Bush said: "We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater Middle East, where freedom is rare. Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every human heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again.
        As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny and despair and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends. So America is pursuing a forward strategy of freedom in the greater Middle East. We will challenge the enemies of reform, confront the allies of terror, and expect a higher standard from our friend. To cut through the barriers of hateful propaganda, the Voice of America and other broadcast services are expanding their programming in Arabic and Persian - and soon, a new television service will begin providing reliable news and information across the region." (White House)
  • Powell: Hizballah "Caused" Israel to Respond
    Secretary of State Colin Powell blamed Hizballah for forcing Israel to bomb the Shiite Muslim militia's bases in southern Lebanon and called on Syria to cease all support for the group. "I think it's unfortunate that Hizballah once again has caused this need for a response," Powell said, referring to its attack on Monday that killed an Israeli soldier and prompted Israel's raid on two empty Hizballah bases in southern Lebanon.
        "The deliberate action they took, which resulted in the loss of life, once again demonstrates the nature of that organization, and we believe that all parties that are interested in peace should condemn this kind of action by Hizballah," Powell said. "I would hope the Syrians would once again understand that any support - whether it's vocal support or allowing their leadership to stay in Damascus or whether it's serving as a transshipment point for weapons to Hizballah - is destabilizing in the region and not in the interest of peace," he said. (AFP/UPI/Washington Times)
        See also Israeli Air Strikes Hit Back at Hizballah
    "The Israeli air force targeted two Hizballah posts used to target northern Israel," said Major Sharon Feingold, an Israeli military spokeswoman. "The Hizballah terrorist organization uses these posts...for its terrorist training and as weapons caches." (Scotsman-UK)
        See also Attacks on the Israeli-Lebanese Border Since the IDF's Pullout (IDF)
  • West Says Iran Has Broken Nuclear Pledge - Anton La Guardia
    Senior Western diplomats accused Iran Tuesday of breaking a promise to halt uranium enrichment, a key process in making a nuclear weapon. Western officials said Teheran was still buying and assembling machines to enrich uranium. "This is clearly a breach. The goal is cessation of enrichment and we are moving in the opposite direction," said one senior Western source. Iran promised to suspend "all uranium enrichment-related activities" as part of the deal that saved Iran from being referred to the Security Council and being treated as an international pariah. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Gazans Develop Early-Warning System Against Israel
    The recorded sound of throbbing rotors interrupts the popular singer ahead of a familiar radio message. Israeli helicopters are over the central Gaza Strip. "Take care and stay safe," urged the announcer before the music returns. About a dozen local radio stations have developed a makeshift early-warning system, which drives Palestinians under cover and sends edgy militants scurrying. Where radio stations elsewhere might carry traffic reports, in Gaza they watch the skies. Asked about the Gaza radio alerts, an Israeli military source said: "Yes, it's true that Hamas leaders should take cover. All of them as far as we are concerned are a legitimate target." (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA Daily Raps Terrorists for Recruiting Teens, Mothers - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A leading Palestinian columnist has launched a scathing attack on Hamas and Islamic Jihad for recruiting teenagers and mothers for suicide attacks against Israel, saying Palestinians are fed up with this "culture of death." Writing in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam, Hasan al-Batal praised families of suicide bombers who have spoken out against the phenomenon as courageous. "How can the Palestinians persuade more international peace activists to risk their lives in solidarity with the Palestinians when we are beginning to equip our children and mothers with explosive belts?" he asked.
        Palestinian sources in Gaza City confirmed on Tuesday that Reem al-Rayashi, the mother of two from Gaza City who blew herself up at the Erez crossing last week, was forced to carry out the attack after her husband discovered that she had been cheating on him with a Hamas operative. (Jerusalem Post)
  • New Town Erected in the Negev - Arieh O'Sullivan
    A new settlement was erected Sunday in the Negev to block the widespread land grab by Bedouin. To be called Givot Bar, ten caravans were placed at the site a few kilometers south of the Bedouin city of Rahat. A week earlier, a new Bedouin city was inaugurated in the Beersheba district. Some demographers are concerned that the number of Bedouin surpasses the number of Jews in the section of Israel between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Islamic Radicalism: A Cleric-Driven Phenomenon - Robert Spencer
    Adi Suryana, an Islamic teacher in Indonesia, has been arrested for planning to bomb the headquarters of the national police and the Jakarta police headquarters. In Syria, investigators have discovered that an Islamic cleric known only as Fouad is referred to by radical Muslims as the "gatekeeper" to Iraq, and coordinates suicide attacks there that are carried out by Muslims recruited in Europe. Scotland Yard last week warned the Jewish community in Britain that the terror threat "remained high" because Mohammed al-Garbuzi, a Moroccan imam linked to last May's bombings in Casablanca, is apparently on the loose in Britain. And in Norway, Mullah Krekar, a Muslim cleric from Iraq identified on Al Jazeera TV as the leader of the Iraqi radical Muslim group Ansar al-Islam, was recently arrested. All around the world, evidence mounts that Islamic radicalism is a cleric-driven phenomenon. (Washington Times)
  • Explaining Islamic Terror - Daniel Pipes
    If the Koran causes terrorism, how does one explain the 1960s, when militant Islamic violence barely existed? Holy books have vast importance, but do not create the immediate context of action. Instead of the Koran, I urge anyone wanting to study militant Islam and the violence it inspires to understand such phenomena as the Wahhabi movement, the Khomeini revolution, and al-Qaeda. Muslim history, not Islamic theology, explains how we got here, and hints at what might come next. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat's Idea of Peace Is the Elimination of Israel - Peter Worthington
    "Peace," per se, is not a goal of Palestinian leaders. Nor is independence and sovereignty. Otherwise, Arafat would have accepted 95% and begun agitating for the remaining 5%. No, Arafat wants Israel eliminated. In light of dismaying efforts at encouraging peace, maybe it's time to abandon the Palestinian Authority. The PA was created in 1993 when Israel recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization and allowed it entry into Israeli-held land on the condition violence would be curbed and Israelis would steadily withdraw. The PA was a gamble by Palestinians that if they won, they'd keep everything, and if they lost, their losses would be restored. (Toronto Star)
  • Observations:

    A Fence That Minimizes Harm - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • Prime Minister Sharon said that small adjustments might be made in the route of the separation fence.
    • The adjustments in the fence's route ought to conform to the following principles:
      • The fence is a temporary construct meant to defend Israel against terrorism, infiltration and those who move to Israel illegally (thereby exercising the "right of return" via the back door).
      • Its construction should cause the absolute minimum of harm to the Palestinians, who must be able to continue leading normal lives.
      • As few Palestinians as possible should be on the Israeli side of the fence.
    • Will these changes produce greater understanding in Europe for the steps that Israel is taking to defend itself? Unfortunately, the answer is "no." The dominant line in many places is that Israel has no right even to defend itself.

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