Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 6, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
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Israel's Security Fence: Upcoming Hearings at the International Court of Justice
  (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)

In-Depth Issue:

Iran "Has Secret Atomic Bomb Project" - Anton La Guardia (Telegraph-UK)
    America has convincing new evidence that Iran is hiding an atomic bomb project despite Teheran's promise to open up all of its nuclear facilities to international inspectors, a senior U.S. official has said.
    He said the Teheran regime was secretly trying to build a second and more advanced uranium enrichment plant in parallel to the large facilities in Natanz, revealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last year.
    "There is no doubt in our mind that the Iranians have a lot that the IAEA does not know about," said the official. "The Iranians have a military program that the IAEA has never set eyes on."
    Another Western source confirmed that the nuclear technology smuggling network headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's top nuclear weapons scientist, had sold much more equipment to Iran than Teheran has so far admitted to.
    Western intelligence agencies are trying to find out whether Iran and other countries have bought a design for a nuclear bomb that was sold to Libya by Pakistani scientists.
    "We don't know how far the Iranians have gone, but they are making progress. They are developing a completely indigenous capability. At some point cutting off the external support will not be enough to stop it," said the senior U.S. source.

Palestinian Militant Killed in Gaza Blast - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Abdel Naser Abu Shuka, 36, a leader of the Hamas militant group's military wing, was killed by an explosion that rocked his home in Bureij in the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
    The Israeli army denied the military was involved in the incident. "There were no forces in the area and there were none operating nearby," said a spokesman.
    An Israeli military source said the army suspected that Abu Shuka died in an accident while preparing an explosive.

Attacks on Palestinian Media Outlets (Committee to Protect Journalists)
    On February 2, three masked Palestinian men carrying automatic rifles stormed the offices of the Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational Television, according to assistant manager Haroun Abu Arrah. The assailants beat two staffers with rifle butts and fists.
    After the beating, two of the assailants went into another room and fired several rounds at some of the station's equipment, destroying computer screens and video equipment.
    On February 3, employees of the recently established Gaza City weekly Al-Daar discovered that most of the computer equipment in the office had been destroyed by unknown assailants.
    Editor-in-chief Hassan al-Kashif believes the vandalism came in retaliation for the magazine's editorial stance against official Palestinian corruption.
    Palestinian sources said Al-Daar - which is close to former Palestinian preventive security chief Mohamed Dahlan - may have been attacked because of internal political conflicts within Fatah.

France Earmarks $18.6 Million for Security at Jewish Institutions (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
    France has earmarked $18.6 million to help boost security for Jewish schools, synagogues, and offices threatened by recent anti-Semitic attacks, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday.
    "This is not just a problem for the Jews," he told the National Assembly. "Every time a Jew is attacked because he's Jewish, it's a stain on all of France."
    "We are determined to eradicate anti-Semitism in this country," he said.

Canadian Ambassador Cancels Condolence Trip to W. Bank - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Canadian Ambassador to Israel Donald Sinclair cancelled a condolence visit to the home of Yechezkel Goldberg, 42, a native of Toronto who was killed in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem last week, since Goldberg's family lives in Betar Illit, just over the "green line" in the West Bank.

10,000 Jews Visit Temple Mount in Past Five Months - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    More than 10,000 Jews have visited the Temple Mount in the five months since the Jerusalem holy site was reopened to non-Muslim visitors.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Envoy Explains Gaza Settlement Removal Plans
    Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Secretary of State Powell and Vice President Cheney during a hastily-arranged Washington mission Thursday that Israel's planned Gaza pullout would be unilateral action, but said it would be consistent with President Bush's vision of a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict. Olmert told reporters there was no sign the Palestinians are ready to engage in a peace dialogue or crack down on terrorism. He said, under the circumstances, the Sharon government feels there is "no need to wait" on action in Gaza.
        "What we are interested in is to reduce the level of collision and confrontation, which is a daily event that creates difficulties - that is a source for bitterness and for sometimes unnecessary confrontations - to the inevitable minimum," he said. "And since, at the end of the day, according to the president's vision, according to the agreement of most of the Israelis, Israelis will not remain in Gaza anyway, then we are ready to pull out now when we will be ready for it soon, not as a concession for the Palestinians, but as an improvement of the living conditions of many Israelis." Olmert said disengagement from Gaza would put Israel into what he termed a "more comfortable parking position" as it awaited Palestinian readiness to negotiate. (VOA News)
  • Suicide Bomber Kills 50 in Moscow Subway
    An explosion reportedly caused by a suicide bomber ripped through a subway car in Moscow during rush hour Friday morning, killing 50 people and injuring more than 100 in what authorities were investigating as an act of terrorism. (AP/ABC News/Yediot Ahronot)
  • Tenet: Burden is on Arafat and Palestinians
    CIA Director George Tenet said Thursday: "The burden here on Mr. Arafat and the Palestinians is considerable: They must prove that they're willing to sit side-by-side with the Israelis and engage in the constructive security arrangements that we fostered between 1998 and 2001. Unless we get a commitment to stop terrorism and to seriously talk about not just the aspiration of the Palestinian people but the security of the Israeli people in a way where we have two parties firmly committed to a common objective, we're not going to get anywhere." (CNN)
  • Nuclear Expert Receives Pardon From Musharraf
    Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, granted a full pardon on Thursday to Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, a day after Khan confessed to sharing nuclear technology with Iran, North Korea, and Libya. (New York Times)
        See also UN Nuclear Chief Warns of Global Black Market
    Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, represented "the tip of an iceberg" in an illicit nuclear supply network that has connections in many countries, Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, said Thursday. He said existing safeguards had failed to stop the spread of nuclear technology, and he called for urgent international cooperation to police a global black market. (Washington Post)
        See also Rogue Hunt Goes Worldwide
    The hunt for middlemen who worked with the father of Pakistan's nuclear program to supply rogue regimes with weapons technology has widened to Japan and Africa, diplomats said Thursday. Suspects in Germany and two other European countries are also being investigated in the growing probe of the clandestine black market apparently headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan. Also, Malaysia announced Thursday it would investigate a company controlled by the prime minister's son for its alleged role in supplying components to Libya's nuclear program. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Syria Said to Send Arms Again to Lebanon Guerrillas
    Syria has resumed weapons transfers to anti-Israel guerrillas based in Lebanon, including a covert shipment of weapons from Iran smuggled aboard a Syrian cargo plane that had delivered earthquake relief, American and Israeli officials say. The officials said a Syrian government plane that carried aid to Iran in late December had loaded up with small arms and possibly explosives intended for Hizballah and Hamas. American intelligence reports confirmed that a suspected terrorist training camp in Syria about 15 miles northwest of Damascus, bombed by Israeli warplanes in October, was being prepared for use by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Confirms Syrian Earthquake Relief Flights to Iran Returned with Weapons for Hizballah - Eli Lake (New York Sun, 22 Jan 04)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon Wants U.S. OK to Move Gaza Settlers to West Bank - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon wants U.S. approval to expand large West Bank settlement blocs that are intended to be annexed once a permanent peace agreement is reached in exchange for evacuation of most settlements in the Gaza Strip and a few others in the West Bank. Sharon will justify the request due to the need to move some of the settlers from the evacuated areas to Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel, and Gush Etzion, which the previous U.S. administration had agreed would be included within Israel as part of the Clinton framework for a permanent agreement. At a meeting this week with the Likud Knesset faction, Sharon referred to the evacuation of "a very small number" of West Bank settlements. Government sources said Sharon rejects a unilateral withdrawal from the Jordan Valley. White House National Security Council emissaries Steve Hadley and Elliot Abrams are due in Israel next week to hear the principles of the disengagement plan. (Ha'aretz)
  • Breakfast with Sharon - Yoel Marcus
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview: The road map was a good plan because it's based on our approach that security comes before concessions. The problem is, with the Palestinians there's no way to move ahead using this formula. We haven't seen even the tiniest sign that they are doing anything to curb terror. That's why Bush is taking such a hard line toward the Palestinians. You know why there hasn't been a meeting with Abu Ala? Because he has no answer to terror and he's afraid I'll unload more cities on him.
        The demand that we make concessions without the Palestinians acting to stop terror is dangerous for Israel. It creates a vacuum that can't last forever. That's what made me adopt the separation strategy. It doesn't mean we've shut up shop on the road map. It means we're continuing to act with Bush's vision hovering over us. What we want to do is make it easier to defend ourselves. I intend to complete the fence and introduce measures that will cause as little suffering as possible for the Palestinian population. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Attack PA Police HQ in Gaza, Wound 13 - Arnon Regular
    Palestinian gunmen Thursday burst into Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City, beat up Palestinian police chief Maj. Gen. Ghazi al-Jabali - a personal appointee of Arafat, and then opened fire to cover their retreat, wounding at least 13 people, Palestinian sources said. Sources said the assailants were members of the PA Preventive Security Service (PSS) in Gaza acting on behalf of Mohammed Dahlan. The Gaza PSS is currently headed by a close associate of Dahlan's and is still considered his power base. (Ha'aretz)
  • UN Costs Israel $15.8 Million a Year - Liat Collins
    According to a special report by Yediot Ahronot's Eitan Amit, last year Israel's contribution to the upkeep of UN forces in Sierra Leone amounted to nearly $2m. Keeping peace in the Congo came with a $2.5m. price tag for Israel, while East Timor cost Israel just $1m. In 2003 Israel paid $8.4m. for UN peace-keeping efforts, and that is only half the story. Israel's part of the UN's ongoing annual budget for 2004-2005 is $7.4m. for each year. Given that in an average year, the UN General Assembly passes some 17 or 18 openly anti-Israel motions, it turns out that Israel is, in effect, "paying" close to $1m. per motion. Among the 22 countries that are members of both the Arab League and the UN, only oil-rich Saudi Arabia pays more than Israel. Israel pays three times as much as oil producers Iran and Kuwait, four times as much as Egypt, and 12 times as much as Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Historian's Take on Islam Steers U.S. in Terrorism Fight - Peter Waldman
    Bernard Lewis's diagnosis of the Muslim world's malaise, and his call for a U.S. military invasion to seed democracy in the Mideast, have helped define the boldest shift in U.S. foreign policy in 50 years. As mentor and informal adviser to some top U.S. officials, Mr. Lewis has helped coax the White House to shed decades of thinking about Arab regimes and the use of military power. Gone is the notion that U.S. policy in the oil-rich region should promote stability above all, even if it means taking tyrants as friends. Also gone is the corollary notion that fostering democratic values in these lands risks destabilizing them. Instead, the Lewis Doctrine says fostering Mideast democracy is not only wise but imperative. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A Sign of Change on the Palestinian Street? - Nazir Majally
    Palestinian reformers have talked about how to establish a special Arab state in democratic and pluralistic Palestine, and about a free and thriving economy. They cited Japan and Germany, which were compelled to dismantle their armies following the surrender in World War II, and how they have since become economic and technological superpowers. They have talked about Israel in terms of cooperation instead of hostility, in terms of envy instead of hatred. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Exposes Horror of Bus Bombing - Molly Moore
    For the first time in more than three years and after scores of suicide bombings, the Israeli government took the horror of a bus bombing directly to the public via a video on the Internet, bypassing what one senior Israeli official called the "distorted" coverage of the international news media. "We decided this was the only way for us to bring our message to the world," said Gideon Meir, a senior Foreign Ministry officer. "It took us 3 1/2 years to show these pictures." Meir said the Web site had received 600,000 hits on the video as of Sunday night. (Washington Post)
        See also Making the Suffering Known - Peter Hermann
    Often, Israelis say, the scenes of destruction after attacks such as the bus bombing in Jerusalem last week are so shocking that newspapers and television reporters are unable to describe the extent of the suffering. In the U.S., such detail is considered too graphic by most publications.
        "I think we clean the scenes up too fast," says Barbara Sofer, director of public relations for the Women's Zionist Organization of America, which runs Jerusalem's two Hadassah hospital centers, the city's premier trauma centers. "The only thing that comes across is that we can't have a coffee in peace at a trendy cafe. That's not what this is about. It's about our lives being blown to pieces. The world is not privy to this." Even the ultra-Orthodox, such as Alex Farkash, spokesman for Bikur Cholim Hospital in downtown Jerusalem, say constraints against displaying the dead and mutilated are outweighed by the need to demonstrate what happens when a person blows himself up in the crowded confines of a bus. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Aspiration, Not Desperation - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
    The aspiration to die, which contradicts the basic human instinct for survival, is at the core of the suicide terrorism fervor. Palestinian society actively promotes the religious belief that their deity craves their deaths. A popular music video directed at children, broadcast hundreds of times on PA TV, depicts the earth thirsting for the blood of children: "How sweet is the fragrance of the shahids, how sweet is the scent of the earth, its thirst quenched by the gush of blood, flowing from the youthful body."
        Palestinians have been taught on PA TV by their religious leaders that they are born for the very purpose of dying for Allah. Palestinian children have learned to see dying for the deity as their goal in life. According to three different public opinion polls, 70-80% of Palestinian children aspire to shahada (death for Allah). In the ancient world, people gave their children to the deity of Molech and the Baal. This ancient belief has now returned to plague the world. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • Military Units Provide Training Ground for Israeli Tech Leaders - Josef Federman
    Much the way that Israel's elite fighting units produced generations of political leaders, Israel's electronics-warfare units have become incubators for Israel's high-tech industry. In a country where half the exports are in technology, multinationals and small software developers alike are packed with veterans of programs such as Lotem, which manages the military's computer and communications systems. (AP/USA Today)
  • Bombed Bus: A Symbol of Global Obscenity - Sheli Teitelbaum
    With a bombed Israeli bus as its centerpiece, two LA brothers are preparing a traveling exhibit designed to emphasize that terrorism, wherever and for whatever cause, can never be justified. Footing the bill was, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization headed by Los Angeles-based social entrepreneur Bernie Massey, and his brother Ed, an artist. The exhibit will present a running, graphic depiction of the horrors over 200 acts of terror have caused in countries as disparate as India, Russia, Turkey, and Colombia. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Robert Kennedy and Israel - Carol Glassman
    Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert Kennedy's eldest daughter, who was Maryland's first female lieutenant governor, told a Florida audience: "I might not be here if it weren't for Israel. My father had a crush on my mother's sister originally. Then his father decided he needed some experience as a journalist. He went to Israel to cover the War of Independence for the Boston Post in 1948, and when he returned, my aunt was engaged to someone else. So he married my mother." Townsend said Robert Kennedy had been impressed with the strength of Jewish freedom fighters, seeing Israel as "a truly great model for the birth of a nation in courage and dignity." (Marco Island Sun Times)
  • Observations:

    Israel Rejects British Parliamentary Report (Embassy of Israel, London)

    The British Parliament's Select Committee on International Development published a report Thursday calling on Prime Minister Blair to consider "economic pressure on Israel to ease movement restrictions which are crippling the Palestinian economy and causing soaring poverty."

        The Embassy of Israel in London responded:

    • The Embassy of Israel rejects the report of the IDC, which we find inherently unbalanced and unjust. This report is unlikely to be remembered as one of the British Parliament's finest documents, and will definitely not contribute to the peace process.
    • We are appalled by the committee's failure to address the core issue, which is the deliberate terror campaign and incitement being waged by Yasser Arafat and extremist terror organizations.
    • The people of Israel deserve more than mere sympathy. Like any other people, they are entitled to defend themselves against over 19,000 terror attacks committed against them.
    • To suggest that Israeli actions are motivated by anything other than defending its people is myopic, untrue, and irresponsible. The report, which does not demand any unequivical actions from the Palestinian Authority to stop terrorism, fails to address the real obstacles to peace.
    • It is about time that the Palestinians take command of their future and stop blaming others for their situation. It is about time that the Palestinian leadership directs the aid it receives to welfare projects to improve the lives of their people. It is about time that a responsible Palestinian leadership fights terror and responds to Israel's offer to walk together on the road to peace, which will ensure prosperity and security to all people.
        See also Israel Shocked over "Biased, Unjust" UK Report on Territories - Sharon Sadeh (Ha'aretz)

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