Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 13, 2004

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

In-Depth Issue:

West Bank Kassam Rocket Factory Destroyed - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    The Shin Bet revealed on Thursday that in early January, Fadel Taha, 30, head of a Hamas infrastructure in Ramallah, and five of his accomplices were arrested for manufacturing Kassam rockets in Ramallah.
    The rockets have a range of about eight kilometers and, if fired from Ramallah, could strike Jerusalem.
    The bomb factory contained a refrigerator rigged with explosives, fertilizer, and a Kassam rocket in a final phase of construction.
    See also IDF Forces Uncover Hamas Kassam Rocket Workshop (IDF)
    See four Hamas terrorist films.

Umm el Fahm - Benign Neglect - Yossi Klein Halevi (New Republic)
    Prime Minister Sharon's plan to cede the Triangle, an overwhelmingly Arab area parallel to Israel's coastal plain whose largest town is Umm El Fahm, would mean withdrawing from territory within the pre-1967 borders and stripping some 200,000 Arabs of their Israeli citizenship.
    The plan has stirred little opposition among Israeli Jews, who share Sharon's anxiety about growing birthrates and radicalization among Israel's more than one million Arab citizens, who form 16% of the population.
    In Umm El Fahm these days one hears widespread affirmation of Israeli identity, as many residents insist they prefer to live in a Jewish state rather than a Palestinian one.

NPR'S Anti-Israel Bias - Daniel Doron (Jerusalem Post)
    A recent example of National Public Radio's bias is its seven-part report on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, "The Mideast: A Century of Conflict."
    The carefully selected experts include eight harsh critics of Israel - four Arab radicals, such as the late Edward Said, plus four extreme left-wing Israelis.
    To create an appearance of even-handedness, the panel also includes one American, a former pro-Arab official from the State Department, and three Jews sympathetic to Israel.
    Zionism is condemned as a mere by-product of European imperialist nationalism, lacking any valid historical claim to the Holy Land.
    The program also hides the fact that not only the Jewish national home was sanctioned by the League of Nations but that every Arab state came into being the same way.
    In the post-WWI peace conference, the European victors and America reapportioned the Middle East territories of the disintegrated Ottoman Empire, crafting a deal whereby the Arabs were to be granted 99% of former Ottoman lands while 1% of the territories would be returned to the Jews.
    Even this tiny territory was later partitioned, with more than 70% given to an Arab Kingdom of Jordan.

West Bank Chaos Sparks Vigilantism - Joshua Mitnick (Washington Times)
    Law and order has broken down throughout the West Bank since Israel reoccupied the territory nearly two years ago, with militant youth gangs and a regression to clan rule filling the vacuum.
    In some places, the police are back on the streets in uniform for the first time since April 2000, still without weapons, in a new bid to battle waves of crime and vigilantism.
    In other areas, ruling militants refuse to let uniformed police back on the streets.

Al-Qaeda's New Young Guard - Faye Bowers (Christian Science Monitor)
    The new fighters are probably not as dynamic and swashbuckling as their former counterparts, jihadists who came of age during the early 1980s fighting the Soviets alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan.
    The younger acolytes, though, are believed to be at least as religiously zealous, better educated, more computer savvy, and better organization builders.
    "It shows al-Qaeda's enduring attraction," says Bruce Hoffman, a terror expert at the RAND Corp. in Washington. "Even despite the loss of Afghanistan, the call of jihad remains a compelling voice to this new generation of recruits populating the ranks."
    See also The Secret War Against Al-Qaeda - Peter Taylor (BBC)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell Blames Arafat for Impasse in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts
    Secretary of State Colin Powell Thursday put blame for the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts squarely on Arafat, who he said is aware of those who are committing anti-Israel acts of terror but has failed to move against them. Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "I put the blame squarely on Chairman Arafat for his unwillingness to speak out, use the moral authority as a leader that everybody says he has, not just to occasionally give a statement condemning this, not only to condemn this kind of activity, but take action against those organizations that he knows is committing those acts."
        Powell said he understood the frustration among Palestinians about Israeli policies, but these cannot be allowed to "serve as an excuse" for suicide attacks or other acts of terror. "The problem is the same problem that has been there for the three years that I have been working in this account. And that is terrorism, terrorism that still emanates from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other organizations that are not interested in peace, not interested in a state for the Palestinian people. They're interested in the destruction of Israel." (VOA News)
        See also U.S. to Hit Syria with Sanctions - Janine Zacharia
    The U.S. plans to impose sanctions on Syria in accordance with the Syria Accountability Act, Secretary of State Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday. Asked whether the U.S. intends to begin implementation of the Syria Accountability Act in the near future, Powell said, "Yes. We're examining now what sections of the act we want to use." Powell said Syria had not yet closed the offices of Palestinian terrorist groups or expelled Palestinian terrorist leaders from Damascus as the U.S. has demanded. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. May Support Israel's Unilateral Moves - Steven Weisman
    The Bush administration, signaling a major shift of policy on the Middle East, has indicated that it may support Israel's new proposal for a unilateral withdrawal from parts of Gaza and the West Bank, according to administration and Israeli officials. A senior American official said that the administration is "taking a close look" at the policy. Embracing Sharon's plan would mean accepting the idea that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are not possible, at least for now. "Our assessment is that the administration is very receptive to the plan of Prime Minister Sharon, on the basis that it is within the context of the vision of President Bush and also within the road map," said Ambassador Daniel Ayalon of Israel.
        American officials say they are extremely concerned that they are not seen as walking away from the idea of a negotiated settlement or from pressure on the Palestinians to take charge of security in Gaza and the West Bank. However, increasingly, administration officials have said negotiations were impossible because of Palestinian recalcitrance. Martin Indyk, ambassador to Israel under President Clinton, said the Bush administration's challenge was "to get behind this plan and shape it to make it work to the benefit of an ultimate settlement." Israelis, he said, had given up on the PA because it had failed to stop terrorism. (New York Times)
  • Iran Admits It Has Plans For a Newer Centrifuge
    The Iranian government, confronted with new evidence obtained from the secret network of nuclear suppliers surrounding Abdul Qadeer Khan, has acknowledged that it possesses a design for a far more advanced high-speed centrifuge to enrich uranium than it previously revealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The centrifuge, representing Pakistan's second-generation design, would allow Iran to produce nuclear fuel far more quickly than the equipment that it reluctantly revealed to the agency last year. Iran's new statements provide the first evidence that Iran did not tell the full truth when it turned over documents that it said described all the important elements of its program to enrich uranium. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Accuses Iran of Nuclear Arms Deception (Financial Times-UK)
  • U.S. Muslim Soldier Held on Suspicion of Espionage
    A National Guard soldier was arrested Thursday on suspicion of trying to pass information about military capabilities to the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, military officials said. Spc. Ryan G. Anderson, 26, was taken into custody at Fort Lewis, Washington, after an internal sting operation. Anderson allegedly offered to pass the information to al-Qaeda agents through an Internet chat room, Pentagon officials said. Sources said Anderson converted to Islam several years ago. (CNN)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Won't Take Part in Hague Hearings - Aluf Benn
    Israel will not participate in the International Court of Justice's hearings on the West Bank separation fence, the inner cabinet decided Thursday. Instead, Jerusalem will make do with the affidavit it submitted to the court two weeks ago, which rejects the judges' authority to rule on the matter. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Planeloads of Israelis Heading to The Hague - Gila Fine
    A private, non-profit committee, the "Civil Coalition," is forming a group of hundreds of Israelis to attend the mass demonstrations outside the International Court of Justice's hearings on the security fence in The Hague. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Security Forces Nab Hizballah Agent in Jerusalem
    Security forces have arrested Fa'ada Said Abdullah, a 28-year-old divorced Palestinian nurse who works for the Red Crescent, on suspicion of being a Hizballah agent. The suspect confirmed that she has, over the past several months, acted as a liaison with Hizballah on behalf of Haled Shwaish, a wanted terrorist based in Arafat's compound in Ramallah, who is a senior commander in the Tanzim, a terrorist organization affiliated with Arafat's Fatah party. She used her Red Crescent credentials to travel abroad, including Lebanon, where she would meet with Hizballah personnel, acting as a courier between the Lebanese terrorist organization and Ramallah. Security forces have evidence that Arafat knew about these activities and approved them. (Ma'ariv)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why the West Should Care about Israel's Survival - Dallas Brodie
    I asked former Soviet dissident and now Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky last month, "Why should the West care about whether Israel survives as a country?" He said: "If you truly believe in the principles of human rights and democracy then you must support Israel because it stands as a tiny island in an exceedingly dangerous sea of totalitarianism with all the challenges of waging war as a democracy." There is no question that Israel sits on the front line against despotism, Islamic fundamentalism, and terror in the Middle East. As such, it plays a crucial role in the ongoing war against terror.
        Essentially what Sharansky is saying is that the West must pick a side. Either we believe in democracy and human rights or we do not. Whether we agree with the way successive Israeli governments have handled the Palestinian question should be irrelevant to our support of Israel's existence. Many countries have policies with which we disagree, but we do not call into question their very nationhood. (Vancouver Sun)
  • Israel's Fence and America's Double Standard - Ilana Freedman
    The barrier is neither an Apartheid Wall nor a Berlin Wall. Apartheid separated people of color from Caucasians in a cruelly segregated South Africa. The Berlin Wall divided a single, formerly unified city, separating families and severing the ties of commerce between East and West Berlin. Israel's barrier does neither. In the present climate, it is safe to say that Israel and the Palestinians are at war. The wall does not divide a country as much as it separates enemies.
        For two years, we Americans have been fighting our own war against terrorism. Israel has been fighting the same enemy for many years more. How long, I wonder, would we Americans permit terrorists to blow up our buses and murder our children on the streets of our own cities? Would we not do whatever was necessary to stop the terror and protect our citizens? Israel is the size of New Hampshire, with a population of only 6.5 million people. It is wrong to ask Israel to do less than we would do ourselves when the lives of her citizens are at risk. All too soon, if we do not firmly support Israel in her war against terror, we will be facing the same enemy on our own streets. (MetroWest Daily News-Boston)
  • U.S.-Saudi Tensions - Michael Scott Doran
    Saudi Arabia has a long history of supporting radical Islam and many of the September 11 hijackers were Saudis. In Saudi Arabia, radical Islamic forces and groups ideologically sympathetic to radical Islam are accusing their domestic Saudi rivals of being agents of the Americans. They are keeping alive a level of anti-Americanism tied to radical Islam that we should be deeply concerned about. The big dividing line in Saudi politics is over the question: should the political and educational role of the clerics be reduced?
        Crown Prince Abdullah is trying to raise the possibility of altering the system to give voice to non-Wahhabis, but there is a very serious outcry from the clerical right about this. There are many indications that Prince Nayef [head of the interior ministry] is more sympathetic to the clerics than to the liberals clustered around Abdullah. King Fahd [the nominal head of state] is incapacitated. Abdullah may be the crown prince, but there is no center to this system. There are a lot of competing fiefdoms. Prince Sultan, the defense minister, shares top billing with Nayef and Abdullah. Nayef and Sultan are full brothers. A good working assumption is that Sultan and Nayef are closer to each other than they are to the crown prince. Since last May, Nayef has been cracking down heavily on the extremists inside Saudi Arabia, but it's not true that he's willing to take on the conservative clerics. The writer is assistant professor at Princeton University and an adjunct fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Council on Foreign Relations/New York Times)
  • Kingdom Cover - Josh Lefkowitz and Jonathan Levin
    Despite the Saudis' vigorous pursuit of terrorists within the kingdom's borders and the increased cooperation with the U.S., the Saudi government continues to propound the extremist brand of Islam at the heart of al-Qaeda terror, obstructs the 9/11 investigation, and provides significant support to organizations with proven terrorist connections. Saudi Arabia is presenting a facade to the world. Until the Saud family makes a firm commitment to divorce itself from a brand of Islam that promotes violence and intolerance toward the West, Saudi Arabia will continue to be a hotbed of terrorist activity. (National Review)
  • Israeli Membership in NATO: A Preliminary Assessment - Uzi Eilam
    It has been suggested that the prospect of much closer relations with Europe might give Israel an extra "security safety-net" that would enable it to be more "generous" in negotiations with the Palestinians. NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue Program, which encompasses Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria, has provided little more than a loose framework for meetings to achieve some higher level of mutual understanding. The Partnership for Peace (PfP), initiated in 1994 with the aim of reinforcing stability in and promoting defense cooperation with former Warsaw Pact countries, now includes 30 countries. For ten Eastern European countries, membership in PfP was an appropriate corridor to NATO membership. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies)
  • A Pullback That is All Risk - Yossi Ben Aharon
    Yisrael Galili, a minister in Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin's government in the 1970s, used to say, "whether it be at war, a cease-fire, or a full peace, it is essential, of critical importance, that we control the border at Rafah, from the sea to the desert sands in the south. We must prevent, at all cost, the creation of territorial continuity from Egypt through the Sinai and Gaza Strip, up to Ashkelon. We were already in that situation once before, and we almost lost our country."
        An officer, speaking in a private forum, said that the Gaza settlements are of critical importance to the army in fighting Palestinian terror. The Jewish settlements provide a commanding position over main arteries and vast open spaces; they prevent freedom of movement for enemy agents; they sometimes provide a launch pad for army activities or a cover for operations, and they make it easier for the army to blend in with the terrain. They suffer constant terrorist attacks that would otherwise be directed at targets within the "green line."  (Maariv)
  • The Wrong Exit from Gaza - Yossi Beilin
    Prime Minister Sharon's announcement last week about his intention to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza has stirred the Israeli political system, with many in the center-left, including most notably the Labor Party, expressing their support. Rather than moving unilaterally, Sharon should offer to withdraw from Gaza within the context of an agreement. President George W. Bush laid out his vision for such an agreement in a speech over a year and a half ago. The Quartet has drafted a road map aimed at guiding the parties to such an agreement. Sharon could begin permanent status negotiations with the Palestinians leadership on all issues as envisioned by the road map. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Toward an "Islamic Bomb" - Ze'ev Schiff
    One has to be naive to the point of stupidity in order to believe that the Pakistani government did not know about the transfer of nuclear know-how to a number of countries, most of them Muslim, by the person who is considered the father of the Pakistani atomic bomb, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. This was a complex operation that went on for years and included extensive deals, the movement of equipment, training, and managing hefty bank accounts. (Ha'aretz)
  • Chirac's French Kiss - Adar Primor
    Next Monday, President Moshe Katsav will be arriving in Paris for a state visit and an "I love Israel" parade. His counterpart, Jacques Chirac, has ordered the Israeli flag to be flown on the Champs Elysees and placed his private jet at the guest's disposal. Katsav will express appreciation for France's efforts to build a new relationship that is no longer a hostage to the ups and downs of the peace process. While Muslim women in France are being ordered to remove their head scarves, flags emblazoned with the Star of David are being hoisted in the streets of Paris. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Dangers of Gaddafi - Editorial
    In receiving the Libyan foreign minister in Downing Street, Tony Blair was rewarding Muammar Gaddafi for abandoning plans to develop weapons of mass destruction. Britain has taken the lead in offering incentives, from re-establishing diplomatic relations to agreeing to a meeting between the prime minister and Col. Gaddafi. Washington, by contrast, abstained on the vote authorizing the lifting of UN sanctions and has kept its own embargo in place. Although the regime in Tripoli has changed, it remains a dictatorship with a poor human rights record. Taking a leaf from Washington's book, the prime minister should beware lest his enthusiasm runs ahead of reality. (Telegraph-UK)

    Weekend Features:

  • Israel Provides Humanitarian Assistance Worldwide - Karen L. Dunn
    For more than 40 years, while still struggling for its own survival, Israel has been providing substantial humanitarian assistance to people worldwide. From soil cultivation programs in Kenya to computer education in Ethiopia, from medical programs in Jordan to seminars on cattle husbandry in India, Israel has helped alleviate hunger, disease, and poverty in many developing countries. When a massive earthquake struck Turkey in 1999, Israel set up a 120-bed field hospital and sent more than 100 tons of relief supplies and a 250-person search and rescue team, saving 12 survivors. During the Yugoslavian civil war, the Rwandan civil war, and the conflict in Kosovo, Israel granted safe haven to refugees and sent humanitarian aid. More than 140 countries have benefited from Israel's international humanitarian aid. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Arabs from U.S. Bridge Culture Gap in Region - Hannah Allam
    Hundreds of Arab Americans have made their way - or way back - to Iraq as interpreters, soldiers, humanitarian workers, and contractors, playing crucial roles in bridging the gaping cultural divide between Iraqis and the U.S. armed forces. Gen. John Abizaid, a Lebanese American, heads the U.S. Central Command. A Syrian American arranges interviews for a senior coalition spokesman; a Palestinian American delivers millions of dollars from coalition headquarters to Iraqi banks each week; and an Egyptian American records human-rights complaints. (Knight Ridder/Miami Herald)
  • What's in Name? For Carmen Bin Ladin, a Saudi Insider, Everything - Marlise Simons
    Mrs. bin Ladin, who was born Carmen Dufour, to an Iranian mother and a Swiss father, acquired her name when she married Yeslam bin Ladin, son of one of Saudi Arabia's richest men. Soon after, she first met her new brother-in-law, Osama bin Laden. She has now chronicled her Saudi life in Inside the Kingdom. The book makes a fiery case against what its author calls the oppression and fanaticism that dominates much of Saudi society. Her unabashed conclusion: "The Saudis are the Taliban, in luxury." (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Unequal Mideast Equation - John Moscowitz (Toronto Globe and Mail)

    • In reality, a troubling asymmetry exists that suggests why Israeli society is significantly prepared for peace while Palestinian society is not.
    • Israel's far left has accepted the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative over that of the Israeli narrative. Israel's moderate left accepts the equal legitimacy of the Palestinian and Israeli narratives. The moderate right can be said to accept the right of Palestinian statehood (although it probably believes that the Israelis have something more of a right). On the far right, a small minority insists that only Israel enjoys national legitimacy.
    • And on the Palestinian side? There are nuances among the three camps: those who believe Israel should be destroyed through violence; those who believe it should be destroyed through territorial concessions and demographic changes; and those who believe that Israel is simply too strong to be destroyed.
    • But in none of these camps - including the third - is there an acceptance of what is normative in the vast reaches of Israeli society today: that this struggle is between two national rights, and there must ultimately be two states.
    • To achieve peace, Israelis must recognize the national rights of the Palestinian people (at least 75% of Israelis do). But Palestinians must recognize the need for a secure, legitimate existence of a Jewish state - which arguably less than 20% of Palestinians do (and only by virtue of Israel's power).

      The writer is senior rabbi at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.

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