Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 19, 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:

Roots of Pakistan Atomic Scandal Traced to Europe - Craig S. Smith (New York Times)
    Industry scientists and Western intelligence agencies have known for decades that nuclear technology was pouring out of Europe despite national export control efforts to contain it.
    Many of the names that have turned up among lists of suppliers and middlemen who fed equipment, materials, and knowledge to nuclear programs in Pakistan and other aspiring nuclear nations are well-known players in Europe's uranium enrichment industry.
    Some have been convicted of illegal exports before.
    Even as their own intelligence services warned that Pakistan could not be trusted, some European governments continued to help Pakistan's nuclear program.

Israel Denies Damascus Sent Message Via Turkey (Ha'aretz)
    A spokesman in the Prime Minister's Office has denied Syrian reports that Damascus had sent Israel an offer, via Turkey, to renew talks.
    Ra'anan Gissin, an advisor to Prime Minister Sharon, said Israel was ready to negotiate with Syria without any preconditions, but demands that Syria cease funding Hizballah and other terror groups.
    He added that renewing talks did not mean renewing them from the point where they were last stopped.

Australian PM Condemns Jihad Comments (The Age-Australia)
    Australian Prime Minister John Howard has condemned remarks attributed to Muslim leader Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali, the Mufti of Australia, calling for a jihad against Israel.
    Sheik Alhilali, Imam of Sydney's Lakemba Mosque, reportedly made the comments in sermons and interviews in Lebanon, where he was also reported to have visited the leader of Hizballah.
    See also Mufti of Australia Calls for Jihad (MEMRI)

Useful Reference:

Israeli Casualties Since Sept. 2000 (IDF)
    Israelis killed - 920
    Israelis wounded - 6,143
    Terrorist attacks - 20,543

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Uranium Enrichment Parts Found in Iran
    The UN nuclear watchdog has found in Iran undeclared components compatible with advanced uranium enrichment centrifuge designs, casting further doubt on Tehran's cooperation with the agency, diplomats said on Thursday. "This stuff should have been declared," said a Western diplomat, referring to the components discovered during inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • EU Looks at Fighting Anti-Semitism
    The European Union is holding a one-day seminar Thursday in Brussels to explore ways of combating rising anti-Semitism in Europe. Ahead of the event, Jewish leaders called for stricter monitoring of anti-Jewish incidents, tougher penalties for those perpetrating them, and educating young Europeans about the legacy of centuries of persecution on their continent. The seminar features German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, European Commission President Romano Prodi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, and Israeli minister and former Soviet dissident Nathan Sharansky. (CNN)
        See also Jewish Leaders Urge End of Israel's "Demonization"
    World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman and European Jewish Congress leader Cobi Benatoff say a European Commission seminar in Brussels on anti-Semitism will be a success if it leads to an end to what they term "the demonization of Israel." (Reuters)
  • In Iraqi Towns, Electoral Experiment Finds Some Success
    Tobin Bradley, 29, the political adviser for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Nasiriyah, has carried out what may stand as one of the most ambitious democratic experiments in Iraq's history. In the province of Dhi Qar southeast of Baghdad, which is overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim, residents voting as families will have elected city councils in 16 of the 20 biggest cities by next month. Voters have typically elected professionals rather than tribal or religious leaders, although the process has energized Islamic parties. Activists have gone door to door to organize women, who turned out in large numbers. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon Won't Ask U.S. to Help Finance Disengagement - Aluf Benn
    When Prime Minister Sharon presents his plan for "disengagement" from the Palestinians to three senior American envoys Thursday, government sources in Jerusalem say he will not raise the issue of American financial assistance for the planned evacuation of settlements, nor will he present detailed maps. Government sources said the disengagement will take place only after the American elections in November. (Ha'aretz)
  • Foreign Minister Outlines U.S. Limitations on Disengagement Plan - Eliel Shahar
    The U.S. will not approve Israel's annexing land on the West Bank or resettling Gaza settlers there as part of Prime Minister Sharon's plan to evacuate the Strip, said Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom Wednesday. According to Shalom, the U.S. is insisting that the withdrawal plan be implemented as part of the road map proposed by President Bush. (Maariv)
  • U.S., Europe to Boycott Fence Hearing at Hague - Tovah Lazaroff
    The U.S. and Europe have joined Israel in boycotting the oral hearing at the International Court of Justice next week on Israel's right to construct a security fence in the territories. A senior diplomatic official said the decision by many countries not to show up reflects the belief held by many that this issue should not be handled by the court. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Minister Survives Shooting in Jenin - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA Health Minister Jawad Tibi and Mohammad Shtayyeh, managing director of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, on Wednesday survived an assassination attempt during a visit to Jenin. Three masked gunmen belonging to Fatah's armed wing, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, opened fire on the two while they were eating at a local restaurant. Both men escaped without injury, but two bystanders were injured, including a PA policeman. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Intimate Enemies - Michael S. Doran
    Many Sunnis, especially religious extremists, hate Shiites more than they hate Israel. To the radicals of al-Qaeda and the Saudi religious establishment, Shiites are the intimate enemy. They dwell among the Sunnis and outwardly make a show of friendship and brotherhood. Inwardly, they will stop at nothing to destroy their sectarian rivals. The current international crisis, many Saudis believe, is providing the Shiites with an opportunity to do just that.
        Even before Hussein's regime fell, the story of Ibn Alqami was circulating in Saudi religious circles. A Shiite minister to the last Abbasid caliph, Alqami betrayed his ruler by conspiring with Hulagu, the Mongol leader who in 1258 sacked Baghdad and destroyed the Abbasid Empire, the flower of Islamic civilization. Over the past year, Sunni religious conservatives have habitually referred to George Bush as Hulagu II. The moment that U.S.-led forces turned their guns toward Iraq, Sunnis began to ask in reference to the Iraqi Shiites, "Will the grandchildren of Ibn Alqami follow in their grandfather's footsteps?" The writer is an assistant professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University and an adjunct senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
  • Look Who's Talking - Thomas L. Friedman
    The U.S. ouster of Saddam Hussein has triggered the first real "conversation" about political reform in the Arab world in a long, long time. Osama al-Ghazali Harb, a top figure at Egypt's semiofficial Al Ahram center for strategic studies, writing in the country's leading political quarterly, Al Siyassa Al Dawliya, chastised those Arab commentators who argue that the way in which the U.S. captured Saddam was meant to humiliate Arabs.
        "What we, as Arabs, should truly feel humiliated about are the prevailing political and social conditions in the Arab world - especially in Iraq - which allowed someone such as Saddam Hussein to...assume the presidency. We should feel humiliated that Saddam was single-handedly initiate a number of catastrophic policies that transformed Iraq, relatively rich in natural, human and financial resources, into the poorest, most debt-ridden country in the Arab world, not to mention the hundreds of thousands killed and displaced....The Arabs should have been the ones to bring down Saddam, in defense of their own dignity and their own true interests." (New York Times)
  • The Palestinians' Choice - Alon Ben-Meir
    The decision of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to evacuate most of the settlements in Gaza and several settlements in the West Bank offers the Palestinians an opportunity to resume peace negotiations with Israel in earnest. Nearly 3 1/2 years of intense violence, especially suicide bombings, have gradually convinced Sharon that only physical separation can protect his people from the wanton violence that has left every Israeli with deep emotional scars. The Palestinian leadership must stop kidding itself by disregarding security as Sharon's main motivation in this situation. The writer is Middle East Project Director at the World Policy Institute in New York and a professor of International Relations at New York University. (UPI)
  • Observations:

    Hamas from Cradle to Grave - Matthew Levitt (Middle East Quarterly)

    • Over the past three years, the United States has uncovered just how systematically terrorist groups conceal their activities behind charitable, social, and political fronts. Investigators, faced with the threat posed by al-Qaeda and its many affiliates, have come to appreciate the crucial role played by charities, foundations, and individual donors who funnel support to social service organizations. These same organizations effectively provide recruits, logistics, and cover for terrorists.
    • Some analysts still draw a distinction between the "military" and "political" or "social" wings of Hamas. Does Hamas really have "wings"? Hamas leaders themselves frequently acknowledge the central role that their "political" leaders play in the group's operational decision-making. Hamas military commander Salah Shihada (killed by Israel) stated: "The political apparatus is sovereign over the military apparatus."
    • According to court documents filed by the government of Israel, "the [political] bureau operates as the highest ranking leadership body in the Hamas organization....This bureau has responsibility for directing and coordinating terrorist acts by Hamas against soldiers and civilians in Israel and the territories."
    • The U.S. government has come to share this view. In the Treasury Department's August 2003 announcement designating six senior Hamas political leaders and five charities as terrorist entities, it asserted, "the political leadership of Hamas directs its terrorist networks just as they oversee their other activities."

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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