Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 3, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Israel Estimates Iran Could Launch Spy Satellite Within Year (Globes)
    The Israel Air Force estimates that Iran could launch a spy satellite within a year, the head of the Air Force technology department told an Israel Space Agency conference.
    "Arab countries and Iran are investing great efforts in satellite programs, obviously for intelligence gathering purposes."
    "There is a danger that in less than a year, Iran will be capable of launching a satellite into space. They are making great efforts in their space program, some of which is camouflaged as university and similar projects."

Palestinian Intifada Fervor Declines (IMRA)
    A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion on 24-28 February 2004 reveals declining fervor for the intifada among Palestinian adults.
    The poll, which focused on the economic impact of the intifada, asked: "If the Al-Aqsa Intifada continued in a way that further aggravated your financial conditions, would you still support it?"
    In February 2003, 44% responded they would still support it, a figure that declined to 32% in April 2003, and to 23% in February 2004.

Poll: Palestinian Youth Would Discriminate Against Women, Minorities - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    A poll of Palestinian high school students reported in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam revealed a strong rejection of equality for women in society, with 73% of students saying women should be limited to "traditional occupations."
    A third of Palestinian children surveyed believe that hitting a woman is "permissible under specified circumstances," and 23% reject a woman's right to chose a husband "freely."
    60% are unwilling to have a friend from a different religion, while 24% do not want a friend with a different skin color.

Israel's Baby Channel Targets 0-3 Demographic - Sasha Levy (Reuters/Hollywood Reporter)
    Since December, Israeli subscribers to satellite television broadcaster YES have been offered a unique solution to those up-all-night new-baby shifts: the Baby Channel, believed to be the first channel in the world to target viewers ages 0-3.
    Daytime programs designed to enrich and develop the younger viewer emphasize learning and language skills, while the nighttime lineup purveys soothing images and classical music designed to lull wakeful infants back to sleep.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Senior U.S. Officials Returning to Israel
    Three senior U.S. officials plan to return to Jerusalem next week for more talks with the Israeli government on its plan to disengage from the Palestinians, U.S. officials disclosed Tuesday. U.S. and Israeli officials insist they are not negotiating over the plan, but the talks have amounted to a form of shuttle consultancy. White House National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack said, "The prime minister's ideas are promising" and "have the potential to be historic." (Washington Post)
  • U.S.: Middle East Reform Cannot Wait for Peace
    U.S. Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, on a Middle East tour, said on Tuesday Washington's Middle East democracy plan should not depend on a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "The effort for reform and the effort for dignity and the effort for individuality in Arab countries does not have to wait until there is a full peace," he said. (Reuters)
  • Iran Blames al-Qaeda for Shiite Attacks
    Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Iran's vice president for legal and parliamentary affairs, blamed al-Qaeda for Tuesday's attacks on Shiite Muslims in Iraq and Pakistan. "The reactionary al-Qaeda terror group reached a conclusion...that they have two enemies: the United States as the political enemy and Shiites as the ideological enemy," Abtahi said. Al-Qaeda draws its members from some of the most conservative streams of Sunni thought - segments of Muslim society that consider Shiites heretics. A total of 185 people were killed in Tuesday's bombings in Baghdad and Karbala, Iraq; and Quetta, Pakistan, including at least 22 Iranian pilgrims in Karbala. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also The Predictable Terrorist Attacks - Claude Salhani
    Tuesday's horrifying bomb attacks in Iraq really come as no big surprise. Last month, Coalition forces in Iraq discovered a letter believed to have been authored by Musab Zarkawi, bin Laden's Jordanian chief of operations, outlining pending actions against Iraq's Shiites in order to generate discord between the Shiite and Sunni communities. "We need to bring the Shi'a into the battle because it is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us," wrote Zarkawi. "Fighting the Shi'a is the way to take the nation to battle." (UPI/Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Chief of Staff: Fence Will Not End Terror - Gil Hoffman
    Terrorists will still be able to attack Israel even after the West Bank security fence has been completed, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. Ya'alon said the IDF is working on advanced technology to target Palestinian Kassam rockets. He said the army has succeeded in stopping production of Kassams throughout the West Bank but that the Palestinians are still manufacturing rockets and mortars in the Gaza Strip that can be launched over the fence. "The IDF is acting under the assumption that terrorists will attempt to bypass the fence, either from above or below," Ya'alon said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Ya'alon: Keep Control of Gaza Border to Stop Arms Smuggling - Amos Harel and Gideon Alon
    IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon reiterated Tuesday that if the IDF quits the Philadelphia route, the 100-200 meter wide strip of Israeli-controlled territory between Egypt and Gaza, it will be wide open for arms smuggling from Egypt into Gaza. Ya'alon said weapons were being stockpiled along the Egypt-Gaza border waiting to be smuggled into Palestinian territory. "The Egyptians are taking action against the smuggling, but...they could do more," Ya'alon said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Gaza Plan Not Linked to U.S. Elections - Herb Keinon
    Senior Israeli diplomatic officials on Tuesday played down reports that the U.S. administration told Prime Minister Sharon's bureau chief Dov Weisglass that unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip should wait until after the November U.S. presidential elections. One official said that a plan like this takes time to put together and implement, and that the disengagement would not take place in any event until after November. Nevertheless, Israeli officials have been saying for weeks that the U.S. has been signaling that implementing disengagement now is not good for President Bush because of the fear of "unintended consequences" and the possibility events could spiral out of control just prior to the election. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat Approves Key Financial Reform
    During a PA cabinet meeting Tuesday, "Arafat approved paying all the security men through the banks," said Prime Minister Qurei, paving the way for renewed foreign aid. In recent months, international donors withheld vital budget support for the PA, saying they would not release the money until salaries for members of the security forces were paid directly to personal bank accounts. Arafat had blocked the reform for months, fearing it would undercut his control of the security forces. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The PLO's European Paymasters - Daniel Schwammenthal
    According to Nick Lambert, research director at the European Institute for Research on the Middle East, the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands have paid at least 20 million euros to the PLO's Negotiation Support Unit or NSU, that spreads anti-Israeli propaganda and stirs up sympathy for Palestinian suicide bombers. Given reports that Arafat and his cronies are involved in widespread corruption and terrorism, sending checks to the PLO seems particularly reckless. As long as Europe insists on funneling money to the organs most responsible for keeping Arafat in power and his propaganda machine well-funded, democracy, good governance, the rule of law and human rights will remain alien concepts in the Palestinian territories - and so will peace with Israel. (Wall Street Journal; 2 Mar 04)
  • The New Israelophobes - Robert Wistrich
    Anti-Semitism and loathing for Israel is no longer merely a phenomenon of marginal British extremists. When the defamation of Zionism claims to be progressive or is Palestinian in origin, a strange schizophrenia emerges in which almost everything is permitted under the mask of criticizing Israel. The new Israelophobes insist that they are true humanists and some even claim to love the Jews, but their compassion appears to be highly selective. Perhaps the time has come to bring a bombed-out Jerusalem bus to the streets of London to jolt the sleeping British conscience. (Jerusalem Post)
  • What Happened to Reform of the Palestinian Authority? - Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh
    According to public opinion polls, Palestinians support an end to rampant corruption and lawlessness, which they increasingly associate with Yasser Arafat. A Palestinian poll released on February 9, 2004, revealed that only 27% of the Palestinian public expressed "strong support" for Arafat. According to Ramallah banker Omar Ibrahim Karsou, who has called for Arafat's ouster and the replacement of the entire PA leadership, Palestinians want first to regain normalcy in their everyday lives. That means an end to violence, full employment including the possibility of working in Israel, and the ability to travel freely throughout the territories. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Israel Frenzy - William F. Buckley, Jr. (Sacramento Bee)

    • It is being claimed, ever more widely, that neoconservative policies are determined by the advantages they bring to the State of Israel. Pat Buchanan wrote 10 years ago that Congress had become the "Amen corner" for pro-Israel policies. I once jocularly proposed that Israel be annexed as the 51st state, which would give us the advantage of participating in the formulation of Israeli policies, which we would then automatically endorse.
    • Nobody who knows his way around questions the political leverage of the Jewish vote in critical states or denies the importance of Jewish patronage of favored candidates and officeholders. But the transposition of this into the position that U.S. policies are formulated because they bear directly on Israeli interests is invention.
    • The hostility to Israel on the part of the Muslim community is a fact of life, but to say that the war against Iraq bolstered Israel's security is not to say that we went to war in Iraq in order to bolster Israel's security. There was no distinctive pressure, in 2003, to send U.S. Marines to Iraq in order to destroy a regime hostile to Israel. And associates of the administration would probably confess that they would not have recommended the war on Iraq except for their conviction that it was becoming a storehouse of weaponry that Saddam was entirely capable of using, whether against Kurds, Kuwaitis, Iranians, or Israelis.

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