Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 9, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

84% of Jewish Israelis Support Security Fence - Efraim Yaar and Tamar Herman (Ha'aretz-Hebrew)
    84% of Jewish Israelis support construction of the security fence, according to the March "Peace Index" survey of the Tammy Steinmetz Center for Peace Studies at Tel Aviv University.
    Two-thirds of Jewish respondents believe the fence route should be set according to security considerations and not according to the "green line."
    70% support the policy of targeted killings, even if innocents are hurt.
    60% support the removal of all settlements in Gaza and small, isolated settlements in the West Bank.
    When asked about the possibility of a peace agreement with the Palestinians as an alternative to unilateral disengagement, 51% prefer quick disengagement compared with 36% who favor an extended effort to reach an agreement.
    A clear majority of 60% oppose the removal of all settlements in the West Bank, including the large settlement blocs, compared with 30% who favor such a step.
    Only 32% of the general public and 26% of the Jewish public still support the Oslo agreements.

Plan to Disguise Female Bomber as Israeli Ambulance Volunteer Foiled - Meir Suissa and Amit Cohen (
    The General Security Service (GSS) recently foiled a triple suicide bombing planned by the military wing of Fatah, which was to feature a female suicide bomber dressed up as a volunteer of Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's emergency ambulance service.
    The would-be female bomber, who gave herself up to security forces, revealed that two other members of her cell in Nablus were planning to board a bus in central Israel and blow themselves up.
    The would-be female bomber was to wait, dressed in a MDA uniform, for the arrival of rescue forces and set off her explosive belt among them.

Tribes Join Pakistan's Campaign to Root Out Bin Laden - Peter Foster (Telegraph-UK)
    At a tribal council attended by 10,000 tribesmen, the tribes of Pakistan's lawless border areas agreed Sunday to set up militia bands totaling 2,000 fighters to root out "foreign" elements in the region and hand them over to government forces.
    "Save your region from destruction for a handful of people," said tribal leader Muhammad Tahir. "Hand over the people the government wants to get out of this quagmire."
    Harsh penalties were decreed for any tribesman caught providing shelter to foreigners, including the demolition of his house and a fine of a million rupees.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Asks Allies to Condemn Iran on Nuclear Issue
    The U.S. is circulating a draft resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors' meeting in Vienna this week that condemns Iran for failing to disclose that it was working on an advanced centrifuge design capable of producing highly enriched uranium suitable for use in atomic weapons. (New York Times)
        See also Head of Nuclear Watchdog Expresses Concern Over Iran (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Iran's Nuclear Menace - Mansoor Ijaz
    Iran's mullahs have longed for nuclear bombs since coming to power in 1980. Their pacifying statements and superficial compliance with IAEA inspection teams are masking an unrelenting drive to buy time for their scientists to complete work on the first Shi'ite Islamic bomb. Iran is on the verge of becoming perhaps the world's most dangerous nuclear state, one capable of proliferating without regard for international agreements and standards of state behavior. There is not a minute to waste in stopping them. (Washington Times)
        See also Stand Up to the Mullahs - Editorial
    The [British] Government's treatment of Iran resembles the way it handled the IRA during the "peace process": no matter what atrocities are committed, it always gives the Islamists "one last chance."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • Iraqi Lawmakers Sign Interim Charter
    Iraq's Governing Council signed a landmark interim constitution on Monday that enshrines broad protections for individual rights and establishes a framework for democratic self-rule after U.S. administration of the country ends this summer. (Washington Post)
  • Police Quell Reform Protest in Syria
    Syrian security police squelched a public demonstration in Damascus demanding political reform on Monday. When the small band of some 20-30 demonstrators unfurled a few paper banners reflecting their demands, dozens of plainclothes security officers pounced. (New York Times)
        See also On to Damascus - Nir Boms and Erick Stakelbeck
    The Syrian Democratic Coalition (SDC), a union of 19 Syrian political parties, civil rights and student organizations, gathered on January 17-19 in Brussels to discuss replacing the world's last remaining Ba'ath Party dictatorship with a secular democracy. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Speed Up Checks at Roadblocks
    Israel's defense minister endorsed a plan Monday to speed up checks at West Bank roadblocks but also make them more permanent. The plan includes a code of conduct for soldiers, high-tech devices for identifying people to speed up passage, and a special lane for ambulances, VIPs, and foreigners. (AP/MSNBC)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas: Israel's Gaza "Retreat" Does Not Mean End of Resistance - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official in Lebanon, said Monday that Hamas would continue its attacks on Israel even after the planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in order to "liberate the rest of Palestine." Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi said, "There is no doubt that this retreat from the Gaza Strip is a big victory for the Palestinian resistance." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas Bombmaker: "Israel's Fall is Near" - Joseph Nasr
    Hamas' co-founder and top bombmaker Muhammad Deif said in a taped message: "Israel's fall is near, with Allah's help, and it is closer than they imagine. We will see victory with our very own eyes. Martyrdom is the ultimate desire of Palestine's elderly, young, and female young," Channel 2 TV reported Monday. Deif declared that Hamas engineers will persist in perfecting explosive devices and rockets, that the organization receives hundreds of volunteer suicide-bombers, including entire families, and that the number of joint operations with other Palestinian groups will increase. (Jerusalem Post)
        Deif made clear that Hamas' Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades makes no distinction between the two sides of the "green line." "There is no difference between our land that was conquered in 1948 and that which was conquered in 1967," he said. (Maariv-Hebrew, 9 Mar 03)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Saudi Looks at Israel's Values - Amnon Rubinstein
    Commenting on the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hizballah, Khaled Jalabi wrote in Saudi Arabia's Al-Watan: "At first glance, it appears that Israel endured the humiliation of conducting negotiations with a faction and not a state, with the aim of freeing one individual in exchange for hundreds of prisoners. But only a child would miss the point: On a pure arithmetic reckoning, the meaning is that Israel viewed the three corpses and the one living man as being equivalent to any number of people, even if that total reached hundreds or thousands. In terms of moral logic, the moral is that, in Israel's view, the life of an Israeli, even one of Arab origin, is considered invaluable. In contrast, an Arab citizen can be thrown in prison for having surfed on the opposition's Web site...that shows how much a citizen's life is worth in the eyes of Arab regimes." (Ha'aretz)
  • The Radicals are Desperate - Fareed Zakaria
    That Islamic extremist groups are now targeting Shiites is surely a sign of desperation. Unable to launch major terrorist attacks in the West, unable to attract political support in the Middle East, militant Islam is searching for enemies and causes. Over the past three years the terrorists have killed mostly Muslims, which is marginalizing them in the world of Islam. Support for violent Islam is waning in almost all major Muslim countries. Discussions from Libya to Saudi Arabia are all about liberalization. Similarly, Islamic extremists are losing the battle against modernity. Few Muslims want a Taliban-style regime or life.
        The persecution of Shiites has been the dirty little secret of the Islamic world. Mainstream Sunnis are more likely to be shocked and embarrassed by the airing of this hatred. It will also remind people how extreme the Islamic radicals are. By waging war on fellow Muslims, Islamic radicals are proving that the war against terror is not a clash between civilizations, but a clash within a civilization. And the bad guys are losing. (Newsweek)
        See also Sunni Hegemony Shattered - Shlomo Avineri
    The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq put an end to decades of Sunni hegemony in a country which has a Shi'ite majority. Ever since the British in the 1920s stitched Iraq together from three very disparate provinces of the old Ottoman Empire, the Sunni Arab minority, which never numbered more than 20%, tried to maintain its rule over the 60% Shi'ite majority. The recent attacks against the Shi'ites are the death throes of the defeated Sunni ruling minority.
        In addition, the 20% Kurds, who are not ethnic Arabs, now appear not to wish to live under Arab domination any longer. Only a fortnight ago 1.7 million Kurds signed a petition calling for independence, to which the Kurds - if one takes the idea of self-determination seriously - are as entitled as the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arab World Cannot Wait on Reform
    Jordanian Planning Minister Bassem Awadallah said in an interview: "Many countries in the Arab world have used the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue as an excuse not to advance reforms in their own countries....But we're also saying that the two are not mutually exclusive. That you cannot wait until the Arab-Israeli conflict is solved before you start implementing the necessary reforms." Awadallah was speaking in advance of the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for the Bridging the Rift Center, a Jordanian-Israeli scientific facility. (Access/Middle East)
  • Observations:

    Egyptian Journalist Anis Mansour: Arafat Must Make Peace - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

    Anis Mansour, 79, one of the Arab world's most influential journalists who played a vital role in the peace negotiations with Israel during the tenure of President Sadat, has called on Arafat to follow Sadat's example and make peace with Israel. Writing in the Egyptian government daily al-Ahram, Mansour said:

    • Sadat and Begin adopted a very simple principle - the honorable international custom of "anything is negotiable."
    • You know more than anyone else how many opportunities the Palestinian people missed because of you. This is not my business, but it is your business and the business of your people, who sooner or later will call you to account.
    • Your people are like the folk proverb that says, "He who cannot see the sun through the sieve is blind." This sieve is the Middle East and the events that have occurred in Kuwait and Iraq, in Sudan and in Libya.

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