Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 11, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Mubarak: Egypt to Boost Police Near Gaza If Israel Withdraws - Yoav Stern and Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
    If Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip, Egypt will beef up police forces along the border and put into place officers capable of dealing with weapons-smuggling into Gaza, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday after talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Cairo.

Palestinian Group: U.S. Assassinated Abbas - Hussein Dakroub (AP/Washington Post)
    The Palestine Liberation Front accused the U.S. on Wednesday of assassinating its leader Abul Abbas, who died Monday in U.S. detention in Baghdad.
    The U.S. deputy chief of operations in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, said Abbas almost certainly died of natural causes and officials believe the cause was a heart attack.
    Abbas had been convicted in absentia by an Italian court for the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro passenger ship and sentenced to life in prison in 1986.

Toys Prepare Palestinian Kids for War - Mohammed Assadi (Reuters)
    Ahmed Rami wanted to buy his six-year-old son alphabet blocks to help him read, but little Rami wanted a sleek black M-16 plastic rifle instead.
    Palestinian toy stores are packed with plastic arsenals of rifles, miniature tanks, missiles, and artillery pieces.
    Toy seller Midhat al-Mallah had toy cars and stuffed animals on offer, but said weapons were more popular. "Even girls want a toy gun," he said.
    A recent study of 12-year-old Palestinian children found that nearly a quarter wanted to die as suicide bombers in the fight against Israel.

Tadiran Communications Unit to Supply Toughened Handheld Computers to U.S. Marines - Felix Frisch (Globes)
    Tadiran Communications' U.S. subsidiary Tallahassee Technologies will supply toughened handheld computers for the U.S. Marine Corps in a $2.9 million contract.
    This is a follow-on order for a previous $12 million order for the same devices for different branches of the U.S. military.

SAS Creates New Squadron to Counter al-Qaeda - Sean Rayment (Telegraph-UK)
    The Special Air Service, Britain's elite fighting force, is to be increased in size for the first time in more than 50 years.
    The move follows a similar recruiting drive undertaken by the U.S., which is planning to increase the size of its special forces to counter the growing threat from terrorist organizations.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Alarm Raised Over Quality of Uranium Found in Iran
    UN nuclear inspectors have found traces of extremely highly enriched uranium in Iran, of a purity reserved for use in a nuclear bomb, European and American diplomats said Wednesday. If the enrichment took place in Iran, it means the country is much further along the road to becoming a nuclear weapons power than even the most aggressive intelligence estimates anticipated. (New York Times)
  • Israel to Cut 110 Miles from West Bank Barrier
    Prime Minister Sharon, in a move to please Washington, has ordered a cut of 110 miles to the route of Israel's West Bank security barrier, bringing it nearer the "green line," a senior political source said Wednesday. (Reuters)
  • Israeli Troops in Disguise Kill 5 Palestinian Gunmen in Jenin
    Israeli security forces disguised as Palestinians riding in an unmarked car killed five members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin in a shootout on Wednesday. "They were caught by surprise by undercover agents," said Zakaria Zbeida, the al-Aqsa commander for the Jenin area. "All of us are wanted by the Israelis." An Israeli military spokesman said three of the men were armed with M-16 rifles and one carried a Kalashnikov. (Washington Post)
  • Nablus Blames Arafat for the Gangs that Rule its Streets
    The Palestinians of the West Bank city of Nablus now live in fear of mafia-style gangs posing as their protectors in the "resistance." After more than 30 murders in the past year, and with kneecappings and kidnappings on the rise, the man being blamed in the souqs of the ancient merchant city's casbah is not Ariel Sharon but Yasser Arafat. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Anarchy Rules in the Palestinian Hub of Nablus (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PM Meets U.S. Envoys on Disengagement Plan - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon is slated to meet Thursday in Jerusalem with U.S. diplomatic envoys to continue talks about the plan for unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians and what the U.S. will give Israel in exchange for planned withdrawals. At the core of the talks will be the relationship between the number of settlements Israel evacuates in the West Bank and the depth of U.S. recognition of the settlement blocs of Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim, and Gush Etzion, which Israel wants to annex in any future peace agreement. Israel has asked the U.S. for, among other things, the right to conduct hot pursuit in Gaza after a withdrawal, if the terror continues. Sharon objects to any coordination with the Palestinians on the disengagement. (Ha'aretz)
  • Barak Says Fence Should Surround Ariel - Tovah Lazaroff
    Former prime minister Ehud Barak called Wednesday for a security fence that includes Ariel, Kedumim, and 75-80% of the settlements. He said building a fence along the "green line" would be a "major mistake" and would be taken as a sign that Israel is "acquiescing to terror." "It's not an accident that Rabin or I didn't build a fence along the 1967 line," Barak said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza Terror Cell Tied to Hizballah
    The Shin Bet security service has uncovered a Palestinian terror organization in Gaza that receives its orders and funding from Hizballah in Lebanon. The group, founded in Khan Yunis by Shadi Abu al-Hassin, had planned to send an explosives-laden glider into one of the settlements in the Gaza Strip. Abu al-Hassin, arrested in December 2003, said he had heard about the possibility of joining Hizballah after watching its al-Manar television station, which published an e-mail address that would-be recruits could contact. In the end, Abu al-Hassin joined up via his Lebanese uncle, who is active in the organization. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israeli Arabs Prefer to Stay - Erik N. Nelson
    In a reversal of norms for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel recently has contemplated giving up slices of Arab-populated land, while the Palestinian Arabs living on them have demanded to stay under Israeli governance. Israeli Arabs feel more secure under Israel's democracy than under a Palestinian state they expect will be authoritarian and corrupt. Umm al-Fahm's people prefer to be called Palestinians, but for reasons of jobs and political freedoms, they insist on living in Israel. "The democracy and justice in Israel is better than the democracy and justice in Arab and Islamic countries," said Hashem Abdel Rahman, who is Umm al-Fahm's mayor and local head of the Islamic Movement. A poll of Arabs in towns near here last month found that 90% preferred to remain in Israel. (Newsday)
        See also Umm el-Fahm, Palestine - Matti Golan
    The terribly intriguing question is why a Palestinian nationalist should be so opposed to having Palestinian citizenship. I try to imagine what would happen if it were the other way around, if I lived in a Palestinian state and were offered to move over to Israeli sovereignty without even having to leave my home. What more could I ask for?
        Why do the Palestinians have no problem openly demanding that there be no Jews in their state, demanding that the settlers be returned to sovereign Israel, which does involve evicting people from their homes? The writer is former editor-in-chief of Ha'aretz. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Lesson about Syria - in Turkish - Gad Shimron
    The line marking the Turkish-Syrian border looks different in school atlases in Turkey and Syria. Every Turkish child learns that the Hatay region is an inseparable part of Turkey. Syrian children learn that the region, called Alexandretta in their atlases, is Syrian. For years Syria served as a base for the Kurdish separatist organization, PKK. In 1999 Turkey demanded that Syria close the PKK offices and immediately expel its leaders. Meanwhile, large military forces were moved to the border, and the Turkish water company was asked to check whether the outlets of the dams it had built on the Euphrates, Syria's main water source, were in working order. The elder President Assad got the hint. The Kurdish offices were shut down and Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan was expelled, to be caught in Kenya a few days later by Turkish intelligence agents. The fact that this all began following a Turkish decision to stop acting nice and start baring its teeth at the irritating southern neighbor must appeal to some Israeli statesmen. (
  • Movies vs. Reality - Claudia Rosett
    Mel Gibson's new movie opened last week in the venerable Polish city of Krakow, playing to a rapt audience. Forty miles west of Krakow is Auschwitz. Some places need visiting by every generation, and not solely because there are crackpots at the extreme, such as Mel Gibson's father, Hutton Gibson, who would have us believe that the Holocaust was mostly fiction (his logic being, apparently, that the Nazis lacked the fuel to burn the bodies of six million Jews). At Auschwitz and Birkenau some 1.5 million human beings were murdered, most of them Jews. Those not dispatched immediately to the gas chambers served as slave laborers, usually dying within months, if not weeks, from starvation, exposure, overwork, and disease. I must assume Gibson's movie set out to depict what can be felt everywhere in the stark remains and devastating silence at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The writer is a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Hudson Institute. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Ambassador Living in the Shadow of Death - Greg Ansley
    (New Zealand Herald)

    • When Orna Sagiv, Israel's Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, boarded an aircraft in Hamilton for a flight to Wellington, it was an unnerving experience for the diplomat. "Nobody checked me with metal detectors. Nobody checked my bag. Then the pilot comes...and he sits in his pilot's seat and he doesn't even have a door....I'm so happy that there are still some places in the world where people trust each other and believe the worst cannot happen, but it is so different."
    • "We lost in the past 3 1/2 years 935 people [to terrorism]. Imagine for a country the size of New Zealand to lose in 3 1/2 years 620 people. What would you as New Zealanders demand your country do?"
    • "New Zealand people speak about human rights. We're sympathetic, but don't we as Israelis have human rights as well? And when we speak about human rights, isn't the first and most important human right the right to live, to exist, to take a bus without being blown up, to go into a restaurant without having to have security people?"
    • "Why should a mother feel like, 'What might happen to me on my way to Jerusalem? Is someone going to shoot the cars today?'...If you want to go to the park with your children you think, 'I better not go to the park. Who knows, some sniper can come and shoot the kids.'"

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