Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 17, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Madrid Suspects Were Known Years Ago - John Leicester (AP/Washington Post)
    Long before Jamal Zougam was picked up as a suspect in the Madrid bombings, he'd flitted across the radar screens of anti-terrorism investigators.
    Police searched his apartment in 2001, and both he and his half brother, also under arrest, reportedly had been vouched for by an al-Qaeda suspect in a monitored phone call.
    A U.S. counter-terrorism official said authorities found no evidence of increased "chatter" - monitored contacts between suspects that might have pointed to a plot - in the days prior to the attack.
    "You cannot expect the police to secure every citizen, every building in every location from every possible terrorist attack," Interpol chief Ronald Noble said Tuesday at a security conference in Manila. "The only way is to identify terror groups and dismantle them."

PA, Hamas Exchange Gunfire in Gaza - Eli Vaked (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    A Palestinian policeman was killed and 16 people were wounded in Gaza Wednesday in an exchange of gunfire after Palestinian security forces sought to inspect a vehicle containing Kassam rockets driven by Hamas terrorists.

Israeli Soldiers Find Bomb in Truck at West Bank Checkpoint (AP)
    Israeli troops found a 22-pound truck bomb at a West Bank checkpoint Tuesday, apparently planted by Palestinian militants who wanted to get the explosives to an attacker in Israel.
    When soldiers detonated the bomb, the blast could be heard throughout the West Bank city of Nablus.

Police Disarm Bomb in Van at U.S. Consulate in Karachi - Kamran Khan and John Lancaster (Washington Post)
    Pakistani police defused a large bomb inside a van containing a tank filled with 200 gallons of liquid explosives parked just outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi Monday.
    A police investigator, Qazi Chand, said that less than five minutes remained on the timer when the bomb was disarmed.
    "The device...would have triggered a massive fireball just under the Stars and Stripes," said Fayaz Leghari, who is heading the police investigation.

Using Children in Combat a War Crime (B'Tselem)
    B'Tselem strongly condemns Monday's attempt to use an eleven year-old boy to transport explosives.
    There is no possible justification for attacks targeting civilians. Any such attack is illegal and immoral.
    Using a child to transport explosives is in and of itself a war crime. The intentional harming of civilians must cease.

Useful Reference:

The Exploitation of Palestinian Children by Terrorist Groups (IDF)

  • The Exploitation of Palestinian Children by Terrorist Organizations
  • Born to be a Shahid (Martyr)
  • Exploiting Ambulances for Smuggling Explosives

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

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  • News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Targets Palestinian Terrorists in Gaza
    Israel's Security Cabinet has approved a new campaign targeting Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, including leaders of the violent Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups, an Israeli security official said. The new offensive would last several weeks and was meant to weaken militant groups ahead of a possible Israeli pullout from Gaza. Missiles fired from a helicopter in Gaza City Tuesday struck the house of "Islamic Jihad terrorists involved in attacks against Israelis,'' the Israeli military said. Islamic Jihad officials confirmed one of those killed was a member of the group.
        "Israel is compelled to take strong defensive measures against Hamas and Islamic Jihad because those two organizations decided to step up attacks against Israel,'' government spokesman Avi Pazner said. "We will do whatever is in our power to prevent these attacks and to neutralize the threat before it gets into the heart of Israel.'' In Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Israel was the victim of terror and had a right to defend itself, although it should be sensitive to the consequences of its military actions. (AP/New York Times)
        "We are going to put these terrorist groups under continuous pressure," said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Sharon. "The leaders of these terror organizations will have to spend their time hiding, not planning terror attacks." Israeli security officials believe Hamas has stepped up its attacks as part of a campaign to claim that it is forcing Israel out of Gaza. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Kurdish Unrest Continues in Syria
    Kurdish protesters and Syrian security forces clashed violently again in several northern cities on Tuesday, with up to six people killed. Some 15 people were shot dead on Friday. Human rights activists said security forces continue to arrest hundreds of Kurds. (New York Times)
        See also Kurdish Hopes Rise, Spark Riots
    It's the worst domestic unrest in Syria in two decades. Kurds have been a significant minority in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran since the early 1900s. Iraq's interim constitution, passed last week, formally recognized Kurdish control over three provinces in northern Iraq, prompting jubilant Kurds to take to the streets in Iranian cities. The growing influence of Iraqi Kurds has apparently struck a chord with the 1.3 million Kurds in Syria. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Saudi Arabia Detains Reformers
    Saudi Arabia detained several prominent reformers Tuesday in a move their supporters described as a major setback to democratic change in the conservative Islamic kingdom. Eight people had been taken in by police, including former university professors Abdullah Hamid and Tawfiq Qussayer; Matrouk Faleh, a professor of politics at King Saud University in Riyadh; Mohammed Said Tayyib, a retired publisher; and poet Ali Dumaini. An Interior Ministry source said the men were being questioned for issuing announcements that "do not serve national unity or the cohesion of society based on Islamic sharia law." (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA Losing Grip in Gaza, Fatah Leaders Join Hamas - Arnon Regular
    Palestinian officials at a meeting in Ramallah on Monday highlighted the PA's lack of control over many activists from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing, in Gaza. According to reports, a significant segment of armed Fatah leaders in Gaza answer to senior Hamas officials. Hamas leaders understand that recruiting other militants can help the organization widen its power base and break down Fatah's loosening hold on Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Sanctions to Target Syrian Oil - Janine Zacharia
    The Bush administration is expected to prohibit American energy companies from future investments in Syria, but allow some already existing projects to continue, as part of fresh U.S. sanctions to be unveiled in the coming days, sources in Washington said Tuesday. The sources said the administration has decided to implement sanctions in phases over the coming year. "This will be only the beginning," one source said. "They are going to roll out a few and see if Assad gets the message." On Tuesday, senior administration officials met to discuss implementation of the sanctions. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Friday Sermon on Palestinian Television: The Jews, Descendants of Apes and Pigs, Are Deserving of Death - Meirav Levy
    Sheikh Ibrahim Mudiris, in a Friday sermon broadcast by Palestinian TV on March 13, told worshippers that the Jews, descendants of apes and pigs, are deserving of death. (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Scandal at the UN - William Safire
    The cover-up in the office of the UN secretary general of a multibillion-dollar financial fraud known as the Iraqi oil-for-food program is beginning to come apart. Journalist Claudia Rosett charged that the UN's secretive oversight of more than $100 billion in Iraqi oil exports and supposed humanitarian imports was "an invitation to kickbacks, political back-scratching, and smuggling done under cover of relief operations."
        The whole rotten mess of 10% kickbacks on billions in contracts is coming to light. Under the UN bureaucracy's nose nearly 3/4 of the suppliers jacked up their prices to pay the kickback, including European manufacturers, Arab trade brokers, Russian factories, and Chinese state-owned companies. Corruption's take - out of the mouths of hungry Iraqi children - was estimated at $2.3 billion. Hired by the UN to monitor these imports was a Swiss-based firm, Cotecna, which was paid out of the exorbitant fee the UN charged for overhead. Kojo Annan, the secretary general's son, was once on staff and later a consultant to that tight-lipped company. (New York Times)
  • The Arrogance of "Viability" - Yossi Alpher
    On the face of it, the Palestinian state that most of us envisage already has three strikes against it when it comes to assessing its viability. First, the history of states that are split into two separate, non-contiguous geographical entities - in the Palestinian case, Gaza and the West Bank - is not very promising. Witness the fate of Pakistan/Bangladesh several decades ago. Secondly, "Palestine" never functioned as a coherent Arab political entity until the advent of the PA in 1994, and that experience has proven a failure. And third, Palestine's disastrous economic and demographic situation can hardly be described as self-sustaining. Nor do all of Palestine's neighbors necessarily fully legitimize its claim to statehood; here I am referring to Syria. (
  • The British Are Here, With Arafat's Approval - Ze'ev Schiff
    The British are now setting up two new operation control rooms, one in Ramallah and one in Gaza, for Palestinian security organizations, complete with a new communications system, ancillary equipment, and vehicles. The American go-ahead for British involvement was granted reluctantly and on a limited basis, and only after Blair's personal appeal to President Bush. Israel said that it would not cooperate with a program directed by Arafat.
        It is strange that Britain is prepared to cooperate with Arafat on security matters, since he has declined to take a single step toward implementing reforms in the Palestinian security organizations (among other things, reducing the number of men under arms, and ensuring their genuine subordination to the prime minister or the interior minister). The fact that he is the boss and that everything has to go through him, including all security matters, does not justify cooperation with him under these conditions. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Memories Are Short, Hatred Is Forever - Omer Bartov (Los Angeles Times)

    • Europe's anti-Semitism did not vanish. It was banished to the fringes of society; it was buried in the recesses of people's consciousness; it was transformed into philo-Semitism and fads for things Jewish; it seeped back in as self-righteous indignation against Israel; and it was exported into the Muslim world. Now that it is back, we can see where it was hiding all these years.
    • The new anti-Semitism is obsessed with fantasies of secret cabals, visions of bloody upheaval and apocalyptic devastation. Like its Nazi predecessor, it promises to do to the Jews what they are supposedly doing to the world. It is inherently, then, genocidal.
    • Its more soft-core manifestations can be found in the European left, camouflaged as anti-Americanism and an anti-Zionism that denies Israel's right to exist. Right-wing anti-Semitism has also come out of the shadows.
    • The new anti-Semitism has found its most lethal incarnation in the Muslim world, where it has become a prevalent subculture, a focus of identity, a rallying cry for the masses, a tool to divert attention from the real reasons for poverty and despair, and a cause for militant mobilization and destructive urges.
    • Prophesies of destruction must be taken seriously, and silence facilitates their realization. Even after the deed, silence ensures its recurrence, for it erases the memory of what has been destroyed and obscures the guilt of the murderers. It allows us to forget that when some people say they want to kill you, they mean what they say.

      The writer is professor of history at Brown University.

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