Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 25, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Propaganda Dominates San Francisco ''Peace'' Rally - Cinnamon Stillwell (Chronwatch)
    On March 20, members of the anti-war movement came out to mark the one-year anniversary of the war in Iraq with a ''global day of action.''
    In San Francisco, the rally was endorsed by various Arab and Muslim groups such as Al-Awda (the Palestine Right to Return Coalition), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Muslim Students Association - ties to terrorism being the common denominator among them.
    The issue of Iraq seemed almost peripheral to the main thrust of the event, which was virulently anti-Israel. Even some of the peaceniks were a bit perplexed by the dominance of Palestinian groups.
    In San Francisco, members of the Russian-Jewish community, joined by others sympathetic to their politics, turned out for a ''March for Israel.''
    Around 200 waved American and Israeli flags and held signs that said, ''Stop Glorifying Murder,'' ''Suicide Bombings are Crimes Against Humanity,'' and ''We Mourn Madrid 3/11, New York 9/11, Jerusalem Daily.''
    At one point, a large group of Muslim youth wearing keffiyehs, hajibs, and waving Palestinian flags and Arabic banners, confronted the pro-Israel crowd.
    A woman in a headscarf hurled insults at them only to be answered by sarcastic cries of ''Can you vote?'' and ''Liberate oppressed Arab women!''

IDF Low-Intensity War Conference - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    More than 150 top officers and security personnel from some 30 countries are attending the IDF's first-of-its-kind conference on low-intensity conflict this week.
    "I don't think that we can totally eliminate terror, but our position is that we are capable of subjugating terror so that the other side understands that terror is no longer the main tool with which they will be able to reach their strategic goals," said Maj.-Gen. Yiftah Rontal, commander of the Ground Forces Command which is organizing the conference.
    See also Israel's Security Doctrine and the Trap of "Limited Conflict" - Col. (Res.) Yehuda Wegman (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Foreign Investment in Israel Surges 118% in 2003 - Zeev Klein (Globes)
    Direct foreign investments in Israel surged 118% to $3.7 billion in 2003, compared with $1.7 billion in 2002, according to a survey by the Bank of Israel Foreign Currency Division.

Useful Reference:

25 Years Since the Signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (Prime Minister's Office)
    Remarks of Prime Minister Sharon at a special Knesset session Wednesday.

Key Links

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israelis Disarm Palestinian Boy With Bomb
    With a bomb hidden under his sweater, a Palestinian boy in his teens, Hussam Abdo, approached Israeli soldiers on Wednesday at the same West Bank checkpoint, near Nablus, where last week another boy was captured with a bomb in his bag. Cameramen filmed the boy's capture (see video). "This is another example of the Palestinians' cynical use of innocent children, turning their kids into human time bombs," said David Baker, an official in the prime minister's office. (New York Times)
        See also Amnesty: Children Must Not be Used by Armed Groups
    The 14-year-old boy was wearing an explosive belt, which would suggest that he was knowingly carrying it. Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned suicide bombings and other attacks against civilians by Palestinian armed groups as crimes against humanity. Using children to carry out or assist in armed attacks of any kind is an abomination. We call on the Palestinian leadership to publicly denounce these practices. (Amnesty International)
  • UN Rights Panel Condemns Israel
    The UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva voted on Wednesday to condemn Israel's killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin by a 31-to-2 vote, with 18 countries, including the EU, abstaining. Only the U.S. and Australia voted against it. As the UN Security Council discussed a similar move, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said, "If the Security Council is going to pronounce itself on this question, it must recognize the reality that Hamas has been responsible for numerous, extensive, and very recent terrorist activities." Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador, said that "to characterize [Yassin] as a spiritual leader is to attempt to characterize Osama bin Laden as a Mother Teresa." (New York Times)
        See also Israel Blasts UN Human Rights Panel - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Intellectuals Urge Calm
    Sixty prominent Palestinian officials and intellectuals urged the public Thursday to refrain from retaliation for Israel's killing of a Hamas leader, saying it would ignite more bloodshed that would hurt Palestinian aspirations for independence. A half-page advertisement in the PLO's Al-Ayyam newspaper called on Palestinians to lay down their arms and turn to peaceful means of protest. The ad reflected growing sentiment among many Palestinian leaders and intellectuals that military struggle is not helping the Palestinian cause. (AP/Newsday)
        See also Hamas War Cries May Not Stir All Gaza Palestinians
    The new leader of the militant group Hamas in Gaza is already calling for holy war against Israel. But not all Palestinians are in the mood. "People are angry, but really what we want to see is calm and peace," said Dr. Mosbah Salem, deputy director of a Gaza hospital. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF: Territories Quiet, Terrorist Leaders Have Gone Underground - Aluf Benn and Nathan Guttman
    IDF sources said they were surprised by the low number of demonstrations in the territories in the wake of Yassin's death. They say the Palestinians may feel that their revenge will come through terrorist attacks and prefer not to take casualties through confrontation with the IDF, or that the Palestinian public is simply tired of the struggle and their worsening economic plight. IDF sources also said that the wave of targeted killings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders will continue. "We will hit them every chance we get," said a senior military source. "But meanwhile, they have gone underground." (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Balks at Recognizing West Bank Settlement Blocs - Yitzhak Ben-Horin
    U.S. officials say Israel is having difficulty gaining U.S. recognition of its settlement blocs in the West Bank, in return for its withdrawal from Gaza and 4-6 isolated settlements in northern Samaria, as talks continue in Washington between an Israeli team headed by Sharon's representative Dov Weisglass and U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. There is no assurance that the U.S. will agree to publicly support Israel on the settlement blocs or oppose a Palestinian right of return. Overall, the U.S. is not likely to grant Israel any political gains if Israel fails to withdraw from West Bank settlements as well as from Gaza. Sharon hopes to settle these issues in a meeting with President Bush now planned for mid-April. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Gaza's Capone - Editorial
    Since the current war began on September 29, 2000, Hamas, under Yassin's leadership, has carried out more than 400 attacks, in which it killed 377 Israelis and wounded 2,076 others. (This would be equivalent to killing nearly 19,000 Americans and wounding 100,000 others over 41 months.) Just as the U.S. is determined to kill bin Laden and senior al-Qaeda operatives before they kill more Americans, Israel understands that it must do the same to Hamas' leadership. Mafia boss Al Capone, renowned in certain neighborhoods for helping orphans and the poor, was a thug and a murderer, who destroyed untold lives - just like the properly executed Sheikh Yassin. (Washington Times)
  • The Sino-Saudi Connection - Gal Luft and Anne Korin
    Iran is now the second largest supplier of China's oil. In return, the PRC has sold ballistic-missile components to Iran as well as air-, land-, and sea-based cruise missiles, giving Tehran the capability to attack U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf. More significantly, China has provided Iran with key ingredients for the development of nuclear weapons. But the biggest prize in the region is Saudi Arabia, the country that holds a quarter of global oil reserves, and that is today China's number-one foreign supplier of crude oil. As far back as the mid-1980s, China began to engage in military commerce with Riyadh, selling it 36 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, building two missile bases south of the Saudi capital, and deploying Chinese security personnel to maintain them. (Commentary)
  • Trilateral Maneuvers - Iran Gets Tight with Syria and Lebanon - Ilan Berman
    In late February, Iran's defense minister, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, embarked on a whirlwind tour of Syria and Lebanon. Lebanese President Lahoud has publicly praised the regional importance of the emerging "Tehran, Damascus, and Beirut axis," and Syrian officials have similarly made no secret of their enthusiasm for the nascent alliance's deterrent potential. (National Review)
  • Withdrawal Without Reward - Dennis Ross
    Unless Mr. Qurei can show Mr. Sharon that he has a plan for security and that he is poised to act on it, the Israelis will continue on their chosen path of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the completion of a security barrier in the West Bank. The Bush administration, too, has little faith in the Palestinian Authority and has had almost no discussion with it. Only Hamas is so far making plans for the day after the Israeli military withdraws from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Hamas seeks to take credit for the withdrawal, absorb Israeli settlements, and shape Palestinian governance after the Israeli departure. The writer is director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    In the War Against Terror, the Best Defense Remains the Offensive
    - Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon (Israel Defense Forces)

    IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon told the International Conference on Low-Intensity Conflict Tuesday:

    • There is a tendency to state that the struggle against terrorism is an asymmetric struggle in which an armed and well-organized, large military force contends with a much smaller and weaker force. Yet, analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the sides shows that in a terror campaign, the terrorist elements actually have considerable advantages most of the time, due to the differences in the cultures of the campaign.
    • For the terrorist any target is legitimate, whereas the military force is very selective in selecting targets; and where the military force has high visibility, the terrorist quickly fades into his environment.
    • Creating intelligence dominance is a critical factor for managing and dominating the low-intensity conflict. Combating terrorism conducted from a civilian environment increases the necessity of hard, precise, and qualitative intelligence from various sources to provide the ability to choose the targets without inflicting collateral damage.
    • There is an acute necessity to develop "surgical" operational capabilities based on stand-off and precise munitions, operational doctrine, and rapid response conducted by special units trained and equipped for such missions. The similarity to "classical wars" is that even in the war against terror, the best defense remains the offensive approach.
    • We constantly try to persuade the Palestinians to change their perception and recognize that it is in their best interest to reject and fight terror. On the other hand, we have no choice but to continue fighting against terrorism on our own, while maintaining our values and mobilizing international support for our campaign.
    • Direct activity against the terror operatives cannot on its own bring about a decisive conclusion to the confrontation. Nevertheless, the accumulation of successful actions against terror infrastructure and operatives, together with the growing damage to the leadership, and the success in preventing many attacks, do have a certain effect on the capabilities of the terror organizations.

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