Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 14, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Sources: Arafat Approved Attack on U.S. Convoy (UPI/Washington Times)
    Middle East Newsline said Tuesday it was told by "U.S. diplomatic sources" that a U.S. investigation into the attack on a U.S. convoy in the Gaza Strip last October that took the lives of three Americans revealed a clear role by Yasser Arafat.
    The sources said Arafat had approved a plan to hit U.S. interests in Palestinian areas, agreeing to a proposal by a senior aide and member of the Fatah Central Committee to "pass a message" to the U.S.

Madrid Terrorists Planned to Attack Jewish Targets (DPA/Ha'aretz)
    The Islamist terrorists who bombed four trains in Madrid on March 11 also planned to blow up a house in Hoyo de Manzanares, about 40 kilometers northwest of the capital, used for meetings by Madrid's Jewish community, the Spanish daily El Mundo reported Tuesday.

Islam Gaining Ground in French Prisons (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Muslims often account for over half the population of many French prisons, Fahrad Khosrokhavar, a French author and academic, told Le Figaro newspaper Monday.
    Khosrokhavar recently published a book called Islam in Prisons, based on a two-year study of three French prisons.

Uzbekistan Says Arabs Trained Suspects (AP/Washington Post)
    Some of the suspects involved in a recent wave of suicide bombings in Uzbekistan received military training from Arab instructors who also taught al-Qaeda fighters, the country's top prosecutor said Friday.
    At least 47 people, including 33 alleged terrorists and 10 police officers, died during four days of violence.

Egyptian Professor: "No Conclusive Proof" Muslims Were Behind 9/11 (MEMRI)
    In a recent article in Al-Ahram Weekly, Galal Amin, a professor of economics at the American University in Cairo, wrote:
    "The claim that the Greater Middle East Initiative aims, wholly or partly, to eliminate terror of the type seen on September 11, 2001, is unconvincing, for several reasons.
    One is that there is still doubt that the September attacks were the outcome of Arab and Islamic terror.
    No conclusive proof to this effect is yet available.
    Many writers, American and European, as well as Arab, suspect that the attacks were carried out by Americans, or with American assistance, or that Americans knew about them and kept silent."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: Same Ideology Kills People in Madrid and Murders Children on Buses in Jerusalem
    President Bush told a news conference Tuesday: "The violence we are seeing in Iraq is familiar. The terrorist who takes hostages or plants a roadside bomb near Baghdad is serving the same ideology of murder that kills innocent people on trains in Madrid, and murders children on buses in Jerusalem, and blows up a nightclub in Bali, and cuts the throat of a young reporter for being a Jew."  (White House)
  • Bush May Accept West Bank Plan - Steven R. Weisman
    President Bush is planning to issue a declaration on Wednesday that his aides say will recognize Israel's right to retain some Jewish settlements in the West Bank, representing a subtle but substantial shift in American policy. Administration officials also said Bush would assert that Palestinian refugees should live in a future Palestinian state rather than in the Israeli lands they continue to claim. The officials said the declarations - planned as part of a carefully scripted visit by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon - are similar to peace proposals put forward in private in 2000 by President Clinton. They appear to fall short of what Sharon had been seeking - an acceptance of five specific settlement blocs and an outright rejection of the Palestinian "right of return" to Israel. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Girds to Confront Radical Cleric in Iraq
    U.S. troops massed Tuesday near the Iraqi city of Najaf for a confrontation with Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr. West of Baghdad, four mutilated bodies were found near the spot where seven American civilians employed by Halliburton Co. disappeared Friday during an attack on a supply convoy. The occupation authority said 40 hostages from 12 countries were known to be held by Iraqi insurgents. At least 83 U.S. troops have been killed in action in the first 12 days of April, and more than 560 have been wounded. (Washington Post)
  • Mega-Attack Thwarted in Jordan
    The arrest of a suspected terror group in Jordan thwarted an unprecedented attack that could have killed thousands of civilians, Jordan's King Abdullah said Tuesday. The king said his assessment was based on the "quantity of explosives found" in cars that had been seized, as well as the "manner in which the terror operation was to be carried out and the choice of civilian targets."  (AFP)
  • Militants Gun Down Four Saudi Police
    Militants gunned down four policemen Tuesday in northwestern Saudi Arabia before jumping into police cars and speeding away, a security official said. The militants are believed to be the same ones involved in clashes Monday along a Riyadh highway that left one militant and one police officer dead and five policemen wounded. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Imam Planned to Bomb Holocaust Museum in Budapest Police in Budapest Tuesday arrested a 42-year-old dentist of "Palestine origin" who is the spiritual leader of the Islamic community in the city and suggested he was planning to bomb the city's Jewish museum. Two Syrians also were detained on related charges. Senior law enforcement officials in Hungary denied that visiting Israeli President Moshe Katsav was the target of the planned attack. Police Lt. Col. Attila Petofi said the suspect began making phone calls in November to friends "to get explosives," and on one occasion "he asked an acquaintance to use the explosive to blow up a Jewish museum."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arms Smuggling Cell Uncovered on Egyptian Border - Nir Hasson
    Israeli security forces have uncovered a weapons-smuggling cell comprising four Israeli Bedouin, seven Egyptians, and a Palestinian from Nablus, suspected of smuggling arms from Egypt to terror organizations in the PA. Some 140 Kalashnikov rifles, two RPG launchers, six RPGs, and a large cache of ammunition were seized. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Islamic Pride and Prejudice - Aminul Hoque
    For the most part, Britain's two-million-strong Islamic community expresses pride in their Islamic identity in a wholly positive way. But as I walked the streets talking to hundreds of young Muslims for a BBC radio documentary, it became all too apparent that there is a tiny minority who are taking the religion of Islam to a sinister new level, openly advocating terror and regarding Osama Bin Laden as a "scholar of Islam." An 18-year-old man from Upton Park, London, who attends a full-time Islamic boarding school - known as a madrassa - in the north of England, told me how he and his friends have been influenced by some of the more extreme videos and literature that are secretly distributed among the students there, without the knowledge of their teachers. Most worryingly, my research opened up my eyes to the fact that people whom I know very well - friends, family, colleagues - possess opinions that are enough to send shivers down the spines of most people. (Independent-UK)
  • Gaza: The British are Coming - Shmuel Bar
    UK diplomats and officers of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) have formulated a new security plan for Gaza after an Israeli withdrawal, based on "co-opting" the Fatah Tanzim and al-Aqsa Brigades, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad into a security regime while not attempting to disarm them or decommission their heavy weapons. The British plan includes building 12 "task forces"  (integrated military units with representation of all PA factions) under British auspices, for taking control upon the Israeli withdrawal. Israel is to be asked to refrain from unilateral security actions and to remove a few hundred al-Aqsa Brigade members from its wanted lists and allow them to serve as security forces inside Gaza. If implemented, the plan will preserve the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, which will be a constant threat to Israel.
        The British tendency to co-opt Hamas has already struck a sour chord in Washington, where the State Department clarified that "We consider Hamas a terrorist organization....Far from being welcomed into any partnership of cooperation, Hamas should be ostracized and disempowered as an organization." The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Policy & Strategy, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Access/MiddleEast)
  • Palestinian Racism Exposed - Alan Dershowitz
    Recently, a young student at the Hebrew University was gunned down while jogging through a mixed neighborhood of Jews and Arabs in north Jerusalem. When it was later learned that the jogger was a Jerusalem Arab and not a Jew, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arafat's Fatah movement, quickly apologized, calling it an accident. Al-Aqsa had sent the assassin to murder a Jew - any Jew. This is racism, pure and simple, despite efforts by supporters of Palestinian terrorism to justify the murder of innocent civilians as national liberation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Possibilities for Mideast Peace - George P. Shultz (Washington Post)

    • Security for Israel is clearly essential for fruitful negotiations. So far nothing has worked. Those who seek to eliminate Israel have regarded efforts at Oslo, Camp David II, and elsewhere as proof that terrorism works and that every Israeli step toward peace is really a sign of weakness.
    • Now a security barrier is under construction. By means of a largely insurmountable obstacle to terrorist ambitions, Israel will once again have demonstrated that it cannot be defeated either militarily or by terrorist violence.
    • The confirmation of this fact is essential. When Palestinians face the fact that terrorism has become both ineffective and self-destructive, that realization may enable them to take a major step toward peace.
    • The war in Iraq has eliminated a rogue state that repeatedly acted to disrupt progress toward peace. Operation Iraqi Freedom is the keystone of an effort that is indispensable to international security: the transformation of the Middle East from repression and failure to responsive governance and economic opportunity.
    • The conventional wisdom has it backwards: A solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a condition for positive change across the Middle East, but it can come as part of, and as a consequence of, that change.

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