Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 21, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Michigan City OKs Islamic Calls to Prayer (AP/Guardian-UK)
    Over some residents' objections, the Hamtramck, Mich., City Council voted Tuesday to allow a mosque to send out a call to prayer to Muslims on a loudspeaker.
    The al-Islah mosque asked for permission to air the Arabic call to prayer via loudspeakers five times a day, though it compromised by agreeing not to air the call before 6 a.m. or after 10 p.m.
    Some Muslims say the call is the equivalent of church bells.
    Opponents argued that church bells have no religious significance and that allowing the Arabic call unfairly elevates Islam above other religions.

Jordan Kills Four Terror Suspects in Raid (AP/Newsday)
    Jordanian police operating in a predominantly Palestinian area of Amman Tuesday killed four men with ties to an al-Qaeda-linked terror cell. Three of the dead were foreigners.
    A security official said the four were believed to have links to a group that plotted to use a chemical bomb against Jordan's secret service and poison gas against the prime minister's office and the U.S. Embassy.

Sweden Arrests Four Islamic Terror Suspects - Alan Cowell (New York Times)
    Police in Sweden arrested four men Tuesday in connection with what officials called Islamic terrorism.
    The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that the suspects had been seized at the urging of the U.S. because they had helped organize attacks on American forces in Iraq.
    Swedish television identified two of those arrested as Iraqi citizens, a third was born in Jerusalem and had American citizenship, and a fourth was born in Lebanon and had Swedish citizenship.
    "It is Islamic terrorism that does not have anything to do with Europe," said Nils Lundgren, a spokesman for Sweden's security service.
    Sweden, long portrayed as a haven for outsiders seeking sanctuary, now includes 400,000 Muslims among its population of nine million.

Useful Reference:

6,000,000 in Perspective (thejewishexchange)

Maps of Israel (Eye on Israel)

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell: Israeli Retention of Settlement Blocs Requires Palestinian Consent - Barry Schweid
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday the Bush administration was determined to launch a Palestinian state next year and that any decision to keep Israeli population centers on the West Bank would require Palestinian consent. Powell said any decisions on fundamental issues - meaning borders and Palestinian refugees - "will be done ultimately with mutual agreement between the parties." Powell also sought to reassure anxious European governments who back the Arabs in demanding Israel retain none of the West Bank. He said after meeting with Javier Solana, the senior EU diplomat, that Palestinian approval was necessary on all big issues. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Car Bombs Kill Over 60 in Iraq
    Three car bombs exploded in front of Iraqi police stations in the southern city of Basra on Wednesday, killing more than 60 people and wounding more than 230. One of the blasts destroyed a school bus. (New York Times)
        See also Shelling of Iraqi Prison Kills 22
    A mortar attack on the former Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad Tuesday killed 22 Iraqi prisoners and injured more than 90. The U.S. military said those killed were either former members of Saddam Hussein's government or people involved in attacks on American forces. (Washington Post)
  • U.S.-Saudi Relations Show Signs of Stress
    Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jiddah, waited outside a restaurant for evening prayers to end so she could enter. Suddenly, a Saudi religious policeman barred her way, pointing out that she was not wearing an abaya, the black cloak required of Saudi women in public. She was a U.S. diplomat, she told him. He spit in his hand and rubbed it on the sole of his shoe. "This is what I think of your diplomatic status," he said. Last month, the Saudi government warned reformers in Jiddah to stop meeting with her and other U.S. diplomats. Friction between the two countries has grown more intense since the Bush administration began in late 2002 to push for political, social, and economic change in Saudi Arabia. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Moves to Silence Palestinian Rocket Fire - Arnon Regular and Amos Harel
    Following a series of Kassam rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns in the Gaza District and the western Negev, IDF forces Tuesday moved into positions near Beit Hanun and Beit Lahia in Gaza overlooking an area from which the rockets and mortars had been fired. Hundreds of Palestinians then began to throw Molotov cocktails, grenades, and other explosive devices at Israeli forces, who fired at the leaders in the crowd. Five Palestinians were killed and over 20 wounded, and five IDF soldiers were wounded during the confrontations. (Ha'aretz/Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Disengagement Will Reduce Terror - Nina Gilbert
    Once Israel unilaterally withdraws from the Gaza Strip, there is a great likelihood that the number of terror attacks would be reduced, IDF Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. Ze'evi said that Arafat and Mohammed Dahlan have formed a "temporary" alliance of "joint interests" to get Dahlan in a position to take over control of the strip. The Hamas, on the other hand, is losing the power it gained recently, he said. Criticism of Arafat's leadership has increased in the PA in the wake of the Sharon-Bush understandings, Ze'evi said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Slams Jordan for Opposing Pullout - Aluf Benn
    Senior Israeli officials criticized Jordan on Tuesday for working against Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan. Israel's ire was raised after Jordanian Foreign Minister Muashar held talks with the Americans in an attempt to produce an American declaration that would soften the promises made by President Bush in his letter to Sharon last week. The Americans refused. As a result, King Abdullah's planned visit to the U.S. was postponed. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Taking Sides - Seth Leibsohn
    The old thinking that we need to be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians or that we need to maintain stability in the region by working with current leadership was shattered by 9/11. We learned in the aftermath of 9/11 that we cannot be neutral between "civilization and terror, because there's no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death," as President Bush has said. And, we learned that anti-democratic governments, especially when fueled by Islamist or nationalist hatred, are anything but stable and will attack democracies.
        To flood Israel with millions of refugees; to establish full statehood in the atmosphere of suicide bombs strapped to women and children who intend to blow up civilians throughout Israel; and to ask for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the entirety of the West Bank would be to reward terrorism. That, we do no longer. (National Review)
  • Realities Palestinians Don't Want to Face - Cragg Hines
    An Israeli prime minister is unilaterally withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. A U.S. president has reaffirmed his commitment to a Palestinian state. The initial Palestinian response has been the usual fulminations. The most obvious reason is that Palestinian leaders do not handle reality very well. What part about the best current opportunity don't Palestinian leaders understand? (Houston Chronicle)
  • This Gamble by Sharon is at Least Based on Reality - Anne Applebaum
    By pulling out without an agreement, the Israelis risk the wrath of the entire Arab world, although they have that already. They also risk creating another generation of suicide bombers, although they've probably done that already too. They also risk creating complete political chaos in the Palestinian territories, although they've got that already. Rather than creating a viable Palestinian state, Sharon's roll of the dice is just as likely to create a chaotic, unstable Palestinian Bantustan, with ludicrous borders and no possibility of economic independence. A fragile, marginal state seething with angry, unemployed young men will hardly co-exist happily with a happy, thriving Israel. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    Rantisi - Doctor of Death - Ambassador Dan Gillerman (Israel's UN Mission)

    Statement to the UN Security Council, 19 April 2004:

    • Rantisi was a radical terrorist leader who joyfully and publicly gloated and celebrated over the murder of innocent men, women, and children. He sought to destroy any peace initiative and called for the destruction of Israel by force of arms. He believed that violence was the only option, and was committed to fostering terrorism in Iraq and throughout the Western world. He was a doctor of death, turning his craft from the healing of children to the killing of children.
    • Had it been possible to arrest Rantisi, while minimizing harm to civilian life, Israel would have done so. But in the absence of any cooperation from the Palestinian Authority and any viable means of arrest, Israel is sometimes left no choice but to target those who plan, orchestrate, and execute the murder of our innocent civilians.
    • It is not good enough to affirm in theory Israel's right to defend itself in this conflict, but then in practice seek to deny us the right to specifically target those illegal combatants directly responsible, as well as their command and control structure. We do so in a manner that is both necessary and proportionate, and when no other realistic option of detention or prevention exists. In these circumstances, such actions are wholly consistent with international law and we have little doubt that nations similarly faced with such a horrific choice would act accordingly and, indeed, have done so - and are doing so - with the support or acquiescence of the international community.
    • The targeting of Rantisi was not merely a necessary defensive act to prevent ongoing and planned attacks against innocent civilians. It is part of the global struggle against terrorism that has been thrust upon all of us. It sends a clear message that those who deal in terrorism - those who have exported airplane hijackings, kidnappings, and suicide bombings to the world - will have no immunity.

      See also UN vs. Israel - Anne Bayefsky (National Review)

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