Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 23, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

British Parliament Prepares for Chemical/ Biological Attack - Ben Russell (Independent-UK)
    Peter Hain, Leader of the House of Commons, told MPs Thursday that the head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, had issued a "clear intelligence" warning of the possibility of an anthrax or ricin attack on the heart of British democracy, and called on MPs to approve a permanent glass screen to prevent terror attacks on the chamber.
    Hain said, "If an al-Qaeda group managed to throw a phial of anthrax or ricin into the chamber, or even worse a suicide agent released it without anybody noticing, which we have been advised is quite feasible, the particles would immediately begin spreading throughout the chamber. Because of the way the air flows work, within minutes total contamination could occur."

Palestinian Gunmen Storm Jail, Free Suspects in Attack on U.S. Diplomats - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    On Wednesday night, several masked gunmen stormed the PA's central prison in Gaza City and freed three out of four Palestinians being held on suspicion of involvement in the attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy last October.
    The suspects were tried in a PA court last month but were acquitted and ordered released; however, the PA refused to carry out the court order and continued to hold them in prison.
    The raid on the prison is seen as a major blow to the PA security forces in Gaza.

Saudis Withhold Millions from Hamas (Middle East Newsline)
    Palestinian sources said the Hamas leadership had been expecting payment of $2-5 million from Saudi Arabia in February 2004, but that the Saudis suspended payment amid U.S. pressure and the subsequent killing of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin.
    "Hamas envoys have been literally begging the Saudis to honor their pledge," a Palestinian source close to Hamas said.
    "The Saudis are nervous about giving Hamas money after Yassin's death. They don't know who they're dealing with anymore."

Sudan Orders Syrian WMD Out of Country (Middle East Newsline)
    Arab diplomatic and Sudanese government sources said Sudanese President Omar Bashir has ordered Syria to remove its Scud C and Scud D medium-range ballistic missiles as well as components for chemical weapons stored in warehouses in Khartoum, after reports were confirmed that Syria has been secretly flying missiles and WMD components to Khartoum.
    The Bashir regime has been alarmed over the prospect that the U.S. would discover the Syrian arsenal and delay plans to lift sanctions from Sudan.

Report: How Israel Found Rantisi (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel managed to find and kill Abdel Aziz Rantisi by placing one of his bodyguards under surveillance, Israel TV Channel 2 reported Monday.
    Rantisi was dressed in disguise as an old man wearing an Arab cloak and headdress.

Intel Israel Heralds Chip Breakthrough - Oded Hermoni (Ha'aretz)
    A team of Israeli researchers at Intel has achieved a breakthrough in chip development that promises to change the world of computing and telecommunications.
    The team succeeded in developing electro-optical chipsets based on silicon wafers capable of converting electronic signals to optic signals within the chip.
    They have the potential to be mass produced at the same cost as standard electronic chips.
    According to Intel's assessment, the electro-optic chips will allow communication between computer components to be conducted at the speed of light - 10 times the current speed.

Tourism on the Rise (Jerusalem Post)
    Some 106,000 tourists arrived in Israel in March 2004, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.
    "We're expecting 1.5 million this year," said Tourist Ministry spokesman Golan Yosefion.

In Soy Food, Kibbutzim Find Manna for a Modern Age - Jessica Steinberg (New York Times)
    Soy food, for some Israeli kibbutzniks, is the modern equivalent of biblical manna.
    Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot, founded by Holocaust survivors in 1949, has found financial security in Tivall, a factory that turns out soy meals.
    Tivall became a household name in Israel and reports some $55 million in annual sales.

Ban Lifted on Soccer Games in Israel (AP/New York Times)
    A two-and-a-half-year ban on international soccer games in Israel was lifted Wednesday because the sport's European governing body, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), said it is satisfied with security arrangements.
    After observing the security measures in place, and with the recent reduction of terrorism in Israel, a UEFA delegation proposed allowing games to be played in the Tel Aviv area.

Useful Reference:

The Disengagement Plan (Prime Minister's Office/Jerusalem Post)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hatred Kept Alive on Gaza Frontline
    At the height of the battle at Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, dozens of masked Palestinian gunmen were queuing up on a street corner to join the fighting. They were joined by unmasked freelance civilians who brought along their own guns. An Israeli army spokesman said Thursday that the IDF incursion had been intended "to smoke out" the Hamas members who have been firing Kassam rockets from Beit Lahia into Israel.
        In spite of the casualties and destruction, the Palestinian fighters are convinced they are winning. They see Sharon's plan to pull Israeli forces and settlers out of Gaza as a victory. Speaking in Gaza City, Hamas leader Ahmed Bahar said the pullout would not end the fighting. "We will not throw away our weapons," he said. "Jerusalem is still occupied, Haifa is still occupied." (Guardian-UK)
        See also IDF Completes Gaza Operation - Margot Dudkevitch
    IDF forces withdrew from northern Gaza Thursday after operations to prevent Palestinians from launching rockets and mortars at Jewish towns. "The aim is to signal to the locals that they have more to lose by participating in terror and they are the ones that have to make their minds up as to whether they opt to live quietly or not," an IDF source said. Army officials confirmed that at least 8 Palestinians were killed but stressed that all were armed. "It is not a problem to kill fifty in such circumstances, but the soldiers go to great lengths to ensure that those perpetrating attacks are hit and not women and children," said an IDF source. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Sees Syria "Facilitating" Insurgents
    Syria is "facilitating" the movement of foreign fighters into Iraq and helping supply them with arms, according to U.S. military officials with access to intelligence reports. The bloody fighting in Fallujah, for example, is inspired, in part, by well-armed foreign jihadists who crossed the Syrian border and have committed some of the most gruesome attacks against Americans and their allies. Officials said Syrian help includes facilitating their border crossing, arming them, and allowing them to return for fresh supplies. Officials said Syrian agents are aiding the Iraqi insurgency because it is not in Damascus' interest to have a pro-U.S. country on its border. Assad fears that a free Iraq could spur a wave of democracy, jeopardizing his rule. (Washington Times)
  • Saudis Support Jihad in Iraq, Not Back Home
    In Saudi Arabia, violence against the occupation in Iraq is seen by many as jihad, or a holy struggle. Requests for God to avenge American actions pour down from mosque minarets, and some women university students sport bin Laden T-shirts under their enveloping abayas. But virtually no one accepts violence as jihad in the heart of what is supposed to be the most Muslim of countries. "You have to be really militant to believe that a country where religion is practiced day and night is apostate," said Jamal Khashoggi, an expert on Islamic groups. (New York Times)
        See also Long Battle Against Evil - Editorial
    Whether in Riyadh or Madrid, Istanbul, Bali or New York, we are all in the same boat, all threatened by the same diabolical menace. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Half of Iraq's Forces are "Traitors or Deserters"
    Maj.-Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the U.S. army's 1st Armored Division in Baghdad, said that during recent uprisings, "about 50% of the security forces that we've built over the past year stood tall and stood firm. About 40% walked off the job because they were intimidated and about 10% actually worked against us." Gen. Dempsey said Iraqi forces had been riddled with "infiltrators." Haider, a veteran Iraqi policeman, said, "The people who are targeting us are animals, not human beings....They are Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Afghanistan."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Kaddoumi: PLO Charter Was Never Changed - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Farouk Kaddoumi, the PLO's "foreign minister," told the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Thursday that the PLO charter, which denies Israel's right to exist, was never changed. "There is no struggle other than the armed military struggle," he added. "If Israel wants to leave the Gaza Strip, then it should do so. This means that the Palestinian resistance has forced it to leave. But the resistance will continue," Kaddoumi said. Kaddoumi revealed that the PLO leadership has entrusted him with the "portfolio" of supporting the Iraqi resistance against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. "There is no doubt that the Palestinian revolution supports the Iraqi resistance," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Terrorism Victims Awarded Damages from PA - Dan Izenberg
    Tel Aviv District Court awarded damages of NIS 72m. to a family that lost two of its members in a terrorist bombing in Petah Tikva two years ago, marking the second time that a court has awarded damages against the PA or Arafat, and the first time it awarded punitive damages to the survivors of terrorist victims. Jerusalem attorney Roland Roth said he would file a request to put a lien on money Israel owes the PA in order to make sure the family is compensated. The court's decision may speed up rulings on many similar lawsuits currently pending. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Hamas-PA Struggle - Zvi Bar'el
    Sharon's disengagement plan has compelled the PA and Hamas to try to find a way to share control. Hamas believes the time has come to establish a joint leadership. "The era of discourse between those issuing commands and those following orders is over," wrote Rifat Nasif, a Hamas member from Tulkarm, on the movement's website. Hamas has referred to the PLO as "a representative" of the Palestinian people and not "the sole representative." More explicitly, Hamas leaders regard themselves as a possible alternative to replace the PA. Now they are talking about holding general elections. The hudna talks initiated by Egypt last summer officially and publicly lifted Hamas onto the political track it has avoided for years. The elimination of Rantisi may, according to sources in the PA and Hamas, work to encourage Hamas to pursue the political track and pave the way for it to become part of the government. (Ha'aretz)
  • Despite Everything, An Improvement - Ze'ev Schiff
    Despite the unceasing terrorist war, there has been an improvement in Israel's strategic position over the past year. That is also the assessment in the Israeli intelligence community. The American military presence in Iraq puts the Americans on the flanks of two countries that Israel considers extremist: Iran and Syria. Prior to that came the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime. However, Egypt continues to improve its military, thanks to U.S. help, and its navy is ahead of Israel. A year ago, the assessment was that Iran would be near nuclear independence in 2004, but that timetable seems to have been postponed. Yet Iran's Shihab-3 rockets have become operational, which means Iran can now reach Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas after Rantisi - Meir Litvak
    Sheikh Yassin was prepared to accept the continuing presence of Jews as a client population in the Islamic state destined to arise in place of Israel, whereas Rantisi repeatedly declared that peace could only come after the Jews had all returned to their countries of origin. Rantisi also claimed that the comparison of Zionists with Nazis was an insult to the Nazis. It is therefore difficult to imagine how any successor could adopt a more extreme position.
        What really encouraged the further radicalization of Hamas was the feeling, reinforced by Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in June 2000, that Israel always folds under pressure. Hamas has portrayed Prime Minister Sharon's decision to withdraw from Gaza as a victory for its long-standing political-military line.
        Rantisi was long considered the PA's toughest rival. His disappearance may make it easier for others who want to turn Hamas into the dominant political force in Gaza by infiltrating Palestinian government institutions. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies/Tel Aviv University)
  • Exit Strategy - Editorial
    The April 14 meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon was a climactic moment, representing the belated and ideologically embittering acknowledgment of demography - the recognition that Israel can safely preserve its Jewish and democratic character only if its territory contains a hefty majority of Jews. The contemporary history of multinational states has been, after all, relentlessly painful. Ideally, the withdrawal from Gaza would have been arranged through a negotiated agreement with the PA. But the PA's sordid record on terrorism made it an unpalatable partner, and its two successive powerless prime ministers, obsessed with protecting their own backs from the militias around them, showed little interest in parleying with the Israelis. (New Republic)
  • A View from the Arab World - Rami Khouri
    A close reading of the American text of last week's statement on Sharon's plan to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza reveals that Bush merely stated in public and gave official American support to long-standing assumptions that are universally held among those who are involved in, or closely follow, Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. These assumptions are that only a symbolic return of some Palestinian refugees to Israel proper would occur as part of any final agreement, while the majority would repatriate or settle elsewhere, and that the large Israeli settlement towns along the former border such as Maale Adumim, Ariel, and Givat Zeev would be permanently incorporated into Israel, in exchange for territory of equal value that Israel would cede to the new Palestinian state. These assumptions were first articulated in the parameters that U.S. president Bill Clinton issued in late 2000.
        The U.S. statement reiterates and leaves open for direct negotiations almost all the issues that Palestinians and Arabs deem important. It says that final borders must be negotiated by the parties, with any changes to the 1949 armistice lines to be "mutually agreed." Israel gets Washington's slightly vague support on the key issues of settlements and refugees; the Palestinians get reaffirmations that final status agreements will be negotiated between Palestinians and Israelis. The writer is editor of the Beirut Daily Star. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • Sharon's Changing Mideast His Way - Richard Z. Chesnoff
    Sharon's plan is brilliant in its simplicity - a sort of uncontestable, one-way divorce. Unwilling to wait any longer for the Palestinians to stop terror and negotiate peace seriously, Sharon plans single-handedly to disengage Israeli forces from Gaza, withdraw the 7,000 Jewish settlers who currently live there, turn control of the desert strip over to the Palestinians, and begin to do the same in the West Bank by dismantling some Israeli settlements there as well. The Palestinians have a long history of rejecting Israeli offers, only to see the dream of peace, prosperity, and their own state recede farther over the horizon. This time, they should accept Sharon's plan not as an outrageous insult but as a great opportunity. Above all, they should remember that next time, the chances are that they'll be offered even less. (New York Daily News)
  • Palestinians Finally Realizing Terrorism Backfires - Daniel Pipes
    Growing numbers of Palestinians are wising up to the bitter realities of losing a war. Protracted isolation has led to steep economic decline. Recent PA figures show that 84% of the Palestinian population lives in poverty, as defined by the World Bank - four times the number that did so before the Palestinians stepped up the violence in late 2000. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Time to Slap Syria - Peter Brookes
    Syria is helping foreign fighters and terrorists - and their supplies - slither across the border into Iraq. In other words, Damascus is supporting the killing of American and Coalition soldiers and civilians - like the five Marines lost along the border last Saturday. We must make Syria pay a price for this - and make it stop. In the past, Syria has done the right thing. It supported the first Gulf War with 20,000 troops and did some good turns against al-Qaeda in the early days after 9/11. But Syria is clearly bucking to replace Iraq in the Axis of Evil. It's time to remind Damascus of the fate of that Ba'athist regime. (New York Post)
  • Killing Terrorist Chieftains is Legal - Alan M. Dershowitz
    According to the top American commander in Iraq, Lt.-Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. Army was recently given a highly specific military order: to kill radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. This order for extrajudicial killing is perfectly legitimate and lawful under the laws of war since al-Sadr is a combatant. He leads a militia that has declared war on American and coalition forces, as well as on civilians, both foreign and Iraqi. He is at the top of the chain of command, and it is he who presses the on-off button for the killings. There is no legal or moral difference between al-Sadr and Hamas leaders Yassin and Rantisi, terrorist commanders responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • U.S. Diplomat Reported Nazi Discussion of Mass Killing of Jews in 1933 - Neil A. Lewis
    James McDonald, an American diplomat and the League of Nations high commissioner for refugees, believed as early as 1933 that the Nazis were considering the mass killing of Europe's Jews, a view he apparently shared with President Roosevelt, according to his previously unpublicized diaries. Richard Breitman, a historian of the Holocaust at American University, said that the McDonald diaries were not conclusive as to when the Nazis decided on the mass killing of European Jews, "but they remind people that the idea of killing Jews was there at the beginning of the Nazi regime." (New York Times)
  • A Chronicle of Courage - Jeff Jacoby
    In Nazi-occupied Kovno, Lithuania, Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, a young rabbinical scholar recorded the difficult questions that were brought to him for decision, then buried his notes in tin cans. More than 90% of Kovno's 40,000 Jews were killed in the Holocaust, but Rabbi Oshry survived, and after the war he retrieved his notes, which were ultimately published in five Hebrew volumes - Responsa from the Holocaust.
        In October 1941, "one of the respected members of the community" asked Rabbi Oshry if he could commit suicide. His wife and children had been seized by the Nazis, and he knew that their murder was imminent. He also knew that the Nazis would most likely force him to watch as his family was killed, and the prospect of witnessing their deaths was a horror he couldn't bear to face. The rabbi did not permit the suicide. But what is stunning is that men and women in the throes of such suffering and brutality were still concerned about adhering to Jewish law. (Boston Globe)
  • French Drop Pro-Israel Lawmaker - Philip Carmel
    Francois Zimeray always knew that his outspoken support of Israel was going to land him in trouble come election time, but Zimeray aides said the legislator was stunned after he was dumped at an April 17 meeting of the Socialist Party's national council. A member of the Party of European Socialists, the principal opposition party in the European Parliament, he consistently backed demands for an inquiry into alleged PA misuse of EU funds. Zimeray set up the Medbridge Strategy Center, a pro-Israel lobbying group that organized a visit to the Middle East last fall by 170 legislators from across Europe. "He is the only real friend of Israel among the Socialists in the European Parliament," said Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella organization of French Jews. (JTA/Baltimore Jewish Times)
  • Is It Permitted to Rob Jewish Banks for Jihad?
      Q: What is the legal ruling on a Muslim robbing Jewish banks to help the Muslim fighters?
      A: Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, Deputy Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research: This may be lawful when there is a war ongoing between Muslims and non-Muslims. Since Muslims are considered to be at war only with Israel, this does not apply to other countries of the world; it is not lawful for them to rob banks in any country other than Israel even if the owners of these banks are Jewish or American. However, some scholars have a reservation about robbing the Jewish banks within occupied Palestine, for there are more than a million Muslims there who deal with these banks.  (FrontPageMagazine-IslamOnline)

  • Observations:

    The West Bank Fence: A Vital Component in Israel's Strategy of Defense - Maj.-Gen. Doron Almog (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • In late 2000, after most of the Gaza security fence was demolished by the Palestinians, the IDF Southern Command learned the lessons behind the barrier's operational failure. A variety of important new security features were added when Israel reconstructed the Gaza fence in 2001 as part of a multicomponent defensive "seam zone," such as enhanced interception capabilities, improved high-tech sensors, overlapping observation posts, and a continuous monitoring and videotaping system.
    • In order to replicate the Gaza fence in the West Bank, all the essential elements of the Gaza defensive model must be implemented as a package, without any exceptions.
    • Although most of these components have been implemented in the West Bank, two key elements have been omitted: bulldozed security buffer zones and special rules of engagement for those military personnel responsible for monitoring the fence and its environs. Terrorists have been quick to exploit these omissions, and Israeli civilians have consequently paid a heavy price.
    • In order to protect its citizens - including those in large West Bank settlements - Israel must assert control over the vital buffer areas needed to maximize the effectiveness of the fence, and the IDF must implement rules of engagement that give soldiers in the field increased authority to make timely decisions.

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