Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 28, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraq Modified Planes for Chemical Raids (Reuters)
    Iraq modified aircraft for possible chemical weapons attacks against Israeli targets before last year's U.S.-led invasion, Israel's army chief said Monday.
    "We identified them: drones, Tupolev-16s, and Sukhoi (aircraft)," Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon told Yediot Ahronot.
    "They were specially fitted for these kinds of missions - dispersing chemical weapons," he said.
    Yaalon said U.S. forces were able to destroy the modified aircraft on the first or second day of the war, "because we had located them."

Suicide Bomber's Family "Kept Plan Secret" - Vikram Dodd (Guardian-UK)
    The wife, sister, and brother of British suicide bomber Omar Sharif knew he was traveling to Israel intent on murdering innocent civilians but did nothing to warn of the attacks, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told a British court on Monday.
    Sharif and fellow Briton Asif Hanif traveled to Israel last April and launched a suicide attack on a bar in Tel Aviv, killing three people and injuring 65.
    The prosecution alleges the three defendants had known for a week that Sharif and Hanif would carry out the bombing and had failed to tell the police.

New Iraqi Flag Won't Fly - Pamela Constable (Washington Post)
    It was supposed to be the perfect symbol for a new and unified Iraq: an Islamic crescent on a field of pure white, with two blue stripes representing the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and a third yellow stripe to symbolize the country's Kurdish minority.
    But the new national flag, presented Monday after an artistic competition sponsored by the Iraqi Governing Council, appears to have met with widespread public disapproval.
    In particular, people objected to the pale blue color of the crescent and stripes, saying it was identical to the dominant color in the flag of Israel.

Israeli Army Mobilizes Camels to Help Patrol Border (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
    The Israeli military is equipping its anti-smuggling patrols on the Israel-Egypt border with camels, that can go where jeeps, trucks, and even tanks can't.
    The IDF has rented camels from a firm that usually hires them out to tourists, the soldiers' weekly Bamahane magazine reported.

Useful Reference:

Israel Memorial Day - Independence Day Presentation (Jewish Exchange)

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell: U.S. Not Prejudging Borders or Right of Return; West Bank Settlement Evacuation Just the Beginning
    Secretary of State Powell said Monday: "The President made it clear...that he was not prejudging any final status issue....At the end of the day, it is between the Palestinians and the Israelis to determine what they're going to do about armistice lines [and] right of return." "The President took note of certain realities on the ground that everybody realized are realities...but ultimately these realities, and what one does with these realities, will have to be negotiated between the two sides."
        "Something fundamentally new has been put on the table. The Israelis are going to leave all of the settlements in Gaza and not destroy them on the way out. They will be there to be converted to ultimate use of the Palestinian people in Gaza." "With the evacuation of four settlements in the West Bank...that is the beginning of a process to see what else might be evacuated." (State Department)
  • Damascus Hit by Bombing
    Heavily armed assailants detonated a bomb near a cluster of foreign embassies in Damascus Tuesday, setting off an intense gun battle with state security forces. One witness said four gunmen came out of a white van in front of the Canadian Embassy and started shooting indiscriminately. An American official in Washington said Tuesday that conflicting accounts of the clash made it impossible to say who the attackers were or what might have been their targets. (New York Times/ AP-Washington Post)
  • U.S.: Iran May Be Running Nuke Programs
    Iran may be running a covert military nuclear program parallel to the peaceful one it has opened to international scrutiny, U.S. officials said Tuesday. "We are beginning to see indications that there is a parallel military program," one official said. Alireza Jafarzadeh, a former spokesman for Iran's exiled opposition National Council of Resistance, said "between 350 and 400 nuclear physicists" are involved in the weapons program. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Berlin Hosts Anti-Semitism Conference
    Some 400 delegates from 55 countries are taking part in a two-day conference in Berlin on anti-Semitism sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. A survey published by ADL found that anti-Jewish sentiment has decreased across the continent. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
        See also below Observations: Survey Finds Decrease in European Sympathy for Israel and Palestinians
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Suicide Car Bombing in Gaza Wounds Four Soldiers - Margot Dudkevitch
    Four Israeli soldiers were wounded Wednesday when a jeep filled with explosives blew up next to an army jeep near Kfar Darom in Gaza. Soldiers opened fire on the jeep, which carried an Israeli flag on its side, as it sped toward the community. (Jerusalem Post)
        The IDF believes the jeep's Palestinian driver planned to blow himself up against a bus or a convoy on the Kissufim-Gush Katif highway. The military had received general intelligence warnings of the possibility of such an attack. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Drops Anti-Terror Leaflets over Gaza City - Amir Buhbut
    For the first time in decades, Israeli Air Force planes dropped leaflets over Gaza City on Sunday, calling on the Palestinian population not to help terrorists. The flyers included the names of two wanted men, in the hope that Gaza residents would identify them and refuse to cooperate with them. Recently, Gaza Strip residents have been fighting against terror. In Rafah, a clash erupted between the clans operating the underground tunnels to smuggle weapons and the clans who object to this, realizing that as soon as the IDF finds out about the tunnels, Israel would launch military operations that would disrupt life in the town. (Maariv International)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Day That Bush Took Gaza - Martin Indyk
    Sharon's disengagement plan declares that it will "obviate the claims about Israel with regard to its responsibility for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip." But who's going to take over that responsibility? Not the tattered Palestinian Authority. Not cautious Egypt, which once ruled Gaza. Instead, de facto responsibility for what happens in Gaza will fall to the U.S. That's the hidden meaning in the president's letter of assurance to Sharon saying that the U.S. will lead an international effort to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight terrorism and prevent the areas from which Israel withdraws from posing a threat.
        Having trumpeted his support for an independent Palestinian state, Bush is now taking on responsibility for ensuring that the Gaza mini-state created by Israel's withdrawal does not turn into a failed terrorist state. If hooded Hamas terrorists end up dancing on the rooftops of Gaza settlements or indoctrinating Palestinian children in the former classrooms of Israeli settlers, Bush will be fielding the questions instead of Sharon. (Washington Post)
  • Sell It Softly - Joseph S. Nye Jr.
    There are three ways for a nation to achieve power: by using or threatening force; by inducing compliance with rewards; or by using "soft power" - attracting followers through the strength of a country's values and culture. When a country can induce others to follow by employing soft power, it saves a lot of carrots and sticks. The Soviet Union's final dissolution came only after we also began to effectively employ soft power, which attracted people in Eastern Europe and Russia to Western values. To win the war of ideas for the hearts and minds of moderate Arabs, we will have to become more adept at wielding soft power in the region.
        The greatest challenge to the U.S. today comes from radical Islamist ideology, in particular from the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect. Radical Islamists are expert in the use of soft power, attracting people to their ranks through charities that address basic needs and through religious institutions that form the backbones of communities. The Saudi royal family's support of Wahhabism was also an exercise in soft power. The Saudis spent roughly $70 billion to sponsor 1,500 mosques and 2,000 schools worldwide, often displacing more moderate and less well-funded interpretations of Islam. The writer is dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and author of Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. (Los Angeles Times)
  • No Love for Israel in Geneva - Anne Bayefsky
    UN special envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi's proclamation that Israel is "the great poison in the region" is no aberration. Assigning blame to Israel for the nonexistence of Arab democracy, the impoverishment of Arab populations, and the human-rights deficit throughout the Muslim world is standard UN policy. At the annual six-week meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, five resolutions were adopted condemning Israel, while a resolution condemning ethnic cleansing in Sudan, which has left 30,000 dead and 900,000 in deplorable conditions, was defeated. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Survey Finds Decrease in European Sympathy for Israel and Palestinians (ADL)

    A survey of Attitudes Toward Jews, Israel, and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict in Ten European Countries by the Anti-Defamation League was released Monday in Berlin on the eve of an international conference on anti-Semitism convened by the OSCE.

    • Only 23% of those surveyed view Israel favorably, while 34% say they view Israel unfavorably.
    • 15% say they sympathize with the Israelis in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while 24% sympathize with the Palestinians.
    • 59% of European respondents view the current Israeli government unfavorably, while 52% view the PA unfavorably.
    • Only in Italy and the Netherlands do respondents sympathize more with the Israelis than with the Palestinians.
    • The data indicates that attitudes toward Israel have gotten progressively worse in the last two years. At the same time, sympathy for the Palestinians declined from 32% to 24% since 2002.

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