Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 29, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Madrid Suspect Indicted on 9/11 Charges - Maria Jesus Prades (AP)
    A Moroccan sought in connection with last month's Madrid train bombings was indicted Wednesday on charges of helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks.
    Amer Azizi helped organize a meeting in northeast Spain in July 2001 that key plotters in the U.S. attacks, including suspect suicide pilot Mohamed Atta, used to finalize details, Judge Baltasar Garzon said.
    The new indictment, based on information provided by authorities in Britain, Turkey, and the U.S., charges Azizi with actually helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks.

Gaza City Security Chief Escapes Bomb Blast (AP/USA Today)
    A large bomb went off Thursday at the house of Gaza police chief Ghazi Jabali shortly after he left, witnesses said.
    No one was hurt, but there was considerable damage.
    Witnesses found an 80-foot-long wire leading from the scene of the blast, attached to a switch.

Iraq Hostage Feared Death Over Israel Spy Charge - Cynthia Johnston (Reuters)
    Nabil Razzouk, 30, a Palestinian Christian aid worker from East Jerusalem who was held hostage in Iraq, said Wednesday his captors beat him repeatedly and accused him of being an Israeli spy - a charge he feared would cost him his life.
    For more than two weeks he tried to persuade his captors that he was not a spy after they found his Israeli driver's license.
    He said he was held in dark, windowless rooms with other hostages, often with his hands bound or his eyes covered.
    "I had weapons pointed to my head....I had knives held to my neck, he said.
    Razzouk was working in Iraq under a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Iranian Film Mocking Clerics is Box-Office Hit - Parisa Hafezi and Paul Hughes (Reuters)
    An award-winning Iranian comedy poking fun at the conservative clerics who run the Islamic Republic is breaking box-office records after narrowly squeezing past the country's zealous censors.
    "The Lizard" follows the fortunes of a thief who escapes prison by donning the turban and robes of a Muslim cleric.

Palestinians to Pipe Egyptian Gas Via Israel - David Hayoun (Globes)
    PA Energy Minister Azzam Shawwa has notified Minister of National Infrastructures Joseph Paritzky that the PA plans to transport natural gas bought from Egypt through a pipeline running through Israeli territory.
    The gas is intended for a Palestinian power station built two years ago.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Saddam's Agents Behind Attacks in Iraq, Pentagon Finds
    A Defense Intelligence Agency report has concluded that many bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq, and the more sophisticated of the guerrilla attacks in Falluja, are organized and often carried out by members of Saddam Hussein's secret service, who planned for the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad. Suicide bombers have worn explosives-laden vests made before the war under the direction of the "Special Operations and Antiterrorism Branch," known as M-14. The findings were based on interrogations of high-ranking M-14 members who are now in American custody. (New York Times)
  • Syria's Assad Defends Anti-U.S. Attacks in Iraq
    Syrian President Bashar Assad described armed attacks against U.S.-led troops in neighboring Iraq as legitimate "resistance" against foreign occupation, in remarks aired Wednesday on the pan-Arab al-Jazeera satellite station. Assad also compared militant Palestinian factions fighting Israel to the Iraqi insurgents.   (AP/Washington Post)
  • Al Jazeera Seen as Inciting Viewers to Iraq Violence
    Secretary of State Powell met Tuesday with Qatar's foreign minister for "intense discussions" about the government-funded Al Jazeera satellite TV station, the world's most popular Arabic-language station. The administration has become increasingly incensed at the station's coverage, which it contends incites Arab audiences to violence against U.S. troops and their allies in the Iraqi government. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has denounced its reporting as "vicious, inaccurate, and inexcusable." State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday that Al Jazeera had incorrectly reported April 9 that "children are being killed, and women cut to pieces in Falluja." Al Jazeera has also repeatedly broadcast unedited tapes by bin Laden and al-Qaeda deputies at length. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Ending a "Deadly Hate" of Jews
    Delegates from 55 countries gathered Wednesday in Berlin to pledge vigilance against resurgent anti-Semitism in Europe. They plan to endorse increased public education to refute stereotypes and to expand the collection and sharing of data about anti-Semitic incidents. (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations - Powell: Demonizing Israel is Anti-Semitism
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Reassures Israel on Support for Disengagement Plan - Nathan Guttman and Aluf Benn
    On Wednesday, senior White House officials spoke with Israeli Ambassador to Washington Daniel Ayalon to soothe Israeli fears in the wake of reports that Washington intended to send a letter of assurance to Jordan to "balance" the letter President Bush sent to Sharon regarding the disengagement plan. Bush is considering giving written assurances to Abdullah that the issues of settlements and the Palestinian refugees will be decided in negotiations between the two sides, Reuters reported. Similar letters have been requested by Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians. The U.S. has informed Israel it will have to make a "corrective" move toward its European allies and the Arabs. "The president's commitments to Israel, detailed in the letter to the prime minister, are valid and binding as they are written and are clear to everyone," said a statement released by the Israeli Embassy in Washington following the meeting between Ayalon and the White House officials. (Ha'aretz)
  • Woman Survives Palestinian Shooting Attack - Ro'i Sharon
    Yael Zar was driving home on the road bypassing Nablus on Wednesday night when Palestinians opened fire at her car. A few bullets hit the vehicle but Zar was unhurt. "I thought stones were being thrown at the car," Zar recalled. "[When] I came across an IDF jeep...the soldiers shone their searchlight at the car and showed me bullet holes in the wheel and door." On March 29, 2001, Yael's son Gilad Zar, the Samaria regional council's security officer, was shot dead on that very same road. (Maariv International)
  • French Prosecutors Open Inquiry Over Terror Attacks in Israel
    French prosecutors opened an inquiry after relatives of Jewish victims of attacks in Israel, who are French, filed a complaint against Yasser Arafat, accusing him of genocide, crimes against humanity, murder, and criminal conspiracy, judicial sources said Wednesday. Under French law, heads of state enjoy immunity from prosecution as long as they are in power. But lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that Arafat was not legally head of state. The lawyers say that as Jews, they considered themselves victims of "a concerted plan aimed at the partial destruction of a racial or religious group, which constitutes a genocide."  (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Genocide Convention vs. Hamas - Joshua Muravchik
    The moral case for Israel's counterattacks on Hamas is overwhelming. But even in strictly legal terms, Israel's actions have sound justification. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, a treaty with the force of law, codifies what the Nuremberg tribunal and the UN General Assembly in its very first session found to be existing customary law. Article One of the convention defines genocide as "killing" intended "to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group." By this definition, Hamas is an organization devoted to genocide and has been working busily at this mission for years, its goal being the complete destruction of the Jewish state. As the late Rantisi affirmed: "We will not leave one Jew in Palestine." Hamas's and Rantisi's platform is as clearly formulated a project of genocide as we have had since Mein Kampf.
        What this means is that France, Sweden, and the rest are under a legal obligation to destroy or cripple Hamas and to assist in the arrest and prosecution of its leaders and members. Yet until six months ago, the EU allowed Hamas to work freely in Europe, as if it were just another NGO, the rationale being a specious distinction between the organization's "political" and "military" wings, much like the distinction between Hitler's Nazi party and his storm troopers. Under the genocide convention, Europe's legal obligations go well beyond belatedly closing its own territory to Hamas operations. They include doing what can be done to bring a halt to the genocide and punish the perpetrators. By killing Rantisi and Yassin, Israel is doing what all the other nations ought by law to be doing. (National Review)
  • Behind Jordan's Opposition to a Gaza Pullout - Shmuel Bar
    Jordan has been watching with growing anxiety the meltdown of political and social authority in the West Bank, fearing a spillover of these attributes into Jordan. Jordan fears that cutting the Palestinians off from the Israeli economy with the building of the security fence would create pressures for immigration to the East Bank. In addition, if Israel succeeds in neutralizing Gaza as the seat of Hamas leadership, the organization will put more emphasis on its infrastructure outside the West Bank and Gaza, particularly in Jordan. If the motivation of Hamas to use Jordan as a platform grows, Jordan will be obliged to increase security - with potential repercussions on the loyalty of the Palestinian population. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Policy & Strategy, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Access/Middle East)
  • Observations:

    Powell: Demonizing Israel is Anti-Semitism (State Department)

    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Conference on Anti-Semitism of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Thursday:

    • Today, we confront the ugly reality that anti-Semitism is not just a fact of history, but a current event. We are appalled that in recent years the incidence of anti-Semitic hate crimes has been on the increase within our community of democratic nations. All of us recognize that we must take decisive measures to reverse this disturbing trend.
    • Our states must work together to combat anti-Semitism by word and deed. We need to create a culture of social tolerance and civic courage, in which anti-Semitism and other forms of racial and religious hatred are met with the active resistance of our citizens, authorities, and political leaders.
    • We must send the clear message far and wide that anti-Semitism is always wrong and it is always dangerous.
    • We must send the clear message that anti-Semitic hate crimes are exactly that: crimes, and that these crimes will be aggressively prosecuted.
    • We must not permit anti-Semitic crimes to be shrugged off as inevitable side effects of inter-ethnic conflicts. Political disagreements do not justify physical assaults against Jews in our streets, the destruction of Jewish schools, or the desecration of synagogues and cemeteries. There is no justification for anti-Semitism.
    • It is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the State of Israel. But the line is crossed when Israel or its leaders are demonized or vilified, for example by the use of Nazi symbols and racist caricatures.

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