Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 10, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
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In-Depth Issues:

U.S.-Israel Laser Cannon Intercepts Rocket - Amnon Barzilai (Ha'aretz)
    The Nautilus, an air-defense system jointly developed by Israel and the U.S., succeeded in destroying an incoming long-range surface-to-surface rocket at the U.S. Army test range in White Sands, N.M., on May 4, Israel's Defense Ministry announced on Friday.
    This is the first time the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) has intercepted a long-range rocket in tests.
    An Israeli-made rocket was used as the target for the Nautilus.

Report: Egypt Seeking to Move Arafat to Gaza? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Quoting Palestinian sources in Ramallah, the Lebanese daily An-Nahar reported Sunday that Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is expected to visit Ramallah soon aboard an Egyptian military helicopter to transfer Arafat to the Gaza Strip.

8 Palestinians Hurt in Hamas-Fatah Gunfight in Nablus - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    At least eight Palestinians were injured Sunday in Nablus when a gunfight broke out between Hamas and Fatah activists, against the backdrop of elections to the student council of the Open Al-Quds University.

Italian Authorities Break Up Islamic Cell - Frances D'Emilio (AP/Washington Times)
    Anti-terrorism police in northern Italy arrested the Algerian cleric of a mosque and four Tunisians Sunday in a crackdown authorities said was aimed at preventing an al-Qaeda-linked cell from sending suicide attackers to Iraq.
    The suspects allegedly belonged to a cell of Ansar al-Islam.
    "It was clear they intended to reach Iraq and strike Western targets," said Genoa Police Chief Oscar Fiorolli.
    Anti-terrorism investigators have described Italy as a key logistical base for Islamic terrorists, especially for recruitment of potential suicide attackers and procurement of false documents.

Sniffer Dog Given Military Funeral - Laurie Copans (
    The Israeli army held a military funeral Monday for Toska - a three-year-old female Malinois, a type of Belgian shepherd - that was killed on the Lebanese border on Friday.
    Toska was part of the American-Israeli program Pups for Peace, which has 90 dogs helping to detect explosives on Israel's borders and to identify bombers targeting city buses.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Attack Memorial Service for Murdered Mother and Daughters
    Palestinians disguised as women opened fire with automatic weapons Sunday at some 300 Israelis who had congregated at the site where Tali Hatuel and her four daughters were murdered a week ago near the Kissufim crossing in the Gaza Strip.
        Families with babies hit the sand dunes the moment they heard the sound of gunfire that came from the nearby Palestinian town of Khan Yunis. Some people grabbed babies and ran to an armor plated ambulance while soldiers and armed civilians shot back. Two tanks fired at the terrorists. Later an armored bus arrived and evacuated people. No Israelis were hurt. Brig. Gen. Shmuel Zakai said soldiers killed the attackers. (UPI/Washington Times-Jerusalem Post)
  • Bush: Palestinian State by 2005 "Isn't Realistic"
    President Bush told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram on Thursday: "I think the timetable of 2005 [for a Palestinian state] isn't as realistic as it was two years ago. Nevertheless, I do think we ought to push hard as fast as possible to get a state in place."
        "The rights of Palestinians to return to Israel will be negotiated." "I think Prime Minister Sharon created an interesting dynamic, I really do, and that is withdrawal from the West Bank....I think you're going to see over time with the emergence of a Palestinian state that the West Bank will be occupied by Palestinians. And to the extent to what the final border looks like is up for negotiations." "The focus ought to be on how do we get a Palestinian state up and running and moving forward."  (White House)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon to Present New Plan for Gaza Withdrawal - Gil Hoffman
    Prime Minister Sharon told the cabinet Sunday that he will bring a new diplomatic plan to a top-level discussion in three weeks time after consulting with ministers over the next few weeks. "Sharon will listen to what the ministers have to say, but the prime minister will not deviate from the principles he established of reaching a consensus in Israel, with the U.S., and the world community that would minimize harm to Israel strategically," a senior official close to Sharon said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Netanyahu: We Must Respect Likud Vote - Herb Keinon
    Finance Minister Netanyahu told the cabinet Sunday, "The Likud's decision [in the disengagement referendum] obligates all Likud members....The majority of Likud members are prepared to make large sacrifices for peace, but they are not willing to do so during these times of intense terror attacks." Netanyahu said he is convinced that Likud voters are "ready to take meaningful steps in a future agreement that they believe in. Therefore, there is a need for an alternative plan." (Jerusalem Post)
  • No Withdrawal from the Withdrawal - Aluf Benn
    Something interesting happened to the disengagement plan after its rejection by the Likud membership a week ago: From an initiative of Prime Minister Sharon, it suddenly became an international plan led by the U.S.  President Bush is giving interviews right and left, sending envoys and letters, and trying to market the withdrawal as a move that will change the face of the Middle East. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jerusalem Terror Cell Linked to 2003 Shooting - Etgar Lefkovits
    A Palestinian terror cell which carried out two lethal shootings in northern Jerusalem this spring was also behind a third - heretofore unsolved - shooting on March 3, 2003, which mortally wounded David Mordechai, 77, who died of his wounds two months ago, and left his son Menachem, 47, completely paralyzed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Global Jihad - Corine Hegland
    In the two and a half years since American troops rooted al-Qaeda out of its Afghan home, more than 1,200 people have died in attacks from Sunni global jihadists outside of Iraq, Israel, and Kashmir - and there's no end in sight. From the beginning, al-Qaeda more closely resembled a virus than a corporation. In 1988, its founder, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian, chartered al-Qaeda ("The Base") as the vanguard of Islamic zealotry. Al-Qaeda wouldn't win the holy war itself, but it would show other Islamists the way. The organization was only the needle for injecting its horrific ideology into other Islamists. (National Journal)
  • Plain, Misguided, Hatred - Andrew Bolt
    If I were a Jew, I'd be frightened by the letters of hate in this town's newspapers this week. The Jews may be "too strong for Australia's health," wondered one man. Yes, they're "unduly influential," warned another.
        If Jews were powerful, our aid groups would not routinely accuse the Jewish state - often falsely - of brutality in its defensive war against terrorists who blow up buses and last week deliberately shot dead a two-year-old Jewish girl, and her three sisters. If Jews were truly powerful, the media coverage of Israel wouldn't be so hostile, academics wouldn't vilify Israel so glibly, the hate-preaching Muslim Mufti of Australia would have been expelled, and Jewish synagogues, centers, and schools wouldn't need protecting with guards, barriers, and barbed wire. (Melbourne Herald Sun-Australia)
  • The Arab World's Can-Do Guy: Jordan's King Abdullah II - Lee Smith
    Last week, King Abdullah walked out of the White House with assurances by the U.S. not to prejudice future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. On April 29 in Amman, Abdullah's wife Queen Rania led a march against terrorism. The pan-Arab daily Al Hayat reported that close to 150,000 people turned out, some of them burning photographs of Bin Laden and al-Qaeda associate Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian national who allegedly plotted a chemical attack against several targets in Amman. (Slate)
  • Saudi Arabia Refashions Its Soul - M. A. Muqtedar Khan
    I have just returned from an international conference on terrorism at Imam Mohammed University in Riyadh, the global headquarters of Wahhabism, where nearly 20,000 students study the core teachings of Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab. The conference revealed the extent and depth of rethinking taking place within the kingdom. In closed-door sessions I was extremely critical of Wahhabism and of Saudi policies, and I found the Saudi scholars and ministers in attendance open and willing to listen.
        I heard one member of the Majlis al-Shura (the Saudi consultative council that is a pretense for a parliament) as he lambasted the university and Wahhabi clerics for being the source of the problem behind terrorism in Saudi Arabia. "We are a country that is economically in the 20th century and intellectually in the 14th century," he said. The writer is a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Observations:

    Cursed by Oil - Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times)

    • Why are the Japanese making robots into humans, while Muslim suicide squads are making humans into robots? The answer has to do in part with the interaction between culture and natural resources. Countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China have relatively few natural resources like oil. As a result, in the modern age, their first instinct is to look inward, assess their weaknesses, try to learn as much as they can from foreigners, and then beat them at their own game.
    • The Arab world, alas, has been cursed with oil. For decades, too many Arab countries have opted to drill a sand dune for economic growth rather than drilling their own people - men and women - in order to tap their energy, creativity, intellect, and entrepreneurship.
    • A week ago we were treated again to absurd Saudi allegations that "Zionists" were behind the latest bombing in Saudi Arabia. Someone ought to tell the Saudis that the only interest Israelis have in Saudi Arabia is flying over it to get to India and China - countries that actually trade and manufacture things other than hatred of "infidels."

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