Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 11, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Israel Infiltrates Hamas (Middle East Newsline)
    Israeli military sources said the intelligence community has infiltrated Hamas in both the West Bank and Gaza, and often receives advance warnings of suicide bombing plots.
    "This has been one of the most important developments in our fight against Hamas," a military source said.
    "Three years ago, the idea of being able to infiltrate Hamas was unimaginable."

"Anyone Capturing a Female British Soldier Can Keep Her as a Slave" (AP/FOX News)
    Sheik Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli, one of radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's senior aides, told worshippers in Basra Friday that anyone capturing a female British soldier can keep her as a slave.
    Al-Bahadli also said anyone capturing a British soldier will receive $350 and anyone killing one will receive $150.

Islamic Terror Groups Fighting Over Men and Money - Faye Bowers and Peter Grier (Christian Science Monitor)
    Shadi Abdallah, a Jordanian currently serving a four-year prison term in Germany, once had to choose between serving as Osama bin Laden's bodyguard or joining Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al-Tawhid organization.
    Abdallah's interrogations depict a world riven by internal rivalries, with different groups fighting over men and money.
    Says Bruce Hoffman, a terror expert at RAND Corp. in Washington, "It confirms that Zarqawi was running a parallel organization - not completely divorced from al-Qaeda, but separate. And that [Zarqawi] competes with Osama bin Laden and sees himself as somewhat of an emulator, or even a successor in the Muslim world."
    Al-Tawhid is based on the same religious tenets as al-Qaeda, but Zarqawi's raison d'etre is to overthrow the royal family of Jordan.
    Abdallah named cell leaders in Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Nuremberg, and Wiesbaden, as well as heads of cells for Britain, Denmark, and the Czech Republic.
    German authorities acknowledge that Abdallah will require witness protection for the rest of his life.

Pipeline Blast Slashes Iraq's Oil Exports - Hamza Hendawi (AP/Washington Post)
    In southern Iraq, firefighters were still battling a blaze that erupted Saturday after insurgents bombed a pipeline carrying oil for export to a terminal south of Basra.
    As a result, Iraq's petroleum exports fell by 25% to 1.2 million barrels a day.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Blow Up Israeli Armored Personnel Carrier in Gaza, Six IDF Soldiers Killed
    Six IDF soldiers were killed Tuesday in Gaza's al-Zaytun neighborhood when their armored personnel carrier drove over a 100-kg explosive device. Israeli troops fought fierce gunbattles in an operation that destroyed five workshops where Qassam rockets used against Jewish towns in Gaza and southern Israel were being made. (Reuters/Maariv International)
  • West Bank Teen Decides Not to Blow Up
    A Palestinian teenager who decided against blowing himself up in Jerusalem caused panic at a Ramallah security office when he went for help to disarm the explosives, officials said Monday. Palestinian security officials said the young man, 18, appeared at their office late last week and stripped off his jacket - revealing an explosives vest with a detonation switch at his neck. He said he was sent by Islamic Jihad in Jenin to blow himself up in Jerusalem. On the way, he had second thoughts. "I kept thinking of myself, of my family, and to be honest - I don't want to die," he was quoted as saying. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Saudis Criticize Bush on Palestinian State Remarks
    Saudi Arabia criticized President Bush Monday for casting doubt on a 2005 target for Palestinian statehood. A statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency after a cabinet meeting said: "The [Saudi] cabinet expressed the hope that such statements will not lead to the obstruction of the road map, and most importantly its timetable for the withdrawal of Israeli troops." Bush's comments "serve the Israeli demands and practices which are devoted to shattering the principles of the peace process," it said. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Demands Egyptian Retraction for Faked Abuse Photos
    The U.S. Embassy in Cairo last week demanded a retraction for photographs published in the Egyptian press that it said were faked pictures of American soldiers sexually abusing female prisoners in Iraq. "They are clearly staged photos, done by actors," the embassy said in a statement. "[We] have conclusive evidence that they originated on a pornographic website." "Their publication needlessly inflames an already heated atmosphere," the statement added. (AP/Newsday)
  • British Commonwealth Graves Vandalized in Gaza
    Palestinians with axes and shovels desecrated 33 graves in a Commonwealth war cemetery in the Gaza Strip to protest against reported abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British soldiers, witnesses said Monday. Reprinted photographs of soldiers apparently mistreating and humiliating Iraqi detainees were affixed to dozens of untouched gravestones in the British-administered cemetery in Gaza City for 3,661 soldiers who died in two world wars. (Reuters)
  • Turkey Orders Sermons on Women's Rights
    Turkey's young governing party, with roots in political Islam, has confounded critics and some supporters alike by transforming the nation's 70,000 mosques into bully pulpits from which preachers advocate women's rights and other democratic reforms. The government's Directorate of Religious Affairs has instructed the nation's imams to turn their spiritual guidance to the arena of human rights and ridding Turkey of unwanted vestiges of traditional society. (Chicago Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Syria Improving Relations with Arafat - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Syrian government has agreed to reopen Fatah offices in Damascus that have been closed since 1985. In another sign of rapprochement between Assad and Arafat, Syrian authorities permitted Fatah supporters to hold a rally at the Yarmouk refugee camp in solidarity with the PA chairman. It was the first time in more than 20 years that Arafat's supporters in Syria were allowed to demonstrate and carry his picture in public. The event was covered by state-run Syrian television. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Using Advanced Tools to Dig Tunnels - Amir Buhbut
    Palestinians digging weapons-smuggling tunnels on the Egyptian border have begun using professional electric tools previously unseen by the IDF, said Lt. Col. Babi Ben-Itach. On Sunday, IDF forces uncovered an arms-smuggling tunnel in the Rafah area five meters deep and 200 meters long, while six Palestinians were digging the tunnel with electric tools. "Interrogation of the diggers revealed that the 17-year-olds had been digging for five days straight. They dug, ate, and slept inside the tunnels without leaving even once in order to finish the job on time," Ben-Itach said. (Maariv International)
  • Congress to Approve $50M for U.S.-Israel Anti-Terror Fund - Ran Dagoni
    The U.S. Congress is expected to approve $50 million for a joint U.S.-Israel fund to develop counter-terrorism ventures that will begin operating in 2005. Israel Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Ayalon said the fund would be similar to the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation. Each party will budget $5 million a year for five years, with U.S. funding coming from the Department for Homeland Security. Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson said that Washington viewed Israel as more than just a loyal friend, but as an experienced partner in the war on terrorism. (Globes)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israeli Barrier "Saving Lives"
    Since Israel started erecting its controversial barrier in June 2002, 230km have been completed, essentially in the northern West Bank. "It's working and it has proved its purpose every day," Lt. Col. Shai Brovendeer says. Israel has replanted 90,000 olive trees uprooted by the construction and 16.5% of the budget allocated for the barrier's construction is to be spent on compensating the harm it does to Palestinians. Hani Aner, a resident of Masha whose house was severed from the rest of his village by the barrier, confirmed that he had been given a set of keys by the army to open it. (AFP/
  • WHO Must Drop Politics and Get Back to Saving Lives - Roger Bate
    Next week the annual meeting of the World Health Organization begins in Geneva. Israel is the only country to be repeatedly attacked by the WHO, despite the evidence that the Palestinians' health has improved under occupation. Mortality rates have fallen in the past 30 years in the West Bank and Gaza, and the life expectancy of Palestinians has jumped from 48 to 72 years - rather better than the Arab or North African averages. (Telegraph-UK)
  • London's Jihadists - Rachel Ehrenfeld
    The UK's reluctance to go after advocates of terrorism is puzzling. Although Hamas was finally outlawed in the UK in September 2003, its publication, Filisteen Almuslima (Muslim Palestine), continued to be published in London. It is not the only Islamist magazine published in England that incites hate, spreading anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Semitic messages, with pro-jihad, pro-terrorist propaganda and calls for suicide bombings. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    A Campaign of Denial to Disinherit the Jews - Nadav Shragai (Ha'aretz)

    • The claim that the Jews have no real connection to Jerusalem and its holy sites has been adopted by the Palestinian leadership and has become entrenched in Arab and Muslim communities.
    • According to a study by Dr. Yitzhak Reiter, conducted for the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, in the last generation, the history of Jerusalem has gradually been rewritten.
    • At the heart of this new version is the argument that Arabs ruled Jerusalem thousands of years before the children of Israel. Palestinian archaeologists identify the Jebusites as an ancient Arab tribe that wandered in from the Arabian Peninsula around 3000 BCE.
    • The most jarring element of the new history is the claim that the First and Second Temples are lies fabricated by the Jews.
    • As a result, today, more than in the past, Jerusalem has become a pan-Muslim Arab issue and any Arab negotiator seeking to work out an arrangement for the holy sites is constrained by the Islamic religious world.

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