Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 20, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Militants Try to Abduct Foreign Journalist (DPA/News24-South Africa)
    Palestinian militants tried to abduct a foreign journalist working for an American news outlet as he was reporting outside a hospital in Rafah, the Foreign Press Association in Israel said Thursday.
    A group of men outside Rafah's al-Najjar hospital first engaged him in conversation, but then grabbed him and tried to bundle him into a car.
    Passers-by who heard the journalist's shouts managed to foil the kidnapping.
    The Israeli army has repeatedly warned that it had intelligence information indicating that Palestinian militants planned to abduct foreign journalists.

Arafat at Heart of Rights Abuse Report - Gethin Chamberlain (Scotsman-UK)
    Arab prisoners beaten and tortured, innocent bystanders killed by gunfire - another damning human rights report.
    But the difference this time is that the violence is being perpetrated by the Palestinian Authority, and the victims are its own people.
    The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group report, partly funded by the Finnish government, claims Palestinian cities are in a state of near anarchy, with people on the payroll of Arafat's PA blamed for 90% of gangland violence.
    It highlights numerous incidents of torture of prisoners and refers to the killing of civilians in gunbattles between Palestinian factions.
    It is another blow for Arafat's organization, which was recently accused of misusing £134 million of EU funds.

    See also The Intrafada: An Analysis of Internal Palestinian Violence (Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group)

Hit Squads and Sleeper Cells - Daniel Pipes (Jerusalem Post)
    Whence comes the main danger to homeland security in North America and Western Europe?
    With the single exception of the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, notes al-Qaeda authority Rohan Gunaratna, all major terrorist attacks of the past decade in the West have been carried out by Muslim immigrants.
    Of the 212 suspected and convicted terrorist perpetrators during 1993-2003, 86% were Muslim immigrants and the remainder mainly converts to Islam.

Useful Reference:

Searching for Gaza's Tunnels - in Pictures (BBC News)
    A photographer accompanied Israeli soldiers on a recent mission into southern Gaza - see 13 photos.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Declines to Condemn Israeli Attack in Gaza
    President Bush on Wednesday declined to condemn the deadly attack on Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli military forces in Rafah in Gaza, saying he wanted to get "clarification'' of the incident from Israeli officials. "I continue to urge restraint,'' Bush said. (AP/Guardian-UK)
        See also News Resources-Israel: What Really Happened in Rafah?
  • Strike by U.S. Military Leaves at Least 40 Iraqis Dead
    About 40 Iraqis were killed Wednesday by American forces in an attack near the Syrian border. American officials said they had fired on a suspected guerrilla safe house, but Iraqis said the Americans had strafed civilians at a wedding party. American officials said they had called in air support after an American military operation in the area had come under hostile fire. Lt. Col. Ziyad al-Jbouri, the deputy police chief of Ramadi, said that between 42 and 45 people had died, including 15 children and 10 women. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Allows UN Council to Rebuke Israel on Gaza
    The U.S. allowed adoption of a UN Security Council resolution rebuking Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes by abstaining rather than using its veto power to kill the measure. James Cunningham, the U.S. deputy ambassador, told the council he abstained because the resolution did not touch on "terrorists smuggling weapons into Gaza through tunnels.'' "While we believe that Israel has the right to act to defend itself and its citizens, we do not see that its operations in Gaza in the last few days serve the purposes of peace and security,'' Cunningham said. (Reuters/New York Times)
        See also Observations: Israel's Statement to the UN Security Council
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Five Armed Palestinians and Two Youths Killed in Rafah Shooting Incident; IDF to Continue Gaza Operation - Amos Harel
    Seven Palestinians were killed in Rafah on Wednesday - five armed men and two youths - when IDF troops prevented a crowd that included a few dozen armed men from marching on their positions in the Tel Sultan neighborhood, where the IDF had been operating since Tuesday. An Apache helicopter launched warning flares and then fired a missile into an open field, but failed to stop the marchers. Then a tank sent machine gun fire into an open area, and finally it was decided to shoot a few tank shells into an abandoned house near the civilians.
        The shells were fired as a deterrent and were not aimed directly at the demonstrators. "At no stage of the incident were the demonstrators in the sights of our tanks," a senior officer said. The IDF's inquiry found that the first shells hit the house's wall and probably collapsed it. Altogether four shells were fired and apparently, following the wall's collapse, a shell passed through the house and exploded close to civilians.
        Palestinian sources at first reported 22 dead. Officers said the Palestinians had "inflated" the number of casualties for a greater international effect, adding civilians who had died of disease to the list of casualties.
        A senior officer dismissed criticism of using tank shells for deterrence. "This is a war environment, not police work. There is no call to operate crowd-control means there. You can't operate water hoses against a demonstration with armed men." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Map of Rafah Incident (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • PA Initiated March in Rafah - Margot Dudkevitch and Herb Keinon
    The Palestinian Authority initiated the parade that set out from the center of Rafah and headed towards IDF troops, said IDF Spokeswoman Brig.-Gen. Ruth Yaron. "No soldier or no commander gave or received orders to fire directly at civilians," said Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon.
        "We went to Rafah with force, because we want to leave Gaza," said Prime Minister Sharon's spokesman, Ra'anan Gissin. "But we can't leave Gaza and leave intact its terrorist infrastructure." "We are dealing with a war zone and are engaged in a legitimate fight against terrorist organizations." "Unfortunately, people get caught in the cross fire, but this does not give the press the right to turn it into a crime scene, and accuse us of all sorts of crimes before all the data is available," Gissin said.
        IDF officers did not rule out the possibility that one of the exploding tank shells detonated a bomb placed by Palestinians on the road and this could have led to the casualties. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fatah Leader Barghouti Convicted in Deaths of 26 Israelis - Roni Singer
    The Tel Aviv District Court Thursday convicted senior West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in the deaths of 26 Israelis. Barghouti, 43, was charged with leading dozens of terror operations, including suicide and shooting attacks that led to the death and injury of hundreds of Israeli citizens and soldiers. According to the charge sheet, Barghouti headed the Fatah, Tanzim, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade terror groups in the West Bank and was subordinate to Arafat. His trial began in August 2003. The state prosecutor said Barghouti funded and planned terror attacks and is not the political activist he claimed to be. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Marwan Barghouti, Fatah-Tanzim, and the Escalation of the Intifada (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs);
    Text of Barghouti Indictment - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 (IMRA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Anti-Jewish Rhetoric Infects the West - Michael Rubin
    Discourse has changed. Anti-Semitic hate mail is becoming more commonplace and more virulent. According to the FBI, in 2002 there were 931 anti-Jewish hate crimes and 155 anti-Muslim attacks; neither is acceptable. What is new is the infection of mainstream discourse with anti-Semitic references. Most disappointing has been the ease with which the questioning of Jewish officials' motivations has infiltrated some in the academic community. Allegations of dual loyalty have even crept into U.S. government interagency discourse. (National Review)
        See also Sen. Hollings: Bush Went to War to Appease American Jews
    Retiring Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-SC) is defending statements he made in a newspaper opinion article that President Bush went to war with Iraq to protect Israel and appease American Jews. Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote Hollings: "This is reminiscent of age-old, anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish conspiracy to control and manipulate government." (AP/Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
  • Stop the Moral Equivalence - Garry Kasparov
    Calling the terrorists "militants" or "radical Islamists" presupposes the existence of moderates willing to confront the radicals. Outside of Turkey, it is very hard to find moderate clerics who will stand up to Islamist terrorists, even though the majority of their victims are Muslim. In Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr has been murdering his religious opposition and using armed gangs to establish political rule. He appears immune to anything resembling condemnation. In this fight the enemy does not play by our rules, or by any rules at all. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Israel Has No War With the Palestinian People But With Terror
    - Ambassador Dan Gillerman (Mission of Israel to the UN)

    Israel's Permanent Representative to the UN told the Security Council on Wednesday:

    • The numbers distributed by the Palestinians are exaggerated and totally false. Seven Palestinians were killed, of which four to five were armed terrorists. I can only express my disappointment that some members of the international community have been misled by the Palestinian propaganda machine.
    • Terrorists operate among civilians and tragedy can strike. Even during times of war, the death of innocent civilians is regrettable, but we cannot be deluded by false pretense and any ambiguity between the terrorists and those who fight this deplorable scourge.
    • The Security Council has never dealt with the dangers to peace and security of smuggling arms through the tunnels of Rafah from Egypt. Rafah serves as the "Arms Smuggling Gateway" of the PA. These tunnels of terror provide the conduit for hundreds of kilograms of explosives, hundreds of rifles (mainly AK-47 Kalashnikovs), tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, and dozens of RPG rockets and launchers.
    • In recent months, Palestinian terrorist organizations operating in Gaza have commenced in executing a systematic plan to turn Gaza into a platform for launching rockets and missiles capable of reaching the entire aerial territory of Israel. The whole of Gaza is on the verge of becoming a missile base aimed at Israel's cities and civilian population. What would the international community have Israel do? If Israel does not act today to fight against the weapons smuggled and manufactured in Gaza, next month Katyusha rockets will be aimed at the homes of its citizens.
    • Both customary law and conventional law make it clear that the use of civilian objects and dwellings to support a military attack constitutes a war crime. The IDF does not demolish structures indiscriminately. Only those involved in terror and violence against Israeli civilians hold no immunity.
    • Israel refrains whenever possible from attacking terrorist targets from the air or with artillery, in order to minimize collateral damage. In so doing, Israel risks greater danger to the lives of its soldiers in order to lessen the risk to local residents. The death of 13 soldiers in ground operations in the Gaza Strip earlier this month is an example of the heavy price Israel pays for its commitment to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties.
    • The suffering of the Palestinian population is a direct result of Palestinian terrorism aimed at innocent Israelis, and the need for Israel to protect its citizens from these abhorrent attacks. Rather than criticizing Israel for damaging private property, those truly concerned for Palestinian welfare including humanitarian organizations should instead demand that the terrorists stop using homes to shield their illegal operations.
    • Israel has no war with the Palestinian people. We have a war with terror, and with those who are determined not to create the Palestinian state, but to destroy the Jewish one.

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