Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 1, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Gaza Smugglers Belong to PA Security Forces - Nina Gilbert (Jerusalem Post)
    An intelligence officer told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that there are some 10-20 weapons smugglers in Gaza who belong to the PA's security forces.
    He also said there are preliminary indications of efforts to divert smuggling to areas other than Rafah as a result of the recent IDF operation.

Mofaz: Many Egyptian-Made RPG Launchers Smuggled into Gaza - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
    A large number of rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers manufactured by the Egyptian military industries have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip, Defense Minister Mofaz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.
    Mofaz also said that most of the weapons smuggled through underground tunnels into Gaza were manufactured in Iran, and included hundreds of Kalashnikov rifles, mortars, and thousands of bullets.

U.S. Focuses on Iraqi-Syrian Border (Middle East Newsline)
    The U.S. military, withdrawing from Sunni and Shi'ite cities, has been ordered to stop Islamic insurgents from entering Iraq from Syria.
    U.S. officials said thousands of mostly Sunni insurgents from throughout the Middle East have arrived in Syria for the trek to Iraq.

Terrorist in Israeli Embassy Bomb Plot Sentenced in Australia (AP/New York Times)
    Jack Roche, a British-born Muslim convert convicted for plotting to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Australia's capital, was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison.

Palestinians Kill PA Policeman - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    PA police Friday killed Ahmed Shorabji, 23, as he tried to escape from a prison in Jericho.
    He was arrested last week on suspicion that he had helped three members of Islamic Jihad escape from the Jericho lock-up.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Saudi Security Forces "Agreed to Let al-Qaeda Killers Escape"
    Witnesses said Monday that the terrorists who killed 22 civilians in Saudi Arabia and took more than 40 people hostage were let out of the besieged compound by Saudi security forces. An employee at the compound in Khobar said a hostage told him he had heard the gunmen shouting that they would release captives if security forces let them go. Security forces at first refused, but agreed after the militants, who also threatened to blow up the building, began killing hostages. Time and again, when Saudi police have mounted raids on al-Qaeda suspects, many terrorists have been able to slip away as they did on Sunday.
        Last year al-Qaeda spent more than $500 million in maintaining its network in Saudi Arabia where it enjoys the support of a cross-section of Saudi society. Saudis acknowledge privately that al-Qaeda has infiltrated its security forces and military. The CIA concluded last year that al-Qaeda could draw from a pool of up to 10,000 Saudis for operations and logistics. The Khobar terrorists used military vehicles and uniforms to penetrate the secure areas. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Madisonians Battle over Palestinian Sister City
    A proposal for Madison, Wis., to form a sister-city relationship with the Palestinian city of Rafah has divided Jews and others in this college town and prompted personal attacks and accusations of anti-Semitism. While some of the city's 5,000 or so Jews say people here should reach out to the people of Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, others see the city as a hotbed for Hamas and other militant groups. Any partnership with the city, opponents say, would be a condemnation of Israeli foreign policy and Prime Minister Sharon. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire "New, Advanced" Kassam Rockets at Israel - Nir Hasson
    Two Kassam rockets said to have been of a new advanced type were fired by Palestinians in Gaza Tuesday at the Israeli Negev city of Sderot, causing structural damage but no casualties. Police sappers who examined the rockets said they possessed longer range and more explosive potential than previous models. One rocket damaged a building in an industrial zone less than three kilometers from Prime Minister Sharon's Sycamore Ranch. (Ha'aretz)
  • Report: Egypt Tells Arafat - Reform or be Removed - Joseph Nasr
    The pan-Arab Al-Quds-al-Arabi reported Monday that Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman handed Arafat three demands: First, unite all the Palestinian security forces under one command authority. Second, give PA Prime Minister Qurei complete authority to conduct negotiations with Israel over Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan. Third, stand aside and accept a symbolic position and let others lead the PA. If these demands are not met, the Egyptian-American shield saving Arafat's life may be removed. Arafat was given a deadline of June 15 to give a decisive reply or else his future would be "left in the hands of Ariel Sharon," the newspaper reported. A senior Palestinian official said Arafat told him he intends to refuse the Egyptian demands. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Muslim-Christian Seminar Bickers Over Inviting Jews
    A Vatican-led conference in Qatar on dialogue with Muslims ended with bickering over whether to allow Jews to take part in future meetings, because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Emir of the Gulf state, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, said in a speech delivered on his behalf on Thursday that Jews should also take part: "Perhaps it would be worthwhile widening next year's seminar to an Islamic-Christian-Jewish dialogue." But Sheikh Abdel-Karim al-Kahlout, the Mufti of Gaza, and Bishop Basilious Nassour, a Syrian representative of the Greek Orthodox Church, disagreed on Saturday. "We at the Patriarchy of Antioch reject the principle of dialogue with Jews before all the inhabitants of Palestine regain their rights," Nassour said. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The More Painful Deaths - Yossi Sarid
    Great anguish gripped us all during the past two weeks at the sight of 13 coffins draped in the state flag of soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip. The death of soldiers is more painful to us and vexes us more, because they were young, because they are our beloved sons, because every one of us has, or will have, someone there. There is not only solidarity here, but also alarm - when soldiers are killed, it's as if we are all more exposed, and there is no choice but to immediately rehabilitate the IDF "deterrent capability."
        The differences in the Israeli response also attest to the stupidity and maliciousness of the Palestinians. Some say they know Israeli society much better than we know theirs. If they really did, they would know already what hurts us most. And then those war criminals, headed by Yasser Arafat, would rid themselves and us of their appalling terror, they would not be forcing themselves into the world of international pariahs, and would not be marking their war of independence with the indelible stain of terrorism against civilians. If they really knew us, and had a little more wisdom, the Palestinians would behave in war as in war - not as in a slaughterhouse. (Ha'aretz)
  • Stop Saying Sorry - Efraim Inbar
    Israeli government spokesmen almost automatically issue statements of deep sorrow when a military operation results in Palestinian civilian casualties. This instinct to apologize is counterproductive since it implies an acceptance of responsibility for those losses. Yet the Palestinian losses are clearly not Israel's moral responsibility. The Palestinians have chosen the path of violence, particularly after September 2000. It is they who are to blame for the morally despicable acts of terror and Israel's countermeasures, harsh as they may be. Israel should point out systematically that all casualties are the result of Palestinian terrorism. The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Great Escape - Craig Unger
    Just after 9/11, 142 Saudis - two dozen of whom were members of the bin Laden family - were permitted to depart on six charter flights. According to newly released documents, 160 Saudis also left the U.S. on 55 commercial airline flights immediately after 9/11 - making a total of about 300 people who left. Prince Ahmed bin Salman, who has been accused of being an intermediary between al-Qaeda and the House of Saud, boarded one of the evacuation planes in Kentucky.
        If the 9/11 commission dares to address this issue, it will undoubtedly be accused of politicizing one of the most important national security investigations in American history. But if it does not, it risks the betrayal of the thousands of people who lost their lives that day, not to mention millions of others who want the truth. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Everyone Now Agrees It Was Right to Attack Iraq Preemptively
    - L. Gordon Crovitz (Wall Street Journal)

    • A hard-line government uses its powerful military to launch a unilateral pre-emptive strike. The UN and Europe are horrified, along with most of the American media. They condemn the strike and brush off claims that it was justified as an act of self-defense against an unpredictable tyrant.
    • So was it a terrible mistake? Not at all. History now smiles on Israel's elimination of Saddam's nearly completed weapon of mass destruction more than 20 years ago.
    • The full story of the raid is told by Rodger Claire in Raid on the Sun, focusing on Gen. David Ivry, commander of the Israeli Air Force, and on the eight mission pilots including Ilan Ramon, who would later die in the Columbia space-shuttle explosion.
    • While world opinion was all but unanimous in its outrage, and American opinion too, President Reagan, upon seeing photos of the reactor site, said, "What a terrific piece of bombing."
    • In one exception to the media's chorus of denunciation, the Wall Street Journal's lead editorial said: "It's nice to know that in Israel we have at least one nation left that still lives in the world of reality....We all ought to get together and send the Israelis a vote of thanks."

      The writer is senior vice president of Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Wall Street Journal.

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