Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 17, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Sept. 11 Plot Envisioned 10 Hijackings (Bloomberg)
    The mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, told investigators he proposed hijacking 10 planes to crash into U.S. nuclear power plants, the CIA, and the tallest buildings in California and Washington state, in addition to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to a report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
    Bin Laden at one point urged that the attacks coincide with a White House visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in June or July 2001, the report said.

Torture of Dissidents in Iran - Nir Boms and Reza Bulorchi (Jerusalem Post)
    Although torture had been banned in Iran's 1979 constitution, it remains the mullahs' weapon of choice in dealing with dissidents.
    In the lexicon of the mullahs, lashing, amputations, eye-gouging, and stoning to death are not considered torture.
    This past weekend, the state-run daily Kayhan reported that four prisoners had been sentenced to death for "waging war on God" and "corrupting the Earth," a charge usually saved for political dissidents.
    The daily added that the right hand and left leg of two other prisoners will be amputated.

Muslim UC Graduates Identify with Suicide Bombers - Ron Strom (WorldNetDaily)
    Muslim members of the University of California, Irvine's graduating class on Friday will wear green sashes emblazoned with the word "shahada"  ("martyrdom," in Arabic) - a word often used in reference to suicide bombers.

Report: Syrian Vice President to Retire (Albawaba-Jordan)
    According to a report in an Omani newspaper, Syrian Vice President Abd el Halim Khaddam, 72, will quit his post in the coming months.
    In recent years, Khaddam's role within the Syrian regime has become largely ceremonial, partly due to poor health.

Begin Center Opens - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
    The Menachem Begin Heritage Center, a $16 million building housing archives, an interactive museum, and an informal education facility promoting the former prime minister's legacy was opened at a state ceremony in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
    The center is based on the concept of American presidential libraries.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Car Bomb Kills at Least 35 in Iraq
    A utility vehicle packed with artillery shells slammed into a crowd of people in Baghdad waiting to volunteer Thursday for the Iraqi military, killing at least 35 people and wounding at least 132. (AP/Reuters-Washington Post)
  • Radical Iraqi Cleric Orders Militia to Stand Down
    Radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr ordered his fighters on Wednesday to put down their arms and go home, days after he declared his intention to enter mainstream politics as the new Iraqi government assumes full power. (New York Times)
  • Iran Threatens to Restart Nuclear Work
    Iran threatened on Wednesday to resume its enrichment of uranium - a prerequisite for making nuclear weapons - if the International Atomic Energy Agency passed an expected resolution rebuking it for not cooperating. (New York Times)
        See also Europe Ignores Iran's Threats
    Europe's three major powers shrugged off Iranian threats of retaliation Wednesday and put final touches on a tough resolution rebuking Tehran for continued nuclear cover-ups. Delegates at a meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors described the draft, written by France, Britain, and Germany, as strongly worded. The resolution kept key passages expressing "concern'' and "serious concern'' about Iran's foot-dragging or "deploring'' its spotty record of cooperation with the IAEA investigation. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • U.S. Aid Goes to Terrorism Backers
    U.S. lawmakers want to tighten foreign aid laws to close loopholes that they say have allowed American aid dollars to go to Palestinian groups working with or fostering terrorist-supporting organizations. In one instance, about $410,000 in American aid helped finance the new Salah Khalaf Recreation and Sports Center in the West Bank city of Nablus. The center, officially opened May 29, is named for the man considered the spiritual godfather of the Palestinian Black September faction responsible for the 1972 massacre at the Munich Summer Olympics.
        Palestinian organizations have refused to sign a pledge, as a condition of receiving U.S. aid, that they would not work with officially designated terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Palestinian civic and aid groups received $174 million last year from the U.S. government. (Washington Times)
        See also Four Loopholes in U.S. Anti-Terror Laws (Palestinian Media Watch/IMRA)
  • Israeli Outrage Over Bulldozer Request
    Israel lodged a formal protest Wednesday against a UN-affiliated expert who has called on an American company to quit sales of its heavy equipment to Israel. Jean Ziegler, a Swiss national advising the Geneva-based UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc. to reconsider delivery of its D-9 and D-10 bulldozers to the government of Israel. Ziegler is an active member of an antigovernment Israeli NGO, the Alternative Progressive Center, a fact he neglected to tell Israeli authorities when asking for a visa as a UN expert. Ziegler also quotes liberally in his speeches at the UN from well-known anti-Israeli activists, such as Noam Chomsky. (New York Sun, 17 June 04)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Islamic Jihad Warns Egypt Against Gaza Security Role, Cooperation with PA - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Islamic Jihad on Wednesday issued a warning to Egypt against playing a security role in the Gaza Strip after the planned Israeli withdrawal. In a letter to the Egyptian government, Abdullah Shami, the leader of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, also said, "We view with suspicion your decision to support the corrupt Palestinian Authority....This authority is dominated by corrupt people who only care about their personal interests. The PA does not need the backing of the Egyptian government because it lacks popular support."
        Shami pointed out that the Palestinians have suffered for more than a decade from the practices of the PA security forces, including torture of detainees. He also noted that the security services and their commanders are involved in extortion and theft. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Defense Ministry to Re-Collect Gas Masks
    The security cabinet decided Wednesday that gas masks issued to the public by the Israel Defense Force's Homefront Command on the eve of the war in Iraq will be re-collected. Israel will maintain a readiness for redistribution if and when the need arises. (Ha'aretz)
  • International Conference on Anti-Semitism Opens in Paris
    Experts from more than 60 countries gathered in Paris on Wednesday to find a common approach to combating the proliferation of racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic propaganda on the Internet, believed to be a chief factor in rising numbers of hate crimes. The two-day conference aimed at finding ways to keep racist information off the Web without compromising free speech and freedom of expression. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Mutilation of Victims and Muslim Law - Jeff Jacoby
    Does normative Islamic law authorize Muslims to mangle the bodies of non-Muslims they have killed? Indeed, this practice has become a signature of the evil we are fighting, as the news of the last few months has shown. We are in a war to the death with an enemy whose deepest civilizational values come straight out of the 8th century. In the world that they would impose on us all, there is no dissent, no pluralism, no path to God but theirs - and no mercy or tolerance for those who might choose a different path. Our enemies make no secret of their intentions: We will bow to their totalitarian idea of Islam, or we will be killed.
        Ultimately it is up to the world's moderate, modern Muslims to rise up against the barbarians in their midst. Until that day comes, there is nothing the West can do to ameliorate or appease this enemy. We can only destroy it - or be destroyed. (Boston Globe)
  • Iran's Mushrooming Threat - Editorial
    While we pass resolutions at the IAEA, the situation grows more dangerous. It is looking more and more like 2005 will be the critical year when the West will decide whether it is prepared to live with an Iranian atomic bomb, or take decisive action to prevent one from being developed. We understand that the U.S. and Europe are exhausted by Iraq, but we don't have the luxury of being exhausted. The truth is that the world will become a much more dangerous place if Iran - ruled by a violent, paranoid cabal that routinely employs terrorism as an instrument of state policy - is allowed to acquire a nuclear capacity. (Washington Times)
        See also Challenge from Iran - Jim Hoagland
    "The Iranians are determined to continue until they know they can assemble a bomb within hours should they need it," says one European official aware of the negotiations. "No diplomacy will stop that." Agreeing to live with an Iran that is a screwdriver's turn away from the bomb would accommodate a charter member of President Bush's "axis of evil" and a sworn mortal enemy of Israel. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    British Chief Rabbi: "Demonizing Israel is Tragic for All" - Daniel Johnson (Telegraph-UK)

    From an interview with Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth:

    • "I am genuinely distressed that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is presented in the European media as a zero-sum game. So you are either pro-Israel or you are pro-Palestinian. That is an entirely fallacious way of looking at things. From peace, both sides gain. From violence, both sides lose. Therefore, it is not a zero-sum game whatsoever. Those who care about the future of the Palestinians must care about the future of Israel as well, and vice versa."
    • "Those who support Israel's neighbors in demonizing Israel are indirectly perpetuating closed societies which deprive human beings of their rights."
    • "Palestinians want a state. And we forget that they could have had that state: in 1937, 1947, and 1967. All along, Israel said yes to every one of these proposals and the Jewish people said yes. What are the Palestinians afraid of?"
    • "The only people who have ever offered you [the Palestinians] a future are the Israelis. Let go of fear. Stop forcing Israel to build a fence to protect itself from you. Let go of the 'nakba' [catastrophe, the Palestinian term for the creation of Israel]. That was self-imposed, friends. Stop fighting a battle with somebody who wants to be your friend."
    • "I had the opportunity to discuss this [the 2000 Camp David talks] with Bill Clinton. He felt that Ehud Barak had not only gone the extra mile, not only further than he thought he would; [Clinton] thought Barak had gone further than he thought he should."

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