Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 18, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Zarkawi and the Syrians - Smadar Peri (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 18 June 04)
    Two and a half months ago, four trucks full of twenty tons of military equipment and poisonous materials were seized by Jordan not far from the Syrian border.
    Azmi Jyusi, a leader of the terrorist cell who was captured, said that part of the operational plan of Abu Musab al-Zarkawi [the terrorist who beheaded American Nicholas Berg] was to paralyze the intelligence and security system of the Jordanian kingdom.
    Two days after the disclosure, President Bashar Assad appeared at the king's palace to apologize that "truck bombs were smuggled from Syria without his knowledge."
    The Israeli intelligence community in Tel Aviv smirked cynically: "Not even a cat can cross the Syrian border without being checked and registered."
    Because of the insufferable way the trucks crossed the Syrian border, Assad was not invited to the wedding of the Jordanian crown prince two weeks ago.

    See also France Detains al-Qaeda Suspect Extradited from Syria (AFP/Yahoo)
    Said Arif, 38, an Algerian suspected of belonging to the al-Qaeda network and of having links with extremists in France and Germany, was remanded in custody in Paris only hours after being extradited from Syria.
    French judicial sources said Arif was "close" to Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, accused by the U.S. of several attacks in Iraq including the suicide bomb attack on the Iraqi army recruitment center Thursday in which 36 people died.
    Zarqawi is thought to be al-Qaeda's expert on toxic substances and chemical agents.

British Contractors Flee Jenin after Threats - Douglas Davis (Jerusalem Post)
    A three-man British construction team that was helping to rebuild the Jenin refugee camp has quit the project, after months of intimidation and threats culminated in shots being fired at their headquarters earlier this month.
    One British worker complained: "I have come to help these innocent individuals who lost their houses through no fault of their own - and what do I get but harassment, threats, and not one word of thanks."
    A dispute among the Palestinians themselves was said to be the real source of the discontent, with one building in particular angering local residents after its site was extended at the expense of neighbors, after one of the powerful clans "bullied" the contractors.

Druze Appointed to Command Border Police - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Hussein Faris, a member of Israel's Druze minority, was appointed Thursday to head the Border Police.
    Faris, 52, has filled a number of commanding positions in the Border Police and is currently chief of technology and logistics for the Israel Police. His son is a navigator in the Air Force.
    "Cmdr. Faris reached his position due to his interpersonal skills and he is the best of many good Druze who serve in the Israeli Police," said Insp. Gen. Moshe Karadi.

Israeli Hospital Saves Two Gaza Children - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Last week Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba saved the lives of two Palestinian children from Gaza who have no medical insurance.
    A seven-year-old girl suffered second- and third-degree burns over a third of her body after a pot of boiling water overturned on her.
    A 22-month-old boy was brought to the hospital with a severe bacterial infection.

El Al Employing Female Sky Marshals (Jerusalem Post)
    Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday that at El Al, Israel's national airline, there is a growing trend of employing women as air marshals.
    "If a woman can pilot an F-16, there is no reason she can't protect a pilot and passengers," said an unnamed security official.
    Female security services bodyguards protecting Israeli leaders have performed as well as their male counterparts, the report said.

Number of Israeli Millionaires Up 20% - Yigal Grayeff (Jerusalem Post)
    In 2003, the number of Israeli millionaires grew 20% to 6,000, said the World Wealth Report.
    The net worth of Israel's millionaires grew 25%, outstripping worldwide growth, which was 8%, North American growth of 14%, and European growth of 4%.

Christians Want a Birthright Program Too - Daphna Berman (Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Experience College Scholarship Program, a new and completely subsidized Christian evangelical initiative sponsored by the New York-based Eagle's Wings Ministry, has been dubbed as "Birthright for Christians."
    Though it is geared towards preparing the students to help in public relations for Israel, it is also intended to give them an appreciation of Christianity's roots in the Jewish faith and Jerusalem.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • To the Minute, Panel Paints a Grim Portrait of 9/11's Terror
    At 8:37 a.m. on Sept. 11, Norad officials in Rome, N.Y., responsible for defending the Northeast, were notified. "We need someone to scramble some F-16s or something up there," an FAA manager said. "Is this real-world or exercise?" a military official asked. "No, this is not an exercise, not a test," came the response. Two F-15 jets at Otis Air Force Base, some 150 miles from New York City, were airborne at 8:53. But American Airlines Flight 11 had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center six minutes earlier.
        At 9:36 a.m., military air defense officials learned that American Airlines Flight 77 was just six miles - and little more than a minute - away from the White House. An air defense commander in upstate New York ordered three Air Force fighter jets to intercept the third airliner hijacked that morning. Secret Service agents were hustling Vice President Dick Cheney to a secure underground White House bunker, while in Sarasota, Fla., President Bush's motorcade was speeding away from an elementary school to rush the president to the airport - and up into the sky, to safety.
        The staff report released Thursday by the independent commission investigating the attacks offers the harrowing detail and minute-by-minute drama of the first 149 minutes. (New York Times)
        See also Highlights of 9/11 Panel Report (Washington Post)
  • Saudi Builds Reputation as Terror Cell Leader
    Saudi authorities say Abdulaziz Muqrin is the chief organizer of the recent attacks on Westerners in Saudi Arabia. Muqrin is a graduate of jihadi training camps in Afghanistan and a veteran of conflicts in Somalia and Bosnia, as well as Algeria, where he was part of a group known for dismembering the bodies of its enemies on videotape. When a small cell loyal to him carried out a suicide bombing last November at a residential compound in Riyadh that housed mostly Westerners, killing 17 people and injuring 122, Muqrin landed on a most-wanted list of 26 terrorist leaders named by the Saudi government.
        Muqrin's group, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has asserted responsibility for kidnapping Paul M. Johnson Jr., 49, an employee of the Lockheed Martin Corp. Investigators believe the group plotted a series of assassinations and other attacks that have killed more than 40 people since November, most of them Westerners. (Washington Post)
  • Jewish Groups Coordinate with U.S. Government on Terror Threats
    A preparedness plan to alert Jewish leaders and facilities about imminent terrorist threats is now operational and is being coordinated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Secure Community Alert Network, or SCAN, was created earlier this year by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the United Jewish Communities federation umbrella group to help prepare the Jewish community for threats it faces as a possible target of terrorism. (JTA)
  • Ohio Imam Guilty of Lying about Terrorism Ties
    Fawaz Damra, the Palestinian-born leader of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, Ohio's largest mosque, was convicted Thursday of lying about his connections to terrorist organizations when he applied for U.S. citizenship. Prosecutors showed video footage of Damra raising money for an arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has been listed as a major terrorist group by the State Department since 1989. Jurors also were shown footage in which Damra called Jews "the sons of monkeys and pigs" during a 1991 speech and said "terrorism and terrorism alone is the path to liberation" in a 1989 speech. (AP/Newsday)
        See also Defense Seeks to Impugn Witness's Jewish Background Matthew Levitt, senior fellow in terrorism studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, testified that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is "bent on the destruction of Israel." In her cross examination of Levitt, defense attorney Nancy Hollander tried to show bias on Levitt's part by asking him about his education at a Jewish high school and college and his upbringing as an Orthodox Jew. (AP/Newark Advocate-Ohio)
        See also Middle East Studies on Trial - Daniel Pipes and Teri Blumenfeld (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Israel Concerned about Russian Xenophobia
    Israeli Ambassador to Russia Arkady Milman has expressed concern over what he calls recent instances of xenophobia in Russia. "How can it be that in a country where people from almost every family took part in World War II, people can calmly watch their children walk around on the streets with their heads shaved, drawing swastikas and holding up their right hand in salute?" Milman said at a conference dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the dismantling of ghettos and concentration camps built by the Germans during World War II on the territory of the former Soviet Union. (Moscow News-Russia)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Advanced Palestinian Rocket Hits Sderot in Israel
    Palestinians fired a new, advanced type of Kassam rocket at a residential area of Sderot in Israel's western Negev Friday. The more sophisticated Nasser 3 rocket carries more explosive material and has a longer range than those previously fired by Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
        "We were all in bed when it landed....All of the windows exploded and the shattered glass flew all over, including on my daughters - one of them is four and the other is a year and a half old. There were screams, and my wife went into shock. We're all traumatized. It's a miracle that nothing worse happened," said Eyal, after the rocket landed his backyard. (Maariv International)
        See also Palestinian Rockets Will Reach Ashkelon - Shmulik Hadad
    Lachish region police commander Nissim Mor said, "Today's explosion was much stronger than previous ones, as was the damage....The Palestinians are improving their rockets all the time, and they will reach other cities in the future, such as Ashkelon." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Israel Issues Tender for Moat on Philadelphia Route in Gaza
    The Defense Ministry announced Thursday a tender for the construction of a moat along the Philadelphia route on the Egypt-Gaza border, aimed at deterring the smuggling of weapons into Palestinian areas. A senior army source said that once the 4 km ditch is completed, serious consideration will be given to expanding it to the full length of the route, a total of nine kilometers. Much of the cost will be defrayed by the sale of dug-up sand, a profitable commodity. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharansky: Reward Arabs Who Fight Anti-Semitism - Sarah Katz
    Minister for Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky has proposed a change in U.S. policy to financially reward Arab nations fighting anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment in the Middle East. At the Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, he encouraged Congress to pursue a linkage policy similar to the one in 1976 establishing a linkage between human rights and economic aid to the Soviet Union. Sharansky hopes to quell global attacks on Jews by linking opposition to the new anti-Semitism with economic aid.
        "Today, linkage can be used to marginalize the extremists in the Arab world and to encourage and support the moderate Muslims who can and should be our partners in bringing understanding and peace between people and religions. I believe that combating anti-Semitism ought to become a much more prominent issue in the bilateral relations between America and the Arab and Muslim worlds," Sharansky said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hungary Quits Pro-Palestinian UN Panel - Melissa Radler
    Hungary has resigned from the UN Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, best known for promoting the Palestinian cause and denouncing Israel. Israel's deputy permanent representative, Ambassador Arye Mekel, described the committee as "probably the most anti-Israel body at the UN." Two additional EU nations, Malta and Cyprus, remain on the committee, as well as several former Soviet bloc states, including Romania, Ukraine, and Belarus. Mekel said he hopes that Hungary's resignation will inspire a "domino effect that will bring about the resignation of others." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Arabs Credit Fence for Newfound Prosperity - Matthew Gutman
    Since the completion of the security fence in their areas, many Israeli Arab communities have enjoyed a spike in both security and economic activity, as Arabs who once shopped in the West Bank now shop locally. "God be blessed, the fence ended the parade of terrorists through this city and gave us an economic boom and increased security," says Umm el-Fahm City Manager Tawfiq Karaman. In that city, Palestinians casually filtering through from the territories had harassed schoolgirls, stolen cars, and even snatched laundry. "They stole from us as they did from the rest of Israelis," says Karaman.
        Karaman sees signs of progress: "There are new stores opening up everywhere. We have security, and it is improving relations with our Jewish neighbors." "This phenomenon is occurring across the Arab sector," says Bassam Jabber, editor-in-chief of the Israeli Arab weekly Panorama, including in Nazareth and Taiba. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arafat Through the Back Door - Ze'ev Schiff
    Washington's decision that Arafat is not a partner for negotiations has no connection to Israel's position. Its antagonism is related to the murder of three Americans in October 2003, in a diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip. The Americans concluded that Arafat was personally responsible for the lack of a proper investigation into the incident to find the killers. As a result, American contractors are not allowed to take part in aid programs in the Gaza Strip.
        Washington is trying to prove to the Palestinian public that it is possible to make progress even without Arafat. Arafat has lost a great measure of international support, but he is still strong, especially when he wants to interfere with any processes and prove that without him nothing will move. The Egyptians can't do anything to him (Ha'aretz)
  • Fiction Displaces Facts in Palestine - Ahron Bregman
    I am a Jewish Palestinian. My father was born and raised in Palestine as was his father, grandfather, great grandfather, and so on for many generations. In fact the Bregmans have lived on this land - first Palestine then Israel - since around 1754. Other Jewish families as well have lived in Palestine for decades, mainly in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Safed, and Hebron, among other places. But Arab and Palestinian propaganda would not accept that. Mixing facts and fiction and rewriting the history of the Holy Land is part of the Palestinians' struggle against Israel and part of their negotiating tactics.
        Although Palestinians have legitimate grievances, there is absolutely no historical basis to their claims that Palestine is exclusively theirs and that the Jews "stole" their land. The Jews did not "rob" the Arabs or "steal" their land, but rather they bought it from them. As for the Arab aristocracy of landowners who had sold the land to the Jews, they did so voluntarily and with open eyes. (Newsday)
  • Europe Errs in Choice of Foes - Per Ahlmark
    Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Americanism are becoming linked and ever more rabid in today's Europe. Millions of Europeans resist seeing Israel as a country fighting for its survival. Israel cannot afford to lose one major war, as it would mean the end of the Jewish state. But huge numbers of Europeans believe that something is fundamentally wrong with the Israelis. The writer is a former deputy prime minister of Sweden. (Taipei Times)
  • The Technological Gap - Ghassan Charbel
    Reports of armament deals between Israel and France, China, and India shed light on the ever-increasing technological gap between Israel and the Arab countries put together. The latter should carefully consider the news about such deals. In fact, they should discuss the issue of technological and scientific backwardness in the Arab world. Should we abstain from asking these questions, we would not have the right to be surprised with more defeats in the coming decades. (Dar Al-Hayat-Lebanon)
  • In Egypt, the Intelligentsia Work for the Government - Rifaat al-Said
    Since the establishment of modern Egypt under Mohammed Ali, all of the intelligentsia have become government or ruling party employees in one way or another, such as working for a newspaper controlled by the ruling party. When Westerners look at the Middle East, they have to remember they are looking at a closed circle. The rulers refuse to give any concessions to the people, protecting themselves with the law, police, and government contacts, fortified by support from religious leaders. The writer is president of the National Progressive Party and a member of the upper house of parliament in Egypt. (

    Weekend Features:

  • The Coming Chinese Jihad - Stephen Schwartz
    The Uighurs (pronounced "Weeghers") are a Turkic people in the region of northwestern China that Beijing calls Xinjiang and the Uighurs call Eastern Turkestan. There are reportedly 22 Uighurs among those interned at Guantanamo Bay. China probably has more Muslims living outside a Muslim-ruled state than any other country. In addition to the Uighurs, a Chinese-speaking Muslim community of up to 20 million called the Hui also live in the northwest, who have been the object of extensive evangelism, going back a century, by Wahhabis from Arabia. Wahhabism in Chinese dress enjoys the backing of the Communist authorities. While ethnic suppression has driven some Uighurs toward al-Qaeda, official Chinese Islam promotes the Wahhabi ideology from which al-Qaeda sprang. (Weekly Standard-FrontPageMagazine)
  • Museum Chronicles Palestinian Violence - Laurie Copans
    A new Israeli exhibit gives visitors a disturbing view of nearly four years of violence with the Palestinians: a female mannequin strapped with an explosives belt, alongside piles of confiscated weapons and documents showing how Palestinian militant groups operate. The museum at the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, just outside Tel Aviv, shows that support for the militants runs deep throughout Palestinian society.
        In one corner, a light flashes on a wall covered with a picture of the aftermath of a suicide bombing in an Israeli shopping mall. Across the room, Palestinian school notebooks full of praise for suicide bombers and colorful drawings of M-16 assault rifles fill a display case. One wall is covered with official Palestinian maps with "Palestine" written over the area where Israel is located. On another wall, recordings of Palestinian TV broadcasts show Muslim clerics calling for expulsion of the Jews. (AP/Baltimore Sun)
  • The Impact of Recent Watershed Events on American Jewry - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    Watershed events such as the Palestinian uprising in 2000, the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., and the war in Iraq created major new challenges to the American Jewish leadership. The great majority of those who identify most with the Jewish community have become more supportive due to these events. The new challenges are superimposed on the structural problems of American Jewry, that include a high rate of intermarriage, low fertility, assimilation, reduced voluntarism, the high cost of Jewish living, and a declining percentage of Jewish philanthropy for Jewish causes. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Intifada Victory - Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post)

    • The Palestinian intifada is over, and the Palestinians have lost. The past four years of terrorism have killed almost 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands of others. But Israel has won strategically. Israel's economy is growing again. The tourists are returning.
    • There was terrorism before the intifada and there will be terrorism to come. But the overall level of violence has been reduced by more than 70%.
    • How did Israel do it? By ignoring its critics and launching a two-pronged campaign of self-defense. First, Israel targeted terrorist leaders - attacks so hypocritically denounced by Westerners who, at the same time, demand the head of bin Laden. Second, the fence. Only about a quarter of the separation fence has been built, but its effect is unmistakable, changing the strategic equation of the whole conflict.
    • The Palestinians know the ruin that Arafat has brought, and they are beginning to protest it. He promised them blood and victory; he delivered on the blood. Even more important, they have lost their place at the table. Israel is now defining a new equilibrium that will reign for years to come.
    • These new strategic realities are creating the first hope for peace since Arafat tore up the Oslo accords four years ago. The only way for the Palestinians to achieve statehood and dignity, and to determine the contours of their own state, will be to negotiate a final peace based on genuine coexistence with a Jewish state.
    • It could be a year, five years, or a generation until the Palestinians come to that realization. The pity is that so many, Arab and Israeli, will have had to die before then.

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