Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 24, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Foreign Fighters Increase Presence in Iraq - P. Mitchell Prothero (UPI)
    Increasing numbers of foreign Islamic fighters from Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan have taken almost complete control of Fallujah, according to current and former U.S. intelligence sources.
    Although the Syrian border continues to be a busy transit point for small groups of foreign fighters to enter Iraq, Yemen and the Red Sea coast of Africa have become a major staging areas and transit points for men and supplies.
    After the U.S. withdrew from Fallujah, a force of local militia took responsibility for the area, a move that locals and intelligence officials say have allowed radical militants to control it.
    An entire neighborhood of Fallujah - called Golan - has become a haven for foreign fighters who operate without regard to the authority of the Fallujah militia.

Two Polls: Palestinians Support Fighting Israel Until It Is Destroyed - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    Two Palestinian public opinion polls published in the beginning of the week confirm that most Palestinians support fighting Israel until it is destroyed.
    According to a Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre (JMCC) poll, 63.6% either strongly or partially oppose ceasing all types of "militant activity" inside Israel.
    JMCC also found that 45.5% believe that the final aim of the intifada is to "free all Palestinian land" (including Israel).
    A poll by the Bir Zeit University's Development Studies Program found that 54% doubt the possibility of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence in the framework of a peace agreement, and 61% support continuing the "armed struggle" following an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
    Hamas hasn't been able to live up to its promise to avenge the deaths of former leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantissi due to the separation fence and Israel's intelligence and military superiority.
    The strong support for "militant activity," disregarding the facts on the ground, reveals a political weakness camouflaged by hopeless "military" dreams.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • House Endorses Bush's Position on Israel
    The House on Wednesday joined President Bush in backing Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's plan to withdraw from all Gaza Strip settlements. The resolution, passed 407-9, said Congress strongly endorsed the principles laid down by Bush in an April 14 letter to Sharon, including the belief that it was unrealistic to expect Israel to pull back to borders that existed before the 1967 Mideast war because of the large Jewish populations that had settled in contested areas. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who sponsored the resolution with Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said, "Israel must not retreat behind its 1949 borders, and there is no so-called right of return" for refugees. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Text of House Resolution
  • Lawyer's Terrorism Trial Opens in NY
    A federal prosecutor laced into prominent defense lawyer Lynne Stewart and two co-defendants as their trial opened Tuesday, arguing that they had supported a terrorist conspiracy aimed at kidnapping and killing innocent people. The defendants are accused of helping Omar Abdel Rahman, the imprisoned blind cleric convicted of terrorism charges in 1995, to send orders to followers in Egypt. In one such message in 2000, Rahman withdrew his support for a cease-fire with the Egyptian government. Stewart is the first defense lawyer in a terrorism case to face federal charges of conspiring to support terrorism. (Washington Post)
        See also Lawyer's Co-Defendant Aided in Call to Kill Jews
    Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a co-defendant in the trial of Lynne Stewart, worked with an associate of bin Laden to draft an October 2000 call to Muslims worldwide to fight Jews and "kill them wherever they are," Sattar's lawyer, Kenneth Paul, acknowledged Wednesday in court. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Jerusalem Suicide Bombing Thwarted
    The IDF and the security services foiled a plan on Tuesday to carry out a suicide attack in Jerusalem by a Nablus-based Tanzim cell. The Police Special Anti-Terror Unit picked up the suspected bomber in the A-Ram neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, along with his dispatcher and a third man. Defense sources said the cell received funding and guidance from Hizballah in Lebanon. An explosives belt sent from Nablus was found in the trunk of a Palestinian taxi by an IDF patrol. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF: Hizballah Has Taken Over Tanzim - Amir Buhbut
    "Hizballah has managed to take over the Tanzim [terror group of Arafat's Fatah organization] and is directing attacks against Israel directly from Lebanon," said a senior IDF source. “Hizballah delivers funds and instructs the Palestinian terror group where to strike.” (Maariv International)
  • Two Palestinian Terrorists in IDF Uniforms Killed in Gaza - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Alert guards at an outpost in the northern Gaza Strip spotted two armed men attempting to sneak into a nearby Jewish settlement and shot them dead before dawn on Thursday. The Palestinian infiltrators were wearing IDF uniforms and were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and hand grenades. One had a flak vest.
        IDF troops in Nablus in the West Bank located a 20-kilogram bomb, which demolished the house where it was found after sappers detonated it. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How Successful is Al-Qaeda's Strategy of Depriving the West of Essential Oil? - Mordechai Abir
    Developments in Saudi Arabia and Iraq should cause oil prices to decline further and to reach $30-35 a barrel. The bombing of three pipelines in southern Iraq by al-Qaeda terrorists led to the temporary stoppage of all Iraqi oil exports, but this Shi'ite region is hostile to al-Qaeda's Sunni Wahhabi militants.
        In Saudi Arabia, the many Muslim casualties caused after the May 2003 bombings alienated the majority of conservative Saudis and has largely isolated the al-Qaeda mujahidin. Aramco's two new Saudi fields (al-Qatif and Abu Safah) are about to come on line and will initially produce about 500,000 b/d.
    Al-Qaeda's strategy to undermine the Western economy by hitting Persian Gulf oil production is unlikely to succeed as long as Iraq's Shi'ite majority cooperates with U.S. authorities and the new regime in Baghdad. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        For a contrasting view, see Iraq's Oil Sector One Year After Liberation - Gal Luft
    The prospects that Iraq will soon become one of the world's leading oil-producing countries are growing dim. No expansion of Iraq's oil sector will be possible unless security improves. (Saban Center for Middle East Policy - Brookings Institution)
  • Iran Has Always Dreamt of Dominating the Middle East - John Keegan
    Historically, Iran has been a dominant regional power and today it is one of the most advanced in the region. An optimistic Western assessment is that its young people reject its religious government and would welcome liberation from the ayatollahs. A more realistic judgment is that they will do so within an Islamic context. It would be a delusion for Westerners to suppose that the International Atomic Energy Agency's condemnation of Iran's program to proceed with nuclear enrichment is likely to acquire domestic endorsement. National pride will encourage the Iranians to become a nuclear power. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Secretary Powell's Dubious Company - Frank J. Gaffney
    Last Thursday, Secretary of State Colin Powell engaged in the Bush administration's latest outreach to members of the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities. Unfortunately, those embraced by Powell are part of the problem - not the solution - in the war of ideas that is at the heart of the war on terror. The organizations Powell chose to meet - the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) - have all been associated with, supported, and/or defended various Islamists and their causes. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Iraq's Future and the War on Terrorism - Senator Joe Lieberman (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies)

    • The war we are waging against Islamic terrorists in Iraq and around the world is fundamentally a war of ideas and a war of values, a war of conflicting visions of humans and history. Our core principles of freedom and opportunity are at stake.
    • What we are fighting against is an Islamic terrorist totalitarian movement which is as dire a threat to individual liberty as the fascist and communist totalitarian threats we faced and defeated were in the last century.
    • What we are fighting against is the prospect of a new evil empire, a radical Islamic caliphate which would suppress the freedom of its people and threaten the security of every other nation's citizens.
    • The Islamist jihadist terrorists who wage holy war against us in Iraq and elsewhere represent a system of values exactly the opposite of America's. This radicalized, violent vision of Islam, as yet embraced by only a minority of Muslims, leaves no room for individual freedom.
    • To call the war in Iraq separate and distinct from the larger war on terrorism is inaccurate. Iraq today is a crucial battle in the global war on terrorism. Bin Laden's henchmen are fighting side-by-side with Saddam's loyalists on the streets of Baghdad and across Iraq, striving to stop the onward march of Iraqi self-government, of democracy.

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