Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Madrid Bombers Planned Attacks on Jewish Targets (BBC News)
British Servicemen Forced at Gunpoint into Iranian Waters - Michael Evans (London Times)
Iraqi Security Forces Plagued by Mass Desertions (AFP/Yahoo)
Palestinian Lawyers Protest PA Corruption - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Zarqawi Targets Female Soldiers - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
An Iraqi tribunal charged Saddam Hussein and 11 senior associates with crimes against humanity on Thursday, months ahead of a trial that could help Iraq come to terms with 35 years of Baathist brutality. The U.S. military handed them over to Iraqi legal custody on Wednesday, but will continue to guard them. Saddam is accused of ordering the killing and torture of thousands of people, as well as responsibility for a 1988 gas massacre of Kurds, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. (Reuters/New York Times)
See also Wide Iraqi Support for Hussein Trial (Christian Science Monitor)
Some people in Berlin's educational establishment believe that, under the cover of giving court-mandated religious instruction to Muslim children, a fundamentalist or, at least, separatist philosophy is being imparted to children inside the very schools that should be teaching equality and the essential sameness of all people. In Germany today, the country is fully realizing for the first time that the Muslim population there is both large and permanent, with 2,300 mosques across the country.
"I do not believe that they are teaching their pupils to make bombs," Klaus Boger, the senior education official in the Berlin City government, said of the Islamic Federation, which holds classes in 28 schools in Berlin, and plans to expand to 15 more schools next year. "But I think they are rejecting our society and are teaching an intolerant form of Islam." (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A senior official at Prime Minister Sharon's bureau said Wednesday that the High Court's decision on the counter-terrorism barrier will ultimately help Israel. According to the official, the justices helped prove that the barrier was for security reasons and not political ones - and that this will help Israel in its defense at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. "The High Court accepted the argument that the fence is not political and that Israel has a right to build it," the source said.
Foreign Ministry sources said that the decision helps counteract claims that Israel is ignoring humanitarian issues. "The fact that the High Court is dealing with the humanitarian issue means that there is no need for international involvement, as Israel's legal system is doing the job and is protecting its Arab residents," said one source. (Maariv International)
See also below - Observations: Israel Supreme Court Rules Security Fence Does Not Violate International Law - excerpts from the ruling
The IDF set up a "security zone" in the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday to prevent Kassam rockets from being launched into the southern Israeli town of Sderot. "We are prepared to remain here for an extended period," a senior IDF commander said. According to the officer, the IDF will only remove its troops "when the situation changes." "We will not allow Israeli cities to be under perpetual threat of terrorist attacks," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
The IDF entered Jericho Thursday and apprehended 20 wanted Palestinian terror suspects, including some senior ones. During the operation, troops also seized large quantities of weapons, including rifles, hand grenades, and handguns. Jericho has turned into a haven for wanted terror suspects. The IDF recently provided a list of suspects to the PA, which refused to hand them over to Israel. (Maariv International)
Israel is ready to participate in NATO security and counter-terrorism missions on a limited and short-term basis, according to a senior IDF officer. The IDF is also offering to help NATO with missile defense based on the Arrow system technology as well as sharing its experience with erecting formidable security fences and border barriers. NATO is said to be open to the idea of Israeli participation on a professional basis. "Beating terror here is not enough for us. We have to contribute to the world fight against terror," the officer said.
Last month, Gen. Harald Kujat, chairman of NATO's military committee, paid a quiet visit to Israel where he was taken to the West Bank security fence. Upon seeing it, Kujat exclaimed: "It should have been done long ago." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel, Jordan, Egypt Offered NATO "Partnership" - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
While the Saudi royal family may have bought itself some respite with the killing or capture of key militants, hundreds of al-Qaeda adherents remain at large in bin Laden's homeland and will probably form new cells. Saudi authorities are moving slowly, if at all, to address the roots of the insurgency. The Saudi rulers have yet to acknowledge the ways in which Islamic radicals have been bred by the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi strain of Islam and the state-financed religious establishment. Rather than tackle the hidebound religious establishment or promote alternatives to the strict Wahhabi creed, the government has rounded up and jailed reformers who call for religious and political liberalization. The U.S. can no longer afford to support the Saudi status quo. (Washington Post)
Nine months ago, three EU foreign ministers returned from a mission to Tehran with a "peace-in-our-time" sheet of paper that they presented as a solemn accord committing Iran to strict limits to its ambitious nuclear program. We are now back where we were nine months ago - while Iranís nuclear program has advanced by nine months.
The present regime in Tehran is strategically committed to developing a nuclear "surge capacity" - to have the know-how, infrastructure, and personnel to develop a nuclear military capacity within a short time - if not a full arsenal of nuclear weapons. A peaceful Iran with no ambitions to export an ideology or seek regional hegemony would be no more threatening than Britain, which also has a nuclear arsenal. The real debate on Iran, therefore, can only be about regime change. The writer was Iranís foreign minister between 1967 and 1971, when he signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty on behalf of his country. (Scotsman-UK)
The Muslim world currently is dominated by voices of violence. Osama bin Laden is an icon, a cult figure from Morocco to Indonesia. As an Islamic scholar, I believe there is a correlation between the great days of Islamic civilization and the ascendancy of its peaceful, compassionate, and universalistic scholars. Today, scholars in this tradition are an endangered species. The writer holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. (Independent-UK)
Israel Supreme Court Rules Security Fence Not Political, Does Not Violate International Law (Israel Supreme Court/IMRA)
Excerpts from the Judgment (HCJ 2056/04):
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