Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 1, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Madrid Bombers Planned Attacks on Jewish Targets (BBC News)
    The bombers behind the 11 March train blasts in Madrid planned more attacks in the Spanish capital.
    Documents found by police in a flat of several suspects list three potential new targets, including the Jewish recreation ground Masada, the Synagogue Hotel, and a British primary school.

British Servicemen Forced at Gunpoint into Iranian Waters - Michael Evans (London Times)
    The six Royal Marines and two sailors who spent three days in custody in Iran were forced at gunpoint into Iranian territorial waters and had not strayed by mistake from the Iraqi side of a waterway dividing the two countries, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon disclosed Wednesday.
    During their debriefing, the men said that because they were "significantly outgunned," they decided to go peacefully with their Iranian captors.

Iraqi Security Forces Plagued by Mass Desertions (AFP/Yahoo)
    Fledgling Iraqi security forces are "unready" to fight anti-government insurgents as their units remain inadequately trained, underequipped, and suffer from a desertion rate sometimes exceeding 80%, a probe by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found Tuesday.

Palestinian Lawyers Protest PA Corruption - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian lawyers in the West Bank and Gaza have announced a series of measures to protest against the state of chaos in the PA judicial system.
    The lawyers have long been complaining that the PA leadership is interfering with the work of the courts and the prosecution.
    According to Hatem Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Lawyers' Syndicate Council, in some cases judges have appointed their sons as judges or prosecutors.

Zarqawi Targets Female Soldiers - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
    Terrorists in the Abu Musab Zarqawi network in Iraq are specifically trying to kidnap an American female soldier to further horrify the U.S. public, two senior defense sources said.
    "We have heard through intelligence channels that several extremist organizations are attempting to capture coalition servicemen and women," said a senior military officer in Iraq.
    "We have instituted additional force protection methods to thwart these attempts."
    Of the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, about 11,000 are women.
    See also U.S. Raises Reward for al-Zarqawi to $25 Million (AP/Jerusalem Post)

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iraqi Tribunal to Charge Saddam with Crimes Against Humanity
    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)
  • Lessons of Islam in German Classrooms - Richard Bernstein
    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:

  • Officials Applaud High Court Decision on Barrier - Eliel Shahar
    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
  • "Security Zone" Set Up in Northern Gaza to Stop Rocket Attacks - Arieh O'Sullivan
    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)
  • IDF Hunts Terrorists in Jericho - Uri Glickman
    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 Ready to Help in NATO Security - Arieh O'Sullivan
    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):

  • A Saudi Opportunity - Editorial
    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)
  • We Must Face Up to Iran's Real Ambitions - Ardreshir Zahedi
    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)
  • A Message of Violence and Hatred - Akbar Ahmed
    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)
  • Observations:

    Israel Supreme Court Rules Security Fence Not Political, Does Not Violate International Law (Israel Supreme Court/IMRA)

    Excerpts from the Judgment (HCJ 2056/04):

    • Petitioners...argue that if the Fence was primarily motivated by security considerations, it would be constructed on the "green line," that is to say, on the armistice line between Israel and Jordan after the War of Independence. We cannot accept this argument. The opposite is the case: it is the security perspective - and not the political one - which must examine a route based on its security merits alone, without regard for the location of the "green line."
    • It is permitted, by the international law applicable to an area under belligerent occupation, to take possession of an individual's land in order to erect a separation fence upon it, on the condition that this is necessitated by military needs. To the extent that construction of the Fence is a military necessity, it is permitted, therefore, by international law. Indeed, the obstacle is intended to take the place of combat military operations, by physically blocking terrorist infiltration into Israeli population centers. (Part I)
    • It is the view of the military commander that the Separation Fence must be distanced from the houses of Jewish towns, in order to ensure a security zone that will allow the pursuit of terrorists who succeed in penetrating the Separation Fence, and that topographically controlling territory must be included inside the Fence....In contrast, the view of military experts of the Council for Peace and Security is that the Separation Fence must be distanced from the houses of local inhabitants, since proximity to them endangers security....Are we at liberty to adopt the opinion of the Council for Peace and Security? Our answer is negative. At the foundation of this approach is our long-held view that we must grant special weight to the military opinion of the official who is responsible for security.
    • The question is: is the injury to local inhabitants by the Separation Fence proportionate, or is it possible to satisfy the main security concerns while establishing a Fence route whose injury to the local inhabitants is lesser.
    • The gap between the security provided by the military commander's approach and the security provided by the alternate route is minute, as compared to the large difference between a Fence that separates the local inhabitants from their lands, and a Fence which does not separate the two (or which creates a separation which is smaller and possible to live with). Indeed, we accept that security needs are likely to necessitate an injury to the lands of the local inhabitants and to their ability to use them. International humanitarian law on one hand, however, and the basic principles of Israeli administrative law on the other, require making every possible effort to ensure that injury will be proportionate. (Part II)
    • We are members of Israeli society. Although we are sometimes in an ivory tower, that tower is in the heart of Jerusalem, which is not infrequently struck by ruthless terror....As any other Israelis, we too recognize the need to defend the country and its citizens against the wounds inflicted by terror.
    • We are aware that this decision does not make it easier to deal with that reality. This is the destiny of a democracy - it does not see all means as acceptable, and the ways of its enemies are not always open before it. A democracy must sometimes fight with one arm tied behind its back. Even so, a democracy has the upper hand. The rule of law and individual liberties constitute an important aspect of its security stance. (Part III)

          See also International Court of Justice Case Made Irrelevant by Israeli High Court Ruling that Fence is a Security, Not Political, Measure
      The Israeli High Court of Justice ruling validates the construction of Israelís security fence as a legal and legitimate security measure, James S. Tisch, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Wednesday. "We see again that Israel holds itself to the highest standards and subjects itself to internal checks and balances, as is the tradition of democracies. The ruling renders the case before the International Court of Justice all the more irrelevant and inappropriate," they said. (Conference of Presidents, 30 June 04)

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