Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 6, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Saudis Funding Islamic Extremism - Turki Hamad (MEMRI TV)
    In an interview on Dubai TV, liberal Saudi journalist Turki Hamad said:
    "The (Saudi) state and the extremists belong to the same discourse."
    "All the institutions of society use the same discourse, whether in schools, universities, mosques, extra-curricular activities, or summer camps."
    "Who provided these means? The state provided order to spread what? The Islamic discourse."
    "The question that arises is where the funding comes from....I don't think it's from overseas. They have sympathizers inside Saudi Arabia.....I'm certain there is (Saudi) funding."

    The Middle East Media Research Institute has established a new center for TV monitoring (MEMRI TV), operating 16 hours a day to monitor every major Arab channel.

Arafat Losing in Fatah Elections in Gaza - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    Over Arafat's objections, the Fatah movement in Gaza is proceeding with elections that began on May 26 and are expected to go on for several more weeks in various neighborhoods.
    According to Fatah sources, so far the vast majority of those elected are identified with the reformists who are demanding greater democracy in the movement, and the old guard is losing.
    Other sources are saying bluntly that Mohammed Dahlan's camp is winning.

    See also Dahlan Denounces "Corruption Lobby" in the PA (MEMRI TV)
    Q: Is it possible that what you described as the "corruption lobby" does not want reform and is inciting President Arafat to oppose the reforms?
    Dahlan: "That is absolutely correct.... Moreover, I believe some leaders don't want President Arafat to be released from the Muqata'a because they treat him as a money storeroom. They take some monopolies from him and he maintains them."

Palestinians Indignant about Saddam Trial - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Saddam Hussein's appearance in court last week has earned him renewed sympathy among many Palestinians, for whom Saddam was undoubtedly one of the most popular leaders.
    A series of articles and cartoons in the Palestinian media have openly voiced support for Saddam and condemned the U.S. for putting him on trial.
    The three major Palestinian newspapers, which reflect the views of the PA leadership, on Friday ran front-page banner headlines quoting Saddam's defiant statement before the court: "I'm the President of Iraq, My Trial is a Theater, and Bush is the Real Criminal."
    A cartoon in Al-Ayyam, which serves as the official mouthpiece of the PA, shows portraits of Saddam and Bush. Next to Saddam's picture, the caption reads: "Innocent."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • A Chilling Iraqi Terror Tape
    Jihad leader Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist and the most wanted man in Iraq, this weekend released a slickly produced video laying bare a milieu of suicide bombers, safehouses, rituals, and targeting guidelines. The video makes clear that foreign fighters have developed a sophisticated organization in Iraq. Appearances are made by Saudis, Algerians, Libyans, Jordanians, and others. (TIME)
        See also Men Behind Iraq Suicide Bombs Revealed (Telegraph-UK)
  • Arrest Draws Focus on Iran Role in Iraq
    The arrest of two Iranians suspected of attempting to carry out a car bombing in an eastern Baghdad neighborhood on Monday focused new attention on how Tehran is involved in Iraq. Tehran insists it has no interest in fomenting instability in its neighbor and there was no indication that the two were Iranian government agents. They might instead be working on their own. Many observers say a smooth path to upcoming Iraqi elections could benefit mostly Shiite Iran, since a vote will likely bring an Iraqi government dominated by Shiites. Iran is believed to be quietly funding Shiite political parties in a bid to influence the government that emerges from January's elections, one Western diplomat said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Factional Fighting Clouds Gaza's Future
    Since September 2000, a handful of armed groups fighting Israel have also fought one another for dominance in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority, given responsibility for governing Gaza a decade ago, runs a dozen security agencies whose members shoot at rivals - and each other - every few weeks. The armed branches of Hamas and Islamic Jihad assert their power and increasingly are beyond PA control. Independent armed gangs also roam the streets, imposing their will. As Israel contemplates a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, "Hamas and the warlords are the ones who will decide what will happen," said Palestinian pollster and analyst Khalil Shikaki. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Officer Killed, Three Soldiers Hurt in Nablus
    Captain Moran Vardi, 25, of the IDF's naval commando unit was killed Tuesday and three other soldiers were wounded, one seriously, in a gun battle in Nablus. The commander and deputy commander of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Nablus were killed in the fighting. The two wanted men were responsible for a number of suicide attacks in which Israeli civilians were killed. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Wounded by Mortar Shells in Neveh Dekalim
    Three mortar shells were fired into Neveh Dekalim in the Gaza Strip's Gush Katif area on Monday, wounding two Israelis. One woman was moderately wounded with shrapnel in her chest, and security coordinator Ilan Tertek was wounded by mortar fragments when he ran to the scene after the first explosion. Damage was also caused to a number of homes and vehicles. Since September 2000, more than 4,000 mortar shells have been fired at Gush Katif.
        In a separate incident, Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket at Israel that fell short of its mark and hit a Palestinian home in Jabalya, wounding a number of residents. (Jerusalem Post/Ha'aretz)
  • Security Forces Foil Two Terror Attacks - Arnon Regular
    A suicide attack that Hamas planned to carry out Monday in Rosh Ha'ayin in Israel was foiled when two suspects were arrested the previous day, defense sources said. Two explosive devices weighing about seven kilograms each were found hidden in school bags. A second major attack was foiled Monday when intelligence information obtained by the Shin Bet security service led to the discovery of an explosive device weighing between 20 and 30 kilograms, buried in the road near Jenin. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Seeks European Support Against ICJ Ruling - Aluf Benn
    Israel hopes to bury the International Court of Justice ruling on the separation fence, which is due on Friday, by persuading European countries not to support an expected anti-Israel resolution in the UN General Assembly in the wake of the verdict. The U.S. has promised Israel it will prevent the issue from reaching the Security Council, but Jerusalem expects the PLO to move for a sharp reprimand of Israel in the General Assembly. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Where's the Arab Media's Sense of Outrage? - Mamoun Fandy
    In the Arab media, the recent beheadings were generally reported as if they were quite ordinary. In the video of South Korean Kim Sun Il in Iraq, Al-Jazeera did not note what any person knowledgeable about the region's dialects would have known: that the terrorists who read the "verdict" were not Iraqi and therefore not part of the Iraqi resistance. They clearly spoke a dialect from the Saudi heartland of Najd.
        The Arab world today swims in a sea of linguistic violence that justifies terrorism and makes it acceptable, especially to the young. Articles which glorify death and urge young people to be suicidal are part of the steady diet that Arab youths are exposed to every day. Arab satellite television portrays terrorists as resistance fighters and broadcasts in their entirety the videotaped messages of al-Qaeda. Indeed, al-Qaeda has become mainstream and being part of the movement is "cool" in the eyes of young people. Unless Arabs themselves muster the courage to speak out against these heinous acts and those who perpetrate them, very little success can be made in the war on terrorism. The writer, a columnist for Asharq al-Awsat in London and al-Ahram in Cairo, is a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace. (Washington Post)
  • A French Intellectual's Surprising Views on America and Israel - Sebastian Rotella
    The most recognizable initials in France today are probably BHL - for Bernard-Henri Levy: philosopher, author, journalist, filmmaker, and all-around celebrity intellectual. Yet Levy goes against the grain of certain stereotypes and prevailing ideologies. "Anti-Americanism is a horror," Levy says. "It is a magnet of the worst. In the entire world, and in France in particular, everything that is the worst in people's heads comes together around anti-Americanism: racism, nationalism, chauvinism, anti-Semitism."
        Levy, who is Jewish, also breaks ranks with the European intelligentsia when it comes to Israel, which he sees as a rare democracy in a region full of strongman regimes. "The Palestinian 'victimocracy' has a tendency to hide wars that are infinitely longer and more murderous," Levy notes. "Because we all have our eyes locked on one war alone...this emphasis has the terrible effect of hiding, of silencing, of erasing from our memories and our mental map the other wars that are thousands of times more lethal." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Physical Division Without Compromise - Alexander Yakobson
    I saw a picture in the paper of a couple I know and respect at a demonstration against the separation barrier. On more than one occasion we took part together in protests for human rights. But today I am not with them, not in the least. We have heard a great deal from sensitive people in Israel and in the world about how the barrier, or separation fence, is repulsive and ugly. Indeed, it is ugly. But so is a bus that has blown up, leaving people who are burned. When a Palestinian policeman from Bethlehem comes to the street near my house and blows up a bus full of passengers, I want a barrier to be built between my house and Bethlehem. True, it is impossible to find a good place for such a barrier. Any line will make life difficult for many people. But I insist that human life is also a human right. Israeli human life as well. The writer is a lecturer in history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Anti-Terrorist Fence Cuts Samaria-Based Attacks by 90%
    (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • There has been a drop of 90% in the number of attacks within Israel carried out by Samaria-based terrorists since the anti-terrorist fence was built.
    • Between August 2003 and June 2004, Samaria-based terrorist groups have succeeded in carrying out only three atrocities within Israel, in which 26 Israelis were murdered and 76 wounded. In two of the cases, the terrorists infiltrated via areas where the fence was not yet completed. In the third, a female terrorist entered through the Barta'a crossing using a Jordanian passport.
    • In contrast, from September 2000 until July 2003, Samaria-based terrorists carried out 73 atrocities (suicide bombings, shootings, car bombings) within Israel (including Jerusalem) in which 293 Israelis were killed and 1,950 were wounded.
    • However, the number of attempted attacks foiled in various stages of preparation since August 2003 remained high. As a result of the arrests of terrorists and heads of cells, 24 explosive belts and bombs were discovered.
    • The success of the anti-terrorist fence in Samaria means that the launching point for terrorists has moved southward to Ramallah and Jerusalem where there is not yet a continuous fence.

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