Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 20, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Arafat's Cousin Controls Gaza Smuggling Tunnels - Eric Silver (Independent-UK)
    Yassir Arafat's cousin Musa Arafat, head of the PA's military intelligence service - whose appointment to head the PA's Gaza security apparatus sparked a revolt, and was rescinded on Monday - is widely suspected of creaming profits from cigarettes and drugs smuggled, along with weapons, through tunnels controlled by his service.

Saddam Better Off Committing Suicide - Editorial (Al-Ba'th-Syria/MEMRI)
    With the opening of the trial of Saddam Hussein, the newspaper of the leading Syrian party published an editorial giving examples of leaders from throughout history who preferred suicide to humiliation at the hands of the enemy.

Israel Doubles Interception Altitude of Arrow Missile (Middle East Newsline)
    The Israel Air Force, in cooperation with the U.S., has increased the interception altitude of the Arrow-2 missile defense interceptor to about 60 kilometers.
    The achievement was recorded as part of the Arrow System Improvement Program, meant to counter Iran's Shihab-3 missile with a range of more than 1,300 km.
    Prior tests had proved the Arrow suitable to intercept shorter-range missiles such as the extended-range Scud B.

Muslim Voters in No Mood for Fundamentalism - Frida Ghitis (Chicago Tribune)
    In the past few months, a number of majority-Muslim countries have held elections and, in every case, the people have shown that they don't want Islamic fundamentalists to take power.
    In Malaysia, Islamists suffered a crushing defeat in the March 21 elections. The Islamic Party of Malaysia, led by Islamic clerics, lost 75% of its seats in parliament and one of two state governments it controlled.
    In Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, the April 5 polls brought a resounding victory for secular parties.
    On April 8, 85% of Algerian voters cast ballots for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has fought to defeat Islamic fundamentalist militants and bring closer ties with the West. The radical Islamic candidate received 5%.
    The size of his re-election victory brings a whiff of the rigged show-votes so common in Arab countries, but election observers declared that the results fairly reflected the will of the people.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Vote on Fence Delayed
    The UN General Assembly delayed a vote on a resolution on the Israeli security barrier against Palestinian suicide bombers to let EU members work out language to ensure passage by a wide vote. EU states were said to be seeking to include mention of Israel's right of self-defense against terrorism. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said the EU's position on the forthcoming vote would be an indicator of the Europeans' ability to take a balanced stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Building for Calm by Giving Up on Peace
    Banks of computer and television screens showing images of Israel's security barrier are transforming the physical and mental landscape of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Night-vision cameras trained 24 hours a day on a barrier loaded with electronic gizmos that signal the precise location of anyone who touches it, ensure that Israeli forces reach the area within minutes to stop the infiltration of Palestinian suicide bombers. It is an effective tool, say the soldiers, not a political statement. Projected to cost well over $1 billion, it works and must be completed.
        Most Israelis feel a fence makes the task of Palestinians who want to kill them harder. "There is a feeling that you cannot resolve this situation for the coming decades, you can only manage it," says Tom Segev, a historian. (New York Times)
  • Europe Fears Islamic Converts May Give Cover for Extremism
    A growing group of Europeans who found a home in Islam and then veered into extremism is raising concerns among antiterrorism officials that the new recruits could provide foreign-born Islamic militants with invisibility and cover, by escaping the scrutiny often reserved for young men of Arab descent. Islam is Europe's fastest-growing religion, and many experts believe that the number of converts has grown since Sept. 11, 2001. A report by France's domestic intelligence agency, published by Le Figaro, estimated last year that there were 30,000 to 50,000 converts in France. French scholar Antoine Sfeir said some converts saw the current wave of Islamic terrorism as "a kind of combat against the rich, powerful, by the poor men of the planet." (New York Times)
        See also Daily Terror Diet
    Intelligence chiefs from Brussels to Berlin and from London to Lisbon talk about the elephant in the room that politicians would like to ignore: Islamist extremists in democratic countries who become citizens of European countries, hold EU passports, and are protected by laws that guarantee freedom of speech and assembly. Since evidence cannot be introduced in court without disclosing sources and methods, in recent months, judges in Germany, France, and Belgium have exonerated known members of Muslim terrorist networks for lack of evidence. (Washington Times)
  • Morocco Tempers Islamists
    Moroccan authorities have vowed to rein in radical clerics and revise religious rhetoric to spread a more moderate Islam. The growing popularity of ultraconservative Islam has the government worried that moderate Islam is slowly losing ground to radical Wahhabism, which many fear could turn Morocco into a breeding ground for terrorists. Last week in Spain, an antiterrorism judge testified that there are more than 100 al-Qaeda links in Morocco that pose a profound threat to Europe. Many of the suspects jailed in connection with the March 11 train bombings in Madrid are Moroccan. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Iran May Give WMDs to Hizballah - Gideon Alon
    Iran is liable to give Hizballah nonconventional weapons, Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, the head of Military Intelligence's research department, warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday. Kuperwasser was primarily referring to chemical weapons. Kuperwasser also noted that Iran, Syria, and Hizballah were encouraging Palestinian terror groups to commit attacks by paying fat bonuses to those who do so. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Attacks Continue - Amir Buhbut
    Since the start of Operation "Forward Shield" three weeks ago, intended to prevent Kassam rockets from being fired from the northern Gaza Strip at Sderot, 40 rockets have been fired. Only two have landed in Sderot, while 17 have landed in areas belonging to settlements in the western Negev. Most of the rockets landed in Palestinian territory. (Maariv International)
  • Mofaz Says Arafat All Smoke and Mirrors - Eliel Shahar and Yinon Keidari
    "Arafat is attempting to create an illusion of reforms, but he has no intention of implementing them," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet Sunday. Israeli President Moshe Katsav said, "Arafat would do the Palestinians a great service if he leaves his post to make way for sane forces with whom a settlement can be reached." (Maariv International)
  • A Power Struggle Inside Fatah - Amira Hass
    Most of the public in Gaza regards the current clash as a power struggle inside Fatah ahead of the IDF's withdrawal. A hundred poor families could have been fed for a month with the cost of the bullets fired over the past three days, said a businessman close to Fatah. Almost everyone agrees, the problem is Arafat's methods of government. And he's not showing signs of changing. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Arafat's Still in Charge - Danny Rubinstein
    If there is a subject Arafat knows inside and out, it is the Palestinian internal balance of power. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Somalization of Palestine - Editorial
    Two years ago, President Bush called for a new Palestinian leadership, one not compromised by terror and corruption. The PA rejected this call as "proof" of America's bias toward Israel. Arafat's apologists at the UN and in Europe cautioned that he was the "elected and legitimate leader of the Palestinian people." Just last month, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier visited Arafat in spite of Israel's attempts to isolate him.
        It appears that many Palestinians disagree with Barnier. Ahmed Jamous, a student at Ramallah's Bir Zeit University, said: "The people want elections and good government, not to be ruled by a group of corrupt thieves." In a recent New York Times interview, former Gaza security chief Muhammad Dahlan said the Palestinians are at a critical juncture, "either to get to Palestinian independence, or to get back to Somalia." This weekend's events looked more like Somalia. (Wall Street Journal-Europe; 19 July 2004)
  • Turmoil in Gaza - Editorial
    The weekend rioting and the storming of the Palestinian military intelligence headquarters are the most serious challenge to Yassir Arafat since Palestinians gained a measure of self-rule from Israel ten years ago. By his own incompetence, Arafat has united against himself almost every Palestinian faction. Arafat's policy of divide and rule has not only neutralized Palestinian rivals but stymied any political and economic progress. (London Times)
  • Lawless in Gaza
    Ten years after returning in triumph from exile to take charge of a newly formed interim Palestinian Authority, Arafat is feeling the wrath of his own people, who have become increasingly frustrated at the corruption, nepotism, and sheer uselessness of his crumbling regime. The internecine violence in Gaza and the growing splits within the Palestinian leadership threaten to undermine any propaganda gains from the ICJ ruling. (Economist-UK)
  • Presbyterian Church Defames Christianity - Dennis Prager
    The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) joins the list of religious groups committing evil. It has equated the Jewish state with South Africa during apartheid and called for a universal divestment from it. It takes a particularly virulent strain of moral idiocy and meanness to single out Israel, not Arafat's Palestinian Authority, or terror-supporting, death-fatwa-issuing Iran, or women-subjugating Saudi Arabia, for condemnation and economic ruin. (
  • Observations:

    The UN Handicaps Israel, Along with the Rest of Us - Anne Bayefsky
    (National Review)

    • The recent ICJ decision on Israel's security fence is a classic example of how the vilification of Jews does not end with Jews.
    • The court has declared four new rules about the meaning of the right of self-defense in the face of terrorism today.
      1. There is no right of self-defense under the UN Charter when the terrorists are not state actors.
      2. There is no right of self-defense against terrorists who operate from any territory whose status is not finalized, and who therefore attack across disputed borders.
      3. Where military action is perpetrated by "irregulars," self-defense does not apply if the "scale and effects" of the terrorism are insufficient to amount to "an armed attack...had it been carried out by regular armed forces."
      4. Self-defense does not include nonviolent acts such as the building of a fence or wall.
    • These conclusions constitute a direct assault on the ability of every UN member to fight international terrorism.
    • The UN Charter was not a suicide pact and Security Council resolutions in response to 9/11 were intended to strengthen the capacity to confront violent non-state actors, not defeat it.

      Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

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