Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 21, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Israel Security Director: Iran Trying to Form Fifth Column in Israel - Arik Bender (Maariv International)
    Israel Security Agency (ISA) Director Avi Dichter told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that "Iran is trying to form a fifth column among Israeli Arabs" and "is trying to reach Israel Arabs through Hizballah."
    He reported that 12 Israeli Arabs have been arrested since the beginning of this year on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. Two were recruited by Hizballah, seven by Palestinian terror organizations, and three operated independently.
    Since the beginning of the violence, he reported, an average of 45-50 Israeli Arabs have been arrested each year on suspicion of involvement in terror.
    Dichter called Palestinian-controlled territory "an asylum for terrorists."
    He also noted that Palestinians were planning to smuggle anti-aircraft weaponry into Gaza.
    He said dozens of mortars, two tons of explosives, 330 anti-tank weapons, and 4,900 Kalashnikov rifles and machine guns had been smuggled into Gaza over the past year and a half.
    See also Iran Building 5th Column - Nina Gilbert (Jerusalem Post)
    Dichter termed Hamas a "front for Iran," and the Islamic Jihad as an "entirely Iranian organization."
    The majority of the Tanzim cells in the West Bank serve as the basis of the Iranian infrastructure in the area and receive money and arms.
    Despite fears of the rise of Hamas in Gaza, Dichter said that Fatah is the "domineering force," has the majority support there, and that Hamas has "no chance" to take over.

"Hizballah Potentially More Dangerous than al-Qaeda" - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    Maj.-Gen. Israel Ziv, head of the IDF Operations Directorate, warned Tuesday: "We recognize Hizballah as one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world at this time."
    "They are involved and effective not only in this region, but also with what is happening in Iraq."
    "This organization is much more organized and established than all of the other terrorist organizations and is potentially more dangerous than al-Qaeda."

Palestinians Salute PA Finance Minister - Lior Greenbaum (Globes)
    Palestinian security men have begun saluting PA Minister of Finance Dr. Salam Fayyad in recent months, showing their appreciation for his halting the theft of their salaries by senior officers.
    Prior to a reform of the payments of salaries to 55,000 security men, the men were paid in cash by their commanders, who diverted a large proportion of the men's pay into their own pockets.
    With salaries now paid directly into the men's bank accounts, policemen received their full salaries for the first time and discovered that their take-home pay immediately soared.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Remove Security Barrier, UN Tells Israel
    The UN General Assembly voted 150 to 6 on Tuesday to demand that Israel obey a World Court ruling that it abandon and dismantle its separation barrier on the West Bank and pay compensation to Palestinians affected by its construction. The U.S., Australia, and Israel voted against the resolution and 10 nations including Canada abstained. Last-minute amendments succeeded in gaining the support of all 25 members of the EU and more than 30 other nations that had abstained the last time the matter came before the assembly. "Thank God that the fate of Israel and of the Jewish people is not decided in this hall," said Israel's UN ambassador Dan Gillerman. Resolutions from the 191-member General Assembly are nonbinding and largely symbolic.
        James B. Cunningham, the deputy American ambassador, said the U.S. voted against the measure because it was "unbalanced" and erred in assigning a problem to the courts that rightly should be solved through political negotiations. American ambassador John C. Danforth said, "It follows a long line of one-sided resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, none of which has made any contribution to peace in the Middle East." (New York Times)
        See also UN Condemns West Bank Fence - Shlomo Shamir
    "It is simply outrageous to respond with such vigor to a measure that saves lives and respond with such casual indifference and apathy to the ongoing campaign of Palestinian terrorism that takes lives. This is not justice but a perversion of justice," Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said. "In the end, the desire for consensus among the Europeans overcame intelligent thinking," he added. Deputy Chief of Israel's UN Mission Arye Mekel said it would be difficult to see how the Europeans could fulfill any part in the peace process after Tuesday's vote. A senior Israeli official said that France played a devastating role in rallying support for the draft among EU nations. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Asks UN to Fight Incitement - Melissa Radler
    Defining incitement as the "engine" that drives terrorism, Israel on Monday urged the UN Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) to hold states which foster incitement accountable for terrorism's effects. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Powell: Arafat Should Yield Power
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday: "We have said all along that we believe reform was needed in the Palestinian community, that we needed an empowered prime minister, somebody who would have control over all the security forces and have control over the instruments of government. That has not yet happened....We believe the correct path forward involves Mr. Arafat yielding power, real executive power, to a prime minister for that prime minister to do what is needed for the Palestinian community." (State Department)
  • 9/11 Panel to Cite 10 Missed Opportunities
    The final report by the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, to be released Thursday, details as many as 10 missed opportunities by the Bush and Clinton administrations to detect or derail the deadly terrorist hijackings, but the panel stops short of saying the attacks should have been prevented. The report acknowledges that many of the opportunities were long shots and that others would have required a lucky sequence of events to alter the outcome.  (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Two Soldiers Killed by Hizballah in North
    Sergeant Itai Iluz, 21, and First Sergeant Avishai Kuriski, 24, were killed Tuesday by Hizballah snipers while repairing an antenna on the roof of a fort on the Lebanese border. (Ha'aretz)
  • Kassam Rocket Lands in Kids' Bedroom; No One Injured
    A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza Wednesday fell inside a bedroom in a house in a western Negev kibbutz. Three children and their mother were in the room next door when the rocket fell but no one was wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
        "The Kassem ripped a huge hole in the wall and landed on the couple's bed," said the kibbutz secretary. The current fear is that western Negev towns will become "Sderot II," referring to the Israeli town where two residents were killed by a Kassem rocket one month ago. (Maariv International)
  • Arafat Has No Plans to Relinquish Security Control - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Arafat made it clear Tuesday during a meeting with Prime Minister Qurei that the PA security forces would remain subordinate to the National Security Council which he heads, said senior officials in Ramallah. One official said Arafat agreed to "cosmetic and insignificant" changes. Qurei left the meeting by a back door without making any statement to reporters. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Shoot Arafat Critic - Arnon Regular
    Nabil Amr, a former Palestinian information minister and a well-known critic of Arafat, was shot in the leg by masked gunmen Tuesday in Ramallah. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Reporters Told to Tow the Line in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian journalists have been warned by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, whose heads are Arafat loyalists, that they must stop covering street marches by gunmen and clashes between rival groups in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arafat Should Go - Ahmed Al-Jarallah
    Arafat's corrupt edifice, the PA, has started falling, stone by stone. We don't see any reason for its continuation in power. Arafat and other members of the PA are not willing partners in the Middle East peace process. On the contrary, they have become a burden on the Palestinian issue and Arab countries, especially Egypt and Jordan. Arafat has invested the blood of Palestinians for his personal benefit.
        Arafat should quit his position because he is the head of a corrupt authority. Arafat has destroyed Palestine. He has led it to terrorism, death, and a hopeless situation. Although he has become senile, Arafat still wants to retain the reins of Palestine in his hands. He has to be relieved of his responsibilities and should be forced to retire. (Arab Times-Kuwait)
        See also Time for Arafat to Go? - Youssef M. Ibrahim
    It may be time for Arafat to fall on his sword or leave. Palestinians are saying their president for life - Arafat - is the problem along with his cronies who rule them, rob them, and impoverish them. Arabs have a responsibility here too. They can say "Israel" until they are all blue in the face, but it does not change the fact that a large part of the fault lies with the Palestinians and the Arabs. Arafat should be counseled it is time to leave with whatever dignity is left to him. (Gulf News-Dubai/UPI-Washington Times)
  • Gaza Mirrors Palestinian and Wider Arab Failures - Rami G. Khouri
    The rapid deterioration of the domestic political order in Gaza mirrors similar dilemmas that plague most of the Arab world, revolving around the tendency of small power elites or single men to monopolize political and economic power in their hands via their direct, personal control of domestic security and police systems. Gaza is yet another warning about the failure of the modern Arab security state and the need for a better brand of statehood based on law-based citizen rights rather than gun-based regime protection and perpetual incumbency. (Jordan Times)
  • Terror in the Skies, Again? - Annie Jacobsen
    Islamic militants have conducted dry runs of a devastating new style of bombing on aircraft flying to Europe, intelligence sources believe. The tactics, which aim to evade aviation security systems by placing only components of explosive devices on passenger jets, allowing militants to assemble them in the air, have been tried out on planes flying between the Middle East, North Africa, and Western Europe, security sources say. On June 29, 2004, I flew on Northwest Airlines flight #327 from Detroit to Los Angeles, together with 14 Middle Eastern men from Syria between the ages of 20 and 50.
        What I experienced during that flight has caused me to question whether the U.S. can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from terrorist threats. After seeing the men board separately and then act as a group, watching their unusual glances, observing their bizarre bathroom activities, watching them congregate in small groups, knowing that the flight attendants and the pilots were seriously concerned, and now knowing that federal air marshals were on board, I was officially terrified. (WomensWallStreet)
  • Observations:

    Reuters: A News Agency that Will Not Call a Terrorist a Terrorist - Tom Gross (National Review)

    • When Reuters writes about Israeli acts of violence, Israel is emphasized as the first word, often without explaining that the "victim" may have been a gunman ("Israeli Troops Shoot Dead Palestinian in W. Bank"). By contrast, when Palestinians attack Israelis (almost always civilians), Reuters usually avoided naming the perpetrator ("New West Bank Shooting Mars Truce").
    • The world's news outlets rely heavily on Reuters and AP, which in turn rely on a network of local Palestinian "stringers." Virtually all breaking news (and much of the non-breaking news) on CNN, BBC, Fox, and other networks comes from these stringers, who are hired for speed, to save money (there is no need to pay drivers and translators), and for their local knowledge.
    • But in many cases, in hiring them, their connections to Arafat's regime and Hamas count for more than their journalistic abilities. All too often the information they provide, and the supposed eyewitnesses they interview, are undependable. Yet American and international news outlets simply take their copy as fact. Thus, non-massacres become massacres, death tolls are exaggerated, and gunmen are written about as if they were civilians.
    • As Ehud Ya'ari, Israeli television's foremost expert on Palestinian affairs, put it: "The vast majority of information of every type coming out of the area is being filtered through Palestinian eyes. Cameras are angled to show a tainted view of the Israeli army's actions and never focus on Palestinian gunmen. Written reports focus on the Palestinian version of events. And even those Palestinians who don't support the intifada dare not show or describe anything embarrassing to the PA, for fear they may provoke the wrath of Arafat's security forces."

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