Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 28, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Palestinian Sting Rips Off Hizballah - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Activists from Fatah's armed wing have found a novel way of earning an easy living - they make false claims to Hizballah paymasters in Lebanon about attempted terror attacks in Israel and the territories, and collect bonuses for such reports.
    Military sources say senior Fatah officials, especially in the Kalkilya area, send reports to Hizballah about attacks or attempted attacks that never happened.
    Hizballah has recently started sending money to Hamas as well, following the weakening of its leadership by Israeli attacks and a consequent decline in revenues.

U.S.: Some Iraqi Suicide Bombers Forced to Kill - Martha Raddatz (ABC News)
    Brig. Gen. John Custer, the director of intelligence for Central Command, believes many of the suicide bombers in Iraq are forced to carry out their attacks.
    "What we've found in a number of places are hands chained to a steering wheel," he said.
    "Up in Irbil, we found a foot roped into the car, unable to escape. Their children were kidnapped and held - they were forced."
    He also says the idea that Iraq is being badly infiltrated by outsiders is wrong.

More Bedouin Volunteering for IDF Service - Hanan Greenberg (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    According to a senior officer in the IDF Manpower Division, after a decline in motivation to volunteer for the IDF during the recent Palestinian violence, Israeli Bedouin are now volunteering again in increasing numbers.

For Al-Jazeera, Loss of Convention Sign Brings Banner Publicity - Nora Boustany (Washington Post)
    Reporters and crew for al-Jazeera, the Arab world's most popular news network, are among the thousands of journalists covering the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
    One of the first things they did after arriving a week ahead of time was string a banner emblazoned with al-Jazeera's name and logo across their skybox, saying they had received approval for the banner from convention organizers and had complied with placement, design, and dimension requirements - but then the sign disappeared.
    A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee said the al-Jazeera banner was removed because it would have been seen in every wide-angle cutaway shot to the audience, even though no other banners in the same sightline were taken down.
    "American journalists have expressed so much solidarity with us. Whoever wanted us to be less visible has really promoted us by pulling the sign down," said Hafez Mirazi, al-Jazeera's Washington bureau chief.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell: Arafat Master of "Yo-Yo" Statements
    Secretary of State Colin Powell, en route to Cairo, said he is still not certain Arafat is ready to cede security powers despite promises he made to Palestinian Prime Minister Qurei. "Arafat is a master of the ambiguous statement or the statement with the yo-yo string on it. It gets pulled back," he said. (VOA News)
  • U.S. Muslim Charity Indicted on Terror-Related Charges
    The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which claims to be the largest U.S. Muslim charity, and seven of its officers were named Tuesday in a 42-count federal indictment charging conspiracy, tax evasion, money laundering, and providing help to a terrorist organization. The foundation provided more than $12.4 million to individuals and organizations linked to Hamas, a terrorist group responsible for suicide bombings in Israel, from 1995 to 2001. (AP/Dallas News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Deal Leaves Arafat in Charge of Most PA Security Forces
    Palestinian Prime Minister Qurei rescinded his resignation on Tuesday after a deal that leaves Arafat in charge of the bulk of Palestinian security personnel. Under the agreement, Arafat will retain control over the Palestinian intelligence service and armed forces, Palestinian officials said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Fire Two Kassam Rockets at Israeli Town of Sderot
    Two Kassam rockets fell near the town of Sderot Wednesday morning. No one was injured and no damage was reported. IDF troops have been operating in the northern Gaza Strip in the past few weeks to try and stop the launching of rockets from the area. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Digging Tunnel under Rafah Border Crossing Terminal
    Israeli officials are worried that Palestinian terrorists are digging a tunnel underneath the Rafah border crossing terminal between Israel and Egypt, and are planning to blow it up, Israel Radio reported Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanya Wedding Hall Bombing Foiled - Margot Dudkevitch
    According to details released by the Shin Bet on Tuesday, four Hamas terrorists - all university students in Nablus and Kalkilya arrested by security forces in June and July - planned to kidnap a soldier, launch a suicide bombing in a wedding hall or antique shop in Netanya, shoot at a Jewish community located near Kalkilya, and dispatch a terrorist posing as a deaf and mute peddler to infiltrate Shoham and shoot residents. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Fabricates Charges of Abuse at Checkpoint - Uri Glickman
    A Palestinian who claimed he was beaten by IDF soldiers manning the Beit Fouriq checkpoint has admitted fabricating the accusations, defense officials said. The Palestinian was trying to leave the West Bank city of Nablus in a car owned by an Israeli Arab. Soldiers manning the checkpoint found him hiding in the vehicle and attempted to arrest him. He tried to resist arrest and started running wild, attacking soldiers.
        On Sunday, in an earlier incident at a checkpoint near Nablus, an IDF soldier beat and shot a Palestinian for calling him a "liar." IDF officials called the incident severe, and military police investigating it believe the soldier ignored procedures and fired a weapon unnecessarily. According to the IDF, following that incident, "Palestinians are trying to libel the army by fabricating stories of military brutality." (Maariv International-Ha'aretz)
  • Arabs Shock Europeans, Refuse to Condemn Anti-Semitism - Shlomo Shamir
    Arab states at the UN are trying to foil a proposal to condemn anti-Semitism in the General Assembly this September. At a closed meeting held recently in New York, UN ambassadors from Arab and EU countries met and the Arabs made clear that they do not accept the initiative to condemn anti-Semitism. The blunt language used by the Arabs describing their opposition, and their plans to use diplomatic means to prevent the resolution from reaching a vote, shocked the Europeans. The Arabs were also critical of a UN seminar on anti-Semitism held last month. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The 9/11 Commission Findings: An Accurate Definition of the Enemy - Daniel Pipes
    Finally, an official body of the U.S. government has come out and said what needs to be said: that the enemy is "Islamist terrorism...not just 'terrorism,' some generic evil." The 9/11 commission in its final report even declares that Islamist terrorism is the "catastrophic threat" facing the U.S. The great failing in the U.S. war effort since late 2001 has been the reluctance to name the enemy. In contrast to those analysts who wishfully dismiss the Islamists as a few fanatics, the 9/11 commission acknowledges their true importance, noting that bin Laden's message "has attracted active support from thousands of disaffected young Muslims and resonates powerfully with a far larger number who do not actively support his methods."
        The Islamist outlook represents not a hijacking of Islam, as is often but wrongly claimed; rather it emerges from a "long tradition of extreme intolerance" within Islam, one going back centuries and in recent times associated with Wahhabism. U.S. strategy must be to dismantle al-Qaeda's network and prevail over "the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism." In other words, "the U.S. has to help defeat an ideology, not just a group of people." (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Palestinians Peek Past Arafat at the Future - Laura King
    Most observers believe that Arafat will be able to ride out this storm as he has so many others, "but there will be future clashes as the competition between potential heirs to Arafat goes ahead," said Hillel Frisch, an analyst at Bar-Ilan University. "All the while Hamas is gaining in popularity among [Palestinians], while Fatah is weakening," said Frisch. "Unfortunately, it's not a fight between the good and bad - it's between the bad and worse," said Bassam Eid, a Palestinian human rights activist.
        There is no tradition in the Arab world of a leader of Arafat's stature voluntarily giving up power. "Such a thing isn't part of our thinking or our vocabulary - there is no chance of Arafat stepping down by himself," said Rafiq Natsheh, a former Palestinian Cabinet minister. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Saudi-Pakistani Cooperation Against Terrorism and the Problem of Salafi-Wahhabism - Editorial
    Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have apparently decided to cooperate with each other in eradicating terrorism. However, much of what we are witnessing today in terms of the radical Salafi threat is the doing of the House of Saud itself. Before any of the radicals came online and began to threaten Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world, it was the Saudi monarchy that upheld - and still does - the banner of Wahhabism. When it mated with the radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, conservative Wahhabism gave birth to radical Salafism. This Salafism was tempered in the jihadi fires of Afghanistan and spread through the global networks of the Islamist International that came to fight in Afghanistan.
        Even so, the Saudi monarchy kept funding Wahhabi causes throughout the Muslim world. We do not see many signs that the monarchy, while being alive to the danger of radical Salafism, is in the process of doing anything substantial to strike at the roots of this phenomenon. (Daily Times-Pakistan)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Disengagement, U.S. Re-Engagement - Zalman Shoval
    (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • A modus vivendi that could give both Palestinians and Israelis an opportunity to start going their separate ways in relative normalcy may result from Israel's disengagement plan, while real, contractual peace will perhaps come only after a generational change.
    • More than a few Israelis are wondering whether the Bush vision of a "democratic, viable Palestinian state" living in peace alongside Israel isn't a bit too visionary, considering there is not a single other Arab state in the region to which these characteristics would apply.
    • There is a danger that unilateral withdrawals would create on the Palestinian side a false sense of having gained an advantage over Israel as a result of their four-year terror campaign. Israel and the U.S. will have to disabuse them of the notion that increased terror begets increased political or economic benefits.
    • From Israel's point of view, having a real "peace partner" means a Palestinian leadership willing and able to effectively give up the option and practice of terror and violence, dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, stop anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement in the media and in the schools, ideologically accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and accept UN Security Council Resolution 242 as the basis for negotiations.
    • The main justification in the eyes of many of the supporters of the Gaza withdrawal plan was assuring America's official backing for Israel's positions in at least part of the West Bank, most of which coincide with those "already existing major Israeli population centers" mentioned in the Bush letter. Without such American backing, there probably wouldn't have been a disengagement plan in the first place.
    • Most of the real social, political, and economic problems in the Middle East have nothing to do with the Palestinian problem. As Mohammed Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of Hizballah, said: "The failed Arab regimes survive thanks partly to the excuse of the Arab-Israeli conflict."

      The writer served as Israel's Ambassador to the United States from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2000.

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