Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 5, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Senior Al-Qaeda Suspect Seized in Britain - Philip Johnston and Peter Foster (Telegraph-UK)
    A senior al-Qaeda suspect who uses the alias Abu Eisa Al Hindi - who was allegedly plotting an attack in Britain - is being held by Scotland Yard after information was received from Pakistani intelligence agencies.
    Police believe he is a key player in al-Qaeda's European operation.
    It also emerged that Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, an al-Qaeda computer expert arrested in Pakistan last month, was planning an attack on Heathrow airport.
    See also Pakistan Gave UK Al-Qaeda Photos of Targets (AP/FOX News)

Palestinians Shooting at IDF Kill Palestinian Kiosk Owner - Amos Harel and Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Armed Palestinians opened fire Wednesday from two directions at a group of soldiers stationed on the top floor of a building in downtown Nablus and killed Awad Hashash, 29, who ran a kiosk near the building's entrance.
    The Palestinian gunfire also wounded three other Nablus residents, the IDF said.
    Army sources said an initial investigation found that the soldiers in the building had not fired at all during the incident.

Palestinians Wound Four PA Intelligence Personnel in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Four members of the PA Military Intelligence force were wounded on Wednesday when their vehicle was ambushed by gunmen in the center of Gaza City.
    Military Intelligence is headed by Gen. Musa Arafat, Yasser Arafat's cousin, who many Palestinians accuse of corruption and brutality.
    Sources in Gaza say that Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, was most likely responsible for the attack.

Saudi Budget Surplus Expected to Hit $15 Billion (Mena Report-Jordan)
    Saudi Arabia is heading for a budget surplus of $14.9 billion in 2004 on the back of rising oil prices, the Saudi National Commercial Bank reported Tuesday.
    The kingdom has been enjoying the windfall of unexpected hikes in oil prices above $40 a barrel.

Contentment Runs High in Israel - Moti Bassok (Ha'aretz)
    According to a Central Bureau of Statistics 2003 survey, 81% of Israelis are generally pleased with life, and 52% are optimistic that their lives will improve in the next few years.
    The survey found a higher rate of contentment among young respondents, with 88% of those 20-24 saying they are pleased with their lives.
    83% of employees are pleased with their jobs, although only 48% are pleased with their income.
    Among Israeli Arabs the contentment rate is 76%.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Qaeda Strategy Called Cause for New Alarm
    They scouted the streets. They took photographs. They wrote detailed surveillance reports. And then, after five years of patiently waiting, al-Qaeda operatives carried out the devastating suicide truck bombing at the American Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in August 1998, killing more than 200 people. Studying targets and fine-tuning strategies for years before an attack is in part why officials in Washington say they are so alarmed about the latest evidence of reconnaissance of financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington. (New York Times)
        See also Sources: Al-Qaeda's Terror Plot Was Active (FOX News)
  • U.S. Cracks Down on Porous Syrian-Iraqi Border
    The U.S. military launched Operation Phantom Linebacker on Monday to stem the flow of arms, money, and militants crossing into Iraq from Syria. "Our first priority will be on the Syrian border, because we think that's where the former regime leadership and money went, in that direction, and it's coming back in from that direction," said Army Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz. "There are hundreds of them in Syria who are important and are facilitating the insurgency here [in Iraq]," a senior U.S. military official said. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Christians Fleeing Iraq for Syria
    Attacks on Iraq's tiny Christian minority have been steadily increasing since late spring, culminating in the bombing of five Christian churches in Baghdad and Mosul on Sunday. As a result, according to the UN high commissioner for refugees, Christians are now fleeing the country in record numbers. Syria is the preferred destination, for its low cost of living and cultural similarities with Iraq, though Iraqi Christians are heading to Jordan and Lebanon as well. (New York Times)
  • Egypt Refuses to Deploy Iraq Troops
    Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Ghait said Wednesday that Egypt will not deploy troops in Iraq in response to a Saudi proposal to dispatch Arab and Muslim forces to help restore security and stability in the country. (UPI/Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Thwarts Kassam Rocket Launching - Margot Dudkevitch
    On Wednesday an IDF helicopter fired toward a Kassam rocket launching crew as it prepared to fire its rocket. Three people were wounded and the launcher exploded. The army has distributed leaflets in Gaza depicting two Palestinians firing a Kassam rocket that lands on a Palestinian house.
        In south Gaza, a U.S. company has been deployed to track down a tunnel Israeli security officials believe is being built underneath the Rafah international border crossing. Officials said that if nothing is found, the crossing will be reopened within days. The crossing's closure has left 2,500 Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the border. Israel constructed an alternative crossing at Nitzana but the PA refuses to permit Palestinians to use the new crossing. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Suicide Bomber Arrested Near Nablus - Margot Dudkevitch
    Security forces at the Hawara roadblock near Nablus Wednesday arrested a member of Fatah Tanzim who planned to launch a suicide bomb attack in Israel, the sixth suicide bombing thwarted at the roadblock this year. Two bombs that were to be used in the attack were found and blown up. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. and Israel to Negotiate Settlement Boundaries
    Negotiations are slated to begin in coming weeks between Israel and the U.S. on demarcation of construction borders for each West Bank settlement. Israel will be asking the Bush administration for a different approach to the major settlement blocs in the territories and an understanding that Israel be allowed to expand them. Major blocs considered part of the consensus will be bolstered alongside implementation of the disengagement plan. A senior political official cited Ma'ale Adumim, Gush Etzion, Ariel, Immanuel, Betar Ilit, and Modi'in Ilit as examples of blocs that will see continued construction beyond the present construction line. Israel's objective is to have Bush's declared recognition of settlement blocs translate into immediate action on the ground, not remain a statement helpful to Israel only during final-status negotiations, officials said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Settling on Semantics - Herb Keinon
    Those who deal with the issue of the settlements in the U.S. administration know very well that there is a vast difference between Ma'ale Adumim, a town of 30,000 people on the strategic eastern approaches to Jerusalem, and "an outpost on a mountainside." The administration knows the difference because most Israelis, and certainly most Israeli politicians, know the difference. Some quarter million Israelis have gone to live beyond the "green line." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jordan's King Abdullah Attacks the Palestinian Leadership
    Jordan's King Abdullah said in an interview with the Al-Arabiyya satellite channel on Tuesday: "We wish the Palestinian leadership would determine for us clearly, what it wants, and not to surprise us every now and then with decisions and acceptance of issues it had rejected in the past....It is regretful to see that what was rejected previously, and what the acceptance of which was considered a treason in the past, has regrettably become for some, a requirement and great achievement." (Jordan News Agency)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Presbyterians' Shameful Boycott - Alan M. Dershowitz
    The president of Harvard University in 2002 included the singling out of Israel for divestment as the sort of "actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect, if not in their intent." The one-sided actions of the Presbyterian Church fit into this category. Divestment also encourages the continued use of terrorism by Palestinian leaders, who see that when Israel responds to their terrorism, it causes an important church to punish Israel. I do not believe that a majority of the 2.5 million Presbyterians in the U.S. want their church used to support terrorism. But they are now on notice that their church has been hijacked and its name misused in the service of an immoral tactic. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Arafat's Second Intifada Was a Fraud - Salim Mansur
    The newest turmoil in Gaza is directed against the brutally corrupt administration of Arafat and his henchmen. In September 2000, Arafat engineered a second intifada which, unlike the first, was a fraud, providing Islamists a cover for unleashing a war of a new sort against Israel waged by suicide bombers. It wrote the obituary for the Oslo Accord. Arafat turned the promise of his return to Palestine into a hell for his people. He destroyed the internal leadership that had emerged in the wake of the first intifada, placed his cronies from exile into positions of influence, and ran the territories as a police state. Arafat's behavior as another Arab tyrant has been deeply humiliating to Palestinians. (Toronto Sun)
  • When Hypocrisy Enters the Danger Zone - Janet Albrechtsen
    If you're Jewish, the UN's anti-Israel bias has always been a health hazard. Now it's also proving to be rather life-threatening for the rest of us. The UN was set up, under Article 1 of its charter, to "take collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace." Instead, it has a long history of legitimizing terrorism. It's a sobering thought as Australia grapples with how to defend itself against recent threats from al-Qaeda terrorists promising columns of car bombs across the nation. (The Australian)
  • Observations:

    Lessons from the Front Line in the Battle for "Hearts and Minds"
    - Robert Satloff (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • The spread of radical Islamism is the most serious challenge to U.S. interests in many Arab and Muslim societies. The solution cannot be found in reaching an accommodation with the Islamists.
    • Washington must abandon its longstanding reluctance to talk directly to Arab and Muslim audiences about difficult issues such as terrorism, radical Islamism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Iraq.
    • The most important element in U.S. public diplomacy - the need to invest in both current allies and the potential for future ones - should have three components:
      • Identify allies. The U.S. should identify potential allies among non- and anti-Islamist Muslims and build networks of common purpose among them. Washington also needs to support these individuals in the currency that matters, i.e., visibility and money. Very few local NGOs have actually rejected offers of U.S. financial aid in protest of U.S. policy.
      • Empower allies. Anti-Islamists share a growing alarm at the spread of Islamist social-welfare activities, some of which are linked to terrorist front groups. Many civic activists, including journalists, would take up the cudgel against these groups if they knew about their possible terrorist connections.
      • Nurture future allies. The U.S. needs to invest time, effort, and money in developing new and future allies. Promoting English-language education should be America's top priority. English is a portal to both Anglo-American culture and the Internet-based information revolution. Knowing English gives someone the opportunity to make judgments about the U.S. without the filter of translation or reliance on sources that may present a skewed image of reality.
      • Specific initiatives could include creating English after-school programs throughout the Muslim world at no or nominal cost to parents; supporting the development of U.S.-style, English-language universities in every country in the Middle East; and expanding financial support for American schools abroad, which would provide merit-based scholarships for lower- and middle-class Arab and Muslim children.
    • There are millions of Muslims who are not only willing to fight against radical Islamists, but are already engaged in fighting them on a daily basis in their own communities. Their victory will be America's victory, too.

      The writer, who lived in Morocco for the past two years, is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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