Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 24, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Israeli Death Toll in Intifada Higher than Last Two Wars - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
  The number of Israeli fatalities in the current conflict with the Palestinians exceeded 1,000 last week. Only two of the country's wars - the War of Independence and the Yom Kippur War - have claimed more Israeli lives than this intifada, which began on September 29, 2000.
  According to Israeli numbers, the current conflict has claimed the lives of 2,124 Palestinians, for whom a list of names exists. Palestinian sources put the number of Palestinian casualties at 2,736.
  The Israeli figures show that of the various Palestinian groups and organizations, Hamas has suffered the highest number of fatalities: 466. The intifada has claimed the lives of 408 members of Fatah's Tanzim organization, while Islamic Jihad has lost 205 of its people.
  The Palestinian security forces (Force 17, the Palestinian police, General Intelligence, and the counter security apparatus) have lost 334 of its members during the current conflict.

The Car Bomb Conundrum - Samantha Levine (U.S. News)
  Terrorists have long viewed vehicle bombs as "one of the best tools to breach security," warned the FBI and Department of Homeland Security on July 30. This year, under the requirements of the Patriot Act, the Transportation Security Administration checked the names of the country's 2.7 million truckers qualified to carry hazardous materials. Twenty-nine are now under federal investigation. Authorities continue to search for some missing commercial buses and an empty gas tanker truck stolen in Pennsauken, N.J., in early April.

Indian Province of Assam to Buy Israeli Technology (Kuwait News Agency)
  The government of the northeastern Indian province of Assam is seeking to buy Israeli technological systems used to identify and defuse explosives, official province government sources said. A security official at Guwahati, the province capital, said that the government is to use this technology to thwart explosive operations being carried out by insurgent groups in the province, adding that the ministries of defense and interior have been notified and called upon to hold talks with the Israeli government to this effect.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Israel Plans to Rezone Settlements for 533 New Units - Steven Erlanger
    Israel plans to rezone land within existing settlements to allow for the construction of another 533 housing units, most of them close to Jerusalem, Israeli officials said yesterday. The announcement comes a week after the government issued tenders for the construction of 1,001 new housing units on the West Bank and was planning to issue tenders for another 633 units, though it has not yet done so. Together with the new units from rezoning, this would amount to 2,167 permits to build apartments beyond Israel's 1967 boundaries. The announcements come after Washington signaled that it would accept settlement growth within the boundaries of existing settlements.
      The Palestinian Authority and the Arab League say it is a direct violation of Israel's agreement in 2001 to freeze all settlement activity, including "natural growth." They have said that the United States, by turning a blind eye to Israeli settlement activity that breaks its own promises, is destroying the so-called road map to peace. But the road map is tattered, partly because of Palestinian support for the violence of the intifada. (New York Times)
  • Israel Approves Barrier Rerouting
    Israel's defense chief has approved a new route for its West Bank barrier in response to an Israeli court ruling to shift some sections to avoid cutting off Palestinian villagers from their land, officials say. The rerouting, affecting a slice of the barrier in the central West Bank, would fence in 3,750 acres of land instead of a planned 8,500 acres along the original course, the officials said on Monday. The new route, ratified by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, must still be approved by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet. (Reuters)
  • Lured to Jerusalem By Religion, Luxury - Molly Moore
    Encouraged by religion, wealth and a slowdown of violence inside Israel, Jews from abroad are snapping up luxury Israeli real estate, driving prices to levels rivaling those of the 1990s, during periods of relative peace. Whether it's garden apartments near the ancient walls of Jerusalem's Old City or high-rises looming above Tel Aviv's Mediterranean shore, affluent Jews in the United States, Europe and South America are latching on to posh properties here. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Bowing to Pressure from Egypt, Arafat Meets Dahlan - Arnon Regular
    Under mounting pressure from Egypt, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat yesterday met for the first time in a month with Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan, whom Arafat associates have blamed for last month's unrest in the Gaza Strip. Egypt wants to see a stable Palestinian government in Gaza after Israel's planned withdrawal. The Arafat-Dahlan meeting comes against the background of reports that Mahmoud Abbas, the first Palestinian prime minister, is in tentative talks with Arafat - through PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia - about returning to political activity. Abbas resigned as prime minister last fall after Arafat refused to cooperate with him by giving up security powers. (Ha'aretz)
  • Senior Al-Aksa Fugitive Arrested in Bethlehem - Margot Dudkevitch
    The elite IDF Duvdevan unit arrested wanted fugitive and senior member of the Fatah Al-Aksa Brigades Adnan Abayat, who for the last couple of months hid in an obstetric hospital in Bethlehem. Abayat was found hiding out in the hospital's laundry and was armed with two Kalashnikov rifles, three M16 rifles with telescopic sights, 15 ammunition clips and a grenade launcher. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Learning to Live in the Age of Terrorism - Gene Weingarten
    What is the toll of terrorism, once terrorism has become not an occasional horror but a fact of everyday life? How do people adapt, and at what cost? Looking to the future, these are questions Americans might ask. Everyone in Jerusalem deals with hamatzav in his or her own way, depending on one's personal threshold for danger, or one's personal calculus for safety. These are highly subjective matters. Israel has assimilated terror, and institutionalized it. A bombing scene is cleaned up in hours, and one day later, there is often no sign it ever happened.
      Will America of the next decade resemble more closely the Jerusalem of today than it will the America of today? Maybe. How scary is that? Plenty. But I'm a little less scared of it than I was before I met my old friend Bernie, and his family, surviving with love and dignity and a sense of purpose. In Israel the constant grind of terrorism has not only penetrated people's sense of denial, it has sanded it almost completely away. But what it has exposed is not blind, paralyzing fear. It is something else altogether. The Israelis live defiantly, indomitably, with a heightened intensity, as though each day might be their last. (Washington Post)
        See also Israeli State of Mind - Editorial (Baltimore Sun)
  • Iran Is Our Enemy's Enemy But Not Our Friend - Michael Gove
    For the past three years British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has been practising a policy of �constructive engagement� towards Iran. He, and his advisers, believed that the regime in Tehran appeared to be a valuable potential ally in the war against terrorism. The regime in Tehran has interpreted the EU�s desire to develop a constructive relationship as Western weakness, and America�s acquiescence while she is involved in Iraq as confirmation of that weakness. The regime in Tehran has never been a plausible potential ally in the War on Terror for the simple reason that it has been one of the main sponsors of terrorism across the world since its inception. (Times -- UK)
  • Myth of Saudi Importance - Joel Mowbray
    What should dictate our approach to the Saudis is that they need us to buy their oil just as much as we need them to sell it to us. Not just now, but also in the future. Yet conventional wisdom among self-appointed foreign policy experts ignores this basic reality, and as a result, Saudi Arabia holds the diplomatic catbird seat, enjoying perks available to few, if any, other nations. While the Saudis obviously would like sky-high oil prices, the reality is that long-term considerations place the ceiling substantially lower. So if the Saudis face market pressures that force them to keep oil prices in check, why does the U.S. State Department go to tragic-comic lengths to keep them happy? In late 2001, after State discovered that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis�and that all of them had submitted applications that never should have been approved under the law�it sent out a press release saying that the U.S. had �not changed its procedures or policies in determining visa eligibility as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.� Sadly, State was telling the truth. And to this day, that pledge still largely holds true. (
  • Observations:

    Iran Out of Control - Ehud Ya'ari (Jerusalem Report)

  • Iran is removing its mask -- and its gloves. It no longer maintains the pretense of acting as a decent neighbor to Iraq, or tries to make us believe that it is adhering to the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; it is no longer knocking gently on the White House door or making passes at the European Union. Even the warnings of what will happen to Israel if it attacks Iran�s nuclear facilities have become apocalyptically violent. And the message from Teheran reaching the perpetrators of Palestinian terror is that given the disintegration of the Fatah faction, the agenda for attacks will from now on be set by the emissaries of the Iranian elite "Revolutionary Guards."
  • The American army in Iraq is facing a direct Iranian challenge. The attempt to contain and isolate Iran has failed. Instead the real regional danger posed by the "Islamic Revolution" is ballooning at a pace that leaves little time for a delayed or hesitant response. The supreme religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the Rafsanjani faction and the officers of the Revolutionary Guards are going for broke. They are prepared to risk a head-on -- if still indirect -- confrontation with the United States on Iraqi soil.
  • No less than 80 percent of the latest Palestinian attacks in the intifada have been set in motion by the Iranians via Hizballah. Incidentally, they not only fund and promote the attacks but are often involved down to the last detail, from the preparation of explosives to transferring them to the suicide bombers and choosing targets for attack.
  • General Qassem Suleimani, head of the "Al-Quds Corps" of the "Revo-lutionary Guards" has long since coordinated Iran�s covert actions in Lebanon, among the Palestinian ranks and in other spheres, is also the main architect of the Shi�ite rebellion in Iraq. He even made the connection between Muqtada al-Sadr and his "Mahdi Army" and the all-Sunni Ba�athists and remnants of Saddam�s "Republican Guard" in Falluja, Samara and Ramadi.

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