Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 2, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

PA Recently Released Beersheba Bomber - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Ahmed Kawasmeh, one of the two suicide bombers who carried out Tuesday's attacks in Beersheba, was released recently from a Palestinian Authority prison.
    Kawasmeh was arrested several months ago by PA security forces in Hebron on charges of membership in Hamas and planning attacks against Israel.
    "He was well-known as an enthusiastic member of Hamas and he apparently talked to friends about his desire to kill Jews," said a PA security source.

    See also Photo: Palestinian Boy in Fatigues with Gun and Koran Celebrating Bus Bombings (Reuters/Yahoo)

Poll: Britain, Canada, Australia, Israel Top List of Closest U.S. Allies (Harris Poll)
    Britain, Canada, Australia, and Israel continue to lead the list as America's closest allies in an annual Harris Poll released Wednesday.
    43% consider Israel a "close ally" of the U.S., up from 26% ten years ago.

Al-Sadr Linked to Mass Killings in Iraq - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
    A U.S. military intelligence report says followers of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr imprisoned, killed, and mutilated Iraqis who opposed his insurrection in Najaf.
    After last week's truce, Iraqi forces moved into buildings held by the radical cleric's Mahdi's Army militia.
    "Inside the court building, Iraqi police found approximately 200 mutilated bodies taken by the Muqtada militia for speaking out against Muqtada al-Sadr," said the intelligence report.
    "Some of the prisoners had eyes and ears drilled out and others had their limbs and heads cut off."

Israel Sends Animals to Palestinian Zoo - Laurie Copans (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
    Israel's safari park is sending lions, zebras, and desert goats to the Kalkilya zoo in the West Bank in a gesture of cooperation.

Useful Reference:

George Bush on the Middle East (Forward)

John Kerry on the Middle East (Forward)


Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Syria May Face UN Resolution
    The U.S. and France introduced a Security Council resolution Wednesday demanding that 20,000 Syrian troops "withdraw without delay" from Lebanon and that Syria stop meddling in the country's November elections. The resolution also calls on Lebanon to disband and disarm all militias, including Hizballah. U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Danforth told the council that he will press for a vote on the resolution Thursday. U.S. officials told council diplomats they have lined up the nine votes needed to adopt the resolution. (Washington Post)
        See also below Commentary: Lebanon's Lost Sovereignty - Editorial (New York Times)
        See also Israel Faults Syria in Bombing, Cites Harboring of Hamas Leaders
    Israeli leaders warned Syria Wednesday that it bears the blame for a double suicide bombing in Beersheba by Hamas militants because it harbors the group's leadership, and they hinted at possible retaliation. (AP/Boston Globe)
  • FBI Investigating AIPAC for Two Years
    For more than two years, the FBI has been investigating whether classified intelligence has been passed to Israel by AIPAC, in a probe that extends beyond the case of Pentagon employee Lawrence Franklin, according to senior U.S. officials and other sources. The FBI is examining whether highly classified material from the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic intercepts of communications, was also forwarded to Israel, the sources said. AIPAC has forcefully denied that any of its personnel received classified information. Reports on the investigation have baffled foreign policy analysts and U.S. officials because the Bush administration and the government of Prime Minister Sharon already cooperate on intelligence matters and share policy views. (Washington Post)
  • Powell: UN Must Act Now on Iran Weapons
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday he would urge members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, at its board meeting on Sept. 13, to refer the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons program to the UN Security Council. "We still believe that the Iranians...have a program that, in our judgment, is a nuclear program designed to develop ultimately a nuclear weapon," he said.
        Undersecretary of State John Bolton on Wednesday accused Iran of threatening global peace with its plans to process 37 tons of raw "yellowcake" uranium. Nuclear experts say this could ultimately produce enough fissile material for up to five crude nuclear bombs. (Reuters/Telegraph-UK)
        See also Pakistan Found to Aid Iran Nuclear Efforts
    A new assessment of Iran's nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency says that, as early as 1995, Pakistan was providing Tehran with the designs for sophisticated centrifuges capable of making bomb-grade nuclear fuel. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Finding It Harder to Finance Activities - Lior Greenbaum
    Despite Tuesday's terrorist bus bombing in Beersheba, Israeli security sources believe that Palestinian terrorist organizations are finding it more difficult than in the past to raise money. Financial pressure is being exerted in several spheres: the U.S., Israel, Europe, and even in the PA itself. The U.S. exerts constant pressure on Saudi Arabia to trace the exact address of donations, but extensive funds are channeled to military purposes, although on a smaller scale than in the past. The financial requirements of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated with Fatah, are much smaller, since it does not have to fund an extensive social network. The Brigades receives money directly from both the PA and Hizballah, which has assumed a dominant role in financing terrorist activities in the territories. (Globes)
  • PA Parliament Protests Arafat's "Empty Promises" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Legislative Council Wednesday stepped up its pressure on Arafat to implement long-awaited reforms by suspending its sessions for one month. Arafat has refused to sign 12 laws passed by the council calling for major financial and security reforms in the PA. "No one is taking the council's decisions seriously," said PLC Speaker Rouhi Fatouh. Reform-minded legislators complained that the PA-controlled media is imposing a blackout on their activities and statements. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Has the World Given Up on Palestine? - Bradley Burston
    Palestinians, their economy ruined by lack of access to work in Israel, have also watched as their protests, international legal campaigns, and UN moves against the West Bank fence have fallen on less than receptive ears. The glacial immutability of the conflict, the lack of clear delineation into victims and villains, as well as the high-profile expansion of Islamist terrorism into the hearts of Manhattan and Moscow may have all played a part in the perceived drop in resonance of the Palestinian cause. Palestinians also watched as normally sympathetic international news outlets explained that the Beersheba bus bombings were carried out in an area unprotected by the West Bank fence, underscoring arguments that the barrier was crucial to Israel's security. (Ha'aretz)
  • Lebanon's Lost Sovereignty - Editorial
    When it comes to occupied Arab territory, Syria applies a brazen double standard. For Lebanon, under the thumb of Syrian troops for the past 28 years, Damascus never uses the word "occupation" and never hesitates to abuse Lebanese sovereignty. Syria pressured the country's cabinet last weekend into endorsing a constitutional change designed to let President Emile Lahoud extend his expiring six-year term for three more years. Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a fierce foe of Lahoud, had strongly opposed amending the constitution, but he suddenly changed his mind Friday after a meeting with the Syrian chief of military intelligence. Lebanon, the most democratically-minded country in the Arab Middle East, deserves the immediate withdrawal of Syrian occupation troops. (New York Times)
  • The Lesson of Northern Ireland - David Trimble
    There is an increasingly fashionable assumption in Europe that terrorism cannot be defeated, only appeased through a process of negotiation that concedes core elements of the terrorists' agenda. Northern Ireland is frequently cited as the proof of this assertion. The fact is that the Provisional IRA suffered a military defeat.
        Sept. 11 transformed the terms of engagement with terrorists everywhere. Nothing but a strong stand will do, regardless of whether the enemy is al-Qaeda, Muqtada al-Sadr, or the IRA. It took a quarter of a century, but the British state and the local majority stayed the course in Northern Ireland. A humiliating withdrawal from Iraq with the job only half completed would be a shot in the arm for terrorists worldwide. Pretending that the war against terrorism can be won quickly is as illusory as pretending that a recalibration of U.S. policy toward Israel will deliver a coup de grace against all the violent forms of Islam that threaten our interests. The writer, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and Nobel Peace Laureate in 1998, was First Minister of Northern Ireland, 1998-2002. (Wall Street Journal, 2 Sep 04)
        See also Terror Imperialism - Editorial
    In the largest single act of murder by terrorists since the liberation, 12 Nepalese have been killed in Iraq. A video on a Web site showed a terrorist slitting the throat of one of the men and then holding up his severed head; the 11 others were shot in the back of the head. Nepal has no troops in Iraq and was not part of the U.S.-led coalition in the war. In fact, Nepal bars its citizens from working in Iraq. Still, as many as 17,000 Nepalese, poor and desperate, are reported to be in the country. That only goes to show how no one is now safe from the danger posed by the terrorists running wild in Iraq. They've set their sights on operating a global agenda out of Iraq in a form of terror imperialism. (Asian Wall Street Journal, 2 Sep 04)
  • Observations:

    Palestinians Are Trapped By Their Own Culture - Irshad Manji (Los Angeles Times)

    • Over the last six decades, several offers for an independent state of Palestine have been floated by the British, the Israelis, the Americans, and the UN - Palestinian leaders have rejected every proposal.
    • Palestinian culture contains a popular culture of incitement that doesn't exist in Israel.
    • In June 2003, a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that most Palestinians could not envision a way for their rights to be protected as long as Israel existed. By contrast, the survey found that, among Arab citizens of Israel, a solid majority felt the opposite. What accounts for this difference in attitude?
    • Posters of martyrs plaster the buildings of the West Bank and Gaza. Billboards proclaim their undying honor. Adolescents make up rap tunes to them while expressing hope that one day they will imitate the self-immolators.
    • Both the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers have encountered protests. Hard-line Israelis resorted to demonstrating and jeering. Hard-line Palestinians resorted to blowing up buses and the people in them. That's a life-and-death difference in choices.
    • Many would argue that choices don't exist for Palestinians - they're economically impoverished and desperate. Not according to Mohammed Hindi, the top Gaza leader of Islamic Jihad. "Most of our martyrs were very successful in their earthly lives," he told me, admitting that what drives so many of today's suicide bombers isn't that which the material world has failed to deliver to them but something besides - Palestinian culture's ideological exploitation of the Koran's promise of paradise.
    • We need to be asking as many tough questions of Palestinian officials as of Israeli ones. Until we do, we'll always reduce Palestinians to the status of mere victims. And that does nothing to recognize their dignity. Or their capacity for making ethically - and ideologically - sounder choices.

      The writer is host of TV Ontario's "Big Ideas" and the author of The Trouble With Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith.

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