Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 8, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Weaker Hamas Retains Support - Ben Lynfield (Christian Science Monitor)
    "Hamas's military wing has been hard hit. There is a leadership vacuum. But its social-services network is intact, and it still has strong political power in the Palestinian street," said Moshe Marzuk, an analyst at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel.
    The Israeli missile strike on a Hamas training ground and other military pressure "have a cumulative effect that makes it harder for them to carry out attacks. They have to worry about their own safety and to keep switching places. People become less willing to cooperate with them."
    Palestinian journalist Said Ghazali noted, "Militarily they are weaker and cannot respond immediately. They have big words but cannot do a lot of deeds."
    See also Israel Kills Hamas Fanatics on Parade - Patrick Bishop (Telegraph-UK)

Ofek 6 Launch Failure Not a Major Blow - Gerald M. Steinberg (Jerusalem Post)
    The failure of the third stage of the Ofek 6 satellite was costly but it was not a major blow to Israel's strategic position in the region.
    Israel remains the only state in the Middle East capable of building and launching such a sophisticated strategic intelligence system.
    Meanwhile, Ofek 5 will continue to track Iran's nuclear weapons efforts and other threats to Israeli national security, and there is a good chance that Ofek 7 can be completed and launched before Ofek 5's orbit decays.
    In addition, the EROS commercial imaging satellite, whose sensing technology is very similar to Ofek's, is also in good working order.
    These highly sophisticated Israeli imaging satellites are capable of sending back clear images of objects that are less than one square meter in size.
    By observing changes in ground surface patterns, or heat emissions from areas that are supposed to be empty, secret facilities can be discovered.

Useful Reference:

Russian TV Video of Children, Hostage-Takers (Reuters/NBC News)
    The pictures showed militants including a masked and heavily armed man and a woman in Arab-style black headdress, as well as hundreds of hostages sitting in the gymnasium.

    See also Photo showing pupils and adults, as well as an object hanging from wires attached to the basketball rings, in the gym of the school in Beslan, Russia. (Yahoo/Reuters)


Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S.: Hamas "Needs to be Put Out of Business"
    State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday, "There's nothing that can justify the kind of terrorism, the kind of bus bombings and other things that are attributed to Hamas recently. We've made very clear these groups need to be put out of business. We've made very clear the Palestinian leaders need to take hold of this problem, need to get the authority and take immediate and credible steps to end terror and violence. The time for explanations, excuses, and discussion is long past. We think it's time to see some action that sends a clear message that terrorists will not be tolerated."  (State Department)
  • Sharon: "Israel Does Not Spy in the United States"
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is denying allegations that a Pentagon worker stole secrets for Israel, according to an interview by the Jerusalem Post released Wednesday. "Israel does not spy in the United States. I say this in the most emphatic way possible," Sharon said. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
        See also AIPAC Says U.S.-Israel Ties Are Under Attack
    The American Israel Public Affairs Committee charged Tuesday in a letter to supporters that the "very essence" of relations between the U.S. and Israel is under assault as a result of reports that the FBI is investigating whether AIPAC officials passed classified information to Israel. The letter strongly denies involvement in criminal activity or receipt of secret intelligence information by the organization or its employees, calling the allegations "false and baseless." In the letter, AIPAC President Bernice Manocherian and Executive Director Howard Kohr said the group will not "abide any suggestion that American citizens should be perceived as being involved in illegal activities simply for seeking to participate in the decisions of their elected leaders or officials who work for them."
        "What we've had is the criminalization of the foreign policy debate. There are accusations being floated around more often based on policy disagreement rather than fact," said Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Iran and Iraq specialist in the Pentagon's policy office. Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon said that the investigation was the result of either malicious intent or "some incompetence of not understanding reality," a reference to long-standing U.S.-Israeli cooperation. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Frees 161 Palestinian Prisoners
    Israel began freeing 161 Palestinian prisoners from jail on Tuesday in the largest mass release in more than seven months, Israeli security officials said. "These are prisoners without blood on their hands," a member of the military said. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: No Talks Until Syria Negates Terror - Gideon Alon
    Responding to Syrian President Assad's statement on his willingness to negotiate with Israel, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that "if Syria changes its policy and stops providing shelter for terror organizations and for the transfer of weapons and ammunition from Iran to Hizballah, we can renew negotiations with it." Shalom also said Iran is continuing its efforts to manufacture nuclear weapons. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Launches Gaza Operation to Prevent Palestinian Rocket Fire on Israel - Amir Buhbut
    The IDF Wednesday launched an operation in the Gaza Strip in an attempt to prevent the firing of Kassam rockets towards southern Israel. (Maariv International)
  • Suicide-Bomb Belt Discovered Near Nablus - Margot Dudkevitch
    The IDF Tuesday thwarted a suicide bomb attack that was to have taken place in central Israel in the coming days after finding a seven-kg. explosives belt hidden in a barrel at a house northwest of Nablus. An intelligence tip-off revealed the whereabouts of the bomb.
        On Tuesday the security establishment registered 47 warnings of plans by terrorists to launch attacks against Israelis. Border Police sappers blew up two pipe bombs that had been placed on the main route linking Jerusalem to Hebron near El-Khader, west of Bethlehem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Irrationality of Terror - Anne Applebaum
    There are other examples of terrorist groups whose methods have had the opposite effect from what their leaders say they intend, the most obvious being the case of the Palestinians. Decades' worth of PLO terrorist attacks on crippled tourists and Olympic athletes achieved far less for the Palestinian people than television pictures of Palestinian children protesting in the streets. Even more was achieved, or almost achieved, when the Palestinians briefly ceased to use terrorism in the 1990s. By contrast, the resumption of Palestinian terrorism, and particularly the suicide bombing campaign, has led to a profound change of heart, a hardening of positions and, as in Russia, a much larger population of Israelis who assume that all Palestinians, whatever their views or background or grievances, are would-be terrorists. (Washington Post)
  • Terror's Toll on Islam - Editorial
    Islamist columnist Ahmed Bahgat, writing in Egypt's Al-Ahram, said the images of bloodied Russian victims "showed Muslims as monsters who are fed by the blood of children and the pain of their families." Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, Egypt's top Muslim cleric, was quoted as telling the terrorists: "You are taking Islam as a cover and it is a deceptive cover. Those who carry out the kidnappings are criminals, not Muslims." "[T]he Chechens, with the choice of their targets, had put themselves in a position where no one would shed tears when the punishment came," said an editorial in Saudi Arabia's Arab News. "They reached a new low when they chose toddlers as bargaining chips." More Islamic voices need to awaken to - and condemn - terrorism. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Cult of Death - David Brooks
    Whether it's teenagers outside an Israeli disco or students in Beslan, Russia, we've seen kids singled out as special targets by the death cult that is thriving at the fringes of the Muslim world. This is the cult of people who are proud to declare, "You love life, but we love death." This is the cult that sent waves of defenseless children to be mowed down on the battlefields of the Iran-Iraq war, that trains kindergartners to become bombs, that fetishizes death, that sends people off joyfully to commit mass murder. This death cult has no reason and is beyond negotiation. (New York Times)
  • Witch Hunt? - Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
    Today, anti-Semitic witch hunts can be dressed up as ideological conflicts between the Bush administration's so-called "hard-liners" and "moderates." To be sure, there are those in the U.S. government - notably, in the State Department and CIA - who have profound policy disagreements with key Defense Department decision-makers, particularly about the magnitude of the danger from the Iranian regime and how best to counter it. This has been particularly true since President Bush's State of the Union declaration after September 11, 2001, that Iran was part of the "axis of evil." Simply writing off the attacks to bureaucratic rivalry obscures the fact that Mr. Bush has made clear his own views about the Iranian mullahocracy. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    We Can Win - and We Must - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (U.S. News)

    • We did not choose the war on terrorism. It chose us.
    • Americans wake up every day knowing they are threatened by Islamic radicals willing and eager to die in a holy war against "The Great Satan." Our national commitment to defeating them will brook no equivocation.
    • We are still uniquely vulnerable because of the frustratingly amorphous nature of nonstate terrorism and the fearful ease of mass murder by suicidal maniacs willing to die in order to effect carnage.
    • They reflect the dysfunctionality of much of the Arab world, which has proved a breeding ground for dictators, fanaticism, and terrorist networks determined to exploit our civic values by shooting from hospitals, mosques, and ambulances, and corrupting the innocent and the ignorant. Suicide murder is the Palestinians' major contribution to our civilization. The emotional infrastructure for these atrocities arises from the deliberate fabrication of political facts by the Muslim leadership with which we have yet to find a way to cope.
    • Obviously, we must eliminate terrorists wherever we find them, but we must also provide an example of moral leadership and devote resources to transforming education in the Muslim world, replacing the odious madrasahs that are the breeding grounds for hate.
    • These so-called religious schools are often financed by Saudi Arabia, which has halfway awakened to the fatal disease it has incubated, but Shiite Iran remains the greatest threat. It is radically ideological, seeks nuclear weapons, and sponsors Syrian terrorism as well as most of the terrorism in Iraq. It also sponsors and arms most of the face cards in terrorism's unholy deck - Hizballah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah.

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