Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 9, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Israelis Warned to Avoid Sinai - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    The prime minister's counter-terrorism adviser warned Israelis Wednesday not to visit Sinai because of terror alerts, and called on Israelis already there to leave.
    The warning comes as tens of thousands of Israelis are reportedly planning to visit Sinai for the upcoming holidays.
    An estimated 300,000 Israelis visited Sinai over the summer.

Jordan Sentences Five for Trying to Attack Israel (Los Angeles Times)
    Jordan's state security court sentenced five Palestinians arrested in November to prison terms of up to four years for trying to infiltrate Israel to perpetrate attacks.
    Security sources said the Palestinians belonged to a Muslim fundamentalist group sympathetic to al-Qaeda.

Tanzim Fugitive Planned to Attack Jerusalem Cafe - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Tanzim fugitive Murad Ala'an, 20, arrested by Israeli security forces in Bethlehem on August 5, planned a suicide bomb attack on a Jerusalem cafe where he was employed as a cook, according to details released for publication Wednesday.
    Ala'an, who had an Israeli identity card, was recruited by Fadi Tsalahat, a member of the Palestinian security forces, to join the Fatah Tanzim.
    Ala'an confessed to investigators that upon seeing the explosives belt that had been prepared for the attack, he regretted having consented to carry out the attack.
    Security officials said that in August Israel had thwarted 15 terror attacks including three suicide bomb attacks.

Iran Recruits "Human Shields" for Nuclear Reactor (Reuters-Sydney Morning Herald)
    Thousands of Iranians are expected to volunteer to act as human shields in case of a military attack on a nuclear reactor in Bushehr, said the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign.
    Signing ceremonies for such groups are frequently held after Friday prayer sermons in major Iranian cities.

Hindu Alarm Over Surge in Muslim Population- Justin Huggler (Independent-UK)
    India's new census, which for the first time lists the country's population by religion, shows that the Muslim population grew by 29% from 1991 to 2001, compared with 20% growth for the Hindu population.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Russian Siege Leader Depicted As Brutal Killer
    The commander of the guerrillas who seized a school in southern Russia last week shot one of his own men for balking at taking children hostage and later blew up two women in his band with the flip of an electronic control, Russian chief prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said Wednesday, offering the government's first detailed account of the hostage crisis. He confirmed that the attackers were aided by a local police officer. The bomb that blew up inside the school and triggered the deadly climax of the siege went off by accident when the hostage-takers were rearranging the explosives, he said.
        Col. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, the Russian armed forces chief of staff, asserted, "We will take steps to eliminate terrorist bases in any region of the world."  (Washington Post)
  • Bomb Outside Australian Embassy in Jakarta Kills Seven
    A powerful bomb exploded near the Australian Embassy in Jakarta on Thursday, killing seven people and wounding nearly 100. No one inside the heavily fortified embassy was seriously hurt. (AP/New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Fire Rockets at Israel, IDF Moves into Northern Gaza - Amos Harel, Arnon Regular, and Nir Hasson
    Palestinians fired seven Kassam rockets at Israel Wednesday while IDF forces moved into the northern Gaza Strip to prevent the rocket fire. Two rockets landing in Sderot and five in the fields of three western Negev kibbutzim. Palestinians also fired three mortar shells at the Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza. One hit a house in Neveh Dekalim.
        In the West Bank, a booby-trapped car exploded near an army jeep in Baka al-Sharkiya. The car contained about 100 kilograms of explosives plus two canisters of gas, but the bomb went off after the jeep had passed, causing no casualties. (Ha'aretz)
  • Fatah Terrorist Killed in Jericho - Margot Dudkevitch
    One Fatah-Tanzim fugitive was killed and two others were wounded by Israeli security forces in Jericho Wednesday, acting on information that terrorists were planning to launch attacks in Israel. Security officials said that in recent months Jericho has turned into a safe haven for Palestinian fugitives, some of whom were arrested in the past by the PA and released shortly afterwards. One of the fugitives wounded was Jaber A-Aida from Ramallah, a member of the PA preventive security forces and a member of the Islamic Jihad. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Court Rules Against "Jerusalem, Israel" - Janine Zacharia
    The U.S. District Court in Washington Tuesday dismissed lawsuits filed by two American-Israeli couples which had argued that the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv should designate Israel as the country of birth on their children's passports in accordance with U.S. law. Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the federal court did not have jurisdiction over the case since it involved a political matter and was the purview of the executive branch. The place of birth of children born in Jerusalem to American citizens is currently registered as "Jerusalem," with no country designated.
        Section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2003, "United States Policy with Respect to Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel," states that a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem can choose to have Israel listed in his passport as his country of birth. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Silence is a Danger to Islam - Youssef M. Ibrahim
    For a long, long time to come, 144 million Russians will never forget or forgive. Several billion folks around the world won't either. Once again, a bunch of crazy fanatics led by Wahhabi, regressive Islamic thinking have succeeded in tainting the majority of Muslims who are reasonable, decent human beings. Where is the voice of Amr Moussa, the articulate secretary-general of the Arab League? Why can he ferociously attack Israel when it kills Palestinians but remain mute when people claiming to be Muslims commit genocide in Russia?
        The Russians were allies of the Arabs. Not now. To get the Russians back, the least that can be done is for somnolent Arab rulers, particularly those of Saudi Arabia and Qatar - whose Wahhabi religious leaders are responsible for indoctrinating many of these criminals in Chechnya - to stop fanatical sheiks from spreading the message that what happened in Russia was a jihad, a holy war. (USA Today)
  • The FBI Broke the Rules - Robbie Sabel
    The reality is that there is little chance for an Israeli diplomat, or any diplomat, to carry on a significant dialogue with foreign elements without seemingly committing a crime. The Israeli diplomat who refers only to published information and public-relations releases in his conversations with foreign elements will very quickly lose his value as a contact. Diplomatic contact means an exchange of assessments and data. At the same time, there are accepted rules; you don't hand over classified documents, and you don't use a recording device. The Franklin affair is showing itself to be the product of interference by an enthusiastic FBI investigator who was unaware of the rules of diplomatic dialogue. The writer served as legal counsel and diplomatic counsel at the Israel Embassy in Washington. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Syria Problem - Editorial
    Syria's support of terrorism against Israel is just part of the problem. Along with its ally, Iran, Damascus has played an integral role in supporting the terrorist insurgency in Iraq, and it has provided safe haven for Abu Musab Zarqawi. In Assad's hands, Syria's stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and its ballistic-missile capability already force any potential foe to think twice about retaliating for any act of state-sponsored terror. And this Syrian deterrent capability could be growing. Unless Assad is credibly made to fear that he could meet the same fate as Saddam Hussein, Damascus' conduct won't change at all. (Washington Times)
  • The Middle East's Lost Resources - Mai Yamani
    Last week, 100 of the best contemporary minds in the Arab world, members of the Project for Democracy Studies in Arab Countries, met at Oxford University to lament the state of the region's political leadership - united by the devastating reality that not a single one is able to return to work in his or her native country. Together they represent the lost resources of an Arab world that is fast becoming isolated by illiteracy, ignorance, and repression.
        As one participant noted, "Nowhere in the Arab world would such a gathering be possible." While most Arab commentators delight in blaming the rest of the world for every misfortune, real or imagined, the Oxford delegates believe that it is only Arabs themselves who can create the institutions in their societies that can lead them to a better future. The writer is a research fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Observations:

    A State's Viability Depends on the Quality of Governance, Not Terrain
    - Bret Stephens (Jerusalem Post)

    • A Washington Post op-ed warned that the planned settlement between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim would render a Palestinian state an impossibility. Why impossible?
    • According to author Daniel Seidemann, "the plan will create a critical mass of facts on the ground that will render nearly impossible the creation of a sustainable Palestinian state with any semblance of geographical integrity."
    • The idea that a country requires geographical integrity is an odd one: Hawaii is no less "viable" as a state than, say, Maryland, despite the fact that Hawaii is separated from the mainland by many thousand kilometers (and is itself not territorially contiguous). As it is, a Palestinian state consisting of Gaza and the West Bank was never going to have geographical integrity anyway, even if Israel withdrew fully to the June 1967 lines.
    • In fact, the entire issue of a Palestinian state's territorial viability is bogus - a substitute way of justifying why Palestinians won't settle for less than X-amount of territory. A country's viability, or "sustainability," is chiefly a function of the quality of governance, not the extent of terrain.
    • Following any pullout from Gaza and the West Bank, Palestine will likely continue to be a Third World kleptocracy, or worse, whether they achieve 50% of their stated territorial demands, or 100% of them, or more.

      The writer, who has been editor of the Jerusalem Post since March 2002, is leaving to join the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal.

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