Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 14, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Upgrades Anti-Terror Cooperation with Russia (AP-Guardian-UK)
    Israel has sent intelligence officers to Russia and is hosting at least two senior Russian officers in Tel Aviv - quietly moving to upgrade anti-terror cooperation with Moscow in the wake of a series of devastating attacks in Russia, officials said.

Iraqi National Congress Fires Official for Visiting Israel - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Mithal al-Alousi, a senior official in the new Iraqi government who attended an international conference of the Anti-Terrorism Institute in Herzliya, Israel, was fired by the Iraqi National Congress after an emergency meeting of its leadership in the wake of reports of the visit.
    Al-Alousi said "many intellectuals in Iraq know that Israel must be taken into account as an existing fact and that generations of people have been born here. It is in Iraq's interests to have diplomatic relations with everyone, and that is what we want."

Iran Begins Military Exercises Near Iraq Border (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Hundreds of thousands of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards began military maneuvers Sunday near the border with Iraq, with a top commander saying the exercise was designed to reinforce Iran's resolve to defend itself against "big powers."

Israelis Pay Highest Taxes of Any Developed Country - Yossi Greenstein (Maariv International)
    Israelis pay the highest taxes of any developed country.
    The per capita tax burden is nearly $1,000 higher than in any other OECD member, equaling 38.5% of the GDP, compared to the 32.8% OECD average.
    The Israeli per capita GDP equals just over half (55%) that of the U.S., and 69% of the OECD (organization of economically advanced industrial states) average.

Israel's Population - 6.8 Million - Moti Bassok (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's population on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5765 stands at 6.8 million people - 5.5 million Jews, 81% of the total, and 1.3 million Arabs, according to figures published Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Seeks Tougher Tone in Resolution on Iran's Nuclear Program
    The U.S. lobbied Monday to toughen an International Atomic Energy Agency draft resolution on Iran's nuclear program, hoping to include a clear "trigger" that would send Iran's case to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions if the country fails to comply with IAEA demands by November. In Washington, a senior Bush administration official said the U.S. would prefer that the IAEA refer the issue to the Security Council this month, rather than wait until November. (New York Times)
  • Al-Qaeda Warns Turkey to Cut Ties with Israel
    Harun Ilhan, a leader of a Turkish al-Qaeda cell responsible for truck bombings last November that left 61 people dead, warned in court Monday of more attacks if Turkey continues to support U.S. policies or maintains close ties with Israel. "Even if Osama dies, our jihad will continue," he told the court. Another defendant, Adnan Ersoz, testified that at a 2001 meeting with Abu Hafs al-Masri, a former top lieutenant of bin Laden, al-Masri said al-Qaeda was interested in carrying out an attack on an Israeli ship making a call in Turkey, or on the Incirlik air base used by the U.S. (AP/USA Today)
  • At 10th Anniversary, a Far Poorer Palestinian Authority
    Ten years ago this week, Yasser Arafat gained major civilian powers for the first time as part of the Oslo Peace Accords. Today with fewer and fewer people working in the private sector, one-third of the Palestinian public is dependent on a salary from a Palestinian Authority that is able to function only through the help of donor funds. Yet Arafat's increasingly troubled image on the international stage is making support to the Palestinians a more difficult sell to donors. "There has been a sharp decline in donations," said Dr. Mohammed Shtayyeh, director of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction in Ramallah. "Iraq has been hijacking the attention of other donors." (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Suicide Bomber Injures Three Soldiers at West Bank Crossing - Amos Harel
    A suicide bomber blew up near an armored IDF jeep Tuesday at an agricultural crossing near the West Bank town of Kalkilya, injuring three soldiers. One of the soldiers was suffering from burns which could be life-threatening, rescue workers said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Three Al-Aqsa Terrorists Killed in Jenin - Amos Harel
    Three Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terrorists were killed in an Israel Air Force missile strike targeting a car in Jenin. The main target was Mahmoud Abu Halifa, deputy of Jenin Martyrs' Brigades commander Zakariya Zubeidi. The Shin Bet regarded Halifa as the group's real operations commander. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Shin Bet Smashes Hamas Terror Cell - Amos Harel
    The Shin Bet security service recently uncovered an eight-member Hamas terror cell operating near Ramallah that was responsible for two suicide bombings last September 9 - at the entrance to an army camp at Tzrifin, and at Jerusalem's Cafe Hillel - killing 16 people. The cell members include a number of eastern Jerusalem residents and Palestinians living in Israel, some illegally. Some 30 kilograms of explosives were also captured. The terror cell was in contact with Hamas headquarters in Damascus, headed by Khaled Mashal, which sent money. (Ha'aretz)
  • American Pressure on Outposts is Fading - Herb Keinon
    The U.S. is reducing pressure on Israel to dismantle unauthorized outposts in order to facilitate the evacuation of settlements in Gaza and northern Samaria under the disengagement plan, a senior Israeli official said Saturday. According to Israeli officials, there is a growing understanding in the Bush administration that the emphasis now should be placed on planning and preparing for disengagement, and that dealing with the outposts now is a "sideshow" that would detract from the "main event." The official said that Israel will honor its commitment to the U.S. and dismantle the outposts, but "at the right time." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Delicate Dance in the Mideast - Dennis Ross
    Palestinians have no doubt that Israel will get out of Gaza, and that has created tremendous pressures on them. With the Israelis out, Palestinians know they must control themselves, must govern themselves, must institute a rule of law, must create accountability, must demonstrate they can be responsible. And none of that can happen so long as Yasser Arafat is allowed to resist all efforts at reform.
        Arafat remains an icon not easily surmounted, and his instinctive ability to maneuver and play different factions against each other will keep him on the scene. But the challenges indicate that his status has diminished and reformers are increasingly assertive and won't be easily deflected. In effect, they are filling the vacuum that Arafat has allowed to emerge. And with the decision to hold municipal elections, reformers and the younger generation of Palestinian activists seek to build their own legitimacy separate from Arafat's. The writer is director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Baltimore Sun)
  • State Building is Not a Universal Talent - Efraim Inbar
    The Palestinians, just like the Somalis, have proven that state building is not a universal talent. We see in the Palestinian enterprise a fragmented society under the rule of thugs and local warlords, united only by entrenched hatred toward the Jews and by an ingrained penchant for violence. While self-determination is held by many to be a basic right, it is not self-evident that every ethnic group has the political maturity to exercise it. Indeed, the international community increasingly views the Palestinians as unable to govern themselves successfully. The bitter truth is that the two-state concept is not suitable for stabilizing the situation. The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Tangled Roots of an Atrocity - David E. Kaplan
    The Russians call them the Vakhabity - the Wahhabis - using the name for adherents of Saudi Islam to describe religious militants in their Muslim republics. They began appearing as early as 1987, before the Soviet Union broke up, according to Alex Alexiev, a terrorism specialist at the Center for Security Policy. As part of a global effort to spread Saudi-style fundamentalism, Saudi foundations supplied money and missionaries for mosques and schools in Soviet Muslim republics. Throughout the 1980s, Saudi aid had focused on Afghanistan, where bin Laden and others helped finance "holy warriors" fighting Soviet troops.
        With the war's end, jihadists turned to other conflicts where they saw Muslims under siege, notably in Kashmir, Bosnia, and, with the Russian invasion in 1994, Chechnya. Tens of millions of dollars poured into the impoverished region - money that went not merely for mosques but also for munitions. Among the key funders, investigators say: the Riyadh-based al Haramain Foundation, through its offices in nearby Azerbaijan and Dagestan as well as in the U.S. (U.S. News)
        See also Russia's Gathering Storm - Stephen Schwartz
    The main culprits in Beslan were Islamic extremists. Since at least 1999, these violent fanatics, with backing from the Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia and financial support from radicals throughout the global Muslim community, have assiduously agitated to take over the Chechen national movement. The participation of "Arabs" - meaning Saudis and other Wahhabi-influenced Muslim foreigners - is a constant in reportage and comment on Beslan and earlier terrorist incidents in Chechnya, as well as in neighboring Ingushetia, in Georgia, and in Russia itself. In mosques across the globe, from New York to Nairobi, Wahhabi extremists collect money and recruits for combat in Chechnya, which at times overshadows Iraq as a symbol of so-called martyrdom. (Weekly Standard-FrontPageMagazine)
  • Observations:

    The Revenge of the Anti-Cabal - Saul Singer (Jerusalem Post)

    • Is there anyone else who is angry at this McCarthyite witchhunt against AIPAC? I will eat this column if there is a single arrest in this "case." Anyone who knows AIPAC and how Washington works can see these charges are absurd from top to bottom.
    • It is a near-certainty that some bureaucrats illegally leaked their own investigation, all but ruining the lives of a number of patriotic Americans and impugning the political legitimacy of millions of pro-Israel Americans and the organization that proudly represents them.
    • When terror struck the American mainland, President Bush responded with a foreign policy revolution of a magnitude not seen since Harry S Truman laid the foundations of the Cold War. Revolutions are carried out by small bands of leaders, leaving behind a large, frustrated group to lead the inevitable reaction.
    • We are seeing, in short, the revenge of the anti-cabal, that has already succeeded in portraying Jewish power as something sinister, perhaps even treasonous. Will this odd coalition of right-wing anti-Semites, left-wing Bush-haters, and Scowcroftian "realists" succeed in marginalizing Bush's post-9/11 revolution?
    • We cabalists must fight back. First, rather than denying Jewish power, we should ask, "What's wrong with that?" Does being Jewish make one any less American? Does anyone count Catholics or any other ethnic or religious group in the corridors of power? Is anyone concerned about the Greek, Hispanic, Lebanese, and other Americans who lobby for close relations with countries they love along with their own? How is being pro-Israel different from being pro-British during World War II, or supporting any other close American ally?
    • There are millions of non-Jewish Americans who strongly support Israel, either because they support a plucky democratic ally fighting against the same jihad, or out of religious conviction, or both. This same group supports the Bush Doctrine of preemption against the Islamist terror network. When Bush spoke at the [Republican] convention of "our good friend Israel," it was an instant applause line for the hardly Jewish audience.

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