Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 29, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Official Heading AIPAC Probe Linked to Anti-Semitism Case - Edwin Black (JTA)
    David Szady, the senior FBI counterintelligence official currently heading the controversial investigation of AIPAC, is well-known to senior Jewish communal officials, who assert he has targeted Jews in the past.
    Szady was involved in a well-publicized case involving a Jewish former CIA staff attorney, Adam Ciralsky, who sued the FBI, the CIA, and its top officials for religious discrimination.
    Szady headed the department that former CIA Director George Tenet admitted in 1999 was involved with "insensitive, unprofessional, and highly inappropriate" language regarding Ciralsky.
    He is identified in documents as the chief of the CIA's Counterespionage Group, known as CEG, which was accused of targeting Ciralsky for being Jewish and a supporter of Israel.
    One Jewish official stated that he knew of as many as 10 other CIA employees who had been harassed or pressured because of their Jewish background, but they were afraid to come forward.
    See also Growing Suspicion AIPAC Probe Driven by Improper Agenda (Maariv International)
    A Washington source familiar with the U.S. intelligence community has confirmed to Maariv that David Szady personally initiated and oversaw the AIPAC probe.

DVD of American's Beheading is Hot Item in Gaza - Lamia Lahoud (Jerusalem Post)
    A new DVD featuring the recent beheading of an American in Iraq is apparently selling like hotcakes in video shops in Gaza.
    The clip starts with masked men reading the charges and justifying their actions based on Islam. When done, they hold up the severed head.

Cat Stevens Was Guest of Canadian Hamas Front - Stewart Bell (National Post-Canada)
    Yusuf Islam, the British singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, was the guest of honor at a Toronto fundraising dinner hosted by an organization that has since been identified by the Canadian government as a "front" for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
    In a videotape of the 1998 event, Mr. Islam describes Israel as a "so-called new society" created by a "so-called religion" and urges the audience to donate to the Jerusalem Fund for Human Services.

"Sukkah of Light" in Jerusalem (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    The Jerusalem Municipality, together with the Israel Electric Company, have constructed a "Sukkah of Light" - the biggest and most illuminated sukkah (literally booth) in the world with 144,000 mini-light bulbs - in Jerusalem's Safra Square for the Sukkot holiday.

Two Israelis Freed in New Zealand (Ha'aretz)
    Two Israelis jailed for trying to illegally obtain a New Zealand passport were released Wednesday.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Abducted CNN Producer Released
    CNN producer Riad Ali was released Tuesday, almost 24 hours after he was abducted in Gaza by Palestinian gunmen. Ali said he was held by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant offshoot of Arafat's Fatah movement. (CNN)
        See also Italians Abducted in Iraq Freed, Frenchmen to be Released (CNN); Report: Italian Women Freed for $1m Ransom (Telegraph-UK)
  • Hamas Signals Challenge to Unseat Arafat
    Hamas published newspaper ads urging supporters to vote in upcoming municipal elections, saying "it's time for change." And top Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar indicated the group might try to unseat Arafat in presidential elections, which have not yet been scheduled. Hamas, which has carried out dozens of suicide bombings in Israel, is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.
        In a sign of Palestinian weariness, a recent opinion poll by An-Najah University found that two-thirds of Palestinians support a cease-fire with Israel. "The uprising has not been defeated, but it has not brought victory. Frankly, it is now closer to defeat than victory," commentator Hani al-Masri wrote in the Palestinian daily Al Ayyam. (AP/Newsday)
  • Presbyterian Church Unmoved on Israel Divestment
    The heads of several major U.S. Jewish organizations condemned the Presbyterian Church's decision to begin selective divestiture in companies operating in Israel, after a polite but tense meeting in New York Tuesday with church officials. "Holding something over the head of Israel to change its conduct, while holding nothing over the heads of the Palestinians to change their conduct...has caused utter dismay in the Jewish community," said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. "It is unbalanced, it is unwieldy, it will not work." The Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington reported this week that mainline Protestant denominations devoted 37% of their human rights declarations over the past four years to criticism of Israel, far more than any other foreign country. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Enters Northern Gaza to Suppress Palestinian Rocket Fire - Amos Harel, Gideon Alon, and Nir Hasson
    The IDF entered the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday in an effort to reduce Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns. (Ha'aretz)
        At least four Kassam rockets were fired at the Israeli town of Sderot and kibbutzim in the western Negev on Tuesday. Ten Israelis were treated for shock. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told Sderot residents Monday that it is the government's responsibility to provide security for its citizens. Fifteen rockets have hit Sderot since the beginning of this week alone, causing damage, injuries, and intense fear. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Rockets Take Toll in Sderot - Tovah Lazaroff
    Residents of Rambam St. in Sderot felt they had survived one rocket too many. "It's like living in a game of Russian roulette. You never know where it will hit," said Meir Zigzag. His two sons, serving in the IDF in Gaza, called him on Tuesday, concerned that he is the one who lives in the midst of a battleground. The attacks, which used to be a once-in-a-while occurrence, are more frequent and more accurate, said David Azaran. It's a situation he fears will only worsen as the date for disengagement nears. Two-year-old Lior Cohen knows what a Kassam is. "Boom, boom," he said at the mention of the rocket. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fatah to Arafat: Fire Abu Alla's Government - Eli Vaked
    Members of the Fatah faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council asked Arafat Tuesday to fire the government of Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Alla, and threatened that if he did not, they would vote no-confidence in the Abu Alla government. In the background to the current crisis is an additional chill in relations between Arafat and Abu Alla. Palestinian sources said that in recent weeks Abu Alla has boycotted meetings of the Fatah central committee and the national security council in connection with Arafat's refusal to reform the security services in response to Egyptian requests. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
        See also Palestinian Premier Urges Both Sides in Uprising to Rethink Tactics (New York Times)
  • Military Intelligence Chief Discusses Threats to Israel - Nina Gilbert
    Major General Aharon Ze'evi, the head of Military Intelligence, discussed ten potential threats to Israel's security with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday, including the Iranian nuclear threat, Syrian armament with ground-to-ground missiles, the strengthening of the Egyptian military, and the smuggling of arms into Gaza via Sinai. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinians Pay Heavy Price for Intifada - Barbara Plett
    Four years after the eruption of the al-Aqsa intifada, the dominant mood among Palestinians is one of defeat. This is registered not only in enormous human and material losses. It is seen in the progressive collapse of the Palestinian Authority as a central governing body, replaced on the ground by local and increasingly unaccountable militias. The violence continues, but there is a question of whether the intifada any longer exists as a genuinely national uprising. (BBC)
  • Oslo's Economics: A Postmortem - Mohammed El-Samhouri
    The Oslo accord, signed eleven years ago this month, was predicated on the proposition that providing international financial support to the newly created Palestinian Authority would help build its debilitated public infrastructure and attract private investment, so that by the end of a five-year transitional period the Palestinian economy would be on its way to prosperity. Yet today the Palestinian economy is virtually bankrupt and the population has been largely reduced to welfare status.
        An overly optimistic and simplistic economic vision overlooked whether the PLO, which had no previous tangible experience in managing economic affairs at the level of a state, was capable of undertaking Oslo's economic endeavors, and whether foreign aid, provided in a grossly inadequate political and institutional setting, would be effective in achieving the anticipated economic transformation. Any future attempt to revive the Palestinian economy will have to address and eventually fundamentally alter the institutional and political-territorial setting that has helped cause the economy's near collapse. The writer is a senior economic advisor to the Palestinian minister of foreign affairs. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Observations:

    Why are Palestinian Refugees Different? - Yossi Alpher (Media Monitors Network)

    • The Palestinian refugees who abandoned their homes in 1948 were casualties of a war started by the Arab world with the objective of preventing the creation of a Jewish state. The nascent State of Israel was fighting a war of existential survival. It owes no apologies for its behavior in 1948.
    • UN General Assembly Resolution 194 was adopted in 1949 with the aim of ending the new refugee problem quickly by means of return and compensation. It reads: if refugees agree to "live at peace with their [Israeli] neighbors," then they "should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date."
    • Hardline Palestinians argue that Israel must allow millions of refugees to inundate the country, thereby in effect compromising its status as a Jewish state and negating UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which explicitly created "Jewish and Arab states" in Mandatory Palestine.
    • Not only has UN Resolution 194 been distorted beyond recognition in the Arab narrative, but Palestinian refugees have been awarded their own unique UN agency, UNRWA, while all the rest of the world's refugees make do with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
    • Further, according to statutes promulgated by UNRWA, refugee status is passed on from generation to generation, to eternity. With a fifth generation of Palestinian refugees upon us, and factoring in intermarriage between refugee and non-refugee Palestinians, soon virtually all Palestinians will be able to claim refugee and "return" status. Nowhere else in the world has a refugee problem been treated, or mistreated, this way.
    • One possible compromise could have Israel reiterate categorically that it rejects the right of return, but in the spirit of UNGAR 194, it would offer to repatriate those original refugees, i.e., Palestinians who themselves left the country in 1948, who wish to spend their last years in Israel and are prepared to do so in a spirit of peace. No extended families - only the original refugees themselves, all at least 56 years old, who would number between a few thousand and a few tens of thousands.
    • Palestinians could interpret this as a humanitarian gesture that goes to the core of their grievance. Israelis could claim to be faithful to the original intent of UNGAR 194, without in any way validating the Palestinian narrative regarding 1948 or the Palestinian interpretation of UNGAR 194, both of which are antithetical to the spirit of a genuine two-state solution and to reconciliation between the two peoples.

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