Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 14, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Abu Alla: PA Unable to Stop Gaza Anarchy (AP/Scotsman-UK)
    Palestinian security forces are unable to stop the spreading chaos in Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Alla said Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia Unable to Cushion Oil Market (Maariv International)
    Oil industry and global economic sources say Saudi Arabia may have no spare capacity left to increase oil production and bring about a drop in oil prices.
    Prices have risen to above $53 a barrel, an all time record.
    Saudi Arabia is currently producing 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd), well in excess of its allowed 8.45 million bpd OPEC quota.
    Since August, Saudi Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali al-Naimi has been saying his country would bring all of its spare production on line, yet not one extra barrel has flowed out of the Saudi deserts.

The Role of Radio Sawa in Mideast Questioned - Glenn Kessler (Washington Post)
    Radio Sawa, an Arab-language pop music and news station funded by the U.S. government, has failed to meet its mandate of promoting democracy and pro-American attitudes, according to a draft report prepared by the State Department's inspector general.
    The report credited Radio Sawa with attracting a large audience, but said the station, which has an annual budget of $22 million, has failed to adequately measure whether it is influencing minds.

Israeli, Palestinian Water Experts Meet - David Rudge (Jerusalem Post)
    The second Israeli-Palestinian Conference on Water for Life in the Middle East opened on Sunday in Antalya, Turkey.

Aircraft Firms Pick New Mexico, Israel as Assembly Sites - Dennis Domrzalski (New Mexico Business Weekly)
    New Mexico and Israel will be the assembly points for the Javeline advanced jet trainer (AJT) that Aviation Technology Group will design, develop, and build with Israel Aircraft Industries, the two companies said Tuesday.
    The partnership agreement will include joint efforts at global marketing, engineering, and co-production of the Javeline AJT.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Congress Backs Anti-Semitism Law
    President Bush plans to sign the Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, passed by Congress last week, that would establish a State Department office to monitor anti-Semitism around the world, administration officials said Wednesday. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), requires the State Department to document acts of physical violence against Jews, their property, cemeteries and places of worship abroad, as well as government responses to such acts. (Washington Times)
  • EU to Unveil Plan to Help Palestinian State
    In a bid to step up its engagement in the region, the European Union is set to produce a plan for a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos, a former EU envoy to the Middle East, said it is hoped the plan would be adopted in November at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. The EU is also said to be considering a police mission on the ground to help train Palestinian security services in the event of an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, in coordination with the Egyptian government. (EU Observer-Belgium)
        See also Blair to Make Mideast a "Personal Priority" After U.S. Election
    British Prime Minister Blair pledged on Wednesday to make the Middle East "a personal priority" after the November 2 U.S. presidential election. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also EU Foreign Policy Chief Solana Concerned Disengagement Will Stop with Gaza (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon: IDF Operating in Gaza to Prevent Israeli Casualties - Arik Bander
    Prime Minister Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Thursday that IDF operations in Gaza "would continue and expand as long as Israel continues to suffer civilian casualties." Senior IDF officers told the committee that the operation had eliminated nine Kassam rocket crews so far. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Palestinian Attacks Lead to Child Casualties - Margot Dudkevitch
    10-year-old Ghadir Maheymar from Khan Yunis, who died Wednesday, was shot in the chest in her classroom at the UNWRA Al-Khalidiya primary school in southern Gaza. The IDF Spokesman said that several hours before the incident, Palestinians in Khan Yunis had fired three mortar shells at an IDF post at nearby Neveh Dekalim; soldiers returned fire at the source. Officials said that around the time Maheymar was shot, soldiers fired at Palestinians attempting to fire an additional mortar shell from a mosque located next to the school. Officials said that under no circumstances were soldiers targeting the school.
        "It is important to remember that the terrorists operate within the local civilian population. It is regretful that children are among the casualties, but one also shouldn't rule out the possibility that they were hit by Palestinian gunfire and not by soldiers in some of the incidents," one official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ramadan Drama Documents Life of Hamas Bombmaker - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A joint Palestinian-Syrian drama series telling the life of Hamas bombmaker Yehya Ayyash is poised to become the most popular show for tens of millions of Arab viewers during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins Friday. Ayyash, nicknamed "The Engineer," was responsible for suicide bombings that killed more than 100 Israelis between 1994 and 1996. He has since become a legend for Hamas and other Palestinian groups, with some comparing him to Salah Eddin, the heroic Muslim warrior who drove the Crusaders out of Jerusalem. Palestinian writer and literary critic Salah Al-Bardawil said the drama would serve as a model for young and ambitious people in the Arab world. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Is the Intifada Over? - Bret Stephens
    For most Israelis, and for many Palestinians too, the violence seems to be in recession. How did things improve so dramatically for Palestinians and Israelis alike? Begin by recalling Israel's elimination, in late March, of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The Israeli army has also incarcerated terror suspects in record numbers, which helped yield information for future arrests. Most importantly, the security fence has begun to make the Israeli heartland nearly impenetrable to Palestinian infiltrators. Taken together, these measures prove what a legion of diplomats, pundits, and reporters have striven to deny: that there is a military solution to the conflict. A sufficiently strong military response to terrorism does not simply feed a cycle of violence (although a weak military response does); rather, it speeds the killing to a conclusion. (Wall Street Journal, 14 Oct 04)
  • The War for Islam's Heart
    With growing stridency, Muslim liberals are saying that it is high time for Muslims to act, to stop their faith from being hijacked and turned into a cult-like vehicle for a clash of civilizations. Their sense is that the violence of a radical minority is not merely ruining sympathy for just Muslim causes, it is beginning to threaten Muslims' peaceful coexistence with others everywhere. Three years ago, it was only Americans who asked Why Do They Hate Us? The same question is now being asked by Indonesians, Spaniards, Turks, Australians, Nepalese, French, Italians, Russians and others whose citizens have fallen victim to jihadist "vengeance." The puzzle is how so many Muslims could for so long remain oblivious to the extremism in their midst. (Economist-UK)
  • Sense of Infallibility Allows Jordan to Take Independent Line - Robin Gedye
    While Jordan's majority Palestinian population rails at Washington's support for Israel, the Amman government pockets billions of dollars in aid from Washington. As rulers of the holy city of Mecca for more than 700 years until 1925, the Jordanian monarchy claims a line of descent from the Prophet Mohammed and Ismail, son of the biblical prophet Abraham. That kind of lineage bestows an infallibility on the Hashemite dynasty that makes decisions such as siding with America and Israel against the populist tide less problematic. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Presbyterians Have Double Standard on State of Israel - A. James Rudin
    The Presbyterian Church (USA) is facing a self-inflicted firestorm of criticism, much of it coming from the denomination's own clergy and lay leaders. This past summer the PCUSA's national policy-making body, the General Assembly, adopted a sweeping resolution calling for "phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel." Singling out Israel for special punishment is an unfair policy, one that runs counter to the PCUSA's oft-proclaimed attempt to be a genuine voice of Christian conscience and reconciliation. Divestment aimed at Israel alone will discredit the Presbyterian Church and will not hasten peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The writer is the American Jewish Committee's senior interreligious adviser. (Charlotte Observer)
  • Observations:

    Terror on the UN Payroll? - Matthew Levitt
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Both the U.S. and the EU, the two single largest contributors to UNRWA, have banned the military and civilian "wings" of Hamas. Yet on October 4, 2004, UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said, "I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don't see that as a crime."
    • In several documented cases, Palestinian terrorists have exploited employment with the UN and other agencies to support their groups' activities.
    • Nahed Rashid Ahmed Attalah, UNRWA's director of food supplies for Gaza refugees, admitted to using his UN vehicle on multiple occasions during summer 2002 to transport arms, explosives, and activists of the Popular Resistance Committee to carry out terrorist attacks. Attalah also confessed to contacting members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Syria "in order to obtain money for transferring arms to the Gaza Strip as assistance for the PRC."
    • In August 2002, Israeli authorities arrested Nidal Abd al-Fatah Abdallah Nazal, a Hamas activist who worked as an UNRWA ambulance driver, who admitted using his ambulance to transport "arms and messages to Hamas activists in various cities, exploiting the freedom of movement granted to him" as a UNRWA employee.
    • As a member of the Quartet, the UN has a special obligation to uphold the commitment outlined in the Roadmap to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.
    • The U.S. should work with the UN to develop, apply, and monitor a set of professional standards to ensure that UN offices, equipment, and personnel are not exploited for terrorist purposes.

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