Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 4, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
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In-Depth Issues:

Arafat in Coma in Critical Condition (Reuters)
    Arafat is in a coma and in critical condition at a French military hospital outside Paris, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday.
    See also Arafat's Brother Hospitalized in Cairo with Terminal Cancer (AFP/Yahoo)

How American Jews Voted - Janine Zacharia (Jerusalem Post)
    An exit poll released by CNN showed Kerry had outperformed Bush among American Jews 76-24%.
    A survey of 500 Jews in Ohio and Florida by Frank Luntz showed Kerry winning 72% of the Jewish vote and Bush 25%.
    See also The Jewish Vote - Tal Shneider (Maariv International)
    According to a survey conducted by the National Election Pool, 22% of Jews voted for Bush, a 3% rise in comparison with the 2000 elections.

How Jewish Candidates Fared in Congressional Elections - Matthew E. Berger (JTA)
    There will be 11 Jews in the Senate and 26 in the House next year, the same numbers as the last two years.
    Two Jewish women will join the House of Representatives in January, after winning open seats Tuesday - Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA).

PA Salaries Paid as Usual, Without Arafat - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The PA has about 130,000 people on its payroll, including members of the 12 security forces.
    Fears that Arafat's departure would affect payment of their salaries were "unjustified," a senior Palestinian official in the PA's finance ministry said Wednesday.
    The official noted that the salaries of all the civil servants come from foreign aid and tax revenues collected by Israel.

Useful Reference:

UN Watch Report Analyzes Votes on Arab-Israeli Conflict (UNWatch/IMRA)
    A new 76-page report by the UN Association of the UK, analyzing 13 years of UN resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, documents how they are markedly slanted against Israel.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Blair: Mideast Peace Process is World's Most Pressing Challenge
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday: "A world that is fractured, divided, and uncertain must be brought together to fight this global terrorism in all its forms, and to recognize that it will not be defeated by military might alone but also by demonstrating the strength of our common values, by bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq, as we have done to Afghanistan, by pursuing with the same energy peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine....I have long argued that the need to revitalize the Middle East peace process is the single most pressing political challenge in our world today."  (Scotsman-UK)
        See also Lessons from Northern Ireland for the Arab-Israeli Conflict - Dean Godson (JCPA)
  • Human Rights Watch: Palestinian Child Suicide Attacks "Must Stop"
    Human Rights Watch has called on Palestinian militants to stop using children in suicide bombings, after a 16-year-old bomber blew himself up in a Tel Aviv marketplace on Monday, killing three Israelis. The New York-based group claimed at least 10 bombers aged under 18 have attacked Israel in the past four years. (BBC)
        See also IDF Arrests 15-Year-Old Suicide Bomber Recruit (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Celebrates Day It Humiliated U.S.
    Several thousand Iranians burned U.S. flags and George W. Bush effigies Wednesday, marking the 25th anniversary of the storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 where 52 hostages were held for 444 days. Chanting "Death to America" and "Death to corrupt Western culture," the crowd of mostly young students listened to speeches deriding the "Great Satan," as Iran's clerical leadership routinely calls the U.S. (Reuters)
  • Suspected Islamist Killing Tests Dutch Tolerance
    The killing of a filmmaker critical of Islam puts new strains on Dutch traditions of tolerance and will fuel demands for tougher treatment of immigrants, analysts and commentators said Wednesday. A survey last week showed that a majority of Dutch said they expected to no longer feel at home in their own neighborhood in five years due to the rising number of foreigners. In the three biggest cities, immigrants make up about a third of the population and form a majority among young people. (Reuters)
        See also Eight Islamic Militants Arrested in Killing of Dutch Filmmaker
    Dutch police arrested eight men of Moroccan and Algerian origin suspected of being Islamic militants on Wednesday in connection with the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Sees End of Arafat's Rule - Ze'ev Schiff and Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon convened a security meeting Wednesday on the situation in the PA with Arafat incapacitated. The assessment presented at the meeting, based on Palestinian sources, was that Arafat would be unable to resume ruling the PA, even if he lives. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon: Israel Seeks Palestinian Actions, Not Declarations
    Prime Minister Sharon told the Cabinet Sunday: "If in the future a new Palestinian leadership comes to power, which will seriously implement its requirements according to the roadmap, and will first and foremost fight terror and destroy its infrastructure, negotiations with that leadership will be renewed according to the roadmap."
        "If Arafat ceases to continue as leader of the PA, and a new, serious, responsible leadership arises, a suitable opportunity could certainly transpire in which different steps could be taken, and even the renewal of diplomatic negotiations. Such a leadership would not be one that declares and announces its intentions, but one that brings terror to an end." (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Four Soldiers Wounded by Sniper and Rocket Attacks in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    Two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded when an antitank rocket landed in the parking lot of the Gaza Divisional Headquarters in Gush Katif Wednesday. Two other soldiers suffered light-to-moderate wounds from Palestinian sniper fire in Rafiah Yam in the southern Gaza Strip. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Knesset Approves Compensation for Evacuated Settlers
    By a vote of 64-44, the Knesset on Wednesday approved the first reading of the Evacuation and Compensation Bill, outlining compensation for settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip and four northern West Bank settlements. (Ha'aretz)
  • Desert Locusts Spotted in Israel - Amiram Cohen
    The Agriculture Ministry confirmed Wednesday that "desert locusts" had been spotted in central Israel. Officials believe that there are only tens or hundreds of locusts in the area. Swarms of locusts landed recently in Cyprus, where crop damage has been reported. The locusts, mentioned in the Bible, originate in central Africa. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arafat's Ugly Legacy - Zev Chafets
    Arafat realized early that Arab dictators would pay to keep the Palestinian issue alive because it gave them an all-purpose diversion from the disaster they were wreaking on their own societies. He became custodian of the Palestinian grievance for everyone from Egypt's Nasser to the Saudi royal family, from Libya's Khadafi to Saddam Hussein. Taking on Israel put Arafat in the big leagues. He became a hero to the Soviet bloc and, later, to European "progressives" who never really have seen the need for a Jewish state.
        Arafat has dominated Palestinian political life for decades for the simplest of reasons: He has always had the most guns. Who will replace Arafat? Western diplomats almost certainly will seize on one Abu or another as their designated statesman. But eventually this figurehead will run up against the local reality that Arafat fostered: The majority of Palestinians do not want peace if it requires a compromise with Israel. (New York Daily News)
  • A Terrorist at Twilight - David Frum
    Arafat has been waging war on Israel for four decades, and yet Israel is still there, richer and stronger than ever. He has personified Palestinian Arab nationalism - and he has led the Palestinian Arabs from one disaster to another. Thirty years of Palestinian terrorism have dulled the world's moral outrage. At Nuremberg, the victorious Allies hanged German generals for atrocities against civilian populations. But atrocities against civilians are the only kind of war Arafat knows. (AEI-FrontPageMagazine)
  • Observations:

    Adieu, Yasser Arafat - Uri Dromi (Forward)

    • Though I am now one of the many Israelis who has become disillusioned by the outbreak of the second intifada, back then I was fully committed to the Oslo Accords and, as Rabin's spokesman, I played a role in painting a more positive picture of the peace process.
    • A few days after the signing ceremony of the Cairo Accords in May 1994 handing over Gaza and Jericho to the Palestinians, Arafat gave a speech in Johannesburg at a local mosque. Believing he was among friends only, he talked about the agreement he had just signed: "This agreement, I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Muhammad and Qureish."
    • For those not versed in Islamic history, the agreement, also known as the al-Khudaibiya agreement, was a 10-year peace treaty between Mohammad and the tribe of Qureish. After two years, when Mohammad had improved his military position, he tore up the agreement and slaughtered the Qureishites.
    • Now that Arafat seems to be on the way out, the big question is whether he has been the sole obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, or whether he simply has been representing a phenomenon common to all Palestinian leaders.
    • Can we at last sit down with people who, instead of double-talking, will for once keep their word? Personally, I'm not holding my breath.

      The writer is director of international outreach at the Israel Democracy Institute.

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