Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 12, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Dahlan Was the Target in Gaza U.S. Convoy Attack - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    On October 15, 2003, three Americans guarding diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Israel, who went to Gaza to offer aid to Palestinians, were killed in a terrorist attack.
    The road where the attack took place is not used by the IDF. The people who set off the explosive charge knew exactly whom they were attacking.
    The Americans demanded a thorough investigation of the incident by the PA that would lead to a trial in which the guilty parties would be brought to justice. Yasser Arafat gave instructions to stop the investigation.
    Ranking PA officials believe the attack was aimed at Americans by people who intended to devalue the status of Mohammed Dahlan, the man considered to be closest to the Americans in the Gaza Strip.
    The Preventive Security Service, which Dahlan created and also led, received widespread assistance from the U.S., and Dahlan has maintained contact with American government agencies.
    The identity of the parties that would like to hurt Dahlan in the Gaza Strip is fairly well known: the commanders of the other PA-affiliated defense forces, mainly General Mussa Arafat and General Ghazi Jabali, the former police commander.
    In the past year, the heads of these forces have fought an all-out war with Dahlan that has included shootings, murders, kidnappings, and the occupation of military headquarters and offices.
    The attack on the American convoy, then, was part of the violent struggle between the various organizations in Gaza.

How Suha, PA Leaders Divided Arafat's Fortune - Eitan Rabin (Maariv International)
    A delegation of Palestinian leaders, including Abu Mazen and Abu Ala, arrived in Paris on Wednesday and met with Arafat's wife, Suha, and his chief financial advisor, Mohammad Rashid.
    Suha told the PA leaders that she was in need of financial security to allow her to continue living on the same level she has been used to. "We will allow you to live on the same level," a senior leader told her, "but you must sign an agreement and reveal all of your husband's bank accounts and investments, and enable the transfer of the funds that belong to the PA. Do not rob this money from the Palestinian people."
    At some point, the leaders even warned her that if she would refuse to sign the papers, "The Palestinian people all over the world will never give you peace and quiet." She signed.
    "Eventually the money was divided up," one official noted. "The Palestinian leaders understood that in order to put their hands on the fortune and get rid of Suha, they would be better off paying her handsomely."

    See also Suha to Receive $22m a Year from PA - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Arafat's widow, Suha, is expected to receive $22 million a year out of the PA budget, according to the Italian newspaper Corriere De La Serra.
    According to Palestinian officials, the money that Suha is expected to receive will come from secret accounts held by Arafat and his cronies in various countries.
    They estimated that at least $4 billion were being held in these secret accounts.

Arafat to Be Buried in Stone Coffin to Allow Re-Interment (AP/Borneo Bulletin)
    Arafat will be buried at his West Bank headquarters in a stone coffin, not a wooden one, to allow his re-interment at a later time in Jerusalem, top aides said Thursday.
    "The final resting place will be the Al Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem)," said Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat.
    See also Arafat to be Buried in Holy Soil (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Ten sacks of earth were taken from the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem for Arafat's grave in Ramallah, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday.

Diplomats Recall a "Maddening" Leader - Tyler Marshall and Mary Curtius (Los Angeles Times)
    In 1974, the UN granted observer status to the PLO, and Arafat became the first representative of a nongovernmental agency to address the General Assembly - wearing a holster on his hip.
    A retired UN official recalled that Arafat wanted to brandish his pistol, as well as an olive branch, while standing before diplomats. But what was not widely known at the time is that the holster was empty.
    "We had to work day and night to get him to give up his gun," said Samir Sanbar, then the director of the UN Center in Beirut.

CBS Sorry for Preempting Hit Drama with Arafat Report (Reuters)
    The CBS television network apologized to viewers on Thursday for interrupting the last five minutes of a hit detective drama with a special report on the death of Arafat.
    The broadcaster said news of Arafat's death did not warrant preemption of the detective series "CSI: NY," which averages 16.7 million viewers a week and ranks No. 8 in audience size among all shows in prime time.

Palestinian Women as Terrorists (IDF)
    Eight women have carried out suicide terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, murdering 39 Israelis and maiming 300.
    Since September 2000, more than 50 women have been arrested by security forces who were to carry out suicide terrorist attacks or aid in their execution.
    In October 2004 alone, 14 women were arrested, ready to perpetrate a suicide terrorist attack.

Israel Aircraft to Sell UAVs to India in New $230m Deal - Felix Frisch (Globes)
    Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) is expected to sign a major unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) contract with the Indian Army, IAI sources confirmed following reports in the Indian press.
    IAI will sell medium altitude, long endurance, strategic Heron UAVs to the Indian Army for an estimated $210-230 million.
    IAI's UAV plant builds the Heron, while IAI-TAMAM Optronics and Navigation manufactures the payloads of cameras, thermal cameras, and laser sensors.
    The new contract will boost UAV sales to India to over $750 million over five years.

$300m Motorola Israel Contract with U.S. Postal Service Approved (Globes)
    Motorola Israel reported Monday that it would supply 300,000 mobile data collection devices to the U.S. Postal Service.
    The three-year contract is worth almost $300 million, including financing for Motorola Israel and setting up necessary infrastructure in the U.S.
    The devices will be used at most postal service points in the U.S. as a mobile scanner which can read advanced barcodes, making it possible to track mail at all delivery stages.

Survivors of Beslan Terror Attack Arrive in Israel for 3-Week Visit - Eli Levy (Maariv International)
    38 residents of Beslan, Russia, including 18 children who survived the school carnage, arrived Sunday and will be guests of the city of Ashkelon in the next three weeks.

Fiji Couple Have Duty to Teach Hebrew Locally (Fiji Times)
    A couple who spent eight years in Israel and have a daughter who was born in Jerusalem six years ago want to start teaching Hebrew to local people.
    Ratu Lekima Lawenitoakula and his wife Wakesa Kuruwale from Narewa, in Rakiraki, returned to Fiji in July and started teaching basic Hebrew to friends and relatives.
    Ratu Lekima, a Christian, said he had a duty to spread the language of the Holy Land.

Useful Reference:

Yasser Arafat: A Career of Terror (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)

Arafat's Legacy: 1,032 Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism since September 2000 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Gaza Strongman Says Peace Not First Priority
    Palestinians need time to "build a new house" following Arafat's death, said Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan Friday. Dahlan, who commands a loyal following in Gaza, told the Israeli Yediot Ahronot daily that halting four years of violence with Israel will not be the first priority of the post-Arafat leadership. "A cease-fire is not the first stage. We are building a new house now from the foundations. That is the first task," he said. Dahlan indicated it was unlikely Palestinian forces will crack down on militant groups as demanded by Israel and the U.S. "Whoever thinks that in a month or two we can send forces (against the militants) is living with an illusion," he said. (Scotsman-UK)
  • U.S. to Consider Naming Mideast Peace Envoy
    The White House, seeking to take advantage of the diplomatic opening created by Arafat's death, is prepared to consider a British proposal that President Bush appoint a special Middle East envoy to shepherd the peace process, administration officials said Thursday. A White House official said the president and visiting British Prime Minister Blair will discuss ways "we can accelerate the process and take advantage of the opportunity of Arafat's passing." But the official cautioned that the administration "will also be patient," watching the Palestinians over the next few weeks to avoid "acting too assertively or too precipitously."
        Privately, administration officials made it clear that Bush will keep the onus on the Palestinians, saying that the U.S. cannot impose a desire for peace on them if they do not want it themselves. (Washington Post)
        See also Bush Administration Plans to Renew Efforts for Mideast Peace
    The Bush administration is preparing to advance the stalled Middle East peace effort by strengthening the moderate Palestinian leadership that it hopes will emerge with Arafat's death, U.S. officials said Thursday.
        The president named Assistant Secretary of State William Burns to represent the U.S. at Arafat's funeral in Cairo. Some critics argued that the selection of a lower-ranking official was likely to offend Palestinians and other Arabs, because many nations would send foreign ministers or heads of state. But the selection was more than some in the administration had wanted. Some White House officials, who consider Arafat a terrorist, had argued that no official U.S. representative should attend. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Arafat Funeral in Egypt, Burial in West Bank
    Arafat will get a military funeral in Egypt on Friday before burial in his Ramallah compound. Arafat's death brought tens of thousands of Palestinians into the street across the West Bank and Gaza. Hundreds of militants fired assault rifles into the air and youths burned tires. (Reuters)
        See also World Leaders Praise Arafat's Courage, Conviction (Washington Post); List of Dignitaries to Attend Arafat's Funeral (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
        See also What Killed Arafat is Still a Mystery (New York Times)
  • Clinton Says Arafat Missed the Chance for Peace
    Former U.S. President Bill Clinton on Thursday offered condolences to Palestinians but said their leader had missed the opportunity to create lasting Middle East peace in 2000. Clinton will not attend either Arafat's memorial service or his funeral. (Reuters)
  • Israel Rules Out Release of Barghouti
    Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Thursday ruled out the release from prison of Marwan Barghouti, a leading Palestinian figure who is widely seen as the strongest candidate to succeed Arafat. Barghouti, a former West Bank leader in Arafat's Fatah movement, is serving multiple life terms in an Israeli prison after being convicted of involvement in attacks that killed four Israelis and a Greek monk. "He will remain in prison for the rest of his life, because he's a murderer, because he's responsible for the killing of so many" innocent people, Shalom said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Says 600 Rebels Killed in Falluja
    American forces in Fallujah said Thursday they had killed an estimated 600 fighters and taken control of 70% of the city, while suffering 18 dead. Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, commander of the 1st Marine Division, said militants were using mosques as a base for operations. "In almost every single mosque in Fallujah we have found an arms cache. We've been shot at by snipers from minarets." (Telegraph-UK)
  • U.S. Charities Found Liable in Hamas Case
    On Wednesday, Judge Arlander Keys held the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation and the Islamic Association for Palestine liable for the May 13, 1996, shooting of David Boim, 17, as he waited for a bus in the West Bank. The charities were liable even if they had no direct involvement in the killing, the judge said, because they realized they were aiding an organization that used violence. (JTA)
  • Dutch Police Seize Two in Raid on Islamic Terror Cell
    Dutch police arrested two North African men in The Hague Wednesday after a daylong siege that began when three officers were injured by a hand grenade during a predawn raid on an apartment suspected of harboring Islamic terrorists. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. to Europeans: No Shortcuts in Road Map - Aluf Benn
    President George Bush is in no rush to change directions in the Middle East. He is rejecting Europe's urgings that he rush forward with negotiations and evict Israel from the territories in exchange for improved trans-Atlantic relations. White House officials Elliott Abrams and Daniel Fried told European emissaries this weekend that "there are no shortcuts." America is unwilling to skip the first stage of the road map, which requires the Palestinians to halt terror, dismantle the terrorist organizations, and enact governmental and security reforms. The Europeans and new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas want to go straight to final-status negotiations on borders, refugees, and Jerusalem, but Washington insists that the new leadership prove itself first. (Ha'aretz)
  • Arafat's Death Won't Leave Void - Arnon Regular
    Arafat's death would not leave a political vacuum because his presence had not been felt on the ground for the last four years in any case, Palestinian political scientist and pollster Dr. Khalil Shikaki said Thursday. During this time, Shikaki said, Arafat "helped transfer real power from the official institutions of the Palestinian Authority, the PLO and Fatah to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad....Anyone who wanted to have an influence during the last four years set up a militia or sent suicide bombers." As a result, he said, the official division of authority among the new leadership "makes no difference whatsoever." None of the new leaders, such as Mahmoud Abbas or Ahmed Qurei, enjoys the support of more than 2 to 3% of the public, Shikaki said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Bir Zeit Students Look Past Current Leadership - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Bir Zeit University north of Ramallah has always been a center of Palestinian nationalism. Until this year, the campus was a Fatah stronghold, but in the last student council elections Hamas took 25 of the 51 council seats, relegating Fatah to No. 2.
        "Off the record, frankly, many students here don't really care" about Arafat, says Ahmed, a student. He explains that Arafat and the PA have failed the Palestinian people and are the main reason for Fatah's defeat in the student elections: "The students who voted for Hamas did so because they were fed up with corruption in the PA. They see nepotism, embezzlement, and mafia-style rule and they don't like it. The vote for Hamas was a protest vote against Arafat." "Before Arafat came here, we had a lot of respect for him. But our views changed when the PA was established. We were very disappointed," said Amal, a female student. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Arafat's Passing:

  • A Difficult Visionary, a Stubborn Vision - Benny Morris
    Arafat didn't want and never really acquiesced in the idea of a stunted West Bank-Gaza state, and in his vision accurately reflected the general will of his people. Arafat spoke clearly and insistently of the return of Palestine to its "rightful owners." Nothing less. Whatever deluded Westerners might believe, Arafat was no liberal, taking account of others' views and feelings, and seeking solutions through conciliation and compromise. In Arafat's eyes and those of his people, there is only one justice: Palestinian justice.
        Arafat was probably the only Palestinian of our time capable of persuading most of the Palestinians to accept the concessions necessary to achieve a two-state solution. His successors may be more amenable to territorial compromise, but they lack the stature to intimidate or persuade their people to accept a two-state settlement or to crush their terror-minded colleagues. So Arafat's death may have done us no good at all. (New York Times)
  • Arafat's End Was a Lie, Like His Whole Life - Martin Peretz
    An independent Palestine will eventually emerge. But thanks in part to the leadership of Yasser Arafat from 1969 until today, its press will be intimidated. Its courts will not be independent. Its schools and universities will be centers of ugly racist and anti-Jewish doctrine. Its sciences will not be curious. Law will be determined by which faction is most cruel. Women will suffer the historical onus of their gender in Islam. Gays will try to escape to Israel. Its economy will be crippled because Israel will be wary of allowing Palestinians to come in and work. A fitting tribute to Yasser Arafat, his legacy to the Palestinians. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Arafat: Bin Laden's Inspiration - Alan Dershowitz
    Arafat managed to leapfrog the Palestinian cause over equally or more deserving causes - such as Tibetan freedom, Kurdish independence, and Basque statehood - by wielding three immoral weapons: first, international terrorism on a scale previously unknown to the world; second, an alliance with oil-rich states willing to extort support for his cause by energy blackmail; and third, exploitation of international anti-Semitism against the Jewish state. Arafat was personally responsible for the murders of thousands of innocent Israelis, hundreds of innocent Americans, and countless others, including several well-planned attacks on Israeli schools and nurseries. He also personally ordered the murder of hundreds of his own people who disagreed with him or collaborated with Israel.
        Arafat was the inspiration for Osama bin Laden, because he proved that terrorism works and that terrorists can be praised and rewarded by a craven world, as Arafat was by so many for so long. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israelis Breathe a Huge Sigh of Relief - Uzi Benziman
    With Arafat's death, Israel has breathed a huge sigh of relief. Eight months after he signed the Oslo Accords, Arafat whispered in a Johannesburg mosque that the agreement was equivalent to the one between Mohammed and the Qureish at Hudbeiya that the Prophet broke two years later and is considered a paragon of Muslim cunning and tactics. Two months after he competed in courtesies with then prime minister Ehud Barak at the Camp David summit, Arafat gave his blessing to - if not the signal for - the outbreak of another fatal round, which has been going on for more than four years, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Arafat gave the green light for the continuation of cruel terrorist acts while he was still conducting truce negotiations with Israel's leaders.
        Israel wished for Arafat's death not only because of the vast amount of its blood he has spilled and not only because of the terror he imposed on its streets, but because of the crushing of the belief in the ability to reach an agreement with the Palestinian people. A month after he received the Nobel Prize for Peace, the terror attack in Beit Lid occurred; Arafat blamed Israel for carrying it out. Israel has not forgiven him, and will not forgive him on the day of his death, for releasing the beast of terror and letting it sow killing and destruction in every corner of the country. It has not forgiven him for having broken his commitments, for having shattered its hopes, and for having brought down upon it rampages in the style and methods of a primitive tribal world. Arafat was, and remained until his dying day, the palpable threat to the Zionist project and the Jews' right to establish a sovereign life for themselves. (Ha'aretz)
  • Arafat the Monster - Jeff Jacoby
    Arafat left this world peacefully, unlike the thousands of victims he sent to early graves. In a better world, the PLO chief would have met his end on a gallows, hanged for mass murder much as the Nazi chiefs were hanged at Nuremberg. Arafat brought modern terrorism to the world and inculcated the vilest culture of Jew-hatred since the Third Reich.
        Why were his victims scarcely remembered in this Arafat death watch? It would take an encyclopedia to catalog all of the evil Arafat committed, but that is no excuse for not trying to recall at least some of it. Everyone knows Arafat's name, but who ever recalls the names of his victims? (Boston Globe)
  • Yasser Arafat - Editorial
    The people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are among the most able, educated, entrepreneurial, and politically sophisticated of the Middle East; they are more than capable of creating the peaceful and democratic state that President Bush and the UN have proposed for them. But Arafat poisoned his movement with terrorism and sabotaged it through his refusal to embrace the settlement with Israel that was possible years ago. Arafat was autocratic, corrupt, deceiving and, ultimately, unwilling to unambiguously accept Israel's permanence. A vigorous effort by the U.S. and allied Arab and European governments to promote a democratic process to choose a new leader, and a genuine offer by Israel to quickly resume negotiations on the basis of the road map, could open the way to a responsible Palestinian administration and, conceivably, a breakthrough toward an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. (Washington Post)
  • Secret Strategies - David Ignatius
    One of the more improbable chapters in the life of Yasser Arafat was his 30-year wink-and-nod understanding with the CIA. America's dalliance with Arafat began in late 1969, when a CIA case officer in Beirut, Robert Ames, spotted a promising potential recruit in his Fatah organization named Ali Hassan Salameh, known as Abu Hassan, one of Black September's key operatives. CIA-PLO intelligence contacts could never substitute for diplomacy. Peace isn't something that happens in secret. (Washington Post)
  • Concern for Arafat May Not Go Deep - John Daniszewski
    As Arafat lay near death in a Paris hospital, sorrow among Arabs appeared faint, and in some quarters there was a sense of relief. Regional analysts say Arafat became a leader who held on to power too long. Abdallah abu Romman, editor in chief of the independent weekly newspaper Al Miraa in Jordan, said, "His main goal was to make sure he was the No. 1 guy....He turned the Palestinian movement into a bunch of gangs." (Los Angeles Times)
  • How Arafat Got Away With It - Max Boot
    Arafat and his cronies pocketed billions of dollars and kept their grip on power through the cruel application of violence against various enemies and "collaborators." In return, Arafat reaped worldwide adulation and a Nobel Peace Prize. There has been no more successful terrorist in the modern age. Yet his biggest victims were not Israelis. It was his own people who suffered the most. His unwillingness to give up the way of the gun consigned his people to economic and moral suicide. The current intifada, launched in September 2000 after Arafat turned down a generous peace offer from the Israelis at Camp David, has claimed three times as many Palestinian as Israeli victims and has also led to a precipitous plunge in living standards in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
        Arafat could not have been so destructive without so many outside enablers, ranging from the Soviet Union to the European Union and the United States, which stepped into the sugar daddy role in the 1990s. Many among the Western intelligentsia even now weep for his passing as if he were a great man instead of a criminal with a cause. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Terrorism's Little Helper - Editorial
    A generation ago, when all the world learned the word "terrorist," Yasser Arafat was the teacher. For 20 years, the movement he led openly used the killing of innocents as a political tool. Arafat, Hamas, and the mass of the Palestinian people already have squandered the best chance for peace in recent history - the 30, 60, or 90 days following the Sept. 11 attacks. Imagine if the leadership had really renounced terror then - and by renounce terror, we mean "stop blowing up Israeli civilians and finger some terrorists." Instead, too many Palestinians have clung to killing utterly innocent people. But only Palestinians themselves, not the wishful thinking of the rest of the world, can stop these suicidal attacks. (Ft. Wayne News Sentinel)
  • Funeral Hymns Should Not Obscure PLO Strongman's Record - Editorial
    The natural instinct of many of the media will be to honor the murderer for receiving an improbable Nobel Peace Prize for his success in pulling the wool over the eyes of many who believed he actually wanted peace with Israel. In reality, of course, Arafat headed an organization built on the premise that any Arab who truly seeks peace with the Jews must be assassinated out of hand - a process that has actively forestalled accommodation in the Arab world since the 1920s. (Las Vegas Review Journal)
  • Arafat Gets the Di Treatment - Tom Gross
    Arab leaders long ago stopped liking or respecting Yasser Arafat, or indeed believing a word he said. Yet until the very end, some prominent Western journalists never stopped heaping praise on him, or covering up for his countless crimes and misdeeds. It didn't matter how many Jews, Arabs, and others died on his orders, or how many times he let down his own people, or stole from them. To judge by some of the reporting, Arafat was a figure who deserved to be deeply revered. The last time BBC correspondents were so emotional during their reporting was when Princess Diana died. (National Review)

    Other Issues:

  • Playing into Saddam's Hands - Shlomo Avineri
    What is now happening in Iraq is probably the war that Saddam Hussein planned from the very beginning. The various military, paramilitary, and security units did not "disintegrate"; they went underground, disappearing in the Maoist guerrilla tradition of fish in water; weapons were distributed and stashed throughout the country; the widespread looting, disruption of electricity and water supplies, and vandalizing of public buildings were not carried out by "criminal" elements but by members of the regime's numerous security organizations.
        None of these plans and preparations were spontaneous responses to the U.S. occupation. They were part of a deliberate strategy to defeat the Americans, and it appears to be working. All this clearly takes place at a terrible price to the people of Iraq, but such has been the history of Saddam's regime. What the world needs to do is seriously to face the unpalatable truth that the war has not yet been won. (Financial Times-UK)
  • It's Just the Start - Ze'ev Schiff
    Israel requires a Palestinian leadership that will be efficient and honest, one that will be a partner to combating violence and oppose the use of force for creating reality on the ground. But there is the danger that the new Palestinian leadership, with all its good intentions, won't succeed in controlling the territories and the myriad organizations, even if they are formally accorded legitimacy by the Palestinian people and its institutions. The new Palestinian leadership will put off its fight against terror and violence while it is reorganizing and trying to put the reforms required of it into effect. In this manner, a vacuum is created, into which negative elements enter, such as Hamas and Jihad extremists, or Iran and Hizballah. (Ha'aretz)
  • A Middle East Opening - Brent Scowcroft
    The president should add substance to his commitment to an independent Palestinian state. The U.S. should insist that Israel stop construction of its wall on the West Bank and mirror its withdrawal from Gaza with the evacuation of the West Bank. In return, the wall and Israeli troops would be replaced by an international force, principally European or perhaps NATO troops. Substantial, visible progress on the Palestinian issue would significantly improve the atmosphere in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, including Iran. (Washington Post)
  • Still No One Israel Can Do a Deal With - Sidney Zion
    The two men set to take over for Arafat - Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei - were, respectively, the underboss and consigliere for his terrorist enterprise. They were with him on the mattresses, they were there when he killed the Olympic athletes in Munich, they were in the siege of Beirut, and they lived with him in Ramallah at the end. To say that these guys are moderates, that they are the hope of the future, is to say that when Carlo Gambino died, John Gotti was a peacemaker. Abbas and Qurei wear Brooks Brothers suits and manicure their nails, but check their words. They won't touch Hamas and they promote hatred against Jews. Nothing has changed. (New York Daily News)
  • Dutch Find the Strength to Take On Their "New Nazis" - Daniel Johnson
    There is no precedent for the ritual slaughter of prominent Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh in broad daylight on the streets of Amsterdam. Van Gogh - distantly related to Holland's most celebrated artist - was shot on his bicycle, another national emblem. As he writhed on the ground, the murderer cut his throat without mercy and left him with two knives protruding from his body: a method that is apparently common in North Africa. A note found pinned to his chest contained death threats against three other public figures. The murder of an artist for the sake of his art shocks secular Europe rather as martyrdom once shocked Christendom. Theo van Gogh is a secular martyr. Not even the most tolerant people on earth can tolerate the Islamists. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Egypt Needs a President, Not a Latter-Day Pharaoh - Saad Eddin Ibrahim
    Mubarak has been reelected four times, and rumors have persisted that he will either seek a fifth six-year term or establish a "hereditary republic" and groom his 41-year-old son, Gamal, to succeed him, like Syria's Hafez al-Assad and son Bashar. The opposition battle cry is "no" to Mubarak's re-election and "no" to passing the presidency to Gamal. Many Egyptians find it mortifying that, after 24 years of the father, they might be stuck with another 24 or more years of the son. The writer is Professor of Political Sociology at the American University in Cairo. (Daily Times-Pakistan)

    Weekend Features:

  • Small Country, Big Impression - Julie Burchill
    From an extensive story on Israel in the travel section of The Times of London:
        Go ahead, ignore Israel, and keep trotting back to the same old destinations you've visited a score of times. But you'll be missing out on culture that makes Venice look like Milton Keynes, and weather that makes Tenerife look like Leeds. And you'll be missing a people whose sheer beauty makes Catherine Zeta-Jones and Johnny Depp look like Dawn French and Stephen Fry. Oh, and you'll be missing out on supporting, in some small way, a dazzling, good-hearted country surrounded by barren theocracies who'd rather it had never existed.
        In seven nights, my friend Nadia and I stayed in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Eilat, and Tel Aviv. And though we came back determined to return ASAP, and well aware that there was so much more to see, in no way did we feel exhausted or short-changed. From what I've seen, there is a heaven. And its name is Israel. (Times-UK)
  • Book Review: Sharansky - A Staunch Believer - Ira Stoll
    Natan Sharansky's 1988 prison memoir, Fear No Evil, is a classic. Now, in the midst of a new war, Sharansky and co-author Ron Dermer have written a new book, The Case for Democracy. It is part memoir of Sharansky's time since his release from prison, part argument for the policy of exporting freedom and democracy to those areas of the world that are bereft of them. It is the perfect gift for those who think that the Arabs or Muslims are too primitive for freedom and democracy and who worry that for America to promote freedom and democracy in the Middle East would jeopardize American interests, as well as for those who think that freedom and democracy can't be exported by America, or that to do so is a form of imperialism.
        He writes. "The formula that triggered a democratic revolution in the Soviet Union had three components: People inside who yearned to be free, leaders outside who believed they could be, and policies that linked the free world's relations with the USSR to the Soviet regime's treatment of its own people....It will work anywhere around the globe, including in the Arab world." (New York Sun)
  • Israel as the Promised Land - Pavel Felgenhauer
    During the Cold War, when Russian officers were directly engaged in combat with the Israelis as jet fighter pilots and military advisers to the Egyptian and Syrian military and antiaircraft missile battery crews, they sometimes got killed or wounded in action. Then the respect our [Russian] men had for the Israeli foe was always high. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fascination with the Israelis increased within the Moscow military and intelligence community. In the last decade, Russia, like Israel, has faced Islamist-connected opponents and experienced a serious terrorist threat. A perceived common enemy is a good basis to build friendship.
        The Israeli military is modern, has all the latest high-tech gadgets, and is all conscript. Boys serve three years, girls eighteen months. Reservists regularly serve one month per year. There are virtually no draft dodgers, the population truly supports its military. General Vladimir Vasilyev, chief of the Duma Security Committee, visited Israel with a Russian security delegation after the Beslan school attack and publicly heaped praise on Israel for having what we do not: "A sober society with a clear national idea."
        The idea of using Israeli know-how in anti-terrorist operations is more popular today in Moscow than ever before. The possibility of purchasing Israeli-made unmanned surveillance drones and other equipment to use against the Chechen rebels has been discussed. (Chechen Times/Moscow Times)
  • Observations:

    The Arafat Paradox - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Post)

    • The very first time I was sent as an envoy to Yasser Arafat, what seemed most striking to me was the enormous gap between the total unreality of his conspiratorial explanations of political events transpiring around him and the extraordinary skill with which he played his weak political hand in order to advance the hard-line ideological agenda from which he never swerved: the elimination of the State of Israel.
    • As he weaved one conspiracy theory after another and lied in the face of foreign leaders, one wondered how he wasn't thrown out of the chancelleries of Europe, rather than being welcomed on a red carpet.
    • Arafat was at the same time a military commander, head ideologue of the Fatah component of the PLO, the chief financial officer of its terrorist war chest, and its international spokesman at the UN. It is doubtful that any single individual can retain such concentrated powers in the future.
    • The 1993 Oslo Accords gave Arafat the territorial base next to Israel for waging "armed struggle" in accordance with his own "strategy of stages" from 1974. The truth of his Oslo deception became all too clear when he launched his second intifada in September 2000, leading to over 1,000 Israeli fatalities.
    • Arafat's entire strategy had been based on the legitimacy for his terrorist operations granted by the Nonaligned Movement and its Soviet backers at the UN, and in other international forums. He was forgiven in many circles for ordering airplane hijackings and the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Sudan. But after 9/11 he lost his freedom of maneuver.
    • Whether the Palestinians will abandon the legacy he has bequeathed them is the most important question for determining the chances of peace in the future. A realistic assessment might lead one to hope that any new leadership will shake loose from Arafat's terrorist past, but his hard-line political legacy is likely to survive him.

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