Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
British Bank Probes Arafat Accounts (London Evening Standard)
BDI: Intifada Cost Israel $12b in 4 Years - Hadas Manor
French Insurgents Killed in Iraq (BBC)
James Baker Calls on Israel to Release Jailed Palestinian Leader - Kareem Fahim (Village Voice)
A Progressive Egyptian Perspective (MEMRI)
Syria Urged to Release Political Prisoners (AP/Jerusalem Post)
Turks Remember Victims of Synagogue Bombings - Fatih Saribas (Reuters)
Alert Declared in Southern Israel as Locusts Reach Sinai - Amiram Cohen (Ha'aretz)
Israel Has Highest Birth Rate in West - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
Image-Wary Israel Seeks "Ambassador" on Reality TV (Reuters)
The Influence of the Legacy of Global Jihad on Hamas (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Center for Special Studies)
See also Will a Gaza "Hamas-stan" Become a Future Al-Qaeda Sanctuary? - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and David Keyes (ICA/JCPA)
New Database of Holocaust Victims - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Bush administration said on Thursday it would work with Congress on plans to resume direct U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority after Tom DeLay, Republican leader in the House of Representatives, expressed "serious concerns." DeLay wants U.S. aid tied to Palestinian reforms. Other lawmakers demanded greater oversight to ensure that U.S. taxpayer money would not be siphoned off by corrupt officials or used by terrorist groups. Senior administration officials met with key congressional critics and promised adequate safeguards for the money. (Reuters)
American military officials said Thursday they had discovered a house in Falluja that appeared to have been a headquarters for terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, responsible for ambushes, bombings, and beheadings that have left hundreds dead across Iraq. Iraqi soldiers discovered letters along with computers, materials for car bombs, identification papers (including a Sudanese passport), and medical supplies. A classroom had a blackboard with drawings of American fighter jets. (New York Times)
Moshe Yitzchak Naeh, 24, a British Orthodox Jew who lived in Belgium, was shot dead in Antwerp on Thursday amid concern about a rise in anti-Semitism following the stabbing of a Jewish youth in June. The victim, a well-known member of the Jewish community, was shot in the head on his way home from synagogue. He was not robbed, neighbors said. Antwerp has been home to a large community of Orthodox Jews for more than 700 years. (Reuters)
Christians of the Palestinian territories are wondering about their future as a small minority - 50,000 in the midst of more than 3 million Muslims. "The political, administrative, and police structures [of the PA] often discriminate against them," explained Graziano Motta, correspondent of Vatican Radio. "They have been continually exposed to pressures by Muslim activists and have been forced to profess fidelity to the intifada....Frequently, there are cases in which the Muslims expropriate houses and lands belonging to Catholics, and often the intervention of the authorities has been lacking in addressing acts of violence against young women or offenses against the Christian faith."
Arafat "ignored - and in practice boycotted - the proposal of a special status for the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. In the name of Islam, he was firm in his claim for Palestine's exclusive sovereignty over the Holy City," Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, told Vatican Radio. (Zenit-Vatican News)
Months after the U.S. Presbyterian Church voted to drop its holdings in Israel, the Episcopal Church's governing board has decided on a different response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that Jewish officials hail as more balanced. The board voted to look into the church's corporate investments and take appropriate action with "companies that contribute to the infrastructure of Israel's ongoing occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip" - as well as "companies that have connections to organizations responsible for violence against Israel." Jewish groups still take issue with the fact that the Episcopal Church singled out one particular conflict among many in the world. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
President George W. Bush told Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Thursday that Middle East peace will be at the top of his administration's agenda. The two met briefly at the inauguration of the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. According to Shalom's office, Bush said the Middle East will be one of the first places Condoleezza Rice will visit after her appointment as Secretary of State is approved. (Jerusalem Post)
Three Palestinians were rescued from a collapsed tunnel through which they were attempting to smuggle weapons across the Egypt-Israel border in southern Gaza Thursday. The three were arrested and transferred to Israel for medical treatment. (Ha'aretz)
"A Proposal for Governance of the Gaza Strip in the Context of the Announced Israeli Withdrawal" is the result of workshops and deliberations held jointly by Israelis and Palestinians with the participation of foreign experts under the auspices of the Madrid-based Toledo International Center for Peace. The central aim of the Toledo plan is "to facilitate the development of a reliable Palestinian structure of governance that would create the conditions for a peaceful and successful execution of the withdrawal plan." That structure is meant to take the form of a temporary Palestinian Authority for Gaza, which will be a laboratory in which to prove the Palestinians' ability to rule themselves: That was also the rationale for the "Gaza first" aspect of the Oslo Accords.
As Abbas and Dahlan discovered first-hand this week when they came to Gaza to mourn for Arafat, the Palestinian community is fragile and violent, declining to accept the new order submissively, and we are in for some rough struggles before Abbas is anointed rais, as well as afterward. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Arafat changed the nature of terrorism forever, by killing on a wholesale rather than a retail scale, by internationalizing it, and by employing it as a tactic to gain recognition for a cause. He proved to the world that terrorism can be made to work. By showing a willingness to kill so many innocent people, he managed to persuade naive world leaders that, exitus acta probat, his cause must be compelling and just. The message that so many leaders sent to other would-be terrorists with religious or political ambitions was that important people will deal with you, recognize you, even praise you while you are still engaging in terrorism.
If the Palestinians become the only disenfranchised people to achieve statehood because they used terrorism, while other equally deserving groups are ignored because they eschew terrorism, then Arafat's way will become the way of the future. (Forward)
Criticism of the Palestinian leader was particularly acute among Israeli doves who believe he discredited peace activists in the eyes of the public. Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli intelligence official turned peace activist and a fellow at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, this week dismissed Arafat as a political chameleon who switched identities depending on his audience. Arafat ultimately bore much of the responsibility for discrediting the Israeli peace camp, said Yariv Oppenheimer, spokesman for Peace Now. "He didn't supply what he promised - an end to terror," he said. (Washington Times)
Relief is perhaps the best way to describe the private reaction of most Arab officials to the death of Arafat. In public, these same officials laid on a red carpet funeral. But beyond a brief state funeral, Arafat received very little recognition from his fellow Arab leaders. Official statements eulogizing the Palestinian leader sounded more like a simple notification of another death, rather than any genuine outpouring of grief at the loss of a revolutionary hero.
Certain Arab diplomats, in particular those from countries with direct borders with the Palestinian territories and Israel, were explicit in expressing their relief at the death of Arafat. For them, his passing marks the end to the obstacles he had thrown up on the road to a settlement with Israel, largely for the sake of his own glory. Some diplomats are breathing a sigh of relief at the demise of a leader they considered too self-centered to really care about the misfortunes of his own people. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
After half a century of armed struggle and tactical diplomacy, the figure Palestinians called "the Old Man" died - not in Jerusalem but in Europe. After a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv disco, Arafat told the killer's family, and, by extension, the Palestinian people, that the young man "who turned his body into a bomb is the model of manhood and sacrifice for the sake of Allah and the homeland" - seven years after he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Rarely has a leader blundered more and left more ruin in his wake. (New Yorker)
Has any national movement ever been so appallingly led? Arafat managed to be both a killer and a compromiser, both a Swiss bank-account artist and a populist ranter, both an Islamic "martyrdom" blow-hard and a servile opportunist, and a man who managed to establish a dictatorship over his own people before they even had a state.
In cold fact, Arafat was protected from "martyrdom" at Israel's hands, as he well knew, by an edict of President Bush to Sharon. The charming conclusion of this drama is now the widely spread rumor that the chairman was martyred after all, having been poisoned by the Jews: a rumor itself perhaps designed to pre-empt any discussion of his AIDS-like symptoms at the end. What a squalid and ignoble terminus, to a life of steadily diminishing returns. (Slate)
He was a thug. One of the most cunning of all time for sure, but quite simply a ruthless, thoroughly corrupt, will-to-power thug. While he is singularly responsible for the failure of a Palestinian nation to emerge, his credentials as the "Father of Modern Terrorism" are solid. His expertise, and thus Fatah's, was the sneak attack on soft Israeli targets, the better to maximize carnage and fear.
By 1969, Arafat was the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization that had a single purpose: the destruction of Israel. The PLO was also a fabulously profitable criminal enterprise. British investigators concluded that Arafat's wealth stemmed from sidelines his organization maintained in "extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering, and fraud" that yielded billions. (National Review)
Arafat is not the only world leader to be regarded as a kleptocrat. Mobutu and Ferdinand Marcos also amassed vast personal fortunes that took years to track down and repatriate, if only in part. The new Palestinian leadership needs to foster a culture of transparency in which the public treasury is not regarded as part of the leader's personal fortune. The leadership should publish details of whatever deal it may have made with Arafat's family and keep the public informed about whatever investigation it has ordered into the late leader's financial dealings. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
If the Gulf states, with their notably high standard of living, produce many terrorists, while Bosnia, which remains devastated, produces almost none, then the fault is in people's heads, not their stomachs. I do not believe people become extremists either out of hunger or because they read controversial words. Radical Islam does not exist because of scriptural wording, but because of powerful political and financial interests, which owe their influence to the continued indoctrination of Muslims in a particular interpretation of Islam. The radical jihad does not exist because of the concept of jihad, but because of its use. And the defeat of the radical jihad will come not by excising the word, concept, or historical experience represented by jihad from Islam, but by defeating the radical interpretation of jihad and the interests behind it. (TechCentralStation)
The slaughter of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh on the streets of Amsterdam, in broad daylight, by a young man of Moroccan origin bent on jihad, has at last dented Dutch confidence that unconditional tolerance can be on its own the unifying principle of a viable society. For tolerance to work, it must be reciprocal; tolerance appears to the intolerant jihadist mere weakness and lack of belief in anything. Unilateral tolerance in a world of intolerance is like unilateral disarmament in a world of armed camps: it regards hope as a better basis for policy than reality. (City Journal/FrontPageMagazine)
In Western Europe, the entry point for the debate over Islam is the hijab - the headscarf that many Muslim women wear as a signal of modesty. By contrast, the entry point for the debate in North America is terrorism. The mass immigration of Muslims is bringing faith back into the public realm in Western Europe. This return of religion threatens secular humanism, the orthodoxy that has prevailed since the French Revolution. (New York Times)
Four factors play a role in the increasingly anti-Israel sentiment in Europe: the attempt to assuage guilt over Europe's murderous past, rivalry with the U.S., anti-Semitism, and nonacceptance of European concepts of society by the majority of Israelis. Denial and appeasement are major characteristics of European political discourse. Many Europeans are "tone-deaf" to their own general bias, if not hostility, to the democratic State of Israel. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Unesco invited a group of experts to Barcelona last week to provide the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance with advice on anti-Semitism as well as "Christianophobia and Islamophobia." According to the UN experts' draft report, discrimination against individual Jews is bad, while "anti-Zionism" - the denial to the Jewish people of an equal right to self-determination - is not. Since it is the perception of unconditional Jewish support for Israel that leads people to attack a Jewish cemetery, the way to defeat anti-Semitism is for Jews to cut loose defense of the State of Israel. And by the way, anti-Semitism will diminish if only we stop emphasizing the unique horror of the Holocaust. (Wall Street Journal)
In August 2004, the EU put out tenders for companies to construct a European separation fence to prevent migration into the EU from countries excluded from it, less than one month after condemning Israel's barrier at the UN. India has built a barrier along its line-of-control with Pakistan. Saudi Arabia unilaterally began constructing a barrier on land disputed by Yemen. Morocco has built a barrier against Algerian infiltration in the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
In Northern Ireland the British government's response to a terrorist campaign was the creation of a "peace line" dividing Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in Belfast. In some places, barriers traverse backyards and separate houses. Some of the barriers are more than thirty feet high. Belfast's barriers have actually proliferated during Prime Minister Tony Blair's administration. In 1994, there were 15 of them; a decade later there are 37. (Middle East Quarterly)
See also Senator McConnel Calls Israel Fence "Good Idea" - James R. Carroll
During a recent visit to Israel, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate's majority whip, was impressed after a helicopter tour of finished segments of the security fence that is still under construction. "I think the fence is clearly a good idea," he said. "To the extent (the fence) limits violence, it's helpful to the Palestinians as well," McConnell said. "It dramatically improves the chances of a (peace) settlement." (Louisville Courier-Journal)
Is Iran's deal with the European Three simply a bluff to buy more time to push a covert bomb program? The European Three should hold off locking themselves into promised open-end talks next month on what to give Iran to maintain the freeze until the International Atomic Energy Agency can certify that Iran has no undeclared enrichment facilities. Beyond this, the U.S., its partners, and the IAEA board of governors need to challenge Iran and other nations' claims that they have a legal right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. (Wall Street Journal)
Secretary of State Colin Powell has always believed in alliances and quiet diplomacy - except when it comes to dealing with his colleagues in the Bush administration. Powell's critics maintain: He does not sufficiently understand that the world has since become more dangerous and less "manageable," and he is too willing to bargain with, and perhaps even to apologize to, those who do not wish the U.S. well. The chief evidence against him would be his attempt to prolong the political life of Yasser Arafat, his reluctance to believe that Hussein was incorrigible short of war, his belief in the good faith of the Saudis, and his willingness to extend deadlines in Sudan. (Foreign Policy)
See also Powell Still Popular with Jews - Matthew E. Berger
Under Powell, the State Department took a more internationalist approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has been among the first to speak out against Israeli military actions. But many believe that by the end of his tenure Powell had been relegated to a more minor role. "I think, at a certain point, he gave up," said David Makovsky, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "He was resigned to the idea that the U.S.-Israeli relationship was going to be driven by the White House." Through it all, Powell remained highly popular in the U.S. Jewish community. (JTA)
The recent announcement by the Lebanese Hizballah that it has sent a drone on a surveillance mission over Israel is not a military operation of any seriousness. When Hizballah says it wants Israel to taste some of its actions by violating a hostile airspace and photographing Israeli settlements, this would definitely inflame the situation. Israel considers full control of its airspace essential for its security. Israel also views violating its airspace a serious matter and an unacceptable threat. Does Hizballah seek a confrontation with Israel plunging Lebanon, and may be Syria, into a new round of war? (Arab News-Saud Arabia)
Last week 200 activists clashed in Somerville, Mass., City Hall over a proposal to divest public money from Israel and U.S. companies that supply its military. The nonbinding resolution, drafted by the Somerville Divestment Project, nearly passed without debate last month. The group had lobbied city officials for weeks, submitted a petition signed by 1,170 people, and persuaded seven aldermen to sponsor the resolution. News of the proposed resolution spread throughout Somerville, sparking outrage among Jewish organizations. Israel supporters called the first hearing speedy and secretive.
''When I read this resolution, I was insulted," said Meir Shlomo, Israel's consul general. Despite 1,000 Israelis killed by terrorists, he said, Israel has protected human rights and maintained freedoms of speech and the press, and an independent judiciary "in spite of terrorism, in spite of being singled out unfairly, like with this resolution." (Boston Globe)
See also U.S. City to Debate Divestment (JTA)
For over a year now, an ongoing battle between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups has taken place in the streets of San Francisco. Long used to running the show, the anti-Israel crowd is now routinely counter-protested by groups like San Francisco Voice for Israel and ProtestWarrior.com. And judging by the behavior at last weekend's counter-protest, they're not too happy about it. (Chronwatch)
In the recently published book, The Bomb in My Garden, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi provides a chilling insider account of Saddam Hussein's quest for a nuclear bomb. Obeidi was appointed in 1987 by Saddam's son-in-law as the chief scientist responsible for uranium enrichment. Obeidi writes Saddam was "himself a weapon of mass destruction. He had invaded two neighboring countries, killed thousands of Iraqis and Iranians with chemical weapons, tortured and terrorized his own people, and buried many of his victims in mass graves." (Toronto Sun)
A Test for the New Palestinian Leadership: End the Incitement
Prime Minister Sharon said Thursday:
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