Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 7, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Palestinian Fatah Leader: Iraqis Must Defeat U.S. (AFP/Khaleej Times-UAE)
    The new head of Fatah, the main grouping in the Palestine Liberation Organization, has called on Iraqis to defeat the U.S. forces in their country.
    On Monday in Tunis, Fatah leader Faruq Qaddumi said: "We support the Iraqi resistance, and its victories will be those of the Palestinian resistance."

Barghouti Pulls Even with Abbas in PA Pre-Election Polls - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    According to a poll by the Development Studies Program at Bir Zeit University, jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti won 46%, compared to 44% for PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Previous polls had shown Barghouti trailing Abbas by up to 25%.
    A survey by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, headed by Khalil Shikaki, said Abbas had 40% support, compared with 38% for Barghouti.
    Both polls indicated that support for Fatah was increasing, while Hamas was losing popularity.

French Lose Their Own Test Explosives on Flight - Matthew Saltmarsh (International Herald Tribune/New York Times)
    Last week, France's national police planted a mobile phone-size lump of plastic explosives in an unsuspecting passenger's suitcase as part of an exercise to train bomb-sniffing dogs at Charles de Gaulle International Airport.
    Four days later, nobody yet knew where the explosives went.
    The explosives, which had no detonator, are not thought to pose a danger.
    "We hope they don't throw it away," said a spokesman for the gendarmerie.

Looking Inside the Mind of a Suicide Bomber - Paul Goodman (MSNBC)
    Anat Berko, 44, with a Ph.D in criminology, spent the last eight years in the IDF interviewing Palestinian suicide bombers, men and women who had made the decision to enter paradise and take as many Israeli civilians and soldiers with them as possible.
    Since January 2002 there have been seven terror acts by female suicide bombers. At least 20 more women were caught on their way or at the time of training. Most were in their twenties, and single.
    Berko indicates that the social changes going on in the Arab world are a clue to what motivates some suicide bombings. The Internet and television play a huge role in Arab family lives.
    All the Western channels are accessible, but at the same time everything in Arab society is so confined and closed. It is extremely difficult to watch all this, and yet to live another life in reality.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Nine Die in Al-Qaeda Attack on U.S. Consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia Nine people died Monday in an armed attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, that Saudi officials blamed on a network affiliated with al-Qaeda. Five consulate employees - none of them Americans - and four gunmen died in the attack. Thirteen others, including five Saudi security officers, were wounded. The attackers seized about 18 people in a courtyard but were not able to gain access to the consulate building. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Targets in Saudi Arabia Vulnerable (AP/Washington Post)
        See also The Iraq Effect? - Michael Scott Doran
    Jacques Chirac and others - including, most recently, Pervez Musharraf - have surmised that the war in Iraq has made the world a more dangerous place. They are wrong. Monday's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah notwithstanding, the real stuff of politics in the Arab world is conflict between Muslims, not America and its policies. (Wall Street Journal, 7 Dec 04)
  • Global Nuclear Inquiry Stalls
    The global investigation into A.Q. Khan's black market trade in nuclear technology has stalled, according to interviews with diplomats and officials from several countries. Senior investigators said they were especially worried that dangerous elements of the illicit network of manufacturers and suppliers would remain undetected and capable of resuming operations once international pressures eased. Investigators said records obtained in Libya and elsewhere showed that some nuclear equipment purchased or manufactured by the network had yet to be found, raising the possibility that it was diverted to unidentified customers. (Los Angeles Times)
  • U.S. Islamic Charity a "Money-Laundering Clearinghouse"
    Former FBI terrorism expert Matthew Levitt, director of terrorism studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told a federal jury Monday that the Quranic Literacy Institute of Oak Lawn, IL, served as "a money-laundering clearinghouse" for the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The testimony came in a lawsuit filed by Joyce and Stanley Boim, the parents of an American teenager shot to death by two Hamas militants in Israel eight years ago, who say the institute, two Islamic charities, and an alleged Hamas fundraiser, Mohammed Salah, bankrolled the purchase of weapons by Hamas and thus are responsible for the death of their son David. Levitt used canceled checks to show that Salah received payments averaging $3,000 a month in the early 1990s from a Saudi whose name appears on federal government terrorism lists. (AP/Fresno Bee)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Bomb Blast Kills IDF Soldier, Wounds Four in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    Staff-Sgt. Nadav Kodinsky, 20, was killed and four other IDF soldiers were wounded Tuesday when a bomb exploded near the Karni crossing in northern Gaza. The troops also came under heavy gunfire and RPG attack from Palestinians. At least three Palestinian combatants were killed in the battle. Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing.
        The IDF unit was searching for weapons and fugitives in a Palestinian chicken coop when the explosion occurred. The searches were conducted on foot and not in armored vehicles to prevent harming the structures and hothouses belonging to Palestinian farmers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Blair's Peace Conference to Focus on PA Reforms - Aluf Benn
    British Prime Minister Blair will visit Israel and the PA in two weeks to promote his idea for an international peace conference on the Middle East after the Palestinian elections, to grant the new PA leadership international legitimacy. Prime Minister Sharon is opposed to the renewal of the political process until the Palestinians take action to fulfill the first stage of the road map - putting an end to terrorism and implementing security reforms. He is ready for the conference to take place without Israeli participation, that it be a one-day event for professionals, and deal with PA reforms.
        Elliot Abrams, who handles the Israel-Palestinian brief for the U.S. National Security Council, visited London and said the U.S. shares Israel's concern that the conference not be turned into a fast track to a final status accord. British sources said Monday, "We'll talk about what the Palestinians are planning, and how the international community can help." They said no decision has been made yet about inviting Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians to Seek $4 Billion at Oslo Aid Talks
    The Palestinian Authority will ask donor countries meeting in Oslo this week for $4 billion over three years, Palestinian Economics Minister Maher al-Masri said Monday in Ramallah. The World Bank said international donations averaging $950 million a year from 2001 to 2003 had warded off economic disaster, but that "donor fatigue" loomed. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Mortar Wounds Palestinian in Gaza - Amos Harel
    A Palestinian worker was lightly wounded Monday by a Palestinian mortar shell launched into Neveh Dekalim in Gush Katif from the Palestinian town of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. Also Monday, Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket from northern Gaza that landed north of the Israeli town of Sderot. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Stark Choice for Palestinians - Editorial
    Palestinians now seem embarked on a wide-open presidential election. The two leading candidates offer a stark choice to voters. Mahmoud Abbas, 69, was the first prime minister of the PA after Arafat caved in to international pressure to create the post in 2003. Marwan Barghouti, 45, is in an Israeli jail, serving five life sentences after being convicted of ordering attacks against Israelis. It's unclear how he could possibly be effective as a jailed president. Worse, the election of a leader whom Israel refuses to set free would no doubt intensify a Palestinian sense of victimization. Sharon has declared that Barghouti will remain in prison and can wage whatever kind of campaign his jailers allow him. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also The Anti-Barghouti Campaign - Danny Rubinstein
    A widespread campaign denouncing Marwan Barghouti's candidacy for head of the PA is being waged in recent days among the Palestinian public, although everyone is careful not to taint the honor of "the architect of the intifada," as his fans call him. From the point of view of the top echelons of Fatah, the election process was going smoothly until Barghouti violated the rules of the game.
        The political positions among the candidates are almost identical, but if Barghouti doesn't withdraw his candidacy, Abu Mazen's majority will be reduced, placing him in a position of weakness vis-a-vis his rivals in Fatah and outside the movement. A weak Palestinian leader is one who will have great difficulty making the political decisions and the painful concessions required in any settlement with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • West's Relations with Saudis Face Growing Strain: German Hosts are Furious as Militant Islam is Taught at Saudi Diplomatic School
    When the King Fahd Academy opened in Bonn nine years ago, it was heralded as a bridge between Germany and the Arab world. Yet the academy has morphed into one of Europe's breeding grounds of Islamic extremism, where a preacher has called for jihad against the West, schoolchildren are taught martyrdom, and a parents' group has become a who's who of suspected Islamic activists across the country. The school continues to use Saudi texts and teach Wahhabism to Germans. (Wall Street Journal, 7 Dec 04)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Morality and the World's Myopia - Daniel Gordis (American Jewish Committee)

    • Israel is at war - not against "militants," or against those who would seek to "liberate" the Palestinian people. Israel is engaged in a war for its survival, against well-armed and increasingly well-trained, highly disciplined groups of terrorists.
    • Their agenda is not the liberation of the "territories" that were captured in June 1967 in a war that Israel did not want. Their agenda, as Hamas and Hizballah (among others) freely admit, is the eradication of the "Zionist entity" from what should be, in their minds, an exclusively Muslim Middle East.
    • This war began immediately after Ehud Barak offered the Palestinian people the state and the independence they had always said their decades-long terrorist campaign had been designed to bring them.
    • Most Israelis now understand that there will not be peace. Not in our lifetimes, and probably not in the lifetimes of our children.
    • When Palestinian terrorists fled into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Israeli troops surrounded the church, but didn't storm it. Compare this to the Americans' treatment of mosques in Najaf or Falluja, when their patience with Moqtada Al-Sadr ran out, or what we know would have been the case had Jews been hiding in a church or a synagogue and it had been Palestinians pursuing them.
    • Israel is a country in which a vigorous and open debate about how to balance the needs for security with Jewish humanitarian values continues. Where are the Palestinians arguing in their streets for a cessation to the bombings, to the Kassam rockets, to the shootings, so that their lives can be restored to normal? Where are the graffiti calling for an end to the terror that brought the security fence in the first place? Or the graffiti that note that, if only Arafat had continued to negotiate, none of this would have happened?
    • The world calls Israel racist, but the only population that Sharon is considering moving is the Jewish population in Gaza, not the villages that openly harbor the terrorists who seek to kill our children.
    • As the battle against Islamic terror spreads, and as Westerners experience ever more terror firsthand, the world will come to admire the restraint and fortitude with which Israel has fought for its life.

      The writer is vice president of the Mandel Foundation-Israel and director of its Jerusalem Fellows program.

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