Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 9, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Syria's Murderous Role - Richard Carlson, Barbara Newman, and William Cowan (Washington Times)
    Complicating the mission of bringing stability to Iraq is the covert role played by Syria in financing and supporting the present insurgency.
    A number of current and former U.S. intelligence officers experienced in counter-terrorism believe that Syria should have been long ago included on Washington's "axis of evil" list.
    In the earliest stages of the ground war in Iraq, U.S. forces engaged uniformed Syrians near Baghdad, killing more than 100. Current intelligence reports show that hundreds of Syrians are fighting alongside insurgents in the Sunni Triangle.
    In October, U.S. intelligence sources identified three relatives of Saddam Hussein who had fled to Syria and were funneling millions of dollars to Iraqi insurgents.
    The president's goals in Iraq will not be achieved until the Syrians are forced to halt all assistance to our enemies.
    To win the ground war in Iraq and the larger war on terrorism, we must stop more than two decades of Syrian complicity with terrorists.

U.S. Army Arrests 10 Palestinians in Baghdad (AFP/Hindustan Times-India)
    U.S. soldiers arrested 10 Palestinians during a search of the headquarters of the Palestinian Red Crescent and a sports club in Baghdad, a Palestinian diplomat said Tuesday.
    The U.S. army said it arrested "several important international terrorists" at the sports club.

Somerville Rejects Divestment Plan - Benjamin Gedan (Boston Globe)
    A Somerville, MA, Board of Aldermen committee Tuesday rejected a controversial proposal to divest all of the city's public funds from Israel and companies that supply its military, that pitted pro-Palestinian activists against supporters of Israel and Jewish groups.

"Genocide" Big Word at London Anti-Israel Academic Conference - Atarah Haber (Jerusalem Post)
    An international conference entitled "Resisting Israeli Apartheid" was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London on Sunday, organized by the university's Palestine Society and attended by Palestinian and Jewish intellectuals from various countries.
    The Jewish Society, in response, joined forces with Peace Now UK to arrange a counter-conference that focused on possible resolutions to the Middle East conflict and stressed the need to achieve security and dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. to Give $23.5 Million for Palestinians
    Assistant secretary of state for Middle East affairs William Burns announced Wednesday at an international donors' conference in Oslo that the U.S. would provide $23.5 million in aid to the PA to help conduct elections, establish security, meet its payrolls, and upgrade infrastructure in Gaza. "Palestinians deserve credit for their careful management of a difficult leadership transition, and their commitment to the electoral process," Burns said. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said the money would be subject to "very stringent and proven transparency and accountability provisions." (New York Times)
  • Islamic Charities Found Liable in Israel Shooting
    Three Islamic charities and a Hamas fundraiser have been ordered to pay $156 million to the parents of a teen shot and killed while waiting for a bus outside Jerusalem. A federal court jury in Chicago awarded $52 million in damages Wednesday to the parents of David Boim, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys tripled those damages. Joyce and Stanley Boim sued over the 1996 death of their son under a U.S. law that allows victims of terrorism abroad to collect damages in American courts from groups that give money to terrorists. The groups involved are the Oak Lawn-based Quranic Literacy Institute, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, and the Islamic Association for Palestine. Fund-raiser Mohammed Salah was also found liable. (NBC5-Chicago)
  • Iraq, Jordan See Threat to Election from Iran
    The leaders of Iraq and Jordan warned Tuesday that Iran is trying to influence the Iraqi elections scheduled for Jan. 30 to create an Islamic government. Jordanian King Abdullah said that if pro-Iran parties dominate the new Iraqi government, a new "crescent" of dominant Shiite movements or governments stretching from Iran into Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon could emerge. (Washington Post)
  • Syria Stresses Support to Palestinian Resistance
    Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri Tuesday underscored his country's support to the Palestinian resistance against Israel to establish a state with Jerusalem as its capital, the official Syrian SANA news agency reported. Otri made the remarks while meeting with a top Palestinian delegation, including PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, and Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath. Abbas praised Syria's supportive position to the Palestinian struggle and its great sacrifices for the Palestinian cause. (Xinhua-China)
        See also Arab Countries Highlight Importance of Boycotting Israel
    Officials from 19 Arab countries as well as representatives from the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Conference highlighted the importance of boycotting Israel on Monday at the 73rd conference of the Damascus-based Office of the Arab Boycott of Israel (OABI). The OABI was set up in 1951 by Arab nations to prevent companies that did business with Israel from operating in the Arab world. In its heyday, the Arab boycott office blacklisted more than 8,500 companies, including Coca-Cola and Ford. (Xinhua-China)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S.: All Settlements Beyond the Security Fence to be Dismantled - Ben Caspit
    Elliot Abrams, senior director on the U.S. National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs, sees every settlement beyond the security fence as a candidate for removal. "It is clear to us that the settlements beyond the security fence will be dismantled in the end," Abrams told Jewish leaders at a closed meeting in Washington on Nov. 30. (Maariv-Hebrew; 8Dec04)
        See also Israeli Officials: Abrams' Comments Represent No Change in U.S. Policy - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire, Shelling Continue - Margot Dudkevitch
    Palestinians fired two Kassam rockets toward an Israeli community in the northern Gaza Strip Thursday. Also four mortar shells landed on communities located in southern Gaza, and two hit northern Gaza communities. No damage or injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon: IDF Most Moral Army in World - Gideon Alon
    Prime Minister Sharon told reporters Wednesday, "I advise you not to get confused or become hysterical. IDF soldiers are fighting a very difficult war, day and night, against the basest, vilest murderers. You should admire what the IDF has done and understand the difficulties....IDF soldiers are more moral in their operations than any other army in the world with which I am familiar."
        Sharon also said, "The cease-fire they are talking about is a cease-fire between the PA and the various terrorist organizations. We are not part of this cease-fire or this agreement. But if there is quiet on their part, if there are no terrorist activities or ticking bombs, I assume that there will also be quiet on our part." (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Airs Interview with Israeli Embassy Official - Yoav Stern
    A spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, Israel Tikochinsky, appeared on Egyptian television this week for the first time, interviewed in Arabic by Umayma Tamim, the wife of Osama al-Baz, a senior aide to Egyptian President Mubarak. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Disengagement First: Comprehensive Settlement Premature - Abraham D. Sofaer
    Arafat's death has generated widespread calls for Israel and the PA to resume negotiations aimed at a comprehensive settlement. In fact, the Palestinians are far from ready to negotiate, with three elections scheduled over the next several months (presidential, legislative, and PLO Council). To focus now on the resumption of comprehensive talks would be premature.
        Outsiders should not attempt to force discussions to occur, or to become a vehicle for exchanging conditional commitments based on potentially illusory undertakings that could disrupt not only the elections but disengagement as well. Unilateral steps in the right direction are preferable to bilateral negotiations that lead nowhere. The writer, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, was legal adviser to the State Department from 1985 to 1990. (Wall Street Journal, 9Dec04)
  • Saudi Stability in the Shadow of the U.S. Consulate Attack in Jeddah - Simon Henderson
    The Dec. 6 attack on the U.S. consulate in Jeddah contradicts Riyadh's claims that it has contained the threat of terrorism. The terrorists clearly possessed detailed knowledge of the consulate compound's security procedures and physical layout. As in previous terrorist attacks in the past two years, Saudi guards were unprepared and did not detect previous terrorist reconnaissance. Moreover, some security elements may have provided uniforms, equipment, and tactical information to the attackers. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • On the Verge of a Turning Point? - Barry Rubin
    Was Arafat's removal really the start of a new era in which peace is possible in a relatively short time? If something new and big is happening, one could attribute it to the deaths of Arafat and Hamas leader sheikh Ahmed Yassin; the Palestinians' recognition that they have lost the war; their economic prostration; and surviving leaders' fear that Israel might kill them. In other words, it would be a triumph for pragmatism and a clear understanding of the balance of forces, of the foolishness and high cost of warring on for total victory.
        Yet what is lacking so far is the same factor that was missing in Oslo. There has still been no serious discussion publicly or privately in which the Palestinian leadership reconsiders its most basic ideas. On the contrary, the old rhetoric is being repeated frequently. No moderate viewpoint is being communicated to the masses, as it is to the West. There is a clear difference between what is said in English and what is said in Arabic. Marwan Barghouti's candidacy to lead the PA will force the Fatah establishment to match his militant rhetoric. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Palestinians Do Not Need Another Tyrant - Natan Sharansky
    (Los Angeles Times)

    • Arafat is dead. Whether this will really prove to be a positive turning point in the search for peace in the Middle East depends on whether we have learned from the failures of the past.
    • The Oslo process failed because the democratic world, including Israel, believed that peace could be made with a dictator. Neither the U.S. nor Israel nor Europe would do anything to "weaken" him, or more extreme elements would come to power.
    • Only weeks after Oslo began, when nearly all the world was drunk with the idea of peace, I argued that a Palestinian "fear society" would always pose a grave threat to Israel and would never prove a reliable peace partner. It was Andrei Sakharov, the foremost dissident in the Soviet Union, who taught me that regimes that do not respect the rights of their own people will not respect the rights of their neighbors.
    • In the post-Arafat era, the success of the peace process will hinge on whether the world finally focuses on what goes on inside Palestinian-controlled areas.
    • If the world focuses once and for all on helping the Palestinians build a free society, I have no doubt that a historic compromise between Israelis and Palestinians can be reached and that peace can prevail.

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