Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 13, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza: The Million-and-a-Half Person Gap (
    A team of American and Israeli researchers report that the 2004 Palestinian-Arab population was closer to 2.4 million than the 3.8 million reported by the PA.
      The million-and-a-half person gap occurred because the PA numbers are based on Palestine Bureau of Statistics (PBS) 1997 projections, not on actual population counts.
      When the research team reviewed PA Ministry of Health birth data and actual border entry/exit data, they found "dramatically fewer births and lower fertility rates, and instead of immigration, the territories experienced a steady net emigration," reported project leader Bennett Zimmerman.
    "The PA's Central Election Commission acknowledged that 200,000 Palestinians were living abroad and that the number of eligible voters living in the territories was only 1.3 million. This figure confirmed our lowest population calculations," explained historian Roberta Seid.
    See Full Report.

    For a critical view, see also Critics Slam Report Debunking Demographic Threat - Yair Ettinger (Ha'aretz)

Bush Nominates Rabbi's Son Chertoff to be Homeland Security Secretary - Janine Zacharia (Jerusalem Post)
    President Bush on Tuesday nominated Judge Michael Chertoff to become the new homeland security secretary.
    Chertoff, 51, the son of a rabbi from Elizabeth, NJ, was chief of the Justice Department's criminal division when the 9/11 attacks occurred and was instrumental in drafting the department's antiterrorism policies.

Gaza to Get Desalinized Water from Israel (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    The U.S. announced Wednesday that it will fund a $2 million pipeline to bring water to Gaza from Israel's new desalinization plant in Ashkelon.
    The new pipeline will supply an additional 5 million cubic meters a year to meet the needs of 150,000 Palestinians.

Italian Cartoonist Dropped after Israel Furore - John Phillips (Independent-UK)
    Italy's most popular cartoonist, Giorgio Forattini, was dropped by the daily newspaper La Stampa Wednesday after his depiction of Jesus Christ in a Bethlehem stable manger faced by Israeli tanks, asking "Are they going to kill me again?" generated a storm of protests.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell Urges Abbas to Fight Terrorists
    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Fox News on Tuesday: "Yes, he [Abbas] said some things during the campaign that were of concern to me, that were disturbing to me, and we'll raise them directly with Mr. Abbas....But I believe he understands that he has to now take a strong position - an open, vocal, clear position - against terrorism. But more than just take a position. He has to fight against those forces within the Palestinian community that still think there is a role for terrorism. And if he does that, then the United States will be able to support him and he'll find that Israel can be a partner for peace with him as well." (State Department)
  • "Welcome to Gaza" - Krishnadev Calamur
    During a conversation with a spokesman for an armed wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction in Gaza, I am told that rocket attacks against Israel, which Abbas has opposed, work. The spokesman, Abu Haroun, boasts the attacks have forced people from the Jewish town of Sderot to leave. Others in the room are quiet as Abu Haroun speaks. Later, after he leaves, they say they are sick of the militants and their actions that are causing innocent people to die. Hamas's spokesman tells me that Abbas has conceded too much to Israel and the West and this will eventually lead to his downfall. (UPI/Washington Times)
  • Christians Flee Genocide as Fear Sweeps Iraq - Jack Fairweather
    Iraq's Christian community, targeted with special ferocity by Islamic extremists for the past year, is disappearing rapidly. Churches have been bombed, priests kidnapped, and Christian neighborhoods subjected to random shootings, the terrorists' revenge for the community's shared religion with the "Christian" invaders. According to church leaders, some 300,000 Christians - roughly a quarter of the population - have fled their homes since the U.S.-led invasion. "It's genocide. You can see it with your own eyes," said Bishop Putres Harbori, head of the Christian community in Dohuk, near the Turkish border, where 350 families have found sanctuary. (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Russia Denies Syrian Anti-Aircraft Missile Deal - Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, and Yoav Stern
    Russia denied Thursday it was in talks with Syria over arms sales after media reports on Wednesday that Israel was trying to stop Moscow selling missiles to Damascus. "We do not have any negotiations with Syria on the possible shipment of such missiles," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said during a visit to Washington. Israel is asking Russia not to supply Syria with advanced shoulder-launched, surface-to-air, SA-18 missiles, known as Igla, which Russia has promised to sell to Damascus. The U.S. State Department on Wednesday expressed strong opposition to the missile deal, and hinted at threats of sanctions on Syria should the deal take place. Spokesman Richard Boucher said Washington is against the sale of deadly military equipment to Syria, a state that shelters terrorists. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Russian Short-Range Missiles Could Tip the Power Balance in Favor of Syria - Amnon Barzilai
    If the Russian Iskander E missile is cheap enough, Syria could acquire more of the missiles than Israel has of the much more expensive Arrows, thus tipping the balance of power between the two countries, Uzi Rubin, former head of the missile defense project in the Defense Ministry, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The missile has a range of 280 kilometers and is presumed capable of carrying a non-conventional warhead. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: Talk of Negotiations Premature - Herb Keinon
    Israel will not begin political negotiations with the PA simply because Mahmoud Abbas was elected PA chairman, Israeli officials are expected to tell visiting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Thursday. Prime Minister Sharon is expected to meet Abbas within two weeks, but Israel has consistently maintained that these talks will only deal with security issues and not constitute any form of negotiation. A senior diplomatic official said Israel is bracing for requests by Solana and other European leaders to make gestures to Abbas in order to consolidate his position, but that Israel "is not in the business of 'gesture politics.' We will respond to action on the ground."
        Israel will urge the EU to "stay in sync" with the Israeli and U.S. position that the PA elections are an important first step on the road to democracy but are not sufficient, and that there is still a need to get rid of the armed militias and create functioning and viable democratic institutions. "We don't want the Europeans to give the Palestinians the impression that they can wriggle out of their security commitments," the official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Would a Democratic Palestinian Polity Seek Peace with Israel? - Yosef Goell
    The widespread assumption is that if an independent democratic Palestinian polity arose alongside Israel, it would automatically do its utmost to attain a full peace accord with its Jewish neighbor. Regrettably, there is not the slightest shred of evidence to support such an assumption. It is quite clear that if truly democratic elections were to be held today in Egypt and Jordan, they would replace the authoritarian Mubarak and Hashemite regimes. But opinion polls in both countries indicate that they would also abrogate their peace treaties with Israel, which their authoritarian leaders agreed to under American pressure. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Reporting of Iraq and Israel: An Abuse of Media Power - Melanie Phillips
    Britain is gripped by an unprecedented degree of irrationality, prejudice, and hysteria over the issues of Iraq, the terrorist jihad, and Israel, because all three have been systematically misreported, distorted, and misrepresented through a lethal combination of profound ignorance, political malice, and ancient prejudices. This systematic abuse by the media is having a devastating impact in weakening the ability of the West to defend itself against the unprecedented mortal threat that it faces from the Islamic jihad. Logic and morality have been stood on their heads. Victims are portrayed as oppressors, while mass murderers have to be understood and sympathized with. (
  • The Post-Saddam Boom - Glenn Yago and Don McCarthy
    With 80 million people in the Middle East living in poverty and 15% to 20% unemployment rates, the urgency of economic growth and job creation to absorb the growing labor force is vital. This past year, Iran and Saudi Arabia - the region's two largest economies by purchasing power - grew by 6.2% and 6.4%, respectively, in real terms. Of particular note is the impressive performance of Kuwait and the UAE, both of which grew more than 6% last year in real terms. Of course, Middle Eastern economies, while improving, still lag other markets, especially in one key area: access to capital for entrepreneurs. But when one looks at the success these countries have had in growing their markets in the past two years, and the reforms they are starting to make to open up their markets, the news from the region is hopeful. Mr. Yago is director of capital studies and Mr. McCarthy a research analyst at the Milken Institute. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    The Road Ahead for Palestinians - Samir S. Rantisi (San Francisco Chronicle)

    • Regardless of whether Mahmoud Abbas is someone who can be viewed as more realistic and moderate, even today, the focus seems to be on how to maintain the 4-year-old militant intifada, a militancy that has not only brought about human tragedies, but in every sense of the word amounts to another nakba (cataclysm) in our [Palestinian] history.
    • The problem is that my people still lack vision, strategy, and definitely a statesmanlike leadership that can move them up the ladder to the place they have long deserved among the world's democratic and freedom-loving nations.
    • After more than 50 years of an exhausting struggle for freedom, national independence, and statehood, there is still no agreement over the objectives of the struggle. The Palestinian Islamic movements (including Hamas and Jihad), both of which enjoy widespread grassroots support, perceive their struggle's final objective as complete liberation of British Mandate Palestine and the eventual destruction of the Jewish state, or the defeat of Zionism.
    • Such ideologies unfortunately have led in the past to prolonged suffering for my people. A newly elected Palestinian leadership needs to have the decency and courage to start reversing this political thinking, beginning with an educational effort to moderate political thought. The objective of a Palestinian state living in peace side by side with Israel requires a new indoctrination based on acceptance of the Israeli people.
    • My people must acknowledge that violent resistance has failed and that only a nonviolent and peaceful strategy can bring them closer to their objectives. All significant achievements that they can account for (including establishing their own authority) have definitely come as a result of their nonviolent strategies - not from violence and militancy.

      The writer is former senior media adviser to the Palestinian Authority.

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