Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 17, 2005

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In-Depth Issue:

Gaza's Security Chaos - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    The Palestinian side of the Karni crossing is controlled entirely by the Palestinian security forces.
    The three terrorists who carried out the attack last Thursday had to pass by the Palestinian guards.
    In addition, the firing of rockets has become a large-scale industry.
    There is no doubt that the Palestinian intelligence and security organizations in Gaza are fully informed about this activity.
    The young men who carry out the attacks were often, until recently, in active service in the security forces but resigned, while continuing to receive money, arms, and orders from their former commanders.

    See also Israel Doesn't Have Time to Wait for Abbas - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli expectations of Mahmoud Abbas are likely to remain unfulfilled.
    The Karni attack was tantamount to the Palestinian organizations spitting in the PA's face.
    Sderot is bleeding now more than Kiryat Shmona in its worst days. Three of the town's residents were killed in Karni.
    See also The End of the Honeymoon - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

The Coming Wars - Seymour M. Hersh (New Yorker)
    The U.S. has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer.
    Much of the focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected.
    The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids.
    An American commando task force, aided by information from Pakistan, has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan in a hunt for underground installations.

Al-Zarqaa in Jordan, Birthplace of al-Qaeda Leader Al-Zarqawi, the Capital of the Salafi Jihad Movement in Jordan (MEMRI)
    The London daily Al-Hayat published a three-part inquiry on the Salafi Jihad movement that emerged in Al-Zarqaa, Jordan, influenced strongly by extremist Palestinian sheikhs who emigrated from Kuwait to Jordan after the 1991 Gulf War.

Israel Continues to Aid Tsunami-Stricken Areas - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Magen David Adom's medical relief team in the tsunami-hit region of Sri Lanka has been attending to 300 patients daily, including children suffering from infected wounds and respiratory infections caused by ingesting polluted water.
    The team has set up an advanced field clinic near Balapitiay, 100 km southeast of Colombo.
    See also Photos of the Israeli Aid Mission (IsraAID-Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid)


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Accuses PA of Complicity in Gaza Karni Attack Where Six Israelis Were Killed, Sharon Suspends Diplomatic Contacts - John Ward Anderson
    Israel suspended contacts with the PA on Friday after a deadly attack at the Karni border crossing between Gaza and Israel on Thursday killed six Israelis - four employees of the Israel Ports Authority and two truck drivers. Israeli officials also accused the PA of complicity in the attack. A senior Israeli official said the PA's Preventive Security Service "was to the best of our knowledge involved" in the attack. Assaf Shariv, a spokesman for Prime Minister Sharon, said the attack had been launched from a PA base. "Abbas knows who carried out the attack," he said.
        "There's a great deal of skepticism in security circles about Abu Mazen's ability to deliver a genuine end to violence," said Yossi Alpher, an Israeli political analyst. The attack "happened under the noses of Abu Mazen's own loyal security people, and they were not able to stop it or didn't want to stop it," he said. (Washington Post)
        See also No Honeymoon for Palestinian Chief - Steven Erlanger
    Sharon was troubled by the Western euphoria over Abbas and concerned that Israel would be pushed into concessions about a Palestinian state before the whole issue of Palestinian terrorism against Israel was dealt with seriously. That choice, which is what his aides think characterized the 1990s and the Oslo process, Israel does not intend to make again. More important, his own Gaza disengagement plan depends on quiet in Gaza. He has stated many times that Israel will not evacuate settlers under fire or allow the militants to make it seem that Israel is pulling out of Gaza defeated.
        Sharon, who ordered Israeli troops into the West Bank in the spring of 2002 to stop an increase in suicide bombings, is considering doing the same in Gaza. It would be costly for the army but extremely popular at home. It may be the only way for Sharon to pull out of Gaza cleanly. And in private, some Israeli officials say, it might be the best wedding present he could give Mahmoud Abbas. (New York Times)
  • 46 Palestinian Election Officials Resign - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Forty-six members of the Palestinian election commission resigned Saturday, saying they were pressured by Mahmoud Abbas's campaign and intelligence officials to abruptly change voting procedures during the Jan. 9 poll. Baha al-Bakri, a senior member of the commission, said, "We were visited by senior officials from Abu Mazen's campaign." During the meeting, shots were fired, and electoral officials said they recognized at least one gunman as a member of Palestinian intelligence services. The commission extended voting by two hours and allowed voters to cast their ballots in any location, enabling thousands of security force members, most of them Abbas supporters, to cast ballots near their posts. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Islamic Hate Eyed in NJ Murder of Four - Douglas Montero and Stefan C. Friedman
    Hossam Armanious, 46, his wife, Amal Garas, 36, and their two young daughters - Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8 - were found gagged with their throats slit in their Jersey City home early Friday. Armanious "had the reputation for being one of the most outspoken Egyptian Christians" on the Web site and had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a source. They told him, "You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," according to a fellow Copt who saw the online exchange. The FBI has been called in to help with the case. (New York Post)
  • Mideast Turmoil Sparks Altercation in Berkeley - Patrick Hoge
    A Berkeley rally against terrorism that featured a bombed Israeli bus turned briefly violent Sunday when counter-demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags marched into the mostly pro-Israel crowd. More than 500 people, mostly Jews from throughout the Bay Area, gathered in Martin Luther King Jr. Park to hear speakers denounce terrorism. More than 200 counter-demonstrators gathered across the street, including some 40 men of Middle Eastern descent, most of whom wore kaffiyehs, who yelled, "Two, four, six, eight, we are martyrs, we can't wait.'' "They attempted to disrupt the rally through the same kinds of intimidation and indiscriminate violence that are the hallmarks of our 21st century scourge, global terrorism,'' said David Meir-Levi. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon: PA "Hasn't Lifted a Finger" to Halt Terror - Aluf Benn and Amos Harel
    "Notwithstanding the leadership change in the Palestinian Authority, we see that those standing at its head have not even begun to take any sort of action to halt the terror," Prime Minister Sharon said at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday. "The IDF and the security forces have been directed to boost operational activities aimed at halting terrorism and they will continue doing so on an unrestricted basis so long as the Palestinians refrain from lifting a finger," he said.
        Sharon adviser Dov Weisglass contacted U.S., British, and EU officials to tell them that Israel expects Western countries to freeze their ties with the Palestinians if terror continues. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel: "It's All Words" - Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Prime Minister's Office on Sunday dismissed the PLO executive committee's endorsement of Abbas's call for an end to terrorist attacks on Israel and for immediate talks between Palestinian factions to achieve a cease-fire. A senior source in the Prime Minister's Office said, "It's all words. We are looking at their actions, not their words. The Palestinian leaders will be tested by what they do." He added that even their own military groups were not paying attention to them.
        Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said, "This is the moment of truth. We expect real action, not just talk. We will not talk with the Palestinians and endure terror from them at the same time." Former PA security minister Muhammad Dahlan, who is widely tipped to play a major security role in the new PA cabinet, said Sunday that Abbas has no intention of using force to disarm Palestinian groups involved in the fighting with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Critically Injures Sderot Girl - Margot Dudkevitch
    Ella Abukasis, 17, is fighting for her life after being critically wounded in a Kassam rocket attack in Sderot Saturday, and her 10-year-old brother was also badly hurt. In addition, doctors were trying to save the hand of a seven-year-old boy wounded by shrapnel when two mortar shells hit Netzarim. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Gives Abbas Time to Act on Terror - Amos Harel and Aluf Benn
    Israel is refraining from carrying out a widespread military operation in the Gaza Strip in order to give Abbas a limited amount of time to stop the rocket and mortar fire coming from Gaza. At the same time, the IDF is preparing for the possibility of a widespread operation that would include capturing a "security strip" in Palestinian towns in an attempt to improve security for the Katif settlement bloc in Gaza and for Sderot. "Regarding Kassams and mortars, no exceptional effort is needed," a senior IDF officer said. "This fire is taking place right under their noses. All they need to do is deploy forces, and the fire will diminish immediately." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Facing Down Violence - Editorial
    The three Palestinian gunmen who attacked the main cargo crossing point between Israel and Gaza on Thursday night killed six Israelis and tried also to destroy any hopes of future peace. The challenge cannot go unchallenged. If Mr. Abbas is to have any authority or credibility, he must not only respond forcefully to the militant groups determined to undermine him but must adopt a tone and posture that mark a decisive break with the evasions, deceptions, and double-dealings of his predecessor. Israel will not be satisfied with words of regret, even if more forcefully expressed. It wants, rightly, to see the kind of crackdown on militant groups that Arafat never seriously attempted. Mr. Abbas must tell the Palestinians some home truths. Violence leads only to retaliation, closure of crossing points, and further hardship. If he is to lead a new era with Israel, he must begin with an uncompromising exercise of steely authority - starting now. (Times-UK)
  • America's Standing in the Muslim World - Thomas L. Friedman
    If the fact that American soldiers have risked their lives to save the Muslims of Bosnia, the Muslims of Kuwait, the Muslims of Somalia, the Muslims of Afghanistan, and the Muslims of Iraq has earned the U.S. only the false accusation of being "anti-Muslim," trust me, U.S. troops passing out bottled water and Pop-Tarts in Indonesia are not going to erase that lie. If you throw in the Oslo peace process, U.S. foreign policy for the last 15 years has been dominated by an effort to save Muslims from tyrannies, mostly their own theocratic or autocratic regimes. It clearly has not made much of an impression.
        I believe the tensions between us and the Muslim world stem primarily from the conditions under which many Muslims live, not what we do. I believe free people, living under freely elected governments, with a free press and with economies and education systems that enable their young people to achieve their full potential, don't spend a lot of time thinking about who to hate, who to blame, and who to lash out at. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Time for a Reality Check - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (U.S. News)

    • Expectations are being raised too high. The election of Abbas to succeed Arafat is a positive, but he must now convince Palestinians that they will have to detoxify their society before anything like a real peace can exist. Too many Palestinians have devoted themselves for far too long to the eradication of Israel and the Jews.
    • Realism requires us to recognize that Abbas is not a strong leader and that, in fact, he has a long history of weakness in the face of Palestinian terrorism. He has fraternized with Hamas, snuggled up to Islamic Jihad, and promised terrorists that he will not disarm them but will protect them.
    • Combating terrorism is both a practical necessity and an essential litmus test of peaceful relations. A temporary cease-fire is no solution. It will simply raise Israeli suspicions that time is being bought to give Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades a respite to rebuild their arsenals. Terrorist groups are rarely, if ever, truly neutralized unless they are disbanded and disarmed, so Abu Mazen cannot restrict himself to co-opting the terrorist groups, as he proposes. He will have to confront them.
    • What cannot be wished away is the culture that glorifies terrorists. Abu Mazen must be held responsible for ending the propagation of hatreds. Progress for the Palestinians is incompatible with a culture of hatred in which every public platform, every mosque, every educational program is used for exhortations to destroy Israel. Which is why, sadly, the poisonous legacy of Arafat may take a generation to excise.
    • The Bush administration should focus on what is realistic. First, press the Palestinians for real reform at home to expand the rule of law, consolidate their security services, and root out the corruption so that Western aid begins to build a self-sustaining economy and not cosset a corrupt elite. Next, Abu Mazen should be pressed to clean up the vile texts in Palestinian schools and media. Why should we subsidize hatred?
    • Above all, what the West - especially America - must not do is indulge in self-deception and repeat the mistakes of the past - not if it wants something more than a photo opportunity that ultimately leads to further conflict and loss of life.

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