Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 26, 2005

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In-Depth Issue:

Danish Citizen Arrested as Hizballah Agent - Yaakov Katz and Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Iyad Alasuah, 39, a Danish citizen of Lebanese origin who was arrested on Jan. 6 while on a train from Nahariya to Haifa, videotaping the passing scenery through the train window, was identified Wednesday as a Hizballah agent.
    He confessed that in July 2004 he had been recruited into Hizballah by relatives living in Lebanon.
    He said he was ordered to travel to Israel disguised as a tourist to collect security information and to recruit Israeli Arabs into the terror organization. He succeeded in recruiting two Israeli Arab suspects.
    "Hizballah used an Arab with a Western passport to fool the Israeli security service," the police said.

Israel Slams Belgium-Hizballah Talks - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Foreign Ministry called in Belgium's ambassador on Monday to protest a meeting that his colleague, the Belgian ambassador to Lebanon, held last week with Hizballah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.
    Israel is pressing the EU to place Hizballah on its list of terrorist organizations.
    "We believe these meetings accord the organization - which kills innocent civilians - a legitimacy it doesn't deserve," said Jeremy Issacharoff, deputy directory-general and head of the Division for Strategic Affairs, which deals with antiterrorism issues.
    Hizballah is currently running some 50 terrorist cells within the PA. In 2004, Hizballah transferred $9 million to these cells, which carried out 60 attacks and killed 24 Israelis.

Israeli Ambassador Cancels Visit to Columbia U. - Nathan Guttman (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon cancelled his participation in a conference scheduled for Thursday organized by Columbia University in New York, after consultations with the heads of the Jewish community in the U.S., "due to Jewish students' claims of intimidation by university staff."
    Jewish students say professors in the Middle Eastern Studies department use their classes to spread anti-Israel positions and do not allow Israel supporters to express their views.

Russia Writes Off $9.8 Billion of Syrian Debt (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Russia on Tuesday agreed to write off 73% - $9.8 billion - of Syria's debts to Moscow during Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's first official visit to the country.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel to Hold Back in Areas Under Palestinian Order
    A high-level source in Prime Minister Sharon's office said Wednesday: "Wherever the area remains quiet there will not be any Israeli action." But where there is a "ticking bomb" - not being defused by Palestinian security - Israeli forces will act. According to the source, Palestinian security forces will be given the first opportunity to deal with terrorist threats.
        The U.S. State Department said Monday that Assistant Secretary of State William Burns would visit Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and Egypt this week. (CNN)
  • Rising UK Anti-Semitism Blamed on Media - Chris McGreal
    Britain suffered the sharpest rise in anti-Semitic attacks of any country last year, and British press coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a leading cause, according to an Israeli government report. Natan Sharansky, the cabinet minister responsible for the diaspora, said the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism found that violent attacks on Jews in Britain rose by almost half. The total number of incidents in Britain rose to 304 from 163 a year earlier, when verbal assaults, damage to property, and swastikas daubing were taken into account. Tehila Nahalon, an adviser to Sharansky on anti-Semitism, said: "You can't brainwash people for four years that Israel is an illegitimate country and that Israelis are like the Nazis and that Israelis are monsters and expect that nothing will happen to Jews." (Guardian-UK)
        See also Anti-Semitic Incidents Up in UK, Russia - Nadav Shragai
    Most of the incidents in Britain occurred near or inside synagogues, some of which were set on fire or were targets of attempted arson. In the former Soviet Union in 2004, 295 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded, of which 110 were violent, compared with 146 incidents in 2003, of which 35 were violent. The report also mentions Sweden, where certain left-wing groups and other organizations connected to the Church have apparently adopted a radical anti-Israel line, with anti-Semitic overtones. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Freezes Assets of Syrian Said to Finance Iraqi Insurgents
    The Bush administration acted Tuesday to freeze the finances of Sulayman Khalid Darwish, a Syrian accused of helping finance insurgents in Iraq by providing support to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda's top operative there. "This terrorist financier is helping support al-Zarqawi, who has launched violent acts against our troops, coalition partners, and the Iraqi people," said Treasury Secretary John Snow. "Identifying financial operatives and choking off the flow of blood money moves us closer to our ultimate goal of fracturing the financial backbone of the Iraqi insurgency and al-Qaeda." (AP/New York Times)
  • Militant Groups Embracing Gaza Vote - John Ward Anderson
    On Thursday, for the first time, 90,600 voters in the Gaza Strip will cast ballots in municipal elections, choosing from among 414 candidates vying for 118 seats on 10 local councils. Many of the candidates belong to radical groups listed by the U.S. as terrorist organizations, including Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Hamas. "These municipal elections are very important because they signal that Hamas is joining the system," said Ziad Abu Amr, an independent legislator from Gaza City. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Halts Targeted Interceptions of Terrorist Leaders - Amos Harel, Aluf Benn, and Arnon Regular
    Security officials said Wednesday that Israel has informed the Palestinians of their decision to stop the targeted killing of Palestinian militants. Military officials from the two sides met Tuesday to plan the deployment of Palestinian police in central and southern Gaza, to prevent militants from attacking Israelis. Senior aide to the prime minister Dov Weisglass met Wednesday with Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat and Abbas's chief of staff Hassan Abu Libdeh. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Renew Kassam Rocket Fire - Margot Dudkevitch
    Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket Tuesday into an open area near Kerem Shalom in southern Gaza. Another Kassam rocket was fired into the western Negev Tuesday. Two antitank rockets were fired at an IDF post in southern Gaza, and shots were fired at an IDF post near Gadid in Gush Katif. There were no injuries in any of the attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Must "Pay" for Calm, Say Hamas, Islamic Jihad - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Tuesday denied that they would halt terrorist attacks "without making Israel pay a price." Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, the Syria-based head of the movement's political bureau, told the London-based daily Al-Hayat: "There is talk about calm, but a conditioned one. If the occupation meets our conditions, including ending the occupation and releasing all the prisoners, we will be prepared to consider a temporary truce." According to sources in Ramallah, most of the Palestinian factions have agreed in principle to Abbas's initiative to achieve a temporary truce with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel, PA Discuss Palestinian Deployment in Southern Gaza - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    The southern Gaza deployment will pose a tougher challenge, Palestinian sources noted, since some of the armed organizations in the area, particularly the Fatah breakaway Abu Reish Brigades, have so far refused to agree to a cease-fire.
        On Monday, Gaza Islamic Jihad spokesman Khaled al-Batash said his organization planned to resume mortar fire on Israeli targets after the Id al-Adha holiday. IDF sources said that while there were reports of mortar fire, the shells apparently landed in Palestinian areas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas Okays Hamas Role in Palestinian Leadership - Arnon Regular
    Abbas has reached an agreement in principle with Hamas leaders Mahmoud al-Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza on the organization's participation in PA decision-making and in a future Palestinian government, sources involved in the talks reported Tuesday. The main focus of the talks is the establishment of a "supreme diplomatic authority" to replace the PLO as the body responsible for approving any diplomatic agreement with Israel. This authority would include all the Palestinian organizations, both in the territories and abroad. Hamas will run candidates in the PA's parliamentary elections in July, and may even become part of the new government to be set up after these elections. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Tribute of Lies at UN - Andrea Peyser
    Sixty years after the world learned that bored Germans flung Jewish babies into the air for target practice at the Auschwitz death camp, our oily pals at the United Nations have officially acknowledged the Holocaust. The UN Monday took the unprecedented step of inviting concentration-camp survivors, liberators, and the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel for the purpose of shouting, "Never again."
        Only one man spoke the truth about anti-Semitism. Marcello Pera, speaker of the Italian Senate, said: "We have an obligation to admit that anti-Semitism is still with us. Today, it also feeds on such subtle and insidious distinctions as are often made between Israel and the Jewish state, Israel and its governments, Zionism and Semitism. Or, it crops up when the struggle for life led by the Israelis is labeled 'state terrorism.'" "If we believe that our core values are no better than others; if we start thinking that the cost of defending them is too high; if we give in to the blackmail or fear, then we have no more instruments to counter the anti-Jewish racism which continues to poison us than we have to counter the fundamentalist and terrorist racism which puts peaceful co-existence at risk." Next year in Italy. (New York Post)
  • Inquiring Minds in Saudi Arabia Know All about Evil America - Jonathan Gurwitz
    The suicide bomber who blew himself up in a U.S. mess hall in Mosul, Iraq, on Dec. 21 was Saudi Arabian, according to the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. Ahmed Said Ahmed al-Ghamdi killed 22 people. His profile upsets the conventional - and faulty - perception of terrorists as uneducated, poor, and desperate individuals. Al-Ghamdi was well-educated - a medical student - from a wealthy and well-connected Saudi Arabian family. His father is a Saudi ambassador.
        As in many Middle Eastern countries, the Saudi government strictly controls the media and its message. Three days before the Mosul bombing, the Saudi government daily Al-Watan charged that American military forces in Iraq were savagely harvesting the organs of Iraqi insurgents to sell in the U.S. After the Mosul bombing, reining in fabrications that promote hatred and incite violence against Americans would be a small measure of good will. (San Antonio Express)
  • Observations:

    Visit to Israeli Relief Center in Sri Lanka - Rep. Steve Israel
    (Office of Rep. Israel [NY])

    • During a trip to Sri Lanka to survey the tsunami damage, one of the most unforgettable moments of the trip came when we discovered an Israeli relief center.
    • It was nice seeing firsthand what is rarely reported, the humanitarian relief efforts of the Israeli people. The moment is another reflection of the humanity that inevitably arises from every great human catastrophe. Political, geographical, and ethnic differences disappear. Controversies recede.
        See also Israel Responds to Humanitarian Crisis - Rep. Joseph Crowley
    (Office of Rep. Crowley [NY]; 25Jan05)
    • The Magen David Adom - the "Israeli Red Cross" - and Israeli humanitarian groups are feeding over 1,000 kids a day by giving formula to the mothers and youngsters. Under the dire circumstances and because of the stress, women are not lactating. In addition, many mothers have died.
    • Every day from 3 to 5 p.m. the volunteers provide recreation for the kids, some of whom have lost their parents.
    • After what was an emotionally draining day of visiting miles and miles of devastation and seeing so many people who are now left with nothing, seeing these volunteers from MDA really revved our spirits.
    • The face of Israel in our press is always the issues of the West Bank and Gaza, and Israel's fight against terrorism. What people don't see is that the country of Israel, the Middle East's only true democracy, the only country in the region where Arabs, Jews, Christians, and others have equal rights, is a responsible, valuable, and compassionate world citizen which can show compassion as well as strength to help those in the region and developing world.

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