Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 27, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Survey: Most Israelis Mistrust Cease-Fire (Jerusalem Post)
    70% of Israelis believe that the Palestinians intend to take advantage of a cease-fire in order to organize and arm themselves against Israel, according to a phone survey conducted on Jan. 26 for Israel Radio.
    However, 79% back a meeting between Sharon and Abbas in the near future.

Nazi Hunters to Take On Other War Crimes Cases - Dan Eggen (Washington Post)
    For the past quarter-century, the Office of Special Investigations inside the Justice Department has investigated and prosecuted alleged Nazis from World War II, resulting in the removal of nearly 100 former concentration camp guards and other suspected war criminals from the U.S.
    But now, with many of its targets dead or dying, the office is being remade to take on an even bigger task: tracking down war criminals within the U.S. who have connections to other genocidal conflicts around the globe.

U.S. Book Exposes Secret U.S. Military Presence in Israel - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
    Code Names, a new book published in the U.S. by William Arkin, exposes information about at least five U.S. Army bases at secret locations in Israel.
    The book's revelations about ongoing cooperation between the U.S. armed forces and the IDF impart a new dimension to the saying that Israel is America's aircraft carrier in the Middle East, and that this fact alone justifies the military aid that the U.S. grants Israel every year.
    Arkin, a military commentator for NBC, is a former intelligence analyst for U.S. ground forces.

Syria Intimidates Opposition Abroad (Middle East Newsline)
    Syrian opposition sources said agents of President Bashar Assad have been sending e-mails to the regime's opponents in Europe and the U.S. containing threats to kill the children and relatives of opposition members.
    "The Syrian Ba'ath party secret agents are on the prowl against Syrian opposition outside Syria," the Washington-based Reform Party of Syria said.
    On Nov. 6, Germany arrested a Syrian embassy staffer and charged him with espionage and issuing threats against the Syrian opposition in Europe.

Jordan Plans Decentralization (Jordan Times)
    King Abdullah on Wednesday announced plans to decentralize local government by redrawing provincial administrations that are to be run by publicly elected local councils.
    In a televised address, the King said it is "essential to expand the base of public participation."


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • World Leaders Gather for Auschwitz Ceremony
    Heads of state, prominent Jews, Nazi death camp survivors, and a handful of their liberators began gathering in Poland in a heavy snowstorm to commemorate Thursday the freeing of thousands of people from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp 60 years ago. The commemoration will be attended by heads of state from Russia, Poland, Germany, France, and Israel, along with political leaders from nearly 40 other countries. Vice President Dick Cheney will attend on behalf of the U.S. (New York Times)
        See also below Observations: Prime Minister Sharon's Speech at the Knesset Marking the Struggle Against Anti-Semitism
  • Bush: Palestinian State Could Be Founded Ahead of Schedule
    President George W. Bush said Wednesday that a Palestinian state could be founded in less than four years. "It is conceivable it could happen before then (2009) if there is that firm commitment. And it looks like there is a firm commitment," Bush told Dubai-based Al Arabiya television. (Xinhuanet-China)
  • 30 Marines, Sailor Die in Copter Crash in Iraq
    A Marine Corps transport helicopter crashed during a sandstorm in western Iraq on Wednesday, killing 30 Marines and a sailor. Four more Marines and two soldiers died in attacks, bringing to 37 the U.S. toll for the day. (Washington Post)
  • France Seizes 11 Accused of Plotting Iraq Attacks
    France has smashed a cell that was recruiting fighters to join the insurgency in Iraq, intelligence and law enforcement officials said Wednesday. (New York Times)
  • Militant Imams Under Scrutiny Across Europe
    In Britain, Germany, and France, authorities have stepped up surveillance of militant mosques. Sheik Omar Bakri, the leader of Al Muhajiroun, Britain's largest Muslim group, has urged young Muslim men all over the world to support the Iraq insurgency on the front line of "the global jihad." On Sunday, German police arrested a man suspected of being a member of al-Qaeda and charged him with recruiting men to carry out suicide bombings in Iraq. Bohre Eddine Benvahia, an imam recently deported by France to Algeria, had urged young men to join jihad, French intelligence officials said. Italian investigators say several recruits from Italy carried out bombing attacks in Baghdad. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Foreign Minister: Cease-Fire a Ticking Bomb Which Will Blow Up in Our Faces - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Army Radio Thursday after talks with U.S. Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice, "A cease-fire is a ticking bomb which will blow up in our faces....You cannot take a cease-fire as a long-range goal while they are still preserving their infrastructure. The extremist organizations can rebuild them and bring about a situation in which, at a time they choose, they can carry out one terrorist attack or a series of terror attacks, which will bring down this whole process and send it to hell."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Release Palestinian Prisoners - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Israel is expected to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as part of a package of goodwill gestures designed to help strengthen the new Palestinian leadership, Israeli officials have said. After a meeting Wednesday between Sharon and Abbas aides, Palestinian security sources said Abbas had relayed instructions to prepare for taking over security responsibility for cities in the West Bank. Israel expects the PA to remove hundreds of wanted men from terror activity, disarming them, and keeping them under its control. The Palestinians are planning to co-opt the armed men into the PA security forces. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Envoy: U.S. Will Help Finance Pullout - Moti Bassok
    The U.S. is likely to help Israel finance the military aspect of the disengagement from Gaza, helping to cover the expenses involved in transferring forces from bases in Gaza to new ones inside Israel, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Ayalon said Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas Demands an Independent Media - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA Chairman Abbas has instructed Palestinian TV to refrain from the long-standing practice of heaping praise on Palestinian leaders. The station's news programs were largely devoted to covering Arafat's activities and statements, even when they did not carry any political significance. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Iranian Nuclear Challenge - Time to Get Serious - Editorial
    A nuclear-armed Iran is an alarming prospect, given the radical nature of the Iranian regime, with its long and continuing record of sponsoring international terrorism, its undiluted hostility to the United States and Israel, and its intense regional rivalries with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. So effective crisis diplomacy needs to move into high gear. The mullahs are unlikely to give up their nuclear weapons efforts, which are popular among Iranians of all political persuasions, unless they are plainly told that refusing will bring punishing economic isolation in the very near future. European leaders have not been willing to send that firm message yet, and need to do so. (New York Times)
  • No Grace Period for Newly Elected Abbas - Michael Herzog
    Abbas already possesses the necessary public mandate, forces, and capabilities to stop the firing of Kassam rockets, to avert imminent suicide bomb attempts, and to seriously investigate terrorist attacks once they occur. He must take action on these fronts now rather than later - the roiling waters of Gaza will not afford him a grace period. Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, formerly a senior military aide to Israel's minister of defense, is a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • In Israel, Storm of Rockets Rains Pain and Despair - Ken Ellingwood
    Palestinians in Gaza have fired Kassam rockets into Sderot so often during the last four years, occasionally with deadly results, that nearly everyone has a story about a near miss. The community has seen more than 410 attacks since 2001, according to military sources. Residents stay indoors as much as they can and soothe their children when the town's warning system blares. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Justice System the Best Holocaust Memorial - Michael Danby
    At Auschwitz the German Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler killed more than a million people in cold blood, as part of the calculated campaign of extermination. Auschwitz and the other six death camps in Poland and Belarus were built and operated by the Nazis for a particular purpose, the utter extermination of the Jewish people, beginning with the Jews of Europe. Both my grandfather, a decorated German officer, and my grandmother - Bruno and Margarethe Danziger - died in Auschwitz.
        I do not believe that the six million victims of the Holocaust died in vain. Their memorial is the prevailing postwar system of international law, justice, and democracy, created to ensure that such a horror was never revisited on the people of the world. We owe it to all those who died in all the genocides of the past century to continue building this system of law and justice. The writer is a member of the Australian Federal Parliament. (Australian Financial Review)
  • Observations:

    Speech at the Knesset Special Session Marking the Struggle Against Anti-Semitism - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Prime Minister's Office)

    • We chose to mark this day of struggle against anti-Semitism on the day of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp - that horrible symbol of the Holocaust.
    • The allies knew of the annihilation of the Jews. They knew and did nothing. On April 19, 1943, the Bermuda Conference gathered, with the participation of representatives from Britain and the U.S., in order to discuss saving the Jews of Europe. All the suggestions for rescue operations which the Jewish organizations presented were rejected. They simply did not want to deal with it.
    • When, in the summer of 1944, the mass deportations in Hungary were carried out, the Allies did not bomb the train tracks which led to Auschwitz from Hungary, nor the murder facilities in Birkenau, despite the fact that they had the ability to do so. Allied planes attacked targets near Auschwitz, but they refused to bomb the camp itself, in which 10,000 Jews were murdered daily. Thus were 618,000 Jews annihilated in a number of weeks - the Jews of Hungary. The sad and horrible conclusion is that no one cared that Jews were being murdered.
    • During the most terrible critical hour, those in power, and the declared friends, did not lift a finger. This is the Jewish lesson of the Holocaust - and this is the lesson which Auschwitz taught us.
    • The State of Israel learned this lesson and since its establishment, it has done its utmost to defend itself and its citizens, and provide a safe haven for any Jew, wherever he may be. We know that we can trust no one but ourselves.
    • These days, the generation which was witness to the horrors is disappearing, and ignorance is increasing. Fewer people around the world have heard of the Holocaust or are aware of what happened in Auschwitz. Sixty years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the evil which gave rise to the horror still exists, and still threatens us.
    • Israel is a very small country, blessed with talented and courageous people. However, it must always be remembered that this is the only place in the world where we, the Jews, have the right and the capability to defend ourselves, by ourselves. And we will never relinquish this. It is our historic responsibility. It is my personal historic responsibility.

        See also Could Britain Have Done More to Stop the Horrors of Auschwitz? - Martin Gilbert (Times-UK)

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