Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 28, 2005

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In-Depth Issue:

Hamas Wins Gaza Strip Local Elections (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas has won an overwhelming victory in Gaza Strip local elections, winning 77 out of the 118 seats in 10 districts, Palestinian election officials said Friday.
    The ruling Fatah party won 26 seats, independents took 14, and the radical Popular Front won one seat, the officials said.

Eavesdropping on Terror Talk in Germany - Faye Bowers (Christian Science Monitor)
    German intelligence operatives listened to two terrorists discuss ways to obtain uranium to make a dirty bomb in order to kill as many Americans as possible, according to a knowledgeable European official.
    The agents heard them recruit suicide bombers from Germany's well-established Muslim community to send to Iraq. They overheard plots to cheat companies out of life insurance benefits to pay for their illicit activities.
    The two, arrested on Sunday, are known only as Ibrahim Mohamed K., an Iraqi national who lived in Mainz, Germany, and Yasser Abu S., a Palestinian medical student living in Bonn.

Iraqi Scientist Discusses A-Bomb Effort (AP/New York Times)
    An Iraqi scientist has written a book in which he describes being taken to see Saddam Hussein in 1981, after 18 months in jail, and being instructed by him to build an atomic bomb.
    "By the end of 1990, about 8,000 people were involved directly or indirectly in the nuclear program," said Jaffar al-Jaffar Thursday, announcing the publication of his book in Norway, titled The Assignment.

Syria Taxes Employees to Help Palestinian Terror Groups (Middle East Newsline)
    Western diplomatic sources said that in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, authorities began in December to deduct $1 from the monthly salary of each government employee to help Palestinian insurgency groups based in Damascus.

PA Town Gets Female Mayor, Wife of Imprisoned Terrorist - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    Fathiya Barghouti, 30, has become mayor of the Western Bnei Zayid municipality, which includes the villages of Beit Rima and Dir Ghassaneh, with 6,000 residents.
    Her husband Majdi al-Rahimi, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, suggested she run for the council.
    Al-Rahimi was sentenced to eight years in a PA prison in Jericho for his role in planning the assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi.

Dramatic Rise in Jews Visiting Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai (Ha'aretz)
    In the first 14 months since the Temple Mount was reopened, up to October 2004, 70,000 Jews had visited the site, an average of 5,000 per month.
    These are dramatic numbers, compared to the few thousand Jews who would visit the Temple Mount each year prior to its closure in 2000.
    Tzachi Hanegbi, a former minister of internal security, wrote that these visits "are getting the Palestinians accustomed to accepting the deep connection of the Jewish people to the place where the Temple stood."

Dispute Over YU Degrees to be Resolved - Daphna Berman (Ha'aretz)
    Minister of Education Limor Livnat promised in a letter to Yeshiva University president Richard Joel Thursday to "resolve existing problems to the satisfaction of all concerned" regarding the ministry's policy that immigrants who have studied in Yeshiva University cannot get their degrees recognized in Israel.

Tourism to Israel Up 41% in 2004 - Zeev Klein (Globes)
    1.5 million tourists visited Israel in 2004, 41% more than in 2003 but still 38% fewer than in the record year of 2000, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported.
    378,000 tourists visited from the U.S., an increase of 39%; 256,000 from France, up 47%; 146,000 from Great Britain, up 40%; 75,000 from Germany, up 54%; 55,000 from Russia, up 33%; 43,000 from Canada, up 38%; and 42,000 from Italy, up 60%.

Foreign Investment Up 10% in '04 (Jerusalem Post)
    Foreign investment in Israel rose 10% to $6 billion in 2004 from $5.5b the previous year, the Bank of Israel said.

Harry Potter Fans Pay Homage at Graveside of British Soldier in Israel (AFP/Yahoo)
    Fans of literary boy wizard Harry Potter have been beating a path to the tomb of 19-year-old British soldier Corporal Harry Potter, a member of the Royal Worcestershire regiment, who was killed 66 years ago during fighting in Hebron and was subsequently laid to rest in Ramle.
    "Every day tourists and visitors come wanting to see Harry's grave," the cemetery's custodian Ibrahim Huri told Maariv on Tuesday.

Useful Reference:

Address by President Katsav at the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz (Foreign Ministry)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Auschwitz Liberation Anniversary Is Marked
    More than two dozen presidents, prime ministers, members of royalty, and other leaders sat in the bitterly cold open air to remember the 6 million victims of the Holocaust, most of them Jews. Among those attending were Vice President Cheney, German President Horst Koehler, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac, Britain's Prince Edward, and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, whose father was held at the camp as a Soviet prisoner of war. (Washington Post)
        See also below Commentary: Commemoration of the Liberation of Auschwitz and Observations: Survivor Interrupts World Leaders at Auschwitz Ceremony (Jerusalem Post/Maariv)
  • Despite Israeli Alerts, UN Transfers Thousands to Hamas Affiliates - Benny Avni
    The UN Development Program transferred thousands of dollars to a Palestinian Arab charity affiliated with terrorism long after Israel warned of the terror connection, though the UN publicly claimed payments to the organization had stopped. The UNDP was headed by Mark Maloch Brown, who has recently been appointed Secretary-General Annan's chief of staff. Dore Gold, the former Israeli ambassador to the UN, exposed UNDP support for charity committees affiliated with Hamas in a recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.
        UN undersecretary-general for communication Shashi Tharoor claimed in a letter to the editor of the Journal that "no further payments were made by the UN" to the Hamas affiliates after a June 25, 2003, letter from Timothy Rothermel of the UNDP to the Israeli army. Yet according to a UNDP letter that was seen by the Sun, the agency transferred $6,000 to the Jenin Charity Committee on September 11, 2003. A subsequent letter from UNDP, dated October 3, 2003, states that the transfer was a mistake and "was intended for the Tul Karem Charity Committee." UNDP spokesman William Orme said Thursday that his agency is checking into the new facts, and that if the documents are accurate, an internal investigation will be launched immediately. "We were told no payments were made following June 2003," he said. (New York Sun)
  • Al-Zarqawi Lieutenants Arrested in Iraq
    Two "important leading members" of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terrorist group had been arrested, Kasim Daoud, Iraq's minister of state for national security, announced Friday. Daoud said one of those arrested was in charge of al-Zarqawi's Baghdad operations. (CNN)
  • EU: Iran Must Dismantle Nuke Enrichment Program
    France, Britain, and Germany have told Iran they will not settle for anything less than an end to sensitive nuclear processes key to the production of atomic bombs, according to a confidential EU document. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA Police Deploy in Central, Southern Gaza
    Hundreds of PA policemen deployed in the central and southern Gaza Strip on Friday, heading for two of the most volatile areas, Khan Yunis and Rafah. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
        See also PA Bans Civilians from Carrying Weapons
    Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei signed an order Thursday banning civilians from carrying weapons in the Palestinian territories, a senior Palestinian official said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
        See also Abbas Meets PA Security Chiefs to Discuss West Bank Cities - Khaled Abu Toameh
    According to a senior PA official, Abbas instructed PA security commanders Wednesday to come up with an urgent plan for enforcing law and order in West Bank cities, including Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, and Hebron. The official expressed hope that the cities would be handed over to the PA within the next few days. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon: "We See Encouraging Signs"
    Prime Minister Sharon said Thursday: "We are monitoring recent developments in the Palestinian Authority with great interest and it seems that there is a positive approach there regarding the war on terrorism and advancing the diplomatic process. If the Palestinians take comprehensive action to stop the terrorism, violence, and incitement, we will be able to move forward in contacts on implementing the Roadmap and it would even be possible to coordinate with them on various actions regarding the Disengagement Plan."
        "I believe that the conditions have been created which will enable us and the Palestinians to reach a historic breakthrough in relations between us, a breakthrough which would lead us towards quiet and security and - in the future - even the hoped-for peace....We are seeing encouraging signs but these matters must be put to the test." (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Palestinians Fire Mortars at Gush Katif
    Palestinians fired four mortars at an Israeli settlement in Gush Katif and another mortar was fired at another settlement Thursday. Shots were also exchanged between IDF forces and Palestinians near Neve Dekalim. No one was injured. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Terror Attacks in Israel Thwarted
    Maher Abu Sanina, 24, who was recruited by Hamas to carry out a combined terror attack involving a suicide bombing and a car bomb attack in a market in Rosh Ha'ayin, was killed Wednesday in Kalkilya when he tried to drive away from the force attempting to arrest him. During the arrest, Mahmad Hamis Yusuf Amar, 19, was wounded. Investigations revealed that Amar, a wanted Tanzim terrorist, planned to manufacture an explosive device for a female terrorist who intended to carry out an attack in Kfar Saba. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • The Envelopes Have Stopped - Arnon Regular
    A., a member of the Palestinian presidential guard, said last week in Ramallah, "everything has changed. To you it looks slow, but for us everything is changing rapidly." For years the members of the force were accustomed to receiving envelopes containing sums of money in cash - as their salary or as a bonus to their salary, according to their status and degree of closeness to Arafat's inner circle. The envelopes have stopped. Since the elections, the Muqata and the PA ministries have been abuzz with rumors of an approaching wave of dismissals or retirements of dozens of directors of ministries and fictitious deputy ministers who received salaries during the Arafat era and were a burden on the PA coffers. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Commemoration of the Liberation of Auschwitz

  • The Sense of Shame that has Scarred a Continent - Philip Stephens
    It is a place where Adolf Hitler's Nazis murdered the Jews, I heard myself saying as I answered my 11-year-old son's question about Auschwitz. Yet even recalling that six million had died somehow understated the dreadful significance of the effort to slaughter an entire race. Who was worse, I have found myself asking during this week's commemoration: the guards who forced fellow human beings into the gas chambers; the architects and engineers who labored mightily to design the crematoria in which the corpses were burned; or the functionaries in almost every part of the continent who never asked why as they identified neighbors to be herded on to railway cattle wagons? Is this what it means to be a European?
        Few outside Hitler's Reich were blameless. The brutal efficiency of the mass murder was built on the co-operation of politicians and bureaucrats in Paris and Amsterdam, Budapest and Rome. Britain and America kept their borders closed against many more who might have escaped the camps. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Never Again: Auschwitz Must Remain a Warning for All Mankind - Editorial
    Auschwitz, and the many other camps where extermination was perfected with an aseptic mechanization that was peculiar to the Nazis, still blights European politics and civilization. (Times-UK)
  • The Future of Denial - Deborah E. Lipstadt
    Many people worry that without the survivors, there will not be enough evidence to "prove" what happened at Auschwitz. When I was compelled to defend myself against charges of libel brought by Holocaust denier David Irving, without relying on survivors as witnesses, we amassed a massive cache of documentary, testimonial, and material evidence about Auschwitz. Judge Charles Gray of the UK High Court of Justice said the evidence conclusively demonstrated that Irving's claims that Auschwitz-Birkenau was not a death camp fell far short of the standard to be expected of a conscientious historian. Gray concluded that "no objective, fair-minded historian would have serious cause to doubt" the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz. The four different judges who heard Irving's appeals agreed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • In Auschwitz "We Saw Countless Unlit Bonfires with Layers of Logs and Corpses" - Jeremy Page
    Russian soldier Genry Koptev, 18, was ordered to advance toward a point on the map marked Auschwitz in January 1945. He and his five comrades guessed they had come to some sort of prison camp. Then he saw 2,000 emaciated prisoners. Koptev, now 78, is one of the few surviving members of the 322nd division of the Soviet Army that liberated Auschwitz. "They only resembled people," he told The Times. "Their skin was so thin, you could see their veins through it and their eyes were sticking out because the tissue around it had sunk. When they stretched out their hands, you could see every bone, joint and sinew."
        As he advanced, the full horror of the death camp where about 1.1 million Jews were killed unfolded. He saw countless unlit bonfires, with alternate layers of logs and corpses, which the fleeing guards had not had time to ignite. (Times-UK)
  • Auschwitz Survivor Tells of Vain Uprising
    An Auschwitz survivor Thursday brought the German parliament to its feet when he described the spontaneous uprising of Auschwitz prisoners in response to mass gassings of Jews. "The prisoners attacked the SS with axes and rocks and set one crematorium on fire," said Arno Lustiger, a Jew and Holocaust historian. "The SS mobilized, rounded everyone up in groups, and killed them all with shots to the neck." (Guardian-UK)
  • Never Again? The UN Gets a PR Boost - Anne Bayefsky
    On Monday, the UN marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp with a special session of the General Assembly. The Europeans agreed to promote the special session on the condition that there were no resolutions and no final declaration. They were not prepared to do battle with Arab and Muslim states over texts or outcomes. The ground rules for the special sessions of the General Assembly for the previous decade were completely different - this one would be "commemorative" only.
        The upshot? The UN looks better in the eyes of many. The secretary-general improved his image. Israel, the perpetual UN-loser, was queen-for-a-day. But where does this leave "never again"? Last month the UN adopted 22 resolutions condemning the State of Israel, and 4 country-specific resolutions criticizing the human-rights records of other UN members. (National Review)
  • Poland Moves to Embrace Its Jewish Past - Jan Cienski
    Thousands of Jewish students arrive in Poland each year for brief pilgrimages to Auschwitz and other sites associated with the Holocaust. In an attempt to break down the stereotype of Poland and its anti-Semitism, the government, alongside the tiny remnant community of Polish Jews, is planning to build a $63m museum of the history of Polish Jews in Warsaw, scheduled to open by 2008. The museum is part of a wider trend in Poland of nostalgia towards the Jewish presence, coupled with a decline in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents. (Financial Times-UK)

    Other Issues:

  • If Palestinians Want an Independent State, Their New Chairman Must Disarm Terrorists - Emanuele Ottolenghi
    Dismantling Palestinian terror networks is not only indispensable if Abbas genuinely wants to establish a democratic Palestinian state, but also unavoidable if Palestinians will want a state at all. Those who advocate a cease-fire in the hope that bringing extremists into the political process will turn them into moderates forget the lessons of history. Extremists must first be disarmed: leaving them with their weapons will only allow them to challenge state power and blackmail elected authorities. That is why a cease-fire is but an illusion, unless Abbas resolves to fight terrorism. The writer teaches Israeli politics at Oxford University and is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Newsday)
  • With a Clenched Fist and an Outstretched Arm: Anti-Semitism, Globalization, and the NGO Challenge in the International Arena - Shimon Samuels
    Anti-globalization, anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism converge at UN agencies, European regional assemblies, and such radical international organizations as the World Social Forum. A contributing factor is the uncoupling of the Holocaust from contemporary attacks on Jews and a role-reversal projection of Middle East imagery nazifying the Israeli and Judaizing the Palestinian. In order to counteract this, a Jewish presence in the NGO arena is vital. The battle there requires a calculated mix of the clenched fist and the outstretched arm. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Israeli Agents with a Nose for Explosives - Amelia Thomas
    Erez Finkelstein pulls up at Tel Aviv's central bus station and takes two containers from his pocket. "This one's TNT, dynamite, and the other's C4, plastic explosive." He approaches a bus in a long line of parked vehicles and tucks the TNT beneath the wheel arch. He then walks to a nearby motor scooter and conceals the C4 inside the engine casing. As an instructor for the U.S.-Israeli charity Pups for Peace, his job is to ensure that their highly trained squad of bomb-detecting dogs stays in top form.
        After just two minutes of sniffing, Cliff, a Dutch shepherd, discovers the first of the hidden explosives. "If the dogs didn't find what they're looking for at least once a day," Finkelstein explains, "they might lose interest in their work." To date, about 30 handler/dog teams have been established within Israel, with new recruits (mainly German shepherds, border collies, and Labrador retrievers) arriving for training all the time. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Princeton's Anti-Israel Jihad - Lee Kaplan
    Princeton University's Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, created in 2003 and originally financed by the royal family of Morocco, is offering a new fellowship based on the righteousness of the Palestinian cause and the illegitimacy of Israel. The fellowship description of "Society under Occupation: Contemporary Palestinian Politics, Culture and Identity" reads like a Palestinian propaganda pamphlet. (
  • Observations:

    Survivor Interrupts World Leaders at Auschwitz Ceremony - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)

    • Of the more than 40 world leaders present for Thursday's ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, it was an Auschwitz survivor who stole the show.
    • As President Moshe Katsav, the first foreign dignitary to address the gathering, was winding up his speech, a woman sitting in the rows of survivors got up from her seat and walked over to the speakers' podium, where she stood without a coat in the freezing cold, waiting with arms folded until Katsav finished talking.
    • Auschwitz survivor Miriam Yahav (previously Merka Szevach), who was not listed on the program to speak, then positioned herself in front of the microphone.
    • "They took away my name and gave me a number," she shouted in Polish, holding up her arm to show her tattoo. "What right did they have to kill my family? What right did they have to kill my people?"
    • "I stood here, naked in the snow, in the cold, a young girl, 16. They brought my family here and burned them all." (Maariv-Hebrew, 28Jan05)
    • Then Yahav, who now lives in Israel, added proudly: "I now have a country, an army, and a president."
    • It was already dark when the ceremony concluded with a dramatic candlelight procession led by heads of delegations. The crowd dispersed and made its way back. But in one of the barracks, a light was burning; some of the former inmates had gathered inside. They were singing Hatikva.
    See also An Auschwitz Survivor Remembers (Voice of America)
    Dallas Man Recalls Time in Auschwitz (Dallas Morning News)
    Aussie Survivor Remembers Auschwitz (Melbourne Herald Sun)
    Auschwitz Survivor Tells His Tale (Jerusalem Post)

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