Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 8, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Syria Bolstering Intelligence Forces in Lebanon - Shlomo Shamir (Ha'aretz)
    Israel has observed that Syria has recently bolstered its intelligence forces in Lebanon, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday.
    Shalom asked Annan to pressure Syria to implement the UN decision to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.

Hizballah Finances: Funding the Party of God - Matthew Levitt (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Halting the flow of funds to Hizballah's coffers is a critical step in undermining the organization's ability to engage in terrorism and foment violence and unrest in the region.
    Western diplomats and analysts in Lebanon estimate that Hizballah receives $100-200 million per year from Iran.
    Hizballah also receives significant financial support from contributions by supporters living abroad, particularly Lebanese nationals in Africa, South America, and other places with large Lebanese Shiite expatriate communities.
    Hizballah also depends on a wide variety of criminal enterprises, including smuggling, fraud, drug trafficking, and diamond trading efforts in North America, South America, and the Middle East.

PA Officials Decry Growing Chaos - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    In Ramallah, PA General Intelligence officer Fadi Jabareen was shot and killed during an armed clash between rival security forces Sunday.
    In Dura, near Hebron, masked gunmen set fire to three PA police vehicles and a bulldozer belonging to the local municipality.
    In Tarkumiya, near Hebron, arsonists set fire to two PA police vehicles Sunday.
    In Hawarah, near Nablus, masked gunmen threw several Molotov cocktails at the home of Jamal Khdair, a senior officer with the Preventative Security Force.
    Three people were wounded in a gun battle in Nablus last Friday between local policemen and Fatah gunmen.
    Also Friday, masked gunmen in Ramallah fired several shots at the home of former PA minister and legislator Jamil Tarifi.

Second Annual IDF Conference on Low Intensity Conflict - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF opened its second annual conference on Low Intensity Conflict on Monday, with military experts from abroad sharing their experience in counter-insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, together with IDF combat field officers with first-hand experience in urban warfare.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Protests in Beirut Grow as Assad Gives No Date for Pullout - Jad Mouawad
    In Beirut, tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Monday in the biggest protests since the death of Rafik Hariri. They repeated accusations that Syria was responsible for the killing. Hizballah is expected to hold a pro-Syrian mass demonstration on Tuesday. (New York Times)
  • Lebanese Say Syrian Spies, Not Troops, Are the Problem - Nicholas Blanford
    Syrian Intelligence, headed by Brig-Gen. Rustom Ghazali, is thought to have about 20 offices in Lebanon as well as officers stationed in strategic places, such as the Defense Ministry and Beirut international airport. Last September Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose murder last month sparked anti-Syrian protests, returned from holiday with his shoulder in a cast. His press office said he had slipped in the bath. But a rumor soon circulated around Beirut that his injury was caused by Gen. Ghazali, who had smashed his shoulder with a rifle butt.
        "It is the gross interference of Syrian intelligence agents, and their Lebanese counterparts, in almost every aspect of Lebanese life that has rallied the opposition and created a strong current of anti-Syrian opinion," wrote Patrick Seale in Beirut's Daily Star last week. (Times-UK)
        See also Syria is Playing for Time and Must Leave Lebanon Now - Editorial
    Syria must leave Lebanon immediately. It must pull out not only every soldier, but also every agent of its murky security services. The outside world should keep up the pressure on Damascus; delay, deception, and backsliding are an ingrained part of Syria’s conspiratorial culture. (Times-UK)
  • Bush Nominates Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to UN - Sonni Efron
    President Bush on Monday nominated State Department official John R. Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the UN. Bolton is seen as having close ties to Israel, particularly on intelligence matters. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, during a visit to the UN on Monday, praised Bolton's aggressive stand on trying to rid Iran of its suspected nuclear weapons program, and called him an "honest guy." (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Bush's Choice for UN Comes with Strong Pro-Israel Record - Matthew Berger
    In 1991, as assistant secretary of state for international organizations, Bolton was the principal architect behind an initiative to repeal a UN resolution that equated Zionism with racism. (JTA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel-PA to Discuss Transfer of Tulkarm - Amos Harel
    Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz and PA Chairman Abbas will discuss Tuesday the transfer of security control of the West Bank city of Tulkarm, Israeli security officials said Monday. In Tulkarm Monday, Palestinian forces marched in formation and conducted martial-arts exercises. At one point, the soldiers formed a human pyramid and cried out "Jerusalem is ours!" Later, the soldiers jumped headfirst through a smoldering hoop lined with a flaming cloth.
        Giora Eiland, Sharon's national security adviser, told AP that Israel is concerned that Palestinian militant groups have taken advantage of the recent lull in fighting to regroup. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon: Jews Will Continue to Pray and Live in Hebron
    After Palestinian gunmen wounded two Israelis in an ambush near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron Monday, Prime Minister Sharon told the Knesset: "This attack again underscores Israel's unequivocal stand that in order to end terrorism, we must fight a determined battle against the terrorists, those who dispatch them, and those who finance them....We will continue to uphold the rights of all people to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and we will not tolerate attempts by the terrorist organizations to prevent Jews from doing so. Jews will continue to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and to live there." (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Who is a Saboteur? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinians have always attacked Israel's Arabic language television and radio stations for using the word mukhariboon [saboteurs] to describe terrorists who launch attacks on Israel. The Israel Broadcasting Authority chose to use mukhariboon instead of irhabiyoon [terrorists] to depict the perpetrators as criminals. As far as Israel was concerned, there was no difference between those who set out to kill innocent civilians and bank robbers or thieves.
        Last week, only a few hours after the suicide attack in Tel Aviv, PA Chairman Abbas stunned many Palestinian and Arab viewers when he appeared on television to condemn the "saboteurs." Abbas condemned "this act which is aimed at sabotaging the hopes and goals of our people." It was the first time ever that a Palestinian leader had endorsed Israel's terminology. Yet Abbas remains almost a lone voice in the desert. The PA-controlled media did not rush to endorse the term "saboteur." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hizballah Will Not Fade Away - David Rudge
    The terror threat posed by Hizballah against Israel is unlikely to disappear in the short- or long-term future even if Syria withdraws completely from Lebanon, according to Col. (res.) Eitan Azani, now a senior research fellow in the Institute for Counterterrorism at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. "The chances are that Syria's intelligence and security apparatus will remain behind, at least for the time being, so there won't be any changes as far as Hizballah is concerned. Even if the security apparatus is also withdrawn it would not be too difficult to smuggle the arms into Lebanon and down to the south of the country," Azani said.
        Nevertheless, Nasrallah realizes that if the Syrians did leave Lebanon completely and a free and independent government were formed in Beirut, increased pressure would be put on Hizballah to disarm its military wing, he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • In the Middle East, the Democratic Genie is Out of the Bottle - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    The issue is not whether the basic understanding of contemporary Muslim political legitimacy has been overturned - it has - but how forcefully the regimes in place will resist the growing Muslim democratic ethic. (Weekly Standard)
        See also Will the Cedar Revolution Spill Over into Syria? - Marc Ginsberg
    It is looking more and more as though Syria's president, the Levant's callow mischief-maker-in-chief, Bashar al-Assad, has stumbled into a fatal diplomatic vortex - one that could lead to the implosion of the last Baathist regime and the demise of a 24/7 state sponsor of terror. Yet Lebanon's liberation from Syria might increase the already sizable political influence of Hizballah and its principal patron, Iran. Hizballah opposes the creation of a pro-Western, democratic government in Lebanon, and its opposition could produce the very instability that Syria's expulsion was meant to prevent. (Weekly Standard)
        See also Assad Offers Defiance and Compliance - Rami G. Khouri
    A key element in the Syrian strategy - now as in the past - is to make limited concessions to relieve the pressure on Damascus, gain some time, and allow the context of the political face-off to evolve in its favor. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Observations:

    New York Times' Public Editor on the "T-Word" - Daniel Okrent
    (New York Times)

    • Nothing provokes as much rage as what many perceive to be The Times' policy on the use of "terrorist," "terrorism," and "terror."
    • There is no policy, actually. According to Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner: "We use 'terrorist' sparingly because it is a loaded word. Describing the goals or acts of a group often serves readers better than repeating the term 'terrorist.'"
    • The Times' earnest effort to avoid bias can desiccate language and dilute meaning. In a January memo to the foreign desk, former Jerusalem bureau chief James Bennet addressed the paper's gingerly use of the word "terrorism."
    • "The calculated bombing of students in a university cafeteria, or of families gathered in an ice cream parlor, cries out to be called what it is," he wrote.
    • "I wanted to avoid the political meaning that comes with 'terrorism,' but I couldn't pretend that the word had no usage at all in plain English."
    • Bennet came to believe that "not to use the term began to seem like a political act in itself." I agree. My own definition is simple: an act of political violence committed against purely civilian targets is terrorism; attacks on military targets are not.

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