Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 16, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas: Long Truce Impossible (Palestine-Info-UK)
    Mohammed Nazzal, a member of the Hamas delegation to the Cairo dialogue for Palestinian factions, Tuesday said that a truce with the "Zionist enemy" was not the topmost priority on the agenda.
    While the PA and Egypt are pushing for a one-year truce, the Hamas political bureau member said that it was not possible for his movement to accept a long truce.
    He underlined that Hamas agreed with PA chief Mahmoud Abbas on calming down and not a truce.
    He reiterated Hamas' readiness to join the PLO after restructuring it and explained that indulging in political work did not mean giving up military action.
    He emphasized that Hamas would not turn into a political party.
    See also Hamas is Feeling Its Strength - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    Mohammed Nazzal said Hamas would not join any government that negotiated with Israel.

Pressuring Mothers to Celebrate Sons' Martyrdom Key to Promoting Suicide Terrorism - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Creating a supportive social environment for terrorists has been a critical factor in the PA's successful promotion of suicide terrorism.
    PA policy has been to honor terrorists as Shahids (Martyrs for Allah), and to teach Palestinian mothers to celebrate when their children die as terrorist Shahids.
    On March 11, 2005, in the first Friday sermon broadcast on PA TV since the PA announced that it would vet all Friday sermons, and with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the audience, Sheikh Yusuf Juma' Salamah said that the ideal Palestinian woman is like Al Khansah, the heroine of Islamic tradition who celebrated her four sons' death in battle by thanking God for the honor.
    A day earlier, PA TV broadcast a telephone call from the Dean of Media at Al-Aqsa University who expressed admiration for the "unique Palestinian woman...she is the one who shouts for joy on the day of the Shahid."

Saudi Prince Against Islamist Ideology - Aluma Dankowitz (MEMRI)
    Saudi Prince Khaled Al-Faisal bin Abd Al-'Aziz - governor of 'Asir province, owner of the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, and founder of the Arab Thought Foundation - is one of the most prominent opponents of the Islamist worldview.
    In a number of recent interviews Al-Faisal called upon the Saudi public and rulers "to fight against extremism and excess of all forms," warning against the informal education in Saudi Arabia which incites to violence.
    See also "My Son's Teacher Was a Terrorist" (MEMRI)
    Badria bint Abdallah Al-Bishr, a lecturer at King Saud University, recounted her astonishment at discovering that one of the terrorists in the December 30, 2004, car bombing of the Saudi Interior Ministry in Riyadh had been her son's teacher.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Lebanon Flag Is Hoisted as Syrians Slip Away
    The symbols of Syrian power began coming down in parts of Lebanon on Tuesday, as Syrian military intelligence agents emptied their offices in Beirut and Tripoli and workers took down an imposing portrait of Syria's president in Beirut's seaside boulevard. Lebanese citizens quickly hoisted their national flag near the sites. (AP/New York Times)
  • Bush: Let Hizballah Prove They're Not Terrorists By Laying Down Arms and Not Threatening Peace
    After meeting King Abdullah of Jordan in Washington Tuesday, President Bush said: "We view Hizballah as a terrorist organization, and I would hope that Hizballah would prove that they're not by laying down arms and not threatening peace. One of our that Hizballah may try to derail the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians." (White House)
  • Holocaust Museum Opens in Jerusalem
    World leaders from 40 countries inaugurated the Holocaust History Museum at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial on Tuesday, in a show of international resolve to keep alive the memory of 6 million Jews slain by the Nazis. (AP/MSNBC)
        See also UN Has Sacred Responsibility to Combat Hatred, Intolerance - Secretary-General Kofi Annan (United Nations)
        See also Voices from the Yad Vashem Museum Inauguration Ceremony (Ha'aretz)
        See also New Museum Puts a Human Face on the Holocaust - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
        See also Photo Gallery: Bearing Witness (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Begins Handover of Jericho to PA - Amos Harel, Arnon Regular and Yoav Stern
    Israel began handing over security control of Jericho to the PA Wednesday. Palestinian sources informed Israeli counterparts Tuesday night that there was no plan to free PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat, accused of ordering the assassination of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi, or Fuad Shobaki, the chief financier of the Karine A weapons ship, as Reuters had reported. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Wounds Israeli in Hebron
    A resident of Kiryat Arba was injured in a gunfire attack near the entrance to the Tomb of the Patriarchs on Tuesday, Army Radio reported. This is the second gunfire attack near Hebron in the last week. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lebanese Leader: Shaba Farms Not Ours - Ali Waked
    In an interview with al-Arabiya television Tuesday, Lebanese opposition leader Walid Jumblatt said the Israeli-controlled Shaba Farms in the Mount Dov region do not belong to Lebanon. Jumblatt's statement is unprecedented, as Lebanon has repeatedly claimed the land as its own since Israel's withdrawal in 2000. Hizballah refers to the area as one of the reasons it is continuing its armed struggle against Israel. "We are tired of this political game that nobody believes in anymore and is designed to preserve the tense atmosphere," Jumblatt said. (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
  • Sharon Focuses on Hizballah with EU Leaders - Herb Keinon
    Amid concerns that the EU may divide Hizballah into a political and military wing, blacklisting the military wing but rendering the political wing legitimate, Prime Minister Sharon urged European leaders Wednesday not to make an artificial distinction that would only embolden the group. His call - made in meetings with the prime ministers of Sweden, France, and Belgium, as well as with the president of Poland, all here for the dedication of the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum - came as an EU task force met in Brussels Tuesday to draw up recommendations on the matter. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Thaw in Saudi-Israel Relations? - Amos Harel, Arnon Regular and Yoav Stern
    Saudi Arabia is planning a normalization of relations with Israel some time after next week's Arab summit in Algeria. During meetings with European officials in Jerusalem for the dedication of the new Holocaust Museum, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom heard that the Europeans believe Saudi Arabia is planning to make moves toward Israel, as part of the general trend in the Middle East to improve the atmosphere.
        Government sources in Jerusalem also said that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan took a firm line on Hizballah and how it must disarm, as stated by UN Security Council Resolution 1559. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Security Official Lays Down the Law to Fatah - Arnon Regular
    A senior Palestinian security official told a group of activists from the military wing of Fatah in the Ramallah area that they could either give up their weapons and go home after the Israeli withdrawal from West Bank cities, or they could join the Palestinian security services. He warned that those who did not accept either of these options would find themselves in jail. The official's statement was made in the context of understandings that Israel will cease its efforts to seek out wanted Palestinians from any of the terror organizations in the West Bank. An arrangement will apply to each city with regard to a specific list of wanted men in that city. Palestinian sources say most of the wanted men have already signed up for the PA security services. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hizballah's Deadly Record - Joel Himelfarb
    Outside of Lebanon, Hizballah's priority in recent years has been its work in collaboration with Iran and Syria to destroy any possibility of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Hizballah's history of killing Americans, collaborating with al-Qaeda, and setting up terrorist cells in the U.S. makes it one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world today. It would be dangerous for Western policy-makers to ignore the reality that Hizballah has been consistent in its hostility toward Western democracies and its support of terrorism and violence. (Washington Times)
  • "Kifaya" in Egypt - Editorial
    "Enough," or "kifaya" in Arabic, has become the slogan and informal moniker of the Egyptian Movement for Change, which has been holding groundbreaking demonstrations in Cairo. The word is an all-purpose message to Mubarak: enough of dictatorship; enough of a presidency that has endured 24 years and that would be extended by six if Mubarak chooses to present himself for reelection; enough of the president's maneuvering to place his son Gamal in position to succeed him. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Looks to Ally with Shiites - Robin Wright
    A quarter-century after its first traumatic confrontation with the Shiite world, when the U.S. Embassy was seized in Iran, the U.S. is moving on several fronts to support, recognize, or hold out the prospect of engagement with Islam's increasingly powerful minority. The tentative U.S. moves to engage Shiite leaders are often not by choice or design, but rather a reflection of realities on the ground, including the fact that Shiites are the largest sects in countries where the U.S. has enormous stakes, U.S. officials and regional experts say. "We've come a long way since the 1980s in recognizing their growing role in the region. It's not a new principle but a practicality," a senior State Department official said. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    "Israel Is Paying a Heavy Price for Its Restraint" - Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)

    In the first interview of its kind, Head of IDF Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash answered questions from ArabYnet surfers throughout the Arab world.

    • We can say for sure we have the military capability to contain terror. Without this, Hamas would not have reached an understanding that it should seek the path of calm, and Abu Mazen would not have reached the conclusion that the armed intifada must stop.
    • Under the umbrella of calm, the Palestinians are rebuilding their strength. If, God forbid, they receive an order or command to do so, they would abandon the calm within 24-48 hours.
    • Israel is restraining itself because we want to give the other side a chance. We are paying a high price for our restraint. We have intelligence, but we are not acting on it to give them [Palestinians] a chance. They are continuing to rearm and to increase the range and accuracy of their Kassam rockets.
    • From February 21 until March 10, Palestinian security forces carried out more than 150 anti-terror acts, and arrests....[Yet] there were 170 terror activities, including shooting incidents, explosive devices, and other means or terror....Prevention of such acts was not carried out earlier.
    • Abu Mazen plans to stop the intifada. He has managed to instill calm, what he terms "tahadiya," and he is on his way to Cairo where he wants to make a leap to a "hudna," a ceasefire. I don't believe this will be achieved and they will not be able to declare a ceasefire, but the calm will be maintained.
    • Syria's influence in Lebanon shouldn't be measured by the number of tanks and commando forces deployed in Lebanon. Its status and influence should be measured by its diplomatic, political, and economic intelligence involvement.

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