Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 22, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Armor Saves American Lives in Iraq David Brinn (Israel21c)
    Israeli-developed armor installed on American armored personnel carriers in Iraq has saved "many lives," according to the U.S. Army.
    Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 7AV APCs in the service of the U.S. Army and the Marines have been fitted over the last year with armor by Rafael, the Israel Armament Development Authority.
    The add-on armor consists of tiles that contain an explosive charge that detonates when hit by a rocket, disrupting the incoming, armor-penetrating projectile.
    According to Maj. John Conway of the U.S. Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems (PEO-GCS), "Reactive armor has functioned very well. The soldiers in these units are excited about the product because it is providing a level of survivability that they previously didn't have."
    "These tiles are saving lives because they are defeating the threats they were designed to defeat," Conway said.

Terror Plot to Cripple UK in Cyber Attack - James Kirkup (Scotsman-UK)
    International terrorists are training to launch cyber-terror attacks on Britain which could cripple vital economic, medical, and transport networks, the government's counter-terrorism coordinator said Monday.
    Sir David Omand, one of the most senior members of the British intelligence community, said surveillance of suspected al-Qaeda affiliates suggests they are working to use the Internet and other electronic communications systems to cause harm.
    Exposed networks include those of central and local government systems, financial markets, the National Health Service, the emergency services, transport and energy networks, and even the food and drink industry, all deemed part of Britain's "critical national infrastructure."

French Anti-Semitism Hits 10-Year High(AP/Ynet News)
    Anti-Semitic and racist attacks in France during 2004 were at their highest level in nearly 10 years.
    The French newspaper Liberation reports there were 970 attacks against Jews, as opposed to 601 in 2003.
    Most of the attacks came from individuals of "Arab or Muslim extraction."
    The French report comes on the heels of a February 2005 report that said anti-Semitic attacks have reached record levels in Britain as well.
    British Jews suffered 532 attacks in 2004, a nearly 50% rise over the previous year.

NATO Ships to Visit Eilat (People's Daily-China)
    Ships from the Standing NATO Response Force Mine Counter Measures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) will be berthed in Eilat in Israel during a visit March 22-26.
    Nations normally contributing to SNMCMG2 are Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Arab Leaders to Show Solidarity With Syria at Summit Meeting - Hassan M. Fattah
    Arab leaders arrived Monday in the Algerian capital for a summit meeting that will include a statement of solidarity with Syria and a rejection of any further "foreign intervention" in that country's promised pullout from Lebanon. Arab leaders quashed a Jordanian proposal to normalize relations with Israel with few conditions, opting instead to resurrect a Saudi peace effort put forward in 2002. (New York Times)
  • Palestinian Armed Factions Capitalize on Truce to Regroup - Sakher Abu El Oun
    Palestinian militant groups, weakened by more than four years of fighting against Israel, are capitalizing on the relative calm of an informal truce to strengthen their political and military clout. "This calm is not a gift to the occupation. We will work on and prepare ourselves. Disbanding the armed wing of Hamas is absolutely out of the question," said Abu Ubada, spokesman for the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades.
        A spokesman for Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated to the mainstream Fatah party, said its militants would integrate into PA security forces without sacrificing the "resistance." "A large number of our fighters already belong to the security services. Joining the security services does not at all signify the end of resistance," said Abu Qussay. "We are ready to fight back at any moment," he warned. "Weapons will remain in the hands of the resistance and we will direct them only against the Israeli enemy." Abu al-Walid from the leadership of Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said the faction aimed to take advantage of the lull "to prepare our military apparatus to confront any eventuality." (AFP/Relief Web-Switzerland)
  • Syria Feels Heat as Evidence in Lebanon PM's Murder Points to Bomb Under Road - Brian Whitaker
    Five weeks after the Valentine's Day explosion that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and 17 others, the balance of evidence appears to point to the explosion being caused by a bomb under the road, where workmen dug a hole a few days before - a method that some analysts are suggesting points conclusively to Syrian involvement. Whatever the actual method, making a bomb to kill Hariri needed careful planning and a lot of expertise. His Mercedes was heavily armored with a titanium/steel alloy and also had an electronic jamming system designed to frustrate a remote-controlled detonation. (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Tulkarm Transferred to PA Control - Margot Dudkevitch
    Tulkarm was handed over to PA security control on Monday, the second city to be handed over in less than a week. Palestinians in Tulkarm celebrated, with masked gunmen firing in the air as PA police watched without taking action. The transfer of Kalkilya, the next city, will be implemented only after the situation has been carefully monitored and the PA takes action on the ground to quell terror, Israeli security sources said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Plans Show of Strength - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas is planning a series of rallies in the West Bank and Gaza over the next few days under the banner, "The Week of the Martyrs," to mark the first anniversary of the killing of its leaders, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Hamas leaders said Monday that the events will include paramilitary parades and public rallies, in a show of strength ahead of forthcoming municipal and legislative elections.
        Hani al-Masri, a political analyst from Ramallah, says Hamas's new approach is the result of changes on the Palestinian street, where support for the armed struggle and suicide bombings appears to be dwindling. The international community's decision to include Hamas in the list of terror organizations and the drying up of its resources and funds had also contributed to the movement's decision to endorse a more pragmatic line, he explained. "Most of Hamas's friends in the Arab world are now on the defensive," Masri notes, referring to Syria and Iran. "All these factors prompted Hamas to move toward controlling the damage and hiding from the storm until it withers away."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Want a Legal Weapon? Sign Here - Barak Ravid
    According to the London newspaper al-Quds al-Arabiya, Palestinian Minister of Interior Nasser Yousef has been asking armed terrorists to sign contracts that would limit their use of weapons. Yousef has issued orders barring unlicensed weapons and carrying weapons in public. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Is Syria Reforming? - Claude Salhani
    Syria's surprisingly swift acceptance to withdraw its troops and intelligence units from neighboring Lebanon after nearly 30 years came about so suddenly, and unfolded so smoothly, that some analysts suspect it might be just a little too easy. What really drives Syria's ambitions to remain in Lebanon is as much economic as it is political. For the past 30 years, Lebanon has represented a sacred cash cow for the limping statist Syrian economy. "The revenue generated from Lebanon is as important to the Syrian economy as oil is to Saudi Arabia," said a European diplomat. (UPI/Washington Times)
  • Hizballah Plots Role for Post-Syria Era - Liz Sly
    In the Shiite-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut, the streets are more crowded, the cars older and shabbier; many women are modestly veiled or cloaked in long black chadors and the stern portraits of turbaned Shiite clerics gaze down from huge billboards. Hizballah, a group funded by Iran and branded by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, claims the support of a majority of Lebanon's largest community, maintains the country's only private army, and cannot be ignored as Lebanon gropes its way toward a new political accommodation. "If Shiites are not part of the Lebanese formula, the situation will not work," said Nizar Hamzeh, a political scientist at the American University of Beirut. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Connecting the Wrong Dots - Arnaud de Borchgrave
    As Aaron D. Miller, a long-time veteran of Middle Eastern affairs, put it on Fox News, "it would take an atomic crowbar to pry Lebanon loose from Syria." About 20% of Syria's gross domestic product is derived from Lebanon. The Syrian intelligence network in Lebanon, which includes thousands of local informants, is well concealed and deeply entrenched. The buildings they are giving up in Beirut are an optical illusion. The Syrian intelligence establishment is quite capable of triggering resumed civil strife.
        Talk of a democratic surge sweeping the Middle East is yet another case of mistaking wishes for reality. It is tempting to connect the dots between the Iraqi elections, Palestinian elections, and Lebanon, and describe the overall picture as the inexorable march to democracy. But the strengthening of Hamas in the Palestinian municipal elections, a harbinger of how it will do in next July's legislative elections, and Hizballah's unchallenged position in Lebanon, should remind the White House these two organizations, along with Islamic Jihad, are now part of al-Qaeda's support group.
        Turkey elected a democratic government democratically - and an Islamist party won and now governs. Its first important act was to deny transit rights across Turkey for the U.S. 4th Infantry Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Don't Wait for the Next Attack - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • Many knowledgeable observers have trouble imagining Abbas fully controlling terrorist elements within his own Fatah, let alone Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
    • The terrorist groups, which Abbas and his Egyptian hosts legitimate by negotiating with them in the first place, did not even agree to a "cease-fire" (hudna), but merely to a "calming" (tahdiah). A cease-fire would not be enough because it leaves the terrorists intact and fully armed. A "calming" is even worse, because it is explicitly no more than a pause to rearm, train, and reload - which, security officials report, is already happening.
    • Even the notion that all this is "a first step" rings somewhat hollow unless there is reason to believe that a second step will follow.
    • At this point, it seems that Abbas will only come under serious financial and diplomatic pressure to use his 60,000 armed men to break up terrorist militias when, God forbid, terrorist attacks resume.
    • If the U.S., Europe, and Israel all agree that it is unacceptable to allow terrorist groups to hold any peace process hostage, that recognition should be reflected in tangible pressure on Abbas to fulfill his commitments now, not after the next attack. If we wait, we are not strengthening Abbas but instead setting him up for failure.

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