Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 25, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Ambassador: "No Understandings" on Settlement Blocs (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
    During a closed-door meeting with foreign ministry officials last week, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer rejected Ariel Sharon's claim of an "understanding" with U.S. President George W. Bush that large settlement blocs in the West Bank will remain under Israeli sovereignty under any final status agreement with the Palestinians.
    "Sometimes, an American will end a conversation with the words 'I understand,' and an Israeli will mistakenly take that as a formal declaration of understanding," he said.
    "But I can assure you that no such understandings were reached. I have discussed the matter with Washington, and I have received full support on this matter."
    See also Kurtzer: I Did Not Cast Doubt on Bush-Sharon Accord (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer told Israel Radio Friday that the report of his statements in Yediot Ahronot was "filled with errors."
    Kurtzer talked with senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office on Friday and clarified the statements that were quoted.

Poll: Palestinians See Hamas Winning PA Elections (Palestinian Information Center-UK)
    A study conducted by Palestinian researcher Yaqeen Hasarmeh of Bir Zeit University in Ramallah has revealed that around 66.7% of Palestinians believed Hamas would get the majority in the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections.

Kaddafi "Idiot" Remark Riles Palestinians (Reuters/Yahoo)
    The PA has demanded an apology from Libyan leader Muammar Kaddafi for saying Palestinians were "idiots" in seeking their own state alongside Israel during a speech at an Arab summit on Wednesday.
    "I cannot recognize either the Palestinian state or the Israeli state. Don't be angry, Abu Mazen, but the Palestinians are idiots and the Israelis are idiots," Kaddafi said. "The solution I think is to have a single state. We cannot have two states."
    Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, secretary of the Palestinian presidency, said, "(We) have asked President Kaddafi to apologize to the Palestinian people for words...that offended the feelings of all Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims."

Israeli Arab Appointed Interior Ministry Director-General - Yuval Yoaz (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli Cabinet this week approved the appointment of Oskar Abu-Razek as director-general of the Interior Ministry.
    Abu-Razek, 52, from Jaffa, was previously deputy director-general of the Tax Authority.
        See also (Maariv-Hebrew)

As U.S. Deaths Decline in Iraq, New Fears Arise - Tom Lasseter (Philadelphia Inquirer)
    While U.S. officials in Baghdad once released figures showing numbers of civilians killed by insurgents, they aren't currently doing so.
    A senior American military official acknowledged that as deaths of U.S. soldiers have dropped, there has been a post-election rise in attacks on Iraqi civilians and security forces, largely by Sunni insurgents against Shiites.
    Much of the violence comes in smaller incidents that largely go unreported. Six weeks ago, Ahmed Raysan, a barber in the Shiite neighborhood of As Salam in Baghdad, was talking with some customers about how much they disliked Sunni insurgents.
    A couple of days later, a car pulled up in front of the shop, a man ran up to Raysan, jabbed a pistol in his mouth and fired. Another gunman opened fire with an AK-47, hitting him four times in the leg.
    "They targeted me that day because I am a Shiite," he said. "If I can take revenge I will." Others recount events that suggest Shiites are increasingly willing to take action against Sunni threats.
    A Shiite neighborhood councilman, Kareem Gailon, received a death threat in January saying "death will find its way to you because we know about your cooperation and business with the Jews."
    About 20 men from the neighborhood, armed with AK-47s, suspected that radical Sunnis from the Wahhabi sect were behind the note.
    They went to the closest Sunni mosque and told worshipers that if Gailon were harmed, the two or three Sunni mosques in the neighborhood would "all disappear. There will be no more Sunnis here, there will be no more Wahhabis here."

Terrorist Number Three Eliminated in Chechnya - Sergey Dyupin (Kommersant-Russia)
    Rizvan Chitigov, killed in Chechnya Wednesday, was considered the number three person in the Chechen resistance after Shamil Basayev and Dokku Umarov.
    He sent "shahids" to Russian cities and planned terrorist attacks involving poison gas.
    Chitigov, 38, was born in Shali, Chechnya. At the beginning of perestroika he left for the U.S. with the help of an international Muslim foundation with an office in Chechnya.
    Returning to Chechnya, Chitigov started preaching Wahhabism and struggle with the unfaithful.
    In 2001, Russian federal forces obtained information that Chitigov was preparing to use chemical and germ weapons against them.
    He allegedly met some "representatives of the Ichkerian command" in the UAE and gave them an order to "produce poisons and poison gases from improvised materials and deliver them to Chechnya," the Federal Security Service (FSB) reported.

Record $2.11b Foreign Investment in Jan-Feb - Zeev Klein (Globes)
    Foreign investment in Israel totaled $2.11 billion in January-February 2005, setting an unprecedented pace.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Cites Syria as Factor in Lebanese Assassination - Warren Hoge
    A toughly worded UN report into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri concluded Thursday that heavy-handed Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs had created the polarizing tensions that led to his death and that a deeply flawed local investigation had obstructed efforts to find his killers. At one point, the report said, Syria's leader personally threatened Hariri. The author, Patrick Fitzgerald, a deputy police commissioner of Ireland, called for an investigation by an independent commission as the only way of uncovering the truth behind Hariri's killing. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan endorsed the call for an international investigation. (New York Times)
  • Construction Near Jerusalem "Critical to Israel's Security" - Joshua Brilliant
    Israeli officials Wednesday rejected international criticism of their plans to build thousands of apartments in a hilly desert area east of Jerusalem, plugging a gap in Jewish settlements encircling the city. Plans for the 12-sq.-km. (4.6-sq.-mile) area, known as E-1, within the zoning boundaries of Maale Adumim, began about a decade ago. A well-placed government official explained, "Gush Etzion (southwest of Bethlehem), Ariel (between Jerusalem and Nablus), and Maale Adumim are located in areas very critical to Israel's security. To think that we would negotiate over an area where 30,000 people live, that we would stop all construction because there is a new (Palestinian) government (is unrealistic). We are building in an area where there are no Palestinians. Inside a city, in a municipal area."
        Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said that in the different scenarios for the final status Israeli-Palestinian agreement, "there is a consensus in the international community that Maale Adumim will remain part of Israel. I fail to understand how building in an area that everybody understands will be part of Israel causes a severe political problem. In no way will this prevent the creation of a viable Palestinian state as laid out in the 'roadmap.'" (UPI/Washington Times)
        See also Rice Warns Israel Against Settlement Expansion - Paul Richter and Tyler Marshall
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Israel Thursday that its plan for a large expansion of an Israeli West Bank settlement was "at odds with American policy." Rice said Israel's explanation of its plans to expand Maale Adumim east of Jerusalem was "not really a satisfactory response." "We have noted our concerns to the Israelis," she added. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Text of Interview with Secretary Rice (Los Angeles Times)
        See also U.S. Won't Confront Israel Over Housing Plan
    The Bush Administration does not plan to publicly confront the Israeli government over plans to build 3,500 new homes linking Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, Washington sources said Thursday. U.S. National Security Council official Elliott Abrams and David Welch, assistant secretary of state for the Near East, questioned Sharon about the plan during a visit to Jerusalem on Wednesday. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Islamic School in Ottawa Suspends Teachers Over Student's Hate-Filled Tale - Juliet O'Neill
    Two teachers at the Abraar Islamic school in Ottawa were suspended Wednesday pending an investigation into the encouragement or incitement of hatred against Jews expressed in a young student's violence-laden writing project. One teacher was apparently involved in the artistic production of the eight-page story, illustrated by a drawing of a burning Star of David beside a machine-gun and Palestinian flag atop the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The other teacher had written comments on the student's paper, praising the boy's story: "God bless you, your efforts are good." (Ottawa Citizen)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Halts Handover of West Bank Towns After PA Fails to Disarm Terrorists - Amos Harel
    Israel is delaying handing over security responsibility for the West Bank town of Kalkilya to the PA, charging that it is not upholding its commitments with regard to the towns for which it has already assumed responsibility - Jericho and Tulkarm. The PA has yet to take action against wanted individuals in these towns.
        Israel's wanted list for Jericho includes the names of 17 members of terror organizations, with the Tulkarm list comprising a few dozen. Under its agreement with Israel, the PA undertook to require the wanted men to hand in their weapons to the Palestinian security forces, which would monitor the terror activists' movements and prevent them from leaving town. Senior members of the defense establishment charged that the PA had not lifted a finger with regard to the wanted men in Jericho, handed over 10 days ago, or in Tulkarm. Defense Minister Mofaz instructed the IDF to continue planning the handover of Kalkilya but to delay the move until the PA implemented the steps it was required to take. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Ask U.S. for $500-700m in Disengagement Aid - Zeev Klein
    Jerusalem is still deliberating how much to ask the U.S. for covering security expenses related to the disengagement plan, with the figure currently estimated at $500-700 million. The special U.S. aid is meant to cover "infrastructure support" investment items for new communities in the Negev and Galilee. Israel will not ask the U.S. to cover the cost of compensation for evacuees.
        Senior officials said Israel's request should be based solely on actual defense needs and expenditures, and will also include funds for upgrading the security fence around the Gaza Strip. It was reported Wednesday that the cost of the civilian evacuation and military redeployment under the disengagement plan would reach NIS 7 billion. (Globes)
  • Hamas: Gaza Pullout is Victory for Intifada - Khaled Abu Toameh
    "The painful and qualitative blows which the Palestinian resistance dealt to the Jews and their soldiers over the past four-and-a-half years led to the decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip," Ahmed al-Bahar, a top Hamas leader in Gaza, told reporters. Bahar said the disengagement plan should be seen as a major and strategic victory for the Palestinians. "The withdrawal marks the end of the Zionist dream and is a sign of the moral and psychological decline of the Jewish state. We believe that the resistance is the only way to pressure the Jews," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Bush, Sharon, My Daughter, and Me - Norman Podhoretz
    I have long been convinced that the war against the Jewish state can only be ended by those who have been waging it since 1948, and that the Arab/Muslim world will make peace with Israel only after it makes peace with itself over the existence of a sovereign Jewish state in its midst, wherever its boundaries might be drawn. Until, that is, the day comes when the peoples of the greater Middle East, and their Muslim brethren elsewhere, can find it in their hearts to acknowledge the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in the land of their forefathers, any peace treaty will amount to nothing more than a temporary cease-fire in an ongoing campaign to wipe Israel off the map.
        Do the Palestinians really want statehood if it means giving up the dream they have always dreamed of eliminating a Jewish state from the Middle East? Arafat showed that he wanted no part of statehood on such terms when he rejected the offer of it made to him by Barak and Clinton. (Commentary)
  • It May Take Decades to Loosen the Rulers' Iron Grip - Aaron David Miller
    What are the chances of quick and steady progress toward real political change in authoritarian and centralized Arab regimes? It would be nice to hope that the Palestinian and Iraqi models will serve as launching pads for rising democracies; but for the foreseeable future, the odds are against it. Arabs may be excited and fascinated by political ferment in Iraq; but they are also alarmed by the absence of public order, the cacophony of Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish voices, and the seemingly irrepressible and violent insurgency. Despite genuine desire among millions of Arabs for greater openness, there will be no rush toward democracy. Nor should we be surprised by the formidable capacity of these authoritarian regimes to quash meaningful reform.
        Short of invading another Arab country (and that's not a recommendation), what can the U.S. do to promote real progress toward democracy? Not much that will produce quick or significant change. This is a long movie. Above all, let's keep our expectations low and realistic. The democratic club is a small one - only a couple of dozen countries have managed to remain democracies over the past half-century. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Syria's Secret War - Walid Phares
    According to sources inside the "Cedar Revolution," the grassroots pro-democratic movement that has sprouted in Lebanon in recent weeks, Syria has no intention of relinquishing power. Working in concert with its counterparts in Iran, Syria has developed a plan that entails deploying terror and intelligence networks inside Lebanon to orchestrate a series of subversive activities to prove that Syria is needed to maintain security. Already in existence is a coordinated network of pro-Syrian groups under the direct command of the Syrian intelligence service in Damascus. This network includes the Syrian Social-Nationalist Party (SSNP), the intelligence services of the Lebanese and Syrian regimes, and the intelligence network of the Republican Guard, headed by Col. Moustafa Hamdane. The writer is a professor of Middle East studies and Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Jordan is the Palestinians' Natural Partner - Prince El-Hassan bin Talal
    What the Palestinians need now are partners. In their conflict with Israel, their natural and historical partner has always been Jordan. The writer, brother of the late King Hussein of Jordan, is the president of the Club of Rome. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • More Static on American Public Radio - Andrea Levin
    America's National Public Radio has earned a reputation for both the quality of its programs and for a long-standing bias against Israel. NPR's Peter Kenyon declared on March 9 that "most observers believe under international law all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal." Who these "observers" are and how Kenyon tallied their views in order to conclude that "most" consider settlements illegal is unclear. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also BBC's Reality-Free TV - Carol Gould
    On March 13, UK BBC news broadcast images of a large crowd of Palestinian men in a fierce street fight, pitching large objects at one another. The commentator, James Reynolds, said the students in Hebron were fighting in the streets, their anger and frustration exacerbated by seeing an Israeli presence on their streets. The next shot showed an Israeli flag flying on a wall outside what seemed to be a military outpost.
        Then along came Fox News, reporting, without fanfare, that Hamas and Fatah factions were fighting it out on the streets of Hebron. Their footage was identical to that shown on the BBC but no mention was made of Israeli oppression having caused the men's anger. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • A Frenchman for Israel - Nidra Poller
    Daniel Sibony, born into a modest Jewish family in Marrakech, Morocco, came to Paris at the age of 14 as a mathematical whiz kid, and went on to become a respected mathematician, philosopher, practicing psychoanalyst...and insightful commentator on current events in general and the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular. Sibony explores anti-Semitism in his latest work, L'enigme antisemite, where we learn volumes about the sources and mechanisms of anti-Semitism generated by Christianity and Islam, an anti-Semitism that is inextricably connected to Muslim scripture. (FrontPageMagazine)

    Weekend Features:

  • U.S. Rep. William Lehman Followed "Internal Compass" - Amy Driscoll
    Former U.S. Rep. William Lehman, a legendary figure of South Florida politics considered a visionary on racial issues and public transit, died on March 16 at age 91. He was an Alabama-born Jew who opened a business in a black neighborhood in Miami and once traveled to Cuba to rescue political prisoners. Other favorite causes included support for Israel and the resettlement of Soviet Jews. When the Democrats held sway in Congress, with an unpolished speaking style and quiet strength, he controlled billions of dollars for transportation as chairman for ten years of a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee.
        He financed cars for black customers in the '40s and '50s, when few other white car dealers would. ''He would look at a man's arms and if they had salt on them, from sweating, he would know that was a working man,'' said Thomas Lehman. "That was his credit check.'' (Miami Herald)
        See also (Washington Post)
  • Carter-Era Diplomat Sol Linowitz Dies
    Sol M. Linowitz, a diplomat, lawyer, and businessman who played key roles in Middle East peace negotiations and the Panama Canal treaty during the Carter administration, died Friday at age 91. "Sol Linowitz was a dedicated public servant with great political courage, encyclopedic knowledge of foreign affairs, and unexcelled diplomatic skills," former President Carter said. Linowtiz, a former chairman of Xerox Corp., represented Carter in Middle East peace negotiations that followed the 1978 Camp David accords. (AP/ABC News)
  • Hadassah Hospitals Nominated for Nobel Prize - Doron Sheffer
    Hadassah Hospitals in Jerusalem have been nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize by several academicians and senior government officials from the U.S., Britain, Australia, and Israel. They said Hadassah deserves to be awarded the prize for maintaining equality in providing medical treatment, despite the need to treat more terror victims than any other medical center. Hadassah serves as an exemplary model of cooperation and co-existence, as reflected in the ethnic and religious diversity of its medical staff and patients. The hospitals have persevered in building bridges for peace through their medical activities despite the intifada. (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
        See also Hadassah Dedicates New Emergency Room - Judy Siegel
    Hadassah Hospital can now treat three times as many victims at a time in a new $50 million emergency care unit dedicated Thursday. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • German Exiles Who Joined Allies to Vanquish Hitler - Ben Hoyle
    According to historian Arnold Paucker, more than 13,000 Germans fought for Britain against the country of their birth. Some were political dissidents, others were Roman Catholics, but most were Jews. (Times-UK)
  • Israeli Documentary Bought by HBO - Hannah Brown
    The U.S. television network HBO has purchased the rights to Dani Menkin's documentary, "18 Kilos of Love." It tells the story of Eli Ankilevich, 34, who weighs just 18 kilos and is paralyzed in all his limbs, due to a rare neurological condition he was born with. Although he can only move one finger, he has managed to make a career as an animator. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Defeating Arafat's War: The IDF's Success Against Asymmetric Warfare - Gerald M. Steinberg (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies/Bar-Ilan University)

    • The successful Israeli responses to Palestinian strategic use of terror and asymmetric warfare are already being studied by the armed forces of the world's other democracies.
    • At its height, in March 2002, the terror campaign killed over 140 Israelis in a month, and severely wounded hundreds more. Palestinian leaders who viewed Israeli society as too weak to respond with the necessary force, mistakenly assumed that this carnage would escalate, and Israel would be forced to retreat and eventually surrender. Instead, by 2004, terror casualties were reduced to about 100 deaths for the entire year, and over 80% of attacks were aborted en route, essentially marking Arafat's defeat.
    • This accomplishment can be credited to five key dimensions, acting together:
      1. Highly advanced intelligence capabilities;
      2. Precision-guided weapons for preventive targeted attacks against terrorists;
      3. Isolation of the political leaders (Arafat);
      4. Extensive perimeter defense;
      5. A motivated and resilient civilian population, which continues to identify closely with the IDF.
    • After generations of Palestinian incitement, violence, and rejection of any "Zionist" historical rights, the hope that restrained Israeli responses to war and terror would lead to political compromise and mutual acceptance remains a messianic dream.
    • When Arafat and his colleagues returned to terrorism to achieve their goals, they had good reason to believe that Israeli society was too weak to defend its independence and core interests. Terror appeared to be the most effective means of gaining Israeli concessions through international intervention, and without the need for Palestinian acceptance of the rights of the Jewish people to sovereign equality and independence.
    • Four years later, the terror groups are in disarray, Palestinian economic gains achieved under the Oslo framework are gone, and the political achievements that Arafat rejected in 2000 are no longer within reach.

      The writer is a professor in the Political Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University, director of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation, and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

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