Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 7, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Ex-Soviet Refusenik Asks Israel's Supreme Court to Stop PA Executions - Tal Rosner (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
    Former Soviet refusenik Ida Nudel petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday to force Prime Minister Sharon to save the lives of jailed Palestinian collaborators facing execution.

Woman Soldiers to Guard Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    The army weekly Bamahane reported on a new defense system to be deployed along the post-withdrawal Gaza fence in which women soldiers will operate remote-control machine guns in conjunction with cameras and censors to stop infiltrators.
    While observation posts operated by women soldiers are already in use around Gaza, the new element is that the soldiers in the command post will be able to aim and fire an array of machine guns at suspected infiltrators.

U.S. Drones Crowding the Skies to Help Fight Insurgents in Iraq - Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
    In the skies over Iraq, the number of remotely piloted aircraft - increasingly crucial tools in tracking insurgents, foiling roadside bombings, protecting convoys, and launching missile attacks - has shot up to more than 700 now from just a handful four years ago, military officials say.
    Never before has the American military used so many remotely piloted aircraft in such diverse missions, and many officers call them the wave of the future.

Islamic Extremists Threatening Yemen - Hassan Al-Haifi (Yemen Times-Yemen)
    With the recent outbreak of fighting between Yemeni government military and security forces and religious and tribal elements in Sa'ada governorate, the government of Yemen should be careful in its handling of the competition among different religious persuasions (quasi-Shi'a versus the more extreme Wahhabi elements) that is fast becoming very active in the area.
    The former has been in existence in the area for centuries and the latter is supported by external generous financial support, as most Yemenis well know.
    This recent extremist entry to Yemen is growing, especially in Sa'ada, where the population has generally resisted the spread of this Salafi or Wahhabi rendition of Islam.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran: "Get Used to the Idea of a Nuclear Iran" - Ayelet Savyon
    Head of the Iranian negotiating team in the nuclear committee in the EU Three-Iran talks, Sirus Nasseri, recently stated that there is no possibility of Iran permanently relinquishing its uranium enrichment: "This is something we are not willing to consider." The U.S. and the EU should "get used to the idea of a nuclear Iran." Iranian President Khatami said: "The Europeans will suffer more than Iran if they decide to capitulate to U.S. pressure." Former representative to the IAEA Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi was even more blunt: "Europe should understand that its security is closely linked to Iran's security." (MEMRI)
  • Iraqi TV Features Terror Suspects - Caryle Murphy and Khalid Saffar
    Iraq's hottest new television program is a reality show. All the characters on "Terrorism in the Hands of Justice" are captured suspected insurgents. For more than a month, they have been riveting viewers with tales of how they killed, kidnapped, raped, or beheaded other Iraqis, usually for a few hundred dollars per victim.
        "I watch the show every night...because it is very revealing," said Abdul Kareem Abdulla, 42, a Baghdad shopowner. "For the first time, we saw those who claim to be jihadists as simple $50 murderers who would do everything in the name of Islam. Our religion is too lofty, noble, and humane to have such thugs and killers. I wish they would hang them now." Broadcast on al-Iraqiya, the state-run network set up by the U.S. in 2003, the show has become one of the most effective arrows in the government's counterinsurgency propaganda quiver. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA: Arms in Exchange for Pullout Cooperation; Adjust Gaza Border - Akiva Eldar
    Senior PA officials have presented a plan to American and Israeli officials for coordinating the disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank. The Palestinians condition the plan on Israeli help in equipping their security forces with weapons and other equipment necessary for imposing law and order in Gaza.
        A position paper prepared for PA Chairman Abbas raises reservations about the location of the Israel-Gaza border at the Erez junction. Using Egyptian maps, the Palestinians claim that the border should be two kilometers north of where it currently runs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Militants Tell PA They Won't Hand Over Weapons
    A new low-key attempt by the PA to disarm at least some militants has already run into trouble: gunmen said Wednesday they'll keep their weapons out of sight, but won't hand them over. "We agreed to hide our weapons, to keep them out of public view, but we are not going to hand them over to the Palestinian Authority," said Kamal Ghanem, an Al-Aqsa Brigades fugitive. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said a demand that gunmen hand over their weapons "is not acceptable." Abbas is not expected to crack down on the gunmen.
        Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres Tuesday urged Abbas to disarm the militants, saying a temporary truce was insufficient. "They have an agreement but there are also rifles and the combination of an agreement and rifles is not a very pleasant one," Peres said. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • IDF: Drop in Hizballah Sponsorship of Palestinian Terror Attacks - Amos Harel
    A senior officer said Tuesday that Hizballah has lowered its profile in contacts with organizations in the territories. He said it did not signify an overall change in policy, but rather a reduction in the number of directives and amount of funding that has flowed into the hands of activists in the territories. The IDF attributes the change to the domestic situation in Lebanon. Hizballah apparently does not want to embroil itself and Syria into any kind of activity that would increase the already intense international pressure on them. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Monstrous Regiment of British University Teachers - Melanie Phillips
    If anyone had ever told British academics that there would come a time when they would punish colleagues because of the views they held, and would treat them as pariahs and try to destroy their livelihoods in order to intimidate others into toeing the sole approved political line, they would have been incredulous. In the Western tradition the universities are, after all, the custodians of free intellectual inquiry and open debate. Censorship, suppression of ideas, and intellectual intimidation are associated with totalitarian regimes which attempt to coerce people into the approved way of thinking.
        Yet that is what is now happening in British universities - and the pariah is, of course, Israel. As the Guardian reported, the Association of University Teachers is about to debate a proposed boycott of Israeli academics who refuse to denounce their government's policies in the occupied territories. But the motion will exclude "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies." So in true totalitarian tradition, those who denounce their own will be permitted to have a livelihood. Gee, thanks! To survive in the cradle of free expression, Israelis will have to betray their own people. (
        See also Boycott Call Resurfaces - Polly Curtis (Guardian-UK)
  • Intimidation at Columbia - Editorial
    Columbia University has been roiled for months by a contentious dispute over allegations of intimidation of students in the Middle East studies program. Sad to say, the school has botched the handling of this emotionally charged issue from the start. The university appointed a panel to look into the issue, with one member who had been the dissertation adviser for a professor who had drawn criticism and three members who had expressed anti-Israel views.
        The panel's report is deeply unsatisfactory because the mandate was so limited. Most student complaints were not really about intimidation, but about allegations of stridently pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli bias on the part of several professors. (New York Times)
  • The Threat of an Overpowering Islamic Fundamentalist Regime in Iraq - Baqi Barzani
    While the resistance to U.S. occupation is indigenous to some degree, it is being driven mostly by foreign jihadists. Saudi [Arabia] is the greatest manufacturer and exporter of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism in the form of Wahhabism (radical, anti-West Islamic teachings) and propagation and enormous financial support for terrorist organizations operating in Iraq. Similarly, Iran considers an escalation of the Jihad for the freedom of Iraq a key to the assertion of its own strategic importance, mostly under the auspices of its own Islamic bloc. Iraqi Muslims generally express a loathing for Wahhabis, Salafis, or Saudi-inspired ultra-fundamentalists under any other name. (Kurdistan Regional Government/Noticias-Spain)
  • Observations:

    Give Israel Equal Treatment and Representation - Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
    (Miami Herald)

    • Congress is currently engaged in a detailed and comprehensive review of the UN with the goal of recommending reforms that will ensure transparency, accountability, and efficiency.
    • A critical component of this effort must include measures to ensure that Israel is afforded equal treatment and representation, while addressing the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic component that is pervasive in many UN bodies and agencies.
    • Israel is a democracy, and yet its sovereignty and its right to defend itself are frequently called into question in the UN system. The ruling last summer by the International Court of Justice on Israel's security fence is a case in point. Not only was Israel's inherent right to self-defense branded illegitimate by the UN, but terrorists and suicide bombers remained uncensored.
    • Israel is denied the ability to serve or run for leadership positions in multiple UN bodies and agencies. By contrast, there are several UN groups devoted to "Palestinian Rights" and an entire agency, UNRWA, specifically designated for "Palestinian refugees" at a cost of over $400 million in 2004.
    • Any efforts at reforming the UN must include an end to the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment that has infected that organization for so long.

      U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) chairs the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia of the House Committee on International Relations.

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