Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 13, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

German Intelligence: Bin Laden Bribed Afghan Militias for His Freedom - Richard Bernstein (New York Times)
    The head of the German intelligence agency, August Hanning, told the German newspaper Handelsblatt Tuesday that Osama bin Laden had been able to elude capture after the American invasion of Afghanistan by paying bribes to the Afghan militias delegated the task of finding him in 2001 at Tora Bora.
    "Since then, he has been able to create his own infrastructure in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area and has won many friends from the tribal groups there," said Hanning.

Jewish MP Pelted with Eggs at War Memorial - Richard Alleyne (Telegraph-UK)
    MP Oona King, 37, a black Jewish Labour MP, was attacked Sunday with eggs and vegetables as she joined mourners to commemorate 60 years since the Hughes Mansions Disaster, when 134 people, almost all Jewish, were killed by the last V2 missile to land on London.
    King enraged many in her east London constituency, more than half of whom are Bangladeshi Muslims, when she openly supported the war in Iraq.

Nablus Shopping Center Profits Going to Hamas - Aaron Klein (WorldNetDaily)
    Al-Tadhamun, a charity that openly coordinates financing for Hamas and is run by known Hamas activists, is a silent partner in the Nablus Mall, a busy Palestinian shopping center in the West Bank, security sources said.
    "Al-Tadhamun is one of the most important charities for Hamas," said a senior security source.
    "It runs all the bureaucracy that Hamas needs to support its terrorism. The charity takes care of most of Hamas' banking, money transfers, it coordinates the receipt of funds from abroad and from organizations throughout the Palestinian territories."
    "And it is involved in businesses, including the Nablus Mall, from which it receives some of the profits."
    The Palestinian Authority works closely in many ways with Al-Tadhamun, such as certifying families of terrorists as eligible to receive funds from the charity.

Beloved Israeli Songwriter Ehud Manor Dies (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Prize laureate Ehud Manor, one of Israel's most prolific and best-loved songwriters, passed away Tuesday at the age of 64.
    Manor wrote hundreds of songs performed by Israel's top singers that have become cornerstones of Israeli music, such as "Ein Li Eretz Aheret" (I Have No Other Land).
    His song "Aba Ni Bi" won the 1977 Eurovision competition.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Sharon Asks U.S. to Pressure Iran to Give Up Its Nuclear Program - David E. Sanger
    Spreading photographs of Iranian nuclear sites over a lunch table at the Bush ranch in Texas on Monday, Prime Minister Sharon urged President Bush to step up pressure on Iran to give up all elements of its nuclear program, according to senior American and Israeli officials. Sharon said Israeli intelligence showed Iran was near "a point of no return" in learning how to develop a weapon. American and Israeli officials insisted Tuesday that they were in total agreement about the nature of the Iranian threat.
        A senior Israeli official said Tuesday in Washington that "it is not Israel's job to lead this effort." The official warned that "what is worrisome is that there are several European countries that are beginning to think that Iran will be a member of the club, and that is a grave danger." (New York Times)
  • Sharon: We're Still in the Pre-Road Map Stage - Matthew Tostevin
    On Tuesday Prime Minister Sharon met U.S. newspaper editors and repeated his call for Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to do more to reign in militants. "I've known him for many years and there is no doubt he represents a departure from Yasser Arafat's strategy of terror," a senior Israeli official quoted Sharon as saying. "But he must take additional steps to dismantle terrorist organizations and stop incitement or we can't move forward from the pre-road map stage....This position has been endorsed by the United States."  (Reuters)
  • Qurei Denounces Bush's Comment on Settlements
    Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei on Tuesday denounced U.S. President George W. Bush's comment on Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Qurei said the U.S. administration speaks about a Palestinian state but has failed to define what a state means exactly. "Doesn't a state mean security, border, stability, and non-existence of settlements?" Qurei said. "President Bush's remarks about Israel's right to maintain Jewish settlements do not serve the peace process or lead to a just settlement," he said. (Xinhuanet-China)
  • Three Indicted on Terror Charges in U.S. - Mark Sherman
    An indictment unsealed Tuesday accuses Dhiran Barot, Nadeem Tarmohammed, and Qaisar Shaffi, all currently in custody in England, of scouting the New York Stock Exchange and Citicorp Building in New York, the Prudential Building in Newark, N.J., and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also They Watched Us - Tom Brune (Newsday)
  • Thousands Protest for Reform in Egypt - Maamoun Youssef
    Thousands of Egyptian students, including many from the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood, demonstrated Tuesday at universities across the country, the latest in months of protests demanding political reform and an end to the country's emergency laws. Egyptian law requires public gatherings of more than five people to obtain a government permit. Students, however, are generally allowed to demonstrate as long as they remain on university grounds. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Arrests Palestinian Boy Carrying Five Pipe Bombs
    The IDF on Tuesday arrested a 15-year-old Palestinian boy carrying five pipe bombs at the Hawara checkpoint outside Nablus when he appeared in a heavy winter coat on a day that temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). Israel Radio reported the boy attempted to ignite the bombs with a match before soldiers stopped him. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Fatah Beats Hamas in Bir Zeit University Elections - Arnon Regular
    In a surprise win, Fatah beat Hamas in student council elections at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah Tuesday. Fatah won 23 seats on the council, as opposed to 22 for Hamas, which had led it previously. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Bush is from Mars, Sharon is from Venus - Aluf Benn
    It is difficult to describe a pair more different from one another than George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon. The physical differences are obvious. One is from a tiny village in Mandate-era Palestine, the other the son of patrician Americans. One is a warrior and general and the other a rear guard pilot. At least their farms are about the same size.
        Their worldviews are different. Bush regards the Palestinians as peace-loving people who want to live normally beside Israel. Sharon explains to him that the main problem is Arab refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in "the cradle of their birth." Bush speaks about the road map and Sharon responds it hasn't even begun, that we are in a pre-map stage. Bush wants to know what will happen on the day after the disengagement and Sharon answers: nothing. First the Palestinians will dismantle the terror infrastructure, and only then will we go into a political process.
        Sharon warned about a real problem. The American efforts for quick democratization in the Middle East could perpetuate Arab hostility toward Israel even if the regimes are changed from within. The discussions at the Bush farm highlighted the gap between Israel, where there is still a debate over the withdrawal from Gaza, and the rest of the world, which is already anticipating the next withdrawal. The talk about terrorist infrastructures on the Palestinian side is barely heard.
  • Some "Settlement" - John Podhoretz
    Why did the media hype turn on a controversy involving an entirely theoretical issue involving possible future construction of apartment buildings and a road in and around a thriving Israeli suburb that sits only 4 miles from Jerusalem? If you were watching news or reading newspapers over the past week, you'd think that the U.S. and Israel were on a dangerous collision course over the issue of that suburb, called Ma'ale Adumim.
        Ma'ale Adumim is usually called a "settlement." But as a description of the place, the word is absurd, because it conjures up an image of a few huts on an undeveloped bit of land. Ma'ale Adumim is 30 years old and is home to more than 30,000 people. The term "settlement" is used, as it is for all Jewish population centers on the West Bank, to suggest that the Israeli presence is only temporary. In truth, a serious peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians will almost certainly leave Ma'ale Adumim in Israeli hands. (New York Post)
  • As Gaza Exit Looms, a Settlement Surges - John Murphy
    Sprawled across the desert hilltops about four miles east of Jerusalem, Ma'ale Adumim is a community of red-tile-roofed homes, curved streets bordered by blooming flower beds, cascading fountains, a shopping mall, playgrounds, and 140 factories producing furniture, wine, and computer software. Mayor Benny Kashriel insists the proposed construction is part of a long-standing plan to accommodate the natural growth of the community. "About 80% of our children are buying their homes here and establishing their families here," he said. This week in Ma'ale Adumim hundreds of construction workers operating building cranes and cement mixers were busy erecting a new section of 500 apartments.
        "I don't think we have to give up anything. What for? Because the Palestinians are screaming?...We are building in Ma'ale Adumim territory. We are not expanding at all," Kashriel said. What's more, he said, the development would create more jobs for Palestinians, who fill about 2,000 jobs in the settlement's industrial zone. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Stopping Sale of Products to Israel Isn't Path to Peace - Eugene Korn
    On Wednesday, Caterpillar Inc. will hold its stockholder meeting in Chicago. Some have proposed a resolution for Caterpillar to stop selling its products to Israel, part of a wider campaign by some churches to weaken Israel by pressing for selective divestment of companies selling products to the Jewish state. People of moral character take stands based on their moral principles. But such moral stands must be both credible and sound, and the divestment initiatives are neither. When Israelis and Palestinians are moving toward peace through direct discussion and increased understanding, outside parties should not interfere via partisan pressure. Do Christians really want to be seen as obstructive outsiders obstructing peace and healing? The writer is director of Jewish Affairs at the American Jewish Congress and adjunct professor of Jewish thought at Seton Hall University. (Chicago Sun-Times)
        See also Human Rights Watch and Amnesty Promote Caterpillar Boycott (NGO Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Trust is Built on Realities - Ehud Barak (Guardian-UK)

    • A partial bureaucratic approval of an old construction plan in the city of Ma'ale Adumim, adjacent to Jerusalem, should not be perceived as a danger to the peace process. All the diplomatic pressure on Israel, in this specific case, is not justified, simply because the Palestinians have already agreed this major bloc will stay under Israel's authority - if not at Camp David, in many other exchanges of ideas.
    • While the construction plan is far from being implemented on the ground, threats by Saeb Erekat (or Abbas) that its authorization "closes the door to peace" takes us back to a gloomy period where short-term political gains are put before long-term benefits.
    • No Israeli government can, should, or needs to remove the major settlement blocs. These are where almost 80% of the settlers live in an area of no more than 6% of the total land area of the West Bank. This understanding should ease the recent tension between the sides, especially as the Ma'ale Adumim plan specifically does not interfere with any unsolvable territorial contiguity issues.
    • But the story of Ma'ale Adumim is only an example that serves to illustrate a broader challenge in future negotiations with the Palestinians. One lesson from our attempt to reach an agreement was that the attitude of "all or nothing" brought both sides to a stalemate. The cost of Yasser Arafat's insistence on strictly unalterable demands is too high and painful a price to be paid again. Repeating the same scenario is a historic mistake that none of us can afford to make.

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