Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 25, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Islamic Jihad Network Reawakening in Northern Samaria - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli intelligence sources see evidence that the military wing of the Islamic Jihad network in the northern West Bank has resumed planning major attacks.
    Over the Passover holiday, the Shin Bet amassed more than 50 terror alerts.
    All of March and most of April passed without Israelis being killed in terror attacks. Nonetheless, this is a success for a limited time only.
    The current threat presented by Islamic Jihad operatives in Jenin and Tulkarm will require continued efforts against them, even before the disengagement.
    But the day after is also in play: If the Jihad network strengthens itself in Jenin, in an area where the IDF refrains from operating after the withdrawals, it will pose a danger that is not limited to suicide attacks.
    Various organizations in Jenin have been striving for months to manufacture Kassam rockets that would expose Afula and the Jezreel Valley to attack.

Islamists Win Saudi Elections (Gulf Daily News-Bahrain)
    Islamist-backed candidates triumphed in the final round of Saudi Arabia's first nationwide elections, results showed Saturday, stamping the authority of religious scholars on the kingdom's fledgling reforms.
    In Jeddah, the seven candidates on a list endorsed by Muslim scholars won all seven seats, in a show of religious influence which defied the city's relatively liberal tradition.
    Medina returned six out of seven candidates supported by religious figures.
    Winners in Buraida, heartland of Saudi Arabia's austere Wahhabi school of Islam, also appeared to have religious backing.

    See also Saudis Detain 40 Christians for Illegal Praying (Washington Times)
    Saudi Arabia has detained 40 Pakistani Christians for holding prayers in a country where practicing any religion other than Islam is illegal.
    A group of men, women, and children were attending a service at a house in Riyadh when it was raided by Saudi police, Al Jazirah newspaper said Saturday.
    There are about six million foreigners in the kingdom, including many Christians from Europe, North America, Asia, and other Arab states.

Bombing Suspects Escape from Palestinian Jail (Ha'aretz)
    Two Palestinian militants suspected of involvement in a Tel Aviv suicide bombing escaped from a Palestinian jail on Friday, security officials said.
    Shafiq Abdel Ghani and Ahmed Zaki of Islamic Jihad were arrested by Palestinian police shortly after the Feb. 25 bombing at the Stage Club in which five Israelis were killed.
    They were being held in a prison in the West Bank city of Tulkarm awaiting trial.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Ezer Weizman, Hero of 1967 War, Dies - William A. Orme Jr. and Greg Myre
    Ezer Weizman, the swashbuckling and acerbic former president of Israel, who built the country's air force and guided it in the startlingly swift victory over the Arab forces in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, died Sunday at the age of 80. (New York Times)
        See also Former President Ezer Weizman - Ran Reznick, David Ratner, and Jonathan Lis
    Ezer Weizman, the nephew of Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president, volunteered to serve in Great Britain's Royal Air Force at age 18 in the midst of World War II, and later became one of the founding officers and pilots of the Israel Air Force during the 1948 War of Independence. Weizman served as commander of the IAF for eight years, during which he laid the groundwork for a modern air force. In the late 1970s he was in close contact with Egyptians ahead of the peace treaty between the two states and served as defense minister in Menahem Begin's government.
        Weizman served as Israel's seventh president from 1993-2000. "His charm and uniqueness lay in the fact that he was not diplomatic. He tailored the president's suit to his dimensions as a straight-talking sabra who doesn't tone down what he thinks," said Finance Minister Netanyahu. (Ha'aretz)
  • British Lecturers Condemned for Vote to Boycott Israeli Universities - Alexandra Blair
    Britain's lecturers' union voted Friday by 96 votes to 92 to boycott two Israeli universities in protest over their alleged support for the Sharon government's policies. A narrow majority of the 190 delegates at the Association of University Teachers (AUT) conference voted to cut all links with Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities.
        Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors and principals, condemned the move as "inimical to academic freedom." The Israeli Embassy said: "Israeli universities are beacons of academic freedom where Jews and Arabs alike study together....In particular, Haifa University has a substantial Arab faculty and student body." Dr. Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, said: "Academic life is about building bridges of dialogue, not destroying them; opening minds, not closing them; hearing both sides of an argument, not one alone." (Times-UK)
        See also Israel Slams UK Teachers' Union Decision (Jerusalem Post)
        See also below Observations: The AUT Boycott of Israeli Universities is Inimical to Academic Freedom - Editorial (Times-UK)
  • Abbas Ejects Arafat Old Guard in Security Shake-Up - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Mahmoud Abbas named three new heads for the Palestinian security forces and forced hundreds of their men into retirement on Saturday, pushing aside top commanders in Arafat's old guard. Brig.-Gen. Suleiman Helles was named national security forces commander to replace Moussa Arafat. Palestinian intelligence chief Amin al-Hindi was replaced with his deputy, Tareq Abu Rajab. Both Arafat and Hindi were named as special advisers to Abbas.
        Palestinians complained that disorder was growing despite the tens of thousands of security forces personnel, who were widely seen as incompetent and often corrupt. (Reuters)
        See also Anger at Abbas Over Changes in Security Hierarchy - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran to Resume Nuke Enrichment - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iran will resume uranium enrichment regardless of the outcome of its negotiations with three European powers over its nuclear program, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Sunday. Hamid Reza Asefi said any settlement had to respect Iran's right, as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to enrich uranium, and that Iran would not continue its suspension of enrichment for long. "It is not a matter of a year, but months," he said of the suspension. (AP/ABC News)
  • Bush Faces Tense Talks with Saudi - Richard Stevenson and Jeff Gerth
    When he meets at his ranch on Monday with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President George W. Bush will be confronting among the trickiest of his diplomatic relationships. He will be looking for help on oil prices, trying to find common ground on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and prodding the crown prince to allow more democracy within his country, even as the two sides continue to struggle with the deep strains set off by the involvement of Saudis in the 9/11 attacks. Bush remains under pressure from conservatives in his own party and some Democrats to take a hard line with the Saudis when it comes to terrorism and Israel.
        Analysts said the Saudis have always been perplexed that they do not have the same close relationship with the current administration that they did with that of Bush's father. Analysts said the Saudis remain suspicious about Bush's intentions when it comes to a final agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. They said the Saudis are also concerned about the growing Shiite influence in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia's religious establishment is dominated by the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam. (International Herald Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hizballah Bomb Attack on Lebanese Border - Amos Harel
    Vigilance by Israel Defense Forces troops on a routine patrol in the Har Dov area on the Lebanese border averted casualties Sunday when they spotted explosives and moved away just before the device blew up. A senior officer in the Northern Command said Hizballah was behind the attack. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Fire Kassam Rocket North of Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    A Kassam rocket landed Sunday north of the Gaza Strip in an open area belonging to an Israeli town located several miles north of Gaza , indicating an improvement in the launching capabilities of the Palestinians. The IDF is concerned that these rocket-launching capabilities may be transferred to the West Bank as well. (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
  • IDF Arrests Palestinian Carrying Four Pipe Bombs
    Israel Defense Forces troops at the Beit Farik checkpoint in the West Bank arrested a Palestinian youth on Friday who was carrying four pipe bombs ready for use. Earlier Friday, troops detained a Palestinian trying to smuggle bullets in a video cassette at the Hawara checkpoint. In the past month, Palestinians have tried eight times to smuggle weapons or explosives through checkpoints in the Nablus region. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Springtime for Hamas - Diana West
    Last week, Reuters reported that EU foreign ministers gathered at a Luxembourg castle to consider "the previously taboo idea of dialogue with Islamic opposition groups" - namely, Hamas and Hizballah. The question before them, posed by EU foreign minister Javier Solana, was: "Has the time come for the EU to become more engaged with Islamic 'faith-based' civil societies?" Alistair Crooke, a former EU official, has launched Conflicts Forum, a think tank devoted to finding common ground between jihadists and Westerners. Last month in Beirut, Crooke hosted policy-interested Yanks and Brits and terrorists from Hamas, Hizballah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Pakistan's Jamaa Islamiyya.
        Last week, the Brookings Institution and Qatar assembled 150 international notables, including a former White House adviser (Rand Beers), Euro-Islamist Tariq Ramadan, Judea Pearl (Daniel Pearl's father), and a deputy assistant secretary of state, to discuss, among other things, as the Daily Star put it, "whether and how" to include jihadist groups in democracies. Even broaching the subject has got to be encouraging to terrorists, rewarding murder and intimidation with the increasingly tawdry trappings of self-rule and international recognition. By the conference's end, Islam Online was trumpeting: "the U.S. is ready to 'accept' the involvement of Islamist groups...should they understand 'the rules of the game.'" (
  • Why Israel Will Always be Vilified - David Aaronovitch
    Supporters of the decision by the British Association of University Teachers to boycott two Israeli universities claim Israel has become an apartheid state, as South Africa was, and therefore it should be treated in the same way, with boycotts and disinvestments. This is a genuinely, grade-A stupid argument. Israel is not anything like South Africa, where a majority was denied all political and civic rights on the grounds of race.
        Sue Blackwell, the motion's prime mover, describes Israel as "an illegitimate state." She doesn't believe that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state at all within any borders. Unlike the United Nations, she does not believe it should have been set up and she would rather it disappeared. (Observer-UK)
  • Observations:

    The AUT Boycott of Israeli Universities is Inimical to Academic Freedom
    - Editorial (Times-UK)

    • The decision by the [British] Association of University Teachers (AUT) to boycott two universities in Israel is a mockery of academic freedom, a biased and blinkered move that is as ill-timed as it is perverse.
    • The vote targets the very institutions in Israel that have been havens of political and racial tolerance and beacons of academic freedom.
    • The sponsors say the academic boycott is a protest against discrimination, as valid as the widely supported ban by British universities on links with South African institutions during the apartheid years. Such a claim is as laughable as it is inaccurate.
    • In both universities, Jews and Arabs study together, and in Haifa especially there is a substantial number of Arab lecturers and students. Moreover, if Palestinian students themselves are not calling for a boycott, what is the point of such tokenism by the AUT?
    • In many British universities there are vocal critics of Israeli policies. They can speak out in public, join protest marches, and argue with pro-Israeli colleagues. What they are not entitled to do is to impose a trade union boycott that is inimical to academic freedom - a principle fundamental not only to civilized society but the very basis of their professional life.
    • Their actions are an echo of the Nazi ban on Jewish academics, and the general discrimination so common three generations ago. Many Jewish students at British universities are already suffering growing hostility, including intolerable abuse from extremists.
    • How much academic freedom exists in Syria? Or Saudi Arabia? Why does the AUT not call for a ban on contacts in dozens of other countries inimical to human rights? If the reply is that building bridges achieves far more, that is all the truer of Israel.

    Today's issue of the Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Hol Hamoed Pesach.

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