Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 2, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Sharansky Quits Israel's Cabinet - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
    Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky resigned on Monday because he opposes Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, he said in an interview.
    Sharansky said he objected to the lack of linkage of the Gaza withdrawal to specific reforms to create more freedom in Palestinian society.
    Sharansky said he also objected strongly to separating the Israeli economy as much as possible from the Palestinian one, arguing that Israel will not find real security in physical borders or walls, but only in a Palestinian state that is truly democratic and free, politically and economically.
    Sharansky wants international aid linked to the promotion of a free Palestinian press and economy, new school textbooks that do not promote anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli themes, the dismantling of terrorist organizations, and the replacement of squalid refugee camps with decent housing. "It won't happen by itself," he said.

Israel Campus Beat
- May 1, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    Can a Palestinian State Be Viable?

Poll: U.S. Jews Support Pullout Plan - Uriel Heilman (Jerusalem Post)
    Even as a majority of American Jews support Prime Minister Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza and some parts of the West Bank, most say they are unsure the withdrawal will make Israel any safer, a new poll shows.
    In a poll of 501 American Jews conducted by Hebrew University sociologist Steven M. Cohen and sponsored by the American Zionist group Ameinu, 65% voiced support for Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, and 23% opposed it.
    At the same time, 62% said they were unsure disengagement would make Israel any safer, though 55% said it would help bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to a peace agreement.

Useful Reference:

Turkish Prime Minister's Inscription at Yad Vashem - Recep Tayyip Erdogan
    The Holocaust is the most inconceivable crime against humanity throughout history. Humanity should never again have to face such a crime.
    The Turkish Nation has been living for centuries with the Jewish people and will continue its close and friendly relations with them in the future and will struggle together with them against any racism with determination.
    In this holy place [Yad Vashem] which displays the darkest period of human history, I pay homage to the memories of millions of victims of the Holocaust on behalf of the Turkish Nation and on my own behalf.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Terrorist Attack Wounds Seven in Cairo - Mona El-Naggar and Hassan M. Fattah
    Ehab Yousri Yassin, a suspect in a deadly bombing April 7 at Cairo's main bazaar, was spotted by security officers on Saturday and during a chase he leaped from a bridge behind the popular Egyptian Museum and blew himself up, wounding three Egyptians, an Israeli couple, a Swedish man, and an Italian woman. Less than two hours later, two veiled women, later identified as his sister and his fiancee, attacked a tour bus packed with Israeli tourists near Cairo's Citadel, firing several shots at the bus but not hitting anyone. The sister then shot and killed the fiancee and then herself. (New York Times)
        See also Shaky Egypt Worries Israel Prior to Pullout - Matthew Gutman
    Israel needs a stable Egypt to pull off its biggest policy gambit in a generation: disengagement. "There will be no deal with the Egyptians," said Dr. Guy Bechor, a Middle East analyst at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. "This is the final nail in the coffin of an agreement." "Egypt is now talking about 6,000 troops along the border," said Bechor, "and numerous other conditions that Israel finds unacceptable. After these attacks, I think a deal will be impossible." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egyptians are Pro-Democracy, Anti-U.S., Ripe for Change - Evan Osnos
    Politician Ayman Nour, part of the anti-government Kifaya (Enough) movement who seeks to be Egypt's first freely elected president, told a Cairo crowd: "We can be for democracy and against the United States." Nour and others like him pose a distinct new challenge for the U.S., calling into question President Bush's contention that a flowering of democracy in the Middle East would create stronger alliances with Washington.
        "Most Egyptians and Arabs look at Bush as a dictator and a criminal," said newspaper editor Abdel-Halim Qandil, vice chairman of the movement. "Bush imagines freedom will go hand in hand with peace for Israel. But in reality, freedom will mean more resistance to American policies in the region," Qandil said. "Normalization [with Israel] was an insult to our dignity. I don't expect Egypt would move toward new wars, but it would definitely challenge the American occupation of Iraq, and support the Palestinian struggle, even by arms, by supporting the Palestinian resistance and the Iraqi resistance."  (Chicago Tribune)
  • U.S. Determined to Keep Up Heat on Syria - Guy Dinmore
    The U.S. will keep up pressure on Syria long after the withdrawal of its forces from Lebanon, U.S. officials say, outlining a policy that analysts believe is aimed at destabilizing the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad. Officials point out that the US still has a long list of grievances against Syria: its alleged development of chemical weapons and possibly bioweapons; support for militant Palestinian groups; co-operation with Iran in terrorism; its failure to stop Iraqi insurgents using the country as a base; and the shelter it gives to Iraq's former ruling Ba'athists. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also below Observations: Syria's Still There - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
  • France at UN Targets Lebanon Militias
    France circulated a draft UN text on Friday deploring that the Lebanese government has yet to exert full control over all its territory after Syria's military withdrawal and the lack of progress in disarming militias in Lebanon. UN Security Council Resolution 1559 calls for the disarmament of all militias, in reference to the Shia movement Hizballah and Palestinian factions. A U.S. diplomat, Stuart Holliday, said Washington remained "concerned about reports of continuing Syrian involvement and interference in Lebanese internal affairs." "Of course, we continue as we did in the resolution to call for the disbanding of all militias in Lebanon. There is no role for armed militias in Lebanon, for Hizballah," he said. (
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Soldier Killed Near Tulkarm - Efrat Weiss
    IDF Sgt. Dan Talasnikov, 21, was killed after forces searching for wanted terror suspects came under fire in the West Bank village of Saida, near Tulkarm, on Monday. The soldiers fired back and killed Islamic Jihad terrorist Shafik Abdul Ghani. According to Palestinian sources, Ghani, who had escaped from a Palestinian prison last week, belonged to the terror cell that had carried out the attack at the Stage nightclub in Tel Aviv and planned to carry out another attack in the upcoming days. (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
        See also Israel Nabs Would-Be Suicide Bomber - Arnon Regular
    Israeli security forces Sunday entered the West Bank city of Tulkarm, which was handed over to the Palestinians in March, to arrest Mohammed Shalhub, 19, an Islamic Jihad activist who was planning to carry out a suicide bombing. Israel has retained the right to act to stop what it calls "ticking bombs," or imminent attacks. (Ha'aretz)
  • Turkey Also Worried Over Nuclear Iran - Aluf Benn
    Visiting Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said his country shared Israel's worries about the possibility of a nuclear Iran. "You are not the only one threatened, but so are we and the entire world," he said. Relations between Israel and Turkey were strained last year after Erdogan called Israel's elimination of Hamas heads "state terror." Now, it seems, Turkey again wants warmer ties with Israel. Erdogan came to Israel with four ministers, 10 parliament members, and 100 business people. (Ha'aretz)
        See also What Binds Ankara and Jerusalem - Soner Cagaptay and Asaf Romirowsky (Jerusalem Post); A Common Strategic Agenda - Efraim Inbar (Jerusalem Post)
  • Top Palestinian Brass Get Israeli Passes to Move Freely - Arnon Regular
    Israel last week renewed the system of issuing VIP transit passes to senior PA officials. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • History Holds Its Breath - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    A half-attentive world is deluded into thinking peace is finally on the way following the death of Arafat and the election of the "constructive" Abu Mazen. Keep the champagne in the picnic basket. Nothing has changed. Abu Mazen is a weak leader who runs the same Palestinian Authority with post-Arafat diplomacy resting on the old Arafat bureaucracy. The officers of the dozen or so Palestinian security agencies are virtually local warlords who continue to collect bribes and protection money from the people they're supposed to be protecting. Their commanders follow Abu Mazen's orders only when they feel like it.
        No less a dove than Shlomo Ben-Ami, Ehud Barak's foreign minister, has written that Abu Mazen "is moderate in his strategy, not his goals, which are no different from Arafat's goals." Abu Mazen's commitment to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad has become a bad joke. The danger is not only that Abbas may be Arafat in a suit; it is that he may be Arafat in an empty suit. (US News)
  • The Autumn of the Autocrats - Fouad Ajami
    As Syria's rulers hunkered down and waited to see the unfolding of the U.S. project in Iraq, they did their best to aid and abet the anti-U.S. insurgency there, while still maintaining the necessary fiction of their neutrality, doing what they could to avoid open confrontation with Washington. It was known that Arab jihadists from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan traveled to Mosul and the Sunni Triangle from Syria. The Syrians no doubt once believed that a Pax Americana pressed in Iraq could be made to strike a bargain: Iraq for Lebanon. The Syrians would provide their own version of cooperation on the Syrian-Iraqi border in return for the old acceptance of their dominion in Lebanon. This sort of bargain has had its advocates in Washington. But it now lies in shambles. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Searching for Israel in All the Wrong Places - Martin Kramer
    Last month, Columbia University announced with much fanfare that it would establish a chair of Israel studies. Four generous trustees threw in $3 million to make it happen - and to help extricate the university from its crisis. The search committee includes Rashid Khalidi, the ubiquitous Edward Said Professor; and lesser-known Lila Abu-Lughod, a Palestinian American anthropologist and signer and supporter of Columbia's divestment petition who's writing a book on the Palestinian experience in 1948. Edward Said used to complain that the Palestinians needed "permission to narrate" their story. At Columbia, the situation is reversed: Israel can't be narrated without the permission of the great Palestinian mandarins. (
  • Lean on Mubarak - Yosef Goell
    There is no reason to believe that President Mubarak, especially on the eve of a new election in which he will be appealing to a profoundly anti-Israeli electorate, will lift a finger to help Sharon and Israel against Hamas and the other Palestine terrorist groups. Israel's efforts must be focused not on Mubarak directly but on the Bush administration, Congress, and the U.S. media to have Mubarak stop the arms smuggling that has been responsible for the deaths of many Israelis. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Syria's Still There - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • Israel does not believe that with the withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon, Syria has withdrawn entirely from a country it controlled in almost every vital sphere. It would be ridiculous to claim that Syrian intelligence has gone with the military units. Israel is convinced that Syrian intelligence will continue to exert control in Lebanon's pro-Syrian government.
    • The Lebanese army is thoroughly infiltrated with Syrian intelligence, which gives financial aid to many Lebanese officers. And Syrian intelligence penetration of Hizballah runs deep. Some of Hizballah's rocket array is manufactured in Syria and came its way after the Syrian general staff decided to view Hizballah as an organic part of its deployment of forces.
    • Only truly free elections can bring about internal change. Only a freely elected Lebanese government could send the Lebanese army to take responsibility for security in the south of the country and begin to turn the armed Hizballah into a political movement subservient to Lebanese law.
    • Israel's main concern is how to treat Hizballah if it remains an armed militia that does not take orders from the Lebanese government. From Israel's point of view, there has been no real change in the array of enemy forces.

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