Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 3, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Lebanese Villagers Want Pro-Syrian Palestinian Military Bases Out (AFP/Yahoo)
    Residents of eastern Lebanon encouraged by the recent Syrian troop pullout from the country are calling for an end to the presence of Damascus-backed Palestinian military positions in the area.
    The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) of Ahmad Jibril is the only Palestinian movement to maintain important military positions outside the 12 Palestinian camps in Lebanon.
    Residents said that since Syria's pullout, the PFLP-GC has reinforced its positions with artillery, rocket-launchers, and armored vehicles.

Fatah Leader Qaddumi: Israel Can Only Be Confronted with Bullets (MEMRI)
    Fatah leader Farouq Qaddumi said in a televised interview on April 25:
    "Israel can only be opposed with bullets. This is the only way."

Terror Havens: Al-Qaeda's Growing Sanctuary in Nigeria - George Thomas (CBN News)
    A recent UN investigation has uncovered al-Qaeda training and recruiting bases in Nigeria.
    In a video message broadcast on al-Jazeera, Bin Laden singled out Nigeria, because of its close ties with Washington, as a country worthy of jihad.
    Dr. Princeton Lyman, a former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, says it is a natural target for terrorists.
    "You have 60 million or more Muslims in Nigeria....If you wanted to target a state in West Africa, that's the one you target."
    "20% of the new oil coming on the market over the next decade is going to come from West Africa....Nigeria is a major part of that," Lyman added.
    Paul Marshall, a human rights advocate, says the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi strain of Islam is fueling much of the Islamic fervor in Nigeria.

Cabinet Approves Upgrading Ariel College to University - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    In an effort to strengthen the settlement blocs the government hopes to retain inside Israel's final borders, the Israeli cabinet recommended upgrading the status of the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel from a college to a university.
    The cabinet also approved the establishment of a new university in the Galilee, to be located in Karmiel, a project that will be aided by a $100 million donation by businessman Arnon Milchan.

Useful Reference:

Why I Resigned from the Government - Natan Sharansky (Jerusalem Post)
    Any concessions in the peace process must be linked to democratic reforms within Palestinian society.
    The key to building a stable and lasting peace with our Palestinian neighbors lies in encouraging and supporting their efforts to build a democratic society.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Sees Drop in Terrorist Threats - Al-Qaeda Focusing Attacks in Iraq and Europe - Dana Priest and Spencer Hsu
    Reports of credible terrorist threats against the U.S. are at their lowest level since Sept. 11, 2001, according to U.S. intelligence officials and federal law enforcement authorities. The intelligence community's daily threat assessment currently lists, on average, 25 to 50% fewer threats against domestic targets than it typically did over the past two years, said one senior counterterrorism official. Counterterrorism officials believe al-Qaeda and like-minded groups are focusing instead on Americans deployed in Iraq and on Europe. But no one suggests the threat has gone away. (Washington Post)
  • Muslim U.S. Soldier Sentenced to Death - Alec Russell
    U.S. Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar was sentenced to death last week for a fatal attack on fellow soldiers that was blamed on his religious extremism and hatred for the U.S. Two officers were killed and 14 soldiers wounded in the March 23, 2003, attack, just before the start of the war against Iraq. Akbar rolled grenades into troop tents in the northern Kuwait desert and then opened fire on soldiers. "He is a hate-filled, ideologically driven murderer," said Lt.-Col. Michael Mulligan, the chief prosecutor. Prosecutors highlighted an entry in a 1997 diary in which Akbar wrote: "My life will not be complete unless America is destroyed." (Telegraph-UK)
  • Morocco Produces Some of the World's Most Feared Terrorists - Thomas Omestad
    Morocco seems to be producing terrorists who seek to wreak havoc across Europe. The Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, a network linked to al-Qaeda, is thought responsible for the bombings in Casablanca on May 16, 2003, and at Madrid's Atocha Station on March 11, 2004. Spain's leading antiterrorism judge, Baltasar Garzon, has declared the Morocco connection "the gravest problem Europe faces today with this kind of terrorism." As many as 1,000 al-Qaeda followers and 100 terrorist cells may have burrowed into Morocco, Garzon estimates. The Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group is an operational offshoot of Salafia Jihadia, whose Moroccan branch was established in the mid-1990s, fueled by radical Islamist ideas and by money and manpower from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations. (US News)
        See also Odyssey of an Al-Qaeda Operative: A Moroccan's Trail of Terror - Craig Whitlock
    In the post-Sept. 11 world, Karim Mejjati was the perfect undercover al-Qaeda operative. The former medical student from Morocco could speak several languages, had many passports, and excelled at building bombs. He was also good at avoiding attention as he crisscrossed four continents to organize a wave of catastrophic attacks. On May 12, 2003, an al-Qaeda network that investigators say was put together by Mejjati in Saudi Arabia blew up three residential compounds for foreign workers in Riyadh, leaving 23 dead. (Washington Post)
  • Tourists Back in Jerusalem - Abraham Rabinovich
    The number of foreign vacationers in Israel was 30% higher than during the previous Passover holiday, with the hotel occupancy rate in Jerusalem reaching 85%. A new rail line into the capital, a scenic route negotiated by slow trains, was overwhelmed by four times as many travelers as could be accommodated. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rockets Return to Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said Monday that residents of the southern Israeli town are losing patience with repeated Kassam attacks from the nearby Gaza Strip, and that fear is once again part of their daily life. Two rockets fell near Sderot on Monday. One nearly hit a factory in town where hundreds of workers were working at the time. (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
        See also Islamic Jihad Fires Rockets at Southern Israel (UPI/Washington Times)
        See also PA Claims to Have Stopped Hamas from Firing Rockets
    The PA said Tuesday that Palestinian police had arrested two Hamas militants in Gaza who were on their way to fire rockets at Sderot. (Ha'aretz)
  • Islamic Jihad: "Calm Close to Collapse" - Ali Waked
    Senior Islamic Jihad figure Khader Khatib says the current calm in Israel-Palestinian violence is close to collapse. On Sunday Islamic Jihad called on all Palestinian terrorist groups to reevaluate their position regarding the maintenance of calm, after a member of the group was detained by the IDF. The army said the man was planning to stage a suicide bombing and filmed a videotape declaring his intentions. (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
  • Israel: No Hamas Election Involvement Until It Disarms - Herb Keinon
    Israel has launched a diplomatic campaign against Hamas's involvement in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections unless it disarms. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told visiting Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, as well as Egyptian leaders two weeks ago, that Hamas can't claim to be a political party and run in the elections while at the same time maintaining a military arm. Israeli diplomatic officials have said there is concern that Hamas will follow the Hizballah model, and become very active in the political process while at the same time continuing to engage in terror. There is concern in Jerusalem that a politically powerful Hamas will strengthen calls in Europe to remove it from the terror list because it is now a political party. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Bush, the Great Shiite Liberator - Lee Smith
    In the Arab world, Shiites have largely been second-class citizens since the year 656. The rise of the Shiites is normally ascribed to the American push to democratize the Middle East. But many Middle East experts and intelligence analysts, like George Friedman, author of America's Secret War, say it is more directly the result of the Bush administration's strategic planning for its global campaign against terrorism. The idea, they say, is to use regional threats like the Shiites to gain leverage over some of America's Sunni allies, especially Saudi Arabia, and force them to crack down on home-grown Islamic radicals and preachers.
        After the assassination of a close Saudi ally, former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, the Saudis deemed the Syrian Alawite regime to be responsible for it. As Michael Young wrote in the Beirut Daily Star, the Saudi royal family is now eager for "regime change in Damascus." That would both redress the crime and restore Syria's Sunni majority to power, tipping the regional scales back in favor of the Sunnis. (New York Times)
  • The Stalinists of the British Association of University Teachers - Emanuele Ottolenghi
    Please don't call these zealous unionized scholars Nazis. Call them by their true name: Stalinists. Theirs is not a blanket boycott. The AUT is ready to offer a waiver to scholars on the condition that they publicly state their willingness to conform to the political orthodoxy espoused by those academics who sponsored the motion. As a symbolic gesture to defend the spirit of academic freedom and express solidarity with my harassed colleagues, I have expressed my wish to be included in the list of people and institutions to be blackmailed and I sincerely hope that other colleagues of all political persuasions will join me. The writer teaches Israel studies at the Middle East Centre of St. Antony's College, Oxford University. (National Review)
        See also The Academic Ban - Nazi Connection - Yaakov Lappin
    The web site of Sue Blackwell, the Birmingham lecturer who presented motions calling for boycotts of Israeli universities, contains a recommended link to a web site owned by an anti-Semitic neo-Nazi activist. Wendy Campbell, who owns the MarWen Media web site, has promoted Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories discussing "unrivaled Jewish power," and maintains an additional web site entitled "Exposing Israeli Apartheid," which is also linked by Blackwell. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Prime Minister Sharon Meets U.S. Senate Leaders in Jerusalem
    (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met Monday with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) in Jerusalem. Sharon told the senators:

    • Since the election of Abu Mazen, a long series of steps has been taken to help him in establishing and stabilizing his rule and win the support of the Palestinian street. Israel has done this out of the sense that with Abu Mazen it is possible to make progress. Despite this, terrorism has not ceased.
    • Prime Minister Sharon believes that Abu Mazen's path is incorrect and contravenes the Roadmap. Instead of disbanding the terrorist organizations, he is acting to strengthen them. He is not willing to fight them and is similarly unwilling to disband their infrastructures. While Abu Mazen is taking steps to maintain the quiet, he is completely avoiding taking significant steps to fight the terrorist organizations.
    • Israel wants to coordinate the Disengagement Plan with the Palestinians and make certain that the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is coordinated, without terrorism, and that Israeli property is transferred to the responsibility of the PA, which would use it to serve the welfare of the Palestinian population. Vice Premier Shimon Peres has been charged with the responsibility of raising funds in order to assist Palestinian economic recovery after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
    • Hizballah continues to pose a threat and cause instability on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Hizballah is also strengthening its presence in the Gaza Strip and among Israeli Arabs, and is encouraging acts of terrorism inside Israel in order to end the "calm" and torpedo the diplomatic process. It is also training and financing Palestinian terrorist organizations, mainly Fatah elements, and there are plans to kidnap Israeli soldiers.
    • The most effective way of dealing with Iran is to create a united international coalition and move the issue to the UN Security Council. Economic and social sanctions should be placed on Iran. If steps are not taken soon, Iran will possess nuclear weapons.

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