Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 4, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Official PA Daily: Birthday Greetings to Saddam Hussein - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    An advertisement sending birthday greetings to Saddam Hussein was published on May 1 in the official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadida.
    Saddam Hussein is seen as a hero by the PA leadership and population.
    During the war in Iraq, PA political and academic leaders called for armed terror against U.S. soldiers, and a music video calling for Iraqis to kill U.S. troops played daily on PA TV.

Terror Attacks Increase 54% from March to April (Jerusalem Post)
    There were 205 terror attacks in April, compared to 133 in March, an increase of 54%.
    There was also a significant rise in the numbers of security warnings, Army Radio reported.
    The number of mortars fired at Israeli targets increased from 10 in March to 67 in April.

PA Judge Attacked in Gaza Court - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A Palestinian judge who sentenced two brothers to life in prison for "collaboration" with Israel was attacked and injured by the defendants' families inside the courtroom on Monday.
    Eyewitnesses said that after the judge finished reading the verdict, the defendants' relatives started rioting, attacking the judge and prosecutors and smashing furniture.
    The two brothers managed to free themselves and joined in the attack.
    In another scene of lawlessness, at least eight people in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City were injured during an exchange of gunfire between two clans that lasted several hours.
    PA security forces did not interfere to stop the fighting.

Egyptian Loses to Israeli in Ping Pong Diplomacy (Ynet News)
    Ayatollah Ashraf, an Egyptian religious Muslim who routinely shows up for games in traditional attire, pulled a no-show on her Israeli opponent at the first round ping-pong games of the world championship in Shanghai, China, handing a technical victory to Israeli table tennis player Marina Kravechenko.

Useful Reference:

Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Yad Vashem)
    Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, a national day of commemoration for the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, begins on Wednesday evening, May 4, 2005, and continues until Thursday evening, May 5.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Protest Forces Abbas to Free Gunman - Tim Butcher
    Hamas, the radical Palestinian group, won a crucial test of strength with the Palestinian Authority Tuesday when it secured the release of a gunman arrested for allegedly firing rockets at Israel. Hundreds of Hamas loyalists demonstrated on the streets of Gaza City, setting up roadblocks and threatening to kill supporters of Mahmoud Abbas. Within hours the gunman was free. The incident, which underlined the power enjoyed by Hamas, was a significant setback for Abbas's attempt to entrench the rule of law. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Palestinians Arrest, Then Free Hamas Men - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
  • For Abbas, a Crisis of Perception - Molly Moore and John Ward Anderson
    The entryway of the Nablus police headquarters is plastered with posters memorializing dead comrades. In addition to being police officers, most were members of Palestinian militant organizations. In Nablus the policemen on the posters are considered heroes. In Israel, they are considered terrorists. For many Palestinians as well as Israelis, it is often difficult to distinguish between Palestinian militants and Palestinian security officers. "We're part of Fatah - we're already part of the security forces," said a senior Nablus commander in the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Abbas's Fatah political movement. (Washington Post)
  • Explosion Kills 60 at Iraqi Police Center - Thomas Wagner
    An Iraqi carrying hidden explosives set them off Wednesday in a police recruitment center in Irbil, a Kurdish city in northern Iraq, killing at least 50 Iraqis and wounding as many as 150, Al-Arabiya television said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Issues Travel Warning for Egypt
    The State Department strongly urged American citizens in Egypt to avoid crowded tourist sites in the Cairo area. "American citizens should maintain a heightened awareness of their surroundings and should not linger amid groups of tourists in public areas," the announcement said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Communities Near Gaza to be Classified as "Front-Line" Towns - Gideon Alon
    The Israeli cabinet on Monday agreed to classify 44 communities near the Gaza Strip as "front-line" towns. The affected communities are located up to 7 km from the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip. (Ha'aretz)
  • MKs Warn on Egyptian Troops Deploying on Egypt-Gaza Border - Gideon Alon
    The Knesset subcommittee that supervises covert services decided Tuesday to warn the ministers in the political-security cabinet against approving a plan to have 750 Egyptian soldiers stationed on the Philadelphi route. "Based on the material before us, it is clear the Egyptians see the stationing of 750 soldiers with armored vehicles in the Philadelphi region as an opportunity for the beginning of a return of military sovereignty in the eastern Sinai," the subcommittee stated. Egypt has requested the additional deployment of thousands of soldiers and armored vehicles along the Negev, the statement added. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Embattled Arab Bank - Joel Mowbray
    When trial attorney Gary Osen - a free-market conservative who has a penchant for tackling larger-than-life cases - discovered evidence last year suggesting that Arab Bank was knowingly funneling money to Palestinian terrorists, he filed a civil suit on behalf of terror victims last July. Osen learned of Arab Bank's alleged terror financing on the Internet. Documents captured by the Israeli Defense Forces during targeted raids of terror outfits yielded a massive cache of evidence tying Arab Bank to funding of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and families of suicide bombers - and the IDF posted much of it on the net. But even more openly, advertisements in prominent Palestinian newspapers told families of "martyrs" - suicide bombers - to collect money from Arab Bank.
        One February 2002 ad listed names entitled to receive $5,316 from the "Saudi Committee." The "Saudi Committee" referenced is likely at least part of the reason that the feds are hustling to shield Arab Bank, despite the wealth of evidence that led to the partial shuttering of the institution's New York branch. The Saudi Committee for the Support of the Intifada al Quds, which was established shortly after the start of the current intifada, attained international notoriety when its 2002 telethon netted over $100 million. (Washington Times)
        See also Saudi Charities' Terror Ties - U.S. Rep. Sue W. Kelly (R-NY) (New York Post)
  • Hamas vs. America - Daniel Pipes
    Before any whitewashing of Hamas - a likely electoral winner - proceeds, it bears noting that the organization has not just murdered hundreds of Israelis but also prepared itself for war with America. In 2003, Hamas declared President Bush "Islam's biggest enemy" and in 2004 it called him "the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam and Muslims." A 2004 press release announced Hamas considers the U.S as an enemy. "The U.S will face responsibility for its position as an accomplice with Israel." (New York Sun/Middle East Forum)
  • Reaping What It Sowed - Thomas L. Friedman
    The Arab-Muslim world is reaping something it sowed. Way too many Arab intellectuals and religious and political leaders were ready to extol suicide bombing when it was directed against Israelis. Now they are seeing how this weapon of nihilism can be used against their own societies. It was wrong when it was used against Jews, and it is wrong when it is used against Muslims. You can't build a decent society on the graves of suicide bombers and their victims. (New York Times)
  • Hate Indoctrination and Media Blindness - Andrea Levin
    Current reports by monitoring agencies of a diminution of PA media incitement are mixed with counter-reports of new and virulent invective. None of the monitoring groups report change in religious and educational indoctrination. Mosques continue to incite, most recently stoking fears that Jewish radicals would attack Islamic holy sites on the Temple Mount. The incendiary sermons were in turn aired on PA television.
        Likewise, Palestinian schoolbooks remain a vehicle for teaching that Israel is illegitimate and will rightly be replaced by Palestine. No map in any book identifies the State of Israel within any boundary. Only Palestine appears, encompassing all of Israel. When the hatred is amplified continually by television, radio, religious teaching, political leaders, summer camps, public rallies, and neighborhood posters, what other outcome could be expected than the rejection of peaceful accommodation with Israel? The writer is executive director of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East - Bernard Lewis (Foreign Affairs)

    • To speak of dictatorship as being the immemorial way of doing things in the Middle East is simply untrue. It shows ignorance of the Arab past, contempt for the Arab present, and unconcern for the Arab future.
    • The type of regime that was maintained by Saddam Hussein - and that continues to be maintained by some other rulers in the Muslim world - is modern, indeed recent, and very alien to the foundations of Islamic civilization.
    • The main threat to the development of democracy in Iraq and ultimately in other Arab and Muslim countries lies not in any inherent social quality or characteristic, but in the very determined efforts that are being made to ensure democracy's failure.
    • Most dangerous are the so-called Islamic fundamentalists, those for whom democracy is part of the greater evil emanating from the West, whether in the old-fashioned form of imperial domination or in the more modern form of cultural penetration.
    • An important element in the Sunni holy war is the rise and spread - and in some areas dominance - of Wahhabism.
    • The creation of a democratic political and social order in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East will not be easy. But it is possible, and there are increasing signs that it has already begun.

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