Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 16, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Call to Fire PA TV Head After Anti-Semitic Broadcast (Ynetnews)
    The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to fire the head of Palestinian TV, after a televised sermon called Jews "a spreading cancer."
    "The Jews are the cancer spreading all over the world...the Jews are responsible for all wars and conflicts," Sheikh Ibrahim Mudairis said Friday during a sermon from his Gaza Mosque in the presence of uniformed Palestinian police.
    "Do not ask what Germany did to the Jews, but what the Jews did to Germany," he said.
    "True the Germans killed and burnt Jews, but the Jews exaggerate the numbers to gain propaganda advantages and sympathy."
    The broadcast came days before Abbas's scheduled meeting with President Bush.

Israel Campus Beat
- May 15, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    Who is Responsible for Lack of Movement in the Peace Process?

Rejecting Israel's Legitimacy, PA Mourns Creation of Israel - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    "Do you know what happened in 1948?" asks a pretty young girl on Palestinian Authority TV. "They [Israelis] took everything."
    This message was broadcast Sunday in a music video for children, part of the full day dedicated to mourning the creation of Israel 57 years ago.

    See also Palestinians Unleash Anti-Israel and Anti-U.S. Messages - Michael Widlanski (IMRA)
    The PA's print and broadcast media launched a broad propaganda attack against Israel and the U.S. on Friday, including accusations that Israel is planning attacks on Islamic holy sites and is poisoning Palestinian travelers.
    For three hours, viewers saw almost non-stop anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish incitement, including a long interview with an armed terrorist who, in April 2002, had holed up in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
    After the interview, a map of Israel-Palestine appeared on a background of fire superimposed with video images of Arabs carrying children and suitcases being replaced by religious Jews wearing skullcaps and beards.
    On the weekly show "Good Morning Jerusalem," telephone callers consistently berated Jews in general and the "Jewish enemy" as well as the "American-Israeli conspiracy," while the show's host thanked them.

Movement Gets a Bit Easier for West Bank Palestinians - Michael Matza (Philadelphia Inquirer)
    The number of manned and unmanned barriers throughout the West Bank has been reduced by 11% in the last six months, according to a recent UN report.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Newsweek Apologizes for Inaccurate Koran Story That Sparked Deadly Riots - Howard Kurtz
    Newsweek apologized Sunday for an inaccurate report on the treatment of detainees that triggered several days of rioting in Afghanistan and other countries in which at least 15 people died. The report said American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said investigators found "no credible allegations of willful Koran desecration."  (Washington Post)
        See also Hamas Protests Alleged U.S. Koran Desecration
    Shouting, "protect our holy book," about 1,500 protesters, some carrying the green banners of Hamas, marched through the streets of Jabaliya in northern Gaza in an anti-U.S. protest Friday. Some demonstrators burnt Israeli and U.S. flags. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas in Line of Fire as Militants Refuse to Lay Down Weapons - Inigo Gilmore
    A scheme to disarm wanted Palestinian militants is in crisis because hundreds of gunmen are refusing to take up jobs in the security forces - and many who do, Israel claims, are being allowed to keep their weapons. The issue is overshadowing Mahmoud Abbas's plans to visit Washington for talks with President George W. Bush on May 26. The dual inducements of a regular salary and the prospect of no longer being hunted by Israeli forces have not proved sufficiently alluring, with only 110 of more than 1,200 potential bombers and gunmen joining up so far. Not one is from Hamas, the group behind many of the worst attacks against Israel.
        "Abbas said they would collect their guns but they are letting them roam around with these weapons, now in the guise of the police. They are giving a stamp of approval to their activities and their weapons. This will not hold for long," said Sharon Feingold, an Israeli army spokesman. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Suicide Bombers in Iraq Mostly Saudis - Susan B. Glasser
    Hundreds of accounts of suicide bombers are featured on the rapidly proliferating array of web sites run by radical Islamists, at a time when U.S. military officials say that foreign fighters constitute a growing and particularly deadly percentage of the Iraqi insurgency. The largest share in the online lists are from Saudi Arabia and a significant minority from other countries on Iraq's borders, such as Syria and Kuwait. (Washington Post)
        See also Four Palestinians Held in Iraqi Terror Bombing
    Iraqi security forces have captured four Palestinians and an Iraqi believed to have been responsible for a Baghdad market bombing that killed at least 17 people, a police commander said Friday. 81 people were wounded in the blast, including women and children. (Los Angeles Times)
  • 3 Who Questioned Saudi Government Jailed - Dominic Evans
    A Saudi court jailed three prominent academics Sunday for up to nine years for trying to sow dissent and challenge the royal family, dealing a blow to tentative overhauls in the absolute monarchy. The court sentenced Ali al-Dumaini to nine years in jail, Abdullah al-Hamed to seven years, and Matruk al-Faleh to six years. All three were arrested in March 2004 after petitioning the kingdom's rulers to move toward a constitutional monarchy and to speed political changes. The judges cited Faleh's criticism of Saudi Arabia's educational system, which he blamed for two years of violence by al-Qaeda supporters. Dumaini had ''incited [people] against the Wahhabi school" of Islam in Saudi Arabia, which critics contend is fostering anti-Western sentiment and militancy. (Reuters/Boston Globe)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Lets PA Deploy Armed Police in West Bank Cities - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Israel has approved the deployment of hundreds of armed PA police in all West Bank cities to crack down on crime. Uniformed personnel are authorized to carry assault rifles in all cities except Hebron, where they will be limited to small arms. In Tulkarm, which is under Palestinian security control, some 5-10 men out of a list of 50 wanted men reportedly turned in their weapons. "There are no scenes of piles of weapons brought in by wanted men, but rather the acceptance of the wanted men, with their weapons, into the Palestinian police," a Palestinian source said.
        Israel has warned the PA that it will not tolerate the use of the weapons against its forces. "We have no illusions that [the Palestinian police] will prevent terror," an IDF source said. "Therefore, we are continuing to operate in the cities as necessary. But an armed presence brings back some law and order, and deters some of the armed gangs, and that is also important."  (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Attacks Hizballah Posts in Response to Shelling - Amos Harel, Aluf Benn, and Yoav Stern
    Israel Defense Forces planes, gunships, and tanks destroyed Hizballah posts in Lebanon Friday in response to Hizballah shelling of IDF positions. While Israel assumed small Palestinian groups were behind two previous incidents, Hizballah took responsibility for the third attack from Lebanon within less than 48 hours. (Ha'aretz)
  • Four Israelis Wounded in Gaza by Antitank Missile - Margot Dudkevitch
    Four Israeli workers were lightly wounded on the Philadelphi route along the Gaza-Egyptian border after Palestinians fired an antitank rocket at them. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Defense Minister Briefs Cabinet on Security Threats - Herb Keinon
    Israel views any attempt to develop a Kassam rocket in the West Bank as a "ticking bomb" and will take the necessary military action to thwart it without first asking the PA to act, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet Sunday. Mofaz said that today in Gaza there were Kassam rockets with a range of 7 to 8 kilometers and that he could not guarantee that there were not longer range rockets there as well. He said the PA was not taking action against the Palestinian terrorist organizations and that Hamas was gaining both political and military strength and was emerging as a "second" Palestinian Authority, putting together a "people's army" under the nose of the PA.
        Mofaz said that Israel is taking Hizballah head Sheikh Nasrallah's threats to kidnap Israeli soldiers very seriously, and that there are concrete warnings regarding this possibility. (Jerusalem Post)
        Mofaz told the cabinet there have been more than 400 violations of the cease-fire, mainly by Islamic Jihad and Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Violence Does Not Pay - Akiva Eldar
    Among the Palestinians, particularly Hamas activists, the argument goes that the armed struggle was the decisive factor in Prime Minister Sharon's decision to evacuate Gaza. From the Palestinian point of view, seemingly, the strategy of violence pays. A comprehensive study by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Meir Elran, of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, looked for evidence of the view that behind Sharon's plan was a weakening of the Israeli public's resolve. Elran found that the highest levels in the percent of Israelis who were convinced they wanted to live in the country came at the height of the terror wave, in mid-2002. During the toughest part of the intifada, most of the public - an average of 73.5% - believed Israel was capable and will be capable in the future of dealing with the difficulties it faces.
        Most of the Jewish public generally accepted the main message of the government that "there's nobody to talk to" and "there should be no negotiations under fire." The lessons that the Palestinians must learn from the study is that the heroes of the withdrawal from Gaza are not the suicide bombers, and that additional attacks will not yield further withdrawals, but will only stiffen the Israeli public's positions. (Ha'aretz)
  • Misguided Boycott of Israeli Universities - David Biale
    The British boycott of two Israeli universities is self-defeating and even incoherent. Bar-Ilan University gives credit to students taking courses at the College of Judea and Samaria, which is located in the West Bank town of Ariel. The College of Judea and Samaria is hardly the "apartheid" institution alleged by the British; there are actually several hundred Israeli Arabs enrolled as students there - a reality more complex than the boycotters realize. So it is with Haifa University, which has a 20% Arab student body and the most Palestinian students of any Israeli university. The writer is Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History at UC Davis. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Observations:

    The Gamble of a Lifetime - Romesh Ratnesar and Matt Rees (TIME)

    • In an interview in Jerusalem with TIME, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon rejected the idea of withdrawing Israeli forces and civilians from the West Bank once the Gaza pullout is complete, saying that he intends to limit future concessions to the Palestinians to those spelled out in the U.S.-backed road map, which outlines a series of incremental, confidence-building steps to be carried out by both sides before the start of negotiations for a final settlement of the conflict.
    • Sharon has repeatedly insisted that Israel will never abandon the large West Bank settlement blocs.
    • While Sharon believes that Mahmoud Abbas "understands the danger of terror...right now we don't see any steps that have been taken. I hope it will happen. Right now we don't see anything."
    • Sharon said he believes the Oslo agreement signed in 1993 was "the deepest mistake that any government has done, bringing over here thousands of armed terrorists."
    • Sharon isn't pulling out of Gaza because he has changed his view of the Palestinians; rather, he's withdrawing precisely because he still mistrusts them, refusing to believe that Abbas and his aides are willing to take the necessary measures to keep Israel safe from terrorism.
    • "The basic problem between ourselves and the that Arabs do not recognize the birthright of the Jews to have an independent country here," he says.
    • While preserving the long-term viability of the Jewish state may require giving up some territory, to Sharon it does not mean giving ground.

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