Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 19, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Support Qatar's Bid for UN Security Council Seat - Uriel Heilman (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel will support Qatar's bid for temporary membership on the UN Security Council, the Israeli UN mission said this week.
    Last month, Qatar's ambassador to the UN, Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, met with Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman to solicit Israel's support for a seat on the council.
    Israel has no diplomatic ties with Qatar but has a trade mission there.

Egypt: Tomorrow's Houdini - Arnaud de Borchgrave (Washington Times)
    In the 1960s, Soviet advisers told then-Gen. Hosni Mubarak, head of the Egyptian Air Force, that they had detected a gap in Israel's radar coverage around the Sinai Peninsula.
    They thought this would be a good opportunity for Egyptian pilots to fly through the hole, drop a few bombs, and return safely.
    Mubarak declined, telling his pilots that if there was a gap, it was most probably an Israeli trap.
    The Soviet general attached to the Egyptian leader ordered five Russian pilots to fly the mission instead. The Israelis shot down all five.

Hamas "Wonder Boy" Wows Gaza Worshipers - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A 13-year-old Palestinian boy, Amjad Abu Seedo, has become one of the most popular preachers in Hamas-controlled mosques throughout the Gaza Strip.
    Today, he serves as a preacher in nearly 40 mosques, where thousands of people stand in line to listen to his religious teachings.

Ra'anana Mayor Zeev Bielski to Head Jewish Agency - Dina Kraft (JTA)
    Prime Minister Sharon announced Monday that Ra'anana Mayor Zeev Bielski was his choice to succeed Sallai Meridor, who announced last week that he would step down after six years at the helm of the Jewish Agency, which facilitates immigration to Israel and runs Zionist education programs worldwide.
    Sharon's backing, and a subsequent affirmation Monday by the Agency's Advice and Consent Committee, assures Bielski of the job.

Spielberg Internet Archive Now Has Over 300 Films (Jerusalem Post)
    Cinema fans and researchers can now view more than 300 films on the Hebrew University's Internet site containing the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S.: Syria Main Conduit for Zarqawi in Iraq
    Syria is the main conduit for foreign militants fighting for al-Qaeda-ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, a senior U.S. administration official said on Wednesday. "We're concerned that Zarqawi is supported by a foreign fighter network that gets foreign fighters largely through Syria," the official said. "There are locations in Syria where foreign fighters and money and logistics come together and then transit to Iraq, and those foreign fighters and money come from elsewhere in the Muslim world." Syria has taken "some cosmetic steps," but "not nearly what they ought to be doing," the official said.
        "They are a major disruptive force, they are disruptive in Iraq, they are disruptive of the efforts between Palestinians and Israelis to come up with a Middle East peace," he said. "Syria in some sense has been a source of instability in the region," the official said. (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Army Says al-Qaeda Behind Rise in Iraq Car Bombs - Ian Simpson
    An upsurge in car bomb attacks in Iraq was ordered by al-Qaeda's leader in the country, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, at a meeting of insurgents in Syria, a senior U.S. military official said on Wednesday. (Reuters)
  • Despite Poverty, Many Palestinians Want Israeli Buildings Demolished - Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
    With months to go before the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza begins, what to do with the buildings that might be left behind is a hot topic among Palestinians and Israelis alike. Many Palestinians say Israel should destroy them on the way out. "What's best for us is that they (Israel) destroy the settlements and take the rubble with them," said Tawfiq Abu Khosa, the Palestinian Interior Ministry's Gaza spokesman. Destroying the homes also will ensure that senior PA officials don't confiscate the property for themselves, said local resident Fouad Mahmoud Nonaideq. (Knight Ridder)
  • Ceasefire Pushes Israel Over Tourism Hump - Marl MacKinnon
    Suddenly, there are Americans, Europeans, Japanese, and other tourists aplenty in Israel. The number of tourists entering the country in the first three months of 2005 was up 25% from the same period last year. The Israeli government is forecasting that 1.8 million will visit this year. Tour operators have started offering Israel as a destination again, and cruise ships are calling at the ports of Haifa, Ashdod, and Eilat, bringing thousands of extra visitors. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Escalates Gaza Attacks
    Hamas launched 26 mortars and a number of anti-tank rockets at settlements and army outposts in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, wounding one Israeli. Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz said Wednesday that Israel will resume offensive operations in Gaza if the PA does not move immediately to halt the Hamas mortar fire. Israel will apparently postpone further goodwill gestures because of Wednesday's escalation.
        During the mortar fire on Wednesday, the IDF spotted a Hamas cell launching mortars near Khan Yunis. The IDF asked the PA to halt the shooting, and a patrol of PA police showed up, firing in the air. Israel Radio reported that Hamas men opened fire and wounded three PA police officers attempting to stop them from launching mortars. After the mortar fire continued, an IDF aircraft struck the mortar launcher with a missile. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Militants Fire 36 Mortars into Israel, Settlements
    The Israeli military Thursday said Palestinian militants had fired at least three dozen mortars from Gaza into Israel or Israeli settlements over the previous 24 hours. (CNN)
  • Hamas is Calling the Shots - Amos Harel
    The flare-up in Gaza showed how fragile the Israel-PA-Hamas triangle can be. Israel says the shooting was sparked by Hamas anger over a PA court decision to order a revote in parts of Rafah after last month's local elections. The shooting, say defense officials, may have been at Israel but it was meant to embarrass Mahmoud Abbas. More important, perhaps, was the image shown throughout the Arab world of Palestinian troops running for their lives away from a mob throwing rocks at them while Hamas men shoot at them. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Terrorist Dies in "Work Accident"
    On Wednesday night a Hamas terrorist approached the Israeli-Egyptian border with the intention of laying and detonating an explosive device against IDF forces. According to Palestinian officials, the terrorist was apparently killed as a result of a malfunction in the explosive device he was carrying. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Real Lesson of Newsweekgate - Robert Spencer
    17 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in riots by Muslims since Newsweek published its since retracted story about an American interrogator flushing a Koran down the toilet at Guantanamo Bay. The gorilla in the living room that no one wants to notice regarding this story is that flushing a Koran down the toilet should not be grounds to commit murder. No one says anything whatsoever about a culture that condones - celebrates - wanton murder of innocent people, mayhem, and destruction in response to the alleged and unproven destruction of a book.
        To kill people thousands of miles away who had nothing to do with the act, and to fulminate with threats and murder against the entire Western world, all because of this alleged act, is not just disproportionate. It is not just excessive. It is mad. And every decent person in the world ought to have the courage to stand up and say that it is mad. The writer is director of Jihad Watch. (
  • Rewriting Germany's Nazi Past - A Society in Moral Decline - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    There are increasing signs of shifts in German attitudes toward rewriting its past. Franz Muentefering, chairman of the German Socialist party, compared certain foreign investors to damaging insects. The weekly Stern listed seven "locust firms"; several were recognizably Jewish by their names. The program of the German Open tennis championships for women in 2005 included an article about the organizers, LTTC Rot Weiss, which explained that the club had blossomed when it had expelled its Jewish members in 1936 and included a photo of Nazi leader Hermann Goering during a visit to the club.
        Polls indicate that the majority of Germans consider Israel's attitude toward the Palestinians as similar to that of the Nazis toward the Jews. A profound process is underway involving anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israelism. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Consequences of Democratization in the Palestinian Authority - Anat Kurz (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)

    • A major political-strategic objective of Hamas since its creation has been to institutionalize itself as an alternative to Fatah as the dominant force, first in the PLO and thereafter in the PA, as well.
    • In two rounds of local elections, in February and early May, Hamas gained about 30% of the votes, in part because the social welfare activities of Hamas winners in the first round gave a boost to Hamas candidates in the second round. While Fatah retained its overall primacy, the election results showed that it now faces a substantial force with considerable potential to do even better in the future, a potential that will be tested in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections scheduled for July 2005.
    • The process of democratization, to which the PA is committed, relieves Hamas of any further need for inter-organizational compromises in order to be legally incorporated into the national leadership. The democratization of the Palestinian political system - which is enthusiastically supported inside the territories and encouraged by Israel and the international community - will advance Hamas's goal.
    • Since Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement in March 2005 on tahidia ("calm"), there has been a steady rise in the incidence of attacks launched in and from the Gaza Strip - mostly in the form of Kassam rocket and mortar attacks on the western Negev - by Hamas operatives.
    • The incessant firing underscores the PA's reluctance to risk internal strife by enforcing a real ceasefire on Hamas or other organizations, including Fatah-affiliated factions.
    • While Hamas may accommodate the widespread Palestinian desire for some normalization of daily life and help to restrain acts of terror against Israel, it is unlikely to moderate its ideological platform in the foreseeable future, and a PA in which Hamas plays a central role will be an even more implacable political adversary for Israel.

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