Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 9, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

European Poll: "Jews Have Too Much Power" (Ynet News)
    A plurality of Europeans believes Jews are not loyal to their country and that they have too much power in business and finance, a new poll released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Tuesday showed.
    According to the poll, 43% believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country, with a majority of respondents in Italy, Germany, Poland, and Spain saying they believe that this statement is "probably true."
    Nearly 30% of all respondents believe that "Jews have too much power in the business world."
    "Millions of Europeans still accept a wide range of traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes," said ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman.
    See also Attitudes Toward Jews in Twelve European Countries (Anti-Defamation League)

Israel Dismisses Koran Defilement Charges - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel Prisons Service officials on Wednesday rejected Palestinian accusations that guards at Megiddo Prison had ripped pages of the Koran during a routine search on Tuesday.
    A Prisons Service inquiry revealed that during a search of the prison, guards flipped through a Koran and pages that did not belong to the book but had been placed inside fell out.

Palestinians Foil Rocket Attack on Israel (Xinhuanet-China)
    Residents in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun informed the Palestinian security forces that militants were attempting to launch rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot, the PA Interior Ministry said Thursday.
    The residents clashed with the militants in a bid to prevent the rocket attack and as the security forces reached the scene, the militants ran away.

Palestinians Attack PA Police, Snatch Guns (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Three Palestinians, likely affiliated to a terrorist organization, attacked two Palestinian policemen in the West Bank town of Jenin on Tuesday and stole their rifles, Palestinian police said.

Iraq's Kurds Support Relations with Israel (UPI/Washington Times)
    The president of Iraq's Kurdistan province, Massoud Barzani, says he has no objection to establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.
    "Establishing relations between the Kurds and Israel is not a crime since many Arab countries have ties with the Jewish state," Barzani said in an interview with the Saudi daily al-Hayat.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Policy on Syria Moves Toward Regime Change - Eli Lake
    American policy toward the world's remaining Ba'athist government is approaching support for regime change. President Bush's top foreign policy advisers met last week to discuss the government of Bashar al-Assad, mulling a tougher policy that would allow American forces or encourage Iraqi soldiers to pursue terrorists that escape to Syria from Iraq for safe haven, according to two administration officials. At the State Department, the Bureau of Near East Affairs and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor have asked Congress for explicit legal authority to fund liberal opposition parties inside Syria.
        Later this month, the White House is expected to apply tougher sanctions to Syria in accordance with the 2003 Syria Accountability Act. Last Friday, when envoys from the Arab League arrived for a State Department briefing on President Bush's meetings with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Syria's representative was turned away and told his government was not invited. (New York Sun)
        See also below Observations: Sin of Omission - Robert Satloff (New Republic)
  • U.S. Shifts Toward Caution on Reform in Egypt - Jonathan Wright
    The U.S. approach to political change in Egypt has shifted in favor of those who advocate caution to keep Islamists out of power until they modify their policies, diplomats and analysts say. Another school of thought, pressing for rapid change regardless of the consequences, appeared to be ascendant earlier this year but has since lost ground. Analyst Mohamed el-Sayed Said said the Bush administration quickly started to reconsider this policy of what he called "constructive instability" on the advice of people in the Middle East, including the Israelis and their supporters in Washington. "Instead of asking for substantial change, they were convinced to be content with limited reform," said Said, deputy director of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Lawmakers Urge UN Action on Anti-Semitism - Dan Robinson
    U.S. House lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a strongly worded resolution urging the UN and member states to put an end to anti-Semitic language and political attacks against Israel. Approval comes as legislation moves forward in the House of Representatives proposing to link future U.S. contributions to the UN with reform of the world body. The resolution approved Tuesday states that the "viciousness with which Israel is attacked and discriminated at the United Nations should not be allowed to continue unchallenged." (VOA News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to U.S.: Stop Selling Advanced Weaponry to the Arabs - Itamar Eichner
    Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkaidi, commander of the Israeli Air Force, returned to Israel last week from an official visit to the U.S. where he told his American colleagues, "we are worried about the damage caused to Israel's qualitative military edge as a result of the newest arms sales to the Arabs." Shkaidi also raised the deployment of Saudi F-15 warplanes at Tabuk Air Base (in northern Saudi Arabia) and said it constituted a threat to Israel. In speaking to the Americans, Shkaidi drew a distinction between the supply of offensive weaponry that represents a special threat, and defensive weaponry that is less problematic. Shkaidi argued that "advanced weapons systems allow a mediocre pilot with a mediocre platform to become a very effective threat." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 9June05)
  • Israel Destroys Mortar Launch Site in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    The Israeli air force fired a number of missiles at Khirbat Achza on the outskirts of Khan Yunis in central Gaza where mortar launchers were set up. A car parked nearby containing more mortar shells and launchers was also targeted. (Jerusalem Post)
        Witnesses said three Hamas militants managed to get out of the car before it was struck by two rockets, turning the vehicle into a wreck of charred, twisted metal. (UPI/Washington Times)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Following Terrorists' Money - Victor Comras
    The U.S. and several other countries have touted their success in identifying terrorist cells and cutting off terrorism financing. Yet evidence is mounting that large sums are still being raised and transferred to al-Qaeda terrorists, including the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. UN-designated al-Qaeda financiers such as Youssef Nada and Ahmed Idris Nasreddin continue to run their business networks. Saudi millionaire Yassin Qadi, who has been listed by the UN as a supporter of terrorism, continues to direct his international business empire from Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.
        The Saudi government pledged to close the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and its branches around the world, and to more closely monitor the outward flow of charitable funds, but there are few indications that it has actually done so. Al-Haramain branches remain operational in several countries, while other branches have merely changed their names. Charities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are still being used to raise money for the Iraqi insurgency.
        It's time for the U.S. to insist that all identified terrorist financiers be put out of business. We must also hold those responsible for administering charitable funds to the highest standards of accountability. There can be no impunity for permitting charitable funds to flow into the hands of terrorists. The writer is a former State Department official and member of the UN al-Qaeda monitoring group. (Washington Post)
  • The Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005 - Stephen Schwartz
    On June 7, Sen. Arlen Specter introduced the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005 - S. 1171, with cosponsors Sens. Evan Bayh, Susan Collins, Tim Johnson, Patty Murray, Russ Feingold, and Ron Wyden. The bill's text stands as an indictment of Saudi Arabia, an inventory of evidence against the role of its rulers in enabling terrorism. The Council on Foreign Relations concluded almost three years ago that Saudi Arabia is the main source of al-Qaeda backing and that Saudi officials have refused to take serious action to end it. David Aufhauser, former general counsel of the Treasury Department, called the Saudi state the "epicenter" of global terror financing. The Saudis have also subsidized half the annual budget of Hamas. The bill provides for sanctions, including a bar on exporting special military technology to the kingdom and restriction on travel by Saudi diplomats in the U.S. (Weekly Standard)
        See also What Drives Saudi Arabia to Persist in Terrorist Financing? Al-Jihad bi-al-Mal - Financial Jihad Against the Infidels - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Saudi Reformers: Seeking Rights, Paying a Price - Neil MacFarquhar
    Even those who pursue the mildest forms of protest in Saudi Arabia are slapped with long prison sentences. The right to assemble does not exist, political parties are banned along with nongovernment organizations, and the ruling princes constantly tell editors what they can print. Local television is almost all clerics, all the time. The many Islamic theological institutions that maintain the rule of the Saud princes determine the parameters of any public debate. They evaluate everything through the prism of the Wahhabi teachings unique to Saudi Arabia, vehemently rejecting any alternative. For many reformists, the lack of free speech grates most; obtaining it is a far higher priority than elections or other formal ingredients of Western democracy. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Sin of Omission - Robert Satloff (New Republic)

    • President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has lately seemed to be doing everything possible to make himself an ex-dictator - and this week he took yet another step in that direction.
    • Whereas his father, Hafez, mesmerized American presidents with his cunning, guile, and tenacity, Bashar's equivocation on Iraq, support for Hizballah and Palestinian terror groups, and barely visible aid in the battle against al-Qaeda have earned only contempt from the White House's current inhabitant.
    • In a truly stunning display of diplomatic ineptitude, Assad strong-armed Lebanon to accept a second term for a quisling president and, by all accounts, arranged the daylight assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. This had the result of reviving U.S.-French relations from their Iraq-war nadir by giving the two countries a common purpose: evicting Syria from Lebanon.
    • This week's Ba'ath Party Congress was supposed to give Bashar the opportunity to make a fresh start. But Assad, a world-class underachiever, fooled us again. He did nothing.
    • For decades, America has been reluctant to classify Syria as a full-blown rogue regime because of its potential role in the Arab-Israeli peace process. That policy should be jettisoned. In its place, Washington should search for a third way between the bad option of a more effective Ba'athist dictatorship and the worse option of helping to empower Syria's radical Sunni Islamist militants.
    • This will mean publicly encouraging the small, hardy band of domestic liberals that is routinely hounded by the regime and thrown in jail. Today, this group has little popularity, poor visibility, and virtually no organization; but if it becomes clear that the West will no longer throw lifelines to the Assad regime, the ranks and confidence of reformers may grow.

      The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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