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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 10, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Israelis Warned to Stay Away from Sinai - Seya Egozy and Diana Bahur-Nir (Ynet News)
    The Counter-Terrorism Bureau in the Prime Minister's Office issued a stern warning Thursday urging Israelis to refrain from visiting neighboring Egypt, including the Sinai peninsula.
    "Recently, the terror threat on Israel in the Sinai has been aggravated," the announcement said.
    A senior Counter-Terror Bureau official said there are several intelligence tips that indicate the potential for a terror attack against Israelis in Sinai is high.
    Israelis should "leave Sinai as quickly as possible," he said. "The risk is too severe."

Israel HighWay
- June 9, 2005

Issue of the Week:
    Israel and the Law. Does Israel Need a Constitution?

Tools of Assassins and Spies Found at Iraqi Embassy in London - Michael Evans (Times-UK)
    Police are carrying out tests on a cache of weapons found in a safe at the old Iraqi Embassy in London to uncover any possible links with assassination plots by the former Saddam Hussein regime.
    The weapons, including four machineguns, ten hand guns with four silencers, and 600 rounds of ammunition, half of which were used cartridges, were discovered by Salah al-Shaikhly, the post-Saddam Iraqi ambassador.
    Also found were all the trappings of espionage, including bugging devices and telescopic cameras; and electric cattle-prods, suitable for crowd control or torture.

Hamas Must End Attacks Against Civilians (Human Rights Watch)
    The armed group Hamas must cease immediately Kassam rocket and mortar attacks against civilian areas, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.
    "Hamas has repeatedly failed to respect a fundamental rule of international humanitarian law by attacking civilians," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the group's Middle East and North Africa Division.
    "If Hamas wants to be considered a legitimate political must show respect for the most basic principles of humanitarian law," said Whitson. "To date, it has failed to do so."

U.S. Maintains Military Presence in Saudi Arabia (Middle East Newsline)
    U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid said the withdrawal of U.S. air assets from Saudi Arabia in 2003 did not end the U.S. military presence in the kingdom.
    U.S. officials said the U.S. military maintains about 500 personnel to train the Saudi military and National Guard.

Jordanian Ambassador Rejects Jewish Claim to Temple Mount - Judy Lash Balint (FrontPageMagazine)
    Last Monday, Jordan's Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Marouf Bakhit, called a hasty meeting with Israeli Foreign Ministry officials to declare his country's outrage over the "provocative act" of a group of Jews who had the audacity to go up to the Temple Mount in commemoration of Jerusalem Day.
    The very next day, the suave, urbane Ambassador Bakhit told a group of diplomats and journalists at a Jerusalem think tank that there is absolutely no proof that the Temple ever stood at the spot, now occupied by the Muslim shrine known as the Dome of the Rock.
    The entire episode may be viewed as part of the ongoing Arab strategy to delegitimize Jewish claims to holy sites and by extension to Jerusalem itself.

India to Use Israeli Pipeline for Oil Imports (Press Trust of India)
    With a growing need for energy, Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told the 12th International Caspian Oil and Gas Conference on Thursday that India is seeking to diversify its sources of crude supplies by purchasing oil from the Central Asia and Caspian Sea region pumped via the new Baku-Ceyhan pipeline to the Mediterranean Sea.
    From there it could be pumped into Israel's 254-km-long Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline for Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) to pick up at the Red Sea for transport to India.

Normalization of Relations Between Pakistan and Israel? - P.R. Kumaraswamy (Power and Interest News)
    At periodic intervals, various Pakistani political leaders, especially President Musharraf, have been hinting that Pakistan has been re-examining its policy toward Israel.
    The absence of any bilateral animosity has also promoted the rationality of a new approach.
    For example, in June 2003, Musharraf reminded Pakistanis:
    "We should not overreact on this issue. We should give serious consideration. It is a very sensitive issue. We fought three wars with India but still had diplomatic relations," adding that Pakistan never fought a war against Israel.

Ancient Jewish Home Found in City of David - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    A Second Temple Jewish house has been uncovered in Jerusalem's ancient City of David, Israel's Antiquities Authority announced Sunday.
    Several rooms of the 2,000 year old split-level house - as well as a ritual bath - were found at the compound, said archeologist Tzvika Greenhaut.

Three Palestinians Nabbed for Stealing Ossuary - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    Three Palestinians were caught red-handed stealing a Second Temple ossuary with Jewish symbols on it from a Second Temple burial site in the Modi'in area, Israel's Antiquities Authority announced Monday.
    The suspects did "irreparable damage" to the site, according to Amir Ganor, head of the Authority's anti-theft division.
    In 2004 there were 314 reported cases of antiquities theft compared to less than 200 in 2003.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Has "Credible" Word of Syrian Plot to Kill Lebanese - Steven R. Weisman
    The U.S. has received "credible information" that Syrian operatives in Lebanon plan to try to assassinate senior Lebanese political leaders and that Syrian military intelligence forces are returning to Lebanon to create "an environment of intimidation," a senior administration official said Thursday. It was clear that the official's statements were a deliberate signal of the Bush administration's continuing displeasure with the Syrian government's role in Lebanon. He said that information about the threat had been disseminated to governments in the Middle East and Europe and that "we thought it would be useful to make this public as a deterrent to the Syrians." "The headquarters and a lot of other facilities of Hamas and other groups remain in Syria, and these groups are still directed essentially from Damascus," said the administration official. "Syria is still the nub of a lot of problems." (New York Times)
        See also Syrian Intelligence Returning to Lebanon - Robin Wright
    After a brief lull in Syrian interference in Lebanon, senior Syrian intelligence personnel have been seen back in Lebanon, particularly over the past week, a senior administration official said. U.S. officials said Syrian intelligence is using Palestinian refugee camps. "They have figured out that one of the places they might be able to hide in is those camps," which are not controlled by the Lebanese Army, the official said. (Washington Post)
  • Abbas Gives Militants Role in Gaza Pullout - Steve Weizman
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called on Islamic militants Thursday to respect a shaky cease-fire with Israel and gave them a role in preparations for Israel's Gaza withdrawal in an apparent bid to preserve the calm. He had to grant Hamas and Islamic Jihad a formal role in coordinating the pullout with Israel, and in another move, he offered a compromise to settle a prickly dispute over parliamentary elections that has soured his relations with his main rival, Hamas. As Abbas talked with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza City, not far away, militants fired rockets at Israel for the third day in a row. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
        See also Hamas, Islamic Jihad Leaders Snub Abbas - Arnon Regular
    The heads of Hamas and Islamic Jihad Thursday refused to meet directly with Abbas. In a move that could be construed as personally humiliating, only minor officials from the two organizations were sent to a meeting in Gaza between Abbas and all the factions. Hamas Gaza spokesman Sami Abu Zuhari said "Hamas has a serious problem" with Abbas and refused to accept a postponement of the PA legislative council elections. (Ha'aretz)
  • Insurgency Seen Forcing Change in Iraq Strategy - Bryan Bender
    Following the successful American offensive in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah last fall, which killed at least 1,000 insurgents, there was a dramatic reduction in attacks, according to U.S. military officials. After Fallujah, some U.S. commanders and Pentagon planners had expressed optimism that U.S. troop levels could be reduced following Iraqi elections. But since the Jan. 31 Iraqi elections, the insurgents, relying on steady streams of funding and weapons, new recruits, and staging areas in Syria and possibly Iran, have struck back with a vengeance and U.S. force levels have remained constant.
        Despite U.S. estimates that it kills or captures between 1,000 and 3,000 insurgents a month, the number of daily attacks is going back up. Down to about 30 to 40 a day in February, attacks are now up to at least 70 per day, according to the U.S. Central Command. The insurgency has demonstrated a keen ability to shift its tactics in the face of persistent U.S. and Iraqi battlefield victories.
        A major reason why the insurgency has remained so undeterred, U.S. and Iraqi officials believe, is the continued, if passive, support it is receiving from large parts of Iraq's Sunni minority. Specialists say they believe Iraq's estimated 5 million Sunnis fear that the country's government, dominated by Shi'ites and Kurds, will exact revenge on them for decades of Hussein's brutal rein. There are only 17 Sunni members in the 275-person Iraqi National Assembly. (Boston Globe)
  • Militants Who Stormed U.S. Embassy in Iran Now Seen as Enemies - Anthony Loyd
    Few would recognize Abbas Abdi, 49, as the leader of the students who stormed the American Embassy in Tehran in October 1979. Abdi was released from jail a month ago, his second term in the capital's Evin prison where he served 2 1/2 years, much of it in solitary confinement. His crime? As a latter-day architect of reform and critic of the regime, his polling company published results suggesting that 74% of Tehranis favored dialogue with the U.S. (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Foils Palestinian Attack in West Bank Near Tulkarm
    After reports of gunfire near the settlement of Avnei Hefetz, an IDF force identified three armed Palestinians in an area southeast of Tulkarm headed toward the settlement and arrested one. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Gaza Shelling Continues - Amos Harel
    Mortar and rocket fire continued sporadically Thursday in the Gaza Strip. Several mortar shells were fired at Netzarim and Gush Katif. A Kassam rocket landed near Kibbutz Sufa and two rockets landed near Sderot, all within the "green line." Army sources said Thursday that Hamas appears to have ended the latest round of violence, but that Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip no longer considers itself obligated to uphold the cease-fire, and was responsible for most of the firing. (Ha'aretz)
  • Security Crossing Improvements in the West Bank
    For the past four years, the State of Israel has been forced to confront more than 20,000 terror attacks in which more than a thousand Israelis were killed and thousands more wounded. One of the numerous methods used by the Israel Defense Forces in order to prevent terrorists from carrying out attacks against Israelis is conducting security checks at crossings located at the exits of Palestinian cities, and in other locations throughout the West Bank. Over the past two years the IDF has removed over half of the security crossings and roadblocks in the West Bank. In addition, the IDF has introduced advanced technological means at the crossings which allow for quick and efficient security checks. The IDF has added roofs, clinics, and water fountains.
        IDF policy in the West Bank is to differentiate between the Palestinian terror factions and the Palestinian civilian population which is not involved in terrorism. Those who pose no threat have no problems passing through the security checks. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • OSCE Summit Ends with New Pledge to Fight Anti-Semitism
    Western governments at a conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe held in Cordoba, Spain, pledged Thursday to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, but acknowledged some of them have failed to deliver on past commitments and that upbeat speeches must now be matched with hands-on measures against hate crimes. In a final statement, delegates from all 55 member states stressed the importance of interfaith dialogue and insisted that strife in the Middle East cannot be used as justification for violence against Jews. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Don't Talk to Hamas - Editorial
    Nowhere is it written that democratization must be dumb. Terrorist groups must be made to understand that winning elections at gunpoint, whether among Lebanese or Palestinians, will not sanitize them. It is problematic enough to trust "reformed" terrorists, as the experience with Arafat showed. But before terrorists can even claim to be reformed, they must first disarm and disavow terrorism - something Hamas and the myriad Palestinian militias, including those aligned with Fatah, are far from doing. Only then should democracies begin to treat them as legitimate players on the democratic field. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Saudi Mega-Plot - Nibras Kazimi
    The Saudis appear to be sending out three seemingly contradictory messages: one to the Americans, another to their own internal extremists, and a third to the Syrian leadership. The Saudis are telling the Americans that they are going to help bring down the regime in Syria. They are telling the Wahhabis within Saudi Arabia that they are going to bring back a Sunni country into the fold and liberate it from the obscure, pseudo-Shiite Alawite regime currently in power. And they are telling these very same Alawis that this whole Bush vision for democracy threatens them both and that all they are up to is for show and that it should not be taken seriously.
        All three messages seem to be sincere. The Saudis are indeed going to pull all the strings to bring down the Alawite regime in Syria, and then place a Sunni fundamentalist regime in place that will appease the Wahhabis and scare the hell out of the Americans. Bush may be striving for democratic change in Damascus, but what he will get in return is a bunch of crazies hostile to America, and there won't be an equivalent to Iraq's Sistani to curb them. The Saudis will then turn around and whisper in Bush's ear, "We told you that this whole democracy thing is a bad idea, now imagine who you'd have to deal with if we were pressured to change and our own oil-securing yet brittle regime is threatened?"
        President Bush needs to understand two things: Democracy can save Lebanon from itself, and Saudi Arabia is not an ally for democracy. Right after Prince Abdullah returned from his most recent visit to Crawford, Texas, a Saudi court passed harsh judgment on three Saudi democratic dissidents, while the Wahhabi clerics who call for jihad against America in Iraq are roaming free. (New York Sun)
  • Stage Four Anti-Semitism - Amnon Rubinstein
    Prof. Emil Fackenheim divided anti-Semitism into three stages. Stage One: "You cannot live among us as Jews" - which precipitated forced conversions; Stage Two: "You cannot live among us" - which precipitated mass deportations; Stage Three: "You cannot live" - which signifies murderous, "biological anti-Semitism" of the kind that culminated in the Holocaust. But today we are arriving at a Stage Four: "You cannot live in a state of your own" - a stage also nourished by an irrational attitude toward all things Jewish.
        The EU's monitoring committee on anti-Semitism and racism has formulated its own definition of Jew-hatred: denying Jews the right to self-determination by claiming that Israel's existence is "racist"; applying a double standard; holding Israel to a yardstick not expected of any other democratic nation; drawing comparisons between Israeli policy and those of the Nazis; holding world Jewry collectively responsible for the actions of Israel. The writer is a former minister of education and former dean of Tel Aviv University's law school. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arabs Apply Different Rules to Iraq - Interview with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari - Jay Nordlinger
    Interviewed at the World Economic Forum conference in Jordan, the foreign minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, said: Jordan's King Abdullah "has been supportive and helpful, but beneath, if you go to the media, if you go to the mosques, to the street, the attitude is different. There is a disconnect. The attitude is not supportive of Iraq, not helpful to the Iraqi government. The situation is still perceived as an occupation, and those who are in government are collaborators with the Americans. If Americans are in some other country, that's not a problem - only if they are in Iraq is that a problem."
        "While we were waiting here, the Israeli minister of infrastructure, Ben-Eliezer, who is Iraqi-born, comes by, accompanied by a Jordanian minister. The Jordanian minister says to me, while I'm drinking coffee, 'Let me introduce you.' So we shake hands. And dozens of Arab photographers and reporters descend on me and say, 'Oh, is this the normalization of relations with Israel?'...They will beat you with a stick if you're the Iraqi foreign minister and shake hands with an Israeli minister....There are many, many contacts between Jordanians and Israelis, but if they see an Iraqi interact with an Israeli - that is taboo." (National Review)

    Disengagement from Gaza

  • "The Enemy is Not Standing Before Us" - Hanan Greenberg
    Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz discussed Sunday the impending summer pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank for the first time since he officially assumed his new position. "Israel stands before a national task of supreme importance, the task of disengagement....The role of executing it has been placed on the IDF. We have not become accustomed to such missions, we were not built for this, however we will implement it with sensitivity and determination through great understanding and responsibility."
        "The enemy is not standing before us, our brothers in arms are....We are not looking for a struggle, but rather understanding and cooperation. We do not want to win the mission, we want to implement it understanding the difficulty, understanding the crisis our brothers the evacuees are facing, as well as the IDF evacuators." (Ynet News)
  • The Coming Media Frenzy - Uri Dan
    It is estimated that more than 4,000 foreign journalists and film units intend to cover the evacuation and uprooting of the settlements in the Gaza Strip. As a journalist I have covered many military campaigns, but I have never seen such a media onslaught as that awaiting us now in Gaza. Many journalists are too scared to cover a real war, and the IDF and police operation to evict Jews from their homes and flourishing settlements in the Gaza Strip seems to them to be less dangerous. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Dershowitz: Treat Returning Settlers as Heroes - Dan Izenberg
    Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said during a visit to Israel that the Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip "ought to be treated with extreme deference and they ought to be told they are heroes of Israel. They were heroes when they went and they are heroes when they are returning. They served in the front lines." Dershowitz added that it was the "state's prerogative to make territorial decisions and to make existential decisions about boundaries and peace." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel's Agony - John Podhoretz (New York Post)

    Weekend Features

  • Prosperity Without Peace - Nelson D. Schwartz
    After a three-year slump brought on by the intifada and compounded by the bursting of the global tech bubble, Israel's economy is growing again. Economic growth couldn't have returned if the government hadn't found a way to block the suicide bombers who carried out dozens of attacks in 2002 and 2003. Thanks mostly to the controversial security barrier now snaking its way through the West Bank, deaths from bombings dropped from 54 last year to just 11 so far in 2005. The barrier has enraged Palestinians, but the sense of security ordinary Israelis now feel has enabled normal life to resume and made both tourists and foreign investors willing to come here again.
        The skills gained through reestablishing Israel's security have been a key factor in allowing Israeli companies - from software designers to fence builders - to sell their wares throughout a terror-torn world. Israel's exports rose last year by 16%, to $23.6 billion, says Shlomo Maital, a Canadian-born economist and professor at Israel's Technion Institute of Management. High tech accounted for nearly half those sales, and much of that cutting-edge technology has its roots in research for Israel's military and security services. (Fortune, 1Jun05)
  • Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.: A Battleground for Israel's Legitimacy - Joel Fishman
    In spring 2004, a group of pro-Palestinian radicals initiated a proposal that would have twinned Rafah in Gaza with Madison, Wisconsin. This initiative was significant because only a few American cities have adopted Palestinian towns. Its acceptance would have meant a victory for the Palestinian Authority and its supporters by advancing their long-term objective of delegitimizing the State of Israel and by creating a climate congenial to politically correct anti-Semitism. Because the local Jewish community and unaffiliated Jews, some belonging to the "soft Left," acted effectively, the city council did not adopt the proposal. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Observations:

    Former Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter Explains Disengagement - Ben Caspit (Maariv-Hebrew)

    Former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Director Avi Dichter, who retired on May 14, said in an interview:

    • The Palestinians see the past four and a half years as a catastrophe. They killed 1,042 Israelis and, in fact, achieved nothing. They're on the mat and they lost Jerusalem. The Camp David parameters will not return; no Israeli government could return to them. The Palestinians will have to pay a price for the violence, just as they paid a price for rejecting the UN partition plan.
    • With the agreement imprisoning those who assassinated Israeli minister Rehavam Zeevi (Gandhi), we know exactly who is sitting in the Jericho jail - the entire leadership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - who are continuing to operate from there under American-British supervision.
    • Not a week passes without a visit from a foreign delegation to learn from Israel about targeted interceptions. Its effectiveness and focus is incredible. We can target terrorists who are otherwise impossible to reach, without dramatically endangering our own forces, and they come to understand at a certain point that no one is safe.
    • To leave the Philadelphi corridor between Gaza and Egypt would be a conceptual mistake in today's situation, when there is no one who will prevent smuggling instead of us and the Egyptians are not acting.
    • We disengaged from Gaza in 1994. In the West Bank, the situation is the opposite; we reconnected to the territory in April 2002. Area A became Area B. It's a different situation. There, the removal of settlements should not lead to disengagement from the territory. Our military forces need to remain there. In Gaza the disengagement could reduce terror. If the IDF leaves the northern West Bank, there will be a problematic increase in terror.
    • Gaza is the land of terrorist capability and the West Bank the land of terrorist possibility. The Palestinians have been trying since the outbreak of the intifada to join the capability of Gaza with the possibility of the West Bank. Through our actions, we have prevented this. In the West Bank their capability has been reduced. This is the real reason for the calm. In Gaza, they want to live, and in the West Bank they want to rebuild the infrastructure. The reason I'm optimistic is that I know that what happened here depended on our actions, not theirs.

        See also Disengagement in Northern Samaria is Likely to Strike a Mortal Blow to the Water System - Ben Caspit
    "The implementation of the disengagement in northern Samaria, assuming no coordination or agreement with Israel, will allow the Palestinians to draw 50 million cubic meters of water yearly for agriculture and home use. Water use on this scale will be a mortal blow to Israel's water system in the Gilboa area and in Beit She'an," wrote Dr. Joseph Drizen, director of the planning branch of the Israel Water Authority, in an offical document prepared for the head of the Water Authority, Shimon Tal. The Office of the Prime Minister clarified that the warning was not relevamt because Israel will still have security control over the area to be evacuated in northern Samaria. (Maariv-Hebrew, 9Jun04)

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