Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 1, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Re-Opens Gaza Settlements (CNN)
    A day after declaring all settlements in Gaza a controlled military zone, the Israeli army Friday lifted the order, saying the threat to Israel's disengagement plan had been eliminated, a statement from the Israel Defense Forces said.
    Israeli police and soldiers Thursday raided a hotel to oust protesters who oppose the government's plan to withdraw from Gaza in 45 days.

Israel Denies Kidnapping Report - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli defense establishment issued a statement on Thursday denying reports that two Israel Defense Forces soldiers who inadvertently entered Nablus were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian militants.

Israel HighWay
- June 30, 2005

Issue of the Week:
    Bridging the Gaps in Israeli Society

Israel, Egypt Sign Natural Gas Deal (AFX/Forbes)
    Israel and Egypt on Thursday signed a deal for Egypt to supply natural gas to the Israel Electric Company through a maritime pipeline to Ashkelon.
    The agreement is for 15 years, with an option for five more.
    The first deliveries are expected to begin in 2007, said Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer.
    The gas deal is the second important commercial venture between Egypt and Israel since last December, when the two countries signed a trade accord with the U.S. establishing joint industrial zones in Egypt.

Saudis Issue New List of 36 Terror Suspects - Abdullah al-Shihri (AP/Washington Post)
    Saudi Arabia issued a new list of 36 wanted terrorists Tuesday, 15 of whom are thought to still be in the kingdom.
    Faris bin Hizam, an expert on Saudi terror groups, said it was likely that many had slipped into Iraq to fight alongside insurgents battling Iraqi and U.S. forces.
    "They have no other place to go," he said.
    Saudis have made up a significant number of the foreigners fighting in the Iraqi insurgency, including some believed to have carried out suicide attacks.

Two Iraqis Held Trying to Cross Mexico Border - Jerry Seper (Washington Times)
    The Mexican Attorney General's Office said Samir Yousif Shana and Munir Yousif Shana were taken into custody by Mexican federal agents, along with two suspected alien smugglers, in the Paso del Aguila district of Tecate, some 30 miles east of San Diego.
    U.S. national security officials have fretted often in the past about the Mexican border being an attractive conduit for Islamic terrorists.

Palestinian, Israeli Scholarly Teams Preserve Shared Heritage Sites - David C. Walsh (U.S. State Department)
    Since 2001, the People to People Exchange Program, funded by a $400,000 Department of State grant, has enabled teams of Israeli and Palestinian scholars and scientists to preserve historical sites important to the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religions.
    The Israeli team, from the Zinman Institute of Archaelogy at the University of Haifa, focuses on the historic and religious structures in Akko, while the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange (PACE) team focuses on heritage initiatives in two important biblical sites in the West Bank: Beitin (old Bethel) and el Jib (old Gibeon).

Saudi Rulers Issue "Lingerie Law" (BBC News)
    Lingerie shops in the strictly conservative Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been ordered to recruit women to replace male salesmen.
    Several women had recently written to Saudi newspapers pointing out the anomaly that although they are forbidden to meet men in public, they have little choice but to buy their most private clothes in the company of strange men.

Israeli Arab Party Opposes Use of Orange in Protests - Yuval Stern (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli Arab Balad party petitioned the Haifa Magistrate's Court on Thursday to forbid the Yesha settler council and right-wing groups from using the color orange as a symbol of their protest against the disengagement.
    Balad claimed it had set the color orange in its emblem in 1999, and use of the color by others infringes on the party's property rights over it, and damages its good name.

10% of North American Jews Would Consider Living in Israel - Shira Teger (Jerusalem Post)
    10% of North American Jews are interested in living in Israel, either permanently or temporarily, a survey by the Harris polling company commissioned by the Jewish Agency discovered.
    The poll also found that the majority of American Jews are interested in visiting Israel.
    Of those who expressed serious interest in living in Israel, 33% were Orthodox, 33% Reform or unaffiliated, and 34% Conservative.

Israeli Critical Care Specialists Advise on Dealing with Victims of Terrorist Attacks (Medical News Today)
    Specialists in critical care from Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital in Jerusalem give recommendations regarding the management and treatment of terrorist attack victims in an article published Friday in the journal Critical Care, based on over 500 victims of 33 separate terrorist attacks in the last four years.

Tourist Overnights Up 62% in May - Shir Elron (Globes)
    Tourist overnights were up 62% in May 2005, compared with May 2004, according to the Israel Hotel Association.

Useful Reference:

Prime Minister Sharon at the Caesaria Economic Conference (Prime Minister's Office)

Palestine 1913 - A Photo Gallery (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Envoy Says Palestinian Forces Unprepared for Pullout - Mary Curtius
    Just six weeks before Israel is due to evacuate its Gaza Strip settlements, the U.S. general charged with reforming the Palestinian security forces said Thursday that they were not yet ready to enforce internal security or prevent attacks on Israeli targets. Army Lt. Gen. William Ward told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the Palestinians had not yet forged their disparate security groups into a single force under a centralized command. Ward depicted a Palestinian force that is woefully unprepared to handle internal policing duties or stop attacks on Israel after Israeli forces withdraw from Gaza. The Palestinian security force has more than 58,000 members, Ward said, but no more than 22,000 "actually show up for work."
        David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, warned that Syria continued to support "Palestinian extremist groups." The administration is "deeply concerned about the fact that certain Palestinian extremist groups have offices and headquarters in Damascus," Welch said. "And under the circumstances, I think that is a dangerous indication of Syrian support for the activities of these groups."  (Los Angeles Times)
        See also U.S. General Says Palestinians Need Time - Glenn Kessler
    Ward described his experience of trying to reorganize a "dysfunctional" system of individual fiefdoms and an almost nonexistent chain of command. Training forces and building loyalty to legitimate institutions "will occur over time, that transformation will take time, and it does not currently exist," Ward said. Welch echoed Ward's assessment, saying, "Overall, Palestinian performance on confronting violence has been far from satisfactory, and this is a real shortfall and area of concern."  (Washington Post)
        See also Wolfensohn: What Palestinians Need to Govern Gaza - David Gollust
    Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who is now helping to coordinate the economic aspects of the Gaza withdrawal, says there are four keys necessary for the Palestinians to successfully govern Gaza. "You have to have decent government. You have to have a legal system that works. You have to have a financial system that is transparent and provides services, and you must fight corruption. If you don't do those four things you can't run an effective state." (VOA News)
  • U.S. Freezes Assets of Two Senior Syrian Officials - Douglas Jehl
    The Bush administration Thursday increased pressure on the Syrian government by ordering a freeze on any assets in American financial institutions controlled by two senior Syrian intelligence officials who served as Syria's de facto rulers in Lebanon. Ghazi Kanaan, now Syria's interior minister, served until 2002 as chief of military intelligence in Lebanon, and Rustum Ghazali succeeded him. The two, pillars of President Bashar al-Assad's government, are both believed to have profited enormously from their tenures in Lebanon. (New York Times)
  • Foreigners Blamed for Iraq Suicide Attacks - Patrick Quinn and Katherine Shrader
    Foreign fighters infiltrating Iraq from Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are behind most suicide missions, U.S. and Iraqi intelligence officials said. Iraqis have carried out less than 10% of more than 500 suicide attacks since 2003, according to one defense official. At least 213 attacks have occurred this year.
        The key role of foreign fighters in suicide attacks is one reason many senior military officials tend to view the war as developing into an international struggle against militant Islam. The military brass say Islamic extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his al-Qaeda in Iraq organization are determined to start a civil war in Iraq by attacking Iraqi security forces and members of the country's Shiite majority.
        Overall, the number of foreign fighters coming into the country seems to be on the rise, compared to six months ago, said the top general in the region, U.S. Gen. John Abizaid. The majority of foreign bombers in Iraq come from countries in the Persian Gulf, mainly Saudi Arabia and Yemen as well as Jordan, U.S. officials say. Former CIA officer Robert Baer said he was told that there are so many suicide bombers coming out of the Persian Gulf states that the networks that deploy jihadist martyrs are turning away potential attackers. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Trial of Egyptian Candidate Opens in Cairo
    The trial of maverick presidential candidate Ayman Nour opened in Cairo Tuesday with the defendant pleading not guilty to charges of forging official documents, and supporters noisily declaring that the case is a sham. Hundreds of riot policemen stood guard at the courthouse entrance and dozens more took up positions inside. Nour has been charged with forging hundreds of petitions that were filed to legalize his Tomorrow Party, which gained official status last fall. (Washington Post)
        See also A Setback for Egypt's Case Against Mubarak Foe - Neil MacFarquhar
    The government forgery case against Ayman Nour suffered a serious blow on Thursday when another defendant reversed his guilty plea. Ayman Ismael Hassan al-Refai said he had confessed to helping Nour forge signatures only because state security agents had threatened to harm his two nieces. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • UN Statement Condemns Hizballah "Attack on Israel" - Shlomo Shamir, Amos Harel, and Eli Ashkenazi
    The UN Security Council met Thursday after Israel sent a letter of protest to its president over Hizballah attacks on Israeli forces along the Lebanese border. Following the meeting, a statement approved unanimously by the members of the council and signed by the current Security Council president was issued condemning the "attack on Israel" and noting that Hizballah was involved in the attack. The statement called on the Lebanese government to implement its authority in the south of the country in the area bordering Israel and "throughout the boundaries of the state." (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. House of Representatives Approves $2.5b Israel Aid - Ran Dagoni
    The House of Representatives approved a $20.2 billion foreign aid bill on Tuesday by a 393-32 vote. The bill includes $2.5 billion in aid for Israel: $2.28 billion in military aid, and $240 million in civilian aid. (Globes)
  • Palestinian Civilians Curb Rocket Attack
    Palestinian civilians prevented militants from firing rockets into Israeli territory from the northern Gaza Strip, the PA interior ministry said Wednesday. The ministry said in a statement that a "quarrel" broke out Tuesday in the Beit Hanun area between local residents and a group of militants after they had fired a rocket toward Israeli territory. "The citizens then grabbed a second rocket and handed it over to the security sources." (AFP/IOL-South Africa)
  • Hamas Town Council Bans Art Festival
    Hamas has banned a performing arts festival in the town of Kalkilya on religious grounds, giving a taste of how the Islamic movement plans to rule towns where it won recent elections. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Troika Have Lost Their Gamble - Editorial
    At his post-election press conference on Sunday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would push ahead with its nuclear program while continuing talks with the EU troika of Britain, France, and Germany. One should not feel sorry for the troika. They calculated that through negotiation they could strengthen the hand of moderates within the clerically dominated regime. From the 2000 parliamentary elections onward, they have seen reformers forced on to the retreat and then routed. They have lost their gamble. The focus of attention looks set to switch from mediation to consideration of sanctions by the UN Security Council. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Facing the Reality in Tehran - Editorial
    The election of Ahmadinejad will sharpen the dilemma in the capitals of Europe. He cannot be presented as a moderate who needs to be encouraged and strengthened. Immediately after his election, he pledged to continue Iran's nuclear program, expressed contempt for the U.S., and said that Israel's existence was "illegal." Israel must continue its diplomatic efforts to neutralize the Iranian threats. However, it is important that Israel not position itself at the front: It should remain behind the scenes and leave center stage to the great powers. (Ha'aretz)
  • The UK Presidency of the EU and the Disengagement - British Ambassador to Israel Simon McDonald
    Friday is the first day of the UK's presidency of the European Union for the next six months, at a time when Israel's disengagement will be at the top of the EU's external agenda. The EU's relationship with Israel goes far beyond the peace process: Israel is our largest trading partner in the Near East; we do more business with Israel than with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon combined. The EU gives some 250 million euros in aid to the PA each year. We expect to see a return to the road map and the realization of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. (Ha'aretz)
  • Chaos Theory - Dispatch from Damascus - Annia Ciezadlo
    If ever a country seemed ripe for regime change, Syria is it. It's run by a cabal of insiders, many from the same minority religious sect. In a region famed for joblessness, it has one of the highest rates of newly unemployed. Faced with relentless U.S. pressure - and with Iraq and Lebanon both undergoing seismic changes next door - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be running scared. But, here in Damascus, it's Assad's opponents who are frightened. They fear going to jail, they worry about being assassinated, they're afraid of disappearing and turning up dead. Most of all, though, they are afraid of ending up like Iraq.
        "The U.S. and the Europeans should do whatever they can to support Syria's civil society - it's small, but it exists," says Maan Abdul Salam, an opposition activist who heads a publishing house in Damascus. "If you are making pressure on the top, you need a foundation at the bottom so everything doesn't collapse. It will not be like the Iraq situation if they build something." (New Republic)
  • Our Worsening Terrorism Problem - David Ignatius
    By toppling the cruelly repressive regime of Saddam Hussein, the U.S. turned Iraq into a new breeding ground for jihadists. We all hope American and Iraqi forces will contain the insurgency there, but what happens then? The answer, unfortunately, is that the terrorists go elsewhere.
        In the short run, prying the lid off a tightly controlled society such as Iraq may actually make the terrorism problem worse. The cruel instruments of repression are gone, while the constraints of an orderly, law-abiding, democratic society are not yet present. That's why the proper goal in these changing societies isn't simply democracy but the rule of law.
        Last month, Jordan's King Abdullah removed his intelligence chief, Saad Kheir, as part of his effort to push for democratic reforms. But Kheir was also one of the wiliest anti-terrorism operators in the world, whose agents had broken a string of al-Qaeda plots against the U.S. and Jordan. Will a more democratic Jordan be as useful an ally in the fight against terrorism? (Washington Post)
  • Hizballah Seeking to Claim Gaza Pullout as Victory - Julie Stahl
    Dr. Eli Karmon of the International Policy Institute on Counter-terrorism said Hizballah has several reasons for stirring up trouble along Israel's northern border. Hizballah wants to be thought of as the only group that can fight against Israel, Karmon said. Hizballah also is making every effort to sabotage negotiations between Israel and the PA. In 2004, Hizballah financed and managed 68 Palestinian terror cells. The last suicide bombing in Israel claimed by Islamic Jihad, in February, was probably commandeered by Hizballah, he said.
        "It is clear that [Hizballah] wants Israel to leave Gaza but they want Israel to leave under fire, defeated and with nothing in return," Karmon said. "They want the disengagement [to be perceived] not as a withdrawal but as a retreat....They want the Palestinians to present it as a victory and to be part of the victory." That is exactly the way Hizballah portrayed Israel's withdraw from Lebanon in May 2000, he said. (CNSNews)
  • Arab Rejection of Israel is the Obstacle to Peace - Yoram Ettinger
    The conflict with the Palestinians does not stem from oppression and is not territorial. The Oslo agreement granted the PLO unprecedented hope, brought it back from oblivion, provided it with territory and legitimacy - and led to unprecedented terrorism. The conflict feeds on the rejection of a sovereign Jewish presence in the Middle East and a hope for Jewish capitulation. (Ynet News)

    Weekend Features

  • Anglicans and Israel - Martin Peretz
    The Episcopalians are not the first of the Protestant churches to go down the disinvestment route against Israel. The Presbyterians have that distinction. But, just last week, in England, the Anglican Consultative Council voted unanimously to do the same. The Anglicans have an analysis backing up their position: "It is the Israeli occupation in its many facets that foments the violence and fuels the conflict."
        This ignores so many facts that it boggles the mind. Neither the Arabs of Palestine nor the established Arab states were willing to accept an Israel within very crimped borders; the occupation began in 1967 after the Arabs provoked - but lost - a war to eradicate precisely such a precarious Israel; and the Palestinians rejected out of hand the near-total withdrawals that Israel offered at Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001.
        It is true that Christians are in deep despair in emerging Palestine - but not because they are endangered by Israel. They are tormented and threatened by Muslim extremists inside and outside the Palestinian Authority. Ever since the handshake on the White House lawn, Christians have been deserting the territories out of fear that the Israelis will abandon them to the twin mercies of virulent Arab nationalism and Islamic fanaticism. (New Republic)
        See also British Jewish Board of Deputies Attacks Anglican Anti-Israel Motion
    Chief executive Jon Benjamin called the report of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network "fundamentally flawed and unbalanced." He said the report predated the withdrawal plans for Gaza and Bethlehem, and was based on consultation with Palestinian and not Israeli groups. He understood that those involved had gone to Israel at Rosh Hashana and had spoken to only two Israelis, one being Mordechai Vanunu. (Jewish Telegraph-UK)
        See also Jewish Groups Protest United Church of Christ Sanctions on Israel - Steve Levin
    A United Church of Christ resolution urging divestment from American companies doing business with Israel in the West Bank and Gaza will be voted on by delegates to the national church's general synod that begins Friday in Atlanta. This week, the Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a letter to national church leaders asking that the proposals be dropped. Jewish leaders say such efforts are one-sided, since none requires cessation of Palestinian terrorist acts, or an end to anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian schools and media. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Cruel Britannia - Robert S. Wistrich
    While many European countries have come to associate anti-Semitism with the forces of either the extreme Right, radical Left, or the increasingly vocal Muslim minorities, in Britain anti-Semitic sentiment is a part of mainstream discourse, continually resurfacing among the academic, political, and media elites. This is not to say that British culture is inherently or overwhelmingly hostile to Jews. Great Britain, which was the birthplace of liberalism in its modern political and economic senses, continues to be a liberal society today. But when nations are so deeply unsure of the stability of their values and the security of their future, anti-Semitic sentiment often bubbles to the surface, as people deflect blame for a nation's problems instead of addressing them head-on. (Azure-Shalem Center)
        See also The Persistence of Anti-Semitism on the British Left - Ben Cohen
    Many anti-Semitic themes in Britain currently present in leftwing and liberal discourse have been observable in the past. Leftist anti-Semitism however has evolved and concentrates in particular on the motif of delegitimization that marks discussions of Zionism and Israel. The organizational alignment of leftist and Islamist organizations, and the ongoing integration of Islamist and leftist attitudes toward Jews, represents a qualitative shift in the nature of leftist anti-Semitism in Britain. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
        See also Upsides and Downsides - Julie Burchill
    These are strange times to be a Jew in England. From being the most likely race to "pass," now any fraction of Jewish blood outrules any other heritage. (Ha'aretz)
  • How to Connect Gaza? - Cynthia Johnston
    Israel is considering linking the Gaza Strip and West Bank with a train, bus convoys, or even a sunken motorway with no off-ramps. But Israel does not want any "safe passage" to threaten its security. A railway would cost $200 million and take at least three years to build, a Western diplomatic source said. Any link would run inside Israel for at least 35 km (20 miles). Two other options, an elevated road and a tunnel, have been largely ruled out as too expensive. The Palestinians say a sunken motorway is more cost-effective, could be built faster, and affords greater flexibility. In the meantime, both sides are looking into running escorted bus convoys until a longer-term link is ready. (Reuters)
  • Observations:

    Zionism is Not a "Settler-Colonial Undertaking" - David Hoffman
    (Mail & Guardian-South Africa)

    • Is Israel a "settler-colonial undertaking," implying that its primary intent is the exploitation of another people and its land, or is Israel rather Jewry's great historic opportunity for collective affirmative action in a world where nation states still predominate?
    • The fundamental fact is that the Jews in both Islamic and Christian civilization were a despised and oppressed people and the reconstitution of their national sovereignty was and is absolutely necessary for overcoming that legacy of anti-Semitism.
    • It is important how one understands the Jewish claim to the Land of Israel: historic right and affirmative action for an ancient people or the greed of an arrogant "chosen" people. If the Jews are the only people who are to be denied their right to a nation state, then anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
    • As to the Palestinian refugees from the War of Independence and their descendants: seeing that the Arabs wished to deny the Jews even a small state, what happened in that war is not systematic criminal expropriation and expulsion of another people, but self-defense.
    • Anti-Semitism is a 2,000-year-old cultural legacy with deep roots. The starting point for healing the wounds is taking the Jews, who just lost six million in an apathetic and uncaring world, and saying, unequivocally, you are entitled to have a state and security within it. I am not advocating divine right here, but merely historic right and justice.

      Rabbi David Hoffman is a member of the Cape Town Progressive Jewish Congregation.

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