Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 1, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Four Indicted in Alleged Plot to Attack LA Synagogues, Israeli Consulate - Jeremiah Marquez (AP/Washington Post)
    The head of a radical Islamic prison gang and three others were indicted Wednesday on federal charges of planning terrorist attacks against U.S. military facilities, the Israeli Consulate, and other Los Angeles-area targets.
    Prosecutors contend the plot was orchestrated at the behest of Kevin James, an inmate at the California State Prison-Sacramento, who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS).
    James preached that the duty of JIS members was to attack enemies of Islam.
    Levar Washington, Gregory Patterson, and Hammad Samana allegedly conducted surveillance of military facilities, the Israeli Consulate, and synagogues in the Los Angeles area as well as Internet research on Jewish holidays.
    The attacks were to be carried out with firearms and other weapons at synagogues during Jewish holidays "to maximize the number of casualties," authorities said.

Israel Sends Condolences to U.S. - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom sent U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a letter offering assistance and expressing sympathy for the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
    One official said that although Israel does not have any particular expertise in battling floods, it does have a great deal of expertise dealing with collapsed buildings.

Report: Syria May Acquire North Korean Missiles (Middle East Newsline)
    A report by the Congressional Research Service said Syria is expected to procure the No-Dong intermediate-range ballistic missile from North Korea.
    "It is possible that as regional security prospects continue to deteriorate, Syria may attempt to acquire longer-range systems such as the No-Dong MRBM [medium-range ballistic missile]," the report said.

Sweden Threatened with Jihad - Yaakov Lappin (Ynet News)
    A group using the name of the Iraqi jihad group Ansar al-Sunnah has released videos showing what it claims are members training for terror attacks in the Swedish countryside.

Israel's Fertility Rate: 2.9 Children in 2004 (Globes)
    Israel's fertility rate declined from 2.95 children per woman in 2003 to 2.9 in 2004, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday.
    The fertility rate in the Jewish community has remained at 2.6-2.7.
    The rate in Israel's Druze community has fallen from 4.1 in 1990 to 2.7 in 2004. The rate in the Christian Arab community has fallen from 2.7 in 1996 to 2.2 in 2004. The rate in the Muslim community has declined from 4.7 in the mid-1980s to 4.4 in 2004.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Stampede in Baghdad Kills Over 950 Shiite Pilgrims - Ellen Knickmeyer and Naseer Nouri
    Rumors of a suicide bomber sowed panic among thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims Wednesday on a bridge over the Tigris River in Baghdad, triggering a stampede in which many jumped into the river or fell to their deaths on sidewalks below. Some rescuers said the majority of victims suffocated on the bridge. The Iraqi Interior Ministry said 953 people were killed and 815 injured. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Increases Diplomatic Pressure on Syria - Roula Khalaf and Guy Dinmore
    The Bush administration has launched the process of taking further diplomatic action against Syria following new disclosures that purportedly link Damascus with the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister. According to Western and Lebanese sources, a former Syrian officer recently defected and has been providing information to the UN team investigating the Hariri assassination. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also More Arrests in Beirut - Majdoline Hatoum
    UN investigators and Lebanese internal security forces raided two apartments in Beirut's southern suburbs that security sources said may have been used to plan Hariri's assassination. The Hariri-owned Al-Mustaqbal newspaper claimed the four security officials previously arrested had "held meetings to prepare for the crime" in a Beirut apartment. The newspaper added: "They also inspected the site of the attack the day before and afterward tampered with evidence at the scene to put investigators on the wrong track." (Daily Star-Beirut)
  • Pakistani and Israeli Foreign Ministers Meet in Turkey
    The foreign ministers of Pakistan and Israel met Thursday in Istanbul in the first overt high-level political contact between the two countries. Diplomatic sources say the meeting should be seen as the opening of dialogue between the two countries, which have no direct political disputes. After the Israeli pullout from Gaza, Pakistan signaled to the Israelis that it was "now ready" for an overt contact. (The Dawn-Pakistan)
        See also Pakistani President Seeks Ties with Israel
    Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf will address the American Jewish Congress in New York on Sept. 17. Sources close to the Islamabad government say the move is the latest step in Musharraf's plan to establish some sort of diplomatic relations with Israel. Israeli and Pakistani representatives have been secretly meeting regularly since 1999. (AKI-Italy)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Knesset Approves Egyptian Border Guard Deployment - Gideon Alon and Aluf Benn
    Israel and Egypt will sign an agreement in Egypt on Thursday to deploy 750 Egyptian border guards along the Philadelphi route between Sinai and the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported Thursday. The Knesset approved the deal Wednesday in a 53-28 vote. Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman assured Prime Minister Sharon on Wednesday that Egypt would make sure no weapons were smuggled from Egypt into Gaza and that Egypt would remove terrorists and arms from Sinai. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Continue Attacks on Israeli Soldiers - Margot Dudkevitch
    Palestinians fired an anti-tank rocket at an IDF vehicle near the northern Gaza security fence on Wednesday. Later, security forces blew up a 50 kg. bomb found near the security fence north of the Karni crossing in northern Gaza. In the West Bank, shots were fired at an IDF post west of Tulkarm. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gazans Charged with Plotting Tel Aviv Bombing - Zvi Harel
    The Tel Aviv District Court Wednesday charged two Gazans who had infiltrated Israel with explosives with planning a mass suicide bombing in the center of Tel Aviv. Jihad Schada, 18, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and Camal Abbas, 33, cut the security fence along the Gaza border on July 22. Schada was carrying a 5 kg. explosives belt. (Ha'aretz)
  • Misunderstanding Caused U.S-Israel Defense Spat - Aluf Benn
    "I am convinced the crisis in U.S.-Israel relations was predicated on mistaken information they had," Defense Ministry director general Amos Yaron said Wednesday on the eve of his retirement. "I believe that in the normal course of things, it should have been resolved in a half-day meeting between me and my Pentagon counterpart." Yaron said the Pentagon suspected Israel was conducting huge covert arms deals with China. "It took them a whole year and a thousand questions to understand that everything I said was true." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Gaza's Final Evacuees - Jeff Jacoby
    The last Jewish inhabitants were removed from the Gaza Strip this week. The remains of 48 men and women were exhumed from what was supposed to have been their final resting place in the Neve Dekalim cemetery. As part of Israel's "disengagement" from Gaza and northern Samaria, even the dead had to leave. Israelis know from experience what happens to Jewish graves that fall into Arab hands. (Boston Globe)
  • Who Rules Gaza? - Eyad El-Sarraj
    International organizations decided to prevent their workers from entering the Gaza Strip until further notice. Those who are currently staying are prohibited from walking the streets. They fear being kidnapped by Palestinians. Anyone watching and listening thinks we are on the verge of establishing an independent state. Are they not aware that there is no meaning for the word "law" in the Gaza Strip? The reality is that Gaza is controlled from inside by groups intertwined with security forces and clans, where weapons and money are distributed in this powerful network created in the last four years, fueled and empowered at the expense of the central authority.
        It seems that our security forces were mainly trained to protect official parades. Amidst this reality, the attorney general and a supreme court judge were attacked and neither is able to move freely. It seems that we are following Somalia, which is divided into armed feudal estates in which every leader is ruling a certain area. The feudality of money, weapons, and tribalism has become the ruling power in Gaza. The writer is chairman of the Gaza community mental health program. (AMIN-PA)
  • How Jordan Can Help Palestine - Joseph Braude
    By departing Gaza without a peace deal, Israel affirmed with finality that the dream of economic integration and political partnership between Israelis and Palestinians is dead. Confederation in the sense of heightened political and military coordination as well as economic interdependence between Jordan and Palestine may represent the most viable path to rebuilding the economy and society of the West Bank and Gaza.
        King Abdullah formally relieved his half-brother Hamza of his role as crown prince and replaced him with his own ten-year-old son Hussein, whose mother, Queen Rania, is a Palestinian with roots in the West Bank. The promise of a half-Palestinian king reigning in Jordan gives the present monarch unprecedented popularity with Palestinians on both sides of the Jordan River. (New Republic)
        See also Are There Signs of a Jordanian-Palestinian Reengagement? - Dan Diker and Pinchas Inbari (ICA/JCPA)
  • Observations:

    Gaza and Victory - Joey Tartakovsky (VDH Papers)

    • Israel has no partner for peace among the Palestinians, nor any interest in waiting for one.
    • Disengagement is in the interests of Palestinians, who will soon have their chance to build a state. Theoretically, that is. There is little to suggest that Palestine will avoid the fate of its Arab neighbors: poverty, misrule, nepotism, and violence. But they won't have occupation to blame. The impending disaster of Palestine belongs to them, not Israel.
    • Disengagement is outside the old framework of reciprocal concessions. Only by understanding that the logic of negotiation is irrelevant here, i.e., that Israel is acting unilaterally in what it perceives as its best interests, can the unrequited abandonment of a key asset make sense.
    • Abbas has no plans to confront the terrorists under his dominion. (Nor has a single terrorist been arrested during his tenure.) On the contrary, the martyrs are gearing up for a new round of holy war.
    • We are dealing with two very different societies. Israel fights to preserve its democracy; Hamas fights to establish theocracy. Israeli politicians seek public support by promising solutions and calm; Palestinian leaders do so by pledging struggle and martyrdom. Israelis are saddened when their army causes injury to innocent Palestinians and prosecute their soldiers who violate the law. Palestinians greet atrocities carried out in their honor with cheers, rationalization, and fireworks (or, as on 9/11, they hand out sweets). If Israelis march in the streets, they brandish placards; if Palestinians pour into the streets, expect automatic weapons.
    • Disengagement cannot bring peace; the withdrawal is from the land, not the struggle. Nothing can bring Israel peace until Palestinian terrorism is routed. Victory precedes peace, and it is on victory that Israel must now concentrate.

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