Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 20, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Claims London Bombings (BBC News)
    In a videotaped message aired on al-Jazeera, al-Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri said for the first time that his group had the "honor" of carrying out the 7 July suicide bombings in London, in which 52 people were killed.
    Zawahri said the "blessed" London attacks were targeted at "the British Crusader's arrogance and against the American Crusader's aggression on the Islamic nation for 100 years."
    He denounced Britain for "the historical crime of setting up Israel and the continuing crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq."

The Dark Side of Life in Gaza - Matthew Fisher (National Post-Canada)
    On Sept. 7, Gen. Mousa Arafat was attacked at his home in Gaza City by about 80 masked gunmen in "a first-class, planned operation," a man familiar with the darker side of life in Gaza said.
    An operation on this scale, and without any proper response by government forces, looks very much as if it was a government-backed or a government-sanctioned assassination.
    "I guess there is an investigation," a senior official in Abbas's office replied to a question about the incident, then added: "I am not excusing this but he was really a thug. He was a very corrupt man with many enemies."
    Mousa Arafat's reputation for torture, blackmail, arms and alcohol smuggling was legendary.
    But how can the PA hope to gain Israel's trust, attract foreign investment, and become a state if it appears to condone the law of the jungle.

Right of Return to Gaza - Gidi Greenstein (Maariv-Hebrew, 18Sep05)
    The disengagement provides a rare opportunity with regard to the Palestinian refugees.
    With Israel's withdrawal from the Egypt-Gaza border, a way has been opened to advance a solution to this problem prior to a final settlement.
    Refugees could return to Gaza from Jordan and Lebanon, development plans for Gaza could provide housing solutions, and it would be possible to transfer authority from UNRWA to the PA and to arrange UNRWA's exit from Gaza.
    The writer is the founder and director-general of the Reut Institute in Tel Aviv.

EU Raises 2005 Aid to Palestinians (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    The EU announced new aid for the Palestinians on Monday, raising the 2005 total to $342.8 million.
    If assistance from the 25 EU governments is added, Europe's total annual aid to the Palestinians amounts to some $612.15 million.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Abbas Asserts Control in Gaza, But Faces Challenge From Militants - Robert Berger
    PA police sealed the border with Egypt on Sunday after Palestinians tore down the border fence and smuggled in weapons following Israel's pullout from Gaza a week ago. But Israel Radio's Arab affairs expert Avi Sacharov says the PA has lost control: "The armed organizations are controlling the Gaza Strip, not only Hamas, but everyone who has a weapon is becoming a kind of a new landlord of Gaza." Abbas is seeking international support for a Palestinian state and wants to revive peace talks with Israel, but the militants who rule the streets want holy war. (VOA News)
        See also Hamas Politicians Maneuvering in Gaza - Laura King and Ken Ellingwood
    With the end of the Israeli presence in Gaza, Hamas is working to position itself as the principal power in the first large swath of territory under Palestinian sovereignty. Already well ensconced in dozens of town halls across the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas now is gearing up for its next big electoral challenge: winning a substantial bloc of seats in Palestinian parliamentary elections in January. By all indications, it will easily do so. (Los Angeles Times)
  • British Army Storms Basra Jail to Free Two Soldiers From Arrest - Sabrina Tavernise
    Two British soldiers working undercover dressed as Iraqis were arrested Monday by Iraqi police in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and then freed as a British armored vehicle blasted through the wall of their jail. The police had refused to obey orders from the Interior Ministry to release the men. (New York Times)
  • Simon Wiesenthal, "Conscience" of Holocaust, Dies - Henry Weinstein
    Simon Wiesenthal, who survived a dozen concentration camps, then spent his life bringing Nazi war criminals to justice and searing the Holocaust into the conscience of the world, died Tuesday at his home in Vienna. He was 96. Wiesenthal's biographers credited him with ferreting out 1,100 of Adolf Hitler's major and minor killers and other Nazi war criminals since World War II. "When history looks back," Wiesenthal said, "I want people to know the Nazis weren't able to kill millions of people and get away with it." He warned on many occasions: "If we pardon this genocide, it will be repeated, and not only on Jews." (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Buries Synagogue at Sa-Nur - Amos Harel
    After the government decided against demolishing synagogues in evacuated settlements, the Israel Defense Forces on Monday started to cover with earth the synagogue in the evacuated northern West Bank settlement of Sa-Nur, since the synagogue could not be dismantled. Once the synagogue is buried, IDF forces will leave the area. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinians Enter Sa-Nur
    Hundreds of Palestinians entered the evacuated West Bank settlement of Sa-Nur Tuesday, Israel Radio reported. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Anarchoterror in Gaza - Editorial
    The anarchy and chaos that have engulfed Gaza since Israel uprooted its settlements and withdrew its military has been a very ugly jolt of reality. Gaza is coming to look more like Afghanistan under Taliban rule than a viable democracy. The dilemma is the latest example of what has been taking place since Rabin and Arafat signed the first Oslo agreement 12 years ago this month: Israel makes tangible concessions, ceding territory captured in defensive wars to the Palestinians. Arafat or Abbas promises to take action to prevent terrorism and anti-Jewish incitement, but that almost never happens. Instead, the Palestinians pocket the Israeli concessions but fail to exercise their security responsibilities and permit the incitement to flourish.
        Through his inaction, Abbas has permitted Hamas to become the most powerful political movement in Gaza. Judging from the Nuremberg-like rallies that group has been staging in the streets of Gaza, Hamas sounds like it intends to plunge the Palestinians into another war against Israel. (Washington Times)
  • U.S.-Saudi Relations After Hurricane Katrina: Increased Oil Dependency and the Vulnerability of Saudi Oil Installations - Mordechai Abir
    The OPEC oil cartel is to increase its quota by nearly two million bpd to about 30 million bpd, with the biggest contribution coming from Saudi Arabia. Never before have relations between official Washington and the kingdom been as close as they are now. Yet, sympathy and help for the mujahidin, who have traveled in droves from the Saudi kingdom to fight the infidel "crusaders" (Americans) and their abhorred Shi'a allies in Iraq, elsewhere in the Middle East, and in the West, are still very much alive in Arabia. Thus, while the Saudis are cracking down on al-Qaeda inside Saudi Arabia, they continue to provide the ideological and even financial support for jihadi groups outside the Saudi kingdom.
        In mid-July 2005, Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey told a U.S. Senate committee, "Even today, we believe that Saudi donors may still be a significant source of terrorist financing, including for the insurgency in Iraq." According to most analyses, Saudis represent a plurality, if not a clear majority, of the foreign insurgents fighting the U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Muslims and the Holocaust - Cathy Young
    Recently in England, four Muslim-staffed committees appointed to advise Prime Minister Blair on issues related to Islam proposed that the Holocaust commemoration be folded into a ''Genocide Memorial Day" that will also include such crimes as the slaughter of the Tutsis in Rwanda and the massacres of Bosnian Muslims by the Milosevic regime. The other ''genocides" for which British Muslims want recognition include the Israeli killings of Palestinians.
        Unfortunately, even against the bloody backdrop of the 20th century, there are strong reasons to regard the Nazi extermination of the Jews as a unique atrocity. It was the first and so far the only time that, as Cornell University historian Stephen Katz put it in his 1994 book The Holocaust in Historical Context, ''a state set out, as a matter of intentional principle and actualized policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman, and child belonging to a specific people."
        Over 4,000 Palestinians have been killed since the renewal of violence five years ago. Some were completely innocent victims; others were fighters, violent protesters, or suicide bombers. (Nearly 1,000 Israelis have died as well.) This death toll is tragic; but to call it ''genocide" is to cheapen the word. Any equation between the Holocaust and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is absurd. The effect of such a parallel is not to promote ''inclusiveness" - it is to erase and minimize the tragedy of the Jews as past victims of genocide by slanderously assigning them an equal role as its present-day perpetrators.
        The infection of anti-Jewish bigotry is alarmingly widespread in the Muslim community today, not only in predominantly Muslim and Arab countries but in Western democracies as well. Is it plausible to believe that a state of Israel within its 1948 borders would be less hated by those who believe all of its land rightfully belongs to Muslims? (Boston Globe)
  • Observations:

    Rectifying UN Wrongs - U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Jerusalem Post)

    • The House of Representatives this summer twice adopted the United Nations Reform Act of 2005, that seeks to end discrimination against Israel in the UN system and ensure greater fairness and objectivity in the UN's handling of Israeli-Palestinian issues by:
      • Expanding one of the UN's regional groups (Western Europe and Others Group) to afford Israel permanent membership in this group with full rights and privileges, such as a place in the seat rotation of the Security Council.
      • Mandating a State Department review of the work performed by the various UN commissions, committees, and offices focusing exclusively on the Palestinian agenda, followed by the submission of a report recommending areas for reform, including proposals for the elimination of duplicative entities and efforts.
      • Withholding proportional U.S. contributions to the UN until these recommendations are implemented.
    • In addition, the legislation calls for the UN Secretary-General to establish a series of requirements to combat anti-Semitism in all UN entities and specialized agencies, and to establish mechanisms to hold UN officials accountable for anti-Semitic statements and actions.

      The writer, a Member of Congress (R-FL), chairs the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia of the House Committee on International Relations.

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