Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see web version.


October 11, 2005

To contact the Presidents Conference: click here

In-Depth Issues:

Gaza's New Strongmen - Matt Rees (TIME)
    Jamal Abu Samhadana is emerging as the most powerful figure in Rafah on the border between Gaza and Egypt. As the founder of an armed militia called the Salah ed-Din Brigades, he commands 2,000 gunmen.
    Now that Israel has pulled out of Gaza, Abu Samhadana and his troops have a new target: Mahmoud Abbas and his security services.
    Yasser Arafat used to send Abu Samhadana $10,000 a month, but Abbas ended those payments in February.
    The Salah ed-Din Brigades ran its refugee camps, towns, and villages as gangster fiefs. With the Israelis gone, locals say it has increasingly turned to racketeering and extortion.
    See also The Murder of Musa Arafat and the Battle for the Spoils of Gaza - Pinhas Inbari and Dan Diker (ICA/JCPA)

Suspect: Syrian Gave Istanbul Bombers $50,000 (AP/Newsday)
    A suspect in a bombing plot against Israeli ships in Turkey earlier gave $50,000 to people accused of carrying out a series of bombings in Istanbul that killed 60 people in 2003.
    Prosecutors in the trial of some 70 suspects in the 2003 bombings of two synagogues, the British Consulate, and a London-based bank gave testimony from Burhan Kus, who was captured in Iraq.
    Kus said that Louai Sakka, a Syrian accused of planning to ram a boatload of explosives into a ship carrying Israeli tourists, gave the Istanbul bombers $50,000 before the attacks and stood cheering with key suspects as they later watched news of the bombings on television.

Marketing Terrorism by Internet: Hamas Uses Internet Providers in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
    Most of Hamas' web sites use Eastern European (Russian and Ukrainian) and Southeast Asian (Malaysian and Indonesian) Internet service providers (ISP).
    Another site receives ISP services from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
    Some of these countries play host to liaison personnel employed by Hamas.
    The entire infrastructure is operated by Nizar al-Hussein from the office of Osama Hamdan, the head of the Hamas branch in Lebanon, and guided by Hamas' headquarters in Damascus.

Norway School Bans Star of David (Ynet News)
    A teacher working at an adult education center in Norway was told to stop wearing a Star of David because it "provokes the many Muslim students at the school."
    School head Kjell Gislefoss said, "The Star of David would be a symbol for one side in what is perhaps the world's most inflamed conflict at the moment."
    The teacher, Inge Telhaug, who is not Jewish, wears a small star around his neck because "I see it as the oldest religious symbol we have in our culture, because without Judaism there would be no Christianity."
    He said his right to freedom of speech was violated by the banning.


Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • American and Israeli Share Nobel Prize in Economics - Louis Uchitelle
    Robert J. Aumann and Thomas C. Schelling won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science Monday for their work in game theory, which explains the choices that competitors make in situations that require strategic thinking. Aumann, 75, is an Israeli who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (New York Times)
  • UN Gradually Becoming More Hospitable to Israel - Warren Hoge
    Israel recently proposed a UN resolution, it submitted its candidacy for a two-year seat on the Security Council, and its prime minister has been warmly received speaking to the General Assembly. "These are steps that could not have happened even two years ago," said Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador. Harold Tanner, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said: "There is a definite change in feeling. Many positive things have occurred over the past year, yet it is still far from being fair and equitable for Israel."
        Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he thought Israel's cause was helped by the UN being thrown on the defensive over mismanagement and corruption in the oil-for-food program. "When the UN found itself being attacked for scandal and irresponsibility, one way to establish responsibility was to stand up to this institutional bias against Israel," he said. (New York Times)
        See also First Israeli Chosen as Member of UNESCO World Heritage Committee (Ynet News)
  • Leaders of Israel and PA Postpone Talks - Harvey Morris
    Israel and the PA postponed a meeting between Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas scheduled for Tuesday, saying more time was needed to prepare. The meeting is now likely to be held after Abbas returns from talks in Washington later this month. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Poor Lebanese Find Life Easier in Palestinian Refugee Camp -
    The Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp in Tripoli, Lebanon, 80 km north of Beirut, has seen 150 Lebanese families move into its crowded confines in recent years and more are still coming, said Khalil al-Jindawi, an official of the Fatah movement which helps to run the camp. Housing is cheaper there. They can also piggy-back off free education, healthcare, and drinking water provided by the UN for the camps' residents. Clandestinely connected electricity wires give them free power and lighting, and local pharmacies sell cheap black market medicine. (Reuters)
        See also Palestinian Camps: Time for Abbas to Take Charge
    For Lebanon to achieve its complete independence and sovereignty, it is time to take the Palestinian issue in Lebanon to the highest level of priority. It is time for the Palestinians to understand that Lebanon will no longer tolerate any infringement on its independence and sovereignty. The days that Lebanon will be ruled by outsiders are over. (Ya Libnan-Lebanon)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Shin Bet Nabs 117 Hamas Members in West Bank - Amos Harel
    The Shin Bet security service has recently uncovered three Hamas networks in the West Bank that are suspected of a series of terror attacks over the past two months, the Shin Bet said Monday. The security service has arrested 117 Hamas members in the Ramallah area, north of Hebron, and southwest of Hebron. "At present we do not see any willingness on the part of the PA to enter into conflict with the terror organizations," the Shin Bet said. "They talk about the strategy of [preventing terror without a direct struggle]. Therefore, we must continue with our arrests."
        Security forces arrested 23 members of one network believed responsible for the abduction and murder of Sasson Nuriel on Sept. 21. The two men who kidnapped Nuriel worked in his candy factory. Investigators said that the key figure in the network is Yasser Salah, son of the Ramallah police chief, who joined Hamas while he was a student in Egypt. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Female Hamas Bombmaker Sent from Gaza to West Bank - Amos Harel
    Samar Sabih, 22, who was sent by Hamas in the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to train new explosive experts, was recently detained by Israeli security forces. Israeli authorities had approved her request to let her move to Tulkarm in the West Bank so that she could marry her fiance. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel, U.S. to Renew Strategic Talks after Three-Year Freeze - Aluf Benn
    The U.S. will resume its strategic dialogue with Israel in November after a hiatus of close to three years, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Monday after meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch in Jerusalem. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Divestment Does Not Promote Peace - Geoffrey H. Lewis and Theodore W. Asta
    Divestment from companies doing business in Israel is not an effective strategy to promote peace. Rather, it is a strategy that denies the complexities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and seeks to punish Israel, rather than engage in a constructive solution. As we heard from people on both sides, particularly from those identified with the peace camps, divestment takes one ''out of the game" and serves only to alienate the pro-divestment community from the many who genuinely seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
        Continuing to debate the use of economic sanctions against Israel is divisive and distracting. Those who care about peace in the region support organizations that are working toward coexistence and reconciliation between Arabs and Jews within Israel as well as Palestinians and Israelis. The writers were part of a group of 28 mainline Protestant and Jewish leaders who traveled to Israel to study the issue of divestment. (Boston Globe)
  • Growing Schism in the Jihadi Movement - Bernard Haykel
    Growing splits among jihadis are beginning to undermine the theological and legal justifications for suicide bombing and the emerging schism is taking its toll on the jihadi movement. Many jihadis believe too many Muslims are being killed in Iraq, eroding global support for the jihadi cause. There are strong indications that the suicide attacks are turning many Muslims against the jihadis altogether.
        To be sure, the alternatives that critics recommend are no less violent. Rather, many of the movement's dissidents suggest that jihadis diminish their efforts in Iraq and revert to spectacular attacks in the West, like those that took place on Sept. 11. The writer is an associate professor of Islamic Studies at New York University. (New York Times)
  • Israeli-Palestinian Settlement Would Not Change Saudi Wahhabi Fanatics
    In an interview, former CIA Director James Woolsey said: "The impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has some importance but in reality it is much further down the line of causes of the current support for terrorism that one sees in some parts of the Muslim, principally the Arab, world than people suggest. I think you could have an Israeli-Palestinian settlement tomorrow, and the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia would still be fanatically anti-Shi'ite, anti-Sufi, anti-Jewish, anti-democracy, anti-Christian, anti-female, anti-music, and so would al-Qaeda be." (RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty)
  • Europe's Wahhabi Lobby - Stephen Schwartz
    At the end of September, the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) arranged a day-long roundtable in Warsaw on "Intolerance and Discrimination Against Muslims." The participants included 25 representatives of Muslim NGOs as well as European and North American human rights monitors. Reliable sources reported that the conference on Islam came as a trade-off for a conference on anti-Semitism held in Cordoba, Spain, earlier this year. The event in Warsaw served as little more than a platform for ranters and cranks who were there to defend radical Islam. (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    Palestinians: No Way to Help - Abby Wisse Schachter (New York Post)

    • When President Bush meets in Washington with Palestinian leader Abbas on Oct. 20, look for Abbas to encourage the U.S. to help his people by offering them millions in U.S. greenbacks.
    • Bush should first consider the saga of the greenhouses. Jewish settlers had built and operated some 4,000 greenhouses, a serious moneymaking enterprise with nearly $100 million a year in revenue. James Wolfensohn, who was tapped by the Quartet to monitor the Israeli pullout from Gaza, wanted the Palestinians to use the greenhouses to kick-start Gaza's new economy and bought the greenhouses for the PA with private funds. When Israeli troops left the area, Palestinians began looting and destroying the greenhouses, while the PA security services stood aside, not lifting a finger to stop the destruction. Some even joined in.
    • Since even before the 1993 Oslo peace accords, idealistic donors have given the Palestinians what they thought they wanted, and the Palestinians have either been unable or unwilling to take advantage and build on what they're given.
    • By some estimates, Yasser Arafat and his henchmen stole half of the $7 billion in foreign aid sent to the Palestinian Authority between 1994 and 2000. And, like the greenhouses, dozens of charitable projects have been destroyed by the very people they were designed to help.
    • Clearly, the Palestinians' concept of winning has little to do with state building and more to do with taking what they are given (like Gaza) and claiming it was won through violence and terrorism (as Hamas and Islamic Jihad have proclaimed).
    • Meantime, do-gooders like Wolfensohn might just stop trying so hard to help. And governments providing foreign aid might want to beware as well. Until the Palestinians show some ability to build rather than destroy, to create rather than tear down and burn to the ground, the funding tap really should be turned off.

    To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:
    [email protected]
    To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to:
    [email protected]