Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 8, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda's Zawahri Urges Attacks on Oil Targets - Heba Kandil (Reuters)
    Al-Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri urged militants to attack oil targets in Muslim states in a video interview posted on an Islamist Web site on Wednesday.
    "I call on mujahideen to concentrate their attacks on Muslims' stolen oil, most of the revenues of which go to the enemies of Islam," he said.
    See also The Al-Qaeda Threat to Saudi Arabia's Oil Sector - Mordechai Abir (ICA/JCPA)

Palestinian "Peace Team" Soccer Players to Be Punished - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    The Palestinian Football Association plans to punish players under its jurisdiction for participating alongside Israelis in a "Peace Match" in Barcelona, an official said Wednesday.
    "The Palestinian Football Association will form a committee to investigate the players who participated in the match...everyone involved will be punished," senior FA official Jamal Zaqout said.
    Fifteen Israelis and 12 Palestinians from the West Bank joined up for the match sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace and the Palestinian Abu Sukar Center.

Presbyterians Say Meeting in Middle East Isn't Official - Jodi Wilgoren (New York Times)
    Officials of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are distancing themselves from a meeting in Lebanon between a Hizballah commander and a Presbyterian delegation.
    Jay Rock, the church's national coordinator for interfaith relations, promised Jewish leaders in a letter that Presbyterians would develop guidelines for members traveling in troubled regions, saying those at the Hizballah meeting should have made clear the church's positions "against terrorism in any form, and for the security and vitality of Israel."
    At the same time, the Rev. Robert Reynolds, Chicago's executive presbyter, said in a letter last week that he regretted attending the meeting because Hizballah "used the group's visit for political purposes."

Record Number of Women to Contest Palestinian Elections (AFP/Yahoo)
    A record number of women will take up seats in the Palestinian parliament following January's legislative elections.
    Under a new quota system, the number of women deputies will increase to at least 13 within the 132-seat Palestinian Legislative Council, up from its current total of five.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Assad Hopes to Head Off UN Sanctions Through Peace Talks with Israel - Simon Tisdall and Ewen MacAskill
    Syria is engaged in clandestine talks about reopening peace negotiations with Israel in an attempt to head off UN sanctions next week. Syrian President Assad was urged by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan at an Islamic Conference Organization meeting Wednesday in Mecca to restart bilateral talks with Israel that collapsed in 2000. "Syria would go along with almost anything at this point," said a senior Arab diplomat. "They do not want to be penalized like Libya or Iraq."  (Guardian-UK)
  • Red Cross and Red Crescent to Add Red Diamond for Israel Agency
    The Red Cross and Red Crescent movements gained an additional emblem on Thursday that will let Israel join the global relief network and end a decades-old dispute. Signers of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, in a rare vote, adopted a new symbol, a diamond-shaped red crystal on a white background, into which the Red Star of David of the Israeli relief agency Magen David Adom can be placed. The vote was 98 in favor and 27 against, with 10 abstentions. For years Islamic states, whose crescent emblem was added to the cross as a joint symbol for the movement in 1983, have resisted recognition of the six-pointed Israeli star. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • Police Attack Voters During Egyptian Election - Daniel Williams
    At least eight people were reported killed on the last day of Egypt's fiercely contested parliamentary elections Wednesday. (Washington Post)
        See also Egypt Slips Down Democracy Ladder - William Wallis
    Egyptian police attempting to block further gains by the opposition Muslim Brotherhood confiscated ladders from would-be voters. In a previous round of polling, resourceful opposition voters outside Alexandria used ladders to climb into the back of polling stations where riot police were blocking off their access at the front. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights reported that 355 polling stations were closed by security forces in final round run-offs Wednesday. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Halts Talks with PA on Gaza-West Bank Convoys - Akiva Eldar
    The security-political cabinet has decided to suspend talks with the PA on operating bus convoys between Gaza and the West Bank, in the wake of Monday's terror attack in Netanya. According to an agreement brokered last month by U.S. Secretary of State Rice, bus convoys were to start next Thursday and truck convoys in mid-January. The Prime Minister's Office notified the U.S. of its decision on Tuesday. In the cabinet decision, the ministers said convoy talks would be renewed only after the PA fulfilled its obligation to act against terrorists. (Ha'aretz)
  • Terrorist Leader Killed in Gaza - Ali Waked
    The Israel Air Force launched a missile strike Wednesday at a vehicle in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, killing Mahmoud al-Arkan, commander of the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the Salah a-Din Brigades. Al-Arkan, a former PA police officer, was involved in manufacturing Kassam rockets and mortar shells, and was also instrumental in carrying out several attacks in collaboration with Islamic Jihad. Israel had requested that the PA arrest him, but the PA took no steps against him. (Ynet News)
        See also Senior Terrorist Targeted in Gaza (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Palestinians Fire Rockets at Israel
    Palestinians fired two Kassam rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday. Following the attacks, the IDF fired artillery shells at the launching sites and later struck at access roads to them. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Terrorists See Us All as Enemies - Editorial
    Let's not delude ourselves about Iraq's terrorists, who kidnapped Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, along with two others in Baghdad on Nov. 26. They don't distinguish between Canada, which opposed the invasion of Iraq, and the U.S. and Great Britain, which led it. Nor do they distinguish between people who opposed the war and those who supported it. And the last thing they care about is the Iraqi people, whom they hope not to liberate, but to enslave. (Toronto Sun)
  • Letting Go of Gaza - Shlomo Avineri
    As long as Gaza was under Israeli jurisdiction, there was some logic - perhaps even some responsibility - to allow Gaza residents to work in Israel. But Gaza is no longer under Israeli control. It is another country in every way. Of course Israel has an interest in Gaza's economic development and reducing human suffering for its residents, yet there are also job shortages in Jordan and Egypt and we have an interest in ensuring that unemployment there does not lead to extremism. But we all agree this is not our responsibility. Gaza, too, is no longer our responsibility. (Ynet News)
  • After France - Walter Laqueur
    Integration of Muslims in Europe has failed so far and multiculturalism is discredited. Even if a greater effort had been made and more money invested, the majority of new immigrants from Islamic countries have no wish to accept Western values and the European way of life. If there has been ghettoization, it happened because they wanted to be among themselves, not because anyone imposed it on them. (Wall Street Journal, 8Dec05)
  • Will Politics Tame Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood? - Neil MacFarquhar
    A long-expected day of reckoning is at hand in Egyptian politics now that the Muslim Brotherhood, an illegal organization with a violent past, is entering the corridors of power for the first time in significant numbers. The outcome of the freest election in more than 50 years could determine whether political Islam will turn Egypt into a repressive, anti-American theocracy or if Islamic parties across the Arab world will themselves be transformed by participating in mainstream politics. (New York Times)
  • Wolves Inside the Door - Jim Hoagland
    The wolf is no longer at the door of the wealthy Arab emirates of the Persian Gulf. It is now in their midst, threatening to devour these plump, slow-moving gazelles of states from inside their fragile defense lines. That was the consensus I heard expressed by Gulf Arab leaders, intellectuals, senior military officers, and national security officials in Bahrain at a conference organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Government representatives described Islamic-inspired terrorist networks as an urgent threat to citizens and to stability, and put forward fresh ideas on what Muslims themselves must do to defeat the terrorists. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Will the Next Generation of Palestinians Make Peace with Israel?
    - Justus Reid Weiner and Michael Sussman (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • A peace agreement can only successfully end a conflict if it enjoys underlying, wide-ranging support from its respective populations. In particular, past efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace have failed to deal with, or even acknowledge, the deep-seated psychological mechanisms of partisanship that are endemic in Palestinian culture.
    • The idea of the shahid (martyr) has become so ingrained in Palestinian culture that it is a major theme in formal education, family values, religious practices, television broadcasting, posters, pre-suicide eulogies, trading cards, family celebrations, movies, music, games, and summer camps. A study by psychiatrist and Middle Eastern expert Dr. Daphne Burdman has correlated this dysfunctional form of childrearing with a psychological problem known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder - considered to be an antecedent to terrorist behavior.
    • Even before the violence that broke out in 2000, a New York Times reporter observed Palestinian summer campers staging the kidnapping of Israeli leaders, stripping and assembling Kalashnikov assault rifles, and training to stage an ambush. Since the onset of the second intifada, summer camps have been established with the sole purpose of teaching children "how to kill Israelis," with children as young as 7 being taught how to fight at "military training camps."
    • Over a thousand studies have linked media violence with aggressive behavior in children. According to Palestinian human rights campaigner Bassem Eid, violence in the media causes an increased level of aggressiveness and anti-social behavior, increased fear of becoming a victim, lack of sensitivity towards violence and victims, and an increased desire to witness and participate in violence.
    • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child states: "the child for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding." The Palestinian Authority is clearly in violation of this nearly universal norm.

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