Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 2, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Banks to Open Channel to Pay PA Salaries - Jonathan D. Halevi (Radical Islam and the West)
    A senior banking source said banks operating in the Palestinian territories, including the Arab Bank, have agreed to transfer money granted to the PA by the Arab countries to the accounts of PA employees, the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam reported Sunday.
    According to the source, "Every bank will receive its share of funds which were deposited in the Arab League account in one of the Egyptian banks."
    More than 160,000 employees in the PA have not received their salaries since last March.
    The Arab League announced that it has received $70 million from Arab countries in support of the PA's budget.
    See also Hamas Proposal Would Free Up Arab Aid to Pay Salaries - Mohammed Daraghmeh (AP/Boston Globe)
    The Hamas-led government, crushed by Israeli and Western financial sanctions, is looking to pay long-overdue government salaries by moving frozen Arab League money directly into employees' bank accounts, a Palestinian official said Sunday.

No Planes or Pay, But Gaza Airport Workers Carry On (AFP/Google)
    No planes have landed for more than five years at Gaza's airport.
    "Every morning we still come to work. We just sit and wait," says Akram Mohammed, one of 500 people on the payroll of the grandly named Yasser Arafat International Airport.
    Despite having their salaries suspended, the vast majority of airport employees still turn up for work every day. "It's not as if we've got anywhere else to work," said Akram.

In Saudi Arabia, a Resurgence of Sufism - Faiza Saleh Ambah (Washington Post)
    Analysts and some Sufis in Saudi Arabia partly credit reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. for a resurgence of Sufism, a more spiritual and often mystic form of Islam, in contrast to the kingdom's strict Wahhabi doctrine.
    "This is one of the blessings of September 11. It put the brakes on the [Wahhabi] practice of takfir, excommunicating everyone who didn't exactly follow their creed," said Sayed Habib Adnan, 33, a Sufi teacher.
    Wahhabis and Sufis view Islam from opposite directions.

Useful Reference:

Israel's Proclamation of Independence - 1948 (The Knesset)

    See also The First Session of Israel's Knesset (JCPA)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Security Council to Mull Targeted Sanctions on Iran
    The U.S., Britain, and France are looking ahead to sanctions if Iran continues to defy demands that it halt uranium enrichment - but not the sweeping economic and military embargoes the UN Security Council imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said, "The general idea we have on Iran is more targeted sanctions aimed at specific individuals responsible for the nuclear program and the country's direction of the nuclear program." (AP/CNN)
        See also Iran Says Russia and China Will Not Back Sanctions
    Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday that Russia and China had officially informed Tehran they would not support sanctions or military action over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. (Reuters)
  • 19 More Months in Prison for Professor in Terror Case - Jennifer Steinhauer
    Federal Judge James S. Moody Jr. on Monday sentenced Sami Al-Arian, a former computer science professor identified as the linchpin of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, to an additional 19 months in prison before he is deported. Al-Arian was accused of raising money for suicide bombings in and around Israel. Judge Moody called Al-Arian a "master manipulator." Describing horrific bombings in Israel, Moody said: "Anyone with even the slightest bit of human compassion would be sickened. Not you. You saw it as an opportunity to solicit more money to carry out more bombings." He added, "The only connection to widows and orphans is that you create them." (New York Times)
  • Gaza Journalists Get Threats over Hamas Coverage - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Seven Palestinian journalists in Gaza have received death threats for their critical coverage of Hamas since it began running the PA government in March, the Palestinian Journalists' Union said Monday. Radio and the government-run television station have been highly critical of Hamas policies since the group took office. "Since Hamas came to power, they want journalists all to talk the same language, the Hamas language," said journalist Waseem Gharib. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Independence Day Terror Attack Thwarted - Efrat Weiss
    Israeli police arrested a wanted Palestinian in Jericho with an explosive device. During his interrogation, it became clear that he planned to carry out a terrorist attack in Israel during Memorial or Independence Day. It was also announced that security forces arrested an Islamic Jihad member in Jerusalem who planned to carry out a terror attack near the Haifa central bus station. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Seizes Combat Equipment Destined for Gaza - Shmulik Hadad
    Customs officers at Ashdod Port, scanning a shipping container on Tuesday that had been sent from China to the Gaza Strip, found it to contain hundreds of combat support items including telescopic sights and infrared markers for long-range targets. "We are speaking of a quantity that could upgrade the fighting capability of a whole brigade in the Palestinian Authority security forces," customs officials said. The container was declared to contain sewing notions, hats, and clocks. (Ynet News)
  • Egyptian Forces Kill Three Suspected Terrorists in Sinai Sweep
    Egyptian security forces on Monday killed three suspects wanted in last week's deadly terrorist bombings that killed at least 21 people in Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula. A policeman also died in the gunfight. Egyptian authorities continued their sweep through the mountainous Sinai interior looking for suspects linked to the bombing. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Independence Day 2006: 7 Million Israelis
    On the eve of Israel's 58th Independence Day, the Israeli population stands at 7,026,000, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. 5,333,000 are Jews (76%), 306,000 (4%) are new immigrants and their families who are not registered as Jews, and 1,387,000 are Arab (20%). During the past year 138,000 births were recorded and 21,000 new immigrants arrived. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Bin Laden's Radical Islam: Globalization for Losers - Jonah Goldberg
    Bin Laden's latest pronouncement calls on his supporters "to wage a long-term war against the crusaders in western Sudan." The crusaders in question are UN peacekeepers, who aren't even in Sudan yet but who are going to stop genocide there - we hope. Most of those being slaughtered by Sudan's Arab-controlled government are Muslims. Bin Laden wants his holy warriors to fight for a Sudanese right to exterminate indigenous Muslim tribes.
        Bin Laden wants to fend off the UN, which he calls an "infidel body" and "a tool of crusader-Zionist resolutions." If he thinks the UN is a tool of the Zionists, clearly he needs to get out of his cave more. (Seattle Times)
  • Read the News, Go to Jail - David Wise
    The government's theory in the prosecution of the two AIPAC lobbyists could, if it stands, change the nature of how news is gathered in Washington and how lobbyists and academics interact with the government. "What makes the AIPAC case so alarming," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy of the Federation of American Scientists, "is the defendants are not being charged with being agents of a foreign power but with receiving classified information without authorization. Most Americans who read the newspaper are also in possession of classified information, whether they know it or not. The scope of the charges is incredibly broad."
        Officials in Washington talk to reporters every day about matters that may, in some government file cabinet, in some agency, somewhere, be stamped with a secrecy classification. How would a journalist be expected to know that he or she was a "recipient" of classified information, and in theory subject to prosecution under a law that was meant to catch spies? At least until recently, the U.S. government applied the espionage laws to officials who leaked, not to the recipients. "Otherwise," Aftergood said, "Bob Woodward would not be a wealthy, bestselling author. He would be serving a life sentence." (Los Angeles Times)
  • What to Do About Iran? - Rod Liddle
    It would be a kinder, happier world if we were all able to trust one another. But my suspicion is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, who has expressed a desire to see Israel wiped from the face of the world, may soon have the wherewithal - a suspicion supported with physical evidence and a statement of malevolent intent. We should bar the Iranian team from the World Cup and refuse them entry to the Eurovision song contest - that'll teach 'em. But what on earth do we do when all that fails? I may not want to live in a world with nuclear weapons - but I really don't want to live in a world where Iran has nuclear weapons. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Soldiers Know Why They Fight - W. Thomas Smith, Jr. (

    • Ten years ago, as a journalist covering the West Bank, I found myself on patrol with Israeli paratroopers in Hebron. Those young paratroopers were proud. What bolstered that pride was a committed-to-death blending of nationalism, military tradition, and religious faith that few national armies can match. Though military service is mandatory in Israel, there is an almost spiritual quality to it. There is a reason for that.
    • Grafted to an ancient homeland that had achieved statehood only a few decades earlier, the soldiers I patrolled with knew their country was surrounded by enemies. They knew those enemies wanted Israel driven into the sea. They also knew that their forebears had fought a series of blistering albeit successful wars against those enemies, and they themselves were battling domestic - sometimes foreign - terrorism.
    • Israel had to learn to fight, and it had to learn fast. On the day after declaring its independence, the new Jewish state was attacked by five Arab armies. It won that war, and all others militarily (though there have been some politically based concessions over the years). The nation, however, has suffered tremendously at the hands of suicide bombers and other terrorists, and Israel's citizens have been hit with missiles from neighboring countries.
    • Fortunately, Israel has become a master of both conventional warfare and counterterrorism. They also stand by their allies. And we Americans - today, deeply involved in our own war against terror - have learned much about combating terrorism from the Israelis.

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