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BICOM Daily Briefing October 24 2003

Last updated: 2003-10-24

Israel and Jordan today mark the ninth anniversary of the signing of a peace agreement between their two countries. Israel strives to achieve peace with all of its neighbours, including the Palestinians, and hopes that the positive relations with Jordan can serve as an example to other states in the Middle East. Israel hopes that a leader of the calibre of the late King Hussein will eventually emerge on the Palestinian side willing and able to move towards peace.

Media Summary:

The public execution of two alleged collaborators with Israel, by Palestinian terrorists is reported by The Independent and Times.  A joint Israeli-Palestinian peace expedition to Antarctica is featured by The Guardian. Despite its support for terrorism, the prospects of a trade agreement between Syria and the EU is reported by The Financial Times. In editorials, The Daily Telegraph takes stock of the end of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir’s rule, criticising his recent anti-Jewish remarks.

Quotes of the Day:

Tony Blair (23/10): “Well I think the roadmap isn't dead at all. I think it is still there and it is still the only way through … the essential business of two states side by side is still the only way through.”

Tony Blair (23/10): “But I do say that the wretched business of terrorism, every single place you look in the world where there's the possibility of progress, terrorism is holding it back. And there can't be any compromise with it in my view if you want to make progress.”

Behind the News:

Israelis killed and injured in Gaza terror attacks:

In a terrorist attack early Friday morning in Netzarim in the Gaza Strip, three Israelis were killed - two women and a man - and two injured. One woman is in a serious condition and a man suffered light injuries. The terrorists did not manage to reach the residential area of Netzarim. Soldiers killed one of the terrorists who succeeded in crossing the fence that surrounds the settlement and continue to search for a second terrorist. The attack was accompanied by shooting at other nearby IDF positions and other settlements in the region.

In another terrorist incident, three members of an Israeli family, including a child, were lightly injured Thursday night at the entrance to Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip when Palestinian gunmen opened fire on their vehicle. Israeli soldiers at the scene returned fire killing one of the terrorists.

PA fails to offer maximum co-operation to FBI team investigating Gaza bombing:

According to Ha’aretz, the US Federal Bureau of Investigations team that is probing a roadside bombing that killed three American security guards in Gaza last week is unhappy with the level of co-operation it has received from the Palestinian security services, American sources said Thursday. "The PA assisted in the investigation, but it could have done more," said one, explaining that while some of the Palestinian security services were helpful, others were less so. The FBI team returned to the US on Thursday, after examining the bombed car and meeting with both Palestinian and Israeli security officials to obtain information. However, it is likely to return at a later stage in the investigation. The three guards were part of a convoy of US embassy personnel who were travelling to Gaza to interview Palestinian applicants for Fulbright scholarships.

Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade execute two Palestinians:

Suleiman Faraj and Samer Goma Ofeh were publicly executed Thursday in Tulkarem refugee camp. The two Palestinians were shot at point blank range for an alleged collaboration with Israel. Their bodies were then taken to the main square and left for all to see. The men were kidnapped three weeks ago by Islamic Jihad but  in order to “share the honour”, the execution was carried out by both Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. Since September 2000, eighty-six Palestinians have been lynched or executed by Palelstinian terrorist groups for allegedly passing on information to Israeli security services.

According to the Jerusalem Post, members of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade have been distributing leaflets threatening to execute any Palestinian found to be selling property to Jews or to be acting as intermediaries in such deals. In 1997 the PA forbade the selling of Palestinian property to Jewish people.

Comment and Opinion:

The Daily Telegraph (24/10): “In a week's time, he will be fêted as an elder statesman. But only a week ago, Dr Mahathir reverted to the anti-Semitism for which he was already notorious. Addressing the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Kuala Lumpur, he lamented the weakness and divisiveness of the Islamic world when faced with issues such as Palestine.”

“Several commentators have attempted to explain the reason for this poisonous outburst. In the New York Times, Paul Krugman suggested he was throwing "rhetorical red meat" to the Malays to cover his domestic flank, and went on to criticise Washington for squandering post-September 11 sympathy by invading Iraq and giving unconditional support to Ariel Sharon. In this week's Spectator, Sholto Byrnes sought a wholescale exoneration of Dr Mahathir's views, saying he "ought to be acclaimed by the West as the very model of a moderate leader".

Yet anti-Semitism is more intrinsic to the prime minister's outlook than these apologists would have us believe. In 1986 he said that oppression of the Jews had taught them nothing. "If anything at all, it has transformed the Jews into the very monsters that they condemn so roundly in their propaganda material." In 1997, he blamed the Asian financial and economic crisis on the Jewish financier George Soros. "We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews," he said, "but in reality it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, and coincidentally Soros is a Jew. It is also a coincidence that the Malaysians are mostly Muslim. Indeed, the Jews are not happy to see Muslims progress."

A record of economic success and political stability has been marred in its dying days by the re-eruption of a deep-seated obsessive hatred. Anti-Semitism and the shameful treatment of Anwar Ibrahim, a one-time minister of finance who has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption and sodomy, are indelible stains on Dr Mahathir's career. Pragmatic in his stewardship of the economy, he has been ruthless in crushing dissent. Malaysia may have prospered under his long rule, but its liberties have been severely restricted.”

The Jewish Chronicle (24/10): “NOT FOR the first time, Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohammed has spouted the crudest of anti-Semitic rants — rightly condemned by other leaders worldwide. More disturbing than Mahathir’s diatribe, however, is the degree to which his views have become common political currency throughout much of the Muslim world — with demonisation of Jews, and invective towards Israel, used by often-autocratic régimes and leaders as a substitute for addressing social and political issues at home. Dr Mahathir, thankfully, is about to retire. The broader dangers raised by other leaders’ cynical co-option, and encouragement, of mindless extremism will not disappear with him.”

Ze'ev Schiff (Ha’aretz, 24/10): “Even assuming that a nuclear turnaround is beginning in Iran, which is still doubtful, the Iranian file is far from being closed. Apart from the nuclear issue there are two other sensitive issues pending in this file. One is the development of long-range ground-to-ground missiles that will threaten not only Israel or Saudi Arabia, but also Europe. The second issue has to do with Tehran's involvement with terror. Tehran is behind operational activities of groups that have been declared terror organizations, such as the Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad, and it also sends money to Hamas. Its involvement in terror against Israel has increased, with representatives of the Revolutionary Guards working through Hezbollah with terror cells in the Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Samaria. This is direct terrorist activity against Israel.

As is their wont, the Iranians were prepared to "do business" to put an end to terror on condition that they are not disturbed in their nuclear development. Those who negotiated with them did not fall into this trap and it is to be hoped that the pressure on Tehran will be kept up on the issues of terror and missiles as well.”

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The Israel Daily Briefing is supplied by BICOM