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BICOM Daily Briefing October 28 2003

Last updated: 2003-10-28

Once again, Israel has been subjected to Hezbollah rocket attacks from across its northern border with Lebanon. Israel calls upon Syria, a major sponsor of terrorism and the occupying force in Lebanon, to refrain from escalating tensions on the northern border. Israel also calls upon Lebanon to exercise control over its territory to prevent cross-border attacks. Terrorism is unacceptable and Israel will take the necessary steps to defend itself.

Media Summary:

The suspension of an Oxford academic for rejecting a student’s university application on the grounds that he was Israeli is reported by The Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph and Times. In news from Israel, a Hezbollah rocket attack on targets in northern Israel is reported by The Guardian, as well as The Independent. The Independent also concentrates on Israeli policies towards settlements, a story covered briefly in The Daily Telegraph. The Israeli debate over the future of settlements in Gaza following the deaths of three Israeli soldiers at Netzarim is featured in The Times. The Financial Times reports Ariel Sharon comment that there are no plans to kill Yasser Arafat, while The Daily Telegraph reports on the fate of a British student shot in the Gaza Strip and the opening of an Israeli inquiry into the incident.

Quotes of the Day:

Ariel Sharon (27/10): “The security fence is not a political border. The fence is an additional means of preventing terror.”

Ariel Sharon (27/10): “I don't see any plans to kill him [Yasser Arafat], although the man is responsible for the deaths of hundreds, of thousands, of mostly civilians because his strategy is a strategy of terror.”

Behind the News:

Oxford professor suspended over refusal to accept Israeli student:

Andrew Wilkie, the Oxford University professor who refused to accept an Israeli graduate student because he served in the Israeli Army, has been suspended without pay for two months, the university said Monday. In a statement, the university said the suspension of Nuffield Professor of Pathology Andrew Wilkie "reflects that there can be no place for any form of discrimination within the University of Oxford other than on the grounds of merit." Oxford's Pembroke College said that in light of the suspension, Wilkie had resigned as a Fellow of the college and a member of its governing body.

In June, Wilkie rejected an application from Amit Duvshani, a graduate student at Tel Aviv University, for a post in his laboratory. In an e-mail to the student, Wilkie said he had a "huge problem" with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. "I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army," Wilkie wrote. Oxford University said at the time it would investigate whether Wilkie had breached the university's anti-discrimination rules. On Monday, it said Wilkie had agreed to undergo equal-opportunities training.

Hezbollah launches rocket attacks on Israeli targets on northern border:

Syrian and Iranian-backed Hezbollah fired rockets and artillery rounds at two IDF positions in the Har Dov area near the border between Lebanon and Israel. Hezbollah also fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF base outside of the Har Dov region, for the first time since April 2002. Security sources in Jerusalem said the rocket fire hit at least one outpost and struck the outskirts of several others in the border area lightly injuring one Israeli soldier. Israel responded with two air strikes on the edges of the Lebanese border village of Kfar Shouba and shelled the outskirts of several other villages. Initial assessments indicated that Israel had successfully hit one of the vehicles from where the Hezbollah had fired. Israeli helicopters were deployed at the scene and artillery batteries were returning fire at Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon.

Comment and Opinion:

The Jerusalem Post (28/10): “So long as the spotlight remains on the terrorists and their actions, and not on the nations who support them, the war is indeed unwinnable. In theory, terrorist organizations could continue to exist even if no nation knowingly tolerates them on its territory. Eradicating "private" terror would then be a policing problem. But to only focus on terror directly, as if the state addresses behind the terrorists remain untouchable and even unmentionable, is disturbing sign for the war against terrorism.

The Iranian and Syrian regimes are not under sufficient pressure. If anything, these regimes are, through the instrument of terror, pressuring the US both in Iraq and by fuelling the attacks against Israel. It is, of course, necessary to prevent the mullahs in Teheran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but does anyone really believe this is sufficient, given that regime's rampant support for terrorism? Why the continuing relative silence regarding Syria's occupation of Lebanon, its abominable human rights record, and its direct support for suicide terrorists?

The war against terrorism does not suffer from overzealousness or overreach. If anything, it is not being framed and prosecuted with sufficient ambition, consistency, and creativity. We hope that Rumsfeld keeps asking questions, and that Western governments, including our own, keep providing more answers.”


The Israel Briefing is supplied by BICOM