Newsdesk October 15, 2004
Cheney Claim Debated
Vice President Cheney raised eyebrows in some circles with his claim last week that Saddam Hussein’s removal was a factor in the decrease in terrorist attacks in Israel.
“I personally think one of the reasons that we don’t have as many suicide attacks today in Israel as we had in the past is because Saddam’s no longer in business,” said Cheney last week in Cleveland during the vice-presidential debate.
While Saddam had no established relationships with the most active Palestinian militant groups, he paid $25,000 to families of suicide bombers.
Cheney’s analysis was rejected by several foreign policy analysts contacted by the Forward, including Judith Kipper, director of the Middle East forum at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center at Bar-Ilan University.
Analysts argued that the key factors in reducing Palestinian terrorism have been Israel’s erection of the West Bank security fence and military incursions into the territories.
In recent weeks, several top European officials who had criticized the erection of the fence have acknowledged that the barrier has indeed reduced the number of attacks, arguing that the war in Iraq has had no perceptible effect on Palestinian politics or behavior.
Still, Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, claimed that Saddam’s ouster was significant.” It’s not just that the Iraqi subsidies have been curtailed,” Oren wrote in an e-mail. “It’s that the message has been given to the region that state sponsors of terrorism will expose themselves to frightful retribution. The issue now is whether that message will be maintained and whether it will be internalized by the remaining states sponsors of terror, principally Iran and Syria.”
One top Jewish communal leader recently told the Forward that Iran had now replaced Iraq in making payments to families of suicide bombers, in yet another indication of Israeli concerns over Tehran’s growing cooperation with Palestinian terrorist groups.
Hamas Fugitive Nabbed
Israeli forces captured a top Hamas fugitive, Imad Kawasme, in the West Bank. Kawasme, who orchestrated the August 31 double suicide bombing in Beersheba, surrendered to troops who encircled his Hebron hideout Wednesday. He is considered the top Palestinian terrorist in the West Bank city. “This is a mass murderer who has the blood of many Israelis on his hands,” Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said. “I hope this arrest will reduce the number of terrorist attacks emanating from Hebron.”
Iraqi Suspect Arrested
An Iraqi man arrested in Tennessee threatened Jewish institutions, local officials said. Ahmed Al-Uqaily was arrested last week by American anti- terrorist agents after paying an agent $1,000 for hand grenades, disassembled machine guns and ammunition. Jewish institutions in Nashville have stepped up security in light of the incident.
Court Takes Religion Case
The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about the public display of the Ten Commandments. The Court will hear oral arguments early next year in two cases — one involving a display on the State Capitol grounds in Texas, and the other regarding a monument in Kentucky courthouses. The two cases will be heard as one, which often happens when lower courts disagree. Several Jewish groups oppose the public display of the Ten Commandments, suggesting it crosses the line separating church and state, and it is likely they will file briefs in the case. Orthodox Jewish groups likely would oppose striking down displays of the Ten Commandments if it meant that public displays of menorahs and other Jewish symbols also would be forbidden, officials at Orthodox groups say. The high court ruled in 1980 that the Ten Commandments could not be displayed in public-school classrooms.
Antisemitism Bill Passes
A bill to create a State Department office to monitor international antisemitism passed the U.S. Congress. The Global Anti-Semitism Awareness/Review Act passed the House of Representatives on Sunday, five months after the Senate cleared the bill. The act, which awaits President Bush’s approval, requires the State Department to create an office to monitor and combat antisemitism, and to file a report on antisemitic incidents around the world.
The State Department opposed the legislation, suggesting it would show favoritism toward the Jewish community in human rights reporting.
Hate Crimes Measure Nixed
Republicans removed a measure that would have expanded federal involvement in prosecuting hate crimes. The Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives removed the provision from a pending defense bill, even though it had passed both houses.
The Anti-Defamation League said it was “disappointed” by the decision, which would have enabled the Department of Justice to expand its involvement in local prosecutions of hate crimes. ADL had lobbied for the legislation. “We will carry this forward into the next administration and the next Congress,” the ADL said Monday in a statement.
U.K. Pol Gives Thanks
British opposition leader Michael Howard paid tribute to Britain for saving his family from Nazi-era Europe. In his keynote speech at his party’s annual conference October 5, the Conservative leader described the debt he felt he owed Britain for providing him with a safe refuge. “My grandmother was one of those killed in the concentration camps,” Howard told delegates in an emotional speech. “If it hadn’t been for Winston Churchill, and if it hadn’t been for Britain, I would have been one of them, too. That’s why when I say I owe everything I am to this country, I mean it.”
Howard’s Romanian-born father arrived in Britain in 1939. Howard — a former home secretary under Prime Minister John Major — became party leader in October 2003.
During his recent speech, he also pointed to this immigrant background as an inspiration for his political career, adding: “Put simply, I want to give Britain just a tiny bit back in return for what Britain has given to me.”