Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

October 31, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Arafat Silences the Opposition (Jerusalem Post/AP)

    Arafat's critics said there are not enough new faces in the 19-member Cabinet, and that some of those suspected of corruption remain in their posts.
    "I don't think this Cabinet can lead the Palestinians out of the crisis," said legislator Ziad Abu Amr. An angry Arafat tried to silence him, shouting: "You are not allowed to talk about the members of the executive committee, you are not allowed."


Carrier Constellation Prepares for War - James W. Crawley (San Diego Union-Tribune)

    The carrier, Constellation, along with six other San Diego-based warships, is set to depart San Diego in early November for a planned six-month deployment. The flotilla could be in the Persian Gulf in early December.
    The battle group comprises the carrier, the cruisers Valley Forge and Bunker Hill, destroyers Higgins, Milius and Kinkaid, and the frigate Thach, plus a submarine from Hawaii and a support ship from Washington state. Four squadrons from San Diego Navy and Marine Corps bases also are on board.


Saudis to Ban Foreigners from Driving Taxis (CNN/AP)

    Saudi Arabia is making another attempt to ban foreign workers from driving taxis in the kingdom in a bid to create job opportunities for Saudis, the English-language daily Arab News reported Wednesday. Several attempts in recent years to ban foreigners from driving taxis have failed because Saudis did not want to drive cabs, the report said.
    About 50,000 foreigners drive taxis, amounting to more than 90 percent of drivers, according to unofficial estimates.


Useful Reference:

Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive

    The first 112 films in the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive are now available online. 100 films will be added annually until over 500 full films will be viewable over the Internet.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Ex-Commando Takes Charge of Mossad
    General Meir Dagan, 55, who led an undercover commando unit that tracked and killed Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, yesterday took over as head of the Mossad, one of the world's most respected and feared intelligence organizations. (Times - UK)
  • For Americans in Mideast, a Daily Balance of Risk
    After American diplomat Laurence Foley was assassinated in Amman, Jordan, Americans there are assessing how to lower their profiles. "When people ask me if I'm an American I tell them, 'No, I'm from Canada,'" says Jack E. Davis, a professor on leave from the University of Alabama at Birmingham to teach American Studies in Amman. (New York Times)
  • Pentagon Seeks to Speed Up Patriot Production
    Top Pentagon officials, worried about the vulnerability of U.S. troops to Iraqi Scuds and other short-range ballistic missiles, want to speed up production of an advanced version of the Patriot system, the PAC-3, despite a series of test failures earlier this year. If President Bush orders an invasion of Iraq, additional Patriot batteries armed with whatever PAC-3s are available are expected to be among the first units deployed. (Washington Post)
  • PM Advisor Heckled During U.S. Campus Speech
    Ra'anan Gissin, a top advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was only a few minutes into his speech at the University at Albany when the jeering began. "Don't mess with us," Gissen told a protester. "When we offer you reason, you offer us the blood trail of suicide bombings and homicide killings."
        "We are in World War III," he said, referring to 9/11, the Bali bombing, and the hostage-taking in Moscow. "It's already here, my friends. It's a war of terrorism, and it's going to intensify." (Albany Times Union)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Israel's National Unity Government Falls
    Israel's national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fell Wednesday when the Labor party voted against the state budget and its ministers, including Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, submitted letters of resignation. Despite Labor's resignation, the budget passed the Knesset by a vote of 67-45, demonstrating Sharon's ability to form an alternative government. Former army chief of staff Shaul Mofaz is Sharon's preferred candidate for the defense portfolio. (Ha'aretz)
  • Fences Provide Only Limited Protection - Nadav Shragai
    A fence is not a foolproof guarantee of security. In Hermesh, where three women were killed this week, the gunman hid in the Palestinian olive groves outside the fence and then crawled under the fence.
        Some 38 people have been killed in 13 separate infiltrations into West Bank and Gaza settlements over the past two years. In nine of these incidents, the infiltrators breached a fence surrounding the settlement. In settlements lacking a "sterile space" between the fence and the closest homes, the fences have proven worthless. At the same time, several infiltration attacks were thwarted in unfenced settlements, thanks to patrols conducted in the area and strategically situated observation posts. (Ha'aretz)
  • Wazzani Water Diversion Expands
    Eight villages in southern Lebanon began receiving water from the Wazzani Springs on Tuesday after work on the pipes connecting the main reservoirs to distribution centers was completed. Project manager Sharif Wehbeh said, "Next week, the station will be distributing water to 40 villages in the Marjayoun and (nearby) Hasbaya regions." (Daily Star - Lebanon)
  • Arab States Reactivate Israel Boycott
    Eighteen members of the Arab League pledged to "reactivate" a half-century-old ban on trade with the Jewish state at the end of a four-day meeting in Damascus of the League's Boycott Office of Israel (BOI). The three League members with full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state - Egypt, Jordan, and Mauritania - did not attend. (Middle East Online)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Russian Connection - Uri Dan
    The Kremlin is convinced that a foreign agency, not Chechnya, provided substantial aid to the gang responsible for the hostage drama and tragedy in the Moscow theater. The head of a Russian defense research institution said in early October that Chechen terrorists were maintaining phone contact with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the territories.
        At the beginning of 1999, Vladimir Putin, then head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, told visiting Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Dagan, today head of the Israeli Mossad, of his concern about the danger of Islamist terrorist organizations helping the Chechens to organize operations against Russia. Putin proposed close cooperation with Israel against the Muslim fundamentalist terrorist threat that endangered both countries. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Syrian Occupation Changes Lebanese Demographics - John Perazzo
    With some 35,000 troops in Lebanon, Syria controls the Lebanese presidency, government, and press. Syrian secret agents roam Lebanese streets, eavesdropping on conversations in search of a seditious word. Should they overhear anything objectionable, the offender is beaten, arrested, tortured, and in many cases simply "disappears," never to be seen again. Moreover, the Assad dynasty has systematically flooded Lebanon with more than a million Syrian emigrants, while some 850,000 Lebanese have been forced to leave their country during the past dozen years - drastically altering Lebanese demographics. (Front Page Magazine)
  • Admitting the Truth in Saudi Arabia - Claudia Winkler
    The Saudi-owned, London-based newspaper al Hayat recently published a piece by columnist Dawud al-Sharyan admitting that it is indeed indefensible for Saudi scholars to write of the "alleged perpetrators" of September 11. "We seek a dialogue with the Americans, but we ignore the root of the problem, and we avoid facing the accusations directed at our religious discourse, school curricula, our attitude towards others, and our responsibility for extremist thought in many Islamic countries. It is no longer possible to deny the truth." (Weekly Standard)
  • Talking Points:

    Fatah Focusing Attacks on Settlers - David Rudge (Jerusalem Post)

    The attacks in Ariel and Hermesh appear to mark the beginning of a trend to focus terrorist activities on settlers, says Dr. Hillel Frisch, a senior researcher at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. According to Frisch:

    • The new Palestinian interior minister, veteran Fatah official Hani al-Hassan, has been against homicide bombings in Israel, although he has made clear that settlers in the territories and their communities are legitimate targets.
    • Fatah and Hamas were reverting to their traditional "division of labor," with Fatah carrying out shootings against settlers and Hamas operating inside the green line. After the death of Raed Karmi, commander of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the Tulkarm region, in January this year, Fatah had changed its tactics, making more use of homicide bombers inside the green line, particularly from February to April.
    • More recently, the alliance with Hamas has broken down following Hamas's challenge of the PA's authority with the killing of Col. Rajeh Abu Lihyeh, commander of the riot police in the Gaza Strip. This is quite a serious situation because Hamas came out the winner in Gaza and is challenging Arafat.
    • In light of Fatah's competition with Hamas, we are going to see many more attempts by Fatah to carry out attacks against settlers and settlements.


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