Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 6, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Special Forces Based in Jordan to Hunt Iraqi Scuds - Nathan Guttman (Ha'aretz)

    The U.S. plans to station special forces in Jordan in case of a war with Iraq, in order to hunt down missile launchers aimed at Israel in the western Iraqi desert, American sources said this week.
    Jordan wants to help the U.S. war effort, but prefers to maintain a low profile. Thus, instead of posting regular troops that require massive logistical support, the U.S. decided on special forces.
    To counter concerns in Jordan that the kingdom will lose its essentially free oil supply from Baghdad, the Americans have arranged for it to get oil from Gulf states, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, if the Iraqi flow dries up.
    After winning Turkish approval for the use of bases for command and control of the air war, the Americans are now trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to allow it to use similar bases in its territory for coordinating the attack on Iraq.
    After Saudi Arabia made clear it would not allow the U.S. to use peninsula bases for an assault, the Americans shifted their air bases to Qatar and Kuwait, but the conventional wisdom is that there is no replacement for the Saudi bases, so the U.S. will promise not to beef up its troop presence there and to keep the Saudis uninvolved in the war effort.

Iraqi Exile Warns of Saddam's Chemical Weapons - Dawna Friesen (NBC News)

    Dr. Hussein Shahristani, 60, the former head of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, was tortured for years under Saddam's government before fleeing into exile in London a decade ago.
    "I was taken to the Baghdad security headquarters, down to the basement where the torture chambers are, and they started to torture me. This continued for 22 days and nights. They hanged me by my wrists. They used high voltage probes on sensitive parts of my body and beat me continuously."
    "Later, Saddam's stepbrother came and told me that Saddam was very sorry for what had happened to me and they would like me to go back to my work at the Atomic Energy Commission. He said I was needed to help build an atomic bomb (Shahristani refused). These were his exact words."
    "He said the bomb would give us a long arm with which Iraq would reshape the map of the Middle East. Saddam will use any means at his disposal to stay in power. He will try to take as many Iraqis down with him in a hope that he will stir up the international conscience to stop the war because of the civilian casualties."
    "I have information from inside Iraq that Saddam plans to distribute his chemical weapons in particular in major Shiite towns in southern Iraq. He plans to remotely detonate them and expose the population to nerve agents and cause very large-scale civilian deaths."

Palestinians Stub Out Marlboro in Anti-U.S. Protest (Sydney Morning Herald/AP)

    Swept up in anti-American sentiment, Palestinians increasingly want the Marlboro man out of town, though Coca-Cola has largely escaped the sanctions. Coca-Cola is bottled in Ramallah, meaning a boycott could endanger jobs. Many smokers, especially young trendsetters, have switched to French-made Gauloises, which cost $2, compared with $3 for Marlboro.
    Olivier Bubbe, commercial director for Africa and Middle East for Altadis, the Paris-based manufacturer of Gauloises, confirmed sales of the French cigarettes were up, but he attributed the rise to effective marketing more than the boycott. He said the company had been heavily promoting the brand in the Middle East after introducing it in Lebanon in 1985, and sales were rising even before the Palestinian boycott call.
    Palestinian activists have made repeated attempts to organize boycotts of Israeli products. At times, Palestinian inspectors would search shops and confiscate Israeli products. However, activists have been unable to change entrenched consumer preferences, with Israeli milk products and foods found in many Palestinian homes.

Useful Reference:

The U.S. "Roadmap" - Revised (Al Ayyam/ Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre)
    As published in the Palestinian press.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Arafat's Swiss Bank Account - Laurie Copans
    $300 million was transferred to Yasser Arafat through a secret Swiss bank account, Ozrad Lev, an accountant and former assistant to one-time Israeli envoy Yossi Ginossar, disclosed Thursday. Lev said he and Ginossar helped open and manage the Swiss account for Arafat at Lombard Odier & Cie. in April 1997.
        The U.S. and European donors to the Palestinian Authority - as well as the World Bank and new Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad - have been searching for the funds since Arafat aide Mohammed Rashid withdrew them last year. Rashid oversees Arafat's secret funds and is seen as a key figure behind alleged corruption in the Palestinian Authority, Maariv reported.
        Ginossar - who oversaw top negotiations with the Palestinians for almost a decade until last year - managed Rashid's funds, "using them as his own, establishing countless offshore companies (and) secretly paying Mohammed Rashid set percentages and commissions from gas and cement deals in Israel," from which he also took a cut. Rashid told Lev that he made "at least $10 million" for Ginossar, according to Maariv. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stopped using Ginossar as a negotiator last year upon recommendations of Israel's attorney general following allegations that Ginossar had business ties with the Palestinian Authority. (Washington Post/AP)
  • Congress Presses for Saudi Cooperation
    As Saudi Arabia tries to mend its image, Congress is pressing for more cooperation on issues ranging from combating terrorism to returning U.S. children abducted in custody disputes. "According to the State Department, the Saudi government has never returned a single kidnapped American child. Not one,'' Rep. Dan Burton, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said Wednesday. Burton denounced the Saudis for refusing to turn over documents his committee subpoenaed from some of the embassy's U.S. lobbyists and lawyers, as well as Qorvis Communications, a public relations firm that Burton said is paid $200,000 per month by the Saudis. The records could shed light on child custody cases and accusations that the embassy aided the abductors, Burton said.
        Amid the criticism of Qorvis Communications' work for the Saudis, three of its founding partners announced Wednesday they were leaving for another firm. One of the three, Jim Weber, said the Saudi work was a factor. (New York Times/AP)
  • Concordia U. Bans Hillel for Offering IDF Pamphlet - Ingrid Peritz
    The student union at Montreal's Concordia University has voted to suspend privileges of the campus's main Jewish club, Hillel, and demanded that the club apologize for placing pamphlets on an information table that sought volunteers for the Israel Defense Forces. The student-union motion freezes Hillel's $3,000 annual budget and forbids the group to set up tables or book rooms at the university.
        Thursday night, the Jewish group organized a gathering on campus to defy the ban, drawing hundreds of supporters. The meeting in the university auditorium was interrupted by a handful of hecklers who were quickly shouted down as Jewish community members sang pro-Israeli songs. Several inflamed exchanges blew up between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students. University security guards and Montreal police stood by, and riot-police vans formed a long column outside the university. (Globe and Mail - Canada)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Sharon: Al Qaeda Has Infiltrated the Territories
    Several members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network have infiltrated the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and are working with Hizballah to target Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Thursday. "For some time, we have received reports of al Qaeda members entering [Palestinian areas]. The reports at the moment are of the presence of a few [al Qaeda members] in the Gaza Strip. We know that they are there. We know that they are in Lebanon, working closely with Hizballah. We know that they are in the region. There's no doubt that Israel is a target for an attack." Israel "cannot act everywhere on its own. We are in discussions with the Americans, Europeans, and Russians about the need to step up coordination." (Ha'aretz)
  • Bush Supports Aid Package for Israel - Janine Zacharia
    President George Bush expressed general support for the prospect of a fresh U.S. aid package to Israel at a meeting with American Jewish leaders Wednesday. Israel has asked the Bush administration for roughly $4 billion in new direct assistance and $8-10b. in loan guarantees to cope with a burgeoning economic crisis and costs related to a U.S.-led war with Iraq. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Bush "indicated support" for the request and said the administration was looking into it. Bush said he "understood the pressure on Israel" and that U.S. officials were "examining ways to give support." Bush stressed that his June 24 Middle East speech remains the cornerstone of his Middle East policy.
        After the meeting, Bush hosted a Hanukkah party at the White House for roughly 200 Jewish leaders. The hanukkia was lit by Daniella, 12, and Alexandra, 15, who lost their father, Victor Wald, in the attack on the World Trade Center. "The spirit of those early patriots lives in the lives of the State of Israel and throughout the Jewish community, and among all brave people who fight violence and terror," Bush said, recalling the ancient Maccabees of the Hanukkah story. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Forces Operate Inside Gaza
    Brig. Gen. Israel Ziv said the operation targeted Aiman Shasniyeh, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committee, who was involved in a bomb attack on a Merkava tank that killed three soldiers in March. Troops failed to find Shasniyeh, but used explosive charges to destroy his house. Soldiers arrested one of his brothers, along with another man wanted by Israeli intelligence, Ziv said.
        Troops approaching Shasniyeh's house came under withering gunfire from nearby homes and on the street in what turned into a close-quarters gun battle in the crowded Bureij neighborhood, said army spokeswoman Capt. Sharon Feingold. The Palestinians were spurred on by calls through mosque loudspeakers urging people to come out and fight the troops, and gun battles raged for three hours. Palestinians reported 10 people killed in the fighting and 20 wounded. An IDF soldier was also injured. (Jerusalem Post/AP)
        Givati Brigade commander Col. Imad Faras said that 3 armed Palestinians were killed in an initial exchange of fire. After the IDF forces prepared the charges to destroy the house of the terrorist, they began to withdraw under heavy fire. A Cobra helicopter gunship identified a group of armed men hiding behind the corner of a house and shooting toward IDF forces. Since they endangered some of the forces, Col Faras requested that the helicopter fire a missile at the group, which killed 4 Hamas members. (Yediot Ahronot)
  • Hamas and Fatah Fighting It Out in Gaza - Arnon Regular
    The series of incidents started a few days ago when Hamas flexed its muscles in the Sabra neighborhood, declaring the establishment of a militia. Fist fights and stabbings ensued, and five people were injured on the Al Azhar University campus in fights between Fatah and Hamas supporters. On Wednesday morning a Palestinian police officer and his 12-year-old son were shot to death, apparently by Hamas. A few hours later masked men - probably from Fatah - attacked the office of Mustafa Sawaf, a journalist who is affiliated with Hamas. Later on, shots were fired at the home of Hamas activist Abdel-Aziz Rantisi. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinian TV: No Possibility of Peace with the Jews - Ehud Ya'ari
    "Horseman without a horse," the Egyptian TV hit series being broadcast by 14 Arab TV networks, is not the only well-promoted, prime-time, anti-Semitic production screened right after the break-fast meal each evening this Ramadan. Anti-Semitism has become the last word in the Arab entertainment industry. Syrian TV is running the dramatic locally-produced series, "The Collapse of Legends." Its central premise is that there is no archeological evidence to support the stories of the Old Testament, and that the Torah is one big forgery, a fabrication of history designed to give the Jews a claim to the Land of Israel.
        Palestinian TV is broadcasting a series of documentaries that disprove the "myth" that any Jewish Temple ever stood in Jerusalem, and present any historical reference to that claim as an act of deception. The essence of the message is that there is no possibility of making peace with the Jews - not because of any political argument or clash over territory, but because that nation is unfit to be counted among the human race. Furthermore, the Jewish people present a future threat to the rest of the world.
        For some time now I, along with a few colleagues who lend their ears day by day to the voices coming from the other side, have been asking ourselves: Where is this campaign leading? After all, this is not about withdrawing from the territories or granting Palestinian refugees the "right of return." Rather, it is a far-reaching, dangerous rationale laying the ground for the justification of a mass exile of Jews from Israel - "ethnic cleansing" in contemporary terms - and even beyond that, it is gradually building a case for justifying genocide! (Jerusalem Report)
  • Frost Still on U.S.-Saudi Ties - Editorial
    Saudi Arabia took a step to repair the alliance this week, agreeing to let the U.S. use Prince Sultan Air Base as a command center and takeoff point for fighter planes in the event of war with Iraq. That never should have been in question. The U.S. built the base, at a cost of $1 billion, after the Gulf War, and has stationed about 5,000 troops there. Pentagon planners were so concerned about Saudi reluctance that they had been building up bases elsewhere in the Middle East.
        It is unfortunate that many Saudis do not understand the effect of Sept. 11 on Americans. What is truly outrageous is that the Saudi interior minister said in an interview published last month that Zionists were responsible for Sept. 11 and "the Zionist-controlled media... manipulated the events of Sept. 11 and turned the U.S. public opinion against Arabs and Islam." Such distortions, especially by Cabinet ministers, will keep tensions high despite all attempts to repair frayed relations. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Bush War Cabinet Close to Decision - Joel Mowbray
    In a Cabinet-level meeting Tuesday, the administration's heavy hitters discussed how to handle the looming deadline in the weapons inspection dance with Saddam Hussein: The infamous "list" that Iraq must produce by Dec. 8. The White House is inching closer to the position that the United States must declare a "material breach" when Saddam - as expected - hands the UN a sham list.
        Within the administration, there are two schools of thought about how to respond to Saddam's expected noncompliance. The wait-and-see crowd wants to give the weapons inspectors breathing room to find contraband, something that could take months or even a year or more. The competing faction, however, believes that the go-slow approach would do nothing but undermine our credibility, because we have already declared that Saddam has WMD capability. So, if he denies possessing what the U.S., through its intelligence, knows that Saddam in fact has, then a failure to call him out would erode our moral clarity. (Washington Times)
  • Make Arafat Pay for Terror - Editorial
    Israel is right to ask why the United Nations has not mobilized against this unceasing terror. The UN has exhibited a blind spot when it comes to killing Jews in the Middle East. As has the European Union. Their silence can only be read by the terrorists as tacit approval for the tactic. The U.S. makes the obligatory denunciation of terror after each attack, but does little else to assist its ally in this fight.
        So Israel must act as it sees fit to protect its citizens. That starts with the expulsion of Yasser Arafat. His time has run out. Israel would be justified in moving into Ramallah and seizing Arafat for either exile or prosecution. From there, it must move with determination through the Palestinian territories, cleaning out every terrorist nest.
        This is bound to raise angry protests from the UN, Europe, and the Arab world. But a community of nations unable to find its voice when Israelis are blown apart should continue to hold its tongue when Israel acts in self-defense. If the world community won't speak out against murder, it has no moral authority to speak against the retaliation. (Detroit News)

    Islam and the West:

  • Violence and Islam - Charles Krauthammer
    Islam has its periods of violence and its periods of tolerance. The Ottomans gave refuge to the Jews expelled from Catholic Spain in 1492. Today the Arab world is the purveyor of the most vicious anti-Semitic propaganda since Nazi Germany. There is no denying the fact, stated most boldly by Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, that "Islam has bloody borders." From Nigeria to Sudan to Pakistan to Indonesia to the Philippines, some of the worst, most hate-driven violence in the world today is perpetrated by Muslims and in the name of Islam.
        On the northern tier of the Muslim world, even more blood flows - in Pakistani-Kashmiri terrorism against Hindu India, Chechen terrorism in Russian-Orthodox Moscow, and Palestinian terrorism against the Jews. (The Albanian Muslim campaign against Orthodox Macedonia is now on hold.) And then of course there was Sept. 11, 2001 - Islamic terrorism reaching far beyond its borders to strike at the heart of the satanic "Crusaders."
        Most Muslims are obviously peaceful people living within the rules of civilized behavior. But the actual violence - bloodletting against nearly every non-Muslim civilization - demands attention. "The Islamic world today is being held prisoner," writes Salman Rushdie, "not by Western but by Islamic captors, who are fighting to keep closed a world that a badly outnumbered few are trying to open." And "the majority remains silent." Until they speak, the borders of Islam will remain bloody. (Washington Post)
  • The Moderate Arab Majority has been Silent Too Long - John Hughes
    One of the most intriguing developments in the Islamic world is taking place in neighboring Iran. Iran is not an Arab country, but if the other lands of the Middle East are to emerge from their centuries of decline and backwardness, Muslims who champion moderation, openness, and progress must vanquish those who have perverted their faith and overlaid it with layers of bitterness, hatred, and terrorism. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Islam's Future will be Decided on Its Frontiers - Ralph Peters
    A struggle of immense proportions and immeasurable importance is underway for the soul of Islam. It is a mighty contest that pits a humane, tolerant, and progressive faith against a hangman's vision of a punitive god and a humankind defined by prohibitions. This war for the future of one of the world's great religions is not being fought in the Arab homelands. Islam has, in fact, several centers of gravity; from Delhi to Jakarta to Detroit, Islam is a dynamic, vibrant, effervescent religion of gorgeous potential. (Washington Post)
  • Religion of Peace? Prove it - Jonah Goldberg
    All around the world, Muslims are declaring, in the name of Islam, that they are at war with the West. More important, all around the world self-declared Muslims are actually waging war on the West. They may be a tiny minority of the global Muslim community, but if the decent and peace-loving Muslims of the world sit on their hands and do nothing, you can hardly fault many in the West who draw the conclusion that Islam is anything but peaceful.
        Al Qaeda, Hizballah, Islamic Jihad, and the rest may constitute hijackers in the cockpit of a peaceful religion, but they will define Islam if the folks in the main cabin don't fight the hijackers. That's what happened with Nazis in Germany, and that's what will happen with militant Islam if non-militant Islam continues to insist that its biggest enemies are the open and tolerant nations of the West that gave them the opportunity to live decent lives in freedom. If they persist in that complaint, nobody will be able to justly blame average Americans for scoffing at the suggestion that Islam means peace. (National Review)

    Weekend Features:

  • Israeli Doctors Teach U.S. Professionals about Emergency Treatment - Lauren Gelfond
    American medical professionals have a lot to learn from Israelis," according to Jordan Cohen, head of the Association of American Medical Colleges, one of 70 U.S. academics who joined a medical solidarity conference in Jerusalem on November 24-25. Israeli medical leaders described new tools. After being troubled by the uncontrollable internal and external bleeding in terror victims, Israeli doctors adapted a medicine used traditionally for hemophiliacs. "Novo 7 can be used with excellent results. It's not approved by the FDA, but we have been using it extensively and now there are international studies to examine it," said Dr. Avi Rifkind, Hadassah's head of emergency medicine.
        Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Meir Liebergal showed slides of terror attack victims, including a fifteen-year-old girl with 50-plus metal bolts lodged in the tissue and bones of her legs, and another teen with watch parts embedded in her neck. "Computer assisted surgery takes a lot of time. And to remove one nut we need to take 10-15 x-rays, so we developed a new method to remove shrapnel from complicated places in the body without exposing the patient to a lot of radiation," he said.
        The American physicians planned the solidarity conference as a response to anti-Israel boycotts and divestiture campaigns. The Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston, Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, and the Hadassah Medical Organization in Israel sponsored the event.
        Twelve Harvard-affiliated academics signed-on, as did leaders from the National Institutes of Health, and medical schools affiliated with MIT, Cornell, and Columbia. "We want to make it clear to our European and American colleagues that there are a large number of Americans who not only oppose such boycotts, but who support Israel," says Dr. Benjamin Sachs, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School. (Israel21c)
  • This War Brought to You by the Rendon Group - Ian Urbina
    "Word got around the department that I was a good Arabic translator who did a great Saddam imitation," recalls the Harvard grad student. "Eventually, someone phoned me, asking if I wanted to help change the course of Iraq policy." So twice a week, for $3,000 a month, the Iraqi student says he took a taxi from his campus apartment to a Boston-area recording studio rented by the Rendon Group, a D.C.-based public relations firm with close ties to the U.S. government. His job: translate and dub spoofed Saddam Hussein speeches and tongue-in-cheek newscasts for broadcast throughout Iraq. "We did skits where Saddam would get mixed up in his own lies, or where [Saddam's son] Qusay would stumble over his own delusions of grandeur."
        The Saddam impersonator says he left Rendon not long ago out of frustration with what he calls the lack of expertise and oversight in the project. "No one in-house spoke a word of Arabic," he says. The scripts were often ill conceived. "Who in Iraq is going to think it's funny to poke fun at Saddam's mustache when the vast majority of Iraqi men themselves have mustaches?" Some of the announcers hired for the radio broadcasts, he says, were Egyptians and Jordanians, whose Arabic accents couldn't be understood by Iraqis. (Asia Times/
  • Ban on Israeli Goods Has Shoppers in Uproar - Jenny Strasburg
    Israeli-Palestinian tensions have found their way into the aisles of a neighborhood supermarket in a city with a reputation for tolerance and diversity. Rainbow Grocery's ban on carrying certain Israeli-made goods, adopted through a vote of workers empathetic to Palestinians, has angered some customers and prompted the Jewish Community Relations Council in San Francisco to demand that the Mission District co-op reverse its boycott immediately.
        The worker-owned store is losing business over its decision to remove Israeli products from two of its largest departments, a Rainbow spokesman said. About 100 people called the store with reactions Wednesday, mostly to disagree with Rainbow's partial boycott, said spokesman Scott Bradley. "Ninety-nine percent of it is people calling up and being very polite and saying they're not going to shop here anymore," Bradley said.
        "Rainbow is a store that I hold in great esteem, because I share those cooperative values," said San Francisco resident Michael Disend, a longtime Rainbow customer, who also said Rainbow's selective boycott of Israeli products smacks of anti- Semitism. He urged a boycott of the store and a picket line in front of the entrance if Israeli products aren't restocked. "I would be one of the very first people out there," Disend said. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • After Much Hope, Israel and Egypt are Distant Neighbors - David Lamb
    The loneliest diplomatic job in Egypt these days belongs to Gideon Benami, the Israeli ambassador, who has been isolated by the deterioration of relations between two countries that signed a peace treaty 23 years ago. With President Hosni Mubarak having recalled his ambassador to Jerusalem and frozen contacts with Israel, Benami finds himself cut off at his heavily guarded downtown embassy and his residence in suburban Maadi. Egyptian officials are largely inaccessible to him, and even friendly countries sometimes drop him from the guest list because mixing Israeli and Arab diplomats could make for an uncomfortable gathering. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Talking Points:

    Arafat Out Within a Year - Ephraim Halevy (Yediot Ahronot)

    National Security Council head and former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy said in an interview published Thursday in a Hebrew-language intelligence community journal:

    • "The lack of trust toward Arafat among the Palestinians is growing. If Arafat continues the way he is going, and we should assume that he will, then next year the Palestinian movement will reach an unprecedented crisis, and within a year Arafat will no longer hold the same position."
    • "Radical Islam is not being stopped and is on the rise. The real conflict is not between the West and radical Islam, but between streams within Islam. This conflict will be decided internally by moderate liberal forces and not by an external civilization."
    • Halevy also said that in his estimation, the Hamas will not fight against the more moderate forces within Palestinian society.

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