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

December 13, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

The Iraqi Chemical Threat - Stephen D. Bryen (Wall Street Journal/Newsbook)

    The Iraqi army's chemical weapons corps is experienced, having launched many attacks in the war with Iran. Such weapons, also used against Kurdish civilians, are mixtures of chemicals and agents.
    One such "cocktail" is called "Blue Acid," consisting of mustard gas, cyanide, and nerve gases, predominantly sarin.
   A declassified 1992 intelligence report says that Iran disassembled unexploded Iraqi chemical weapons and found mixtures of three nerve agents - tabun, sarin, and soman, plus yellow rain, micotoxins, mustard gas, cyanide, and a number of other chemicals.
    For many years the U.S. said there was no Iraqi nerve gas or other chemical weapons in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations and U.S. forces were never exposed to any of these agents.
   However, recent medical studies demonstrate that the brain damage suffered by some Gulf War veterans is nearly identical to the brain damage suffered by victims of the Tokyo subway sarin attack launched by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.
   These revelations forced the official admission that chemical weapons were in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations in bunkers at a place called Khamisiyah.
   Evidence shows there were some 6,240 mustard gas-filled 155mm artillery shells and 2,160 sarin-filled SAKR-18 rockets in the bunker.
   Khamisiyah had been bombed and it is possible residues of the nerve gas got into the air, exposing our troops to small doses of the agents.


Intifada's Weapons Flow Easily Through Jordan - Anna Badkhen (San Francisco Chronicle)

    Since August, Jordanian law enforcement has arrested at least eight suspected gunrunners from Iraq to the Palestinian territories and convicted four more.
    But experts say the arrests account for just a fraction of an elaborate gunrunning system that smuggles Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, handguns, and ammunition from Iraq to Palestinian militants in the West Bank and Gaza.
    Hamadah Faraneh, a former member of the Jordanian parliament and a convicted smuggler, said gunrunners use Route 5 which begins about 60 miles east of the Iraqi border and stretches south across the Jafar Desert to the city of Maan, 130 miles south of Amman. From there, arms smugglers deliver their goods to Aqaba, Jordan's Red Sea port. The weapons travel by sea to the Sinai Desert in Egypt, then overland and through underground passages into the Gaza Strip.
    In Maan, a Kalashnikov costs about $210. In the Palestinian territories, it can cost more than $1,000. "The majority of the smugglers are Jordanians, and the Jordanians know the desert, they have connections with Bedouin tribesmen," said Faraneh.
    Next week, a military court is expected to begin trial of Abdul-Halim al- Gharaybeh, a 26-year-old truck driver from northern Jordan. Police found 62 anti-personnel and anti-tank rockets and launchers, as well as ammunition it says he brought from Iraq and intended to smuggle to Gaza.
    Jordanian intelligence thwarted a Hizballah attempt last November to smuggle Katyusha rockets to the Palestinians - and then quietly allowed the smugglers to return to Lebanon.


How Arabs View Other Countries - James Zogby (Arab News - Saudi Arabia)

    What Arabs Think, a view of Arab public opinion commissioned by the Arab Thought Foundation, asked Arabs from 8 countries to describe their attitudes toward 13 other countries.
    Only France received a positive rating from all 8 Arab countries, scoring highest with Morocco and Lebanon.
    Canada, Japan, and Iran received positive ratings from 6 countries surveyed, while China and Germany were viewed positively in 5 Arab countries.
    Iran received very high ratings in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and also recorded high ratings in Lebanon and Egypt.
    Israel's Arab citizens gave their own country only a 16 percent favorability rating.
    The U.S. and the United Kingdom received negative scores in all 8 countries.
    The U.S. rating was especially low in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and among Arabs in Israel.


Inspectors Find Iraqi Mustard Gas (Boston.com/AP)

    Last week UN arms monitors found a dozen artillery shells still filled with mustard gas. The shells were in the UN inspectors' inventory of the 1990s, but somehow were not destroyed. Hans Blix, the chief UN inspector, said: ''They had been declared before.''


Key Links

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Back Issues


News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • UN: Al Qaeda Planning Uranium Bomb - Steven Edwards
    Al Qaeda appears determined to produce a "dirty bomb" capable of spreading radioactive material over a wide area, after Tanzanian police seized 110 kilograms of suspected raw uranium last month, according to a report by the UN Monitoring Group on al Qaeda. The report says uranium is "usually" smuggled from neighboring countries through Tanzanian border towns. A "dirty bomb" is a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material that would kill few people in the initial blast but would create fear, panic, and a long-term cancer risk with the spread of the radioactive material. Huge financial losses would also result as people fled contaminated areas.
        U.S. authorities believe they stymied al Qaeda planning for a "dirty bomb" attack on a U.S. city with the May arrest of Jose Padilla, who became a radical Islamist and was on a scouting mission for the terrorist network, they say. The twin terrorist attacks last month on Israeli targets in Mombasa, Kenya, for which al Qaeda claimed responsibility, has raised U.S. concern that East Africa and the Horn of Africa to the north have become havens for al Qaeda cells since their expulsion from much of Afghanistan. (National Post - Canada)
  • U.S. Rebuffs Europeans on Middle East Peace Push - Steven R. Weisman
    The Bush administration has rebuffed appeals from President Jacques Chirac and other Europeans to adopt a plan next week establishing a Palestinian state in three years, administration officials said Thursday. European officials said they had hoped the U.S. would be willing to publish and adopt a document on creating a Palestinian state when diplomats from Europe, Russia, and the UN meet on Dec. 20 in Washington. However, the administration says the plan, called a "road map," is not ready for adoption.
        Some officials say that the administration would most likely make a renewed and concerted push on a Palestinian-Israeli negotiation next year, after the Israeli elections - and after a war in Iraq. Many say it is impractical for Europeans to expect much progress before then. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Has New Evidence on Iran Nuclear Plants
    The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security said on Thursday it had obtained new evidence showing that Iran was constructing secret nuclear facilities. Satellite images of two sites showed "the construction of secret nuclear fuel cycle facilities" which "appear related to the production of enriched uranium and heavy water - two materials that may be used in a civil nuclear program or in the production of nuclear weapons." David Albright, ISIS President and joint author of the report, is a nuclear physicist and was an inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program. (New York Times)
  • Powell Unveils U.S.-Arab Initiative
    Secretary of State Colin Powell outlined a U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative on Thursday to help move Arab societies out of their current state of economic stagnation, closed and rigid political systems, and severely limited educational opportunities, especially for women. Powell said the initiative could include direct investments in promising companies in Arab countries, technical assistance to Arab governments seeking membership in the World Trade Organization, training for aspiring political candidates, providing scholarships to keep girls in school, and other measures to expand literacy among women. Senior State Department officials emphasized that the initiative's ambitious goals will not be easy to achieve. "It's not going to happen overnight," one said. (Washington Post)
        See full text of Powell's speech. (Wall Street Journal)
  • British Academic Boycott of Israel Growing
    Evidence is growing that a British boycott of Israeli academics is gathering pace as British and Israeli academics list various incidents in which visits, research projects, and publication of articles have been blocked. Professor Paul Zinger, outgoing head of the Israeli Science Foundation, said: "Every year we send most of our research papers abroad for reference. We send out about 7,000 papers a year. This year, for the first time, we had people writing back, about 25 of them, saying 'We refuse to look at these'." (Guardian - UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Snipers Kill Two Soldiers in Hebron - Amos Harel
    Two 19-year-old IDF military police soldiers - Corporal Keren Ya'akobi and Sergeant Maor Kalfon - were shot to death by Palestinian snipers at a roadblock near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron Thursday. An initial investigation of the attack suggests that two terrorists opened fire against the two soldiers at very close range, leaving them no chance to return fire. On November 15, 9 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilian security officers from Kiryat Arba were killed when ambushed near the same spot. Ya'akobi was the first female operational fatality since the start of the violence in September 2000. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Officials in Pre-War Visit to Israel
    U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith met Thursday with the prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister, and heads of the defense establishment. He was accompanied by Gen. Charles Simpson, chief operations officer for the U.S. Air Force in Europe, who will serve as the new liaison officer to Israel from the U.S. armed services' joint chiefs of staff, in the event that there is a war in Iraq. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Two-Minute Warning - R. Emmett Tyrrell
    Much as the Pentagon keeps American fighters in the air over Washington in time of heightened terrorist alert, the Israelis keep their fighters in the air and on the lookout for hostile incoming aircraft that might plow into their Twin Towers - the Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv - a two-minute flight from the Jordan, though the planes will not likely be Jordanian. (American Prowler)
  • Growing Ultraconservative Revival in Saudi Arabia - Craig S. Smith
    "The Taliban were pure Muslims," says Saleh al-Rashodi, part of an ultraconservative Islamic revival in Saudi Arabia whose most extreme elements sympathize with, if not support, the holy war against the United States declared by Osama bin Laden. Interviews with dozens of people in the kingdom suggest that a significant and growing number of people see the world in ways similar to Mr. Rashodi. (New York Times)
  • So Long, Saddam - Jim Hoagland
    O mighty munificent Saladin of our age: Gonna miss you, Saddam. This is the week you sealed your fate. Your 12,000-page whitewash on weapons of mass destruction you have known and loved gives the Bush team a decent shot at securing a second Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against you. The sighs of relief that U.S. officials exhaled when they got a first glance at the report tell me the administration will alter its strategy and pursue a second resolution actively.
        Your neighbors in Iran also got in on the act in a decisive way. Their national security guys brought Iraqi opposition leaders to Tehran and splashed their meetings in the press. That puts a public Iranian stamp of approval on regime change in Iraq. This coming weekend, 350 Iraqi dissidents are meeting in London, with U.S. encouragement and financial help, to write a unity document that will guide an Iraqi transition. (Washington Post)
  • Rumblings in Iran - Editorial
    Dramatic confrontations in Iran between hard-liners and reformers, suggesting that the Islamic Republic may be tottering, recall the lesson history taught Mikhail Gorbachev: A political system rooted in lies and repression cannot long survive the telling of truth that comes with free speech. Unlike the Soviet ruling class behind Gorbachev, the Iranian hard-liners have shown no reluctance to bring on a bloodbath if that is the price for retaining their political power and their control over gigantic economic conglomerates disguised as religious foundations. (Boston Globe)
  • Scapegoats Never Die, Especially When They're Jewish - Akiva J. Covitz
    According to the FBI's annual report: Of the 2,118 victims of hate crime in the U.S. in 2001, 26% were Muslims, but 56.5% were Jews. In 2000, there were 1,699 victims of hate crimes based on religion. Of those, 1,269 (approximately 75%) were Jews. At many Jewish houses of worship in the U.S., a police car sits prominently parked outside during services with an armed officer at the ready. Most major Jewish organizations across America must hire security guards to protect against those who hate Jews. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Separating Judaism and Zionism - Mohamed Sid-Ahmed
    The well-respected Nasserite Party paper, Al-Arabi, devoted eight pages to running the text of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as its main story in two consecutive issues. The first issue carried a full-page article by Dr. Abdel-Wahab El-Messeiri placing the Protocols in their historical context and concluding that they were a hoax engineered by the Russian secret police. Why then bother to publish them?
        Today anti-Zionism is coming to acquire anti-Jewish connotations. A strategy based on the elimination of Israel could be interpreted as a call to exterminate the Jews themselves. The creation in Palestine of a secular state that would group Jews, Muslims, and Christians to replace the state of Israel is a strategy that makes a clear distinction between Zionism and Judaism, calling for the dismantling of Israel without harming Jews or questioning their right to survive as a people. (Al-Ahram Weekly - Cairo)

    Weekend Features

  • Birthright Israel Adapts - Rachel Pomerance
    Birthright Israel, which offers a free trip to Israel for 18-26 year olds, is drawing more participants than most Israel programs. Still, the numbers are significantly lower than originally projected when the program was launched in late 1999. So far, more than 33,000 young Jews have participated. More than 6,000 young adults, half of them from North America, have applied for this year's winter trips. While the proportion of North Americans has dropped, increasing numbers of participants are coming from Argentina, France, and the former Soviet Union.
        Since the Palestinian violence began in September 2000, free time for participants to roam the streets has been eliminated. Birthright also puts a cell phone on each bus and buses are connected to a global positioning system, so groups can be tracked at all times. (Miami Jewish Star Times/JTA)
  • Friends Meet in the Emergency Room - William Kelly
    Following a bus bombing two months ago, more than 60 victims were rushed to a Jerusalem hospital trauma unit where general surgeon Jeffrey Kashuk was in charge. While Kashuk was tending to a critically wounded 17-year-old boy who was soon to be declared brain dead, the boy's father came into the unit. Kashuk looked up and into the face of a friend and neighbor from the community where they live in the old city of Jerusalem. "There's nothing you can say," said Kashuk, a former Palm Beach resident. "We just embraced and cried together." (Palm Beach Post)
  • Helping New Immigrants Cope with Disaster - Alex Handwerger
    Gustavo and Celia Ella Perpinal came from Argentina to Israel in April with hopes of a new life in the Jewish homeland. Six months later, when a suicide bomber killed their only child - a 15-year-old who went out to play basketball one day and never came back - they had no support system, no money, and couldn't speak Hebrew. For over a decade, the volunteers of Selah, the Israel Crisis Management Center, have been helping immigrants face the dual challenge of adapting to a new culture and dealing with sudden disaster. (Miami Jewish Star Times)
  • From Israel to America, UM Recruit is Sure Shot - Laura Vecse
    Shay Doron, a dual citizen of Israel and the U.S., has in a single year of American high school basketball in New York established herself as one of the top 15 players in the nation. Doron is going to Maryland - a 5-foot-9 point guard with a scorer's mentality. A winner. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Terrorism Did Not Stop Debbie Tehrani - Annie Posick
    Junior Debbie Tehrani is attending the Rothberg International School in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Indiana University dropped the program because of terrorism and the political situation, which means her credits might not transfer when she returned. Tehrani said that even if the credits don't transfer, she will never regret her decision. "This country is amazing," she said. "The people my age have so much energy, despite the current political situation, and are constantly going out and taking full advantage of the world and life itself." Tehrani said her experience is something she couldn't get anywhere else. "It has been the best decision that I have ever made for myself," she said. (IUPUI Sagamore - Indianapolis)
  • Talking Points:

    Iran, Al Qaeda Working with Fatah in Territories - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)

    • Iran has deepened its influence in the territories, is in contact with the armed wings of Fatah in the West Bank, and is becoming involved in issuing instructions for attacks.
    • In the past, Iran only gave money to Islamic groups - the Hamas and particularly the Islamic Jihad. But in recent months, close ties have developed between the Iranians and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is affiliated with Fatah, a supposedly secular movement.
    • The Israeli intelligence community has identified a phenomenon whereby some Fatah people have become religious during the current conflict. Fatah members began conducting suicidal attacks and some recorded living wills on videotape, with Islamic themes. The Islamic groups are seen to have a better financial infrastructure, able to take care of the activists and their families.
    • Some top PA officials have lately been telling Israelis: "We've lost control over the 'brigades.' Iran is running them instead of us."
    • The instructions arrive via the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Hizballah, and Fatah elements in Lebanon, and are transferred to the Tanzim, particularly in the Nablus area. In some cases, the messages are detailed instructions for terrorist attacks. A senior defense establishment source said, "We can see a straight line from Iran, through Lebanon to the Fatah in Samaria."
    • In addition, lately, al Qaeda has been sending messages from Lebanon to Gaza, and some are reaching the popular committees, local factions of Fatah in Gaza.


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