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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

January 14, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Syrian/Iranian-Backed Hizballah Attacks Since Israel Withdrew from Lebanon (IDF)

    There have been 100 terrorist attacks along Israel's northern border since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon on May 24, 2000, including 25 incidents of mortar and anti-tank missile fire against IDF posts, and 57 cases of anti-aircraft fire towards IAF aircraft flying in Israeli airspace.
    8 soldiers (Khalil Taher, Binyamin Avraham, Omer Suaed, Adi Avitan, Elad Shneor, Elad Litok, Ofir Mish'al, and German Rojkov) and 5 civilians have been killed, and 42 soldiers wounded.


Tonga Closes Ship Register After al Qaeda Penetration - Philip Cornford and Sarah Crichton (Sydney Morning Herald)

    In the two years since the Tonga red-and-white ensign first flew, three foreign-owned Tonga "ships of shame" have been caught ferrying terrorists, weapons, and explosives for al Qaeda. The U.S. Navy is prepared to stop and search any of the 62 ships which the CIA has identified flying Tongan flags.
    The Israeli Navy on January 3 last year seized the Tongan-flagged Karine A carrying 50 tons of weapons and munitions which Israel claimed was destined for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.
    The Tongan government announced in June it would close the ship register, citing concerns it was tarnishing Tonga's reputation.


Bin Laden Figurine a Hit with Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

    A figurine of Osama bin Laden that is used as a key ring and sells for $1 is the latest hit in Palestinian markets in the West Bank and Gaza.
    According to a shopkeeper in Ramallah, the huge demand reflects anti-U.S. sentiment among Palestinians. "People here are very angry at the U.S. because it is totally biased in favor of Israel and because it is waging a war against Islam," he said. "In addition, you can say that many people regard Osama bin Laden to be a hero."
    Posters of bin Laden can still be seen hanging on the walls of refugee camps and university campuses in the West Bank and Gaza.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Syrians Walk a Diplomatic Tightrope
    Syria provided intelligence to the U.S. on the al Qaeda network. Yet it hosts Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group responsible for bombings of civilians in Israel, and helps Hizballah, a Lebanese Shiite Muslim movement that the U.S. State Department lists as a terrorist organization. Syria also has tolerated an illicit oil trade and permitted arms to be taken across Syrian territory to Iraq, both in violation of UN resolutions. Syria has dismissed Secretary of State Colin Powell's complaints that the deliveries breached UN rules.
        Recently, documents from a weapons facility in Bosnia indicated that jet parts were shipped through Syria into Iraq. U.S. officials said a ship seized at sea by Croatian officials carried rocket fuel and was destined for Iraq via the Syrian port of Tartus. (Washington Post)
  • Buildup Shifts Iraq War Timing
    A senior Defense official said the timing of an invasion to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had been shifted from mid-February to the end of February or early March, a delay that stems from the complications of moving a huge land, sea, and air force. (USA Today)
  • Shiites Pose Threat to Hussein
    Southern Iraq, the heartland of the country's 55 percent majority Shiites, holds vast oil fields and Iraq's limited gateway to the sea. "There is no question that this area represents the most dangerous threat to the regime," said a Western envoy in Baghdad. In October, Hussein summoned all the tribal leaders in the area to his palace and ordered them to swear not to repeat the 1991 rebellion. (New York Times)
  • Back to Zionism - Matt Rees
    For the past decade, Israelis felt they were leaving behind the pioneering days of Zionism, the movement that campaigned to found the Jewish state and create a strong character in its young people, all of whom had to serve in the army. The phrase "post-Zionism" came to describe the country's effort to build an individualistic, high-tech economy. But two years of violence have snapped Israelis back into the mixture of nationalism and fear at the root of Zionism. What used to be a minority view - the conviction that Israel's enemies mean to wipe it off the map and that to make peace is to invite extinction - is now mainstream thinking. (Time-Europe)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Al Qaeda: "Nuclear Attack is the Way to Kill Americans"
    Ayman Zawahiri, deputy to Osama Bin Laden, claims "nuclear attack is the way to kill Americans" and called for Jihad (holy war) against America, its allies, and Israel as part of a program to wipe out all "infidels" from Muslim soil. (IDF)
  • Al-Ayyam: Arafat Agrees to Cairo-Formulated Cease-fire
    Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman says he will bring the latest version of a cease-fire agreement he proposed to the Palestinians to the London summit. The Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Ayyam reported that Arafat agreed to the latest version. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Yassin: "We Went to Cairo to Consolidate National Unity, Not to Put an End to Suicide Attacks"
    In an interview with the Muslim website Alskifa on Jan. 10, 2003, Hamas' terrorist leader, Ahmed Yassin, vowed that the PA had aided the Palestinian terrorist organizations to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel. "The Palestinian Police force has, several times, aided fighters to perpetrate their actions."
        On the subject of the Cairo talks [which aimed to get a unified declaration on the eventual halt to attacks], "we went to Cairo to consolidate national unity, not to wave the white flag of surrender at the Jewish enemy....We have, in the past, accepted a cease-fire for one week or two, in order to comply with the internal wishes of the Palestinians. However, a decision to completely halt [terrorist] activities would definitely be rejected." (IDF)
  • Terrorists Planned to Kidnap Soldiers - Eli Bohadna and Itai Asher
    The terrorists who attacked an IDF patrol near the Egyptian border north of Nitzana on Sunday planned to drug and kidnap Israeli soldiers, security sources believe. Four injection needles and a large quantity of drugs, including anesthetic, were found on the bodies of the two terrorists killed in the incident. The security services have recently received warnings of the intentions of terrorist groups to enter Israel across the Egyptian border, kidnap soldiers, and bring them to Gaza. (Maariv)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Banning Hizballah Activity in Canada - Matthew Levitt
    On December 11, 2002, the Canadian government banned Hizballah, labeling it a terrorist organization. Strangely, some in Canada are under the assumption that Hizballah is not a terrorist group but a social and political organization. Yet, evidence of Hizballah's international activity as a terrorist group of global reach is overwhelming. In June 2002, American and European intelligence officials described Hizballah as "increasingly teaming up with al Qaeda on logistics and training for terrorist operations." This alliance, described as "ad hoc," "tactical," and "informal," was said to involve mid- and low-level operatives. American and European intelligence officials reiterated this concern in September 2002, noting that "the most worrisome" of al Qaeda's new "tactical, ad-hoc alliances" is with Hizballah. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Threat from Syria - Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
    It's not just Britain - the United States is also adopting a conciliatory policy regarding Syria. On January 7, Syria and the U.S. held unofficial talks in Damascus, sponsored by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. The meetings, which included the participation of Sen. Arlen Specter, were meant to improve bilateral relations. That's right - to "improve bilateral relations" with a state classified by a congressional study as the second-biggest sponsor of international terrorism in the world. (National Review)
  • A Political Limbo Tests Arafat's Fortitude - Dexter Filkins
    Hour after hour, Arafat circles the desk in his office, waiting for the world to come back to him. For the first time in his long career, he finds himself not only ignored by the region's most powerful players but pushed from the center of the action. Palestinian experts say Arafat's current predicament goes far deeper than the events of the past year and has as much to do with his failings as a leader. "Arafat failed to deliver what most Palestinians expected," pollster Khalil Shikaki said. "As far as the Palestinian public is concerned, Arafat is no longer the unchallenged leader of the Palestinian people." (New York Times)
        See also The Politics of Irrelevance - Zvi Bar'el
    For a long time Yasser Arafat has been waiting for a phone call from an Arab leader, but the phone hasn't rung. The most senior Arab figure to visit him in recent months was Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian minister of intelligence, and the visit ended with harsh exchanges. Arafat seems to be fading away to the point where talk about possible candidates to replace him is no longer taboo. (Ha'aretz)
  • Talking Points:

    The Quartet, the Road Map, and the Future of Iraq: A Realistic Assessment - Gerald M. Steinberg (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The structural chaos and lack of expertise that characterizes EU policy in the Middle East, and the high levels of suspicion and distrust in relations between the EU and Israel, and also between the UN and Israel, must be reduced substantially.
    • The reliance on monitors from the Quartet to insure an end to all acts of terrorism and to enforce and verify the security agreements lacks credibility, particularly in light of the failure to act to disarm Hizballah following the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000.
    • Implementation of central components, such as the total end to Palestinian incitement to hatred, and the establishment of effective security mechanisms to prevent terror, are predicated on sweeping changes in the Palestinian leadership and the removal of Arafat from power. This is unlikely to occur without a fundamental change in the external environment, either through Israeli action (for example, following a mega-terror attack), or as an indirect result of regime change in Iraq (with or without a war), triggering regional moves toward democratization, including in the Palestinian Authority. Without large-scale political changes, the Quartet's highly optimistic road map is destined to become another in the series of failed Middle East peace efforts.


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