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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DAILY ALERT

February 14, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Israeli Civil Rights Group Seeks Prosecution of Former Belgian Officials for Murder of African Leader (IMRA)

    In 1960, the Congo won independence from Belgium and elected Patrice Lumumba as their first prime minister. In December 1960, Lumumba was arrested and on January 17, 1961, he was dragged from his cell and brutally tortured by Belgian police officials. In the evening he was brought, along with two other members of his party, before a police firing squad and executed.
    A Brussels-appointed governmental commission found that Belgium was indeed responsible for the African leader's killing in 1961. The Government of Belgium offered an official apology to the Lumumba family, but no individuals were prosecuted for the crime.
    See also Lawmaker Seeks to Prosecute Belgians over Congo - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)


Chief Rabbi Lau on Belgian Decision - Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau (Chief Rabbinate/IMRA)

    "The thought that a nation which stood by and watched when Jewish blood was spilt like water and ignored victims' cries, is now elevating itself in the position of world policeman is outrageous in the extreme."
    "It is regretful that a state which remained quiet at a time when it should have been screaming out in the name of humanity, is now expressing itself with such a pretentious and hypocritical voice, in order to cast fault on IDF soldiers and its commanders, who have endangered their own lives many times in order to refrain from injuring innocent civilians, and in order to denigrate the behavior of a democratic, sovereign state."


PA, Hamas Compete to Compensate Families of Palestinian "Victims" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

    Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are now in competition over which offers more compensation to the families of suicide bombers and to those harmed during IDF operations.
    A PA official in Gaza City said the Hamas handouts have become almost a daily practice. "They're spending a lot of money," he said.
    "They are also paying more than Arafat. That's why their power is growing. People see that Hamas has more money, so they turn to it for assistance."


Terror in the Shadows - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)

    Saddam Hussein has been involved in Palestinian politics since he took power more than 30 years ago. His intelligence organizations gave asylum to three Palestinian terror organizations in the 1970s.
    But the most important link between Saddam and terror may be seen in his connection with the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the organization led by Sabri Al-Banna, better known as Abu Nidal.
    Since the second half of the 1970s, Iraq has ceased to use him to attain direct goals. Although he was permitted to return to Baghdad in 1988, Abu Nidal, old and ill, was irrelevant and later viewed as an encumbrance.
    Last summer, he was found shot dead in the Iraqi capital; the government claimed he had committed suicide. But the four bullets in his head testified otherwise. Saddam apparently ordered his long-time ally killed.


No Weather Forecasts During War, for Security (Jerusalem Post)

    The Israel Meteorological Service (IMS) will cease giving weather forecasts in the event of a U.S.-led war on Iraq to prevent providing what could be crucial information to the regime of Saddam Hussein.
    Foreknowledge of wind direction would be important in trying to hit certain areas and calculate the fallout and potential casualties from the use of non-conventional weapons.
    There were no public broadcasts of weather information during the 1991 Gulf War.


Useful Reference:

Disputed Territories: Forgotten Facts About the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    See also Diplomatic and Legal Aspects of the Settlement Issue - Jeffrey Helmreich (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


Historical Jerusalem Maps Now on Web
    Some 250 historical maps of Jerusalem are now on the Internet. (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)


Key Links

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Back Issues


News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • FBI Tracks Al Qaeda in U.S. - Lisa Myers
    The FBI has identified almost a dozen men living in the United States believed to have trained in bin Laden's terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Counterterrorism officials said as many as 1,000 al Qaeda sympathizers were in the U.S., most of them militant Muslims in 30 cities. FBI sources said only 20 to 40 of them were believed to have strong connections to al Qaeda, and about a dozen were believed to be in communication with leaders of the network overseas.
        Sources say that unusual fervor could be found in radical mosques. An informer told federal authorities that there was excitement within his mosque over the likelihood of another attack and that so-called "true believers" were said to be arriving from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. Sources said many in the FBI were concerned about those who may have trained in bin Laden's camps and remained undiscovered. (NBC News)
  • U.S. Increased Alert on Evidence Qaeda was Planning Two Attacks - James Risen
    The government raised the national threat level last week after American intelligence obtained evidence that agents of al Qaeda might be positioning themselves to carry out two major attacks, one inside the United States, and a second in the Arabian Peninsula, government officials said Thursday. The intelligence showed that al Qaeda might actually have dispatched low-level operatives to conduct logistical or operational work needed to carry them out.
        A Bush administration official said that intercepts of telephone conversations, e-mail messages, and other intelligence indicating that terrorists had moved closer to an attack is one of the crucial considerations used by the new Homeland Security Department to determine when the threat level should be raised. Both CIA Director George Tenet and FBI Director Robert Mueller have given explicit warnings in recent days about possible al Qaeda attacks in the U.S. and overseas. (New York Times)
  • Britain Faces Terror Threat Comparable to Sept. 11 - Michelle Green
    A build-up of armed security at Britain's airports and around London moved into a third day on Thursday after a stark warning from the government that the country faced a terror threat on the scale of September 11. Newspapers reported that police were racing against time to find an al Qaeda missile gang threatening to shoot down a plane. The Guardian said the Heathrow security alert had been sparked by "high-quality intelligence" that Islamic militants had smuggled anti-aircraft missiles into Britain from Europe. The Express said police were hunting seven al Qaeda suspects believed to be just days away from launching an attack. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Israel Protests Belgian Ruling on War Crimes Probe - Carol Rosenberg
    "No one has the right to doubt the ethical standards Israel holds itself to," President Moshe Katsav, Israel's ceremonial chief of state, wrote in a letter of protest to Belgian King Albert II. "Those who accuse us would do well to reflect on their past actions." (Macon Telegraph)
  • Palestinians Willing to Die for Hussein - Mark MacKinnon
    Senior members of both the Fatah and Hamas movements in Baka refugee camp in Jordan say that as soon as the American bombs fly, they will send volunteer fighters to stand alongside Saddam Hussein's army. And they warn that should the U.S. occupy their neighboring country, American troops will face a suicide-bombing campaign similar to the one being waged in Israel. "Iraq and Palestine are two faces of one coin," said Mohammed Shaafout, a local leader of the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Workers Front. "He who defends Palestine defends Iraq, and he who defends Iraq defends Palestine." (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • Israel Aircraft Industries, Boeing Plan Joint Production of Arrow Missiles
    Boeing and Israel Aircraft Industries plan to build a plant in Huntsville, Ala., to make components of the Arrow anti-ballistic missile, to begin operating by late next year or early 2005, said Marta Newhart, a spokeswoman for Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems. Boeing, the No. 2 U.S. defense contractor, and Israel Aircraft agreed in January 2002 to jointly make the missiles. Boeing will produce half of the Arrow missile components in the U.S., while Israel Aircraft will handle integration and final assembly. (Seattle Times)
  • Concordia Suspends Pro-Palestinian Activist
    Concordia University in Montreal has suspended pro-Palestinian activist Samer Elatrash, 23, for three years for his part in last fall's protest against former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Elatrash was found guilty of rioting, assault, and harassment during the violent protest last September that prevented Netanyahu from speaking on campus. (Toronto Star)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • 24 Soldiers Injured in Training Accident - Uri Ash
    24 IDF soldiers were injured Thursday when a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) exploded at a military base in the Golan Heights during a training class for infantry troops. (Ha'aretz)
  • Saudis Confirm Plans to End U.S. Military Presence
    Saudi officials said U.S., British, and French forces would leave the kingdom after the conclusion of a war against Iraq. More than 5,000 Western troops, most of them U.S. Air Force personnel, are deployed in the Prince Sultan Air Base. NATO members use the air base to monitor the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. But Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled Bin Sultan said he expects the United States and its allies to end the no-fly zones over the next year, once the regime of President Saddam Hussein is toppled and order is restored in Iraq, which will permit the departure of the Western military forces from Saudi Arabia. (Middle East Newsline)
  • Outraged Belgian Jews Threaten Suit against Arafat - Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
    Belgium's Jewish community is "extremely angered" by a Supreme Court ruling that Ariel Sharon can be tried for war crimes in Belgium, according to Betty Dan, head of the Brussels-based Radio Judaica. "Seven years after his arrest we still have not put the child murderer Jacques Dutroux on trial, we have not caught the killers of (former deputy prime minister and Socialist party leader Andre) Cools, we never found out who was behind the series of terror attacks on supermarkets in the 1980s, but we take the time to judge the whole world," Dan said. She said a Belgian Jew who was hurt in a bombing attack on the main synagogue in Brussels in 1982, for which the PLO took responsibility, is planning to press charges against Yasser Arafat. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat Agrees "in Principle" to Appoint PM - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Yasser Arafat has agreed "in principle" to appoint a prime minister for the PA, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday. Arafat is under immense pressure to appoint a prime minister ahead of next week's conference in London, which is expected to discuss reforms in the PA. Among the names mentioned for the premiership post are Finance Minister Salaam Fayad, PLO No. 2 Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and Minister of Interior Hani al-Hassan. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Arafat Agrees to Appoint PM
    Western diplomats said the Palestinian leader came under intense international pressure to appoint a credible prime minister in order to survive politically. "Arafat is very close to being totally finished," one Western diplomat said. "If he doesn't do something before the (Gulf) war, nothing could save him. So appointing a prime minister could be a survival mechanism and it could be an opportunity to re-engage the Americans to embrace the roadmap," the diplomat said. (AP/MSNBC News)
  • Israel Chosen for UN Disarmament Board - Melissa Radler
    After four decades of isolation, Israel was elected to serve on the UN General Assembly Working Group on Disarmament, its first committee posting at the world body since 1961. Excluded for decades from the Asian grouping by Arab and Muslim countries, Israel was finally accepted into the Western European and Others Group, (WEOG) in May 2000 with the backing of the U.S. This marked the first time WEOG presented Israel's candidacy for an assembly position. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Bracing for the Apocalypse - Charles Krauthammer
    The domestic terror alert jumps to 9/11 levels. Heathrow Airport is ringed by tanks. Duct tape and plastic sheeting disappear from Washington store shelves. Osama resurfaces. North Korea reopens its plutonium processing plant and threatens pre-emptive attack. The Second Gulf War is about to begin. This is not the Apocalypse. But it is excellent preparation for it. Before our eyes, in a flash, politics has gone cosmic. The question before us is very large and very simple: Can - and will - the civilized part of humanity disarm the barbarians who would use the ultimate knowledge for the ultimate destruction? (Washington Post)
  • Are Saddam and Osama Enemies? Not If You Ask Saddam - Editorial
    The U.S. homeland may again be hit by terrorism, and if it is, the point to understand is that the sources will be at root the same ones who attacked us on September 11. Saddam Hussein is probably too clever to get caught openly canoodling with Osama bin Laden, but the evidence shows that they share the same evil purposes. When it comes to the uses of terror and antipathy to America, Saddam and bin Laden are brothers under the skin. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Saudis on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - Rich Lowry
    The Saudis have been desperately maneuvering to engineer a coup or an exile deal for Saddam Hussein that would avert a U.S. invasion and presumably elevate another Baathist strongman - Saddam Hussein lite - to power in Iraq. Ending the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia has been one of bin Laden's chief demands. But it still makes sense. American troops were only stationed in Saudi Arabia beginning in 1991 to serve as a tripwire if Saddam invaded again. With Saddam gone, that purpose evaporates. In any case, Qatar and other Persian Gulf state-lets can accommodate U.S. military needs.
        The U.S. should begin pushing Abdullah toward a much more far-reaching radical break with the kingdom's radical Wahhabi clerics. The founder of the contemporary Saudi state, Ibn Saud, faced a similar choice in the late 1920s. He had conquered the Arabian peninsula on the backs of murderous al Qaeda-like fanatics called the Ikhwan. They began to attack British interests in the region, which prompted the Brits to give Ibn Saud a choice - crack down on the Ikhwan, or lose British support. He reluctantly dumped the Ikhwan. Abdullah too could break with his fanatics. But only if he feels threatened by the new geopolitical alignment in a new post-Saddam Middle East. (Townhall.com)
  • The Occupied Territories... France's, That Is - Michael Freund
    When it comes to France's own "occupied territories," Chirac and his government are decidedly unwilling to make concessions. In Corsica, where separatist violence has been going on for three decades, Chirac's government has agreed to grant the Corsicans some limited elements of autonomy, but has stubbornly refused to yield control over the territory. Then there are the Basques, who long to establish their own state in the area of the Pyrenees, covering parts of northeastern Spain and southwestern France. Paris has sought to repress the Basque cause, intensifying cooperation with Spanish police in an effort to thwart Basque independence. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Drawing a Line in the Sand - Rami Khouri, editor of the Beirut Daily Star
    There are few areas in life where I have more knowledge than Colin Powell, but rearranging the political configuration of the Middle East is one of those areas. So, it is from experience that I offer the Secretary some advice: Avoid straight-line borders: The map of the Arab world is peculiar for having so many national borders that are straight lines, a phenomenon totally missing from, say, Europe, where countries emerged through a more natural process of historical evolution. Straight-line borders are typically the work of foreign mapmakers who don't know the area they are reconfiguring. Such borders tend to ignore local ethnic, religious and national realities, and usually lead to conflict years later.
       Seek balance among demography, geography, geology, and hydrology: The modern Middle East was largely configured by the British and French who sought to ensure their own colonial interests. Don't make promises you do not intend to keep: A major deficiency of the Anglo-French mapmaking exercise was that it was defined by instances of deceit, and did not treat all peoples in the region fairly. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • After Iraq - Nicholas Lemann
    Lately, Washington hawk-watchers have been passing around a document called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," which was written in 1996, by an eight-member committee, as advice for Benjamin Netanyahu, the newly elected Israeli prime minister. The head of the committee was Richard Perle, who is probably Washington's leading vocal advocate of regime change in Iraq; another committee member was Douglas Feith. The title refers to a foreign policy for Israel that would deemphasize the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians and move "to a traditional concept of strategy based on balance of power." (New Yorker)

    Weekend Features:

  • Deep in Gaza, a Lopsided Battle - Molly Moore
    This is a reconstruction of the 7-hour battle between Lt. Col. Tal Hermoni's IDF unit and Gaza City's street fighters on Jan. 26, which resulted in 12 Palestinians dead and 62 wounded, while no Israeli soldiers died and none were injured. It is based on interviews with more than 60 participants and witnesses, including Israeli soldiers and Palestinian residents and fighters, as well as reviews of infrared videos taken by the Israeli military, television footage shot by Palestinian camera crews during and after the fighting, and medical records of the dead and wounded. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Preparing Post-2012 Olympic Bid
    Tel Aviv's feasibility study is supported by the Directors General of All Government Ministries chaired by Avigdor Itzhaki, director general of the Prime Minister's Office. On September 24, 2001, they funded the study with 3.5 million shekels (US$800,000). Tel Aviv's main incentive for hosting an Olympic Games is typical for a bid - it would force the rapid development of much-needed infrastructure by compressing fifty years into only seven, according to Alex Gilady, the Israeli IOC member who is behind the bid project. (GamesBids.com)
  • Observations:

    In Search of Smiling Islam - David Landau (Ha'aretz)

    • The basic long-term interest of the State of Israel is to integrate peacefully into the Muslim world while zealously safeguarding its "membership" in Western culture.
    • A fascinating attempt is being made in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, to improve the position of the Jewish people and Israel in the intercultural alignment now taking shape.
    • The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has gathered here, with the active encouragement of the White House and the U.S. State Department, for a series of political and economic discussions with high-ranking officials from all countries in the region.
    • A religious dialogue is also taking place between Jewish leaders, including several rabbis, and members of the local Muslim clergy who believe in moderation and open-mindedness in relations between monotheistic religions.
    • In the same way that the Jews of America maintain cultural and humanistic ties with Christian churches in their country, they are now seeking out another Islam - an Islam with a smiling face - with which to weave a tapestry of kinship.

    See also Kazakhstan Appoints New Ambassador to Israel - Tom Rose (Jerusalem Post)


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