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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March 7, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraq Strengthens Air Force with French Parts - Bill Gertz (Washington Times)
    A French company has been selling spare parts to Iraq for its French-made Mirage F-1 jets and Gazelle attack helicopters during the past several months, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
    Other intelligence reports indicate that Iraq had succeeded in acquiring French weaponry illegally for years.
    France now has an estimated $4 billion in debts owed to it by Iraq as a result of arms sales and infrastructure construction projects - another reason U.S. officials believe France is opposing military force to oust Saddam.

KSM Predicts Attacks on U.S. Forces - Kamran Khan and John Lancaster (Washington Post)
    At the time of his arrest Saturday, senior al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed defiantly predicted a spate of terrorist attacks on U.S. forces massing in the Persian Gulf region for a likely invasion of Iraq, Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday.
    Mohammed also told the Pakistani agents that "there are dozens of people like me who will give their lives but won't let the Americans live in peace anywhere in the world."
    "The U.S. forces will be targeted inside their bases in the gulf," a Pakistani official quoted Mohammed as saying. "You will get the news from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait."
    The official said that when Mohammed was asked whether bin Laden was alive, he replied, "Of course he's alive."

    See also Security Alert Over Terrorist Attacks on British Troops - Daniel McGrory (London Times)
    Security is being tightened around British units arriving in Kuwait after senior ministers were shown secret intelligence details of "a credible threat" of terrorist attacks on troops in the next few days.
    Islamic militants have already killed two U.S. Marines, wounded two others, and were recently foiled in an attempted attack on a British Army convoy on the outskirts of Kuwait City.

Turkish Military Trucks Heading to Iraqi Border (AFP)
    Some 200 Turkish military trucks covered with tarpaulins were on their way to the Iraqi border Thursday, according to media reports.
    Meanwhile hundreds of kilometers to the west, dozens of trailer trucks carrying U.S. military vehicles that had only recently been unloaded from U.S. vessels off the coast, left the port of Iskenderun on trailer trucks also heading east, according to television footage.

Palestinians Express Solidarity with Saddam Hussein (see photos) (IDF)
    Over the past few weeks a number of protest rallies have been conducted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to express support for Saddam Hussein.
    A rally on February 23, 2003, in Rafah was attended by representatives of the various Palestinian governmental offices, municipalities, NGOs, local residents, and thousands of children waving cardboard cutouts of Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein.
    The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine organized a rally on February 28 in Jabaliya in Gaza, where an American flag was burned.
    On the same day in Nablus, thousands of local residents and representatives of the National Islamic Movement participated in the raising of the Palestinian and Iraqi flags in the main square. Other rallies were held in Tulkarm and Kalkiliya.

A Market in Missiles for Terror - Ken Silverstein and Judy Pasternak (Los Angeles Times)
    The availability of portable surface-to-air missiles, known as SAMs, on world markets is a growing concern to government officials.
    In February, the British government deployed 450 troops at London's Heathrow Airport after intelligence agencies reported a possible al Qaeda plan to use portable SAMs against civilian flights.
    Insurgent groups, which procure such weapons on the black market, have scored numerous successes with portable SAMs during the last few decades.
    A Defense Intelligence Agency study found reports of 29 portable SAM attacks on civilian aircraft between 1978 and 1998, with more than 400 fatalities. Twenty attacks were in Africa, four in Afghanistan, three elsewhere in Asia, and two in Central America.

Argentinian Jews Take a Chance on Israel - Rebecca Goldsmith (Newark Star-Ledger)
    One in six immigrants to Israel last year came from Argentina, 6,000 in all, and another 6,000 Argentinians are expected to arrive this year.
    Seeking better opportunities, a chance to start over, or a closer-knit community, the newcomers are lauded as a sign of hope.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • President Readies U.S. for Imminent War
    President Bush said Thursday at a rare prime-time news conference that the U.S. would seek a UN vote even if it appears that a new resolution could not pass. A defeat would not deter him, he said, from disarming Iraq. "I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons," Bush said. (New York Times)
  • Israelis Storm Gaza Camp
    As the Israeli forces withdrew from Jabaliya after pursuing a Hamas leader, eight Palestinians were killed in an explosion. Palestinians said an Israeli tank had fired into a crowd, but the Israeli Army said the tank had fired in another direction, toward a Palestinian who was firing a rocket-propelled grenade at the Israelis. (New York Times)
        See also Talking Points (below) Bomb Explosion, Not Tank Fire, Caused Palestinian Casualties (IDF)
  • U.S. Troops "Pouring into Saudi Arabia"
    Thousands of American soldiers are pouring into Saudi Arabia in preparation for an invasion of Iraq, independent sources say. Last week the Telegraph reported that the White House and Riyadh had secretly agreed that American air operations against Iraq could be launched from Saudi soil, in return for a promise that all American forces would be withdrawn from the country after the war. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Signs of U.S. Readiness
    The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has moved from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia to Bahrain. The last of the ship's 800 additional medical staff members were flying there Thursday. (AP/FOX News)
  • U.S. Reportedly Okays Israeli Retaliation if Iraq Attacks
    In a marked departure from the U.S. approach during the Persian Gulf War, the Bush administration has signaled that it would accept an Israeli retaliation against a devastating Iraqi missile attack, U.S. officials say. The American shift is the latest sign of how much more closely the U.S. and Israel are coordinating in the buildup to an increasingly likely war than they did last time around. The relationship has been enhanced, experts here and in Israel agree, by the personal and ideological bond between the current U.S. president and Sharon. Yet so far, the Pentagon has been unwilling to provide secret electronic codes that Israeli warplanes would need to emit so that U.S. and British warplanes could identify them as "friendlies" while they crossed allied-controlled airspace. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iraq Sends Five Western Human Shields Home
    Iraq ordered five human shields out of the country on Thursday after a dispute over where the Western peace activists should deploy to deter possible U.S. military strikes. According to Iraqi official Abdul-Razzaq al-Hashimi, the five had set themselves up as representatives of the group and had been "holding unnecessary meetings, wasting time, knocking on doors at midnight...(and) asking stupid questions." Former U.S. marine Ken O'Keefe, whose Human Shield Action Iraq group coordinated the departure of dozens of volunteers from London six weeks ago, was one of those ordered to leave. O'Keefe said Hashimi's decision would ensure that many other human shields would be leaving Baghdad too. Dozens have left Iraq, saying they had wanted to protect hospitals and schools but had been forced out to refineries, power plants, and water works. (Reuters)
  • A Crime Against Cultural Heritage - Tom Tugend
    The Simon Wiesenthal Center has petitioned a UN agency "to vigorously protest the barbaric desecration of Joseph's Tomb" by West Bank Palestinians. Shimon Samuels, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Paris office, wrote to the UN World Heritage Committee, UNESCO's watchdog for the protection of the world's cultural sites and historic monuments, after a group of Jewish chaplains found last month that the site "is now destroyed, the building cracked open with hammers, a huge hole in its dome, and the grave littered with trash and car parts." Recalling that the committee had condemned the destruction by the Taliban of two giant Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, Samuels concluded, "We would expect a similar condemnation of this new crime against cultural heritage." (JTA)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • 3 Rockets Hit Sderot; IDF Moves against Launch Sites
    Three Qassam rockets landed in the Negev town of Sderot Thursday. There were no injuries. IDF tanks and armored vehicles later entered the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and took over areas used to launch Qassam rockets, to try to prevent future launchings. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Gaza Alternative to Defensive Shield - Amos Harel
    In Gaza, elite Golani and Givati troops have been carrying out almost daily raids deep inside the Strip, but despite Israeli hints to the contrary, the security establishment has no intention of fully capturing Gaza, like it did the West Bank. The Gaza alternative to Operation Defensive Shield will include ongoing efforts to wear down the Palestinian opposition, via ongoing raids and targeted killings. Within the security establishment, some officials suggest that the time has come to end the relative immunity that has been granted the political leaders of the Palestinian terror organizations.
        Despite the losses of top commanders, Hamas has never been as popular as it is now, not only because it continues to exact a toll from Israelis, but because it is seen as handling day-to-day problems better than the PA. Israeli sources say Hamas now controls at least 10% of the medical facilities in Gaza.
        IDF intelligence is more concerned about an international wave of terror aimed at Jewish and Israeli targets abroad during a war on Iraq, than about a drastic change in terror stemming from the West Bank and Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Another Morning After - Uri Ash
    A day after the suicide bombing in Haifa, hundreds of pupils from schools in the area gathered to mourn their friends. Above a heart shaped out of memorial candles, someone had written "Tom," while someone else had drawn "Smadar." On white notes around a sole white rose on a concrete wall splattered in blood, a teenager had written, "we love you Tal." Hundreds of children had grown up all of a sudden. (Ha'aretz)
        Among the victims: Mariam Mustafa Attar, 27, from a Muslim family in Haifa (Ha'aretz)
        Abigail Litle, 14, came to Israel from New Hampshire with her family as a baby. Her father Philip was appointed the representative of the Baptist Church in Israel. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
        Kamar Abu Hamed, 13, of the Druze town of Daliat al-Carmel (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The War is On - George F. Will
    The war against Iraq has begun. Soon the bow wave created by the movement of the great ship America into full-scale war will wash away Lilliputian nuisances, such as French diplomacy. It is a virtual certainly that absent Israel's 1981 preemptive attack, Iraq would have had nuclear weapons in 1991, and today, as Gerard Baker of the Financial Times writes, Kuwait would be the 19th province of Iraq - and Saudi Arabia would be the 20th. (Washington Post)
  • Give Freedom a Chance - William Safire
    How should free people feel about launching a pre-emptive strike? Either we allow Saddam to become capable of inflicting horrendous casualties in our cities tomorrow - or we must inflict and accept far fewer casualties in his cities today. But we should by no means feel guilty about doing our duty. War cannot be waged apologetically. Rather than wring our hands, Americans and our allies are required to gird our loins - to fight to win with the conviction that our cause is just. We have ample reason to believe that Saddam's gangster government is an evil to be destroyed before it gains the power to destroy us. (New York Times)
  • How to Help Palestinian Refugees Today - Scott B. Lasensky
    Improving the plight of Palestinian refugees need not be hostage to the current political deadlock - or to a comprehensive peace deal that has never seemed so far out of reach. Since 1993, the international community has poured $5 billion into the Palestinian territories - making Palestinians the highest per-capita recipients of development aid. Yet this aid was never directed at the refugee question. Creating a mechanism that would ease the situation of Palestinian refugees in a way that promotes an eventual resolution of the conflict could contribute more toward long-term peace and stability than the current donor strategy of increasing emergency aid and bolstering Yasser Arafat. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Yes, Prime Minister! - Ehud Ya'ari
    Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, the darling of the State Department and the IMF, has managed to halt Arafat's practice of doing whatever he likes with Palestinian Authority funds. However, Arafat still commands enough alternative resources for his purposes beyond the range of scrutiny of Fayyad's accountants.
        When Arafat talks about a prime minister, he is thinking of somebody who doesn't have the authority to make policy, but only to carry out instructions. To whom will the prime minister be responsible? To Arafat or to the Palestinian parliament? (Jerusalem Report)
  • Why Liberating Iraq is Crucial to Beating Terrorism - James Taranto
    A six-month diplomatic effort to win support is hardly a "rush" to war. The truth is, we are at war with Iraq, and we have been for 12 years. Those who favor maintaining the status quo of inspections and sanctions, aimed at "containing" Saddam, favor prolonging a war that has already taken an enormous toll on the Iraqi people. If there are al Qaeda cells waiting to attack America, does anyone really think they'll pack up and go home once they're convinced we're going to leave Saddam alone? Of course not. Al Qaeda cannot be appeased. "Retaliation" for an attack on Iraq would be a pretext, not a provocation, for any al Qaeda attack. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Next Stage of War on Terror: Iran - Stephen Pollard
    Iran is the Henry Ford of modern terror: it invented an assembly line, from the local mosque to the terrorist training camp, which is now copied everywhere. That assembly line is today global in scale, and takes in all types of Islam: Shi'ite, Sunni and Wahhabi, as well as Iraqi-promoted Salafism - even more hardline than Wahhabism, and closely tied to bin Laden. (Telegraph-UK)
  • War Jitters Hurting Some but Helping Others in Gulf Region - Greg Myre
    Egypt's much needed tourists are staying away in record numbers. In Turkey, Jordan, and Syria, cut-rate oil imports and special trade deals with Iraq are at risk of evaporating. Turkey has been importing Iraqi oil at below market prices outside official UN channels for several years, with large tanker trucks daily crossing its border with northern Iraq. For the producer nations in the Persian Gulf, by contrast, the same war jitters have helped push oil prices to more than $33 a barrel and could produce at least a temporary windfall. (New York Times)
  • Similarities Bring India and Israel Closer - Jeffrey Colman
    Faced with similar threats from Islamic radicals and weapons of mass destruction, burgeoning economic, political, and military ties between Israel and India are proving beneficial for both nations. Both countries see themselves as isolated democracies threatened by dangerous, well-armed neighbors that train, finance, and encourage terrorist infiltrators. Both countries view their burgeoning bilateral relationship as a strategic imperative. At a time when Israel's economy has been devastated by more than two years of Palestinian violence, trade with India has reached $1 billion per year. (Hindustan Times-India)
  • Observations:

    Does Iraq Have a Fighting Army? - Amir Taheri (Jerusalem Post)

    • The Iraqi army's backbone personnel numbers around 8,000, consisting of some 50 two-star generals and above, some 1,200 other officers, and over 6,000 noncommissioned officers.
    • Saddam Hussein has taken no measures to put the army on a war footing. This may indicate his distrust of the army, that, if rebuilt to its full strength, might decide to enter Baghdad, remove Saddam from power, and make a deal with the U.S.-led coalition.
    • During the past 10 years alone, over 40 of his generals have defected. A further 150 generals have been cashiered and live under close surveillance in Baghdad.
    • Saddam, who did not serve in the army even as a conscript, has never been popular among the Iraqi military. In one battle of the Iran-Iraq war, in Hamiyieh in 1984, the Iranians annihilated two Iraqi divisions virtually within sight of six other Iraqi divisions that could not intervene because they had not received Saddam's orders to attack. The present defense minister, General Sultan Hashem Ahmad, escaped with his life from that battle.
    • Through eight years of war against Iran, the Iraqis fought textbook battles and lost nearly all, against an enemy that, using Iran's demographic advantage in the most cynical way, dispatched suicide-squads of teenage boys to neutralize the Iraqi armor. It was not until the Iraqis started massively using chemical weapons that they managed to "tame the Iranian teenage beast," as Saddam subsequently boasted.
    • Will the Iraqi army fight now? The best considered answer is no. What is more likely is that the army may intervene to remove Saddam from power and thus deny the Americans a pretext to occupy Iraq.
    • The Republican Guard, under the command of his son-in-law, General Kamal Mustafa, has a theoretical strength of some 220,000 men. Saddam's second son, Qusay, heads a smaller force of some 8,000 men and women whose task is to protect the person of the leader. These forces, however, are more experienced in internal repression than in classical warfare. It is not certain how many might fight if they saw Saddam as a lost cause. Saddam is now perceived as a loser, whereas in 1980 and 1990 he was still looked upon as a potential winner.
    • Talk of urban guerrilla warfare lasting for years is fantasy. Saddam and his gang are not guerrilla leaders.
    Iranian journalist Amir Taheri is editor of the Paris-based Politique Internationale.

    Talking Points:

    Bomb Explosion, Not Tank Fire, Caused Palestinian Casualties (IDF)

    Lt. Col. Moshe of the Givati Brigade spoke Thursday about the IDF activity in Jabaliya in Gaza:

    • During the evacuation of the IDF forces, one of the tanks got stuck and we had to establish a continuous perimeter watch. One of the security vehicles was placed in a narrow alleyway lined with buildings. Suddenly, a bomb exploded from one of the shops and blew off the heavy iron door of the vehicle. We were lucky that it was an armored vehicle and no one was wounded.
    • The IDF forces were right next to a store. It is obvious that we would not fire at the store point blank with tank shells. The control over the firing of the shells belongs solely to the commander and we know how to react in every situation, what to fire upon with shells and when. A tank commander will only fire if he receives an order from the battalion commander or if his life is in danger and firing is the only way to combat the danger. I was the battalion commander at that moment.
    • We fired a shell a moment later, after the explosion, into an adjacent alley where an RPG rocket was threatening the tank. However, this was only done after the incident where the bomb detonated inside the store. It was a powerful bomb that created a great blaze in the store and even, in our opinion, caused the walls to collapse and the ceiling to cave in. I imagine that many civilians were injured from that.
    • Even this morning we encountered a number of situations in which we saw armed terrorists near unarmed people and refrained from shooting. This happens often. Usually the armed terrorists cynically exploit innocent civilians and children who want no part in the terror. We only fire if we are certain that we will only hit armed terrorists...but the nature of the battle is such that nothing is certain. The moment you leave there are always more armed terrorists appearing from alleyways and rooftops.
    • Tank battalion commander Lt. Col. Dotan said it is impossible that a tank shell hit the store in Jabaliya. "The firing of tank shells requires many permits, this is the way we prevent damage. The command to fire is given only in the event of a life-threatening danger," he said.

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