Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

May 23, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Hizballah: "A-Team" of International Terror? - David Rudge (Jerusalem Post)
    The arrest of Hamed Muslam Musa Abu Amra on a Hizballah arms boat is a direct rebuttal of Hizballah's claim that it is a resistance movement whose activities are confined solely to liberating every inch of occupied Lebanese land.
    Retired IDF colonel Yoni Fighel, of the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, believes the latest incident indicates a strategic policy on the part of some elements of the PA to adopt the methods used by Hizballah to drive the IDF out of south Lebanon.
    Fighel maintains that elements in the PA are actively trying to improve the range and warheads of the Kassam rockets and mortars - and that it is only a matter of time before such weapons are deployed in the West Bank to threaten Jerusalem, Petah Tikvah, and other Israeli towns.


All the Illegal Outposts Have Been Dismantled - Uzi Benziman (Ha'aretz)
    Thanks to the Palestinian terrorist groups, the moment when Israel is compelled to face up to America's demand that it dismantle illegal outposts keeps being pushed off another week.
    The defense establishment now argues that when Shaul Mofaz became defense minister, he discovered that his predecessor had solved this problem.
    After all, before the last Knesset elections, didn't Benjamin Ben-Eliezer claim that all the illegal outposts had been dismantled at his instruction?
    Since then, Mofaz points out, he has seen to it that every new unauthorized outpost has been evacuated, and he has the statistics to prove it: Eight full outposts and four partial ones have been taken down.
    According to the defense establishment, all of the outposts still in existence received some sort of approval not from Mofaz, but from his predecessors.
    Previous defense ministers did not dismantle these outposts because they were told that there was insufficient legal basis for doing so.


Rumsfeld's Road Map for Syria - Eli J. Lake (New Republic)
    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sent the White House a "Road Map for Syria" - over a dozen largely punitive policy options including docking an aircraft carrier within Syrian territorial waters, using proxies to undermine Syrian intelligence agents inside Lebanon, interdicting Iranian flights to Hizballah positions in Lebanon, and sending American forces over the Syrian border in "hot pursuit" of senior Iraqi officials.


Moroccans Say Al Qaeda Behind Casablanca Bombings - Elaine Sciolino (New York Times)
    Officials said that more than $50,000 to underwrite the operation was transferred to a Moroccan account months ago from an al Qaeda operative living abroad.


Omri Sharon: Give Abbas a Chance - Nina Gilbert (Jerusalem Post)
    PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas should be "given a chance" to effect change in the PA, Likud MK Omri Sharon said Wednesday.
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's son said he is personally familiar with Abbas and has acted as a diplomatic emissary on behalf of his father.
    While he doubts the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will end during his father's four-year term, Sharon said he believes there has been a change in Palestinian society and a move away from violence.


Iranians Favor Resumption of Relations with U.S. - Nazgol Ashouri (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    In September 2002, the Iranian parliament's national security committee commissioned a poll to better understand Iranian attitudes toward the United States.
    The results indicated that 74% of Iranians over the age of fifteen favored resumption of relations with the U.S., while 46% felt that U.S. policies on Iran were "to some extent correct."


Arab Players Asked to Explain Boycott (AFP/FOX Sports)
    Players from Yemen and Saudi Arabia will be questioned by the table tennis world championship's disciplinary committee after refusing to play against an Israeli competitor.
    On Monday, Yemeni Hani Al-Hammadi elected not to compete against Gay Elensky, 19, who has lived in France for five years.
    On Tuesday, Nabeel Al-Magahwi of Saudi Arabia did not play a scheduled game with Elensky.
    Before entering the championships, each team chief signs a declaration that their players will be ready to take on anyone.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Israel's Concerns May Alter Road Map
    In an effort to avoid a deadlock in the Middle East peace process, the Bush administration has acceded to Israel's demands that a U.S.-backed peace plan be subjected to significant revisions, U.S. officials said Thursday. They said they expected that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would respond by publicly accepting the plan's broad outlines. The White House plans to issue a statement Friday saying the U.S. recognizes Israel's concerns and will seek to address them.
        "The question is how to keep the concept of the road map while changing the substance," one administration official said. Sharon has objected to pulling back forces until the Palestinians disarm groups responsible for suicide bombings. U.S. officials have sympathy for Sharon's position, particularly the domestic political cost of accepting a plan that envisions a freeze on settlement activity. Sharon's cabinet is stocked with officials who oppose a Palestinian state. (Washington Post)
        See more in News Resources - Israel (below).
  • Saudis Await More Terror Attacks
    Special armed forces patrol the streets of the kingdom's three major cities - Riyadh, Dammam, and Jidda - with Saudis and foreigners alike certain that a major al Qaeda attack is imminent. After months of denials, the Saudi government has been forced to admit to the presence of a terrorist network on its soil. Most Western children are being sent home with their mothers as flights to Western destinations depart with no empty seats. The attacks have unified all but the most radical Saudis into condemning extremism. The press has appealed for the government to concede that the May 12 attacks were at least in part a product of extremists who preach Islamic jihad in mosques and schools. (Washington Times)
  • Palestinian Widow Decries Suicide Bombing
    Kifiya al-Tawil, 34, suddenly finds herself the sole caregiver for her eight children after her husband, Ghaleb, was killed Sunday by a Palestinian bus bomber in Jerusalem. "Suicide bombings are a big mistake. Jews are like us. This is against the will of God," Mrs. al-Tawil said. Mrs. al-Tawil said that she and her husband had been warned against taking the bus, but it was the only way for him to get to work. On Monday, Hassan Tuatha, an Arab-Israeli man, was killed in a suicide bombing outside a shopping mall in the northern Israeli town of Afula. (Toronto Globe & Mail)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Navy Seizes Hizballah Arms Boat to PA - Margot Dudkevitch
    Israeli naval commandos intercepted an Egyptian fishing trawler loaded with bomb components and CDs with bomb-making instructions prepared by Hizballah, as it headed for Gaza from Lebanon Tuesday night. Senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office blamed Arafat, saying only he has the financial resources able to pull off such a mission. The Abu Hassan was seized 100 miles west of Rosh Hanikra. The crew of eight included Hizballah operative and master bomb expert Hamed Muslam Musa Abu Amra. The commandos found five metal boxes containing 122-mm. rocket fuses, other weapons, and bomb-making components, including a radio activation system and electronic delay units. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Rebuffs Abbas, Vows to Continue Terrorism - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen met in Gaza Thursday with a number of Hamas leaders and urged them to accept a temporary cease-fire. The meeting was attended by PA Minister for Security Affairs Muhammad Dahlan. But the Hamas officials quickly announced that they had turned down the request. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon May Bring Road Map to Cabinet Vote - Aluf Benn and Nathan Guttman
    At a White House meeting on Wednesday, Sharon's bureau chief, Dov Weisglass, and U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice agreed to a formula whereby the U.S would officially announce that Israel's comments on the road map will be taken into account in its implementation. On Friday, Jerusalem is expecting to receive the final wording of the U.S. statement regarding Israel's reservations to the road map. If it meets Sharon's approval, he will submit the plan to the cabinet for approval on Sunday. Sharon's office believes that once the U.S. announces its acceptance of Israel's reservations, it will be possible to muster a cabinet majority for the road map.
        Israel submitted numerous reservations to the plan. It wanted to stiffen the security demands on the Palestinians, delay a settlement freeze until the Palestinians start fighting terror, and ensure that implementation would be monitored just by the U.S. rather than all the members of the Quartet. Washington acceded to most of Israel's requests, but rejected two: that the Palestinians immediately waive their demand for a "right of return," and that the Saudi Arabian initiative, which calls for peace with Israel in exchange for a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, be removed from the list of the plan's sources of authority. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Hands Now Tied by Road Map - Herb Keinon
    Israel's hands are now tied not by the war in Iraq, but by not wanting to do anything that would damage Abbas's chances to take action, or anything that would be perceived in Washington as being the reason why the road map cannot be implemented. According to one senior diplomatic official, we are now in a "very complex and delicate situation that could easily deteriorate into chaos. Everything could blow up, and we don't want to be blamed for scuttling the process." Escalating the situation does not serve Israel now, he said, because it is in Israel's interest for Muhammad Dahlan to start implementing his security "work plan." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Minister: We Need Time - Joshua Brilliant
    Palestinian minister for security affairs Mohammad Dahlan told Israel's Channel 2 TV Wednesday that the new government is rebuilding the Palestinian Authority and Israel should stop interfering. "I believe that in two weeks we shall rebuild this ministry and begin with appointments. It's the beginning of rebuilding the (Palestinian) Authority," he said. Dahlan said he did not believe Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas would visit U.S. President Bush as long as Arafat remains in his headquarters in Ramallah. He said he was building a new Interior Ministry and "It doesn't matter if Chairman Arafat interferes or not." At the moment there is no security coordination nor any security ties with Israel, Dahlan said.
        A senior Israeli government official said the government was hitting "the terrorist organizations that threaten him [Abbas] more than they threaten us. We are only taking steps to prevent attacks on (our) citizens. We can't take it that every day there will be rocket (attacks) from Gaza, and terrorist (suicide) attacks. There are 59 hot alerts (of attacks)," the source said. (UPI)
  • Sharon Cancels Planned Meeting with French FM - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided to cancel a meeting with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin originally scheduled for Sunday, apparently because de Villepin is intent on meeting with Arafat. An official in the Prime Minister's Office pointed out that de Villepin will be meeting his counterpart, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. (Jerusalem Post)
  • AJC Israel Director David Clayman Dies - Tovah Lazaroff
    Rabbi David Clayman, 69, longtime director of the American Jewish Congress Israel office and former director general of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, died of cancer in Jerusalem on Wednesday. A native of Boston and a graduate of Harvard and the Jewish Theological Seminary, he came to Israel with his family in 1971. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • State of Denial - Ken Adelman
    For decades now there has been a clear understanding, if not an explicit deal: The Saudi royal family would fund the radical Wahhabi sect, in exchange for its believers packaging their terrorist practices strictly as export items. The deal - as of last week - seems off. The terrorists hit Saudis directly. Evidently their vile hatred for the West now extends to their own bankrollers, in the holy kingdom itself. (FOX News)
  • Saudis in Western Region Shun Wahhabi Extremism - Andrew Hammond
    Life on Saudi Arabia's liberal West Coast seems a world away from the strict Islamic rules and austere tribal customs that prevail in the rest of the vast country. In the city of Jeddah, religious police are seen rarely. According to Hussein Shobokshi, a Jeddah businessman and TV presenter, "Jeddah doesn't have a strong tribal culture. It's the original melting pot, with pilgrims from all over the world." Residents of the Hejaz, the name of this region along the Red Sea away from the desert hinterland, say the kingdom's guiding Wahhabi brand of Islam runs counter to their urban culture of tolerance. Only a few Hejazis and Shia from the eastern province are represented on the Shura council, appointed by King Fahd. (Reuters)
  • Some Saudis Still Support Extremism - Donna Abu-Nasr
    Saudi Arabia's government has come out strongly against the Muslim extremism believed behind the May 12 Riyadh suicide bombings. But among ordinary Saudis, it's possible to find support for militancy. Those against terror acts say 90 percent of Saudis are with them, while those who back such attacks claim the same percentage of support. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Iraq's Silenced Majority - Zainab al-Suwaij
    Building democracy is a long-term process, but enabling women to lead and participate in all aspects of Iraqi society can begin immediately. Imagine an Iraq where women are represented throughout the public and private sectors, and then imagine the example this will set for the entire region. (New York Times)
  • Roadmap to Nowhere - Paul Greenberg
    The territory that's supposed to become a peaceful Palestine in this dream scheme is in reality crawling with bomb-throwers, jihadists, irregulars and the whole, varied assortment of cutthroats tactfully known as "militants." The biggest roadblock on the way to a Palestinian state isn't Israel, and never has been. It's the Palestinians' own repeated, historic refusal to accept such a state, which would mean accepting a compromise. Unless this new Palestinian government is able to root out all these disturbers of the peace, not just tone them down for a while, there won't be a new Palestinian state. The Israelis aren't about to shrink back and let the terrorists wage unilateral war against them, not again. If Mahmoud Abbas fails, or was never really serious about confronting the killers in his ranks, then all this talk about a road map to peace will prove only talk. (Washington Times)
  • Collegetown, U.S.A.: The Next Terrorist Target? - Lenny Ben-David
    Arab sources claim that in 2001, 50,000 Arab students attended American colleges and universities. The vast majority of those students are peaceful, nonviolent, would-be scholars. But checks by the FBI and Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration are leading to the arrest and - in some cases deportation - of these visitors to American campuses. As of February 2003, more than 1,230 people of Middle East descent (and including Pakistanis and Afghanis) were in detention, many awaiting deportation. (National Review)
  • The World Should Know What He Did to My Family - Smadar Haran Kaiser
    Abu Abbas, the former head of a Palestinian terrorist group who was captured in Iraq on April 15, is infamous for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. But there are probably few who remember why Abbas's terrorists held the ship and its 400-plus passengers hostage for two days. It was to gain the release of a Lebanese terrorist named Samir Kuntar, who is locked up in an Israeli prison for life. I know Kuntar's name well because, almost a quarter of a century ago, Kuntar murdered my family. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:  

    No Longer Refugees - Stephen Schwartz (FrontPageMagazine)

    • Most of the Palestinian supporters of terror are no longer refugees; they are the children and grandchildren of the refugees of 1948. Rather, they are young people with the energy, and in many cases the schooling, to improve their situation by entering the thriving Israeli economy or by finding new opportunities outside Israel. Many have benefited from an educational system established and paid for by Israel, and many have studied in the best Israeli universities.
    • Had the Palestinians of 1948 left the camps and reestablished themselves in neighboring countries, they would today constitute a prosperous elite. For many Arab states, however, that would have been inconvenient.
    • There are no refugee camps today, in the sense of people living in tents without facilities. All of the so-called camps are now towns with houses, electric power, water, and other services. The so-called "refugee camp" at Jenin, which attracted much attention last year, is in fact a city with streets, houses, and mosques.
    • One aspect of Arab and Muslim life in Israel and the territories that goes unmentioned in the Western media is that Israel does not interfere with the Muslim religion. It does not prevent the call to prayer from being heard, nor does it obstruct the teaching and practice of Islam.
    • Under the tenets of traditional Islam, therefore, Muslims should not object to being citizens of Israel. Recognition of this fact was the basis for granting full citizenship to Israeli Arabs, and it is also the foundation of Arab participation in Israeli elections. Israeli Arabs have the right to elect their representatives freely - a right uniformly absent from the rest of the Arab world.

        See also If the Palestinians Want a State, Let Them Build It - Michael Harty (FrontPageMagazine)

    • Palestinians perpetuate hatred by filling the minds of their young with vile invectives concerning America. They blame the Jews for their poverty and ignorance with racially stereotyped imagery. For years the Palestinians have called for the death of America, and in May when Colin Powell arrived for peace talks, Palestinian mobs were burning American flags.
    • If the Palestinians want a state, let them earn it. They are not children. They are not victims. If they hate the Jews and want war, we should let them learn from the consequences of such a disastrous choice. We should not shield them from the repercussions while enabling their atrocities through the excuse that they're victims. If they are unable to build a respectable society with their own hands, how can they ever be expected to behave as a mature state in a community of nations?
    • Why can't the Palestinians do it with six billion American dollars and an international army of reporters, cameras, and activists? What is it that keeps them twiddling their thumbs in "the camps" instead of getting to work building a country and earning some self-respect?


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