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

June 27, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Saudi Arabia Arrests Suspect in Riyadh Bombings - Douglas Jehl (New York Times)
    Saudi Arabia has arrested a senior figure in al Qaeda who is believed to have played a crucial role in planning and carrying out the May bombings in Riyadh that killed 34 people, including 8 Americans.
    The same man was thought to be planning further operations against American targets, senior American and Saudi government officials said Thursday.


Assad Reneged on Promised Reforms (Syrian Human Rights Committee-UK)
    "The President, in his address to the new Parliament last March, reneged on his promises of reform which he announced in his inauguration speech in July of 2000 before the Parliament; promises which never came into effect." - from the SHRC Annual Report, 2003.


140 Qassam Rockets Fired Since September 2000 (Israel Defense Forces)
    Since September 2000, over 140 Qassam rockets and 1,700 mortars have been launched from the Gaza Strip area.
    On June 25, 2003, IDF forces identified and struck a Hamas terrorist cell in Khan Yunis about to fire mortars at Israeli communities.


Iranian Exiles Sow Change Via Satellite - Michael Dobbs (Washington Post)
    A quarter-century after Ayatollah Khomeini undermined the shah of Iran by flooding the country with audiotapes of his fiery sermons, a new generation of Iranian exiles is using modern-day communications technology - radio stations, the Internet, cell phones, and, above all, satellite television - to bring down Khomeini's successors.


Nine-Second Error Saved Rantisi - Itai Asher
(Maariv-Hebrew)
    A mistake in timing allowed Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi to escape an Israeli helicopter strike two weeks ago in Gaza, according to an Israel Air Force investigation.
    Two helicopters were each to fire a Hellfire missile simultaneously, but in this case there was a delay of 9 seconds before the second missile struck, allowing Rantisi to escape.
    A senior air force officer said that, overall, such airstrikes hit the target in 95% of cases. The wanted terrorist is killed in 80-85% of cases.


"Carlos the Jackal" Publishes Treatise on Terror - Charles Bremner (London Times)
    Illich Ramirez Sanchez, 55, the revolutionary killer known as "Carlos the Jackal," has just published Revolutionary Islam (Editions du Rocher, 2003), a book in praise of Islamic terror, while serving a life sentence in a French prison.
    Intelligence agencies deemed Carlos responsible for the murders of dozens of people as well as hostage-taking in the 1970s.
    In the book, Carlos says "revolutionary Islam" is the only method for creating fair societies and he praises Osama Bin Laden as a genius who achieved a feat of arms with the attacks of September 11, 2001.


Death Cults of War - Arnold Beichman (National Review)
    In all modern history, there has been nothing like this organized cult of death designed to achieve political aims via religious faith and reward.
    Israel's enemies believe they have Israel on the run and there will be no letup in this war.


New Advocacy Institutes for Community Activists - Aaron B. Cohen (JTA)
    A new initiative to bolster Israel advocacy in local communities took flight this week in Chicago with the completion of the first of six planned Israel Advocacy Institutes.
    Sponsored by the United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the institutes are intended to empower Jewish communities to "strengthen their local advocacy efforts and directly help Israel in her quest for peace and security," UJC Chairman James Tisch said.
    The Chicago institute drew 75 participants, including professional and volunteer leaders from federations and community relations councils throughout the Midwest.
    The series continues with regional workshops in San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dallas.


Key Links

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Back Issues


News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Palestinians Reject Bush's Call to Dismantle Hamas
    The Palestinian Authority rejected Thursday President Bush's call to dismantle Hamas and other militant anti-Israeli groups. "The talk about dismantling factions is a flagrant call for a civil war that is rejected by the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority and by the factions, and it will never happen," said Ahmed Adel-Rahman, a senior aide to President Yasser Arafat. Abdel-Rahman's comments appeared to put the PA and the White House on a collision course. Abdallah al-Shani, a senior leader of the militant Islamic Jihad group, responded by describing Bush as a "terrorist." (Reuters)
  • Deadline Set for Crack Down on Bombers
    Israel is giving Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas a week to 10 days to begin dismantling suicide bomber groups. Otherwise, "we will have to go after them" and delay a troop withdrawal from Gaza, said Uzi Landau, minister for strategic U.S.-Israeli relations, in Washington Thursday. President Bush said Wednesday that a cease-fire was not enough. "In order for there to be peace in the Middle East we must see organizations such as Hamas dismantled," Bush said. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer underscored the message on Thursday, telling reporters that Bush "does not want to lose sight of the bigger picture here, because the bigger picture is an end to terror. Terrorists don't deserve a break. They don't deserve breathing space. They deserve to be put out of business. That's how the president sees it." (AP/Washington Post)
  • Rice Reinforces Support for Road Map - Harvey Morris
    To the consternation of Israeli officials and the surprise of all but the most skeptical Palestinians, the signals from Washington appear to confirm that President Bush really is determined to push through his "road map" to peace. The arrival in the region at the weekend of Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, will reinforce the message he gave at the Aqaba summit this month that he regards the peace process as the "highest priority."
        Countering the spin from Israeli officials that Israel's secret weapon is the personal relationship between Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon, U.S. officials suggest that the two men are not that close. Moreover, they stress that the president is genuinely impressed by Mr. Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan, his security chief. Underscoring the new U.S. hands-on approach to the road map's progress, people familiar with the discussions say Mr. Powell spent an hour-and-a-half last Sunday on Gaza maps to determine where Israeli forces may or may not remain once an Israeli withdrawal goes ahead. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Rice to Europeans: Ban Hamas's Political Wing
    During a visit to London Thursday, Rice urged the Europeans to declare Hamas's political wing a terrorist organization. "The notion that on the one hand, Hamas is peaceful, and on the other hand, is trying to blow up the peace process is just illogical and, we're saying, will not work." Other radical groups like Hizballah, Islamic Jihad and "all of the other rejectionists" should also be targeted, she said. A European diplomat said Thursday that most members of the EU now agree that Hamas's political wing should be declared a terrorist organization. France, however, is still opposed. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Stop Funds for Hamas, Says Rice (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Shoot Israeli Motorist
    An Israeli civilian sustained moderate wounds after being shot Thursday as he was driving south of Jerusalem near the Palestinian village of El Hader. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Advocate General: Rachel Corrie's Death an Accident - Joel Leyden
    An investigation conducted by the Judge Advocate's Office concludes that pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie, who was in a closed military zone and interfering with IDF operational activities, was killed by accident. "The driver at no point saw or heard Corrie," a military source said. "She was standing behind debris which obstructed the view of the driver and the driver had a very limited field of vision due to the protective cage he was working in." "The driver and his commanders were interrogated extensively over a long period of time with the use of polygraph tests and video evidence. They had no knowledge that she was standing in the path of the tractor. An autopsy of Corrie's body revealed that the cause of death was from falling debris and not from the tractor physically rolling over her," the source stated. "It was a tragic accident that never should have happened," the source said. "The International Solidarity Movement, to which Corrie belonged, was directly responsible for illegal behavior and conduct in the area of Corrie's death and their actions directly led to this tragedy," the source concluded. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Amidror to Head Anti-Incitement Committee - Diana Bachor-Nir
    Maj. Gen. (res.) Ya'akov Amidror, former head of the IDF's research and assessment division, was appointed Thursday by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom to head the committee to prevent incitement against Israel in the Palestinian Authority. The task of the committee, which is to begin work next week, will be to monitor hostile content in Arab and Palestinian media, as well as in Palestinian educational curricula, textbooks, and summer camps. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
        See also Israel's Strategy after the Iraq War - Maj. Gen. Ya'akov Amidror (ICA/JCPA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    A Cease-Fire? Israeli Perspectives

  • Israel Wants U.S. to Guarantee that Terror Groups Disarm - Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, Nathan Guttman, and Arnon Regular
    Israel will ask National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who arrives in Jerusalem this weekend, for U.S. guarantees that the PA will dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in areas where it assumes security authority - as it is obligated to do under the road map peace plan - rather than settling for an agreement with the terrorist organizations on a cessation of attacks. PA Security Minister Mohammed Dahlan has said that the PA would act in its own way to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. "Dahlan's plan is a truce and nothing else," a senior security official said Thursday. "He told us explicitly that he has no intention of arresting activists or disarming the terrorist organizations." Hamas sources said Thursday that the group will formally announce a truce in the next two days, but so far, despite the truce talks, there has been no letup in the pace of attempted attacks. The lion's share of the recent attacks, both successful and unsuccessful, have been carried out by members of Fatah, the party headed by Abbas and Arafat. (Ha'aretz)
  • Under Cover of Hudna - Aluf Benn
    Why is Israel so suspicious of the hudna among the Palestinian organizations? Experience shows that the Arabs have exploited cease-fires in the past to accumulate strength for the next round of conflict. In Jerusalem they know that the minute a cease-fire is declared, even a temporary one, it would satisfy the international community and even Israeli public opinion. If there really is quiet and the terrorist attacks cease, no one in the world will be interested in Israel's claims about "the strengthening of the terror organizations." The ball will be kicked into the Israeli court and the Sharon government will be required to fulfill its part of the road map on the way to a Palestinian state.
        Israel agreed to give the Palestinians three to six weeks before they take apart Hamas in Gaza. Israel estimates that in this period Hamas won't have time to rebuild its power. Yet if calm is achieved, the U.S. will have difficulty pressuring the Palestinians to embark on a civil war and Israel will be deprived of its military freedom in the territories. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jerusalem Views Hudna Irrelevant - Herb Keinon
    Jerusalem completely downplayed the significance of a tactical cease-fire (hudna) between the Palestinian Authority and the terror organizations, with officials calling it everything from "irrelevant" to "a trap." "This 'cease-fire' is poison covered in honey," said Gideon Meir, the Foreign Ministry's deputy director-general for public affairs. According to Meir, the cease-fire may hold for a short while, but when it breaks down, and Israel is forced to react to stave off terror attacks, it will be blamed for "breaking the cease-fire."
        According to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, Abbas hopes that the three-month cease-fire will buy him enough time to organize the PA's security apparatus, and gain popularity on the Palestinian street through what he hopes will be a palpable easing of conditions of the population, so that he will be able to deter Hamas from taking action without actually having to go in and dismantle the organization. According to these officials, the Egyptian mediators who helped hammer out the cease-fire deal pressed the Palestinians to agree in an attempt to push Israel into a corner. According to this logic, a period of quiet will force Israel into having to begin negotiating - under the terms of the road map - a provisional Palestinian state, and taking steps on the ground to significantly ease the plight of the Palestinians.
        According to the foreign ministry, three weeks after Aqaba there is not the smallest sign that the PA intends to engage in a true fight against terror. On the other hand, there remain dozens of "hot" alerts. There has been no change in Palestinian incitement, or the PA's attitude toward it. The incitement can be stopped without the need to reorganize the PA security apparatus. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Commander: Don't Trust Dahlan - Amos Harel
    Maj. Gen. Doron Almog, head of the IDF Southern Command, does not have great faith in Mohammed Dahlan. In 1994, Almog oversaw the IDF's redeployment in the Gaza Strip under the "Gaza and Jericho First" agreement. Dahlan came from Tunis to head the Preventive Security Service in Gaza. During the first 10 months of the deal, 18 Israelis, both soldiers and civilians, were killed in Gaza. The attacks, mostly committed by the Islamic organizations, continued despite Dahlan's assurances that the PA would stop them. The last thing that interests Dahlan, he said, is Israel's security.
        Even if an agreement is reached - and Almog believes that "temporary conditions" for a cease-fire have been created - Almog does not expect much of the PA security services. "They will never be 'arrest subcontractors' for us. No Palestinian wants to be seen as a collaborator. The PA will not fight Hamas. Their model is calming things down without using force. The hard-core terrorists, the arms production, and the incitement will continue to exist, on top of the huge wells of hatred created by the preachers in the mosques every Friday. There they say explicitly: 'The fight will continue until Ashdod and Ashkelon are liberated.'"
        Speaking to his officers, Almog urged them "under no circumstances to place our trust in the PA." He believes that by continuing current security doctrines, it is possible to "contain" terror within the Gaza Strip - to keep it at a tolerable level, and to ensure that it does not spill over into Israel. (Ha'aretz)

    A Cease-Fire? American and British Perspectives

  • Harmony in U.S. Diplomatic Circles on Middle East Policy - Steven R. Weisman
    There has been an unusual degree of harmony among Mr. Bush's aides on the Middle East for several weeks, most recently since the president this week insisted on the dismantling of the militant group Hamas rather than reaching a cease-fire with it. "A cease-fire is useful only if it buys the Palestinians time to crack down on Hamas," said an administration official. "Ultimately, it will be useless because Hamas has to be destroyed. How can a group determined to wipe Israel off the face of the earth ever become a partner in the peace process?" (New York Times)
  • Hamas Leaders Caught Off Guard by Bush's Divine Mission - Alan Philps
    President Bush told Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas earlier this month that bringing peace to the Middle East was a "divine mission" for him. Mr. Bush's divine mission is gathering strength, and all the Arab leaders are scrambling to avoid being trampled by the diplomatic and military juggernaut. The most scared of all are the Syrians, whose capital, Damascus, has been the home of the exiled leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The fact Washington has offered no explanation - let alone an apology - for a raid on June 19 in which five border guards were wounded and taken away is the clearest indication that the U.S. is no respecter of Syrian sovereignty. The Israelis dismiss any truce as a sham, and are demanding that Mr. Abbas's Palestinian Authority set about disarming Hamas, a role he is too weak to carry out. The stage of dismantling Hamas will mark the point when Mr. Bush's divine mission collides with the dark realities on the ground. (Telegraph-UK)

    Other Issues:

  • Perfidious PR Campaign - Stephen Schwartz
    The Saudi regime is desperately trying to convince us that it is fighting terrorism. In Riyadh, James Zogby appeared as representative of his Arab American Institute (AAI), in a joint presentation with Saleh al-Wohaiby, secretary of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY, an official arm of the Saudi government). WAMY is the Saudi equivalent of the Hitler Youth: a hate-mongering, ultraextremist group preaching, among other niceties, that Shia Muslims are not real Muslims, but products of a Jewish conspiracy. It is under continuing investigation for involvement in al Qaeda funding.
        Until 9/11, Zogby was everyone's favorite Arab-American advocate. He was the soul of moderation on Israel, favoring Arab recognition of the Jewish state. He is a Christian, and admitted knowing nothing about Islam. But after 9/11, Zogby suddenly came out of the closet as a ferocious supporter of the Saudis and Wahhabism, and a vicious apologist for extremism. For Zogby to stand up alongside the bigots and agitators of WAMY is simply unacceptable if he wants his AAI to continue to enjoy respect among ordinary, decent Americans. Zogby should break with WAMY and denounce Wahhabism. If he won't, the Justice Department should order AAI to register as a foreign agent. His involvement with a foreign government in interfering with American law should be investigated as a subversive action. (New York Post)
  • Black Flag of Islam Over Downing Street - Ori Golan
    "One day the black flag of Islam will be flying over Downing Street," says Anjem Choudray, spokesman for the Al-Muhajiroun, a radical Islamic movement in Britain which seeks to establish Islamic supremacy and calls for a jihad against opponents of Islam. Last year, on September 11, the group celebrated the attacks on the World Trade Center under the banner "A Towering Day in History." Britain operates as a strategic base for some of the most radical Islamic groups which preach hatred, incite to violence, and recruit volunteers for terrorist activities. Last January, British military intelligence in Afghanistan discovered a list of 1,192 names of British citizens, all Muslims, who trained there with al Qaeda. Terrorists have attended mosques in Britain where young, impressionable Muslims are exhorted to take up arms against Jews, Hindus, and other "infidels." If the extremists are allowed to continue preaching their hatred, the next suicide bomb attack could well be in Britain. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Think-Tank Urges Ban on Muslims Preaching Hatred - Philip Johnston
    Fanatical Islamist religious leaders who preach hatred of Western values should be prevented from coming to work in British mosques, says the Civitas organization in a report, "The West, Islam, and Islamism," authored by Lady Cox, a prominent human rights campaigner, and John Marks, director of the Education Research Trust. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Old-Thinking Arabs - David Ignatius
    The heady, public enthusiasm at the World Economic Forum in Jordan about the Arab future was wonderful. But there is a culture of negativism and despair so deep in the Arab world that many people treat life as a zero-sum game: If something is good for America, they assume it must be bad for the Arabs. As someone who wants political change in the Arab world, I was enthusiastic about the mood of the Dead Sea gathering - until I heard the Arab intellectuals and their chorus of despair. Maybe I'm just a naive American who romanticizes change. But this week I wanted to shake my Arab writer friends and say: Come on, gang. Stop whining and get moving. If you don't want America to shape your future, then take control of it yourselves. (Washington Post)
        See also The Voices of Arab Moderation - H.D.S. Greenway (Boston Globe)
  • A Trusteeship for Palestine? - Efraim Inbar
    One panacea prescribed for calming the conflict with the Palestinians is an international trusteeship, which means transferring governmental responsibility in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza to a U.S.-led alliance and introducing American forces to keep the peace. Yet Washington's priorities prior to dealing with Palestinian terror apparently require completing their missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as focusing attention on Iran and North Korea, states with a nuclear potential and far-reaching consequences for international security. Historically, peacekeeping forces are put in place after an agreement between two sides, but in this case the proposed foreign forces are to come in place of a bilateral agreement. Bringing in American forces would put one of the pillars of Israeli national security - the strategic partnership with the U.S. - at risk. American losses in defending Israel would erode support for the Jewish state. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iraqis Struggle over Baath Purge - Scott Peterson
    The problem of de-Baathification is being painted in black and white - while in fact, many Iraqis say, it should be shades of gray. A proclamation on May 16 by American chief of the occupation authority in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, purges the top four ranks of the Baath Party, though party apparatchiks with critical skills who "demonstrated" that they were not committed to the Baath Party under Mr. Hussein could be candidates for exemption. "When they consider every Baath member an enemy, the Americans are putting all of them on the other side of the fence," says Saad Jawad, a political scientist at Baghdad University. "These people are ready to cooperate with the Americans, to work with them. But when you shut them out, they will meet and make an armed cell to fight back." (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Threat to Israel is Real - Daniel Horwitz
    On June 17, I called to offer condolences to a friend whose wife was blown up in a bus bombing in Jerusalem. Genia Berman, a mother of five, was murdered because she was a Jew who lives in Israel. She was a victim of a campaign conducted by those offended by a Jewish presence in the Middle East. From pogroms in the 1920s to today's homicidal bombings and genocidal education, the threat to eliminate Israel is very real. This doesn't mean every Arab supports this or that President Bush's "road map" to peace can't be traveled, only that Israel has every reason to take such a threat seriously.
        Undoubtedly many Palestinians are victims. Everyone understands that innocent Palestinians have died, and that their circumstances are excruciating and often humiliating. But the Palestinians are largely the victims of their own leadership, which has consistently turned away from peace. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a result of this intolerance and rejectionism. The sooner Palestinian leadership changes course, the sooner the entire region will be able to arrive at a lasting peace.
        Genia Berman is a victim of evil in action and of those who excuse it. And if you don't understand that, you can't broker useful discussion among Jews and Muslims. Rabbi Daniel Horwitz is president of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Kansas City. (Kansas City Star)
  • Observations:  

    Money Talks - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • What are the Palestinian Authority leaders telling the Americans that they are not telling Israel?
    • The Palestinians have told Washington that for a terrorist to cease his activity there is no need to kill him. The method is to buy him off with money. The Palestinians are asking the Americans for lots of money to neutralize terrorists.
    • Who can promise that the money the Americans are being asked to fork over in order to "buy" the terrorists' weapons will not be diverted to corrupt Palestinian officials? As in other cases of bribery, those who make the cash payoffs don't want to be examined too closely.
    • Yet some see this as paying bribery or a ransom to terrorists no less than conducting negotiations with terrorists to obtain the release of hostages with money.


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