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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July 15, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Palestinians Confirm No Massacre in Jenin - Joel Leyden (Jerusalem Post)
    A new study to be released next month, conducted by Jonathan D. HaLevi and based on an extensive review of Palestinian sources, confirms that the Palestinian death toll in the 2002 IDF incursion into Jenin was 52, at least 34 of whom were armed, contradicting earlier Palestinian claims that thousands had died. Some 23 IDF soldiers died in the battle as well.
    The study indicates for the first time that Palestinian terror organizations saw themselves as "armed combatants" and not as civilians who died in a deadly massacre.
    "The study directly contradicts the baseless charges made by PA leaders, including Saeb Erekat, that Israel had massacred 500 Palestinians in Jenin," said Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs which sponsored the study. "That blatant lie made its way from the screens of CNN to the UN Security Council."
    Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas perceived the confrontation with IDF troops as nothing less than a "military to military battle." The three groups established a joint military operations room and created a joint bomb-making facility in Jenin that produced more than two tons of explosives.
    Civilians were intentionally used as human shields, and women and children were deployed to divert IDF troops into ambushes and booby-trapped areas.
    Jenin refugee camp was prepared as a "reinforced fortress," where nearly 200 Palestinian terrorists had gathered for the battle, the research says.

How Saddam Tracked Foes in U.S. - Dave Newbart (Chicago Sun-Times)
    The Iraqi Intelligence Service tracked Iraqi exiles who founded an anti-Saddam political party in the U.S.
     Documents were found with the exact dates of the group's meetings and conventions, the names of the people who ran the events, those in attendance, and what statements were made.
    There are as many as 200 informants in the U.S., Mahdi al-Bassam, a member of the central committee of the Iraqi National Congress, estimates.
    Most are concentrated in large cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Houston.

Al-Qaeda Suspect Went to Jewish School in Britain - Douglas Davis (Jerusalem Post)
    One of the al-Qaeda suspects in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, Moazzam Begg, 35, attended the King David Jewish School in Birmingham, England, for the five years, the Jewish Chronicle reported on Friday.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Saddam Hiding Near Baghdad, Says Exiled Spy Chief
    Saddam Hussein and Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as Chemical Ali, are hiding in an area near the Tigris River between Baghdad and Samarra, says former Iraqi intelligence chief General Wafiq al-Samarrai, who is assisting American forces in the hunt for Saddam. "He is hiding in an area about 60km long and about 20km wide," General Samarrai said, adding that al-Majid was in the same area but moving separately. The general said Saddam had not chosen to hide near Awja, his home village, or the nearby city of Tikrit, because it was not so heavily populated and was more barren, making concealment more difficult. The general does not believe that the death or capture of Saddam will end guerrilla attacks against U.S. forces. He said: "Saddam plays a very small role in this. Most of the attacks are by Islamic groups, former military men who are no longer being paid, and members of the Baath party." (Independent-UK)
  • Border Tension in Syria Feeds Anti-U.S. Rage
    Along the Iraqi-Syrian frontier, tensions with the American soldiers just across the border are running high. Syrian soldiers say that four villagers have been shot by American soldiers in the past month. Videos circulating through the Syrian border villages exhort viewers to attack the Americans in Iraq. One of the videos showed what appeared to be the beheading of a soldier from a Western country by a crowd of Middle Easterners. (New York Times)
  • Canadian Photographer Reportedly Beaten to Death in Iran
    Canadian authorities confirmed Saturday that Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian photojournalist of Iranian origin, has died in Iran. She was apparently arrested after taking photos outside a prison in Tehran on or about June 23 and was then allegedly branded a spy and beaten into unconsciousness by police interrogators. At least 18 journalists are imprisoned in Iran, said Reporters Without Boarders. Many have been arrested in the last three weeks while covering student demonstrations and several have not been heard from since their arrest, the organization said. (CNEWS-Canada)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Terrorist Kills Israeli, Injures Two in Tel Aviv - Roni Singer
    Amir Simhon, 24, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist on Tel Aviv's beachfront promenade early Tuesday. Two other Israelis were wounded in the attack. The attacker, a resident of eastern Jerusalem, told investigators that he was a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon to Blair: "We Won't Free Murderers" - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, meeting in London Monday with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, said that Israel is aware of the importance of releasing Palestinian prisoners, but that "we will not release murderers." Sharon also said that Israel would continue construction of a security fence in the West Bank as an essential means of preventing suicide bombings, and that it does not constitute a political boundary. "The border will be determined in the third stage of the road map, if we reach it," Sharon said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Arrested Belfast Journalist in IRA Identity Snafu - Sharon Sadeh
    British intelligence is rechecking the truth of information recently sent to Israel about a Northern Irish bomb expert suspected to be in the West Bank and helping Palestinian terror cells. The John Morgan arrested on Saturday near Ramallah turned out to be a journalist and pro-Palestinian peace activist, not a member of the Real IRA. (Ha'aretz)
        See also An Irishman in Israel
    In Britain, Whitehall sources retort that MI5 gave the Israelis accurate intelligence. There is a long and dishonorable Irish republican tradition of hostility to Jewish national aspirations. Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Fein, was blatantly anti-Semitic; Sean Russell, chief of staff of the IRA during the Second World War, died on a German submarine and was buried at sea wrapped in the swastika. (Telegraph-UK)
  • PA Denies Confiscating Weapons - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian Authority security officials denied Monday that PA security forces in Gaza have launched a campaign aimed at collecting illegal weapons from Palestinian factions. "What you saw on television was not real; it was part of a drill," said a senior PA security official. "We carried out an exercise....We didn't launch any major operation." "We have no intention of confiscating weapons from any of the Palestinian factions," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Inciting Hearts and Minds to Peace - Silvan Shalom
    A deep and organic change within Palestinian society - the end of Palestinian incitement and the creation of a new culture of peace - can be the distinction that ensures that the road map transcends words on paper and succeeds in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Tel Aviv and Gaza, and indeed throughout the Arab world. Prior Middle East agreements demanded an end to Palestinian incitement to hatred and violence in the media, in mosques, and in elementary school textbooks. Stopping incitement is the only way to reach real peace. (Washington Post)
  • Abbas Keeps His Eye on the Big Picture - Dennis Ross
    As the American envoy to the peace process during the Clinton administration, I worked closely with Mahmud Abbas, often sitting across a table from him around the clock, seven days a week. Abbas preferred to discuss the broader concepts and principles and let others work out the details. For him, that bigger picture was peace with Israel, telling me at one point how he had started in the 1970s "swimming against the stream" to get Fatah to adopt his position of a state next to Israel, not in place of it. He was as nationalistic as any Palestinian I dealt with, but, unlike Arafat, he saw that violence had been disastrous for Palestinian interests. Dennis Ross, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is a former U.S. envoy to the Middle East. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Releasing Palestinian Murderers - Has the World Gone Mad? - David Forman
    The international community, concerned with strengthening the position of Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, is urging Israel to release Palestinians who have murdered Israelis, to send back to Gaza and Jenin members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two groups most of the world has defined as terrorist organizations. Were Iraqi gunmen to kidnap American soldiers, could anyone imagine the U.S. agreeing to a prisoner exchange? Could anyone envision the U.S. setting free even one individual tangentially associated with felling the Twin Towers? Is Israel really expected to free a Palestinian terrorist who walked into a Jewish home and shot two children to death in their beds? Has the world gone mad? What is being demanded is not even an imbalanced exchange of prisoners but an outright amnesty. For what? A teetering hudna that will leave the military might of Hamas and Islamic Jihad intact? A nonreciprocal release of Palestinian prisoners on Israel's part makes a mockery of common sense, fair play, and moral decency. The writer is chairman of Rabbis for Human Rights. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:  

    Pre-Occupation - Martin Peretz (New Republic)

    • On August 6, 2002, Donald Rumsfeld had the temerity to call the West Bank and Gaza Strip "the so-called occupied territories." He couldn't have been more correct. The "occupied territories," after all, is shorthand for the idea that Israel has no rights - either legal or practical - to any of this real estate. Like the facile phrase "land for peace," it is meant to short-circuit a dense history and convince the world that the turmoil in the Middle East stems from Israel's unwillingness to return the land it won from Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in the Six-Day War, a war imposed on it by Cairo and Damascus with the connivance of Moscow.
    • The 1947 UN partition plan had envisioned an Arab state along with the Jewish one. But in the two decades before the 1967 war, Jordan (which had annexed the West Bank) and Egypt (which had run Gaza as a virtual penitentiary, no one in and no one out) instead ruled the territories for themselves.
    • Given that the end of the Jewish state remains the Palestinians' overriding desire, no Israeli government can trust in the irreversibility of Arab obligations taken at the negotiating table. Nonetheless, on certain matters, in the current talks brokered by the U.S., this Israeli government has already taken that risk.
    • From the perspective of international law, all the equities regarding the West Bank and Gaza accrue to Israel. Here the crux is the Mandate for Palestine confirmed by the League of Nations in 1922, which charged the British with facilitating the establishment of the Jewish national home. The Mandate specifically provided for Jewish immigration and, perhaps most important to the current debate, guaranteed the right to "close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands."
    • Israel's precarious lines of defense need to be much stronger than they were before 1967, and the wall now being built to divide Israelis and Palestinians is part of that strategy. (The wall, by the way, was a wise contrivance not of Israel's hawks but of its doves.) The wall deviates from the pre-'67 borders, as it should. Those who object to these deviations see them as precedents for a future permanent border, which they are not.
    • One demand Israel will almost certainly make is for control over its border with Jordan. Not because King Abdullah seeks Israel's destruction. Rather, Jordan is a danger to Israel because of its weakness. The monarchy has good reason to fear the Palestinians west of the river and at home, who constitute 60% of Jordan's population, maybe more. If they rise, no one can guarantee the outcome.

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