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

September 23, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Al-Qaeda's Stealth Weapons: Muslim Converts - Sebastian Rotella (Los Angeles Times)
    A Moroccan court sentenced Pierre Richard Robert to life in prison Thursday after convicting him of recruiting and training Moroccan extremists for a terrorist campaign.
    He joins an unlikely group of men with non-Muslim backgrounds that includes Richard Reid, the British "shoe bomber"; American Jose Padilla, an alleged al-Qaeda operative being held as an enemy combatant; and Christian Ganczarski, a German convert arrested in June by French police.
    They represent a dangerous trend: converts who assume front-line roles as recruiters and plotters.

    See also Islamic Chaplain Charged as Spy - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
    An Army Islamic chaplain, who counseled al-Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base, has been charged with espionage, aiding the enemy, and spying.
    Capt. James J. Yee, a 1990 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, arrested earlier this month by the FBI, was raised as a Christian, studied Islam at West Point, and converted to Islam and left the Army in the mid-1990s.
    He moved to Syria, where he underwent further religious training, then returned to the U.S. and re-entered the Army as an Islamic chaplain.


Iraq Off Limits to Israeli Investments (AFP/Yahoo)
    Israel will not be allowed to take advantage of the liberalization of the Iraqi economy to penetrate the market, Iraqi officials said.
    "This is out of the question," interim Planning Minister Mahdi al-Hafez said Sunday at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Dubai.
    "There is no intention to recognize Israel," added Adel Abdul Mahdi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council who is leading the Iraqi delegation to the meeting.


Competitive Tender Saves Israel $35M in Bond Offering - Zeev Klein (Globes)
    Israel's Ministry of Finance saved about $35 million by managing last week's $1.6 billion bond offering in the U.S. through a competitive tender, cutting 0.2 percentage points from the cost of the offering.
    The bonds were rated AAA because they were backed by U.S. loan guarantees, and were purchased by some of the world's largest institutions, including investors outside the U.S., most probably from Europe and Japan.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Israelis Fail to Convince U.S. on Security Barrier - Peter Slevin
    An Israeli delegation dispatched to convince the Bush administration of the wisdom behind the country's lengthening security barrier failed to obtain an agreement Monday, U.S. and Israeli officials said. The two sides differed most significantly on the prospective route of the fence, particularly whether it would cut 13 miles into the West Bank to include the Israeli town of Ariel. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the barrier "is not really consistent with our view of what the Middle East will one day have to look like." (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Agrees to Leaving an Opening in the Fence - Alex Fishman and Orli Azulai
    An Israeli foreign policy success: the American administration agreed to the Israeli compromise position regarding the construction of the fence around Ariel - constructing the separation fence so that it would be possible to include Ariel in the future. The administration accepted the Israeli position that in principle it is necessary to include Ariel within the separation fence for security reasons. In the past, the U.S. opposed this. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew; 23Sep03)
        See also Report: U.S. Will Not Deduct Fence Costs from Loan Guarantees - Janine Zacharia
    Senior Israeli officials estimated Tuesday that the U.S. will not deduct the cost of building the security fence from American loan guarantees if Israel leaves gaps in the fence around Ariel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Bush: Palestinians Suffer Under Arafat's Leadership
    President Bush said Monday: "In America, we believe in getting rid of people through a peaceful, orderly process, and the Palestinian people should make that decision by getting a government that represents their will. Because I believe most Palestinians believe in peace. No question Arafat has failed. And, you know, the sad thing is that we're really the only country in the world who says that. The Palestinians have suffered under his leadership, and hopefully new leaders will emerge that will be committed to peace, willing to fight terror, and out of that will come a Palestinian state. And I believe it's in everybody's interest that there be a Palestinian state. But it will not happen so long as the interlocutor, the so-called representative of the people, won't fight terror. And that's the problem with Mr. Arafat." (FOX News)
  • Iran Parades New Missile
    Iran showed off its Shahab 3, or "Shooting Star," missile on Monday for the first time during a military parade. The missile was first tested successfully in 1998 and has been described as having a range of more than 800 miles, enough to reach Israel or Turkey. Concerns have been expressed that it could be equipped to carry a nuclear warhead. (New York Times)
        Television pictures showed one of the missile carriers displaying a defiant message: "We will stamp on America." (Washington Times)
  • U.S. Does Not Expect Israeli Settlement Response Yet
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday he did not expect the Israeli government to respond to U.S. pressure on West Bank settlements until the PA cracks down on militants. In an interview with the Charlie Rose Show, Powell sympathized with Prime Minister Sharon on the settlement question, saying it would be almost impossible for an Israeli leader to appear to be yielding to U.S. pressure. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Yaakov Perry: "Since the Beginning of the Oslo Process We have been Living in One Ongoing Deception"
    Regarding the current political situation, Yaakov Perry, former head of Israel's domestic intelligence agency (Shabak), stated: "Arafat came to be revealed as a trickster, a liar, and the biggest manipulator in our history. Since the Oslo process, we have been living in one ongoing deception. I, also, who believed in him, just like Yitzhak Rabin, z"l, felt disappointed and even somewhat foolish." (Globes-Hebrew; 19Sep03)
  • S. African Minister: Israel is Not Apartheid - Yossi Melman
    South Africa's minister for home affairs, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, rejects calling the Israeli treatment of Palestinians "apartheid." "The Israeli regime is not apartheid. It is a unique case of democracy," he said in an interview Monday. If the Palestinians asked him, he would advise them to avoid violence and to prefer negotiations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Ambassador Simcha Dinitz Dies
    Simcha Dinitz, a former chairman of the Jewish Agency and Israeli ambassador to Washington in the 1970s, died Tuesday in Jerusalem at the age of 74. Dinitz also served as director general of the foreign ministry and later of the prime minister's office, as well as political adviser to prime minister Golda Meir. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hizballah's Success - David Ignatius
    Hizballah believes that the Islamic forces arrayed against Israel are winning - thanks to the carnage wrought by suicide bombings. While such operations are often seen in the West as a tactic of desperation, the leaders of this Lebanese Shiite militia view them as a successful weapon that has put Israel on the defensive. Suicide bombings aren't driven by poverty, neglect, or irrational fanaticism. They are motivated by a belief that killing Israelis will bring military victory. (Washington Post)
  • The Choice For Israelis - Jimmy Carter
    Last week we observed the 25th anniversary of the Camp David Accords. At Camp David we Americans knew that our nation's strategic interests were directly involved in the peace process. Today, our strategic interests are much less involved in the Israeli-Palestinian violence. There seems to be no urgency in resolving the relatively localized dispute. There remains one basic choice, and only the Israelis can make it: Do we want permanent peace with all our neighbors, or do we want to retain our settlements in the occupied territories of the Palestinians? (Washington Post)
  • The UN is Unable to Recognize Terrorism - Anne Bayefsky
    Although UN Secretary-General Annan condemned Israel's failed attack on Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, calling it an "extrajudicial killing...in violation of international law," Israel targeted senior Hamas leaders because they were a central part of the command and control structure of a terrorist organization. They were combatants in a war. They were therefore not entitled to a judicial process before an attempt to kill them and their deaths would not be "extrajudicial killings."
        The key international rule governing the use of force against terrorists is the requirement of proportionality. The Geneva Conventions say an attack on a military target "which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life" is prohibited if "excessive." Only in Israel's case does the UN apply this rule to mean zero civilian deaths. The Geneva Conventions say the presence of "civilians shall not be used to render...areas immune from military operations...in attempts to shield military objectives from attack." It is the Palestinian Authority that violates international humanitarian law by putting civilians, deliberately and directly, in harm's way. Permitting killers to live, socialize, and plot freely in densely populated civilian neighborhoods is the violation of international law. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Why Israel's Policy is Far from Wrong - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • If one assumes there can be no peace with a Palestinian leadership unwilling to keep its commitments and uninterested in compromise, the only choice is to continue fighting until the other side is ready to stop.
    • In this difficult situation Israel does have a reasonably appropriate strategy:
      • Fight the Palestinian-imposed war, trying to minimize threats to Israeli citizens, and capture or punish terrorists. Inflict costs that will encourage the other side to implement a real cease-fire.
      • Make clear that Israel is ready to accept an independent Palestinian state and other aspects of a peace agreement in order to give the other side an incentive to end the conflict.
      • Improve Israeli defenses to lower casualties and show that the terror strategy does not work.
      • Maintain vital international support, especially from the U.S., even at the price of restraining Israel's defensive military efforts somewhat.
      • Request international pressure on the PA, including bypassing Yasser Arafat.
      • Encourage an alternative Palestinian leadership willing to make peace, or at least a real cease-fire.


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