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

November 7, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Pentagon: Covert Force Hunts Hussein, bin Laden - Tom Shanker and Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
    Gen. John Abizaid, who commands all American forces in the strategic crescent from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, decided over the summer to create a covert commando force - Task Force 121 - to hunt Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and key terrorists throughout the region, according to Pentagon and military officials.
    The new Special Operations organization is designed to act with greater speed on intelligence tips about "high-value targets" and not be contained within the borders where American conventional forces are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Military officers say the new force was given a broader, regional mission.
    "Capturing Saddam Hussein or killing him would be very important," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week in Washington. "So we do need to catch him and I think we will."
    "The fact that he's alive is unhelpful," Rumsfeld said.


Yasser Arafat "Has £1.8bn Fortune" - William Tinning (Herald-UK)
    A television documentary is to claim that Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian president, has amassed a personal fortune of up to £1.8bn and his wife is given tens of thousands of pounds each week to fund a lavish lifestyle in Paris.
    The CBS show "60 Minutes" will also claim on Sunday that Arafat's wife, Suha, 40, who lives away from the struggles of her homeland, is given more than £60,000 ($100,000) a month from PA funds.
    It is claimed that Arafat controls most of the £3.3bn in international aid that has flowed to the PA over the past nine years, during which time he has established a system of financial aid that guarantees the support of a host of Palestinian factions.


PA Daily: "Collective Mutiny" in PA Military Intelligence (BICOM-UK)
    Chief of Military Intelligence General Musa Arafat attributed the recurrence of cases of collective mutiny inside his department to the weakness of the PA, the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat al-Jadidah reported.
    He said that some junior officers in the military intelligence wished to move to other places of work, against the background of a lack of desire to be committed to office hours and military discipline.
    He emphasized that there were hundreds of staff in other security departments who got salaries without being committed to do any work.
    This week, 30 members of the military intelligence staged a "sit-in" at the provincial building in Khan Yunis, placing explosives and gas cylinders at the entrance, brandishing machine-guns and hand grenades, and threatening to blow up the building if it was assaulted by the national security forces.
    There have been three similar incidents within the Palestinian intelligence apparatus in less than a year. All ended in meeting the demands of the mutineers, who all belong to Fatah.


Al-Qaeda Suspect Held in Northern Ireland - Thomas Harding (Telegraph-UK)
    A North African with alleged links to al-Qaeda was arrested in connection with international terrorism by police in Northern Ireland Wednesday who are investigating possible terrorist attacks against Britain.


Jews Ignore Risks to Stand by Israel - Moni Basu
(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
    4,000 Americans are making the journey to Israel next week for the general assembly of the United Jewish Communities, which begins Nov. 16.


Institute for Counter-Terrorism Opens Branch in Washington - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    The Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), part of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, is opening a branch in Washington this week.
    The aim is to be closer to the place where major decisions are made regarding the war on terror, said executive director Boaz Ganor.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Asks Lands in Mideast to Try Democratic Ways
    President Bush on Thursday challenged Iran, Syria, and two crucial Middle East allies of the United States - Egypt and Saudi Arabia - to begin embracing democratic traditions, and to view the fall of Saddam Hussein as "a watershed event in the global democratic revolution." "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe," Mr. Bush argued, "because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty." (New York Times)
        See also Idealism in the Face of a Troubled Reality - Robin Wright
    The president's dream of a democratic Middle East doesn't jibe with the terror war's reliance on autocratic allies. (Washington Post)
  • Bush Views Palestinian Leaders as the Main Obstacle to Peace
    President Bush said Thursday: "For the Palestinian people, the only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy. And the Palestinian leaders who block and undermine democratic reform, and feed hatred and encourage violence are not leaders at all. They're the main obstacles to peace, and to the success of the Palestinian people." (White House)
        See also Text of Bush on Middle East (White House)
  • Iran Says It Will Abandon Development of Longer-Range Missile
    Iran will abandon development of the Shahab-4 missile that could have carried a conventional warhead as far as Europe or threatened Israel with a heavier nuclear or biological payload, the Iranian government announced. Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said development of the Shahab-4 had not reached the point of mass production. The Shahab-4, he said, "in a lot of ways is a paper missile," in that it existed mainly in frame designs and possibly engine components. But Cordesman warned that "it doesn't mean this is something that's permanent." The missile's development could continue secretly, he said, just as a program aimed at producing atomic weapons could conceivably elude inspectors. (Washington Post)
  • Perle: Iran "Up to Eyeballs" in Terror
    Influential Pentagon adviser Richard Perle said Thursday that Iran was "up to its eyeballs in terrorism" and the U.S. should quietly be encouraging a democratic revolution from within. "Is there any doubt about Iran's support for terrorism, about their payments to Hamas and Hizballah?" Perle said in a speech in Berlin. He later said, "I think we may well see a regime change in Iran brought about by Iranians, but they need some help. They need more broadcasting so that communications are improved. We should be prepared to help them get newspapers published in their own country," Perle said. "I think the potential is there for regime change, but we should encourage it." Perle said it was no surprise now that what he called foreign terrorists were crossing into Iraq to launch attacks against the U.S. and other foreign targets. "Success in Iraq is a threat to every tyrannical regime in the region, and they understand that," he said. (Reuters)
  • Fayyad Puts Palestinian Donor Meeting in Doubt
    A conference of international donors to the Palestinian Authority, due to meet in Rome on November 19, was thrown into doubt Thursday after Salam Fayyad, the PA's widely respected finance minister, said he would not participate in the present caretaker government. Fayyad was to have used the occasion to ask the international community for $1.2bn in aid for 2004. Diplomats and aid officials said that even Fayyad's temporary absence would be a blow to efforts to retain the PA's credibility with its largest donors. Donors had still to meet commitments for 2003. Diplomats say the reluctance of donors to come forward with funds partly reflected concern at the apparent state of political chaos within the PA. The PA relies on foreign assistance to pay salaries that support much of the 3.3m population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Financial Times-UK)
  • U.S. Lawmakers, Officials Discuss Islamic Extremism in Central Asia
    Members of Congress and government officials discussed their concern that a perceived lack of legitimacy is undermining the efforts of Central Asian countries to combat radical Islamic insurgencies at a hearing on Capitol Hill. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Central Asia, said religious extremism and terrorism have been among the major threats to the former Soviet states of Central Asia since the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1991. "A brand of radical, international Islam, Wahhabism, gave birth to many radical movements including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," she said. "The former's views are highly radical, advocating the overthrow of governments throughout the Muslim world and their replacement by an Islamic state." (VOA)
  • Tories Choose Longtime Lawmaker as New Leader
    Britain's opposition Conservatives united on Thursday to name a longtime lawmaker, Michael Howard, as their new leader. Howard, 62, was a member of the Conservative governments of former Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Born in Wales and educated at Cambridge, he is the son of Romanian-born immigrants. He is the first Jew to lead the Tories since Benjamin Disraeli (who was of Jewish stock but was baptized in the Church of England) in the 19th century. He is known as a combative and feisty politician who was the equal of [Prime Minister Tony] Blair in parliamentary debate when he was home secretary and Mr. Blair was his opponent, or shadow, as it is known in British politics. (New York Times)
        See also Jewish MP Declared Tory Leader - Douglas Davis (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Struggles to Neutralize Hizballah Bombs - Uri Ash
    The IDF Thursday began clearing eight bombs laid by Hizballah along the Lebanese border, a day after they were discovered by an alert IDF tracker. By nightfall, three of the bombs had been dealt with in controlled explosions that caused heavy damage to the border fence. Colonel Itai Virov said, "This is a very sophisticated, high-grade, and well-concealed bomb nest that was meant to cause damage to forces patrolling the fence and to those who would come to their rescue," he said. "It would probably have been very deadly to both infantry and armored cars." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Protests Hizballah Bombing Attempt to UN - David Rudge
    Israel has lodged an official protest with the UN over Hizballah's attempt to attack soldiers and civilians along the northern border by means of a sophisticated string of roadside bombs near the security fence. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Poll: 62% of Palestinians Support Suicide Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    According to a new public opinion poll published on Thursday by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC), 61.8% of Palestinians supported suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, while 34.9% are opposed to this form of terrorism. Another 67.9% said they supported the resumption of "military operations" against Israel "as a suitable response within the current political conditions." 42.3% said they supported the resumption of attacks inside Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as opposed to 14.1% who said the attacks should be restricted only to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In regard to the intifada, 76.8% supported its continuation, with only 21.7% saying that they want to see an end to the violence. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 8 Mortar Shells Fired at Gaza Settlements
    A mortar shell was fired at Gush Katif settlements Friday morning causing neither casualties nor damage. Thursday night, 7 more shells were fired, damaging a house and lightly injuring a woman, Army Radio reports. Meanwhile, security forces are on the alert with 45 targeted notices on possible suicide attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Australian PM Boycotts Ashrawi
    Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Sydney Mayor Lucy Turnbull boycotted a gala ceremony in Sydney on Thursday in which Palestinian Authority legislator Hanan Ashrawi received the AUS $50,000 ($34,500) Sydney Peace Prize. Australia's Jewish community also protested against Ashrawi being awarded the prize by the Sydney Peace Foundation, a non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Sydney, because she has not unconditionally condemned Palestinian terrorist attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Saudi School for Scandal - William Boston
    The King Fahd Academy is a Saudi-run school established in 1995, when Bonn was still the seat of the German government, to educate the children of Arab diplomats. Over the past two years, some 200 Arab families have moved to Bonn from around Germany to send their children to the school. Classes are taught in Arabic and, as in Saudi schools, the curriculum is based on Wahhabism, a rigorous brand of Islam that accepts the Koran as literal truth. Concerns about the academy peaked in early October when Panorama, a popular television program, aired a video purporting to show the school's imam and teacher, Anas Bayram, telling parents how to train their children in spear throwing, swimming, and horseback riding in order to prepare for jihad. Investigators say that some of the people who frequent the mosque at the academy have had direct or indirect contact with al-Qaeda. (TIME)
  • Egyptian Press vs. U.S. Ambassador: "The Arrogant Ambassador Representing the Imbecile Bush"
    The American Ambassador to Egypt, David Welch, has criticized the Egyptian press several times. On the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks, he published an op-ed in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram in which he criticized conspiracy theories in the Egyptian press. Columnist Jamal Fahmi wrote an article in the pro-Nasserist opposition weekly Al-Arabi titled, "The Ambassador from Hell in Cairo," saying, "'Brother' Welch has the arrogance that befits an ambassador representing that imbecile in Washington, George W. Bush." Adli Barssoum wrote in Al-Gumhuriya: "Mr. American Ambassador knows very well, just like us, that the American press...is a press carefully orchestrated from above. In contrast, the Egyptian press is guided only by the national conscience, and when it determines that martyrdom operations [suicide bombings] for the sake of liberating Palestinian territories are acts of courage - it is an historical testimonial. Al-Gumhuriya does not pretend to be the only paper describing the heroism of the Palestinian martyrs; this is the position of all the Egyptian papers because it accurately reflects the feeling of the Egyptian people." (MEMRI)
  • Have the Tories Suddenly Learned to Love the Jews? Not Quite - Melanie Phillips
    The Conservatives have been out of power for six years and Michael Howard is by far the most successful politician they've got. Crucially, moreover, Howard's Jewish profile has always been low and he has never made much of his Jewishness. His wife, the former model Sandra Paul, is a member of the Church of England; and his son Nick not only became a Christian, but provoked controversy as a student when he started trying to convert Jews to Christianity. (Ha'aretz)
  • An Arab Reform Voice - Editorial
    The Arab Human Development Report, a survey prepared by a group of regional scholars and policy analysts under UN auspices, has been downloaded more than 1 million times from the Internet, making it one of the most popular Arab works ever produced. In a region where censorship is as universal as dysfunctional political and economic systems, the report offers a painfully honest account of the region's problems, which it groups into three "deficits": freedom, women's rights, and knowledge. The report's 26 authors argue broadly that knowledge in the Arab world is being retarded by repressive governments, a lack of resources, and extreme Islamic movements. (Washington Post)
  • Former CIA Director Calls for Tougher Policy on Syria - Marc Perelman
    Washington should send an American aircraft carrier to the Syrian coast, summon strongman Bashar al-Assad aboard, chide him vigorously for sponsoring terrorism, meddling in Iraq and pursuing weapons of mass destruction - and take special care to confront him over Syria's occupation of Lebanon. So says the CIA's former director, James Woolsey. (Forward)

    Weekend Features:

  • Israel Loses a Warrior - Eric Fettmann
    Long before he became known as one of Israel's most impassioned and eloquent defenders, David Bar-Illan - then one of the world's foremost concert pianists who performed with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic - told an interviewer, "It is impossible to live in an ivory tower when everybody around you is struggling for the survival of a nation." Born in Haifa, he was a third-generation Palestinian (back when that word invariably referred to Jews). In "Eye on the Media," an often-blistering criticism of news-media coverage of Israel, he wrote, "In assuming that a Jewish state would make anti-Semitism disappear, Zionism's founding fathers were dead wrong [and]...the world media have played a crucial role in this development." (New York Post)
        See also A Man of the World, and of His People - Natan Sharansky (Jerusalem Post)
  • Water in Gaza: Time Bomb or Ray of Hope?
    Israeli, Palestinian, and French geoscientists have worked out a way to save Gaza drinking water while offering Israelis and Palestinians a rare opportunity to work together and solve a problem for their mutual benefit. The Mediterranean Coastal Aquifer shared by Israel and the PA is quickly becoming contaminated with salts, nitrates, and boron, explains geochemist Avner Vengosh of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheva, Israel. In a joint Israeli, Palestinian, and French/EU study of the geochemistry of the area, Vengosh and his colleagues discovered that overpumping of groundwater by the Gaza Strip's 1.3 million people has caused the groundwater level to drop, creating a slope in the groundwater table that allows the naturally saline groundwater from Israel to flow steadily westward and spoil the aquifer under the Gaza Strip.
        Drilling several large wells on the eastern boundary of the Gaza Strip would slow the progress of the saline water into the Gaza Strip and go a long way toward preserving what's left of the potable water under Gaza. What's more, the saline water from the same boundary wells could be desalinated and used to help offset the PA's growing demand for water. "They are already talking about desalination on the coast," said Vengosh. By investing the same money for such a desalination facility along the Israel-Gaza Strip boundary instead, not only could useable water be produced, but also an aquifer could be saved, he says. (Geological Society of America/Science Daily)
  • Kobi Katz for Mayor - Jed Babbin
    When we rolled into the Israeli town of Metulla last Tuesday evening, the main streets were clogged with last-minute campaigning, and anyone who didn't defend himself was quickly decorated with T-shirts and caps proclaiming the virtues of Kobi or his opponent. The people in Israel face a relentless terrorism and do their best to put a veneer of normalcy on their lives. But the enemies they face are relentless. And those enemies are not just theirs, but ours as well. (American Spectator)
  • Israel Through the Eyes of a Child - Paul Adams
    We are now in our third year living in Israel (a reporter married to a Canadian diplomat). When we arrived, I noticed in our first year the equanimity with which our son Alexandre accepted the many signs that we had left our quiet little neighborhood in Ottawa so far behind. The man in front of us in the ice cream queue with a pistol jammed in his belt did not excite his interest, nor did soldiers hitch-hiking with automatic rifles slung over their shoulders. At the American school where he attends kindergarten, he has never questioned the presence of the short-haired men with wraparound sunglasses and bulges in their jackets who stand silently outside each of the gates in the morning. (Toronto Globe & Mail)
  • Observations:

    "Fenced In" - Yossi Klein Halevi (New Republic/Israelinsider)

    • Fencing out the Arab world violates the hope that Israel will one day find a cultural and spiritual place in the Middle East. A Jordanian acquaintance sympathetic to Israel recently warned me, the fence actually reduces Israel's deterrence by sending a message of weakness to the Arab world, reinforcing the popular Arab notion that Israel's demise is just a matter of time.
    • The fence is a demarcation line between the Oslo era of Israeli delusions and the post-Oslo era of Israeli realism, embodying the lesson that the violent Palestinian rejection of peace three years ago wasn't merely a setback on the way to a comprehensive settlement but the negation of a comprehensive settlement. To insist otherwise is to risk repeating the Oslo syndrome of Palestinian deception and Israeli self-deception.
    • And that's precisely what happened recently with the Geneva Accord, a bit of freelance diplomacy between left-wing Israelis, who obviously don't speak for the Sharon government, and Palestinians linked to Arafat. Even as Israelis who participated in these negotiations were heralding the Palestinians' renunciation of the right of return, Kadoura Fares, a Palestinian delegate to the talks, was reassuring his people that he had done no such thing. Indeed, to expect Arafat's regime to uphold its commitments is absurd. The fence, then, is Israel's acknowledgment that the Palestinian leadership - in this generation at least - won't honor any commitments to respect Israel's legitimacy.
    • At most points, the fence either winds close to the green line or extends several miles over it without compromising Palestinian territorial contiguity - hardly the massive land grab warned against by opponents. Still, that apologetic argument misses the point, which is that the fence must violate the green line. Building the fence on the 1967 border would play into the Palestinian strategy by creating the outlines of a de facto Palestinian state in all of the West Bank, without requiring the Palestinians to cease terrorism or genuinely recognize Israel. Building over the green line, by contrast, reminds Palestinians that every time they've rejected compromise - whether in 1937, 1947, or 2000 - the potential map of Palestine shrinks. The fence is a warning: If Palestinians don't stop terrorism and forfeit their dream of destroying Israel, Israel may impose its own map on them.
    • Indeed, the fence is a reminder that the 1967 border isn't sacrosanct. Legally, the West Bank is extraterritorial: The international community didn't recognize Jordan's annexation, and, because Palestine isn't being restored but invented, its borders are negotiable.
    • We've learned in the decade since Oslo that "land for peace" was never an option. At best, Israel was being offered land for a cease-fire. And that is hardly justification for returning to the precarious 1967 lines.
    • Thanks, ironically, to Oslo, which subjected the Palestinians to a decade of PA propaganda glorifying hatred of Israel - in schools, mosques, and the media - Palestinians are far less prepared for peace than they were before Oslo.
    • Palestinians have begun calling the fence "The Apartheid Wall." In fact, it is neither apartheid nor a wall. The first surprise in encountering the fence is that it really is a fence, except for about five miles of concrete wall near the West Bank cities of Tulkarm and Kalkilya, necessary to prevent sniper attacks on an adjacent Israeli highway.
    • The fence is hardly a case of the many suffering for the terrorism of the few. The war against Israel was initiated by the official Palestinian leadership with overwhelming popular support. According to one poll, 75% of Palestinians backed the recent suicide attack on Haifa's Maxim restaurant, which murdered three generations of two Jewish families and five Israeli Arabs. Palestinian society has been overtaken by a culture whose deepest longing isn't for the creation of a state of its own but the destruction of the state of its neighbors. Indeed, according to another recent poll, 59% of Palestinians want to see terrorism against Israel continue even after the creation of a Palestinian state. The very hardships imposed by the fence are part of its message: When one society declares war against another society, there's a price to pay.


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