Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

March 5, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

56 Warnings of Terror Attacks - Amos Harel and Roni Singer (Ha'aretz)
    The Shin Bet security service said there were 56 warnings of terror attacks prior to the Jewish holiday of Purim.
    On Friday, security forces deployed in city centers and places that attract large numbers of people, including shopping centers, markets, and central bus stations.
    Following information obtained by Tel Aviv police, on Tuesday the security level in the area was raised, but later reduced due to actions carried out by security forces. On Wednesday, Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishky said a terror attack had been averted in Tel Aviv.


Palestinian Wounded While Preparing Car Bomb - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    A Palestinian was wounded in a blast in the West Bank village of Kif al-Hareth Thursday while trying to attach a bomb to a car, which was to be used for a terror attack.


Palestinian Rocket Hits Sderot (Maariv-Hebrew)
    A Kassam rocket fired from Gaza landed in the Israeli town of Sderot Friday, blowing out the windows of four stores but causing no injuries.


"The Day After" Arafat Dies - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The IDF recently conducted a simulation "war game" about what would happen the day after Arafat passes away - by natural causes.
    Security sources said the exercise was not the result of any new information about the state of Arafat's health.
    The assumption is that this may lead to a change in the Palestinians' strategic relationship with Israel.


Three Convicted in "Virginia Jihad" Case - Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post)
    A federal judge Thursday convicted three members of an alleged "Virginia jihad network" of conspiring to aid a Muslim group fighting India that the government has deemed a terrorist organization.
    With the decision handed down in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, nine of the 11 Muslim men, most of them U.S. citizens and initially charged with taking part in paramilitary training, have admitted guilt or been convicted.


Saudi Student Charged with Terror Conspiracy - Dan Gallagher (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
    A graduate student from Saudi Arabia - already jailed on immigration charges - has been accused of helping to raise funds for a militant Palestinian organization.
    Sami Omar Al-Hussayen was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism after federal prosecutors said he helped run web sites that urge people to contribute money to Hamas.


Israel Signs Agreement with Turkey to Import Water - Amiram Cohen (Ha'aretz)
    An agreement in principle for importing 50 million cubic meters of water per year for 20 years from Turkey was signed on Thursday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem.
    The imported water will constitute 3% of the country's drinking water.


American Jews Returning to Israel in Record Numbers - Rachel Pomerance (JTA)
    Tourism officials report a serious upswing in travel to Israel for Passover, reflecting a general trend of U.S. Jews returning to Israel in an act of solidarity.
    "Tourism to Israel is up in a tremendous way," said Rami Levy, Israel's tourism ambassador to North and South America.
    In 2003, some 221,000 American Jews visited Israel.
    Last year Israel placed ads in Jewish publications and synagogues across North America saying: "Make your pledge to go back to Israel next year."
    "Well, it's 2004 now, and it looks like people are living up to their pledges," said Susan Blum of a Philadelphia-based travel agency. "We're doing quotations left and right for synagogues."
    At another agency, Raphi Bloom ascribes the increased interest to a calmer security situation in Israel coupled with the end of major hostilities in Iraq.
    Others say people simply are getting used to the ongoing intifada or feel inspired to show solidarity with a Jewish state still under siege.
    See also More Americans Venturing Back to Israel - Gene Sloan (USA Today)


Israel May Renew Marketing Tourism Abroad - Ravit Naor (Maarivenglish.com)
    Eight tourism ministers, the president of Lufthansa International, and representatives from 27 countries attended last week's 10th annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market in Tel Aviv.
    Minister of Tourism Benny Elon said that he would like to renew the advertisement of Israeli tourist destinations in foreign media.
    "Tourism offers the fastest and surest way to recovery," said Elon. "The arrival of 100,000 tourists creates 4,500 new jobs."


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Avoided Attacking Terrorist Mastermind
    With Tuesday's attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaeda, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq. In June 2002, the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself - but never pulled the trigger. U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaeda had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.
        The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and air strikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council. "Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11, and we still didn't do it," said Michael O'Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution. "People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president's policy of preemption against terrorists," according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey. (NBC News)
  • Role of Foreign Fighters in Iraq Debated
    The brutal sophistication of Tuesday's bombings in Karbala and Baghdad pointed to a foreign influence on an insurgency that is still mainly homegrown, said Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armored Division which controls Baghdad. "It's far more than a supposition and far less than empirical evidence" to say Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a suspected anti-U.S. militant with ties to al-Qaeda, had a hand in the Tuesday blasts, Dempsey said. "It's a very educated guess." However, he called the idea that foreign fighters were flooding Iraq "a misconception." Military commanders examining the aftermath of the bombings say most of the attackers are still believed to be Iraqis, perhaps allied with foreigners. Insurgent attacks in Baghdad have dropped from 15 a day to about five. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Wahhabi Terror Cell Targeted in Iraq
    Fourteen Iraqis were arrested Wednesday by Iraqi police in Baqubah, 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. The military said one is suspected of leading a cell of Wahhabi Muslims, followers of a strict form of Islam embraced by bin Laden. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Says Iran Still Hiding Nuclear Weapons Program
    John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, accused Iran on Thursday of concealing a nuclear weapons program. "We are not going to reduce the pressure on Iran," Bolton said. "We think the pressure they've been under has been critical to their revealing the pieces about their nuclear program that they already have revealed." But "we think the Iranians are still trying to conceal a clandestine weapons program." Bolton was in Lisbon for a two-day meeting of 14 countries that are part of the Proliferation Security Initiative. (Reuters)
  • Arab Leaders Seek to Counter U.S. Plan for Mideast Overhaul
    Arab governments, suspicious that the Bush administration plans to give priority to changing how the region is ruled rather than solving the Arab-Israeli conflict, began thrashing over a joint position on Wednesday to counter any such American initiative. In the absence of any formal plan yet from Washington, the Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo were less than unified in how to deal with an American strategy known basically through leaks or policy speeches. (New York Times)
        See also Arab FMs Adjourn Without Producing Reform Plans (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Seeks U.S. Recognition of Settlement Blocs - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Education Minister Limor Livnat and Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman Thursday that the unilateral disengagement plan is not yet finalized and that he has not yet decided on the scope of evacuation of the settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. Sharon told the ministers that he wants U.S. recognition of settlement blocs, which he says will be part of Israel in any peace agreement - including Ariel, Gush Etzion, and Ma'ale Adumim. He also seeks American agreement that Israel will not be required to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians on any other plan, and U.S. rejection of the right of return of Palestinian refugees. Senior U.S. officials have reportedly told European visitors to Washington that "there's nobody to talk to" on the Palestinian side, and that the Palestinians are to blame for the situation. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Arab Brothers Suspected of Hizballah Ties - Uri Ash and Amos Harel
    Police have arrested two Israeli Arabs, senior activists in the Sons of the Village movement from the Galilee village of Arabe, who had contacts with Hizballah operatives in Lebanon, members of the radical Palestinian Fatah Abu Musa faction, and with Tanzim members in the West Bank town of Jenin. According to security officials, the two transferred electrical appliances from the Galilee to Jenin, inside of which computer data was stored with instructional films and photographs on assembling and operating explosives and rockets. The instructions were prepared by Hizballah. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Hizballah Within Us - Amit Cohen
    Palestinian terrorism has a new boss: Master terrorist Imad Mughnieh. Hizballah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah's deputy of operations heads the "Organization for Internal Operations," which manufactures terror attacks. On the Israel Security Service's maps, names of the Palestinian cells and terrorists with Hizballah connections can be found in every city in Judea and Samaria. Today, almost 100% of Fatah operations under the name "Al-Aqsa Brigades" are financed and directed by Hizballah and Iran. "Hizballah has become an employment agency for the Tanzim," explained a security source. (Maarivenglish.com)
  • Three Arrested for Anti-Arab Bomb Attacks - David Rudge
    Eliran Golan, 22, his father Meir, and a 22-year-old from Ashdod have been arrested for suspected involvement in a series of bombing attacks against Arabs. Over the past three years, Golan planted nine bombs against Arab targets, some of which exploded and others that were discovered and defused. In one incident, at a mosque in Haifa's mixed Arab-Jewish Halissa district, a man, a woman, and a child were wounded. Northern Region police chief Cmdr. Ya'acov Borovsky said, "Eliran Golan has cooperated with police and admitted all the incidents from the beginning of 2001 until today." Golan had served in the IDF's Engineering Corps but was released, apparently due to mental health problems. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Court Rejects PA Attempt to Throw Out Terror Suit - Melissa Radler
    A federal judge in New York shot down the Palestinian Authority's legal defense strategy in a $500 million terrorism lawsuit. "The court is not prepared to find sovereign immunity where none exists," wrote Judge Victor Marrero in a decision denying a motion to dismiss the suit brought by the family of Aharon Ellis against the PA, PLO, and a slew of top Palestinian officials accused of terrorist ties. Ellis, 31, was one of six people murdered on January 17, 2002, when former PA policeman Abdel Salam Sadek Hassuna opened fire at a bat mitzvah party in Hadera.
        Marrero's March 1 decision found that the PA failed two of four basic criteria for statehood: the Palestinian leadership does not control its own population and territory, nor does it have the capacity to engage in foreign relations. The claim of Palestinian statehood, he wrote, "reduces to an intense, enduring aspiration that, however devoutly wished, apparently still seems more boosted by impassioned protestations and pretensions than affirmed by the juridically recognized ensigns of a sovereign state." (Jerusalem Post) .
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Losing Authority - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Zainab, the daughter of Khalil Zaban, a prominent Palestinian journalist murdered in Gaza City on Tuesday, was blunt: "These are gangs, a Mafia. I'm not afraid to say so. My father served the Palestinian cause for 40 years, and this is what he received in response." It is highly unlikely that the Palestinian security forces in the Gaza Strip would ever lay their hands on Zaban's assassins. These forces have failed to resolve similar attacks on journalists, newspaper offices, TV and radio studios, PA institutions and officials, and political activists belonging to various factions. A senior Fatah official explained, "Arafat considers the armed men to be his soldiers on the ground. He relies on them more than the security forces. That's why he pays them salaries and stays in touch with them. Sometimes he personally speaks to the leaders of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm."
        After Nablus mayor Ghassan Shakah's brother, Buraq, was gunned down in the city last November, the mayor handed Arafat a list of prime suspects and demanded that they be arrested and prosecuted. Arafat promised a special commission of inquiry, but the perpetrators continue to patrol the streets of Nablus, sometimes smiling at Shakah and flashing V-for-victory signs when he passes by. One Palestinian legislator said this week, "We are on the verge of civil war. Many officials believe Arafat has been weakened and they are exploiting this to establish bases of power. The battle of succession is already underway." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat's Rule a Nightmare for Palestinian Journalists - Jay Bushinsky
    The Palestinian Authority, which President Bush, among others, hopes will grow into an independent, peace-loving state adjacent to Israel, pays off its Arabic mass media to toe its political line. And if West Bank or Gaza Strip editors or reporters defy its dictates, they risk jail terms without prior access to courts of justice, or physical assaults and destruction of their professional equipment. The PA's first decade of existence has been a nightmare for Palestinian journalists, especially the independent thinkers and analysts among them.
        ''All of our newspapers receive money from Chairman Arafat - some more and some less,'' a veteran Palestinian colleague said in a moment of candor. His adherence to journalistic principles that are taken for granted in the free world cost him two stints behind bars - the last one in the lockup Arafat operated within his ''Muqata'' compound in Ramallah until it was demolished by Israeli forces. ''When my wife came to visit me behind bars and saw the conditions there, she prayed for its destruction.'' He recalled her joy at seeing it in ruins and saying, ''Allah has answered my prayer!'' (Chicago Sun Times)
  • Stop Terrorists' Vehicle of Choice - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Terrorists deliberately employ protected ambulances for two reasons: to fool those whose job it is to prevent acts of terrorism and - the more long-range reason - to provoke the democracies into violating human rights laws by stopping real ambulances and people in medical need. In October, an ambulance was used to blow up a Red Cross headquarters in Iraq. In January, an ambulance blew up a Baghdad hotel. Also in January, a woman feigning injury blew up four Israelis at a checkpoint. In several other instances, ambulances carrying explosives were stopped by Israeli officials before they could do any damage. (Jewish World Review)
  • Bearing Witness at The Hague - Rabbi Avi Weiss
    Sixty years ago, the world was silent as defenseless Jews were taken to their slaughter, while today, with the Jewish people finally able to protect itself, the world is trying to deny Israel the right to self-defense. Today we are all vulnerable to terrorism. And if Israel's fence is taken down, terrorism will increase not only in Israel but around the world.
        There was a larger sense of common purpose among all of us who had come from so many places to gather in The Hague - a rare moment of Jewish unity that brought together Jews of the left and of the right, Jews who were religious and Jews who were secular. We formed an extraordinary rainbow, sharing a sense of sacred mission. Also gratifying was the 1,200 Christians who marched in solidarity with Israel, holding up pictures of all the Israeli terror victims. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • Al-Qaeda's Deadly Gamble - Jonathan Schanzer
    While Tuesday's attacks against Shia targets in Baghdad and Karbala during Ashura, the holiest day in the Shia calendar, may have further soured Iraq's Shia population toward the Sunnis (playing upon a long-standing grudge), it is doubtful that even a significant minority of Shiites believes that violence against them stems from a monolithic Sunni offensive. Most Shia leaders, both religious and secular, understand that these attacks are largely perpetrated by outsiders wishing to foment unrest in a country that a Shia figure will likely soon lead. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • Towards Promoting Democracy - Editorial
    The Arab countries are part and parcel of the globalization process and cannot escape the external pressures that are applied on all nations. International standards on democracy, human rights, and rule of law have been adopted by the international community. The Arab states were part of the process that articulated these international norms and adopted them in due course as legally binding conventions. The Arab world cannot now claim that these international standards reflect only Western culture and perspectives. (Jordan Times)
  • Israeli Struggle Inspires the U.S. - Joey Tartakovsky
    Ten times as many Chechens and nearly 1,000 times as many Congolese have died than in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip combined. Strange then, that so many know the basics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet so few can even point out on a map where the Chechens live or say why militias are warring at present in the Congo. This betrays the fact that the fixation with Israel has little to do with humble concerns about human rights and peace - as many claim it does - for if that were the case, urgency and moral responsibility would direct their gaze elsewhere. (UC-Santa Barbara Daily Nexus)

    Weekend Features:

  • The Difference - Saul Singer
    Look what a wonderful job we Jews have done publicizing Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion." Only we could take a film of unrelenting torture - by all accounts not a pleasant experience - entirely in Aramaic and Latin, and turn it into one of the best-selling movies of all time. "For two hours," Dennis Prager wrote after seeing an advance screening in October, "Christians watched their Savior tortured and killed. For the same two hours, Jews watched Jews arrange the killing and torture of the Christians' Savior." Prager's point is critical; there may be only one film on the screen, but Jews and Christians are seeing entirely different films. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jews and Christians after "The Passion" - Yossi Klein Halevi (Jerusalem Post); "The Passion" and the Tar Baby - Jonathan Rosenblum (Jerusalem Post); Gibson's Blood Libel - Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post); Is "The Passion" Anti-Semitic? - Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe)
  • A Kiss Is Not Just a Kiss to an Angry Arab TV Audience - Neil MacFarquhar
    When a young Saudi kissed a raven-haired Tunisian beauty all hell broke loose. The kiss happened during the first few minutes of the Middle Eastern version of "Big Brother," the latest entry in the phenomenon of importing the Western concept of reality television to the Arab world. After a run of less than two weeks, the show was taken off the air by MBC, which is owned by Walid al-Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. (New York Times)
  • The People's Hero - Gail Lichtman
    From March 1938 until May 1940, Dr. Feng Shan Ho, the Chinese consul general in Vienna, issued thousands of visas to Shanghai to Jews desperate to escape the ever-tightening Nazi death vise. One of the first (and very few) diplomats to come to the aid of the Jewish people in Nazi Europe, Ho acted against the instructions of his direct superior, the Chinese ambassador to Berlin, and without the backing of his own government. And he paid for these actions with his career. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Is Mideast Democratization a Favor to America? - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries have rejected the U.S. plan for Mideast democratization before reading it. It is not hard to understand why the leaders of dictatorial regimes in which power and wealth are monopolized by a small group do not want to cede their privileges. This is how dictatorships everywhere have always worked.
    • Arab leaders say nothing can change unless the Arab-Israeli conflict is resolved, but Arab states ensure that it is not resolved by refusing compromise, backing terrorism, and letting Arafat sabotage any chance for progress. Yet what possible connection does this issue have with a better educational system, fair elections, freer speech, and less corruption in the Arab world?
    • Are Arab regimes doing the U.S. a favor if they consider treating their own people better? Is reform a favor to America for which some price should be extracted? The truly important issue is not what U.S. policy should be on promoting democratization but rather the policy of the Arab rulers.
    • Secretary of State Powell is right: Change must come from the inside, and that is exactly why there isn't going to be any for a long time.

    The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA).


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