Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 2, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Al-Qaeda Terror Suspect Planned to Blow Up U.S. Apartment Buildings - Dan Eggen (Washington Post)
    Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen accused of planning to set off a radiological bomb in the U.S., also plotted with some of al-Qaeda's highest-ranking operatives to blow up U.S. apartment buildings using natural gas, according to classified interrogation information released by the government Tuesday.
    The seven-page summary of the case against Padilla alleges that he met repeatedly with senior al-Qaeda leaders including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
    Mohammed dispatched Padilla on a mission to blow up as many as 20 apartment buildings by sealing off units, filling them with natural gas, and using timers to set off the explosions.
    New York was the most likely target, but Washington, Florida, Chicago, and other targets were discussed, said Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey Jr.
    The government alleges that Padilla first came in contact with terrorist operatives during a trip to Saudi Arabia in March 2000.

Intelligence Officials Use Cellphone Signals to Track al-Qaeda Operatives - Faye Bowers (Christian Science Monitor)
    On a grid map of Riyadh at a command-and-control center in Saudi Arabia's capital, tiny embedded lights flash red when certain cellphones - those belonging to suspected terrorists - initiate or receive a call.
    Teams of officials from Saudi Arabia, the FBI, the CIA, and the U.S. Treasury Department decide instantly whether simply to watch and listen to the suspected terrorist or send in police cars to nab him.
    The technology has proved helpful in rolling up cells in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and America.

Hizballah TV Presents: The Return to Palestine - Yaniv Berman (Media Line)
    Hizballah's TV station Al-Manar is airing video-clips day and night depicting the fight against Israel.
    A recent video clip says: "We shall return," together with the names of Israeli cities such as Beersheva and Tiberias.
    With funding and assistance from Iran, Syria, and more recently from al-Qaeda, Hizballah has turned into a leading force in the Arab and Muslim world.
    View video

Biggest Year Ever for Birthright Israel - Jenny Hazan (Jerusalem Post)
    Birthright Israel is experiencing its most successful year ever, program co-founder Charles Bronfman said Tuesday.
    This year, 10,000 Americans will be joined by more than 11,000 Jewish youth from 25 different countries on 10-day educational tours of Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Watchdog Blasts Iran on Nuclear Program
    Iran repeatedly misstated details about its nuclear program and pursued uranium enrichment technology more aggressively than it initially admitted, the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded Tuesday in a sharply critical assessment. The 20-page document, the third consecutive quarterly report to raise significant doubts about Iran's performance, provides support for Bush administration officials who contend that Iran is hiding an atomic weapons program. (Washington Post)
        See also UN Inspectors See Signs Iran May Have Tried to Make Bomb-Grade Uranium (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Iran Building Stealth Missile
    Iran is producing its first stealth missile, a rocket that can evade electronic detection, the Iranian Defense Ministry said Tuesday. The Kowsar missile will be capable of hitting ships and aircraft, said Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Reza Imani. Iran currently manufactures the Shahab-3 missile whose range of 810 miles makes it capable of reaching Israel. (AP/Boston Herald)
  • Chalabi Reportedly Told Iran That U.S. Had Code
    Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi leader and former ally of the Bush administration, disclosed to an Iranian official that the U.S. had broken the secret communications code of Iran's intelligence service, betraying one of Washington's most valuable sources of information about Iran, according to U.S. intelligence officials. American officials said that six weeks ago, Chalabi told the Baghdad station chief of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security that the U.S. was reading the communications traffic of the Iranian spy service. According to American officials, the Iranian official in Baghdad sent a cable to Tehran detailing his conversation with Chalabi. That cable was intercepted and read by the U.S. (New York Times)
        See also Iranian Code-Breaking by Israel Disclosed in New Yorker in March
    On March 2, 2004, investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh wrote in the New Yorker: "On a trip to the Middle East last month, I was told that a number of years ago the Israeli signals-intelligence agency, known as Unit 8200, broke a sophisticated Iranian code and began monitoring communications that included talk between Iran and Pakistan about Iran's burgeoning nuclear-weapons program." According to Hersh, the findings were also shared with U.S. intelligence services. (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Will Back Only Original Disengagement Plan - Herb Keinon and Janine Zacharia
    After a meeting in Washington Tuesday between National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Sharon's bureau chief Dov Weisglass, White House National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack said: "During Prime Minister Sharon's meeting with President Bush last April, the prime minister presented a plan that included withdrawal from certain military installations and all settlements in Gaza and withdrawal of certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank. It is that plan that President Bush endorsed in his statement on April 14, 2004, as a bold initiative that could advance the cause of peace and it is that plan that he supports and no other."
        Sources in Washington said that since no specific timeline was sketched out in the original plan, the White House may be open to a phased approach, so long as the Gaza withdrawal is completed as originally envisioned. One Israeli diplomatic official said that although Bush obviously wants to see Sharon pass the plan, it is hard to believe that on the eve of a U.S. election he would lower the level of ties with Israel if the plan was rejected by the Cabinet. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Dismisses Egyptian Plan to "Neutralize" Arafat - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Reacting to reports in London-based Arabic newspapers that Egypt was planning to "neutralize" Arafat, a senior PA official in Ramallah Tuesday called the reports "completely unfounded and ridiculous." "Egypt did not issue an ultimatum to President Arafat and is not trying to limit his powers." (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Prevents Attack on Civilian Bus in Gaza
    Israeli troops Wednesday shot dead two Palestinian gunmen armed with rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and an RPG launcher near a road to the Netzarim settlement, a route often targeted by Palestinian gunmen. (Ha'aretz)
        IDF sources said the terrorists had planned to attack a civilian bus. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Security Fence Yields Results in Northern Israel - Matthew Gutman
    The security fence between the West Bank and northern Israel has yielded unforeseen dividends. According to Gilboa Regional Council head Danny Attar, "Instead of 600 terrorist incidents per year around here, in the last five months we've had zero. Tens of thousands of illegal Palestinian workers would cross through here every year; in the past five months, you've got it, zero. And guess what? Theft is way down too." A police spokesman said that vehicle and farm-equipment theft has plummeted, "primarily because there is virtually no way to smuggle the stolen goods back to Palestinian cities." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Death of an Intifada - Isabel Kershner
    Not long ago, Hani Aweideh and his comrades from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades would have been swaggering through the streets of the West Bank town of Tulkarm with their AK-47s, inspiring admiration in some residents, terrorizing others, and plotting what they call "military operations" against nearby Jewish settlements or Israeli cities to the west. But the armed men are not walking around anymore, certainly not in broad daylight. The few of them left after the army's frequent raids are said to be feeling hunted and alone. Many in the town are already declaring Tulkarm's intifada over.
        Residents of Tulkarm are no longer willing to provide refuge for the armed men in their houses, local sources say, for fear of ending up on the army's demolition list. Furthermore, Aweideh says, "The Palestinian Authority used to support us, but we've had no funding from them for the past two months." Aweideh attributes the difficulty in launching attacks to the recently constructed security barrier that now seals Tulkarm off from Israel, as well as the strict checkpoint regime that controls movement between the city and the rest of the West Bank. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Islamism's Campus Club: The Muslim Students' Association - Jonathan Dowd-Gailey
    With over 150 Muslim Students' Association (MSA) chapters on American college campuses, MSA promotes itself as a benevolent, non-political entity devoted to celebrating Islam and providing college students a healthy venue to develop their faith and engage in philanthropy. Yet at an MSA meeting at Queensborough Community College in New York in March 2003, a guest speaker named Faheed declared, "We reject the UN, reject America, reject all law and order. Don't lobby Congress or protest because we don't recognize Congress. The only relationship you should have with America is to topple it....Eventually there will be a Muslim in the White House dictating the laws of Sharia."
        During an October 2000 anti-Israel protest, former UCLA MSA president Ahmed Shama stood before the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, shouting, "Victory to Islam! Death to the Jews!" There is overwhelming evidence that the MSA is an overtly political organization seeking to create a single Muslim voice on U.S. campuses - a voice espousing Wahhabism, anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and solidarity with militant Islamist ideologies. (Middle East Quarterly)
  • Change is Needed for Saudi Stability - Editorial
    The tactics of al-Qaeda are to stampede Westerners out of Saudi Arabia, and to destabilize oil markets by targeting soft parts of the Saudi oil industry. It took Saudi rulers a long time to acknowledge that al-Qaeda was their problem too. Yet there are elements in the regime and allied clerics that share the same hostility as bin Laden towards the West and to Muslims who do not share their Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. Only reform will ensure the long-term survival of the al-Saud. Yet reform to the House of Saud means the minimum it can get away with, consistent with preserving its power. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    Only Israel Labeled "Nazi" - Walter Reich (Los Angeles Times)

    • Genocidal mass murder continues to foul the world. Yet the foulest epithet in any language - "Nazi" - is hurled not against any of the perpetrators of those crimes but, uniquely and systematically, against Israel.
    • During the last three years in the streets of Israel, numerous city buses, cafes, and restaurants have been turned into bomb chambers by Palestinian organizations whose stated goal is to eradicate Israel and make the area free of Jews. At the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, as many innocents were murdered as during a day's gassing in Auschwitz. Yet the epithet "Nazi" hasn't been commonly used against the organizers of these or other massacres around the world.
    • For six decades after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism was seen as having led to the worst genocide in human history. It wasn't possible to be an anti-Semite in polite company. But if the public could be convinced that Israel is no better than Nazi Germany, then the anti-Semites could again be back in business.
    • When we hear the epithet "Nazi" aimed at Israelis, we should understand its purpose. And we should understand that - whether the term is part of a verbal war or of an effort to make anti-Semitism once again respectable - it will continue to be aimed at Israel rather than at countries and groups that engage in genocide and mass murder.

      The writer, a psychiatrist and professor of international affairs, ethics and human behavior at George Washington University, was director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum from 1995 to 1998.

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