Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 2, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Foreign Terrorists Entering Iraq from Syria - David E. Sanger (New York Times)
    More than a year of intensive efforts by the American military and the CIA to destroy the insurgency in Iraq has failed to reduce the number of "hard-core Saddamists'' seeking to destroy the interim Iraqi government, a former senior official of the American occupation authority said Thursday.
    He estimated that the number of insurgents had stayed constant at 4,000 to 5,000, suggesting that as soon as they are killed or captured, they have been replaced.
    The official also said that over the last year, both Iran and Syria had stepped up their activity in Iraq, and that the Iranians might have been financing radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr.
    While the Iranians have "become more active over time, and not helpful,'' the official said, intelligence indicated that far more foreign fighters were coming over the border from Syria than from Iran.
    He said the Syrian border "was the most important one where foreigners were coming in, and terrorists.''
    The captured fighters were "mostly Syrian - there were Sudanese, Yemenis, some Saudis, and then the odd Egyptian and Moroccan.''
    He appeared less concerned about the appeal of the Zarqawi fighters, who he said were reviled in much of Iraq.

New Guard Force Finds Welcome on Streets of Baghdad - Edward Cody (Washington Post)
    Iraqi guardsmen from the 35,000-man paramilitary force designed to bring internal security - venturing out for the last several days in their own vehicles and flying the Iraqi flag conspicuously - have found a warm welcome from most residents.
    Baghdadis seem relieved to see their own soldiers taking over from U.S. troops.
    Replacing U.S. soldiers with Iraqis could go a long way toward reducing popular resentment directed at the U.S. military presence here.
    For many Iraqis, including influential Islamic spiritual leaders, the killing of fellow Iraqis by insurgents has gone too far, particularly since many attacks were carried out in the name of al-Qaeda.
    One militantly anti-U.S. Shiite Muslim leader, Moqtada Sadr, specifically called on his followers to cooperate with Iraqi police to prevent a recurrence of what he termed foreign terrorism.
    Since then, the attacks have dropped sharply in number and effectiveness.
    U.S. security officials have warned that intelligence shows spectacular new attacks are still being planned, including more kidnappings of foreigners.

What Saddam Told His Interrogators - Neil A. Lewis and David Johnston (New York Times)
    During his seven months held captive by American forces, Saddam Hussein revealed little about his weapons programs and the insurgency in postwar Iraq, senior officials involved in his custody said, but he occasionally provided startling comments and observations.
    Hussein said a principal reason for invading Kuwait in 1990 was his belief that he needed to keep his army occupied.
    He said that while he was on the run during the war, American soldiers had forced some people who were helping him hide to refuse to shelter him any longer.
    He related how his son Uday had beaten to death someone who had annoyed him by playing music too loudly.

Israelis View U.S. as Truest Friend (U.S. Newswire)
    A strong majority of Israelis view the U.S. as Israel's truest friend, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Hudson Institute.
    The poll also finds that Israelis particularly like American culture and values, including values Israelis believe they share with America, such as democracy, a free market economy, and faith in God.
    91% of Israelis view the U.S. either very favorably or mostly favorably.
    69% view the U.S. as a true friend that can be trusted to help Israel even in difficult times.
    66% appreciate America's help to Israel and feel that Israel should be grateful for it.

IDF to Set Up "Simulator City" - Amir Buhbut (Maariv International)
    An entire "city" of giant simulators that would create realistic war zones is to be built within 18 months, the IDF's Ground Forces Command has announced.
    Eight giant machines will simulate practically every war zone scenario using three dimensions, dynamic targets, and all types of weaponry.

Israel to Train Japanese Security Guards - Felix Frisch (Globes)
    The Academy for Advanced Security and Anti-Terror Training recently signed a contract to train security guards for Teikei Co. Ltd., the Japanese corporation responsible for the security of the Japanese emperor.

Israel to Assist India in Water Management (
    The Gujarat state government has decided to take the help of Israeli experts for development of water resources and food processing.
    Despite scarcity of water, Israel has registered remarkable achievements in water management and post-harvesting systems.
    With its experience, it could help Gujarat increase its farm products.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Jordan Willing to Send Troops to Iraq
    Jordan's King Abdullah II said Thursday his country would be willing to send troops to Iraq, potentially becoming the first Arab state to do so. In an interview with BBC, Abdullah said he wanted to support Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's interim government. "I presume that if the Iraqis ask us for help directly, it would be very difficult for us to say no."  (AP/Washington Post )
  • Rumsfeld: Polish Troops in Iraq Found Warheads with Mustard, Sarin Gas
    Polish troops recently discovered more than a dozen warheads containing mustard or sarin gas in Iraq, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday. Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski confirmed that "military intelligence officers obtained information from their sources resulting in the discovery of more than 10 missiles... equipped with warheads containing substances which were subjected to analysis" by the U.S. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • White House Cool to Palestinian Elections Proposal
    The Bush administration has rejected a Palestinian initiative to hold general presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza in January 2005 because of concern that elections would reaffirm the existing leadership, headed by Arafat. The case for holding elections was made last week by Palestinian cabinet member Saeb Erekat in a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell. Following the meeting, Powell said that although the U.S. supports the principle of elections, according to the Road Map the PA must fight terrorism effectively before elections can be held.
        American diplomats reportedly told Palestinians that the U.S. will not support elections that are certain to re-empower and legitimate Arafat and that are likely to reenforce Hamas and Islamic Jihad as legitimate political entities. However, the U.S. does support the idea of holding local, municipal elections soon. (Forward)
  • Thwarted Hamas Turns from Bombs to Politics
    During the past two years, virtually the entire original leadership of Hamas in Gaza has been killed. The effectiveness of the Israeli pursuit has forced the entire current Hamas leadership in Gaza into hiding. Khader Habib, a founder of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, tells the same story: "The number of operations has decreased....There are a lot of obstacles, a lot of security. We have lost a lot of people." But paradoxically, Hamas is better positioned than ever to grasp a political role in the Gaza Strip as Israel retreats from the territory. Some opinion polls show Hamas as the most popular political organization in Gaza. (Guardian-UK)
  • Jews in Britain See Prejudice On Rise
    Arson attacks against two north London synagogues on June 17-18 have fueled already heightened concerns among British Jews about what they perceive to be an escalating climate of anti-Semitism. More than 100 synagogues have been desecrated in Britain since 2000. (Boston Globe)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon Orders New Barrier Route in Accordance with Court Decision - Eliel Shahar
    Prime Minister Sharon gave instructions to plan a new route for the anti-terrorism barrier in accordance with Wednesday's Israel High Court ruling. (Maariv International)
        Sharon said that in areas where there are no legal problems with the route, construction work should begin "immediately, at full speed." "In areas where we cannot compromise on security, don't make concessions. But in places where we can, we need to do as little damage as possible to the Palestinians' way of life," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Suicide Bomber Caught on Way to Jerusalem
    IDF forces in Ramallah caught a potential suicide bomber Thursday night who was on his way to Jerusalem with an explosive belt weighing nearly 10 kilograms. The belt was found in a garbage can on the roof of a building next to the Ramallah central bus station. (Jerusalem Post)
        Security sources said that as of Friday, they had 38 warnings of future terror attacks. They noted that the absence of a security fence north of Jerusalem helps the terrorists in finding a way to reach the city for an attack. Since the security fence in Samaria is nearly complete, the terrorists move from Samaria to Ramallah and from there to Kfar Aram just north of Jerusalem, the sources said. Once there, it is easier for them to integrate with the local population and enter Jerusalem. Security sources emphasized that the bomber captured was from the Tanzim faction in Nablus. The IDF has captured 19 explosive belts prepared in Nablus since January. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Five Palestinian Gunmen Killed in IDF Ambush - David Rudge and Arieh O'Sullivan
    IDF troops ambushed and killed five Palestinian terrorists near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip Thursday. The terrorists intended either to infiltrate Netzarim or to attack vehicles traveling along the Karni-Netzarim highway. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Egypt's New Role - Dennis Ross
    Egypt has signaled a new - even unprecedented - readiness to play an intensive leading role in ending the Israeli-Palestinian war. In Egyptian eyes, Prime Minister Sharon's intention to withdraw from Gaza has created an opening, and Egypt is determined to act on it. The last thing Egypt wants is to have Gaza devolve into chaos or become dominated by Hamas. Stability in Egypt will not be served by either possibility.
        Today the PA in Gaza does not function on security matters. There are different security organizations, tied to different factions of Fatah, and with different strongmen, as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Arafat will never willingly surrender control over the security forces and is also loath to let anyone else appear to be the liberator of Gaza. The Egyptian timetable of two months for Arafat to concede on the consolidation of Palestinian security forces suggests to some that the Egyptians are reluctant to push too hard when they believe the U.S. administration is otherwise occupied. (Washington Post)
        See also Egypt's Role in Sharon's Disengagement Plan - Graham Usher
    The maximum role Sharon will allow Egypt is one that will enable the PA to get a grip on the militias so that the disengagement can proceed smoothly. This is a withdrawal that helps no one except Israel. For that reason, it is a role Egypt cannot fulfill. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • Everyone's on Board for Gaza Plan, But Who is Able to Secure the Region? - Ron Kampeas
    Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is meeting this week and next with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to discuss the specifics of Egyptian plans to secure Gaza once Israel leaves. However, the PA is not ready to assume control of the Gaza Strip. Arafat, considered by Israel and the U.S. as a pariah beyond repair, still exerts ironclad control over the Palestinian security services. Egypt has given the Palestinians until summer's end to get their act together, but Arab diplomats say they are not optimistic. Neither is the U.S. (JTA)
  • No Sense Negotiating with Terrorists - William B. Helmreich
    A truly effective counter-terror strategy needs to reflect the unique personality traits that separate the terrorists from the rest of us. Last year, I spent a good deal of time speaking with religious terrorists for a forthcoming film, called "Blood and Tears," about the Middle East conflict. The religious terrorist justifies cold-blooded murder because he lives in a world populated by infidels and traitors who must be eradicated. The main agenda is to set up a theocratic state where all who disagree are eliminated. As the recent spate of beheadings emphatically demonstrates, to the enemy we are not human.
        Religious terrorists live in another world, with an agenda that is purely theocratic and absolute, with not a scintilla of concern for the lives of nonbelievers. In such a situation negotiation is useless, for there is nothing to negotiate about. When it come to religiously-based terror, we must reluctantly recognize that there are only two real choices here - protect ourselves and eliminate the terrorists or turn the world over to them. The writer is a professor of sociology at CUNY Graduate Center and City College. (Newsday)
        See also Failed Missions, Unfailing Resolve - Kathy Blumenstock
    In "Suicide Bombers," PBS offers interviews with three failed Palestinian suicide bombers, all now sitting in Israeli prisons. Becoming a shahid - a martyr for the cause of Islam - involves a dark ideology "that offers benefits that are quite significant to their extended families," said Tom Roberts, who wrote and directed the documentary. "If you do become a shahid, then 70 members of your family will get access to paradise. So if you blow yourself up, they all get in." (Washington Post)
  • Oil at $40 a Barrel: A Threat and a Signal - Paul Rivlin
    The recent rapid rise of oil prices reflects an increase in demand because the U.S. economy is buoyant, the Chinese economy is growing rapidly, and Japan is making a long-awaited recovery. These strong regional demand factors are operating simultaneously, which is unusual. In 2003, over 60% of supply came from non-OPEC countries, but OPEC controls the majority of world oil reserves and oil production costs in the Gulf are the lowest in the world.
        In April-May 2004, oil prices rose largely because of real worries about supply. Terrorism in the Middle East has increased prices on international markets by $5-10/barrel. This is a serious threat to the world economy, especially to poorer countries that cannot afford higher oil prices. While the Bush administration favors increasing supply, there is no supply source that can substitute for OPEC/Middle East output in the long run. The main forecasting organizations suggest that, over the next twenty years, reliance on Middle East oil will increase. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies)
  • Iran's Nuclear Brinkmanship - Editorial
    The nuclear crisis will never be resolved diplomatically - if that is possible - until the world speaks with a single voice. For starters, the IAEA must quickly set a deadline for Iran's complete cooperation. The European nations and Russia have much stronger trade ties to Iran, and they must use that leverage to force Iran's hand. The Russians can shut down all cooperation in building a nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The Europeans can threaten and deliver real economic sanctions unless the Iranians come clean, completely and immediately. Diplomatic dithering serves no one's interests, except Iran's. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Chalabi Shares His Playbook for Iraq - Edward Cody
    L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, is gone; Ahmed Chalabi is not. True, Chalabi, 59, a secular Shiite, has been disowned by the Pentagon and his other sponsors in Washington. Thanks in part to Bremer, he also was excluded from the new government headed by his longtime rival from exile days, Ayad Allawi. Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress will participate as a political party in next January's elections. (Washington Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • Terrorists Treat Internet as Weapon - David Perlmutter
    Terrorists have a webbed, wireless, and digital platform for all their violence and rhetoric. Anytime, anywhere, any madman with a laptop, a modem, and an axe can horrify the world. We know that; worse, the madmen know it, too. Another factor in the terrorists' favor is the expansion in what we define as "the media." We couldn't censor terrorists even if we wanted to.
        There is one way to convince terrorists that their tactics undermine their cause, through visible public outrage in the nations and among the peoples for whom the terrorists claim to fight. That such a popular uprising in favor of human decency has never occurred in Saudi Arabia (or in Iraq) further encourages terrorists to believe that they are following their God's commandments and their people's will. Al-Qaeda's reality show, thus, is winning the media war - but only because its audience lets them. The writer is a senior fellow at the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at Louisiana State University. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • In Search of "Righteous Arabs" - Robert Satloff
    The Holocaust was not solely a European story. German plans to persecute and eventually to exterminate the Jews extended to North Africa, a region that was home to a half-million Jews. For three years - from the fall of France in June 1940 to the expulsion of German troops from Tunisia in May 1943 - the Nazis, their Vichy French collaborators, and their Italian Fascist allies deprived Jews of property, education, livelihood, and free movement, with forced labor, confiscations, deportations, and executions. While, just as in Europe, most members of the local populace stood by and did nothing, a few helped - the Arab world, too, had its "righteous gentiles"; and some made matters demonstrably worse. The writer is director of policy and strategic planning at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Commentary)
  • Anti-Semitism After the Holocaust - Also in Denmark - Arthur Arnheim
    Anti-Semitism in Denmark after the Holocaust has followed the trends of anti-Semitism in other European countries. The sources of Danish anti-Semitism are to be found in three different political environments: left-wing-based bias against Israel and Jews; incitement by Moslem immigrants (especially from Lebanon and the Palestinian territories); and Christian anti-Semitism disguised as compassion for the sufferings of ordinary Palestinians. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • A Deaf-Blind Theater Troupe from Israel Says Volumes - Peter Goodman
    Bat Sheva Ravensari is an actress, a member of the unique Israeli theater troupe Nalaga'at ("Do Touch"), which just completed its first North American tour. Every member of the company is deaf and blind. As far as is known, it is the only deaf-blind theater company in the world. The show, called "Light is Heard in Zig Zag," is a series of sketches developed by the actors as an expression of their dreams. There is a lot of touching in this awkward but deeply moving ballet.
        Company founder Adina Tal, a theater director and actress, initially assembled a drama class at a Tel Aviv center for the disabled. Tal describes the performance: "I saw it like going through a boundary of silence and darkness, opening a little window, seeing that everything is possible. It is about the human spirit: There is nothing that cannot be done. And doing it onstage is an important message for seeing and hearing people." (Newsday)
  • Observations:

    The International Atomic Energy Agency and Israel: A Realistic Agenda - Gerald M. Steinberg
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • There is no foundation for a change in Israel's policy of nuclear ambiguity under present circumstances, and the topic is not on the agenda.
    • Under the terms of a 1969 agreement with the U.S. government, Israel has refrained from making any declarations about its nuclear weapons capability, or from testing devices.
    • The threat to Israel has not diminished much in the past five decades and hatred of Israel in the Arab and Moslem worlds remains intense. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenai has emphasized that "the cancerous tumor called Israel must be uprooted from the region" and that "the perpetual subject of Iran is the elimination of Israel."
    • As long as Jewish sovereignty and Israel's right to equality as a state among the nations is denied, the need for a credible deterrent will not end.
    • The goal of a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone will become essentially unfeasible if Iran crosses the point of no return in its development of nuclear weapons.
        See also Whither the IAEA? - Uzi Arad (Ha'aretz)

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