Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 26, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians "Made Millions" Selling Cheap Cement for Israel's Security Barrier - Inigo Gilmore (Telegraph-UK)
    Palestinian businessmen have made millions supplying cement for Israel's "security barrier" with the full knowledge of Yasser Arafat, according to a damning report by Palestinian legislators.
    The report reveals that the cement originally came from Egyptian companies which supplied it at a huge discount to help rebuild dilapidated Palestinian houses or buildings bulldozed by the Israelis.
    Between September 2003 and March 2004, 420,000 tons of cement were allegedly sent to three big Palestinian companies; however, only 33,000 tons were sold in the Palestinian market.

The Demographic Myth - Itai Rom (Maariv-Hebrew; Kol Hazman-23 July 04)
    Dr. David Passig, head of the Department of Future Studies at Bar-Ilan University, rejects the classic demographic claim that Israel has no choice but to leave the territories to prevent the formation of a binational state with an Arab majority.
    Passig notes that the natural growth rate among Arabs has been declining in recent years from 4.6 to 3.2 children per family while the Jewish growth rate has begun to climb from 2.6 to 2.7 or higher.
    Compared to the situation in 1948, both groups have registered a decline, with a greater decline among Arabs.
    Passig also notes that quantity isn't the only factor; quality also counts. For example, while Egypt has doubled in population in recent years, its geo-political power has declined.
    Israel's population is young - half are below age 25 - and "time is on our side," Passig is convinced.

Israel to Provide UAVs for UK - Felix Frisch (Globes)
    The UK Ministry of Defense announced last week that it had selected Thales UK, Boeing, and Elbit Systems of Israel to supply unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the British Army Watchkeeper ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) program.
    The tender is worth an estimated $1.5 billion. Elbit Systems' share in the UK program is likely to be large, since it owns most of the avionics and payload technologies.
    Elbit's Hermes 180 has a maximum take-off weight of 200 kg, ten hours flight endurance, and a 150-km range.
    The Hermes 450 has a 450-kg take-off weight, can reach an altitude of 6,000 meters, a range of several hundred kilometers, and 20 hours flight endurance.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran's Quest for the Atomic Bomb
    It has been two years since a group of Iranian exiles accused Iran of hiding a secret atomic weapons program from UN inspectors, and diplomats and analysts say Tehran is only getting closer to the bomb. "Iranian leaders got together after the Iraq war and decided that the reason North Korea was not attacked was because it has the bomb. Iraq was attacked because it did not," a Western diplomat said this week, citing intelligence reports. Uzi Arad, director of Israel's Institute of Policy and Strategy and a former senior official in the Israeli intelligence service, said it was time the IAEA stated openly that Iran is pursuing nuclear arms - which it could one day use to destroy the Jewish state. "Anyone who suggests differently is under illusions," Arad said. "At which point will the IAEA state the obvious?" (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Senate Condemns Iran Over Nukes
    The U.S. Senate Thursday approved a resolution urging the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council. The Senate said the Security Council may need to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions on Iran to thwart the program. The House approved a similar vote in May. The Senate resolution also urged the EU "to condition economic and commercial agreements with Iran on the full compliance by Iran with its commitment not to pursue nuclear weapons."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Militants Raid Palestinian Police Station
    In Gaza on Saturday, militants torched an empty Palestinian police station in Zwaida south of Gaza City, pouring gasoline on mattresses and blankets and setting the building on fire. The fire damaged an upper story of the town council, which had recently been renovated with donations from the Danish government. No one was injured, officials said, but police files, computers, and communications equipment were destroyed. In Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, militants of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades took over the building of the local administration, demanding the reinstatement of 50 comrades fired from their security jobs. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Fire Antitank Missile at Community Center, Wounding Six Children - Amos Harel
    Palestinians fired an antitank missile from Khan Yunis at the community center of Neveh Dekalim in Gush Katif on Sunday, and the shrapnel hit six children, age 7 to 10, who were playing near the building. One 10-year-old boy was moderately to seriously injured. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Kills Six Palestinian Terrorists in Tulkarm - Margot Dudkevitch
    Undercover Border Police forces killed six Palestinian gunmen Sunday in the West Bank city of Tulkarm including two senior Al Aksa Brigade commanders - Hani Aweida and Mahdi Tambuz. Security officials said Tambuz was responsible for numerous terror attacks inside Israel and was in the midst of planning further attacks. The officials said he received instructions and funds from Hizballah. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hizballah Seeks Chemical Arsenal - Herb Keinon
    Syria is trying to fit medium-range rockets with chemical warheads, and there are some indications Hizballah is involved in these tests, Head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi told the cabinet Sunday. Hizballah's arsenal in southern Lebanon includes 13,000 short-range rockets, 500 medium-range rockets, and a few dozen long-range rockets with a range of between 115 and 215 km. Ze'evi said Hizballah has infrastructure in some 40 countries around the world.
        Ze'evi also said, "If there is one country in the region where I believe there is a real danger [of being overthrown], it is Saudi Arabia." Ze'evi said he would not be surprised if there are "deep changes" in Saudi Arabia within the coming year. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Intelligence Chief: Arafat Awaiting Fall of Bush and Sharon - Eliel Shahar
    Maj. Gen. Ze'evi told the cabinet Sunday that Arafat is wishing for President Bush to lose the upcoming elections and for Ariel Sharon's government to fall, which would allow Arafat "to return to center stage and become more significant." He also revealed that Egypt has recently foiled the transfer of 60 rockets to Gaza. (Maariv International)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Comparative Advantages - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    In the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians, prevented from killing Israelis by a barrier, are busy murdering one another in factional warfare of gunfire, arson, and kidnappings. Violence is the syntax of debate among Palestinians. The flat-Earth assumption of the justices in The Hague, reinforced by the UN General Assembly vote on July 20, is that all Palestinians are ready to live in peace with Israel. If Israel complied, scores more Israelis would be blown up by suicide bombings.
        Building a fence is one of the most civilized ways in which nations can defend themselves, in Shakespeare's words, "against the envy of less happy lands," when they share a border with armed attackers who lack an effective government to constrain them. The Palestinians cannot avoid their security responsibilities while denying the Israelis the right to defend themselves, and they must pay a territorial price for the four years of terror they unleashed, for terrorism cannot be seen to succeed. (U.S. News)
  • Implications of the World Court Ruling - Eliel Shahar
    Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, believes the Israeli public fails to understand the importance and the possible implications of the World Court ruling against Israel's security barrier. "This ruling presents Israel as an illegitimate state and this is what will go down in the annals of history. We should not underestimate this ruling, as it confers the power on quasi-government and semi-official bodies to call for boycotting Israel. Even if a U.S. veto in the UN Security Council prevents officially imposed sanctions on Israel, the damage to Israel could still prove enormous. Europeans are liable to demonstrate their aversion to Israel's behavior by boycotting Israel's products." (Maariv International)
        See also ICJ Judges Ignore the Facts - Malcolm Hoenlein
    The opinion of the Egyptian judge, Nabil Elaraby, best exemplified how the ICJ did not let facts get in the way of its opinion. Elaraby wrote, "Over 100,000 civilian noncombatants have been rendered homeless and hapless" due to the construction of the fence. However, the April 2004 report of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics tells a very different story: Ten destroyed and 14 partially-damaged residential buildings due to the fence. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Anti-Semitism in France - Martin Peretz
    Chirac demonstrated in an off-hand remark that, for him, neither Jews nor Muslims, for that matter, are really genuinely French: "We are witnessing racial events involving our Jewish and Muslim compatriots....Sometimes just simple Frenchmen are attacked." This is an ugly dichotomy. France went into a frenzy to mobilize the countries of the EU at the UN to vote "yes" on the General Assembly resolution calling on Israel to take down the security barrier it is building against Palestinian terror. Many fatuous reasons were mustered to support this demand. But the real reason that France and some others oppose the fence is that it works. (New Republic)
  • Observations:

    Who's Right on the War on Terrorism? The 9/11 Commission, the U.S. Senate Assessment of Prewar Intelligence, and the British Butler Committee
    - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The Bush administration never said that it went to war against Iraq in order to retaliate for the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon. It did warn that Iraq could transfer its prohibited weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups, especially to al-Qaeda.
    • Is there a real risk in the transfer of weapons of mass destruction from rogue states in the Middle East to terror groups? The resolution of this question will affect how the U.S. and its allies address other problematic states like Iran in the future. For example, Israeli military intelligence is warning that Iranian WMD are liable to be given to Hizballah. The credibility of warnings of this sort will be affected by the outcome of the U.S. debate.
    • What emerges from the intelligence presented in the 9/11 report is that Iraq had an ongoing and cooperative relationship with al-Qaeda that intensified after 2001. There were grounds for concern that if Iraq continued along the same path, expertise in weapons of mass destruction might have been provided to al-Qaeda. Indeed, British intelligence raised the possibility in March 2003 that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's "sleeper cells" in Baghdad, on the eve of the Iraq War, might use biological and chemical agents in a future insurgency against U.S. troops.
    • David Kay, who headed the Iraq Survey Group looking for weapons of mass destruction, said in early 2004: "We know there were terrorist groups in state [Iraq] still seeking WMD capability. Iraq, although I found no weapons, had tremendous capabilities in this area. A marketplace phenomenon was about to occur, if it did not occur; sellers meeting buyers. And I think that would have been dangerous if the war had not intervened."
    • The 9/11 Commission also examined the Saudi tie to terrorism, noting that it "does not exclude the likelihood that charities with significant government sponsorship diverted funds to al-Qaeda."
    • Is it necessary to produce a check signed by a senior Saudi official to an al-Qaeda operative in order to prove Saudi financial backing of the organization? Doesn't the movement of funds to al-Qaeda from charities financed and monitored by the Saudi government raise serious questions about Riyadh's past role in the growth of the new terrorism? Realistic expectations are necessary about the degree of proof that intelligence agencies can provide, if the war on terrorism is to succeed.

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