Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

September 7, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issues:

Egypt Won't Train PA Forces in Gaza - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Egypt has withdrawn its intentions to send a team of security experts to Gaza to train PA forces.
    However, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul Gheit and Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman told Arafat Monday that Egypt is prepared to train Palestinian security officials in Egypt.


Israeli Spy Satellite Launch Fails - Amnon Barzilai (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's attempt to launch the Ofek-6 spy satellite failed Monday when the Shavit rocket carrying the payload malfunctioned in its third and final stage.


Iran Seeks to Replace Fatah in Lebanon - Jonathan Ariel (Maariv International)
    On August 29, two Palestinians were killed in a firefight in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein Hilweh near Sidon in Lebanon, the end result of a botched assassination campaign by Iran intended to allow its proxies to replace Arafat's Fatah movement as the most important armed Palestinian force in Lebanon.
    According to Western intelligence sources, the attackers were Iranian Revolutionary Guards, a military force answerable only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who targeted Col. Abdul Jaafar, a senior Fatah officer in charge of internal security in the camp.
    Ein Hilweh is the last Palestinian autonomous stronghold in Lebanon and Arafat's most important base there, home to some 60,000 Palestinians, with a well-armed militia of 5,000 men, with another 5,000 reserves.
    A few weeks ago Col. Sultan Abu Einan, the Fatah commander in the camp, warned Arafat that his erstwhile Hizballah and Iranian allies were planning to take over the camp, offering Fatah troops $500 a month for their allegiance.
    Hizballah has already succeeded in building a 300-man force in Gaza. The base in Lebanon is needed as a logistic and supply center to support this force.


Russian Special Forces Killed by Civilian Vigilantes - Peter Baker and Susan B. Glasser (Washington Post)
    Kremlin official Aslanbek Aslakhanov said more than 20 elite Russian commandos were killed in Beslan, many accidentally shot in the back by civilian vigilantes who rushed to the school to fight for their children.
    The death toll surpasses any in the history of the famed Alpha and Vympel special forces units.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • 200 Still Missing in Beslan
    From early morning on Monday, hundreds of volunteers and soldiers dug rows of graves extending nearly 200 yards, and still more will need to be dug for Tuesday and the day after and the day after. Close to 200 people remained missing, out of the total number of hostages that officials now say was 1,180. (Washington Post)
  • Arafat is Running Out of Time
    There was a time when it was impossible to escape the sight of Arafat's face beaming down from half the walls in Ramallah. Last week there was not a single portrait to be seen, as Arafat sits in his battered compound, afraid to leave in case the Israelis block his return. After a decade of misrule, Palestinians seem to have lost faith in their president. "Arafat should go immediately," said Imad Muna, an eastern Jerusalem bookseller. "This is not a political opinion. This is not an extremist opinion. It's the opinion of the majority of people." Palestinians are coming to realize that far from being ignorant of the dirty dealings of his underlings, Arafat stands atop the pyramid of corruption, says Abdel Sattar Kassem, professor of political science at al-Najah University in Nablus. (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Fourteen Hamas Terrorists Killed in IAF Strike in Gaza - Marwan Athamna and Amir Buhbut
    Fourteen Hamas terrorists were killed when IAF aircraft bombed an Izzadin al-Kassam training facility near Jebalya in Gaza. More than 30 Hamas members were injured in the attack. In response, Hamas fired five Kassam rockets towards southern Israel Tuesday. One landed near the electrical power station in Ashkelon and another one near Sderot, lightly injuring one man. (Maariv International)
        The IAF targeted a soccer field used as a Hamas training camp at night, where members gather to prepare bombs and carry out shooting exercises. According to Palestinian reports, all those killed and wounded were members of the Hamas military wing. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Russian Minister Thanks Israel for Offer of Help
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday during a visit to Israel, "We appreciate the very strong readiness of the Israeli people to help Russia at this hour, and this will certainly strengthen the counterterrorist coalition these days." (AP/Ha'aretz)
        See also "We Thank God We are Here in Israel"
    From her Bat Yam home, Natalia Cheldaev saw on TV the school her daughter Vilena, 10, had left just five months earlier when the family immigrated from Beslan, Russia. "All those people who were seeing us off, half of them are now dead," she said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Unique Depravity of Modern Islamic Terror - Editorial
    It is the new reality of this current age that innocents are specifically targeted by Muslim terrorists in the name of some Islamic cause. The war on terror can be won only if the widespread ideological support for terrorism found in the Muslim world and some quarters of the West can be transformed into widespread condemnation. Nearly all nationalist movements - from the American revolutionaries to the Irish Republican Army - have had enough restraint to avoid the systematic murder of children. But there is something dysfunctional within the soul of modern Islam and its supporters that deems such depravity acceptable. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Atrocity at Beslan Demands a United Response - Editorial
    Russians remember, as most of the world does not, that this is not the first time that Chechen terrorists have singled out the most vulnerable as targets. Nine years ago they seized a hospital in Stavropol, holding pregnant women and babies among their 2,000 hostages in a siege that ended in 100 deaths. In the days preceding their assault on the Beslan school, suicide bombers blew up two passenger aircraft and a Moscow subway station.
        President Putin's insistence on an urgent session of the UN Security Council opens up a potentially useful avenue for concerting policy with Islamic governments whose societies are being warped by extremist doctrines. (London Times)
        See also It is Only a Short Distance from Beslan to Belsen - Michael Gove
    To believe that current Chechen terrorism is simply a fight for national self-determination, which can be ended by granting proper autonomy, is to ignore blindly the nature of what happened in Beslan. When Russia did grant Chechnya greater autonomy in the 1990s, it was only to find that territory become a launchpad for fundamentalist groups intent on exporting slaughter well beyond their borders. In the circumstances, the Russians could no more accept the requirement to respect self-determination than you or I could accept the need to respect property rights when our neighbor’s house has become a crack den. (London Times)
  • The Scandal that Isn't - Avinoam Bar Yosef
    Every four years, around election time, Washington intrigues seem to chip away at Israel's integrity. On the eve of the 2000 elections, the press reported that ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk's security clearance had been lifted for supposedly making improper use of his personal computer. Turns out that during long flights, Indyk had written up summaries of secret conversations with world leaders in order to save precious time upon his return to the State Department. And who remembers the 1997 "mega affair" during the Clinton administration? The Mossad's deputy chief of station in Washington had a telephone conversation from her home and mentioned "mega." American intelligence operatives monitoring the call assumed they were discussing a "mole," until they learned that "mega" was simply the Mossad's nickname for the entire CIA Middle East desk.
        Israel's working assumption should be that the scandal stems from bureaucratic competition between neoconservatives and their opponents within the administration. When all is said and done, the Franklin affair will go the way of all the previous "scandals" that were motivated by politics and personality. The writer is director of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Syria's Chutzpah - Editorial
    Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the twin bus bombings in Beersheba, is headquartered in Syria. Khaled Mashaal, Hamas's supreme political leader, lives in Damascus under the protection of the Syrian regime. Last week, senior Israeli officials told Syria: Rein in Hamas, use your influence to stop Hamas from killing civilians, or face the consequences. Syria should expel Hamas and cut off its funding. Failing that, Damascus should not be at all surprised that Israel, and other civilized nations, hold it accountable for its friends' repulsive acts. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • Observations:

    On Terror and Hypocrisy - Yoel Marcus (Ha'aretz)

    • In the European Union, hypocrisy and double standards are the name of the game. When it comes to gathering intelligence, the countries of Europe may help America here and there, but they won't physically participate in the war on terror or those who harbor terrorists.
    • They won't raise a finger against Syria, which shelters Hizballah and Hamas, or against Saudi Arabia, which supplies manpower for the most gruesome attacks, for fear of an oil embargo.
    • They won't say boo to Iran, despite definite proof that it has been involved in mega-attacks in recent years and is building itself up as a nuclear power with missiles capable of reaching the very heart of Europe.
    • Israel is a tiny link in a family of nations determined to defend itself against the scourge of terror. In the eyes of this family, there is no such thing as justified and unjustified terror. Terror is terror. The entire Western world is a potential target.
    • One day, when someone decides in the hallowed name of Allah to carry out the ultimate attack-to-end-all-attacks, even Europe will not be spared.


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