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 28, 2004

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Iran to Reach Nuclear "Point of No Return" by November - Peter Enav (AP/Miami Herald)
    Israel's national security adviser, Giora Eiland, told Maariv Monday that Iran will reach the "point of no return" in its nuclear weapons program by November rather than next year as Israeli military officials had said earlier.
    Israel would not be able to destroy Iran's nuclear installations with a single air strike as it did in Iraq in 1981 because they are scattered or hidden and intelligence is weak, Israeli and foreign analysts say.
    Cliff Kupchan, vice president of the Nixon Center in Washington and a former Clinton administration Iranian expert, said IAEA threats to impose sanctions on Iran are unrealistic because UN members, including those with fledging nuclear programs such as Brazil, would be reluctant to back them.
    Sanctions against Iranian oil production are also unlikely when world demand and prices are sky-high.


Aqsa Martyrs Brigade Commander Revealed as PA Security Officer - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Obituary notices distributed in the West Bank town of Salfit by Fatah and the PA's General Intelligence Force revealed that Jihad Hassan, the local commander of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, killed on Sunday when his M-16 rifle exploded, had doubled as a PA security officer.
    Residents said Hassan, who has been wanted by Israel for the past two years, recently purchased the rifle that had been apparently booby-trapped by Israel's Shin Bet.
    Palestinian sources said other members of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades had been recruited to various branches of the PA security forces.


Hostage-Takers at Russian School Phoned Saudi Arabia - Nick Paton Walsh (Guardian-UK)
    Two of the militants who took part in the Beslan school hostage siege phoned the Middle East during the drama, a senior source from the Russian security services has said.
    Two calls were made from Beslan in Arabic, and "one call was to Saudi Arabia by one of the Arabs who was there."
    The investigation has established that there were two Arabs in the group.


Useful Reference:

1,017 Israelis Killed, 5,600 Injured During Four Years of Intifada - Amir Buhbut (Maariv International)
    In the past four years, 1,017 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians, 70% of them civilians, according to data published by the Israel Security Agency on Monday.
    Nearly 5,600 Israelis were injured, 82% of them civilians.
    Palestinian terrorists perpetrated 13,730 shooting attacks and 138 suicide bombings.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • CNN Producer Abducted in Gaza
    A group of armed men abducted CNN producer Riad Ali in Gaza City on Monday. CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman said he, Ali, and CNN photographer Mary Rogers had left their Gaza office in a taxi when a white Peugeot pulled in front of them, blocking their way. A man in his early 20s and dressed in civilian clothes emerged from the car, stuck a revolver through the taxi window, and asked, "Which one of you is Riad?" Then other men carrying AK-47 assault rifles forced Ali into the back of their car. CNN President Jim Walton described Ali as "a veteran journalist of the highest integrity." (CNN)
        Israeli Arab journalist Riad Ali Ghanem, 40, is a Druze from the village of Maghar in the Galilee. He has worked for CNN for about two years as a producer and translator in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Before that he worked for Israel's Channel 1 TV as an Arab affairs correspondent. A graduate of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he worked for many years as a tutor at Neveh Shalom (Oasis of Peace), a Jewish-Arab village near Latrun. (Jerusalem Post)
  • State Department Reaction to Death of Hamas Leader in Syria
    Deputy State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli said Monday, "What we do know is that there are terrorist organizations and terrorist individuals operating out of Syria with the support and connivance of the government of Syria, and that this is not in the interests of peace, and not...consistent with statements in favor of peace. So our view is that the best way to resolve this scourge or this problem is to provide no haven and no support for individuals who believe that violence, as opposed to negotiation, is the way to solve the problems - is the way to achieve peace, or to achieve an end to the conflict between Israelis and Arabs." (State Department)
  • Some Palestinians Losing Faith in the Intifada
    When Abu Fahdi joined the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and took up arms against Israel, he thought he was serving his people. Now he believes he did them only harm. "We achieved nothing in all this time, and we lost so much," he said. Among Palestinians from all walks of life, there is a quiet but growing sentiment that their intifada, or uprising - which broke out four years ago - has largely failed as an armed struggle, and lost its character as a popular resistance movement. Moreover, many Palestinians fear that what has been, in effect, their military defeat at the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has left them without leverage to extract political and territorial concessions that would help lay the groundwork for their hoped-for state.
        For some time now, influential figures in Palestinian society - intellectuals, lawmakers, analysts, professionals, and well-regarded local officials - have been asserting that the violent confrontation with Israeli forces has reached a dead end and their people must look to the future. "We have witnessed the destruction of Palestinian society - its civil institutions, its economy, its infrastructure," said Zuhair Manasra, the governor of Bethlehem. "The result has been a complete disaster for the Palestinians, at all levels." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Presbyterians and Jews to Meet on Mideast
    Leaders of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and the country's largest Jewish groups are meeting in New York Tuesday to discuss a rift touched off by resolutions that the church adopted this summer, most notably one that calls for selective divestment in companies doing business in Israel. Jewish leaders say they were stunned by what they saw as the one-sided language and focus of the resolutions, particularly the fact that only Israel was singled out for economic sanctions. (New York Times)
  • Iraqi Judge Closes Case Against Ahmad Chalabi
    A senior Iraqi judge said Monday that he had closed a case brought against Ahmad Chalabi, the former exile leader once backed by the Pentagon, for suspected involvement in a counterfeiting operation. The judge, Zuhair al-Maliky, said that "the evidence was not enough to bring the case to trial." (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Senior Terror Operative Seriously Injured in IAF Raid - Marwan Athamna and Amir Buhbut
    Muhammed Abu-Nazir, a senior operative of the Popular Resistance Committees in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, was seriously injured in an IAF helicopter missile attack on his car on Monday. Abu-Nazir's bodyguard was killed. The Popular Resistance Committees was responsible for last week’s attack on an IDF position near Morag, in which three IDF soldiers were killed. (Maariv International)
  • Palestinians Fire More Rockets at Israel
    Palestinians fired three Kassam rockets Monday at Israel's western Negev. Two rockets landed in Sderot, one of them causing damage to a structure. The third rocket landed in a nearby kibbutz. Five people were treated for shock. "It is intolerable that every morning, at the same hour, houses in Sderot are damaged and people suffering shock are taken to hospital," said Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Russia, Israel Discuss Tighter Anti-Terror Cooperation
    Russian and Israeli officials are planning joint training courses for anti-terror forces, Russian news agencies reported Monday after a meeting between Russia's top police official, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, and Prime Minister Sharon's security adviser, Giora Eiland. Russia and Israel will also seek to improve sharing of information using databases on international terrorist organizations and their leaders. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A False Quiet in Jordan - Amir Oren
    The deep waters in and around Jordan are liable to sweep the Hashemite regime into an existential struggle. President Bush's ambitious plan to implant democracy in an Arab state will, in the end, also reach the palace in Amman. According to Bush's logic, King Abdullah II must also eventually transfer the reins of government to the Palestinian majority.
        King Hussein died in February 1999, a few weeks after appointing Abdullah, his eldest son, as his successor in place of his brother Hassan - who had been slated to replace him for decades. A guest who joined Hassan for a trip through the streets of Amman last week discovered that the king's ousted uncle is deluged with waves of popular sympathy. In line for succession after Abdullah is his half-brother Prince Hamza, Hussein's son by his last wife, Queen Noor, rather than Abdullah's son, Prince Hassan, who is now 10. As Hassan grows older, the tension between him and Hamza will also grow. (Ha'aretz)
  • Are the Terrorists Failing? - David Ignatius
    Looking at the gruesome images of beheadings and suicide bombings in Iraq, it's easy to think that the Islamic holy warriors are winning. But a new book by French Arabist Gilles Kepel, The War for Muslim Minds, argues that for all the mayhem the jihadists have caused, their movement is failing, and that the followers of Osama bin Laden have created chaos and destruction in the house of Islam. Their actions are killing far more Muslims than nonbelievers, and Kepel argues that the insurgents' brutal tactics in Iraq are increasingly alienating the Muslim masses. (Washington Post)
  • Know Thine Enemy - Michael Ledeen
    We've misunderstood what the recent beheadings are all about. They are not using the beheadings as a technique to drive us out. The beheading films are recruitment tools. They've been around for a long time - "jihad" home movies, circulated mostly in North Africa to excite homicidal fanatics and lure them into the Islamist bands. A movement that draws its foot soldiers from people who dream of beheading one of us is clearly a barbarous phenomenon, one that puts the lie to the notion that our enemies in this terror war are human beings driven to desperation by misery and injustice. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    The Withdrawal of Syrian Forces from Lebanon - Eyal Zisser
    (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)

    • Last week, Syria announced that it would redeploy its forces in Lebanon outside of Lebanese population centers in a signal to the international community, and especially the U.S., that Syria is responsive to voices from Washington demanding Syrian respect for Lebanese sovereignty.
    • For years, Syria has been constantly redeploying its forces and reducing the number posted in Lebanon, but even after this latest reduction, Syria will remain the ultimate overlord of Lebanon, using its intelligence and security agencies along with its claque of Lebanese collaborators.
    • The latest announcement is little more than a public relations exercise. Syria's presence in Lebanon is, first and foremost, an economic imperative. Syria earns hundreds of millions of dollars every month, primarily from the remittances of hundreds of thousands of Syrian workers who have flooded the Lebanese labor market, but also from the involvement of senior Syrian officials in the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and other goods.
    • Syria is not about to terminate its presence in Lebanon - or its backing for Hizballah. And since there seems to be no Lebanese element prepared to resist Syrian hegemony, only irresistible Western pressure or a major domestic crisis can bring about a real Syrian withdrawal.


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