Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 27, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Mohammed Rashid: Arafat�s Money Man
    "Palestinians are tired of corruption, cronyism and shady deals." That makes Mohammed Rashid -- the shadowy financial adviser to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- a target. �Now everyone is talking about how he does the dirty business for Arafat,� said Manuel Hassassian, a political scientist at Bethlehem University.
    Rashid is not even Palestinian. An ethnic Kurd, he first made contact with the PLO during the early 1980s in Beirut, then counseled Arafat in Tunis on ways to expand PLO investments. When Arafat moved to Gaza in 1994, Rashid became one of his main financial operators.
    Critics say he helped secure import monopolies for the PA and for friends, sometimes in partnership with Israeli businessmen. Before Ariel Sharon's election last year, he sent his son Omri to Vienna for talks with Rashid. Israeli newspapers said the discussions included ways to reopen the Oasis Casino that Palestinians built in Jericho in 1998, which was shut down after fighting erupted 20 months ago. (Newsweek)

Useful Reference:

  • Twenty Facts about Israel
  • Myths & Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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  • Speeches
  • Photos
  • News Resources - USA and Europe:
  • Bush: Arafat under Intense Scrutiny
    Speaking in St. Petersburg, Russia, President Bush was surprisingly frank about his desire for moderate Arab nations, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia -- as well as Palestinian leaders inside Arafat's circle -- to either force Arafat to change or ease him out of the picture. "Evidently, there is a new attitude emerging among the new leadership of the Palestinian Authority" about Arafat's capabilities, Bush said. (Washington Post/AP)
  • Debate on Arafat Stalls U.S. Policy, Bush Aides Say
    An intense debate among President Bush and his top advisers over whether to press for the removal of Yasser Arafat has effectively frozen the nation's Middle East policy, according to some administration officials. It has also prompted CIA Director George Tenet to delay his mission to the region. Last week senior Arafat adviser Muhammad Rashid was in Washington where he discussed the "centrality" of Arafat's role with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. (New York Times)
  • Islamic Cyberterror
    The Muslim Hackers Club, an anti-West cyberterrorist group, offers a crash course in digital sabotage. The FBI has warned that the club had conducted classes on how to mount terror attacks on computer networks. Anti-Israel hacker attacks have penetrated databases maintained by AIPAC and defaced (Newsweek)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • IDF Reenters Bethlehem
    Early Monday, IDF troops reentered areas of Bethlehem and immediately blocked off access to the Church of the Nativity to prevent terrrorists from seeking refuge at the site. Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Palestinians militants are sending one to two suicide attackers daily into Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Chief of Staff: Expect No Reforms under Arafat
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz said yesterday, "As long as Arafat is the leader responsible for reform, then there will not be reforms. He will crush it." He also said there remains a strong nucleus of terrorists doing their best to carry out attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Arabs Learn Bomb Building from Saudi TV
    Five Israeli Arabs were indicted Thursday in Nazareth district court on charges that they assembled bombs based on instructions taken from a Saudi TV program. The program explained in detail how to build a bomb from readily available materials. One of the defendents had a finger blown off in April while building a bomb. (Jordan Times)
  • Global Commentary and Think Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Our Enemies the Saudis - Michael Barone
    Saudi cooperation with our efforts to track down the financing of al Qaeda appears to be somewhere between minimal and zero. Far from aiding our efforts against terrorism, the Saudis have worked against them -- to protect the terrorists in their own ranks. The Saudis are waging war against us, financing the spread of the idea that our free society must be overthrown and totalitarian Wahhabi Islam must be imposed by force. (U.S. News)
  • Saudi Pressure on Arafat has Failed - Ze'ev Schiff
    As part of the U.S.-Saudi agreement reached during Crown Prince Abdullah's April visit to America, Israel acquiesced to Bush's request to lift the siege on Arafat's Ramallah compound, while the Saudis undertook to persuade Arafat to help stop the suicide terrorism. It is now clear that Saudi pressure on Arafat to end the terror strikes has failed. It is also clear to the Saudis that the movement that Arafat heads, Fatah, and its military wing, are directly linked to the terrorism. (Ha'aretz)
  • Silence of the Lambs - Bret Stephens
    In the current war, 25% of all Jewish deaths have been women (126 individuals), compared with 2.8% among Palestinians. Some 35% of deaths have been of middle-aged and older Israelis (age 40+), compared to 11% among Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza vs. the West Bank - Danny Rubinstein
    Long-standing tensions between the population of poverty-stricken Gaza and the residents of the West Bank, who are far better off, have surfaced in the struggle between Palestinian security chiefs Jibril Rajoub and Mohammed Dahlan. "We won't let the Gazan (Mohammed Dahlan) and his Kurdish friend (Mohammed Rashid, an adviser to Arafat) rule over us," said young people from Ramallah to foreign journalists. (Ha'aretz)
  • Is the President Backing Away from Regime Change in Iraq? - William Kristol and Robert Kagan
    Time is not on the president's side. He has lost considerable momentum in the war against terror and weapons of mass destruction. (Weekly Standard)
  • Jeningrad: What the British Media Said - Tom Gross
    The British media devoted page upon page, day after day, to tales of mass murders, common graves, summary executions, and war crimes by Israel in Jenin. (National Review)
  • Talking Points:

    Saudi Media Blitz Failing (Adobe Acrobat file)

        According to a new national poll, the recent media campaign sponsored by the Saudi Arabian government to prop up its image in the U.S. is failing.

    • Some 49% of Americans have a negative opinion of Saudi Arabia vs. 32% with a positive opinion.
    • Israel was viewed positively by 59% vs. 24% with a negative view.
    • Results for other Arab states: Egypt (52% positive, 22% negative); Jordan (45% positive, 23% negative); Iraq (2% positive, 50% negative)
    • Which country is the greatest U.S. ally in the Middle East? Israel - 33%, Saudi Arabia - 8%, UK - 5%, Egypt - 2%.
    • Only 3% of Americans say they would favor changing U.S. Middle East policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict to avoid an oil embargo, while 37% would threaten a retaliatory trade embargo. Over half favor using all means necessary -- including force -- to protect the nation's economic interests.
        "It's rare to see any group fail so dramatically. The Saudi campaign is well organized, well funded, yet extremely wasteful. Clearly, Americans are not buying what they are selling," said a representative of the polling firm, Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates.

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