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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August 30, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Inside Saddam's Extermination Plant - Paul McGeough

When Dr. Mohammed Frah - director of research and development at Falluja, one of the remote factories where the United States claims Saddam Hussein could be making chemical and biological weapons - was asked if he had worked on any of Saddam's chemical weapons programs, he answered: "In the early 1980s I worked for five years on the chemical and biological programs at Al-Muthanna."
    This is the name of a critical center in Saddam's weapons program - a huge pesticide complex that produced thousands of tons of deadly chemical agents - including sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard - for weapons of mass destruction.
    The plant, 50 kilometers north of Falluja, was partly demolished by bombs during the 1991 Gulf War, but not before most of its stockpiles had been trucked out. United Nations inspection teams finished its demolition in 1994.
    It soon emerged that Dr. Frah was not the only Al-Muthanna alumnus at Falluja. The manager of the Falluja plant, Dr. Jamal Hider Hassan, said he had spent much of his career there, and when asked how many of his staff of 200 might also have served at Al-Muthanna, he said: "About 80 per cent."
    The tour ended abruptly minutes after Dr. Frah admitted to his years at Al-Muthanna. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Is Abu Nidal Really Dead? - Ed Blanche

It might be prudent - and admittedly somewhat fanciful - to note that Abu Nidal's organization has in the past faked the deaths of its operatives and given them new identities to mislead intelligence services on their trail.
    One was Samir Mohammed Khadar, described by some as Abu Nidal's operations chief, whose first big assignment was the 1978 assassination of Egyptian writer Youssef Shanti in Cyprus. Khadar was linked to terrorist attacks in Italy and France in 1985 and 1986.
    Greek authorities believed Khadar was killed when his car blew up in Piraeus only hours before a terrorist attack on a cruise ship, the City of Poros, on July 11, 1988, in which nine French, Swedish, and Danish citizens were killed. Two men perished in the blast and among the debris police found weapons bearing Khadar's fingerprints and scraps of a passport bearing his photograph.
    But U.S. authorities, along with European security services, believed Khadar faked his death in Athens. Chief Superintendent Lars Forste of the Swedish security police commented: "The indications are that the car explosion was arranged to make believe that Khadar was killed."
    France issued an international arrest warrant for Khadar in 1992, and Sweden followed in 1994. (Daily Star - Lebanon)

Useful Reference:

Progress Report on Palestinian Security, Economic, and Political Reforms (AIPAC)

    What have the Palestinians done since Bush's speech?

Key Links

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Back Issues

News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Cheney Reiterates the Case Against Saddam
    U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney told a gathering of Korean War veterans on Thursday: There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors - confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today, and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth.
        We are, after all, dealing with the same dictator who shoots at American and British pilots in the no-fly zone on a regular basis; the same dictator who dispatched a team of assassins to murder former President Bush as he traveled abroad; the same dictator who invaded Iran and Kuwait, and has fired ballistic missiles at Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel; the same dictator who has been on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism for nearly two decades.
        What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat is give in to wishful thinking or to willful blindness. We must not simply look away, hope for the best, and leave the matter for some future administration to resolve. As President Bush has said, time is not on our side. Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network, or a murderous dictator, or the two working together, constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined. The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action. (White House)
  • U.S. Builds Terror Funding Cases
    The government is building criminal cases against sympathizers on U.S. soil suspected of providing material support to terror groups as diverse as Hamas and al-Qaida, according to documents and U.S. officials. "The evidence that is being developed suggests that America has been a piggy bank for certain terror organizations to the tune of tens of millions of dollars,'' said a senior law enforcement official directly involved in the investigation.
        One of the biggest efforts to stop Americans from supporting overseas terrorists is called Operation Green Quest, a joint effort of the Customs Service, several Treasury Department agencies, and the FBI that was begun last fall after the Sept. 11 attacks. According to documents and interviews, the operation has seized more than $23 million from suspected terrorist supporters, executed 78 search warrants, and resulted in 42 arrests and 27 indictments. (Associated Press)
  • Denmark to Unveil New EU Mideast Peace Plan
    The Danish presidency of the European Union is working on a new Mideast peace plan to be presented to EU foreign ministers at their weekend meeting, the Berlingske Tidende newspaper reported on Wednesday. The first phase calls for a security agreement to be concluded between Israel and the Palestinians to end the violence ahead of Palestinian elections in January. The second phase calls for Palestinian reforms including the drafting of a constitution and setting up an independent judiciary. Finally, negotiations should take place to define Israel's borders, set up a new Palestinian state, and settle the status of Jerusalem. (Times of India)
  • Stealth Bomber - Janine Zacharia
    While the Israeli public focuses on a missile attack from Iraq, Israeli security and terrorism experts quietly worry about a more sinister prospect: that Saddam could equip Palestinian militants with deadly biological pathogens that, if disbursed clandestinely, could go undetected until scores of people fall ill. Today Saddam has a strategic asset that wasn't available during the Gulf War: a militant Palestinian population willing, even eager, to die in the fight against the Jewish state. (New Republic)
  • Syria Jails Three Dissidents for Incitement
    Three Syrian dissidents who expressed their views in private meetings were convicted of incitement and sentenced to prison terms of between two and five years. The three dissidents - a lawyer, a doctor, and a professor of economics - were the last of 10 government opponents arrested in September 2001 during a crackdown on "salons," political discussion groups held in private homes. The salons sprang up after President Bashar Assad took office in 2000 and began to ease the totalitarian rule of his late father, Hafez Assad. The best-known of the salon dissidents are the MPs Riyadh Seif and Mamoun Homsi, who were stripped of their parliamentary immunity and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. (Business Day - South Africa)
        See also Release Syrian Prisoners of Conscience (Amnesty International)
  • Take Back the Campus
    The Washington-based Israel on Campus Coalition has been created by Hillel and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation to act as an information-sharing and planning agency for more than 20 Jewish organizations on campus, and as a central clearinghouse for students and professionals. Wayne Firestone, former director of the Israel office of the Anti-Defamation League, is its director. Efforts to "take back the campus" will seek to influence public opinion through lectures, the Internet, and coalitions. (JTA)
  • Mason Denies Role in Dropping Comic
    An irate Jackie Mason defended himself Wednesday over allegations that he demanded a local comic of Palestinian descent be removed as his opening act at Zanies comedy club this week because of ethnicity. "It never involved me," said Mason at a news conference. Mason repeatedly said he didn't care about Hanania's ethnicity or that Hanania has only been performing comedy for nine months. "I have no problem with the fact that he's a Palestinian," Mason said.
        Zanies general manager Linda Moses made the decision to drop Hanania from Mason's performances. She said there were several phone calls, some threatening, about Mason and Hanania's pairing.
        Mason said he was livid that Hanania called the media about the firing and implied that Mason was directly involved. "He knew how to keep my name alive in the situation even though it didn't belong there," Mason said. "And he didn't care about what the implications are to me. How it would hurt me or affect me." (Chicago Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Hizballah Attack Wounds 3 Israeli Soldiers
    Three soldiers were wounded, one seriously, when Hizballah fired 80 anti-tank missiles and mortars at two IDF positions on Mount Dov on the Lebanese border Thursday. The IDF responded with artillery fire and planes. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Wound 3 IDF Soldiers in Jenin
    Three IDF soldiers were wounded by Palestinian gunfire in Jenin Friday morning while searching for weapons and terrorists. (Yediot Ahronot)
  • Qatar Won't Help U.S. War on Iraq
    Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad, said in Baghdad that his country would not allow its soil to be used as a launch pad for a U.S. strike on Iraq. Qatar is home to three bases used by U.S. forces, including Al-Udeid Air Base, which military officers have touted as a likely hub for an attack on Iraq. (Daily Star - Lebanon)
  • Israel, U.S. Share Information on Suicide Terror
    Some 150 security and rescue service personnel from Israel and the United States met in Washington this week for a joint professional conference. The Americans sought to learn from Israel's experience on coping with suicide terrorism and the Israelis saw several new American technological devices. (Ha'aretz)
  • UK Chief Rabbi: Israel's Case is a Moral Case
    UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote to Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau: "For the past two years I have consistently supported Israel and made its case in the British media." "I deeply regret that sensationalist headlines have been used to portray me as a critic of Israel. I am not. Israel's case is a moral case....It is my role to make our case - Israel's case - to the widest possible audience." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Will Saddam's Troops Fight? - Michael Rubin
    In December 2000, Iraqi troops invaded the Kurdish safe haven of Ba'adre. The United States went right at the invading force. And when American warplanes flew low over the Iraqi lines, 138 Iraqi soldiers threw down their weapons and surrendered without a shot being fired; the rest quickly withdrew. The lesson wasn't complicated: Not many Iraqis want to die for Saddam. Egypt's former Chief of Staff General Salah Halaby said earlier this month: "The Iraqi army has no chance whatsoever to stand steadfast and will fall like a castle of sand." (New Republic)
  • Wilsonian Course for War - David Ignatius
    If the administration is serious about bringing democracy to the Middle East, it shouldn't be thinking in terms of a battle that lasts six months or a year, but of one that requires a decade or more. In that sense, this conflict is the equivalent of the Cold War: a careful, patient struggle rather than a quick firefight. Make human rights an issue in every meeting the U.S. and European nations have with each Arab state. That's the kind of slow and steady pressure that produced the Sakharovs and Sharanskys who transformed the Soviet Union. (Washington Post)
  • The Terrible Logic of Nukes - Charles Krauthammer
    In the annals of tyranny and on the scale of capricious savagery, Saddam ranks somewhere between Caligula and Mao. There's not much percentage in counting on the rationality of such gentlemen.
        Imagine that Israel had not destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. What would have happened when Iraq invaded Kuwait? With a nuclear arsenal at Saddam's disposal, would the U.S. have attacked? As it was, war against a nonnuclear Iraq was authorized by the U.S. Senate by a mere five votes. Had Saddam had nukes in 1991, he would probably today be king of all Arabia.
        Nukes do not have to explode to be useful. Their value lies in mere possession. Possession creates an umbrella of inviolability. And there is nothing more dangerous than an inviolable aggressor. The threat of just a few nuclear weapons, delivered by missile or terrorist to, say, New York City or San Francisco, would allow an aggressor to commit whatever depredations he fancied, calculating that America would be deterred from intervening with its otherwise overwhelming conventional power. (Time)
  • How Israel's Peace Movement Fell Apart - David Newman
    The peace movements in Israel have been silenced in the past year. Many of the most prominent peace activists, silent and disillusioned, have retired to the seclusion of their homes. Many on the left have moved to the center. The peace movements and organizations were tired long before the Camp David fiasco. They failed to attract the younger, middle-class, high-tech generation to their ranks. This failure contrasted strongly with the dynamic activism of the right-wing and West Bank settler movements that have successfully won the hearts and minds of a second, and even third, generation of activists. Israeli right-wing ideology has constantly been renewed (New York Times)
  • High Road to Baghdad - Richard Holbrooke
    Few Americans today understand the enormous force, both moral and political, that a security council resolution authorizing military intervention carries in the rest of the world. Such a resolution mobilizes international opinion, forces concerted action, and can mute much criticism. If achieved, it greatly strengthens America's hand. (Guardian - UK)
  • Talking Points:

    You Have to Fight for Your Life - IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon (Ha'aretz)

    • When I look at the overall map, what disturbs me especially is the Palestinian threat and the possibility that a hostile state will acquire nuclear capability. Those are the most worrisome focal points, because both of them have the potential of being an existential threat to Israel.
    • The campaign between the Palestinians and us is between two societies that are competing for territory and, to a certain degree, for existence. I don't think that there is an existential threat to the Palestinian society. There is an existential threat to us. In other words, there is asymmetry here, but it is reversed: Everyone thinks we are Goliath and they are David, but it is the opposite.
    • The Palestinians feel that they have the backing of a quarter-of-a-billion Arabs and they believe that time is on their side and that, with a combination of terrorism and demography, they will tire us out and wear us down.
    • There is also an additional reverse asymmetry here: We do not have intentions to annihilate them and we have also expressed readiness to grant them a state, whereas they are unwilling to recognize our right to exist here as a Jewish state.
    • If the term "occupation" had any relevance at all, it lost it in the year 2000, when the State of Israel put a certain proposal on the table that was supposed to resolve the problem. That proposal was supposed to get the Palestinians off our back, but instead they started to stab us. That is the reality. Therefore, the story is not occupation. The story is non-recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.
    • Q: Are you saying unequivocally that the Palestinian struggle is not aimed at liberating the territories that were conquered in 1967?
      Ya'alon: Of course not. The Palestinians have three stories.
      • Their narrative in Arabic is one of mobilization for a war of jihad and non-recognition of Israel's right to exist. That narrative rejects any attachment between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and it mobilizes the Palestinian people for a war with the goal of bringing about Israel's collapse.
      • In English, the story is different: occupation, colonialism, apartheid. Those are completely irrelevant terms, which are intended to furnish the Western world with familiar terminology that clarifies who the good guys are here and who the bad guys are.
      • In Hebrew, they have a third story: the peace of the brave. But I know the details and I say that Arafat is taking the name of Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory, in vain. What they are after is not to arrive at the end of the conflict, but to turn Israel into a Palestinian state.
    • Q: In other words, the goal of Arafat and of Fatah is to liquidate Israel by stages?
      Ya'alon: Of course. Not to reach an agreement and not to arrive at the end of their claims, in order to preserve the conflict and to let time run its course according to the phased theory.
    • I find the situation [after the Oslo agreement] far more convenient today. When I move, in the end, to fight against what the Palestinians are creating, I think that after what we went through in the past nine years, I have fewer question marks and more exclamation marks. For me, moral clarity has emerged here.
    • Yasser Arafat maintains that Israel is a spider-web society: It looks strong from the outside, but touch it and it will fall apart. He is constantly looking for the cracks in the Israeli wall. Time after time, he promises his people that Israeli society is about to break.
    • Operation Defensive Shield showed them that they were dealing not with a spider web, but with a tiger. But if they see cracks and a chance of [Israel's] disintegration, a prospect of Israeli capitulation, that achievement will be erased.
    • Q: Is it clear to you what Israel's goal in this war is?
      Ya'alon: The very deep internalization by the Palestinians that terrorism and violence will not defeat us, will not make us fold. If that deep internalization does not exist at the end of the confrontation, we will have a strategic problem with an existential threat to Israel. If that [lesson] is not burned into the Palestinian and Arab consciousness, there will be no end to their demands of us.
          Despite our military might, the region will perceive us as being even weaker. That will have an impact not only on those who are engaged in the violent struggle, but also on those who have signed agreements with us and on extremists among the Arabs in Israel. That's why this confrontation is so important. There has not been a more important confrontation since the War of Independence.
          When you grasp the essence, it's clear to you what you have to do. You have to fight for your life.
    • Q: Does that mean that any move involving unilateral withdrawal before the confrontation is resolved and before the violence ends is dangerous?
      Ya'alon: Of course. That would give a push to the struggle against us. Today, any such departure under terrorism and violence will strengthen the path of terrorism and violence. It will endanger us.
      Q: In other words, as chief of staff, you are saying that even if you need a battalion to hold an isolated settlement, if we leave it we will need a great deal more?
      Ya'alon: Correct.
    • Today it is clear that the State of Israel as a Jewish state is still an alien element in the region. It will take generations until various elements in the region accept its existence. Therefore, we have to go back to the ethos of standing fast, not because I am enamored of that ethos, but because there is no choice. It is an ethos of no choice.
    • Q: Some people say that you have become right-wing.
      Ya'alon: One of the problems that is making our public debate shallow is the tendency to label people and not listen to them. Personally, I see myself as a Jew, an Israeli, a humanist, a liberal, a democrat, and a seeker of peace and security. But I know that I am facing a cruel reality and that I have to defend myself.
    Lieutenant General Moshe Ya'alon was born in 1950 in Kiryat Haim, a suburb of Haifa. A member of the Noar Ha'oved [left-leaning] youth movement, he joined Kibbutz Grofit, north of Eilat, and proudly describes himself as a kibbutznik. He was drafted in 1968, serving in the airborne unit of the Nahal brigade.
        In 1978, Ya'alon commanded the paratroop reconnaissance unit, and then the General Staff reconnaissance unit. In 1995, Ya'alon was appointed director of Military Intelligence and in 1998 he became head of Central Command, where he prepared the command's units for the violent confrontation with the Palestinians that he foresaw. He took over as Chief of Staff on July 9, 2002.

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