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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October 18, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Yassin Involved in Supplying Hamas with Weapons - Amos Harel

    Spiritual leader of the Hamas movement Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was personally involved in an attempt to supply arms to a unit of Hamas' military wing, according to an indictment filed in Gaza military court.
    Mahmoud al-Ayish, 27, a Hamas activist from Rafah who was arrested in August, confessed to the Shin Bet security service that he had met Yassin twice at his home and asked him to provide his cell with arms. Yassin referred him to other Hamas activists who could arm his unit.
    In public pronouncements, Yassin expresses explicit support for attacks against Israelis, including suicide bombings, but he is careful not to give the impression that he is personally involved and knows of attacks in advance.
    However, there is one known instance when Yassin's bodyguards gave lessons in the use of weapons to Hamas military activists who later participated in attacks on the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip. (Ha'aretz)

Arafat to Execute Imprisoned "Collaborator" as Peace-Offering to Hamas

    On Friday, Walid Hamdiya, a senior member of Hamas until his arrest by the PA in 1995, was abruptly taken from his cell and brought before a closed Palestinian security court which sentenced him to death by firing squad for working undercover on behalf of Israel's security services.
    The sudden tribunal and death sentence is seen as a bid by Yassir Arafat to calm tension between Hamas and the Palestinian police in Gaza.
    The Palestinian leadership is seen to be anxiously trying to pacify Hamas leaders by carrying out a public execution of Hamdiya on their behalf.
    On September 23, another accused collaborator, Akram Mohammed al-Zatma, was turned over to Hamas for execution by Gaza police boss Rashid Abu Shabak. (IMRA)

Belgrade Shares Baghdad Secrets with U.S.

    Belgrade authorities have handed the U.S. Milosevic-era intelligence on Saddam Hussein's regime as proof of their willingness to cooperate with the American-led campaign against terrorism, according to Yugoslav military sources.
    The information includes details about Iraq's integrated anti-aircraft defense system, the communication system which links the main command with operation units, the blueprints of reinforced-concrete shelters and underground edifices, and particulars on the Iraqi leader's key personnel. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting)

Guard Rewarded for Stopping Bomber

    A security guard who foiled a weekend terror attack spent Monday at a luxury hotel, reunited with his wife, counting reward money, and planning to move out of the tiny trailer he called home.
    Mikhail Sarkisov, 29, stopped a suicide bomber Friday night at a cafe next to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, grabbing his arm before he could set off the bomb. He called for help from the guards at the embassy, and together they captured him. Holding on to the bomber's arm, Sarkisov smashed him head first into a car's windshield. (ABC News)

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Former U.S. Defense Official: Israeli Special Forces in Western Iraq Last Summer
    The administration's pledge to deploy Special Operations forces in western Iraq to destroy facilities that could be used to launch missiles at Israel, which was conveyed during this week's visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, follows an undisclosed reconnaissance mission in western Iraq this summer by Israeli special forces, according to a former U.S. defense official. The covert Israeli operation was aimed at determining whether Iraq had the capability to launch drone aircraft, in addition to Scud missiles, from its desert air bases. (Washington Post)
  • CIA: Risk of New U.S. Terror Attack Grave and Immediate
    Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet told a Congressional panel Thursday, "The threat environment we find ourselves in today is as bad as it was last summer, the summer before Sept. 11....It is serious, they've reconstituted, they are coming after us, they want to execute attacks....They intend to strike again."
        Tenet also revealed that when an associate of bin Laden suggested attacking the World Trade Center with small aircraft packed with explosives, it was bin Laden himself who "suggested using even larger planes." (New York Times)
  • U.S. Pinpoints Top Al Qaeda Financiers
    U.S. intelligence has identified about a dozen of al Qaeda's principal financial backers, most of them wealthy Saudis, and a top financial investigator is headed to Europe seeking a unified front to freeze their assets in the hope of crippling the terror network, senior administration officials said Thursday. (Washington Post)
  • U.S.-Israel Statement on Release of Palestinian Tax Funds
    "As part of the effort to further Palestinian reform, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel agreed that the Government of Israel would consider favorably the gradual return and scheduled transfer of all PA tax funds collected by Israel on the unequivocal condition that there would be full U.S.-led monitoring to ensure that these funds will only be used for the economic and civil activities of the Palestinian community and to prevent the use of these funds for terrorist activity of any kind." (U.S. State Department)
  • U.S. Skips Lebanese Water Ceremony
    The United States stayed away from ceremonies to mark the opening of a water project in south Lebanon Wednesday because it disapproved of what it considered a unilateral act in Lebanon's water dispute with Israel, a State Department official said. (ABC News)
        See also How Iraq Helped Israel with the Wazzani - Herb Keinon
    That Israel hasn't yet taken out the new Lebanese pumping station on the Wazzani is less an indication of a lack of resolve, and more a reflection of Jerusalem's belief this game isn't over yet. The Lebanese have an interest in playing ball with the U.S. because they realize there will be a day after Iraq, and they don't want to be added to America's list of bad guys. The realization that a new reality will emerge after the U.S. deals with Iraq also limits how far Lebanon and Syria will be willing to go now to provoke Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lebanon Students Protest Syrian Grip
    Lebanese students taped their mouths shut and raised banners calling for an end to Syria's grip on Lebanon Thursday at the French Cultural Centre in Beirut, appealing to delegates arriving for a summit of Francophone nations to help end Syrian political and military domination. Syria holds political sway in Lebanon, where it keeps at least 20,000 troops and maintains a strong influence in the military, judiciary, and security forces. (CNN)
  • Iraq's Call for Support Falls Short
    The Iraqi diplomatic campaign seems increasingly desperate. Of major Arab countries, only Syria appears to be lending a sympathetic ear; other Arab states, particularly in the Persian Gulf, are urging Baghdad to comply with any resolution, regardless of its conditions. (Boston Globe)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Iranian Missiles in Lebanon Can Reach Tel Aviv - Menachem Gantz
    Iran has transferred missiles to its bases in Lebanon with a range that can strike Tel Aviv, according to an Italian newspaper quoting Western intelligence sources. The missiles were provided to the Iranian Guards in the Bekaa Valley but not to the Hizballah. (Maariv)
        See also Hizballah Seeking Long-Range Missiles - Aluf Benn
    The Hizballah is trying to get a ground-to-ground missile with a 300-kilometer range, that could hit anywhere in Israel north of Beersheva, a senior Israeli source said Thursday. The Hizballah currently has Fajr 5 missiles that can reach Haifa and the source said that the situation on the northern border "is very dangerous." (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Reduces Forces in West Bank Towns - Amos Harel
    Over the past week, the army has significantly reduced its presence inside the Palestinian towns in the West Bank. With fewer actions inside the towns, the IDF is moving its search for wanted men to the villages where most of them are believed to be hiding out now. At the same time, the IDF has tightened its encirclement of Jenin. For a week, bulldozers have been at work several hundred meters outside the town digging a trench designed to prevent Palestinian vehicles from leaving the town. The IDF can hardly be seen in Kalkilya and forces have also been reduced in Tulkarm and Ramallah. There is still a relatively large army presence in Nablus where threats remain high. The IDF will begin thinning out its presence in the Palestinian sections of Hebron in the coming days, but it will not leave the city entirely. (Ha'aretz)
  • Armed Groups in Gaza Await Israelis
    "We organize night patrols to watch the movements of the Israelis, we lay explosive devices, we give weapons to those who want to join the resistance, and we make home-made bombs," explained one young militant. Rafik, one of the military leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Khan Yunis, noted that most men in Khan Yunis carry a firearm. "Civilians are part of this struggle," he says. (Middle East Times/AFP)
  • Israel Ranks High on UN Human Development Index
    A United Nations Human Development Index for the year 2000 ranked Israel 22 out of 174 countries. At the top of the HDI is Sweden, followed by Canada, the United States, Australia, Holland, Germany, France, Japan, Switzerland, and Britain. Israel ranks ahead of Greece and Portugal. The HDI, published annually since 1990, combines economic and social data on a wide range of issues including life expectancy, health conditions, education levels, and economic class gaps. Israel belongs to the group of countries with the highest per capita development, life-expectancy, and education standards, and ranks eighteenth in the world in technological research and development. (Ha'aretz)
  • Thousands of U.S. Churches to Pray for Israel - Michael Freund
    Nearly 20,000 Christian churches across the U.S. are slated to participate in a nationwide "Day of Prayer and Solidarity" with Israel on Sunday, organizers said. Sponsored by Stand For Israel (, the event will include churches and prayer groups representing a total of 5.3 million American Christians, many of them evangelicals and Southern Baptists, said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, head of the International Federation of Christians and Jews and one of the prime movers behind the project. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Former Secretary of State Shultz Backs Iraq War
    Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who served under President Reagan, told a New York audience he supports President Bush�s policy of pre-emption and that Iraq is a "clear and present danger." "The risks of inaction clearly outweigh the risks of action....Time is his ally, it�s not our ally." Shultz said the president would ask himself whether he would let Russia, China, or France prevent America from defending itself.
        The war against terrorism is "not a matter of law enforcement." The idea of finding "the criminals" and trying them in American courts doesn�t work. Neither does cutting deals with the terrorists. "You can�t negotiate with the terrorists. You�ve got to put them down." As for the policy of "pre-emption," Shultz observed: "People are shocked by that word." He advised: "Get used to it." (New York Sun)
  • Bait and Switch - Nicholas D. Kristof
    Thinking that after overthrowing Saddam Hussein we're going to turn Iraq into a flourishing democracy is a pipe dream, a marketing ploy to sell a war. We haven't even been able to nurture full democracy in modern, bustling Kuwait, where women still cannot vote, or in Saudi Arabia, which is more egalitarian - neither men nor women can vote. (New York Times)

    Weekend Features:

  • Alliance Between Conservative U.S. Christians and Israel Worries Muslim Leaders - Meredith Buel
    A growing alliance between conservative Christians in the United States and Israel is sparking concern among Muslim leaders, who fear what they see as a campaign against Islam. American Christian Zionists say they are strengthening their support for the Jewish state because of the fight against terrorism. (VOA)
  • Britain Woos the Iranians - James Robbins
    Iran is a country with two paramount enemies - the United States and Iraq. It's also a country with two governments - the revolutionary ultra-conservative clerical one of the mullahs and the modernising civilian one led by President Khatami. There is deep anger against the United States for lumping Iran with Iraq in that notorious "axis of evil." There were hints too that Iran would not actively frustrate an American-led war on Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians died in the eight years after Saddam Hussein invaded back in 1980. An Iranian still dies almost every day as a result of the gas attacks Saddam used against them. (BBC)
  • How Israelis Cope with Everyday Terror - Ellen Hale
    In a remarkable display of resilience, Israelis are finding ways to cope with a conflict that is untenably stressful. Through small daily actions, deliberate public policies, and subtle adjustments in the way they think, they have found healthy methods of taking control of their lives and going about their business amid the chaos of war. Though they may have had to cut back on liberties they once enjoyed, most say they have learned to take pleasure in people and experiences they previously undervalued. (USA Today)
  • Persecution of Muslim Converts to Christianity - Julia Duin
    The U.S. State Department has documented numerous instances of religious persecution overseas against Muslim converts to Christianity. According to Islamic law as practiced in countries such as Iran, Sudan, Pakistan and in northern regions of Nigeria, the penalty for changing one's religion is execution. What is not so well known are the threats against such converts in the United States. David Barrett, co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia, estimates that within U.S. borders, 50,000 Christians per year turn to Islam while 20,000 Muslims adopt Christianity. Rev. Esper Ajaj, the Syrian-born pastor of Washington Arabic Baptist Church, says "We've seen more Muslims in [the 1990s] become Christians more than any time in history." (Washington Times)
  • To Jewish Philanthropists, a Personal Thanks - Caryle Murphy
    Shoshana Gottlieb calls herself a survivor, not a victim. So when the 49-year-old Israeli told 1,000 other Jewish women at the International Lion of Judah Conference of United Jewish Communities how she ended up paralyzed from the chest down, she spoke without tears or traces of self-pity. It was her audience that cried. Addressing a darkened ballroom from her wheelchair, Gottlieb, a mother of four, told how she was left paraplegic when Palestinian snipers fired on a van ferrying her home from work in February 2001.
        There are more than 14,000 "Lions of Judah" around the world who donate a minimum of $5,000 annually. (Washington Post)
  • Hizballah Hate With a U.S. Link - Avi Jorisch
    Why are local Lebanese subsidiaries of major American corporations - like PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Western Union - lending comfort and support to terrorists by advertising on the Hizballah television station Al Manar? Al Manar's programming glorifies suicide bombers, exhorts Palestinians to kill Jews, and revels in the carnage of terrorist attacks on civilians. Al Manar almost always has immediate footage of terrorist outrages or Hizballah attacks across the Israel-Lebanon border.
        The millions of Americans who hold stock in these companies would be outraged to know that these all-American brands are used to help celebrate murder, terrorism, anti-Semitism, and coarse hatred of American values. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israel Helps U.S. Prepare for Terrorist Strike - Tina Hesman
    Four faculty members from St. Louis University have arrived in Israel to lay the groundwork for America's first program to teach nurses what to do if terrorists strike the U.S. with chemical or biological weapons. Faculty members at SLU's School of Nursing were discussing the initiation of a program to train the nurses who would be responsible for implementing drug distribution and vaccination plans after a strike with a biological weapon, but no one was sure where to get experienced help to build a program. Elsie Roth, 73, a retired nurse, suggested the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, since the Israelis were probably the only people in the world truly prepared to deal with biological or chemical terrorism. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • Laughter is the Best Medicine at Israel's Hospitals - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
    The country's first-ever "medical clowning" course began Wednesday at Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tzrifin. The course will train 40 people from around the country to add a dash of humor to the medical system. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Talking Points:

    Palestinians Open Fire from Residential Areas; Civilians Hit By Return Fire (Jerusalem Post/Maariv)

    • On the outskirts of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian snipers opened fire at bulldozers working to prevent the digging of tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt. The terrorists then fired an anti-tank rocket, which damaged one vehicle. In light of the danger to the soldiers, the commander of the IDF force received approval to fire tank shells at the source of fire.
    • IDF sources said accurate fire was directed against three terrorists identified as having fired the rockets, who had hidden in nearby buildings. In the exchange of fire, a number of Palestinians including civilians were killing and wounded. The IDF Spokesman said the army regrets the harm done to civilians, but stressed that the terrorists used residential homes for cover.
    • According to Col. Ofer Shifran, deputy commander of IDF forces in Gaza, "The Palestinians began shooting using light weapons, anti-tank rockets, and grenades. The soldiers returned accurate fire toward the source of Palestinian gunfire....The Palestinians take advantage of the residential area and use families there as cover. Soldiers do everything possible not to shoot at houses, but when the Palestinian shooting endangered the soldiers' lives, they responded with accurate tank fire toward a number of armed Palestinians....If the Palestinians don't open fire, our soldiers will have no reason to shoot back."
    • Shifran emphasized that tens of armed Palestinians participated in the fighting and the Palestinians were firing from morning to night.

      See also Israel Army Hunts Gunrunner Tunnels at Gaza Border (Reuters)

    Countering Divestment and Encouraging Investment in Israel
    A Resource Guide

    The divestiture movement seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel by convincing academic institutions to sell investments in Israel and Israeli companies in order to protest the current Middle East situation. The Resource Guide includes historical and definitional information, suggested activities and current organizational efforts to counter divestment, sample op-eds and divestiture related texts as well as resource material about investment in Israel campaigns. The Resource Guide is intended for campus professionals, student activists, faculty and others interested in this important topic. Available from the Israel on Campus Coalition.

    [email protected].

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