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 28, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Russians Probe Chechen-al Qaeda Link - Christina Lamb and Ben Aris (Telegraph - UK)

    A number of Arab fighters, believed to be of Saudi Arabian and Yemeni origin, were among the group that seized control of the Moscow theater. "There were definitely Arab terrorists in the building with links to al Qaeda," said a senior Western diplomat.
    Suspicions about al Qaeda's connection deepened after the Chechens broadcast a pre-recorded message on the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television network, which is frequently used by bin Laden and his lieutenants. Russian officials said that the hostage-takers had made several calls to the United Arab Emirates during the siege.

Israeli SWAT Founder Commends Moscow Rescue (Reuters)

    The founder of Israel's premier counter-terrorist unit has commended the Russian handling of the Moscow theater siege and said the casualties from gas inhalation were unavoidable.
    "In such rescue operations, one or two dead hostages out of a dozen is considered a success. The same can be said of 100-odd dead out of 800," said Assaf Hefetz, formerly Israel's national police chief, who set up and commanded the Israeli police unit known as Yamam.
    "They had an unprecedented dilemma of having to free so many people when faced by so many terrorists. Any hold-up could have meant one of the suicide bombers taking the whole building down. By neutralizing everyone in there, the Russians took the only alternative to surrender," added Hefetz.

Palestinian Woman Executed in Nablus - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

    Masked men belonging to Fatah's al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades shot dead Haifa Sultan, 39, in Nablus on Friday night after accusing her of collaboration with Israel.
    "She shouted and cried that she was innocent but they shot her in the head and she died instantly," said a resident of the casbah.
    Her younger sister, Adibeh, was also accused of collaboration and was shot in the legs. One Fatah activist said the plan was to kill the two women, "but for some reason the younger sister was only injured. There is a debate now whether she too should be killed. Some say she should be taken out hospital and executed while others claim she is innocent."

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Diplomat Shot Dead in Jordan
    Lawrence Foley of the U.S. Agency for International Development was gunned down Monday morning outside his home in Amman. (Washington Post/AP)
  • Kuwait Shuts Border Area as U.S. Troops Prepare for War
    A large area of northern Kuwait is to become a "military zone" in response to security fears expressed by U.S. forces, Kuwait's defense ministry announced Saturday. The move will provide troops with a closed arena, away from public scrutiny, to begin exercises prior to an invasion of Iraq. Next month a British armored division of up to 20,000 men is expected to arrive in Kuwait. (Telegraph - UK)
  • Arab Nations Soften Rejection of U.S.-Led War
    "I don't believe that Kuwait, or Qatar...or any country that hosts American bases can stop the United States from using them," said Massouma al-Mubarak, a political science professor at Kuwait University. She said Arab leaders saying "no" to a U.S. strike are talking only to the so-called Arab street. "In reality," she said, "they are saying (to the Americans) do whatever you want, there is nothing we can do about it." (Sacramento Bee/AP)
  • Demonstrations Against Iraq War Absent in Mideast
    Protests against a possible war on Iraq have been noticeably absent in the Middle East, even on the university campuses that often serve as birthplaces of protests in the Arab world. While expressing surprise at the silence, students and professors point to a mix of apathy and governmental pressure. The feeling, some say, is that while the Palestinians deserve a show of solidarity, President Saddam Hussein's Iraq does not. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Anti-Semitic "Elders of Zion" Gets New Life on Egypt TV
    An Egyptian satellite television channel has begun teasers for its blockbuster Ramadan series "Horse Without a Horseman," that its producers acknowledge incorporates ideas from the infamous czarist forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." The series traces the history of the Middle East from 1855 to 1917 in 41 episodes, through the eyes of an Egyptian who fought British occupiers and the Zionist movement. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Three Soldiers Killed in Death Struggle with Homicide Bomber
    The terrorist was spotted at a gas station near the entrance to the city of Ariel in Samaria. According to eye-witnesses, the terrorist fell to the ground when he was shot in the head, and then the explosion occurred, killing 3 soldiers and wounding 18 civilians. Army sources said the terrorist had probably left Nablus the day before - the city hasn't been under curfew for several days. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hotel Owner Grabs Bomber
    Soldiers and civilians on the scene began arguing whether or not to shoot the man. The exchange lasted a few seconds before a career soldier in a reserve brigade opened fire on the bomber. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rocket Fired from Gaza Hits Israeli Town
    A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza landed inside the Israeli town of Sderot on Monday, hitting a school under construction. No injuries were reported. Palestinian attacks in the region have increased in recent days, with mortar attacks on Israeli towns both inside the Gaza district and over the "green line." (Yediot Ahronot)
  • IDF Redeploys in Hebron
    The IDF completed its withdrawal from most Palestinian neighborhoods of Hebron on Friday, but retained outposts in two neighborhoods, Abu Sneina and Harat al-Sheikh, that overlook the Jewish part of the city, as well as on a few rooftops overlooking the dividing line between the Jewish and Arab sectors. Army sources defined the new deployment as an "experiment." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Objections to U.S. "Road Map"
    Israel has three main objections to the U.S. "Road Map to Middle East Peace," Cabinet Secretary Gideon Sa'ar said Sunday: 1) The plan fails to condition any Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank and Gaza on a cessation of Palestinian terrorism and violence. 2) Israel opposes the introduction of an international referee to decide when the sides are ready to move to the next stage of the plan. 3) Israel objects to the plan's reference to the Saudi-Beirut initiative which Israel never endorsed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • "Road Map" Leads Straight Back to Oslo - Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky
    The Quartet's road map has returned to the illusion of peace with dictators. It calls for a game of musical chairs among the current Palestinian leadership. The Quartet believes that a Palestinian society poisoned for the last decade to hate Israel and Jews will be ready to freely choose a new leadership in a matter of months and be ready to peaceably join the community of nations in less than a year. The only hope for an Israeli-Palestinian peace remains investing in a free Palestinian society that will want to join Israel in building a common future. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fear of Hussein May Be Yielding to Doubt - John F. Burns
    In a country where the merest hint of dissent had been a death sentence in years past, many foreign reporters have been approached in recent days by individuals offering forbidden thoughts. Taking advantage of moments in which the official "minders" assigned to journalists by the information ministry were distracted, or briefly absent, these Iraqis burst out with vehemence against the government, and often against Mr. Hussein personally, part of a wider unhinging of events in Iraq.
        After Hussein abruptly decreed freedom for tens of thousands of political prisoners and common criminals across the country, many Iraqis were openly contemptuous of the decision to release thousands of unrehabilitated murderers and thieves onto their streets. (New York Times)
  • Talking Points:

    Legal Aspects of the Palestinian Refugee Question - Ruth Lapidoth

    • The number of Arab refugees in 1949 was between 538,000 (Israeli sources), 720,000 (UN estimates), and 850,000 (Palestinian sources). By 2001, the number of refugees registered with and supported by UNRWA had grown to about 3.5 million.
    • The UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees does not include descendents in its definition of refugees, nor does it apply to a person who "has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality." Under this definition, the number of Palestinians qualifying for refugee status would be well below half a million.
    • The very broad definition under which the number of refugees constantly increases may be appropriate for UNRWA purposes in order to decide who qualifies for assistance, but it is hardly suitable for other purposes.
    • UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948 does not recognize any "right" to return, but recommends that the refugees "should" be "permitted" to return, subject to two conditions - that the refugee wishes to return, and that he wishes to live at peace with his neighbors. The violence that erupted in September 2000 forecloses any hope for a peaceful co-existence between Israelis and masses of returning refugees.
    • UN General Assembly Resolution 393 of 2 December 1950 recommended the "reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East, either by repatriation or resettlement" (emphasis added, R.L.).
    • Security Council Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967 affirms the necessity "for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem." The Council did not propose a specific solution, nor did it limit the provision to Arab refugees, probably because the right to compensation of Jewish refugees from Arab lands also deserves a "just settlement."
      (Jerusalem Viewpoints - Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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