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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November 5, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Saddam Orders Assassination of Iraqi Opposition Leaders in Britain - Con Coughlin (Telegraph - UK)

    Saddam Hussein has instructed his security officials to kill Iraqi opposition leaders based in Britain to prevent them from forming an alternative government in the event of an Allied military attack to remove his regime.
    According to information received by British and American intelligence officials in the past week, Saddam has issued a presidential decree authorizing the murders "by any means necessary."

Iraq's Secret Prisons - Michael Theodoulou (Christian Science Monitor)

    It is feared that thousands of Iraqis are being held in secret prisons, making a mockery of Saddam Hussein's promise of a "comprehensive amnesty" for all prisoners.
    Amnesty International last week said that there were "worrying reports" of dozens of secret prisons in Iraq, possibly as many as 70.
    Dissidents say there may be few genuine political prisoners left in Iraqi jails, suspecting that those seriously opposed to Saddam have been executed.

U.S. Pilots Use Southern Iraq for Practice Runs - Michael R. Gordon (New York Times)

    Navy pilots are conducting mock strikes against airfields, towers, and other military sites in Iraq, acquainting themselves with targets they may be called on to strike as the Bush administration prepares for a possible military campaign to topple Saddam Hussein.
    According to Pentagon officials, Iraq has fired at allied patrols more than 130 times since mid-September.

U.S. Readying Bridges for River in Iraq - Esther Schrader (Los Angeles Times)

    The Pentagon is outfitting Army engineering units with state-of-the-art river-crossing equipment capable of moving large numbers of troops and heavy materiel across the Euphrates quickly if the decision is made to attack Iraq.

Useful Reference:

Interview with Saddam Hussein (Al-Usbou'-Egypt/MEMRI)

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Strike in Yemen Kills Six Al Qaeda
    A missile fired by a U.S. Predator drone over Yemen Sunday killed six suspected al Qaeda terrorists. One of the men killed was Abu Ali al-Harithi, one of the suspected planners of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors. Sources said the CIA has been operating armed Predators over Yemen for months. (Washington Post)
        See also Yemen's Problems with Islamic Terrorism - Jonathan Schanzer
    Since September 2001, Yemen has worked hard to shed its image as a hotbed of Islamist terrorism and has allowed American Special Forces on its soil to train, advise, and assist Yemeni forces. The U.S. government is also believed to have given about $100 million to San'a to fight terror. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Former Iranian Hostage Taker Now Takes On the Mullahs
    Muhammad Asgharzadeh, 47, one of the leaders of the assault on the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979, today leads a reformist party and advocates improved relations with the United States. (New York Times)
  • Islamists Target Israel's Bedouin - Gil Sedan
    Every now and again, bearded, white-robed missionaries of the Islamic Movement enter one of 30-odd Bedouin villages in the north, trying to persuade more Israeli Arabs to walk down the path of confrontation with the Jewish state. Having already struck significant roots among the Bedouin of the Negev, the Islamic Movement is aiming at the north. (JTA)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Security Guard, Schoolboy, Murdered in Mall Homicide Bombing
    Two people were murdered and 69 injured in a Palestinian homicide bombing on Monday at a Kfar Sava shopping mall north of Tel Aviv. A 51-year-old security guard who was killed in the blast apparently prevented a far greater tragedy by blocking the bomber's progress. The second fatality is a 15-year-old schoolboy. Both are new immigrants from Argentina. (Ha'aretz)
        See also A Nightmare Trip to the Mall (Jerusalem Post)
  • New Israeli Elections in February
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided Tuesday to dissolve the Knesset and hold new elections in February 2003. Former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has offered to serve as foreign minister during the 3-month pre-election period. (Yediot Ahronot)
  • Columbia U. Latest Israeli Divestment Battleground
    Taking their cue from colleagues at Harvard, MIT, and Princeton, hundreds of students, professors, and alumni have signed a petition urging Columbia University to divest university funds from companies that manufacture and sell arms to Israel.
        Like the other petitions, the call to divest appears to be overshadowed by a far more popular anti-divestment campaign. Organized by the director of Columbia's Hillel, Rabbi Charles Sheer, within the first 24 hours of its posting at, 664 students, faculty, alumni, and staff signed the petition, compared to 394 who signed on to divest from Israel over the past week at (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Pro-Palestinian Professor Offered Chair at Columbia (New York Sun)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Rein in Hizballah - Editorial
    If Canada's own security agency has proof that Hizballah has been using Canada as an off-shore base for raising money and buying supplies such as blasting devices, then Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham should take every legal measure to stop such activity at once. Nations around the world have banned Hizballah as a terrorist organization. For it, or any group, to come into Canada and begin buying large amounts of explosive devices, and items such as night-vision goggles, should send alarm bells ringing. It is a matter of grave concern that Ottawa has apparently failed to rein in Hizballah activities on Canadian soil. (Montreal Gazette)
  • Islam Takes a Democratic Turn in Turkey - Soli Ozel
    An electoral earthquake shook Turkey's politics to its foundations on Sunday and all but eliminated its complacent and exhausted ruling elites. The Justice and Development Party - the third and least Islamist in a sequence of Islamist political parties - led with a third of the votes. Yet these elections were not about Islam or whether Turkey would turn its back on modernization and secularism. These elections were the eruption of popular wrath against established parties. (New York Times)
  • Treatment of Israel Strikes an Alien Note - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Is Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza - an occupation it has offered to end in exchange for peace - worse than the Chinese occupation of Tibet? Are the tactics used to combat terrorism by Israel worse than those used by the Russians against Chechen terrorists? Are Arab and Muslim states more democratic than Israel? Does the absence of the death penalty in Israel alone, among Middle East nations, make it more barbaric than the countries which behead, hang, and shoot political dissidents? Is Israel's commitment to equality for women worse than the gender apartheid practiced in Saudi Arabia? Yet there are no comparable petition campaigns against other countries that enslave minorities, imprison dissidents, murder political opponents, and torture suspected terrorists. (National Post - Canada)
  • The Advantages of a U.S. Attack on Iraq - Jonathan Eyal
    The critics of the war on Iraq may well exaggerate the dangers and they clearly overlook the potential advantages which may accrue for the entire Middle East should the operation actually succeed. It is usually forgotten that when Saddam was evicted from Kuwait, spontaneous rebellions against him started throughout Iraq. In the last three wars conducted since the end of communism, the U.S. was victorious, and the pessimists were proven wrong. [The author is Director of Studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London.] (Straits Times - Singapore)
  • Talking Points:

    IDF: Amnesty Report One-Sided (Israel Defense Forces)

    On Monday, Amnesty International issued a 76-page report on Israel's Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin and Nablus that accuses the IDF of war crimes. The IDF Spokesperson issued the following response:

    • During the past 2 years, Palestinian terrorist factions perpetrated over 14,500 terror attacks, claiming the lives of 624 Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.
    • All IDF operations adhere to international humanitarian law, in strict compliance with the highest moral and legal standards. In glaring contrast, Palestinian terrorist factions defy all norms, be they moral or legal, deliberately attacking civilians only because they are Israeli.
    • As part of its adherence to the rules of the conduct of war, the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid harming civilians, especially children. This concern is an integral part of soldier training, of the regulations governing when to open fire, of orders issued by commanders, of operational plans, and of the message conveyed by the highest-ranking officers.
    • Regrettably, while some civilians have been injured during the fighting against the Palestinian terrorist groups, in no case were these injuries intentional. Those hurt were either individuals involved in Palestinian terrorist activity, or civilians who were unintentionally hurt when they entered a live-fire zone. The terrorist factions have transformed Palestinian civilian population centers into terrorist activity headquarters.
    • Authors of the Amnesty report compare IDF operations in which Palestinian children were killed to Palestinian terror attacks in which Israeli children were killed. This comparison is unjustified and baseless. Palestinian terror attacks, especially suicide bombings, are designed to cause the death of Israeli civilians, including children. On the other hand, IDF activity is not aimed at injuring civilians.

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