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 8, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Pentagon Moving B-2 Bombers Closer to Baghdad - John Hendren (Los Angeles Times)

    Four new $2.5-million maintenance hangars for the batwinged, radar-deflecting B-2 bomber, each serving two planes, will be built on the British-held Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, and one at Fairford, England.
    The B-2's mission is to operate in the opening strike of a war. "The B-2 bomber was designed specifically to kick the door down and kill targets," said Col. Doug Raaburg, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing.
    It takes three minutes for a B-2 to drop 16 satellite-guided "smart" bombs. It is the only plane that can carry the 5,000-pound explosive that crew members call "the crowd pleaser," which burrows up to 20 feet into rock and destroys underground bunkers with massive force.
    Placing B-2s at Diego Garcia frees up bases nearer Iraq to host shorter-range bombers and fighters in Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, and Jordan. The U.S. Central Command recently made room for the B-2s by moving B-1 bombers from Diego Garcia to Amman, Jordan.
    Flying a B-2 is something of an act of faith. It has no high-speed afterburner, no missiles to return fire - nothing to protect it but stealth.

Iranian Academic Sentenced to Death - Jim Muir (BBC)

    A liberal Iranian journalist and academic, Hashem Aghajari, a war veteran who lost a leg in the 1980-88 war with Iraq, has been sentenced to death for apostasy and insulting the imams of early Islam, after calling for reform within the Islamic clerical establishment.

Tracking the Bethlehem Exiles (El Pais - Spain/FBIS/IMRA)

    Every Monday Ahmad Hamamrah has to report to the Soria police station to confirm he is still in the Castilian town. He arrived in Spain on May 22 along with Ibrahim Abayat and Aziz Abayat - Palestinian fighters (terrorists, according to Israel) deported after the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
    The three were originally confined in a forest house in Lubia, amid huge security measures, but they left there in September to try and normalize their lives: Ahmed in Soria and his two colleagues in Zaragoza, where there is a sizable Palestinian community.

9/11 Defendant Said to Admire Hitler - David Rising (Boston Globe/AP)

    A Moroccan student on trial on charges of aiding the Hamburg cell of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jewish people and said Israel has no right to exist, a former roommate testified yesterday.
    Mounir el-Motassadeq is accused of aiding suspected lead hijacker Mohamed Atta and two other suicide pilots who lived in Hamburg.

Israel Buys Oil from Angola - David Hayoun (Globes)

    Israel buys $100 million worth of oil annually from Angola, 5% of all Israel’s oil purchases.
    Britain’s Institute of Petroleum’s magazine Petroleum Review recently reported that Angola will supply Israel with crude oil under a reciprocal agreement for non-military goods, mostly agricultural products.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Hizballah, al Qaeda, Plan Attacks on U.S. and Israel
    Several top terrorist operatives from Hizballah and other groups sympathetic to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network met recently in South America to plan attacks against U.S. and Israeli targets in the Western hemisphere. Intelligence sources in the Middle East said the new terrorist effort was coordinated by Imad Mugniyeh, working from his bases in Iran and Hizballah-controlled areas of Lebanon, who is directing the activities of terrorists in South America. (CNN)
  • Bush's Plan for Peace in Middle East Stalls
    President Bush's three-year plan for Middle East peace, outlined more than four months ago in a major policy address, is moribund because of Israeli indifference, Palestinian violence, and the administration's preoccupation with Iraq, administration officials, analysts, and diplomats said. Officials involved in the negotiations insist that the "road map" may yet be viable, once the situation on the ground improves. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Bares Arrow Missile in Warning to Iraq
    Israel put its $2.2 billion Arrow anti-ballistic missile system on rare display on Thursday in an apparent warning to Iraq should it target the Jewish state again in retaliation for any U.S. attack. "It is like a bullet able to hit a bullet," Arrow chief engineer Boaz Zevi told reporters at Palmachim Air Base where four mobile launchers containing six missiles each point at the sky. The seven meter long (23 foot) Arrow has passed seven tests showing it can detect, track, and destroy a missile in under three minutes at altitudes of more than 50 km (30 miles), a senior military briefer said. The Arrow's Green Pine radar had enabled Israel to slash the time between the launch and detection of a hostile missile by 70 percent since 1991. (Reuters)
  • Poll: Erudite Americans Increasingly Back Israel
    American public support for Israel in the ranks of America's most educated, most informed citizens has risen for the first time since the current round of Palestinian-Israeli violence began two years ago, according to a national poll conducted by ISRAEL21c and The Israel Project. The poll found that 50 percent of "opinion leaders" identify themselves as supporters of Israel, compared to 42 percent in July. The poll also showed an increase in the percentage of respondents who base their support for Israel on its status as a democracy, and who have a "warm" feeling toward the Jewish state. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Afghan War Faltering, U.S. Military Leader Says
    The U.S. military is losing momentum in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan because the remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban have proven more successful in adapting to U.S. tactics than the U.S. military has to theirs, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers said this week. (Washington Post)
  • Suspect Admits He Planted Bomb in Bali Attack
    The Indonesian police said Thursday that a man they arrested who is reportedly linked to an extremist Islamic group had admitted to planting the car bomb that blew up a Bali nightclub in a terror attack last month. The man, Amrozi, was affiliated with an Islamic boarding school called Al Islam, which is supported by the leading Indonesian extremist cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, considered the intellectual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a radical Islamic group with links to Al Qaeda. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Suicide Bombers Killed on Their Way to Attack
    After an IDF patrol became suspicious of a Palestinian taxi and ordered it to stop near Kedumim west of Nablus, the three passengers were instructed to exit, raise their hands, and then lift their shirts to reveal whether they were carrying any explosives. At that point, one of the passengers began running toward the troops, shouting "Allahu akbar," ("God is great"). The soldiers opened fire, killing the man, who exploded when his body hit the ground. In the explosion another passenger was killed, apparently the bomber's handler. Inside the taxi the soldiers discovered more explosives. None of the troops was injured. (Ha'aretz)
  • Red Cross Official Freed After Kidnapping by Palestinians
    A German representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Nicolai Panke, was abducted at gunpoint by four masked men while he was handing out food to Palestinians Thursday in the Gaza town of Khan Yunis. Red Cross spokeswoman Alexandra Matijevic later announced his release.
        Palestinian security officials said all the gunmen were former police officers who had been fired from their duties in the Palestinian security services and were demanding to get their jobs back. About two months ago the same group abducted and later released three Italians who were in Gaza to express solidarity with the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
  • 3 European Airlines Face Flight Suspensions Over Security
    The Israel Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) is threatening to halt the flights to Israel of three foreign airlines - JAT Yugoslav Airlines, Britain's Monarch Airlines, and Turkey's Onur Air - after security violations on their Israeli routes were discovered. The doors to the cockpits were not locked as required. ICAA head Amos Amir warned the airlines’ representatives at a hearing today that unless their pilots adhere to the regulations, they will not be allowed to continue their flights to Israel. (Globes)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Syria Fears Isolation More Than War - Daniel J. Wakin
    Syria has deep concerns about its security if a pro-American government is installed in Iraq, its neighbor to the east. Syria's foreign policy for decades has revolved around its role at the forefront of opposition to Israel. It will never give up that role, analysts say, but adhering to it without regional allies would condemn Syria to the political and economic backwaters.
        On Monday, an American plane patrolling the skies over northern Iraq strayed into Syrian air space. Significantly, the official Syrian press was silent on the issue, a sign that Syria wants to stay in Washington's good graces as best it can. (New York Times)
  • Dirty War: How America's Friends Really Fight Terrorism - Peter Maass
    Due process is a rarity in most Muslim nations; police and courts are rotten with ineptness, corruption, torture, and meddling by political and religious authorities. When the White House urges a crackdown, it knows that terrorism suspects are far more likely to face summary executions than fair trials. Under President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is a brutocracy in which Islamic fundamentalists have in recent years been snuffed out in ways so unkind that even the State Department feels obliged, in its annual human rights reports, to criticize it. For the foreseeable future the war on terror in foreign lands will be waged by the faulty criminal justice systems that exist. (New Republic)
  • Yemen Operation Ends a Long CIA Debate - Greg Miller
    For years, the debate raged within the CIA: Should the United States hunt down and kill its terrorist foes, or would Israeli-style "targeted killings'' only invite retribution and feed an endless cycle of violence? The debate ended Sunday, current and former intelligence officials said, when the CIA incinerated a carful of al Qaeda operatives in northern Yemen with a laser-guided Hellfire missile. "The discussion is now over and the operations have begun,'' said one former agency official with extensive experience in the Middle East.
        James Woolsey, director of the CIA in the early 1990s, harkened back to World War II, before the agency had even been created. "We broke the Japanese code and sent up aircraft to shoot down Adm. Yamamoto's plane and killed him,'' Woolsey said. "It was a targeted killing of one of their greatest military figures.'' (Gulf News/Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service)
  • From Washington to Jerusalem, The War on Terror Must Go On - Ehud Olmert
    Israelis felt a natural sense of empathy for and identification with what Washington-area residents were experiencing when they were under attack by snipers. We Israelis know all too well the intense fear, despair, and uncertainty felt when entire communities are held prisoner to the whims of crazed serial murderers. As mayor of the Israeli city hardest hit by terrorism, I can only watch with envy as residents of greater Washington resume their normal lives. For the families of Jerusalem it is as if we are still facing a myriad of snipers. Only the continued incursions into the Palestinian areas, such as the current one in Jenin, can assure that we will keep the terrorist networks weakened, if not completely destroyed. (Forward)
  • Hail the American Imperium - Fouad Ajami
    American reluctance about imperial entanglements endures; the aversion to being on the ground in Arab and Muslim lands is more powerful still. Tragedy had taught us that those are difficult, deadly assignments, that Americans are strangers in Arab-Muslim lands. But, in their wisdom, the American people seem to have factored all that into a subdued recognition that war against Saddam Hussein may emerge as the best of a bad lot of alternatives. (U.S. News)
  • The New New World Order - James Kitfield
    "We should have the highest aspirations for what might become of Iraq and the Middle East," says Danielle Pletka, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute. "Because what could be worse than the status quo? You have Saddam in Iraq, and a regime in Iran that is sponsoring terror and building weapons of mass destruction. Our friends in Saudi Arabia are the chief financiers of al Qaeda. Human rights are violated throughout the region; there are no rights for women or religious minorities; and no one is allowed to have an honest dialogue about their daily existence." (National Journal)
  • Saudi Arabia Searches for a More Flexible Social Contract - Philip Taubman
    The forces of modernization and liberalization in Saudi Arabia need all the help they can get if they are to prevail in a society that has long been shaped by an insular brand of Islam and governed by an extended royal family prone to corruption and autocratic rule. (New York Times)

    Weekend Features:

  • Israeli Security Guards on the Front Line
    A week after stopping a policeman posing as a bomber during a drill, mall security guard Julio Magran encountered the real thing. He stepped in front of a suspicious man, shouted for shoppers to run - then he died in a fiery explosion. Security guards have become the front line in Israel's confrontation with Palestinian militant violence. (Austin American-Statesman/AP)
  • Jews Flock to Rachel's Tomb
    Jews regard Rachel's Tomb as the final resting place of the biblical matriarch and it ranks as Judaism's third holiest site. "We preceded the Arabs here by many, many years. They would stop us coming here if they could, as they did before 1967," said Ruth Koenigsberg, a visitor to the site. The Israeli government said in September that Rachel's Tomb would be folded into a Jerusalem "security envelope" to help seal it off from Palestinian attackers and suicide bombers. (Reuters)
  • American Muslims Launch PR Campaigns to Defend Islam
    As Ramadan gets underway, Muslim communities across America are on a PR mission to explain what their religion is all about. From political fundraisers and food drives to open houses at mosques, grassroots Muslim groups are working hard to shake off the bad image Islam earned in many Americans' eyes after the Sept. 11 attacks. (MSNBC)
        See also Arabs Make PR Play
    The Arab Thought Foundation is co-sponsoring a Fortune magazine symposium next week in Washington, D.C. and has commissioned publication of "What Arabs Think: Values, Beliefs and Concerns," which is based on polling data from Zogby International, in a bid to improve understanding of the Arab world in the U.S. The ATF, founded in June 2001, says its purpose is to "energize cultural awareness and intellectual vitality, historically hallmarks of the Arab world." (O'Dwyer's PR Daily)
  • Jordan, Between Iraq and U.S., Worries About War
    A certain anxiety pervades Jordan over the potential fallout from warfare erupting on yet another border, anxiety that deepened with the shooting death of a senior American diplomat outside his home. (New York Times)
  • Roger Neilson's Hockey Camp in Israel - Hal Bock
    When they inducted Roger Neilson into the Hockey Hall of Fame this week, it was a celebration of 25 years in the NHL, a tribute to a man who has twice fought off cancer and coached eight teams for 1,000 games. And that doesn't count the kids he worked with in Israel. When he was asked if he'd be interested in setting up one of his summer hockey camps there, he accepted immediately. (SFGate/AP)
  • Talking Points:

    Suicide Attacks Are War Crimes, Targeted Killings Aren't - David B. Rivkin, Jr., Lee A. Casey, and Darin R. Bartram (Jerusalem Post)

    • Equating the victims of suicide bombings with Palestinian civilians killed during Israeli military operations is utterly without foundation in international law.
    • The law makes a clear distinction between attacks that deliberately target civilians (which are emphatically illegal) and civilian casualties that result from otherwise lawful attacks on proper military targets.
    • Under the laws and customs of war, belligerents in general and military leaders in particular are legitimate targets and can be attacked at all times, whether on or off the "battlefield." Whatever the long-term efficacy of this policy may be, there is no doubt that Israel's targeted killing of Palestinian combatants is legal.
    • There is little doubt that the hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians over the past two years qualifies as a conflict to which the laws of war apply. That being the case, both Israel and the Palestinians are bound by the laws of war in their operations, and the legality of their actions must be judged by that standard.
    • Although the laws of war do not proscribe the use of "suicide" attacks - such as the Japanese "Kamikaze" pilots of World War II - the use of such tactics against civilian targets is clearly forbidden.
    • Under modern international law norms, deliberate attacks on civilians, or civilian targets, constitute a war crime. Moreover, commingling of armed forces with civilians and carrying out military activities from civilian areas are also profound violations of the laws of war.
    • Only known military targets are to be selected for attack, with the caveat that civilian homes and buildings can become legitimate targets if they are used for a military purpose.
    The authors are Washington-based international lawyers.

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