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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December 16, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

The Assad Visit to London: Background and Implications

    Syria remains one of the worst state-sponsors of international terrorism, providing a haven for leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas.
    Syria sponsors Hizballah in Lebanon, an international terrorist organization with a global reach that, before 9/11, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group.
    Syria refuses to recognize UN resolutions confirming Israel's full withdrawal to the Lebanese-Israeli border.
    Syria helps Saddam Hussein smuggle oil out and smuggle weapons into Iraq.
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/ Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    See also British Jews Condemn Assad's "Red Carpet" Welcome - Douglas Davis (Jerusalem Post);
    Gambling on Syria - Editorial (Telegraph-UK)

Syrians Smuggling Arms to Baghdad - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)

    Syria is secretly helping Saddam Hussein by smuggling vital arms supplies to Baghdad. Western intelligence officials have discovered that at least 52 crates containing new Russian-made air-defense systems and spare parts have been smuggled into Iraq from Syria since the start of December.
    Damascus has recently improved ties with Baghdad, allowing Saddam to open an oil-smuggling route through a Syrian port.
    The Syrians receive an estimated 20 percent commission on the substantial quantities of arms and spare parts they help Saddam smuggle through Syria.
    Defense experts believe the latest Syrian arms shipments will enable the Iraqis to radically upgrade their air-defense capabilities - improving the range and effectiveness of Soviet-made SA6 anti-aircraft missiles.

Assad Laughs Off Iraqi Oil Smuggling - Michael Binyon (London Times)

    Assad claims that Iraqi oil is flowing to Syria only because his government wants to test the repair of a 50-year-old pipeline from Iraq.
    "Of course," he adds with a smile, "we are not going to send the oil back after the test."
    This "testing" has been going on for at least a year now, and Western estimates put the flow at about 150,000 barrels a day.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Palestinian Plot to Shoot Down Sharon's Helicopter Foiled
    Israel arrested three Palestinians from east Jerusalem, members of the radical Palestinian movement Islamic Jihad, on charges of planning to shoot down Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's helicopter. They were also in possession of a 40-kilogram bomb intended for use in an attack on a crowded bus stop on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (VOA News)
  • Jordan Arrests 2 al Qaeda Men for Killing U.S. Diplomat
    Jordanian police have arrested two members of al Qaeda - Salem Saad bin Suweid, a Libyan, and Yasser Fatih Ibrahim, a Jordanian - for the October killing of Laurence Foley, 60, an American diplomat in Amman. Investigators found ammunition and firearms used in the Foley attack in the men's possession. The Libyan had been trained in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. (Washington Post/AP)
  • Bush Widens Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
    The Bush administration has prepared a list of terrorist leaders the CIA is authorized to kill, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be minimized, senior military and intelligence officials said. In the past, the Bush administration has criticized the targeting of Palestinian leaders by Israeli forces. But one former senior official said such criticism had diminished as the administration sought to move aggressively against al Qaeda. (New York Times)
  • Boycott of Work by Israeli Scientists "Could Cost Lives"
    Baroness Greenfield, the eminent neurobiologist and the director of the Royal Institution, the oldest independent research body in Great Britain, said that she was becoming increasingly "distressed" by the British boycott of Israeli academics: "The obvious implication of the boycott is that if this is stopping medical research from being propagated, then the development of treatments and people's lives could be affected. If it continues it will harm people in every sphere, but in medical research lives are potentially at risk."
        The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization, also said that it would become concerned if the shunning of work by Israeli academics, which began in April, continued. An IARC spokesman confirmed that the agency collaborated with Israeli researchers, and gave a warning that vital research could be held up "if this boycott were to expand in reach." (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Terrorists Target Tel Aviv's Sde Dov Airport
    The IDF is concerned that terrorist groups will attempt to strike at military and civilian aircraft at Sde Dov Airport in Tel Aviv. Three months ago, several Palestinians and Israeli Arab were detained near the airport while filming the flights, and it is feared that the video was part of preparations for a terrorist attack at the airport. (Maariv)
  • Christmas is "On" in Bethlehem
    At the Israeli Cabinet meeting on Sunday, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon reported that he had made it clear to the clergy and to Palestinian civilian officials in Bethlehem that Israel will allow Christmas celebrations to be held and will enable Israeli Arabs, residents of Judea and Samaria, and tourists to attend the festivities. However, Israel will, for the time being, retain security responsibility for Bethlehem. (IMRA)
  • Two Israelis Wounded in Samaria Shooting
    Yossi Rund of Ofra and another passenger were lightly wounded when terrorists opened fire at vehicles traveling near Shilo on Saturday. In June, Rund's 18-year-old son Erez was shot and killed in a terrorist shooting in the same area. Pinhas Wallerstein, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, drove in the car behind the vehicle whose passengers were wounded, and his car was hit as well. The topography where the shooting occurred allows Palestinian snipers to shoot at Israeli vehicles with ease and flee unhindered back into Palestinian-controlled areas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Plot to Murder Jerusalem Mayor Foiled - Arnon Regular
    A cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Jerusalem was assigned to gather information about Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert's movements, with the intention of assassinating him. For this purpose, they obtained revolvers and silencers, as they did in the murder of Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi in October 2001. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Windsurfer Wins Gold Medal
    Windsurfer Gal Friedman became the first Israeli to win the gold medal at the World Mistral Sailboard Championships held in Pattaya, Thailand. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How Did American Colleges Get So Anti-Semitic? - Ruth R. Wisse
    The divestment campaign did not just happen. This antipathy to Israel grows from a campus culture that is selectively repressive. All the while that students, in the spirit of diversity, are actively discouraged from making pejorative comments about other vulnerable minorities, some Arab and Muslim students have been actively fomenting hatred of Israel as an expression of their "identity." Anti-Semitism thrives because slandering Israel is the only aggression against a minority that is encouraged by the rules of political correctness. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Death to Dictators - Thomas L. Friedman
    The Iranian students who had practically invented the chants "Death to America" and "Death to the Great Satan" are now chanting "Death to dictatorship." The hard-line clerics have lost their legitimacy with a wide swath of Iranians, particularly the young, who have concluded that it's their own hard-liners - not America - who are to blame for Iran's economic woes, political paralysis, and isolation. (New York Times)
  • Talking Points:

    Cabinet Support for Expelling Arafat Growing - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • The consensus in the security community is that Arafat is the primary obstacle standing in the way of negotiations with the Palestinians, a highly placed security official said Sunday.
    • For months the country's security establishment had agreed that expelling Arafat would cause more harm than good. Now, the official said, this opinion is basically only held by Shin Bet head Avi Dichter.
    • The cabinet no longer believes Arafat would cause more trouble outside the country than he is doing from his Ramallah compound.
    • Both Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon have made remarks recently about the need for a decisive military decision, followed by intensive political action, within the next year. This has been interpreted as meaning the expulsion of Arafat, followed by talks with leaders who take his place.
    • Mofaz has made clear in private meetings that he believes a new PA leadership will not emerge as long as Arafat remains on the scene. Mofaz believes negotiations can resume once Arafat is gone, as long as three conditions are met: Terrorism ends; the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, meaning they give up the right of return; and Jerusalem remains under Israeli sovereignty.
    • The official said Mahmoud Abbas and Muhammed Dahlan are now essentially in control of the Palestinian Legislative Council and are poised to take over once Arafat is removed from power.
    • The official said Arafat has become alienated from his allies, including UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen and EU special Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos, and that the relationship between Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has completely broken down.

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