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 20, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Analysts: Saddam Might "Scorch" Iraq in Attack - Barbara Starr and Mike Mount (CNN)

    Saddam Hussein is preparing a "scorched earth policy" in which he might torch oil wells, destroy power plants, and blow up food storage facilities if Iraq is invaded or his hold on power threatened, U.S. military officials believe.
    They said the military has "solid evidence" that Saddam would use weapons of mass destruction if he believes he is about to topple.
    Targets of such weapons would likely include Israel, Kuwait, U.S. troops in Iraq, and minorities around Baghdad.
    A new fiber optic communications network now links "all sorts" of military facilities across Iraq, thanks to equipment sales in recent months from Chinese and Turkish firms.
    Morale problems plague the military, including the Republican Guard, and there are shortages of equipment and ammunition.

Rapid Buildup in Gulf on Horizon - Vernon Loeb and Bradley Graham (Washington Post)

    The U.S. military is poised to begin a rapid and visible buildup of forces in the Persian Gulf early next month involving 50,000 combat troops, aircraft, armor, and tens of thousands of reservists, senior defense officials said.
    Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the buildup would clearly place added pressure on Saddam Hussein to disarm. "There are things you could do in the military that will aid in the diplomacy," Myers said.
    Defense officials said there was far more heavy equipment in the region than has been reported, the result of months of buildup that was kept low key to avoid alarming the international community.
    The prepositioning was designed to reduce the time necessary to assemble an invasion force from four to six months to four to six weeks or less.

"Not Free" Trend Cited in Islamic Nations - Tom Carter (Washington Times)

    More than half of the nations governed by authoritarian rulers have Muslim majorities, according to a new report by the human rights group Freedom House.
    "There are 47 states that are rated as Not Free and in which a broad range of freedoms are systematically denied. Of these, 27 have majority-Islamic populations," says the report, Freedom in the World 2002.
    Six out of nine nations labeled the "worst-rated countries" - Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Turkmenistan - have majority-Islamic populations, according to the report.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Says Iraq "Fails" on Disclosure
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that Iraq's declaration of its weapons of mass destruction programs "totally fails" to meet UN Security Council requirements for full disclosure and constitutes "another material breach" of UN resolutions. But he indicated that a final determination, and a decision on whether to disarm Iraq with military force, will not be made for several weeks. (Washington Post)
        Text of Powell's remarks (U.S. State Department)
  • UK Task Force to Head for Iraq
    A massive British task force will be heading for Iraq within four weeks. More than 40,000 Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force personnel, as well as about 100 tanks, will contribute to a U.S.-led coalition army of more than 250,000, which could go into action as early as the end of next month. The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal will be in the Gulf next month for exercises, supported by a destroyer, a frigate, and two submarines. (Independent-UK)
  • Hamas Leader, Others Charged in Texas
    A leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, his wife, and five employees of a Texas computer company have been charged with breaking U.S. laws that ban dealing in terrorist funds, officials said on Wednesday. A 33-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Dallas named Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas political leader who was deported from the U.S. in 1997. The vice president of InfoCom Corp., Ghassan Elashi, and four of his brothers were also charged. Elashi is chairman of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., which was shut down last year after being designated by the government as a terrorist group. (Reuters)
  • The Great Scud Hunt - Mark Thompson
    U.S. intelligence believes that Iraq possessed some two dozen hidden Scuds when the previous team of UN inspectors left the country in 1998; missile experts say that with proper maintenance they should work fine. Since then, Baghdad may have bought or built more. The dangers posed by Iraq's chemical, biological, and nuclear capacities are multiplied if Iraq can arm missiles with these weapons and strike its neighbors at arm's length. (Time)
  • Egyptian TV Documentary Angers Israel - Maggie Michael
    A 20-minute television documentary describing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a "bloody bulldozer who belongs to a racist military institution that has been spilling Arab blood since 1948" has been shown several times on Egyptian TV since April. Raanan Gissin, Sharon's aide, said, "In the past few months we are seeing an intensified campaign of anti-Semitism against Israel using the most vilifying sources." In apparent response to Israeli complaints, the director of Nile News Channel, Sameha Dahroug, posted a memo in the Cairo offices of the station on Dec. 2 saying any rebroadcast of the documentary was "completely prohibited." (San Francisco Chronicle/AP)
  • Lebanese President Blocks Land Sale to Palestinian-American
    Lebanese President Emile Lahoud has ruled in the case of a Palestinian woman with U.S. citizenship that a ban on land sales to Palestinians still applies to one who has taken another nationality, An-Nahar daily reported Tuesday. The Lebanese parliament angered human rights organizations when it passed a law a year ago banning Palestinians from acquiring property in Lebanon. The 376,000 Palestinian refugees living in a dozen camps across Lebanon are subject to severe discrimination by the authorities, for fear that if they settle in the country they will upset its delicate religious balance. (Middle East Online - London)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Rabbi Murdered in Gaza
    Rabbi Yitzhak Arama, 40, the spiritual leader of the Gush Katif community of Netzer Hazani and father of 6, was murdered Friday morning in a Palestinian terrorist ambush while driving with his family on the Kissufim road in the Gaza district. (Ha'aretz)
  • Restraint Prevails as Hebron Outpost Vacated - Nadav Shragai
    Hundreds of policemen and security services personnel evacuated settlers and their supporters Thursday from the outpost that was established at the site of the clash last month in Hebron in which terrorists killed 12 Israelis. Both sides showed restraint, and leaders of the settler movement were active in defusing tensions. The IDF had already set up a defensive position at the site, which is now reinforced following the evacuation, to provide more security to those who use the pathway leading from the Tomb of the Patriarchs to Kiryat Arba. (Ha'aretz)
  • Arafat Deposes Sari Nusseibeh as Jerusalem Chief - Akiva Eldar
    Yasser Arafat has taken over responsibility for the Palestinian Authority's Jerusalem portfolio by deposing prominent Palestinian peace activist Prof. Sari Nusseibeh. A senior Palestinian official said that Nusseibeh's removal appears to be part of a pattern of eccentric behavior exhibited by Arafat. The official mentioned, for example, Arafat's announcement that East Jerusalem publisher Hanna Siniora would be the PA's ambassador in Washington, but when the prospective envoy arrived in the U.S. capital, Arafat backed down from the appointment. Recent visitors to Arafat's office in the Muqata said his behavior has become strange. They said he was not focused, spoke in a confused manner, and his lips are shaking again, the result of neurological damage that followed an airplane crash in the Libyan desert that Arafat survived. (Ha'aretz)
  • Former U.S. Congressman Wayne Owens Dies During Visit to Israel
    Former U.S. Congressman and Middle East peace activist Wayne Owens, 65, died Wednesday night during a walk along the beach in Tel Aviv, apparently of a heart attack. Owens was president of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, and met regularly with Middle East leaders in an attempt to foster peace. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Navy to Hold Joint Exercise with U.S., Turkey - Amos Harel
    The navies of Israel, the U.S., and Turkey will hold joint maneuvers in the Mediterranean off the coast of Israel on January 1, 2003. The joint exercise will concentrate on search-and-rescue operations for sailors and vessels in distress. The exercise, whose aim is to improve cooperation among the three navies, has taken place every year since 1998. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Lock and Load - Martin Indyk and Kenneth M. Pollack
    The U.S. military is not quite ready for war, nor has U.S. diplomacy nailed down support from all the countries that should be part of a coalition. The administration could take the time it needs to "study" the Iraqi declaration, discussing its falsehoods and fabrications with allied governments until it has lined up all the necessary political and military ducks. Once the best case has been made and the preparations completed (probably in a few weeks), President Bush could announce that, in accordance with UN Resolution 1441, we and our allies have concluded that Iraq is in material breach of the 1991 cease-fire resolution and therefore the U.S. will lead a coalition to disarm Iraq by force. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Mofaz Impresses Washington - Amos Harel
    During his visit to Washington, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz got sympathetic receptions from the Pentagon, State Department, and White House. The meetings went longer than planned, the atmosphere was hearty, and there was plenty of readiness to help. He now has a direct line to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. It wasn't Mofaz's charm, of course, behind much of that warmth. The Americans want to make sure they keep Israel happy in the coming months so it doesn't get in the way of their plans for Iraq. As a result, they reiterated promises to act during the initial stages of the war against any missile launchers in western Iraq, as well as offer help to the home front. (Ha'aretz)
  • This Futile Struggle - Emanuele Ottolenghi
    The Palestinian uprising has failed. More than two years after its outbreak, the Palestinians cannot point to one significant achievement. No Arab country came to their rescue. Neither Egypt nor Jordan cut ties with Israel. The Palestinian Authority has all but collapsed, its leadership discredited. Efforts to internationalize the conflict have so far failed, as have attempts to decisively isolate Israel. (Guardian-UK)
  • PBS and Muhammad - George Neumayr
    PBS's grasp of Islam far exceeds that of Muslim sheiks who call for holy war. If PBS's Islamic theology is correct, then Islam stands as one of the greatest misunderstandings in history. For a religion not of the sword, as PBS insists, Muhammad's followers wielded it quite frequently, spreading Islam by force of arms and conquering parts of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Russia, the Balkans, North Africa, the Middle East, Persia, Christian Byzantium, and India. (AmericanProwler)

    Weekend Features:

  • Arafat and Sharon in Web Contest - Nick Farrell
    Pro-Arab and pro-Israeli web surfers have launched an online battle as they cast hundreds of thousands of votes for Yasser Arafat or Ariel Sharon in Time magazine's Person of the Year poll. When Arafat suddenly jumped to first place with more than 30% of the ballots cast, supporters of Sharon countered with more than 200,000 votes. (
  • Kuwaitis Hail Cyber Attack on Saddam - Jack Fairweather
    A young Kuwaiti computer hacker has been praised for causing the collapse of the Iraqi information ministry website after loading it with viruses. The 19-year-old, known as Koko, had previously been involved in sabotage against Israeli government websites and American and British business interests. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Author on the Front Lines Against Islam - Liz Trotta
    Oriana Fallaci's The Rage and the Pride has made her the new Salman Rushdie, a female counterpart to the British author who satirized Islam in The Satanic Verses and then went into hiding. Mostly the threats come by phone, she says - flat, Arabic-accented voices whispering, "You hide yourself in your house, but we will find you all the same." "I cannot be intimidated," she says. "Each time they try to scare me, I will write something more ferocious." (Washington Times)
  • New York Arab Sentenced Under New Hate Crimes Law - Melissa Radler
    Mazin Assi, who threw a firebomb at a Bronx synagogue two years ago on Yom Kippur eve, has been convicted of attempted arson and weapons possession. Under a new law, his attack was classified as a hate crime, and he now faces up to 22 years in prison. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Spielberg Gives $1 Million for Victims of Terrorism - Tom Tugend
    Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg has pledged $1 million to aid Israeli victims of terrorism. Named as the initial recipients of "significant donations" from his Righteous Persons Foundation are: the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for its Jews in Crisis program; American Friends of the Hebrew University for scholarships in memory of the nine Israelis and Americans killed in the July 31 bombing on the Mount Scopus campus; Selah-Israel Crisis Management Center; Natal-Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War; and Eran, which operates a multi-lingual 24-hour help line. Spielberg established the foundation in 1994 and has financed it through his entire profits from Schindler's List. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Talking Points:

    Illegal Construction in Jerusalem - Justus Reid Weiner (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Arab Jerusalemites claim they have no choice but to build their homes illegally since the municipality systematically rejects their applications for building permits, and then sends bulldozers to demolish their homes.
    • A just-released study by human rights lawyer Justus Reid Weiner discredits this claim and documents a pattern of politically-motivated behavior and criminal profiteering that characterizes much of the construction in the Arab sector of Jerusalem.
    • Illegal construction has reached epidemic proportions. A senior Palestinian official boasted that they have built 6,000 homes without permits during the last 4 years, of which less than 200 were demolished by the city.
    • This frantic pace of illegal construction continues despite the fact that the city has authorized more than 36,000 permits for new housing units in the Arab sector, more than enough to meet the needs of Arab residents through legal construction until 2020.
    • The Palestinian Authority and Arab governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an intentional campaign to subsidize and encourage massive illegal construction in the Arab sector, seeing this as part of their "demographic war" against Israel.
    • Despite accusations that the city's planning policy seeks to "Judaize" Jerusalem, the Arab population of the city has increased since 1967 from 27% to 32%. Moreover, since 1967 new Arab construction has outpaced Jewish construction.

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