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 27, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Revelations Concerning Anti-Semitic Statements by the Greek Orthodox Church's Candidate to be Patriarch of the Holy Land - Kalman Libskind (Maariv)

    Prior to the Israeli government discussion over the recognition of the new patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Holy Land, Irenaios I, Maariv disclosed an anti-Semitic letter he wrote to Yasser Arafat on July 17, 2001, which stated:
    "You are finally aware of the sentiments of disgust and disrespect that all the Holy Sepulcher fathers are feeling for the descendants of the crucifiers of our Lord Jesus Christ, actual crucifiers of your people, Zionists, Jewish conquerors of the Holy Land of Palestine."
    While Irenaios claimed that the letter was forged, nonetheless, reliable sources close to the issue have stated that he has used this argument in the past concerning other letters that have been disclosed.
    In another letter in April 2002, he wrote of "the attacks of the Israeli occupation forces against the most beloved people of Palestine," and added, "The heroic resistance to the inhuman aggression provides us with joy."
    The primary opposition to any Israeli recognition of Irenaios came from Minister of Housing Natan Sharansky and the Minister of National Infrastructure Effie Eitam.

    See also Jerusalem Patriarch in Sharon Pact? (AP/Kathimerini-Greece)
    Irenaios has been quoted as saying that he intends to repossess as much of the Church’s vast land holdings as possible and that he supports the Palestinian cause.

U.S. Denies Agreement with Saudi Arabia Not to Send Jewish Diplomats (AP/Jerusalem Post)

    The U.S. State Department said Thursday it has never had a policy to avoid assigning Jewish diplomats to Saudi Arabia, disputing an allegation made by a former foreign service official.
    Timothy Hunter, a former U.S. diplomatic official assigned to Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, alleges department policy was to avoid sending Jewish employees to the Arab kingdom under an agreement with the Saudis.
    Hunter said it was "the duty of the Foreign Service director of personnel to screen all Foreign Service officers applying for service in the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and to 'tick' Jewish officers' names using the letter 'J' next to their names, so that selection panels would not select Jewish diplomats for service in Saudi Arabia."

Al Jazeera Arab TV in English Coming to U.S. - Cameron W. Barr (Christian Science Monitor)

    The Arabic-language news network Al Jazeera, notorious for broadcasting the statements of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda colleagues, plans to open an English-language website in early 2003 and begin distributing English-language news programming by satellite and cable late next year.
    Al Jazeera in Arabic has 135,000 subscribers in the U.S.

Microsoft Denies Making Spy Program for Israel (Times of India/AFP)

    Microsoft Corp. strongly denied that it has designed and manufactured a special program for Israel to enable it to spy on Arab Internet websites, the multinational's Riyadh office said on Sunday.
    A report posted on an Arab website said that Israel has been tracing thousands of Arab Internet websites thanks to special software from Microsoft.

Help Still Wanted: Arabic Linguists - Susan Schmidt and Allan Lengel (Washington Post)

    A week after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller issued a public call for Arabic speakers to join the FBI.
    The FBI has hired nearly 300 linguists, but just over 100 of them are Arabic speakers. The bureau still has only a handful of agents who speak Arabic, probably fewer than 25.
    65% of applicants fail the bureau's language test; 20% can't pass a required polygraph, and 10% are eliminated for security reasons.

U.S. Ready to Unleash Weapons - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)

    Claude Bolton, Jr., the Army's assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, listed battlefield improvements made during the last decade.
    He spoke of the emerging Shadow surveillance drone, better night vision gear, a new communication network, and an improved model of the Apache tank-killing helicopter.
    The ability to hit more targets, using fewer missions, is one reason the number of American troops being sent to the region is half the 550,000 deployed in 1991.
    "When you roll it all together, I say we're 10 times more powerful, and [Saddam] is about 30 percent what he was before," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney.
    In the early hours of the war in Afghanistan, an armed Predator saw Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar escaping Kandahar. Permission to fire the Predator's Hellfire missile was delayed at U.S. Central Command, allowing Omar to escape.

Key Links

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Al Qaeda's Hideaway
    Deep in a valley on the Iran-Iraq border in Iraqi Kurdistan, al Qaeda has taken over 12 villages and Taliban law is being enforced. The Ansar al-Islam group, believed to be in communication with al Qaeda, is an amalgamation of three local fundamentalist groups and fields a force of about 600 mostly local fighters, with estimates of its "Arab-Afghan" ranks varying from 50 to 150. (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Saudi Arabian Prince Gives $500,000 to Bush Scholarships - Timothy Starks
    Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whose $10 million disaster-relief check was sent back by New York Mayor Giuliani, has made a half-million dollar donation to the President George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship Fund at Phillips Academy, Andover. The school, where both George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush spent their high school years, says it solicited the gift. (New York Sun)
  • Iraq Vows Jihad on U.S. If Attacked
    Some 600 Iraqi Islamic preachers, meeting under the auspices of the Iraqi government, declared a holy war against the U.S. Monday, vowing to defeat the "criminals, barbarians, and savages" if the U.S. attacks their country. The meeting was also intended to warn Kurds not to join forces with U.S. troops. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • The Wild Card in a Post-Saddam Iraq - Peter W. Galbraith
    Kurdistan is the wild card in any U.S. plans for Iraq. Protected by American F-16s since a failed uprising at the end of the Gulf War, the Kurds today govern a Vermont-sized territory inside Iraq, stretching along Iraq's northern border with Turkey, from Syria to Iran. With five airfields, an extensive internal road system, and some territory only 100 miles from Baghdad, Kurdistan offers U.S. military planners a potential base for operations. The Kurds have no hesitation about supporting the U.S. in a war against a dictator whom they hold responsible for the murder of 100,000 of their compatriots. Most important, the Kurds possess considerable military assets. (Boston Globe)
  • West Bank Jewish Communities Settling In for the Duration - Tracy Wilkinson
    Jewish settlements across the West Bank are expanding nearly unabated. Some of the new neighborhoods are named in honor of residents killed in Palestinian attacks. Every Israeli government for the past three decades has allowed expansion of the settlements with few restrictions and often with overt support. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon regards them as a strategic imperative. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Nine Palestinians Killed in IDF Terror Crackdown - Margot Dudkevitch
    Nine Palestinians were killed during clashes with the IDF in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday as security forces were attempting to apprehend key terrorists, some of whom were reportedly planning suicide bombings. Among those killed were Hamza Abu Roub, 35, a senior Islamic Jihad military commander in Kabatiya, south of Jenin; Bassam Askar, a Hamas terrorist in Ramallah; and Jimal Yehiye, 31, a Tanzim fugitive in Tulkarm. Five IDF soldiers were wounded. Security forces arrested more than 20 fugitives.
        The IDF moved back into the center of Bethlehem Thursday evening, after having redeployed two days earlier to its outskirts for Christmas. Palestinians fired two mortar shells and a Kassam rocket that landed harmlessly in an Israeli community in Gush Katif. Shots were fired and grenades thrown several times at troops deployed near Rafah. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Army Wants to be on Page 19 - Amos Harel
    Yesterday's relatively high number of Palestinian casualties momentarily refocused attention on the territories. Three Israelis have been killed so far in December, compared to 44 in November and 22 in October. That's the result of the enormous pressure on the wanted men - and on the Palestinian population among which they live. In the last four months, more than 50 terrorists have been killed in the West Bank. In Gaza, 220 have been killed since Operation Defensive Shield in the spring.
        In internal army meetings, Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon is talking about the need for a decisive victory and 2003 is being described as "the year of decision." It won't only be a by-product of the American assault in Iraq, but rather, he hopes, the result of the ongoing pressure on the Palestinians, including more arrests and many more demolitions of terrorist homes. Since September, 78 houses have been demolished and the army believes it is the most effective deterrent it has found to foil terrorism. (Ha'aretz)
  • Defense Minister: Don't Lose Sleep Over Iraqi Threat - Herb Keinon
    "From a knowledge of the facts, I say there is no reason for the citizens of Israel to lose any sleep," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Thursday, trying to calm a nation bombarded by reports, some of them hysterical, of an impending conflict.
        Unlike in 1991, according to one prevalent school of thought in the security establishment, if there is a missile threat from Iraq this time, it will more likely be toward the end, rather than at the beginning, of a U.S. campaign. This time, when there is no Arab coalition with the U.S., Israel would feel less of a need to restrain itself, and Iraq would have much less to gain by firing missiles at it. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Senator Lieberman in Riyadh Remains Committed to U.S.-Saudi Relationship - Mohammed Alkhereiji
    Likely presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman stated in Riyadh that he has appealed to Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, to "find a way to restate his peace plan." "My message here is that it has been a difficult year for U.S.-Saudi relations and I wanted to say personally that I remain committed to this relationship," he said. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Palestinian Authority Uncovers Corruption by Top Officials - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Ghazi Jabali, the former head of the PA's blue-uniformed police force who was sacked earlier this year by Yasser Arafat, is suspected of amassing $18 million during the seven-year period of his service. A special commission of inquiry set up by the PA found that Jabali exploited his position as police chief to collect large sums of money from wealthy Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Security Fears Keep Israelis from World Scout Jamboree
    Thailand will host some 20,000 boy and girl scouts from 80 countries for the 20th World Scout Jamboree, which begins Friday. However, Israel called off its participation in the event after the Thai government was unable to provide the Israeli delegation with the necessary security guarantees, the general secretary of the Israeli scouts, Lior Carmel, told Israel Radio. (Ha'aretz)
  • Belgian Pro-Israel Activists Receive Death Threats - Sharon Sadeh
    Benjamin and Nicole, who belong to the Friends of Israel association at the Free University in Brussels, put up some pro-Israel posters in the student union area of the campus, with such messages as: "Which was the first state in the Middle East which gave Arab women the right to vote?" or "Terror attacks against civilians are an abomination." The next morning, the two students received phone calls from an anonymous caller with a Middle Eastern accent, "We know who you are and where you live....If the flyer isn't removed by the evening, we'll burn your car, and harm you and your family." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Believing that Zionism is Nazism - Leon Wieseltier
    The view that Zionism is Nazism is not different in kind from the view that the moon is cheese. It is not only spectacularly wrong, it is also spectacularly unintelligent. Nothing that has befallen the Palestinians under Israel's control may responsibly be compared to what befell the Jews under Germany's control. A considerable number of the people who have toiled diligently to find peace and justice for the Palestinians, and a solution to this savage conflict, have been Israeli, some of them even Israeli prime ministers. (The New Republic)
  • Riyadh's WTO Outrage - E.V. Kontorovich
    Saudi Arabia recently joined 17 other Arab League states in a proclamation rededicating itself to the 50-year-old pan-Arab boycott of Israel and companies that do business with it. Riyadh is also in the advanced stages of negotiations to join the World Trade Organization, an institution dedicated to free and open trade between nations. The WTO treaties make boycotts like Saudi Arabia's illegal and secondary boycotts even more so.
        Riyadh's boycott of Jerusalem itself provides reason for at least Washington to block its accession. For the boycott proves that the sheiks have no problem using trade as a method of aggression, as war by other means. It is precisely this kind of hijacking of trade by politics - and racism and religious bigotry - that the WTO seeks to prevent. (New York Post)
  • The Far East Deficit - Ze'ev Schiff
    North Korea cannot be treated as the Far East's problem alone, because it is the main supplier of missiles and technological nuclear knowhow to the Middle East. (Ha'aretz)
  • Trust is the Greatest Casualty in Mideast Rift - Charles Radin
    The invective coming from many on the Palestinian side is particularly raw, and explicitly anti-Semitic. Hate speech pours from the official Palestinian media, despite Palestinian Authority commitments under the Oslo and Wye River accords to end incitement against the Jewish state.
        Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch that has been monitoring Palestinian broadcast outlets since 1995, notes that in the summer of 2000, before the Palestinians resumed armed struggle and terrorism against Israel, ''there was a striking change in the language of the sermons.'' Before that time, ''you rarely heard open calls for killing Jews or praise for the killers of Jews,'' Marcus said, but that summer preachers began emphasizing the theme of eternal war, and insisting that ''all agreements with the Jews are temporary...and as soon as the violence broke out, there were open calls for killing Jews wherever you find them.'' There is no comparable, government-sanctioned denigration of Islam and Muslims on the Israeli side. (Boston Globe)
  • Who's Who in the House of Saud - Aram Roston
    Who are the Saudis, exactly? The country's king is decrepit, his younger brother Prince Abdullah serves in his place, and many of the three dozen sons of the nation's founder, King Abdul Aziz, are jostling for power and influence in the hope that they might one day be king. (New York Times)
  • Can the Iraqi Exiles Remake Iraq? - Jason Zengerle
    An estimated four million Iraqis, disproportionately educated and well-off, now live abroad. While the subject of whether or not Iraq is actually ready for democracy may be a point of contention in the Washington policy world - where a good many people believe that for Iraq to survive as a viable state Saddam must be replaced not with a democratic government but with a less repressive, pro-Western strongman - I did not meet one Iraqi exile who would even entertain the notion that a democratic government should not eventually follow Saddam. (The New Republic)

    Weekend Features:

  • Saddam Hussein's Los Alamos - John F. Burns
    The nuclear installation called Tuwaitha was Saddam Hussein's Los Alamos, the site where he hoped to build Iraq's, and the Arab world's, first nuclear weapon. The Iraqis have now admitted that their scientists came close, in the months before the Persian Gulf war in 1991, to building at least one atomic bomb the size of the one used on Nagasaki in 1945. (New York Times)
  • Saudi Arabia Frowns on Christmas Cheer - George Gedda
    All citizens of Saudi Arabia must be Muslim. Conversion to another religion can be punishable by death. Christians who go to Saudi Arabia for work are welcome, so long as they abide by religious rules. A State Department report on religious freedom around the world, released in October, says, "Non-Muslim worshippers (in Saudi Arabia) risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation and sometimes torture for engaging in overt religious activity that attracts official attention." (AP)
  • Birthright to Bring 7,500 Jewish Students - Irit Rosenblum
    Beginning next week, the Birthright Israel program will bring some 7,500 Jewish students from 25 countries to Israel over the next two months. The program has already brought some 32,000 Jewish students to Israel on ten-day visits. The participants in the winter session will arrive on 70 special flights, 95 percent of which will be operated by El Al. The program will provide a $12.3 million boost to the struggling tourism industry. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Scientist Wins U.S. Award for Ecological Research
    Professor Eugene Rosenberg of Tel Aviv University, who pioneered the use of bacteria to clean up oil pollution in oil tankers, pipelines, and on beaches, has been named the winner of the annual Proctor and Gamble Award for Applied and Environmental Microbiology awarded by the American Society of Microbiology. "We utilized our techniques for the first time eight years ago when there was an oil spill on the beach between Haifa and Acre. And now, it's used all over the world," said Rosenberg. (Israel21c)
  • Israeli Doctors Grow Human Kidneys in Mice
    Israeli scientists have successfully grown human kidneys in mice, a breakthrough that might one day help save thousands of patients waiting for kidney transplants who die before a suitable donor is found. According to a report in Nature Medicine journal, the researchers, led by Dr. Yair Reisner of the Weizmann Institute of Science, transplanted stem cells from human and pig fetuses into mice. The kidneys grew into functional mouse-sized organs, filtering the blood and producing urine. (Reuters/Times of India)
  • Israel Signs Agricultural R&D Agreement with Texas - Ran Dagoni
    Israel and Texas signed a three-year, $500,000 a year, agricultural R&D cooperation agreement, with each contributing half the sum to finance 2-3 agricultural research projects a year. Large parts of Texas are arid, and many projects will probably be devoted to irrigation. (Globes)
  • Messages from the Inner Sanctum: An Ultra-Orthodox Internet Forum - Tamar Rotem
    The Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Internet forum, B'Hadrei Haredim (or "in the Haredi inner sanctum" - a Hebrew pun), provides a setting for the discussion of sensitive issues that rarely appears in the Haredi press. (Ha'aretz)
  • Talking Points:

    The Evolution of International Law and the War on Terrorism - Alan Baker and Col. Daniel Reisner (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • A country - whether it be Israel, or the United States in its fight with al Qaeda - whose army is involved in fighting a terrorist organization which has no state and no boundaries, has to be able to carry out those acts necessary to deal with terror.
    • What happens if the Israeli police see a suicide bomber who opens his jacket and shows his explosive belt? Can the police kill him? He hasn't done anything.
    • There is a rich international legal literature covering war crimes of military forces, but no agreed international legal definition that covers all cases of terrorism. There is a basic asymmetry in international law with respect to terrorists and armies fighting terrorism that needs to be resolved.
    • If we receive information about a terrorist bomber going to carry out a suicide attack and we can catch him en route, and shoot a missile into his car while he's trying to come into Israel, are we permitted to do so? The answer is definitely yes. The United States has now targeted combatants in the same way in its drone attack in Yemen.
    • International law must recognize terrorists as combatants and not as civilians.
        Alan Baker is Legal Advisor to the Israel Foreign Ministry.
        Col. Daniel Reisner is Head of the International Law Department, Israel Defense Forces.

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