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 31, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Fatah Harassing Christians in Bethlehem (IDF)

    Documents captured during operation "Defensive Shield" reveal how the armed militias of Fatah consistently harass the population of Bethlehem, especially the Christians.
    Following the explosion of a car belonging to Atef Abiyat, a senior Fatah operative, gold rings were found on his fingers. The rings were positively identified as belonging to Christian businessman George Nissan, who was robbed a short while beforehand.
    Fatah operatives blackmail souvenir shop and gas station owners, with the collaboration of the Palestinian Security Services. The security services frequently summon Christian businessmen for an "inquiry," on charges of supposed collaboration with Israel, and then share the money which is given in exchange for closing the "file" on them.
    Muslim factions have increased the takeover of land belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church in Bethlehem through forged documents and bribery of officials.

Israeli Researchers Link Moderate Beer Drinking to Lower Heart Attack Risk - Beverly Hassell (American Chemical Society)

    In preliminary clinical studies of a group of men with coronary artery disease conducted by a group of Israeli researchers, drinking one beer (12 ounces) a day for a month produced changes in blood chemistry that are associated with a reduced risk of heart attack.
    The findings of a team led by Dr. Shela Gorinstein of Hebrew University in Israel are to appear in the Jan. 29 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society.

Useful Reference:

34,508 Immigrants to Israel in 2002 - Eli Wohlgelernter (Jerusalem Post)

    34,508 newcomers arrived in 2002, according to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, continuing the steady decline in immigration over the last four years, with 44,630 having come in 2001, 61,700 in 2000, and 78,400 in 1999.
    18,772 arrived from the former Soviet Union, compared with 33,850 in 2001. Immigration from Argentina increased to 5,960, up from 1,427 in 2001. French immigrants totaled 2,326, up from 1,157. Immigration from Ethiopia totaled 2,693. The number of immigrants from the U.S. was 1,714.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Iraq Hides Scientists
    Iraq is hiding at least two weapons scientists in Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces, U.S. intelligence officials say. The officials also said there are signs that Iraq's military forces recently moved chemical and biological weapons materials to underground storage areas unknown to UN arms inspectors. (Washington Times)
  • Israel Supreme Court: Reserve Soldiers May Not Refuse to Serve in Territories
    The Israeli Supreme Court ruled Monday that reserve soldiers do not have a right to refuse to serve in the administered territories. It held that Israeli society is too polarized and embattled to permit selective assertions of conscience by its fighters. (New York Times)
  • Saudis Deny Letting U.S. Use Bases
    Saudi Arabia has denied reports that it will make its airspace, airbases, and an important operations center available to the U.S. for a possible war against Iraq. On Monday, both the foreign minister and the deputy defense minister said there was no change in Saudi Arabia's position. "The truth is what I said, not what the [New York Times] newspaper reported," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters. "Even if the [UN] Security Council issues a unanimous decision to attack Iraq, we hope a chance will be given to the Arab states to find a political solution to this issue," Prince Saud said. Deputy Defense Minister Prince Abdul-Rahman bin Abdul-Aziz said the New York Times remarks were "incorrect." (BBC)
  • End of the Line for a "Martyr" - Tracy Wilkinson
    Maged Masri, 30, helped found the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, with other members of Arafat's Fatah movement. Speaking in spring 2000, several months before the collapse of the Camp David peace talks, with an M-16 slung across his back and a Czech-made automatic pistol at his hip, Masri dared anyone to disarm him or his men. After nightly attacks on Joseph's Tomb, a well-guarded site that included a Jewish yeshiva, the Balata gunmen overran the tomb as Israeli forces withdrew, a "victory" over the more powerful Israelis that crystallized the formation of the militia. Masri was caught last month and, after extensive interrogation, will probably be put on trial. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Hamas: Cairo Talks with Fatah Not Intended to End Attacks
    In an interview in Al-Hayat (London, Dec. 28, 2002), Khaled Mashal, head of the political wing of Hamas, said: "The rapprochement [between Hamas] and Fatah is a step in the direction towards the general cooperation between all of the Palestinian forces. There is no problem in cooperation [between Hamas and Fatah] regarding the question whether or not there will be a struggle, but the question is how to manage the struggle [against Israel], not how to end it." "It is important to continue the conflict to create within the Israelis a feeling that they cannot end the struggle by military means. [The conflict] will spur the Israelis to retreat or to negotiate with the Palestinian side." "Hamas is not against agreement that returns Israel to the 1967 borders, which it views as one step along the path [to liberating the entire territory of Palestine]. (Al-Hayat-London/IDF)
  • Meridor: Syria Has 100 Chemical Warheads
    Cabinet minister Dan Meridor warned that Syria is producing chemical weapons and has "100 missiles with chemical warheads," speaking Monday at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Syria has stockpiles of several types of nerve gas, including Sarin, and chemical warheads for surface-to-surface missiles and aerial bombs, according to the Middle East Military Balance, a periodic report by Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies and Harvard University. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Terrorists Impose Own Curfew in Nablus Casbah - Amos Harel
    Wanted Palestinian terrorists in the Casbah area of Nablus have lately imposed their own curfew, shooting at any person moving in the area whom they don't recognize as someone they trust. Military sources say that a Palestinian man was shot dead by armed Palestinians in the Casbah last week because he was suspected of being an Israeli soldier. Many members of Hamas and Tanzim are in the Casbah area, and at night as many as 100 people are deployed as sentries.
        The army has allowed the blue-uniformed civilian Palestinian police to resume operations in the center of West Bank cities under Israeli control. Traffic police have been allowed to partially resume working in Ramallah and Kalkilya - in uniform but without weapons. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Is Saudi Arabia Tough Enough on Terrorism? - Allan Gerson and Ron Motley
    The Saudis seem not to realize that since Sept. 11 Americans have come to recognize that security requires moving to choke off all terrorist financing. Jimmy Gurule, the Treasury Department's under secretary for enforcement, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in November that the Saudi government had in fact taken only "baby steps" to stem financing of terrorist activities. But financing of terror groups through charities is only one piece of the pie. For example, money from the Saudi government continues to go to the terrorist group Hamas. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly refused to stop its religious schools from preaching hatred and the severe dogma of Wahhabi Islam. The Saudi government also refuses to cooperate with the families of the victims of Sept. 11. (New York Times)
  • Trouble in the House of Saud - Heidi Kingstone
    According to a Saudi dissident living in exile, $3 trillion has been generated by oil in Saudi Arabia over the past 30 years, yet only $1 trillion has been reinvested into the country. "Where has that $2 trillion gone?" he asks. Simon Henderson, a Gulf specialist with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says that those who view Saudi Arabia as a rock of stability and a reliable friend of the U.S. constitute "an increasingly small minority among Western analysts." "Saudi rulers and people believe that Saudi Arabia is next on the American agenda," notes Dr. Mai Yamani, Research Fellow at London's Royal Institute of International Affairs. "The fear is that if there is change in Iraq, there will be change in Saudi Arabia." (Jerusalem Report)
  • Two Years of Nonstop Violence - Michael Matza
    According to Danny Brom, director of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, "Two-thirds of Jerusalem kids in high school personally know someone who was injured or killed, which is tremendous exposure to this violence." Yet Israeli commentator Yossi Klein Halevi sees the past year as a time when "Israel learned that it is a lot more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. We have a capacity to put up with a level of suffering, of pressure, that no Western society can match." Halevi said the turning point was the Palestinian bombing of a Passover seder in Netanya in which 29 people died and 140 were wounded. "The message that every Israeli got from that attack is that we are not free in this land, and if we don't start fighting back, and don't stop our defeatist questions about how will we win against terrorism - all the questions which really crippled us for the first year of the war - then we are simply going to lose." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Talking Points:

    B'nai B'rith Charges EU Ignores Palestinian Aid to Terrorists - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem has released a 23-page report by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld that claims the EU has deliberately turned a blind eye to the alleged misuse of donated funds by the Palestinian Authority.
    • According to the report, "despite EU attempts to refute and downplay allegations, the EU aid money was used to fund terrorism. PA documents found by the IDF clearly show that the PA diverted international aid to fund its terrorist activities."
    • The report is being used by B'nai B'rith Europe to lobby the European Parliament to support the establishment of an official inquiry by the European Commission into the use of EU money to fund terrorism.
    • A minimum of 157 signatures out of the 626-member parliament are needed to establish such an inquiry. So far, some 130 parliamentarians have signed the request.
    • Last month, EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, in response to a question by a European parliamentarian about the allegations of misuse of the funds, said he wanted an inquiry into the matter like "a hole in the head."
        See the full report: The Palestinian Authority: Where Does the Money Go? (pdf format) (American Center for Democracy)

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