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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January 2, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Arms from Iraq Caused Blast at Hizballah Base - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)

    Lebanese sources reported on a strong blast at a Hizballah training base near the town of Jinta in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on Monday.
    Western intelligence experts believe the explosion was connected to an Iraqi arms shipment that reached Hizballah a few days earlier.
    According to one theory, it resulted from a test that Hizballah attempted with one of the weapons, perhaps a trial missile launch. Alternatively, a mishap might have occurred when Hizballah tried to store the arms in a bunker.
    Last week, Ha'aretz reported that Iraq gave Hizballah medium-range missiles.

PA Officials Stealing Aid - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

    Palestinian Authority officials and institutions in the Gaza Strip have been stealing basic food supplies and medicine provided by UNRWA and Arab countries and selling them on the black market since 1996, according to documents seized by the IDF during a recent raid on the Protective Security Service headquarters in Gaza City.
    Large supplies of medicine and other equipment donated by Arab countries as humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people are being sold at private pharmacies.
    At one stage, Fawzi Nimer, head of the Israeli Arab desk in the PA, wrote to complain that a number of illegal associations operating in Gaza were exploiting food donations by Israeli Arabs to make a profit.
    IDF sources, well aware of the phenomenon, noted that most of the thefts were taking place at the Rafah border crossing, controlled by the Preventive Security Service, which cooperates with the PA Minister of Supplies, Abu Ali Shahin, a top Fatah leader and Arafat confidant.
    Shahin is referred to by many Palestinians as the "minister of theft."

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Israel to Test Arrow Missile Interceptor
    Israel will soon conduct new tests on its Arrow missile interceptor system, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said in comments published Thursday. Until now, Arrow tests involved the firing of only single prototypes, but upcoming trials will consist of multiple launches. Israel has conducted nine tests on the jointly developed U.S.-Israeli missile, eight of which were described as successful. Israel believes Saddam Hussein has 20-60 medium-range Scud missiles and about six mobile launchers. (AP/Newsday)
  • Berlin Eases Stance on War with Iraq
    Germany began a two-year term as an elected member of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, amid fresh signs that the government may be softening its opposition to a war against Iraq. On Tuesday, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder said: "We Germans know from experience that sometimes only violence can stop dictators." Senior German officials have recently hinted that Germany would not use its seat to campaign against a war or necessarily reject military intervention should it come to a vote. (Financial Times/New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Hamas: Suicide Bombings Will Continue
    Belying the notion that Hamas is about to accept a cease-fire, Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yasin told a crowd of 50,000 at a Gaza rally on Dec. 27, 2002, authorized by the PA, that the suicide bombings against Israel will continue. Yasin emphasized: "The jihad and suicide bombings will continue - the Zionist entity will reach its end in the first quarter of the current century. It is therefore up to you [Muslim holy fighters] to be patient - the Hamas takes upon itself the liberation of all Palestinian land from the sea to the river in Rafah [in the south] and until Rosh Hanikra [in the north]." The rally was fully covered in the PA daily Al-Ayyam on Dec. 28. (IDF)
        See also Fatah Holds Military Parade in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In the biggest show of force ever held by Fatah in the Gaza Strip, an estimated 70,000 people attended a military parade on Tuesday. Several hundred children brandishing Kalashnikov assault rifles took part, while others had their bodies wrapped with fake explosive belts in glorification of Palestinian suicide bombers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Attacks Israeli Couple at Home - Yossi Melman
    An Israeli couple fought off an armed Palestinian terrorist who had entered their home Wednesday evening, They managed to escape when the terrorist's weapon jammed after firing one shot. The terrorist, who was armed with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, was killed by the Border Police's anti-terror unit. The attack occurred on Moshav Maor, several kilometers from Kibbutz Metzer where five Israelis were murdered in a terrorist infiltration two months ago. (Ha'aretz)
  • Al Qaeda Chief in Region to Recruit Palestinians - Amos Harel
    One of the six senior al Qaeda leaders, now based in Beirut, is actively enlisting Palestinians as part of terror cells, a senior IDF officer said Wednesday. The recruitment is taking place primarily in the Gaza Strip, and the new cell members are to receive training in al Qaeda bases overseas before returning to Israel. The officer also said that al Qaeda had shifted its policy and was now focusing more on Israeli and Jewish targets.
        In the past year, Syria has begun to produce long-range missiles, which it is supplying to Hizballah, a senior IDF officer said Wednesday. The missiles are being produced in line with the wishes of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is seeking to further cement relations with both Hizballah and Iran. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Freezes Defense Exports to China at U.S. Request - Yossi Melman
    Israel has suspended all contacts on the export of arms and security equipment to China, in response to a U.S. request. The American position stems from a concern that China may in the future use advanced military technology against Taiwan in order to weaken and eventually annex it. However, one senior Israeli official contended that the real American aim was to remove Israeli firms from the Chinese market in preparation for a possible policy shift toward Beijing that would enable American companies to start exporting arms to China. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Wahhabi Fifth Column - Susan Katz Keating
    Reza F. Safa, author of Inside Islam, estimated that since 1973, the Saudi government has spent some $87 billion to promote Wahhabism in the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere. An estimated 30,000 children attend Saudi-funded Wahhabi day schools, such as the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) in Northern Virginia, where students are not required to study U.S. history or government. Former CIA Director James Woolsey told Congress: "Wahhabi Islamist extremism today is the soil in which al Qaeda and its sister terrorist organizations are growing." Much of that soil is spread across the United States. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • What is Jihad? - Daniel Pipes
    Jihad means the legal, compulsory, communal effort to expand the territories ruled by Muslims at the expense of territories ruled by non-Muslims. The purpose of jihad, in other words, is not directly to spread the Islamic faith but to extend sovereign Muslim power. Jihad is thus unabashedly offensive in nature, with the eventual goal of achieving Muslim dominion over the entire globe. (New York Post)
  • Body Of Love - Nessa Rapoport
    I have heard American Jews enjoined to visit Israel as an obligation to visit the sick. A more meticulous analogue, I propose, is a reunion with a first, most passionate love. Israel is the corporate body of the Jewish people, the in-dwelling of the collective spirit. As for Jews who repudiate Israel: To hate the land is to despise yourself and the gift of being alive. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Turkey's Elections and Israel - Efraim Inbar
    The recent Turkish elections were more a protest vote against economic difficulties and corruption, not a wish to embrace Islamic radicalism. The great majority of Turkey's Islamists are nationalists, trying to further Turkish national interests, rather than pan-Islamists. Both Turkey and Israel see themselves as living in a violent and unstable Middle East, maintaining an adversary relationship with Syria, and having growing concerns about the security risks emanating from Iraq and Iran, particularly in relation to weapons of mass destruction. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Talking Points:

    Israel Signs Pact with PA on Future Fund Transfers - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

    • An agreement signed at the beginning of the week by PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Finance Ministry Director-General Ohad Marani spells out the conditions and supervisory mechanisms for the transfer to the PA of Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel.
    • Under the accord, Israel is obligated to resume the monthly transfers of tax revenues that it froze when the intifada erupted in September 2000. However, the accord pertains only to taxes collected in the future and does not relate to frozen revenues worth NIS 2.5 billion that have accumulated.
    • At his meeting with U.S. President George Bush on October 16, Sharon promised to resume fund transfers to the PA, on condition that an international monitoring mechanism be set up to ensure that the money is not used to support terrorist activity.
    • Israel demanded that an American accountant be responsible for monitoring the entire PA budget, and not only the use of tax revenues released by Israel. Fayyad agreed to permit monitoring of all PA budget allocations, on condition that it be done "invisibly" and without injury to Palestinian national pride.
    • But security officials still have reservations about the agreement, because it leaves Arafat in control of the PA's coffers. These officials claim that PA money is continuing to be used to support terror.

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