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 17, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

The Saudi Push for an Iraq Coup - Scott Macleod (Time)

    Convinced that President Bush is serious about invading Iraq, Arab leaders hope to avoid war by orchestrating a coup in Baghdad.
    Well-placed sources have reported that Saudi Arabia is vigorously pursuing a concrete plan to encourage Iraqi generals to overthrow Saddam and his clique.
    Western and Arab diplomats say the Saudi proposal requires a UN Security Council resolution declaring amnesty for the vast majority of Iraqi officials if they orchestrate a transition of power in Baghdad.
    Such an amnesty would extend to all but 100 to 120 of the most senior Baath Party officials, including Saddam, his sons, close relatives, and others who have long formed part of the ruling circle.
    Western and Arab diplomats say that Saudi Arabia is actively canvassing support for the initiative among regional players and Security Council members.

Will Saddam Send Terrorists to Attack U.S. Targets? - David E. Kaplan and Kevin Whitelaw (U.S. News)

    The last time that America went to war against Iraq, Saddam dispatched some 40 two-man teams to attack U.S. targets. But the squads were "crude and unprofessional," said a former FBI official.
    U.S. officials fully expect Baghdad to try again should the U.S. invade Iraq. Most officials, however, are not unduly alarmed.
    The handful of terrorist groups based in Iraq are largely inactive, and U.S. intelligence has found no evidence of solid ties between Iraq and al Qaeda's Islamists.
    Nor is there a precedent. In keeping with Saddam's obsession with control, the regime so far has employed only Iraqi nationals under the direct command of intelligence officials.

UK Sells Iran "Military" Equipment - Stefan Ambruster (BBC News)

    Britain has given the go-ahead for the export to Iran of equipment that can be used in anti-personnel land mines.
    Export licenses for the "dual-use" equipment were issued despite a 10-year-old unilateral arms embargo against Iran.
    On Monday the government had said it was permitting the export of aircraft engine inspection equipment that also had a dual use.
    "These synchros were made as military electronic equipment. However, the Government are satisfied they are to be used only for the upkeep of a civil aircraft," a government spokesman said.

Iraqi Computer Attacks Feared - Eric Lichtblau (New York Times)

    Intelligence officials are concerned that a recent rise in electronic attacks against government and military computer networks in the United States may be the work of pro-Iraqi hackers and could signal a "potential crisis" in national security, according to a classified FBI assessment.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • UN Inspectors Find Empty Chemical Warheads in Iraq
    A team of arms inspectors found 11 empty chemical warheads and another one that needed further evaluation at the Ukhaider ammunition storage area, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of Baghdad, according to a UN spokesman, who said they were all in "excellent condition." The chemical warheads the inspectors found were on 122 mm rockets similar to ones imported by Iraq during the late 1980s, the spokesman said. In addition, Chief UN inspector Hans Blix announced Thursday that Baghdad had illegally imported arms-related material into the country. (CNN)
        See also Iraqi Scientist Leaves Home With Weapons Inspectors (FOX News)
  • An Israeli in Space
    The space shuttle Columbia roared off Thursday to begin a 16-day research mission with a crew that includes the first astronaut from Israel. (New York Times)
        See also Israeli Astronaut Bombed Iraqi Reactor in 1981
    Col. Ilan Ramon is a career fighter pilot who was on one of the 8 Israel air force F-16 warplanes that bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, a senior official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Al Qaeda Member Stabbed Manchester Police Officer
    The terror suspect who stabbed to death a police officer in Manchester Tuesday is alleged to be a "key" al Qaeda member who was wanted by MI5 for plotting chemical attacks in Britain. (Independent-UK)
  • Italy Seizes Suspicious Chemicals
    Police in Italy have seized 50 metric tons of industrial chemicals bound for Libya, on suspicion that they might be used to make weapons of mass destruction. The chemicals had been produced in Germany and were dispatched by a Belgian company. La Repubblica newspaper reported that the chemicals were a compound of mustard gas. (BBC)
  • Old Tablet Found from King Solomon's Temple?
    Israeli geologists said they have examined a stone tablet detailing repair plans for the Jewish Temple of King Solomon that, if authenticated, would be a rare piece of physical evidence confirming biblical narrative. The sandstone tablet - whose origin is murky - is about the size of a legal pad, with a 15-line inscription in ancient Hebrew that strongly resembles descriptions in the Bible's Book of Kings (Kings II, 12:1-6, 11-17), said Israel's Geological Survey, which examined the artifact. The words refer to King Joash, who ruled the area 2,800 years ago. (CNN)
        See also Joash Tablet Said Found Near Temple Mount
    The inscription attributed to King Joash was reportedly found near Jerusalem's Muslim cemetery, outside the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, not far from Golden Gate. (Ha'aretz)
  • Belgium Opens Way for Sharon Trial
    Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt says he supports a change to the country's law on human rights, to allow the prosecution of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for alleged war crimes. Mr. Verhofstadt said on Tuesday he did not object to parliament broadening the scope of the law so that a war crime could be prosecuted "no matter where the person accused of the crime is located," Belgian media said. The country's 1993 "universal competence" law allows Belgian courts to try cases of alleged human rights abuses committed anywhere in the world. But last June, a Belgian appeals court ruled that Mr. Sharon could not be tried because crimes committed abroad could only be prosecuted if the suspect was on Belgian territory. So far, the only people tried under Belgium's controversial war crimes law are four Rwandans sentenced in 2001 for their role in the 1994 genocide of the country's Tutsi ethnic minority. (BBC)
  • "Mad Arab" Named as U.S.'s Gulf Deputy Chief
    General John Abizaid, a three-star army general of Lebanese descent known as the "mad Arab," who was portrayed by Clint Eastwood in the war film Heartbreak Ridge, was named Thursday as deputy commander of U.S. forces in the Gulf. His appointment, sanctioned this week by Donald Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary, is a shrewd move by Washington at a time when military diplomacy with the Arab world is as important as American military might. General Abizaid is now director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (London Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Hamas Won't Stop Attacks Inside Israel
    Dr. Abed el-Aziz el-Rantisi, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, said today that Hamas has told the Egyptians it is not prepared to cease its operations inside Israel. Egyptian Intelligence head Omar Suleiman had indicated at the London Conference that the Cairo talks sought an agreement that would halt operations within Israel but allow them to continue against soldiers and settlers. (Maariv)
  • IDF Closes Two Palestinian Schools in Hebron - Herb Keinon
    The IDF shut down the Islamic College and the Polytechnic Institute of Engineering in Hebron, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad recruited students, trained them in the use of weapons and bomb making, and dispatched them to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians. Security forces found explosives belts in a dormitory of the Polytechnic Institute, whose students have been involved in numerous attacks. Hamas was using the Islamic College's laboratories to train students to make explosives. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Schools which Encouraged Terror Closed by IDF
    At the Islamic College of Hebron, the whole first floor was decorated with banners upon which the "whole land of Palestine" was depicted, as well as slogans advocating the destruction of Israel. Notebooks had the faces of suicide bomber "martyrs" on the cover. Classrooms were filled with posters that praised suicide bombings and glorified the suicide bombers. "The Jihad is our path" proclaimed one poster, while another announced, "Sharon and Bush are pigs." On the second floor, hundreds of cassettes were found, made by the different terrorist organizations, calling for the total destruction of the State of Israel. Soldiers entering classrooms found boxes filled with folders on whose covers were pictures of the September 11th terror attacks against the U.S. next to pictures of Palestinian terrorists. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Political Fervor of Iranian Clerics Begins to Ebb - Nazila Fathi
    While recent pro-democracy demonstrations on Iranian campuses have attracted widespread attention, a potentially more explosive movement has quietly been taking shape in Qum, the intellectual birthplace of the Islamic revolution that swept the Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979. The Shiite clergy who a generation ago called for the establishment of a fundamentalist, religious government are having second thoughts. Religion, many are now saying, belongs in the mosque. (New York Times)
  • Syria On the Boil - Ehud Ya'ari
    Under the somewhat immature leadership of Dr. Bashar Assad, with his starry-eyed ideological convictions, Syria has almost turned into Saddam�s client. The fratricidal tradition of the Baath factions in Baghdad and Damascus has given way over the past two years to a commercial bliss, based on the smuggling of large quantities of Iraqi oil to the Mediterranean, far out of range of the supervisory apparatus of the UN�s oil-for-food program. The officers and bureaucrats of Syria know that they have the deals with Saddam to thank for their latest pay raises.
        Young Assad remains the last of Iraq�s immediate neighbors willing to help Iraq, by transferring military equipment to and from Baghdad, by taking in Iraq�s looted archaeological treasures for safe-keeping, and even by giving travel permits to Abu Musa�ab al-Zarqawi, an al Qaeda officer who makes regular journeys from his hideout in Iraq to Syria and to his men in the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Zarqawi, a Jordanian whose real name is Fadel Nizar Khalailah, is the clearest link between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. (Jerusalem Report)
  • "Palestine" Touches Bottom - Bret Stephens
    The idea that Palestinian desperation gave birth to suicide bombers persists. However, as Time magazine points out, today's typical suicide bomber "is Izzadin Masri, the 23-year-old son of a prosperous restaurant owner... [or] Ayat Akhras, 18, a straight-A student, just months away from graduation and then a marriage." Despair? What it is, rather, is some combination of religious belief, social faddishness and cultural mystique, the absence of any countervailing cultural institutions, and a political leadership that not only does nothing to resist the trend, but paves the way toward it.
        As historian Michael Oren points out, Palestinians have outdone even the Nazis in their glorification of murder. The Nazis, he notes, "never publicly lionized [the Einsatzgruppen], never plastered their pictures on the streets or openly encouraged children to emulate. That kind of adoration for mass murderers can only be found, in abundance, among the Palestinians."
        I am often asked whether I favor an independent Palestinian state. I wish someone would ask me instead whether I favor an independent German one. I favor an independent Germany, of course, but not if it's going to be the Third Reich. Until the Palestinians emerge from the moral swamp in which they have put themselves, they ought to remain stateless. (Jerusalem Post)
  • All of Israel Responsible for One Another's Children - Drora Karniel
    As a guidance counselor at the ORT Ramot School in Jerusalem, I work closely with children who are profoundly affected by the traumatic scenes and events that bombard them every day. They display pronounced symptoms, as they try to cope with the insanity around them. As teachers, we can only try to help them exorcise their demons and understand the adult fears they are forced to face as children or teens. We have developed a model called "Four Stages" for the 145 schools in the ORT network. These are the four stages of dialogue we conduct in class after a terrorist act has taken place, based on the different variables that affect how a child reacts to the crisis. (Forward)
  • The Infants Tell the Real Story - Amnon Rubinstein
    Israel is a besieged island in an Arab and Muslim region. Inside the besieged island lives a minority that in culture, religion, and nationality belong to those besieging the island. But those looking at the Middle East from afar can see the gaps between the Jews in their country and the Muslims in their countries growing, and continuing to grow, while the gaps inside the besieged island shrink and continue to shrink, despite lengthy conflict and hostility. At a time when Israel is criticized at home and abroad as an apartheid state, it is worth noting the infant mortality rates (infant mortality of Muslims in Israel is 50% lower than in wealthy Kuwait), and the shrinking gaps in education and health from the past to the present, as an indication of reality. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sealing the Well - Thomas L. Friedman
    In Cairo, the good news is that Saddam is no longer viewed as any kind of folk hero, and most people, it seems, would welcome his demise. The bad news is that George Bush and U.S. policy are disliked even more. (New York Times)

    Weekend Features:

  • Reaching the Arab World
    The White House and Congress are considering creating a new satellite TV channel to reach the Arab states, complementing the Washington-financed Radio Sawa, which in March started broadcasting a mix of Arab and Western music intended for young people, along with an hourly dose of news from the official Washington perspective. Radio Sawa can reach approximately one-third of the homes in Saudi Arabia (and 10 percent of all households in Egypt) and is just one example of the many ways the Arab world has opened up to American sources of information. (New York Times)
  • N. American Police Call Israel Visit a "Sobering Experience" - Etgar Lefkovits
    A group of 30 senior law enforcement officials from the U.S. and Canada was in Jerusalem Tuesday during a four-day visit to Israel on "Police and Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror." "For Americans, Israel is so far away and here we have seen what you deal with on a daily basis; it's really phenomenal," said Michael Grossman, a captain in the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. "You are left with better respect for what Israel police faces and what we [in America] may potentially face," he said.
        "What was particularly interesting for me is how the principal source of information for police is the common citizen," said Portland police chief Mark Kroeker, after hearing of the hundreds of attacks averted thanks to alert citizens. "After all the scientific intelligence gathering, ultimately the most powerful source of information is the community," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Police Officers Attend Israeli Anti-Terrorism Conference (Washington Post)
  • Controversial Billboards Highlight "Similarities" between the U.S. and Israel - Michal Lando
    The posters cropping up at East Bay BART stations feature a pretty, sun-tanned girl with an American flag painted on her cheek standing in front of an Israeli flag. The text below says, "Israel and America: Shared values, shared dreams - peace, justice and democracy." The signs are designed to say that Israel and America have more in common than residents might think. Launched by the Oakland-based Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay, the ad campaign aims to raise public awareness of "similarities" between America and Israel. But that message is igniting its own controversy. (
  • Educators Come to Zion to Discuss Teaching Zionism - Sigalit Hoffman
    For the past six years, members of the North American Alliance for Jewish Youth (NAA) have held their annual conference for informal Jewish educators in North America. This year, they decided to make their conference a practical lesson in Zionism and Israel awareness, and hold the conference in Israel. Almost 400 North American and Israeli educators gathered at a Dead Sea resort this week to set an example in the face of a sharp decline in youth travel to Israel. Jewish kids in North America cannot afford to be uneducated about Israel," educator Lisa Samick said. "It's not enough to watch CNN or read the New York Times." She described Israel and Zionism as being under siege, especially on college campuses. This veteran teacher hopes to re-instill a sense of pride and Jewish identity in her students, and, if nothing else, at least a sense of balance. (Ha'aretz)
  • Talking Points:

    Israel Continues to Provide Humanitarian Aid to Palestinians (IDF)

    With ongoing IDF activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the IDF also continues to ensure humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population not involved in acts of terrorism.

    During a 48-hour period last week (Jan. 5-6, 2003), the IDF:

    • Coordinated the movement of Palestinians seeking medical care, assisting 40 to go to hospital including 4 patients from Gaza who were transferred to Israel for medical treatment.
    • Coordinated the movement of 284 Palestinians in the West Bank who were transferred by ambulance.
    • Coordinated the passage of building materials for the construction of a hospital in Kalkilya.
    • Coordinated the passage of humanitarian goods to Bethlehem.
    • Coordinated entry of ration cards sent by an international aid organization to the residents of Azoun.
    • Enabled the distribution of ration cards by the Red Cross in Salfit.
    • Coordinated the passage of agricultural produce and food between Muassi and Khan Yunis.
    • Coordinated the passage of an UNWRA team in Gaza to aid in the disposal of rubbish.
    • Arranged entry into Kalkilya for an Israeli Arab family from East Jerusalem to attend their son's wedding.

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