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 21, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

How Bin Laden Escaped - Peter Finn (Washington Post)
    With U.S. forces closing in on him during the battle of Tora Bora in late 2001, Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, Abdallah Tabarak, took possession of the al Qaeda leader's satellite phone on the assumption that U.S. intelligence agencies were monitoring it to get a fix on their position.
    Tabarak moved away from bin Laden and his entourage as they fled, while continuing to use the phone in an effort to divert the Americans and allow bin Laden to escape.
    Tabarak was captured in possession of the phone, and is today one of the leaders of the 600 suspected al Qaeda and Taliban members being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"America's Ultra-Secret Weapon" - Mark Thompson (Time)
    Meet the high-power microwave. HPMs are man-made lightning bolts crammed into cruise missiles, that could fry the sophisticated computers and electronic gear necessary to produce, protect, store, and deliver biological and chemical weapons.
    The powerful electromagnetic pulses can travel into deeply buried bunkers through ventilation shafts, plumbing, and antennas.
    Moving at the speed of light and impervious to bad weather, the energy pulse can destroy any electronics within 1,000 ft. by short-circuiting internal electrical connections in a way similar to what can happen to your computer or TV when lightning strikes nearby.
    The U.S. used a more primitive form of these weapons - known as soft bombs - against Yugoslavia and in the first Gulf War, when cruise missiles showered miles of thin carbon fibers over electrical facilities, creating massive short circuits that shut down electrical power.

Useful Reference:

The NGO Monitor

    The NGO Monitor analyzes the reports and advocacy activities of human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in relation to the complex humanitarian issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
    The current issue looks at the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and the Nazareth-based Human Rights Association.
    The new bimonthly email newsletter is sponsored by B'nai B'rith International and the Institute for Contemporary Affairs of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Deploys Combat Divisions to Gulf
    The Bush administration Monday ordered the Army's most advanced land combat division - the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood, Texas - to deploy to the Persian Gulf, together with the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Ga. By month's end, as many as 100,000 American troops may be positioned in the region, and a total force of more than 200,000 is expected to be in place, or on the way, by late February. (Washington Times)
        See also UK Pledges Large Iraq Force
    The United Kingdom is to deploy 26,000 more troops for possible military action against Iraq - a far higher figure than anticipated. The UK Defense Secretary, Geoff Hoon, also announced that 150 armored personnel carriers and 120 tanks were being sent to Kuwait before mid-February. The U.S. has already amassed about 52,000 troops in the region and another 60,000 are being deployed. (BBC)
  • Attack on Iraq Not Yet Justified, France Warns U.S.
    French Foreign Minister de Villepin refuses to rule out the possibility that France would use its veto power if the U.S. seeks to authorize war against Iraq in the Security Council. (New York Times)
  • Turkey to Allow U.S. to Use Bases Under a Smaller Plan
    The Turkish foreign minister described a scaled-down U.S. force deployment that would be large enough to tie down Iraqi troops in the northern part of the country while a larger American force attacks Baghdad from the south. The Turks envision a force of 15,000 U.S. troops and not 80,000 as originally proposed. (New York Times)
  • American Shot Dead in Attack in Kuwait, One Wounded
    A Defense Department employee was shot dead and another was wounded in an attack on Tuesday near Camp Doha, a U.S. base north of Kuwait City. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Units on Hunt to Track Saddam - Jack Kelley
    The United States is undertaking a vigorous military and intelligence effort to track, and possibly kill, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The effort involves, among other things, small teams of U.S. special operations forces and CIA paramilitary units inside and around Iraq, satellite imagery, radio intercepts, and airborne reconnaissance, U.S. intelligence officials say. (USA Today)
  • U.S.-Backed Reforms for Palestinians Moved to Back Burner
    A CIA agent fluent in Arabic convened a security training conference for 29 Palestinian police officers last September in Jericho, for what was to be the first of many security programs to help fulfill Bush's vision of a peaceful Middle East with Palestinians and Israelis living side by side. But the Jericho conference turned out to be the first and last of its type as the U.S. push for Palestinian reforms has moved to the back burner. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Cairo Talks Won't End Terror - Daniel Sobelman
    IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi Farkash said Monday that talks held in Cairo in recent weeks between the various Palestinian factions on a possible hiatus on attacks against Israel would not end in any agreement. He also noted that in statements of the al Qaeda organization in recent weeks, Israeli and Jewish targets had been mentioned more frequently. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Official Predicts Failure for Cairo Cease-Fire Conference (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Official Suspected of Stealing $5 Million - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A senior Palestinian Authority official is suspected of pocketing $5 million and depositing it in a secret bank account in the U.S., Palestinian officials disclosed on Sunday. The money was discovered by U.S. authorities in a bank account belonging to the man's son. A Palestinian official said the true figure was estimated at "much more" than $5m. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Crime in Bosnia: The Impact of Saudi Money and Wahhabism - Stephen Schwartz
    On Christmas eve, less than a month ago, the horrors of the Bosnian war returned. Three Croat Catholics were slaughtered in the village of Kostajnica while putting up Christmas decorations. The killer, Muamar Topalovic, a 25-year-old Muslim from the region, admitted membership in two Islamic extremist groups, both funded by Riyadh. In recent attacks by Muslims on Croat Catholics, a Bosnian historian writes, "in every case there is a Middle Eastern, mainly Saudi Arabian, connection. Under the cover of 'humanitarianism' the local Muslims are being 'converted' to the Saudi version of Islam, that teaches them that Bosnia is the land of Islam and for the Muslims only." (Weekly Standard)
  • Criminal Enterprise in the Political Economy of Middle Eastern Terrorism - Matthew Levitt
    In the past, al Qaeda raised as much as 35 percent of its operating funds from the drug trade. Hizballah benefits from the drug business in Lebanon, using the Beqa'a Valley's poppy crop not only for funds, but also to buy support from Israeli Arabs ready to carry out terrorist operations. U.S. officials believe "a substantial portion" of the millions of dollars raised by Middle Eastern terrorist groups comes from the $20 million to $30 million annually brought in by illicit scams in America. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Aiding Israel in Ending the Settlements - Debra DeLee
    For more than 25 years, every U.S. administration has regarded settlements as an obstacle to peace. In fact, President George H.W. Bush imposed conditions on loan guarantees to Israel. The current President Bush should do no less, especially given his stated desire to see Israeli and Palestinian states existing side by side in peace and security within a few years. (The writer is president of Americans for Peace Now.) (Washington Post)
  • Talking Points:

    The Middle East's Other Refugees - Editorial (National Post-Canada)

    • Unlike the Armenians, the Sudetenland Germans, or South Asia's mid-century migrants, the Arabs believe they can turn back history. When Israel bested five invading Arab armies and established its independence in 1948, the Arabs' collective psyche sustained an existential wound from which it has never really recovered. To this day, a majority of Arabs cling to the comforting delusion that Israel might somehow be destroyed through force of arms, terrorism, or demographic pressures - and that history can be set "right," with Muslims on top, Jews on the bottom. Nowhere else in the world will you find an entire civilization living in collective denial.
    • For ordinary Palestinians, this mindset has produced disaster. Throughout history, refugees have been settled by their allies and kinfolk in neighboring lands. But for Arab leaders to allow Palestinians to settle in neighboring countries would be to admit that the wars of 1948 and 1967 really ended as they did. Thus, Arab leaders pushed Palestinians into squalid, "temporary" camps to provide the world with a pathetic, swarming testament to - as they see it - the barbarity of "the Zionist entity." Meanwhile, the number of Palestinian refugees has ballooned from 800,000 to 3.5 million.
    • There is another refugee population that emerged around the same time as the Palestinians: the Jews who were forced out of Arab nations around the time of Israel's birth. In 1948, about 900,000 of these Mizrahim [Sephardim] lived throughout the Arab world. Today, fewer than 20,000 remain. While the details varied from country to country, the general pattern was one of state-fomented violence followed by Mizrahim flight or expulsion. As a group, these people were refugees no less than their Palestinian counterparts.
    • Unlike Arab states, Israel did not dump its displaced co-religionists into wretched tent cities for 50 years so it could exhibit them to the rest of the world as a sympathy prop. Rather, Israel did what any enlightened society would do: It worked to integrate these people into its society. Many Mizrahim Jews still bemoan the land and riches that were stolen from them three generations ago, but it is not an obsession that precludes them from building new lives.

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