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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February 7, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Air Force on High Alert - Amir Rapaport (Maariv)

    Beginning February 15, "an [American] attack becomes possible any minute," according to discussions held Thursday by the security services.
    Israel has not yet received information from the U.S. regarding the exact date.
    Iraq is estimated to have 20 warplanes, including the French-made Mirage F-1 with a range of more than 2,000 km., modified by the Iraqis to carry 2,200 liters of chemical or biological weapons instead of bombs.
    A security official said, "An Iraqi plane - manned or unmanned - can prove to be more dangerous than a missile which spreads its payload over a relatively limited area. A plane flying over a populated area could affect hundreds of thousands of people."

Israel Army Chief: U.S. Able to Attack Iraq Now (Reuters)

    The United States already has sufficient forces in the Gulf to launch a war against Iraq, Israel's army chief Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon told Yediot Ahronot Friday.
    Yaalon said he believed there was "a very low probability" Israel would be targeted this time.

British Parliament Also Targeted on 9/11 (New Zealand Herald)

    In his book Inside al Qaeda, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna says more strikes were planned for September 11.
    Terrorists were at Heathrow airport ready to board planes for a suicide attack on Britain's Houses of Parliament, but in the wake of the U.S. attacks earlier all flights were grounded.
    Gunaratna is a research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, St. Andrew's University, Scotland.

Baker is Back - Janine Zacharia (Jerusalem Post)

    The law firm of former secretary of state and close Bush family associate James Baker, Baker Botts LLP, has been employed by Saudi defendants in a massive September 11 lawsuit filed last August, Burnett vs Baraka Investment Corporation.
    Relatives of victims of the September 11 attacks filed a $116 trillion lawsuit in August against the company, run by Osama bin Laden's family, Saudi Arabian princes, and Sudan, for allegedly bankrolling al Qaeda, bin Laden, and the Taliban.

Mideast Allies Take Big Slice of U.S. Aid Budget (Reuters)

    Washington's allies in the Middle East can expect about $5.44 billion in U.S. bilateral aid in fiscal year 2004, slightly down from $5.49 billion in 2003, according to the Bush administration's budget request released on Monday.
    Israel is to receive $2.16 billion in foreign military assistance and $480 million in economic support funds, for a total of $2.64 billion against $2.90 billion in 2003.
    The budget request does not include an additional $4 billion in grants and $8-10 billion in loan guarantees currently being discussed.
    Egypt is to receive $575 million in economic support funds and $1.3 billion in military assistance, for a total of $1.875 billion. Economic aid has been in gradual decline, from $655 million in 2002 to $615 million in 2003.
    Jordanian can expect $459 million from Washington in 2004, which maintains the level of economic aid and raises military assistance from $198 million to $206 million.
    Turkey is allocated $200 million in economic aid and $50 million in military aid in the new budget.
    Amounts for other Middle East countries include $32 million for Lebanon, $30 million for Yemen, $25 million each for Oman and Bahrain, $15 million for Morocco, and $10 million for Tunisia.

Useful Reference:

The West, Christians, and Jews in Saudi Arabian Schoolbooks (Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace/American Jewish Committee)
    A comprehensive survey of official Saudi textbooks shows how they indoctrinate children in hatred of the West, Christians, and Jews.

Palestinian Terrorism Videos
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The New Members of the Knesset
    The party lists. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Netanyahu Sees "Smoking Guns" in U.S. Evidence on Iraq
    Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell provided overwhelming evidence that Iraq was developing banned weapons that should convince skeptics. Asked if there was a smoking gun in Powell's speech, he said: "One gun? I saw many." (Reuters)
  • America's Evidence
    The next test for Iraq will come with a return visit to Baghdad this weekend by Hans Blix, the chief UN inspector, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The inspectors have been seeking concessions which include allowing interviews to be held with Iraqi scientists in the absence of government minders and letting American spy planes carry out surveillance flights. Next week, the inspectors will report back to the Security Council. That meeting, scheduled for February 14th, will probably be Saddam's last opportunity to show that he is coming clean. (Economist-UK)
        See also Iraqi Scientist Interviewed in Private (Washington Post)
  • Powell: "Roadmap" to be Published Soon
    Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, "Now that the Israeli election is over, I expect in the near future we will be moving forward on the road map....I know the president intends to take a more active role in finding a way forward with the Middle East peace process." (VOA News)
  • Conservatives Clash on Muslim Bush Aides
    A dispute among prominent conservatives has escalated over accusations that radical Muslims have improper access to the White House. Veteran conservative activist Grover Norquist, credited with helping swing Muslim voters to support President Bush in the 2000 elections, has been accused of suppressing criticism of radical Islamic influence at the White House. (Washington Times)
  • EU Investigating Palestinian Authority
    The European Union's anti-fraud office, OLAF, said Wednesday it was investigating the Palestinian Authority's use of EU-donated funds. The office said that there were allegations that some funds were being used for terrorist purposes, according to "information recent months from a number of different sources." The announcement came a day after a group of EU lawmakers asked the European Parliament to launch its own inquiry into how EU funds are being used. If OLAF uncovers fraud or financial mismanagement, it will try to recover the money and may provide the EU or national governments with information that could lead to administrative or criminal prosecutions against individuals. (AP/Newsday)
  • Arab Leaders Say War would Destabilize Region
    The Saudis fear the overthrow of Saddam and his Sunni Muslim-dominated regime would strengthen Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, which could lead to close ties between Shiites in Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia to the detriment of the ruling Saudi royal family. Syria and Egypt worry that the end of autocracy in Baghdad might focus unwelcome attention on the lack of democracy in their own societies. (AP/ABC News)
  • Flurry of Trees to Rise in Israel in Memory of Lost Astronauts
    The Jewish National Fund America has had a surge in sales of trees to be planted in Israel in the aftermath of the shuttle disaster. In a chat from space with Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, on Jan. 21, Col. Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut who died on the Columbia, mentioned tree planting. "I would like to see at least 13 million or 14 million new trees planted in Israel exactly one year from now, on the anniversary of the launching," Col. Ramon said. According to Russell Robinson, the fund's chief executive, "Our Web site is literally clogged up because of people clicking on to order trees, and the phones are ringing off the hook." (New York Times)
        Plant a Tree (Jewish National Fund)
        See also Bush Eulogizes Israeli Patriot (London Jewish Chronicle)
  • "Iran 5" Freed For "Vacation"
    The last five Jews held in an Iranian prison on charges of spying for Israel have been released on "vacation," although it remains uncertain whether they will be permanently freed. The five were among 13 Jews arrested on spy charges in early 1999. (JTA/New York Jewish Week)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Explosive Belt Found in Israeli Arab Mosque - Roni Singer and Jalal Bana
    An explosive belt that was to be used by the two Islamic Jihad militants who were caught on their way to carry out a suicide bombing was found in a mosque in the Arab town of Taibeh Thursday night by police. According to a Shin Bet security investigation, the terrorists planned to carry out the attack inside Israel either on Thursday or Friday. The two were apprehended Thursday evening by IDF soldiers at a roadblock north of Nablus.
        Regional police commander Amihai Shai told Israel Radio Friday that the capture of the two terrorists prevented a large attack inside Israel. He said that had the explosive belt blown up inside the Taibeh mosque, a huge disaster would have occurred. He also said that the mosque officials had nothing to do with the belt and that the mayor of Taibeh greatly assisted security forces in removing it from the mosque. (Ha'aretz)
  • Invitation to Sharon Draws Angry Reaction in Egypt
    President Hosni Mubarak's invitation to Israel's newly reelected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has drawn angry reactions in Egypt. "No, Mister President, don't shake hands with him, don't put your hand in the blood-stained hand of this assassin," wrote the editor-in-chief of the pro-government Al Osboue Weekly, Mustapha Bakri.
        Mubarak explained Monday in state-run Al Gomhuriya daily, "I invited him to meet us at Sharm El Sheikh, after the formation of his government, to examine ways of breaking the deadlock, and getting back on the track of dialogue and negotiations."
        Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said Thursday he received a telephone call from his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu "who stated his desire to begin a dialogue aimed at achieving peace." (AFP/Jordan Times)
  • Egypt Nixes U.S. Bid to Interview Nuke Scientists
    Egypt has rejected a U.S. request to interview Egyptian engineers and scientists employed in Iraq's nuclear program. U.S. officials said the Cairo government responded that it viewed Egyptian nationals who work in Iraq as private citizens. "They refused to help us locate them or provide information so we could reach them ourselves," a U.S. official said. The U.S. intelligence community received information late last year of the employment of dozens of Egyptian engineers and scientists in Iraq's nuclear program. (Middle East Newsline)
  • Expert Warns of Saddam's Bio-Chem Arsenal - David Rudge
    According to bio-chemist and veteran of the IDF Intelligence Corps Dr. Danny Shoham, "Saddam has an entire range of components needed for the immediate manufacture of chemical and biological agents, but not yet an atomic bomb." Shoham also noted reports in reputable foreign publications that Hizballah in Lebanon had acquired chemical warheads for Katyusha-style rockets, apparently from Iraq. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ramallah Rally Blasts U.S. Attack Plans - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Chanting "O Saddam, strike with chemicals," 1,000 Palestinians marched through the center of Ramallah Thursday to protest the expected U.S. attack on Iraq. The rally was addressed by a leader of Yasser Arafat's Fatah group and a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The demonstrators carried posters of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat and called on the Iraqi leader to bomb Tel Aviv. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon's Bureau Chief to Jordan for Talks - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Sharon's Bureau Chief Dov Weisglass is slated to go to Amman Sunday for talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher. Sources in Jerusalem said the talks are likely to focus on coordination between the two governments in the event of a U.S. campaign against Iraq. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 31 Palestinian Women Murdered in "Honor Killings" in 2002 - Khaled Abu Toameh
    At least 31 Palestinian women have been murdered in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2002 in what is known as "honor killings," where a female is executed by a male member of her family, according to statistics released by Palestinian police Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why Washington's Hawks See Further than Europe's Doves - Charles Moore
    Every time I go to Washington I find a seriousness and depth of thought about terror, the Middle East, and the nature of power that, whether one agrees with it or not, is not matched by an alternative vision this side of the Atlantic. As long ago as the 1970s, Paul Wolfowitz was warning (in a document still classified today) of the international threat posed by Saddam Hussein. The hawks - and remember that the hawk is a bird that can see things from a long way off - thought that the threat of "asymmetric warfare" (i.e., terrorism, often by "non-state actors") was serious.
        The Washington hawks doubt the attempt to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians not because they think nothing can be done, but because they think the structure for negotiation must be rebased. Yasser Arafat cannot deliver peace because he remains committed to war; the Israeli settlements are certainly a problem, but they are not the problem. Violence is the problem, and violence will continue if the Arab world and the EU continue to abet it, and if the Palestinian people are offered no beginnings of a plural society with institutions of law, property rights - and, as an eventual consequence, a proper ballot. That was what Mr. Bush's speech on June 24 last year was all about. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Remember Why Israel Was Created - Piero Ostellino
    Israel represents the Jews who are no longer willing to let themselves be killed by totalitarian regimes, religious fundamentalism, and racism. The State of Israel represents those Jews who have learned to defend themselves. Its governments, whatever their political inclination, are the democratic and free expression of the sovereignty of the people. As Italians, we say that we stand with the Jews, but point out too often that the Jews and Israelis are one thing and that Israel and its government, particularly when we disagree with it, are another. Is the distinction between Jews and Israel, people and government, politically accurate and morally acceptable? I think not. The distinction implies a moral denial of the reasons behind the birth of Israel, the political disavowal of its international recognition and of its internal democratic character, and of the legitimacy of its government. (Italy Weekly/International Herald Tribune)
  • The Arab Future - David Ignatius
    The future is about to begin in the Arab world, and few people can describe it with more clarity than Jordan's young foreign minister, Marwan Muasher. Political change is coming, Muasher believes, not because America demands it but because ordinary Arabs want it. The winds of political change are swirling even in Saudi Arabia. Sources here point to a "bill of rights" that was signed last month by 140 Saudi business leaders, professors, and intellectuals. The four-page document, "A Vision for the Present and Future of the Country," called for a Saudi parliament, free elections, a fairer distribution of wealth, a crackdown on corruption, and more rights for women. (Washington Post)
  • The Houses of Saud - Joel Mowbray
    Instead of waiting for the House of Saud to submit a report to the UN on its treatment of women, the bureaucrats in Brussels could do some field work and witness women who are locked inside homes, paid little or nothing as domestic servants, worked up to 20 hours per day, and verbally and physically abused. They could see this sad state of affairs not just in Saudi Arabia, but in Saudi homes right here in the United States.
        According to the Saudi government, some 19,000 domestic servants - almost exclusively foreign women working in Saudi Arabia as maids - escaped from Saudi homes in the 12 months prior to March 2001. The real figure is likely far higher, because the government statistic counts only those women who go to government-run shelters for "runaway" domestics. Women who show up at Saudi police stations seeking help are instead locked up and remain jailed until their employers reclaim them. (Washington Times)
  • The UN is Becoming a Threat to World Peace - Barbara Amiel
    The United Nations has been a thorn in the side of the Free World since the mid-1970s, when UNESCO was taken over by unfree countries of the Third World and the General Assembly passed the "Zionism is racism" resolution in 1975. By now the UN, with its Human Rights Commission chaired by Libya, is not only irrelevant; it is coming perilously close to endangering world peace and security. The majority of its members are in breach of most tenets of the UN Charter and yet these same members are rewarded with plum UN assignments. In March, Iraq will assume the chairmanship of the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Great Arab League Break-Up - Amir Taheri
    The Arab predicament over the looming war in Iraq is only the last episode in a story of economic decline, political disorientation, and cultural crisis that dates back several decades. "Associating with the Arabs has brought us nothing but trouble," says Colonel Mu'ammar Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator who recently decided to boycott the Arab League and emphasize his so-called "African identity."
        In a recent article that triggered much debate, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former UN secretary-general, called on Egypt to look south toward black Africa and north toward the Mediterranean rather than east toward the Arabs.
        "If someone asks what have the Arabs been doing for two decades, the answer is: They have been blackmailing one another over the issue of Palestine," says a member of Saudi Arabia's appointed "parliament." (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • Qatar Reshapes Its Schools, Putting English Over Islam - Susan B. Glasser
    Students are learning less Islam and more English in the tiny desert sheikdom of Qatar. Prestigious American universities, such as Cornell with its medical school and Carnegie Mellon with its business school, are being lured to set up branch campuses. Last week, the country's ruler announced an even more sweeping reform for public schools, an overhaul developed by the Rand Corp. In a region where holy war is explained in public-school textbooks - "Consider the infidel your enemy," advises a Saudi text for 10th-graders - the connection between political Islam of the sort advocated by Osama bin Laden and the education offered to Persian Gulf schoolchildren has been the subject of agonizing dispute. (Washington Post)
  • Fatwa'ed in Cincinnati - Mel Gussow
    Playwright Glyn O'Malley's latest play, "Paradise," deals with suicide bombers and the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Commissioned by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the 50-minute play was to tour high schools beginning in March, but the tour was canceled after a protest by local Muslims. (New York Times)
  • Israel-Pakistan Doubles Team Wins Ashe Award
    An Israeli-Pakistani doubles team won the ATP's Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award on Thursday for promoting ''tolerance through tennis.'' Israel's Amir Hadad, a Jew, and Pakistan's Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, a Muslim, played doubles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year. (AP/Boston Globe)
  • Talking Points:

    Post-Saddam Peace Prospects in the Mideast - Martin Indyk
    (New York Times/Council on Foreign Relations)

    • There will be new opportunities created by the removal of Saddam Hussein, assuming we can succeed in that task fairly quickly, with fairly limited casualties, and be able to stabilize Iraq in the aftermath.
    • If that is the case, then we will have succeeded in tilting the balance of power in the Middle East region fundamentally in our direction and the direction of our friends in the region. The countries in the region will look to [Washington]. The opponents of Arab-Israeli reconciliation will have suffered a major setback.
    • Life is miserable for the Palestinians and they've basically had enough of it. That exhaustion in the street is combining with an overwhelming demand among the elites on the Palestinian side for a change in government. Under the rubric of reform, they are demanding an end to Arafat's corrupt, arbitrary rule. The trouble is that the reformers have not succeeded in any significant way. Arafat for all intents and purposes still retains his power even though the Palestinian Authority is collapsing all around him.
    • One of Arafat's aides said to me, when there was talk of reform: "There are two kinds of Arab leaders. Those who have all power concentrated in their hands. And those who are dead. Don't expect Arafat to give up power. That's a basic reality."

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