Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see web version.


February 26, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
[email protected]

In-Depth Issue:

Rocket that Could Strike at the Heart of Israel - James Bone (London Times)
    The al-Samoud 2 missile appears to have been designed so that it could be fitted with a second engine, making it a much more potent threat than previously realized, missile experts believe.
    Iraq has been ordered to destroy the missiles by Saturday.
    Experts say the specifications of the al-Samoud 2 and its use of a Russian-designed Volga SA2 engine suggest that Iraq might be trying to develop a missile with a much longer range that could threaten the entire region.
    One source close to Dr. Blix said the inspectors suspect that Iraq is copying India's Prithvi missile, which has a similar twin-engined design based on SA2 technology.

Banned Iraqi Missile Might Well be Used in War - Greg Miller (Los Angeles Times)
    The al-Samoud 2 missiles that weapons inspectors have ordered Iraq to destroy probably would be among the first weapons fired by Saddam Hussein to slow or stop any U.S. invasion, military experts said.
    The missiles could hit Kuwait or other nearby targets with chemical or biological warheads, experts said.
    "I think the al-Samoud is one of the keys to his strategy," said John Pike, an analyst at "As soon as the Iraqis decide that the U.S. 5th Corps is heading toward Baghdad, the bulk of the al-Samouds are going to come flying out of Basra into Kuwait, tipped with an assortment of nasties."

Ultra-Orthodox Jews Serve in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)
    The 'Netzah Yehuda' (Forever Judah) program integrates ultra-Orthodox Jews who do not study in Jewish seminaries into combat units in the IDF.
    The program that drafts ultra-Orthodox youth into the Judah battalion, a specially tailored infantry unit, began in 1999. The soldiers complete two years of active military service which includes basic training, training exercises, and participating in military operations with the rest of the Jordan Valley brigade.

Useful Reference:

Prime Minister Sharon's Speech to the Jewish Agency - Feb. 25, 2003 (Prime Minister's Office)

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Would Start War Even Without UN Resolution
    President Bush said Tuesday he would accept nothing short of "full disarmament" by Iraq and served notice he is willing to go to war even without passage of a second UN Security Council resolution. Hans Blix, the Swedish diplomat overseeing the inspections, confirmed that Baghdad recently acknowledged discovering an R-400 aerial bomb containing an unidentified liquid at a known biological weapons disposal site. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Jets Bomb Iraqi Missile Systems
    American warplanes bombed surface-to-surface missile systems in northern and southern Iraq on Tuesday and also attacked surface-to-air missiles in southern Iraq, the U.S. military said. The strikes were the most extensive yet on a single day. The northern strike targeted mobile missile launchers known as "transporter-erector-launcher" vehicles. Iraq is believed to have used similar mobile launchers to fire Scud missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War. (AP/Austin American-Statesman)
  • U.S. Troops Deployed in Jordan
    Several hundred U.S. troops have been stationed in Jordan to operate newly delivered Patriot antimissile systems and coordinate search-and-rescue missions in Iraq, Jordanian and American officials said. An airstrip is reportedly being built in the desert to support such operations, and cooperation could include tacit approval of the use of airspace as the war intensifies. A former official put the number of U.S. military personnel at ''around 2,000,'' although diplomats in Jordan suggest a smaller number. Jordan's military has begun training and serving alongside American troops. (Boston Globe)
  • U.S.-Saudis Agree on Full Use of Key Air Base
    The United States and Saudi Arabia have reached new agreements that will allow expanded U.S. air operations from Saudi territory, including full use of Prince Sultan Air Base as an air operations center. (Washington Post)
  • Wolfowitz: U.S. Wants a "Free and Democratic Iraq"
    Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz reassured a strongly pro-war meeting of Iraqi Americans in Dearborn, Michigan, Sunday that the Bush administration wants to see a democratic Iraq and will not settle for replacing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with someone similar. Wolfowitz, the Pentagon's No. 2 official, invited those at the meeting to join the U.S. military reserves and serve as interpreters in Iraq, an idea that some in the group greeted with enthusiasm. (Washington Post)
  • Israeli Academics Hit Back against Boycott
    After a year of suffering outright hostility, verbal abuse, and countless snubs, Israeli scientists and intellectuals have begun fighting back against European and American colleagues who are boycotting Israel.. Tens of thousands of Europeans and Americans have signed anti-boycott petitions, compared with several hundred who have signed pro-boycott petitions. (Boston Globe)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Sharon Picks His Cabinet; Benjamin Netanyahu Out, Silvan Shalom In
    Finance Minister Silvan Shalom accepted Ariel Sharon's offer Wednesday to serve as foreign minister in his new government, after the prime minister offered Benjamin Netanyahu the position of finance minister - an offer that Netanyahu turned down. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon's Revised "Road Map" - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon is conducting a quiet diplomatic race in an attempt to shape the international "road map" for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sharon wants to replace the current road map with a plan to be approved by Israel and the U.S., neutralizing the EU's influence and its desire to use the road map to impose a settlement.
        The Quartet at their meeting in London last week agreed on a structure for the supervising mechanism, which will track the behavior of the sides and determine whether conditions have ripened for progress. Israel is not enthusiastic about the international inspection of its activities, and regards that as a dangerous "internationalization of the conflict." Already last year, Israel proposed a different model to the Americans, in which supervision would be only of the Palestinian side, and would be dominated by the Americans. The inspectors' roles would be well-defined and limited.
        The Prime Minster's Office is convinced that the U.S. will listen to Israel's comments, just as it took into consideration Israel's corrections for the preparation of an early draft of the road map. A government source said Tuesday that the road map will "anyway wait" for the end of the Iraq war, since the Bush administration doesn't have any available energy right now for anything other than the Iraqi crisis. The Israeli-Palestinian crisis is far from the top of the American agenda, said the government source. (Ha'aretz)
  • White House to Ask Congress for Israel Aid - Moti Bassok
    The White House plans to present Congress early next week with a consolidated request for a special budget of $100 billion for the war in Iraq. This sum would include special aid packages for Israel, Turkey, and Jordan. (Ha'aretz)
  • Meanwhile, Back in Tehran - Ze'ev Schiff
    When he arrived in Tehran last weekend, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was taken to President Mohammed Khatami's office and the two exchanged kisses like old friends. It will be interesting to learn how the Iranians explained why they did not report a deal with China for the purchase of gas used to enrich uranium. ElBaradei said everything looked fine, but the Iranians didn't explain why a country rich in petroleum and natural gas, needs to invest huge amounts of money in enriched uranium, heavy water, nuclear power plants, and uranium mining. (Ha'aretz)
  • Meridor: Focus on Palestinian Leadership, Not Road Map - Herb Keinon
    The international community is making a mistake by focusing on the details of the Quartet's road map, not with the more fundamental issue of a lack of a "central address" on the other side, Dan Meridor, the Likud minister Sharon recently charged with preparing a peace plan for the new government, said Tuesday.
        "The main issue is that there is no address, no leader, no partner, no interlocutor on the other side," Meridor said. The problem, Meridor said, is that no one is in control anymore. Even if an agreement on the road map could be reached tomorrow, it would be meaningless because there is nobody on the other side to implement it.
        According to Meridor, PA security forces in Gaza, including those under the control of Muhammad Dahlan, are still "practically intact" and can fight Hamas. If people like Dahlan assert control in Gaza, Meridor said, "and we see one person, one command headquarters we can talk to and make agreements with, and those agreements are kept by all those who hold guns and explosives, then we can move on to Judea and Samaria." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • France a Major Trading Partner of Iraq - Michael Campbell
    French President Jacques Chirac's extensive business ties with Saddam stretch back 26 years to his sale of two nuclear reactors to Iraq with enough weapons-grade uranium to build three or four nuclear bombs. Chirac also spearheaded a $1.5-billion weapons deal with Saddam which included 60 Mirage F1 fighter planes, surface-to-air missiles, and advanced electronics. In July, France signed a $5.3-billion deal with Iraq for non-oil-related goods and services. Last year, Chirac's France made more money out of the UN's oil-for-food program than any other nation, and has consistently lobbied for reduced sanctions. Since 1996, France has sold directly or indirectly $14 billion worth of French goods to Iraq. (Vancouver Sun)
  • Why Go to War? Because We Have To - J.L. Granatstein
    North America is under assault and the United States is determined to prevent further 9/11s. In the circumstances, the U.S. elite is furious at Canada's utter incomprehension of the present situation. Angry at our lax immigration and refugee policies and our sloppy border and port security. And the U.S. is especially furious because it believes we aren't serious about doing our share to militarily protect Canada, North America, and the values we profess. (National Post-Canada)
  • Observations:

    Israel Has Spent Billions on Homeland Defense - Julie Stahl (CNSNews)

    • Israel has spent billions of dollars on its homeland defense preparations and is probably the best prepared country in the world to deal with a possible missile attack and/or non-conventional warfare, said Colonel Gilead Shenhar, senior advisor to the Home Front Defense (HFC) Command, at a briefing for the press and diplomats at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Monday.
    • The HFC is designed not only to deal with the threat of surface to surface missiles - whether conventional or non-conventional - but can also deal with rocket or artillery strikes, for instance, from across the northern border, mass disasters like earthquakes - whether at home or elsewhere in the region - or terrorism, in war time, here or abroad.
    • In the case of a missile attack, Shenhar said, Israel's defense is many-layered: deterrence; early warning to make sure Israelis have gas masks on before a missile hits; active defense of Israel's Arrow and U.S. Patriot anti-missile shields; and passive defense to deal with the consequences of a missile strike. "These are answers that we didn't have before," Shenhar said.
    • Part of those preparations have included refreshing more than three and a half million gas mask protection kits for Israelis. Every person in Israel from Israelis to diplomats to illegal workers is to be equipped with a mask.
    • Shenhar could not say exactly how much Israel has invested in homeland defense since it is spread out in so many different areas, but he said it is most likely in the billions of dollars.

    To subscribe to the Daily Alert, click here to send a blank email message.
    To unsubscribe, click here to send a blank email message.