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 27, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Hizballah is Moving Up the Threat Chart - Timothy J. Burger and Elaine Shannon (TIME)

    "Prior to September 11th, Hizballah had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group," FBI Director Robert Mueller said last year.
    The FBI has identified a small number of emigres who attended Hizballah training camps in Lebanon and now reside in the U.S. A few of these have even returned to Lebanon for more advanced training.
    The U.S. has at least twice asked Saudi Arabia to stop giving Iranian military supply planes overflight permission for loads of weaponry earmarked for Hizballah.

Four Charged for Sending Millions to Iraq - William Kates (AP)

    Four Arab men were indicted Wednesday on federal charges they illegally sent at least $4 million to Iraq through a Syracuse-area charity called Help the Needy, depositing the money in New York banks and laundering much of it through the Jordan Islamic Bank in Amman.
    Money transfers to Iraq even for charitable purposes are illegal unless the organization has U.S. government approval.

Iraqi Air Defenses Greatly Weakened - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)

    Retired Air Force Col. John Warden, a Persian Gulf war planner, estimates that Iraq's air-defense network is 10-15% of what it was in January 1991.
    Of the 38 fixed-wing allied aircraft shot down in 1991, more than 30 fell to short-range shoulder-fired missiles. Such heat-seeking weapons are difficult to locate because they are mobile, and, unlike a radar-guided missile, emit no signature before launch.

Terrorists Plotted to Kill Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi (Ha'aretz)

    A West Bank military tribunal charged a unit of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with the intent to murder Shas spiritual leader and former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the army newspaper Bamahane reported this week.
    Palestinian terror organizations have considered Yosef a target since he spoke out against Palestinians two years ago, but the assassination plot does not appear to have proceeded beyond the planning stage.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush Expresses Hope for Postwar Peace, Democracy (full text)
    President Bush said Wednesday, "The passing of Saddam Hussein's regime will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers....Without this outside support for terrorism, Palestinians who are working for reform and long for democracy will be in a better position to choose new leaders."
        "A Palestinian state must be a reformed and peaceful state that abandons forever the use of terror. For its part, the new government of Israel, as the terror threat is removed and security improves, will be expected to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state and to work as quickly as possible toward a final status agreement."
        "The United States and other nations are working on a road map for peace....It is the commitment of our government and my personal commitment to implement the road map and to reach that goal." (Washington Post)
  • Saudi Denies U.S. Deal Over Use of Bases
    Saudi Arabia Wednesday dismissed a media report that the kingdom had agreed to allow U.S. troops and planes based on its soil to take part in any war on Iraq. Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal told reporters in Jeddah that the Prince Sultan airbase - home to most of the 5,000 U.S. troops in the kingdom - would continue only to enforce a "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq, its function since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. (Gulf Daily News-Bahrain)
  • Restrictive Arab Nations Feel Pressure from Within
    While few predict a wave of democratization is about to be unleashed in the Arab world, the entrenched political order is under increasing pressure from popular demands for economic improvement and more openness, according to a wide range of analysts, activists, and diplomats. (Washington Post)
  • Iranians Eager for Hussein to Be Ousted
    Most Iranians are eager to see the Iraqi dictator's demise. Iraq has historically been Iran's most serious rival. At least 300,000 Iranians were killed in the Iran-Iraq war, and more than half a million were wounded. Some Iranians, particularly the young, say they would actually welcome a U.S. presence in Iraq because it would increase pressure on their country's conservative Islamic regime. (Los Angeles Times)
  • 1990 Human Shields Scorn Volunteers
    Human shields held hostage by Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Gulf War Monday condemned the "peace volunteers" offering their services to the Baghdad regime. Hundreds of Westerners - including everyone on a British Airways flight to India that had stopped to refuel - were taken to Iraq after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Charlene Coutre, an American banker who was held in Kuwait and Iraq for 132 days, describes the peace volunteers as thoroughly selfish. "They haven't thought about the consequences if allied forces have to rescue them because they have been so foolish. What are they going to say to the families of dead soldiers who have tried to rescue them?" (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Netanyahu to be Finance Minister - Yossi Verter
    Benjamin Netanyahu reversed his initial stance and accepted Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's offer to be finance minister with broad powers in the new government. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Sharon's New Cabinet (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Special Defense Aid Request May be Cut to $1b - Nathan Guttman and Aluf Benn
    U.S. sources said the White House may scale back Israel's $4 billion defense aid request, possibly to under $1 billion. Defense Ministry Director General Amos Yaron is in Washington to discuss the request. Sources in Washington said the request had run into opposition both in the administration and on Capitol Hill, which is bracing for a war in Iraq that could cost U.S. taxpayers close to $100 billion. "The administration is not enthusiastic," one source said. "Israel is already a major recipient of U.S. largess and $4 billion was just too much at this time," one U.S. source said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also New U.S. Aid Bill Signed - Matthew E. Berger
    President Bush signed the fiscal year 2003 spending bill on Feb. 20, with a 0.65% across-the-board cut in foreign aid. Israel will receive $2.1 billion in military aid and $600 million in economic aid. Another provision, added by Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.), calls for Congress's General Accounting Office to investigate whether U.S. contributions to UNRWA are being used to promote terrorism. Israel says UNRWA allows terrorism to flourish in Palestinian refugee camps. (JTA)
  • Israel, PA Discussing Gradual Cease-Fire - Ben Caspit
    Ongoing contacts between the prime minister's bureau chief Dov Weisglass and PA Interior Minister Hani al-Hassan are designed to achieve a cease-fire agreement. In the first phase, the Palestinians are to take responsibility for northern Gaza, from where Qassam missiles are being launched at Israel, and afterwards central and southern Gaza. In the second stage, Palestinians will resume responsibility in Nablus and Bethlehem, with the third stage including Ramallah and Hebron. According to the draft, the PA will "clean these areas of terrorists and terror," and Israel will withdraw its forces to positions they held before the outbreak of violence. (Maariv)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Morocco, the Forgotten Arab Moderate - Robert Satloff
    Imagine a populous Arab country that lies astride a strategic waterway through which much of the world's shipping - including U.S. Navy aircraft carriers - regularly passes. This country has a progressive leadership that recently supervised an election universally recognized as free and fair. It also just won an encouraging evaluation from the IMF for its economic management. It is the quintessential "Arab moderate" state, but in the reality of U.S. policy, Morocco does not even register. (Washington Times)
  • Imperfect Freedom Better than Living under Tyranny - Michael Kelly
    I understand why some dislike the idea, and fear the ramifications of, America as a liberator. But I cannot see why they do not see that anything is better than life with your face under the boot. And that any rescue of a people under the boot (be they Afghans, Kuwaitis, or Iraqis) is something desperately to be desired. Even if the rescue is less than perfectly realized. Even if the rescuer is a great, overmuscled, bossy, selfish oaf. Or would you, for yourself, choose the boot? (Seattle Times)
  • The Gridlock Gang - Thomas L. Friedman
    "For too many Europeans, Arabs are of no moral interest in and of themselves," observes the Middle East analyst Stephen P. Cohen. "They only become of interest if they are fighting Jews or being manhandled by Jews. Then their liberation becomes paramount, because calling for it is a way to stick it to the Jews. Europeans' demonstrations for a free Palestine - and not for a free Iraq or any other Arab country - smell too much like a politically correct form of anti-Semitism, part of a very old story." (New York Times)
  • A Fallen Arab Hero - Anthony Shadid
    The lack of enthusiasm for Saddam Hussein in the Arab world today provides a vivid contrast to attitudes in 1991. These days people are more likely to tick off Hussein's perceived sins: his despotic rule, his lack of principles, the blunder of his invasion of Kuwait. This is in contrast to Osama bin Laden, whose stature as a folk hero in the Arab world has seemed to grow the longer he has eluded U.S. forces. (Washington Post)
  • Talking Points:

    IDF Uncovers Bomb Factories in Nablus (IMRA/IDF)

    IDF forces operating in the Casbah in Nablus since 18 February 2003 are dismantling the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure. Recent discoveries include:

    • Pipe bombs on the second floor of a building, ready to be thrown out the window at IDF forces
    • Five boxes containing large amounts of TATP explosives as well as dozens of containers of various chemicals, bolts, and nails
    • A cache containing electronic devices used in laying explosive devices, written manuals on how to lay explosives, IDF uniforms, and masks
    • A crate containing grenades, an M-16 rifle, pistol, parts of rifles, double strung wire used to detonate explosive charges, detonators, night vision equipment, and uniforms
    • A weapons lab containing dozens of pipe bombs and British-made explosives.

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