Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 1, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Why the Iraqis Still Seem to Support Saddam - Essam Al-Ghalib (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    In Safwan, Iraq, men, women and children were playing it up for the TV cameras, chanting: "With our blood, with our souls, we will die for you Saddam."
    I took a young Iraqi man, 19, away from the cameras and asked him why they were all chanting.
    He responded: "There are people from the Baath Party reporting everything that goes on. There are cameras here recording our faces."
    "If the Americans were to withdraw and everything were to return to the way it was before, we want to make sure that we survive the massacre that would follow as the Baath go house to house killing anyone who voiced opposition to Saddam."
    "In public, we always pledge our allegiance to Saddam, but in our hearts we feel something else."
    I would hear different versions of that very quote several times over the next three days. The people of Iraq are terrified of Saddam Hussein.

"People Have to Know the Horrors I've Seen" - Valerie Grove (London Times)
    "Look into my eyes!" With these impassioned words, Freshta Raper mesmerized viewers during Question Time on BBC1 Thursday night as she confronted anti-war columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
    Her experiences, she told the program, included being imprisoned three times by Saddam´┐Żs regime, being burnt and blistered by a chemical bomb, and having 21 members of her family killed.
    "No human being on this Earth should have to witness what I have witnessed," she said.

Palestinian Ambulances Used for Terror - Sami Viskin (Lancet)
    Palestinian ambulances were repeatedly used to transport combatants and weapons, prompting the IDF to send an official protest to the International Red Cross on May 2, 2002.
    There is a fundamental difference between the civilian losses suffered by Israel and the Palestinians. Genuine, continuous efforts are being made by the IDF to keep Palestinian civilian losses to a minimum, at times at the cost of Israeli soldiers' lives.
    Deaths among unarmed Palestinian civilians, caught in the crossfire between fighting forces, were unintentional. By contrast, civilian losses in Israel are deliberate.
    This article includes photos of a bomb-vest found hidden inside a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Israel's New Foreign Minister Meets Top U.S. Officials
    Israel's new foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, met with top U.S. officials Monday including President Bush. Shalom said the pending confirmation of Abu Mazen as Palestinian prime minister opens a "new path" toward a renewed peace process, but efforts will go nowhere unless he launches an early crackdown against Palestinian terrorist factions. "I think that, if Abu Mazen will not take the right measures against terror when he comes into office, in his first or second month, he won't be able to do it after that," Shalom said. Earlier, White House security adviser Condoleezza Rice told the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC that the administration expects comments from the two parties on the roadmap, but said the document itself will not be renegotiated. (VOA News)
        See also Text of Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's Address to AIPAC (Foreign Ministry)
  • U.S. Teams Seek to Kill Iraqi Elite
    U.S. covert teams have been operating in urban areas in Iraq trying to kill members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle, including Baath Party officials and Special Republican Guard commanders, according to U.S. and other knowledgeable officials. The covert teams, from the CIA's paramilitary division and the military's special operations group, include snipers and demolition experts schooled in setting house and car bombs. They have reportedly killed more than a handful of individuals. (Washington Post)
  • French Rallies Against War Shift Focus to Israel
    The antiwar movement in France has turned anti-Israeli, as demonstrations against the war in Iraq have evolved into a battleground for French Arab Muslims to attack Israel and even Jews to protest Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. French Arab teenagers chanted slogans pledging war and martyrdom in the name of both Palestinians and Iraqis and against Israel. "We are all Palestinians, we are all Iraqis, we are all kamikazes!" chanted one group. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Iraq May be Hiding Weapons in Syria - Gideon Alon and Ze'ev Schiff
    Iraq may be hiding forbidden long-range surface-to-surface missiles and chemical and biological weapons in Syria, Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, head of the Military Intelligence research unit, told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. Iraq had been trying to increase the number of Scud missiles at its disposal. The missile cargo captured by the U.S. in late 2002 on a ship bound for Yemen from North Korea was in fact destined for Iraq. The Americans released the ship after Yemen promised to keep the missiles itself. In addition, the Syrians at one point tried to find Scud missiles for Iraq. (Ha'aretz)
  • Explosives Lab Discovered in Israeli Arab Town - Roni Singer
    Three Israeli Arab residents of Jaljulya have been arrested on suspicion that they ran an Islamic Jihad bomb-making lab. They are suspected of planning to carry out several terror attacks, including the detonation of a car bomb near a military base and a similar attack at a central bus station. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Honor Bomber of U.S. Troops - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp have named their main square after the suicide bomber who killed four U.S. Marines in Iraq on Saturday. "We want to honor the brave Iraqi officer who carried out the first suicide attack against the American and British occupiers," a senior Palestinian official in Jenin said Monday. "We hope there will be more suicide operations in the coming days." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Should Not Pay the Price for Iraq - Dore Gold
    The British prime minister's repeated need to refer in the same breath as Iraq to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and especially the diplomatic road map for resolving this conflict, is perplexing, for the present Iraqi conflict has absolutely nothing to do with Israel. It is as though the war on Iraq requires that the West now balance its military activities in an Arab state by taking a harder line on Israel. If the EU, Russia, and the UN failed adequately to confront Iraq's non-compliance with UN resolutions, why should Israel expect that they will provide any fair judgment of its security situation? If the quartet were to give the Palestinian leadership a passing grade in the war on terrorism, when it still has done nothing at all to root it out, the lives of Israeli citizens would again be put at risk. The best way to help the postwar peace process is to stop the diplomacy of linkage, which undermines the credibility of its advocates and their ability to play any role in an eventual Arab-Israeli peace settlement. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Blair is Fading Fast - Douglas Davis
    Tony Blair has very specific problems in his own Labour Party. His alliance with the Bush administration and his acquiescence in a war without a UN mandate have combined to produce a hemorrhage in the credibility of his leadership. So Blair is gambling everything on persuading the Americans to throw their full weight behind the peace process by publishing the road map for a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Blair knows that taking shots at Israel is a cost-free exercise in diplomatic terms and that he will earn a reprieve, albeit brief, from his party if he can be seen to produce a tangible dividend for his unblinking support of Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iraq War May Not be Good for the Jews - Amiram Barkat
    Leaders of American Jewish organizations are increasingly concerned the U.S. "debt" to its allies in Europe will be repaid at Israel's expense, sooner than Jerusalem would even like to think about. "Why, at the height of a war in Iraq, does the road map have to be put on the table?" asks David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. (Ha'aretz)
  • Coalition Forces and Israel Face Similar Terrorist Challenges - Moshe Arens
    Coalition forces in Iraq are coming up against the same kind of problems that the IDF has faced in combating Palestinian terrorists. Television coverage of British troops searching for Baath activists in Basra could have been mistaken for pictures of the IDF conducting searches in Tulkarm. Now, they are also having to deal with suicide bombers and car bombs. Those who are hoping that after Iraq, Israel will come under pressure from the administration in Washington to make concessions to Arafat, may be in for a disappointment. The experience in Iraq is likely to bring about a better understanding, and maybe even sympathy, for Israel engaged in a battle against Palestinian terror, as well as the recognition that no progress can be made toward a reconciliation with the Palestinians until this terrorism has been subdued. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Sharon: Israel is Already Talking with the Palestinians - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)

    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday:

    • Israel is not waiting passively for the U.S. road map and is already conducting indirect talks with the Palestinians.
    • Israel would do nothing to compromise its security. "On this matter, we have nothing to depend on other than ourselves. Israel will not pay for the war in Iraq with its security interests."
    • Israel will support a road map that reflects the principles of President Bush's speech of last June. The prime minister said he is confident that the Americans will give serious attention to the reservations Jerusalem has expressed about the latest draft of the road map.
    • "Israel will not agree to having the Quartet or Arab countries monitor the progress of the road map" because of their unbalanced approach to the conflict.
    • The appointment of Abu Mazen as Palestinian prime minister would be judged according to the authority he wields and his ability to bring about the required changes in the PA. For Abu Mazen to be successful, Arafat will need to be removed from any position of power, and the sooner, the better.

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