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 4, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Saudi Fighters "Bound for Iraq" - Frank Gardner (BBC)
    Western intelligence sources say they have detected a small group of Saudi extremists trying to get into Iraq to attack coalition forces there. The men are pretending to be aid workers and may be hoping to cross the border from Iran.
    This week, four groups of Islamist fighters were reported to have left their hideouts in Afghanistan to join Iraqi forces. They, too, are thought to be trying to enter from Iran.
    And in Italy, an investigation by counter-terrorism officials has concluded that the country is being used as a staging-post for Muslim fighters heading for Iraq.

U.S. Bombed Palestinian Volunteers for Iraq - Walter Pincus (Washington Post)
    U.S. intelligence has confirmed that the Syrian bus struck by a U.S. bomb on March 23 near the Syrian-Iraqi border was carrying Palestinian and other volunteers into Iraq and not tourists leaving that country, as first reported.

U.S. Deploys Aegis Missile-Detecting Radar Ship Off Israel (Middle East Newsline)
    The U.S. has deployed an Aegis-class missile defense system along the Israeli coast in the eastern Mediterranean.
    Israeli officials said the Aegis-class cruiser contains the Spy-1 multi-function phased array radar system that can detect missile launches in Iraq.
    They said the cruiser has been linked to the Israeli-U.S. missile defense system and can interface with Arrow-2 and PAC-2 batteries.

Islamic School Textbooks in NY Sowing Seeds of Hatred - Larry Cohler-Esses (New York Daily News)
    Textbooks widely used in New York's Islamic schools contain passages that are blatantly anti-Semitic, condemning Jews as a people, and repeating old canards about the Jews wanting to kill Christ.
    The books, obtained during a three-month Daily News investigation that included visits to private Muslim schools, are rife with inaccuracies, sweeping condemnations of Jews and Christians, and triumphalist declarations of Islam's supremacy.

Garner to Invite Israel's Former Defense Minister to Iraq - Mustapha Karkouti (Gulf News-Dubai)
    General Jay Garner, named by the U.S. as "Iraq's ruler" once Baghdad falls, plans to invite former Israeli defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer to post-war Iraq.
    Ben-Eliezer, known also by his Arabic name Fuad - who immigrated from Iraq to Israel late in the 1940s, and Gen. Garner have known each other for many years.
    In October 2000, Garner put his name on a statement that "Israel had exercised remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence orchestrated by the leadership of the Palestinian Authority," part of a campaign organized by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

Jewish U.S. Soldiers in Iraq - Joe Berkofsky (JTA)
    Some 1,000 American Jewish men and women are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, a fraction of the estimated 20,000 Jews currently in the U.S. armed forces.

U.S. Rabbis Head to the Front - Lisa Keys (Forward)
    According to Rabbi David Lapp, director of the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, there are 28 rabbis on active duty in the military.
    Seven have been deployed to the Gulf: one in the Air Force, one in the Marines, one in the Navy, and four in the Army.
    There are about 50 rabbis in the reserves.

Useful Reference:

Prayers for the Safety of American Soldiers:

Union of American Hebrew Congregations

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Troops Control Baghdad Airport
    American commanders said more than 2,000 Iraqi troops were killed during the advance north. Special Operations forces holding a dam on the Euphrates near Karbala were fighting a running battle with Iraqis to hold the facility and prevent any attempt to blow the dam, which would flood and cut the Army's main supply route. One of Iraq's most prominent Shiite clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or edict, instructing Muslims not to interfere with allied forces seeking to defeat irregular troops loyal to Baghdad. (New York Times)
        Col. John Peabody, commander of the 3rd Infantry's Engineer Brigade, said U.S. troops "control the airport." Special Forces troops control key highways leading into Baghdad from the north and east, cutting off exit routes for government officials, and they are active in and around the city, hunting Hussein and other Iraqi leaders and seeking to sow confusion in the city's defenses. The paramilitary attacks that had bedeviled U.S. and British troops for most of the first two weeks of the war seemed to subside. After expecting a stiff fight from Republican Guard divisions defending Baghdad, U.S. forces were surprised to discover the Iraqi units mainly a shambles of scattered forces and abandoned equipment. (Washington Post)
  • Iraqi Man Risked All to Help Free American Soldier
    Mohammed, 32, went to visit his wife, a nurse at the hospital in Nasiriyah, when he noticed the ominous presence of security agents. A doctor friend told him an American soldier was being held there and took him to a first-floor emergency wing where he pointed through a glass interior window to a young woman lying in a bed, bandaged and covered in a white blanket. Inside the room with her was an imposing Iraqi man, clad all in black. Mohammed watched as the man slapped the American woman with his open palm, then again with the back of his hand.
        "I decided to go to the Americans and tell them about this," he said. Mohammed walked six miles out of town, approached some Marines with his hands raised, and said, "I have important information about woman soldier in hospital." The Americans sent him back to the hospital twice to gather more information, and he and his wife drew six maps by hand. In the end, a Special Operations force of Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and Air Force personnel rescued the injured Pfc. Jessica Lynch, one of the few times an American prisoner of war has been successfully rescued in the last half century. (Washington Post)
  • Bush Meets Resistance on Mideast Plan
    President Bush's latest bid for a Middle East peace deal is running into unexpected resistance from key allies in Congress. GOP congressional leaders are calling on the president and Secretary of State Powell to temper their support for a long-awaited Middle East peace plan designed to implement Bush's call in June for the creation of a Palestinian state within three years. Republicans and Democrats say they worry that the administration is undercutting Israel by embracing the plan. "There are many members of Congress concerned about this road map," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said Thursday.
        Sharon's government, and many in Congress, object to the non-negotiable nature of the document and to its demand that Israel and the Palestinians take parallel steps to move toward peace. Israel's position is that the Palestinians must prove they have stopped all terrorism before it is required to take any steps. GOP and Democratic congressional leaders are making clear they will oppose any peace deal that does not first require the Palestinians to change their government and end all terrorist activities before imposing significant requirements on Israel. Several key Republicans said Bush has privately assured them that he agrees with them. But they expressed concern that Powell and British Prime Minister Tony Blair might manage to soften his resolve. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Tells Europe It's Serious About Mideast Peace
    Secretary of State Colin Powell told European leaders in Brussels on Thursday that the U.S. was determined to carry out a long-awaited Middle East "road map" or peace plan but could not impose it on the Israelis and Palestinians. The U.S. intended to promote the plan "as it is" without amendments by either side, a U.S. official said. Powell added: "Please understand that it can't just be issued and magical things happen, and it's not going to be just imposed." (Reuters)
  • Rumsfeld: Syria Still Helping Iraq
    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Syria on Thursday of continuing to allow shipments of military equipment into Iraq in defiance of a U.S. warning. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Shiite Shrine Spared, Troops Hailed
    U.S. forces in Najaf, the central Iraqi city revered by the world's Shiite Muslims, have secured the gold-domed Ali mosque after three days of furious combat. Residents here seemed to sense Wednesday that something fundamental had shifted in their lives and that a grave threat to their religious heritage had fallen away. Thousands poured into the streets, cheering a Humvee convoy carrying a U.S. colonel, as the city's senior cleric, Said Ali Sistani, was freed from more than 15 years of house arrest imposed by Hussein's regime. (Los Angeles Times)
  • UK Tightens Israel Import Laws
    Britain is tightening import tax rules for goods from Israel that are suspected of coming from Israeli settlements in the territories, the British Treasury said Thursday. Under a trading agreement with the EU, Israel has been able to export goods to the UK at preferential rates of duty so long as they come from the "state of Israel" - and not the territories. "Customs and excise have now begun issuing duty demands to UK importers where there is reason to suspect that goods may have originated in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories," the economic secretary to the Treasury, John Healey, told parliament. (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • IDF Sweep in Tulkarm Blocks Islamic Jihad Car Bomb - Arnon Regular and Yossi Verter
    Troops on Friday morning trapped the Islamic Jihad commander in Tulkarm, Anwar Alyan, along with four Palestinians who had planned to smuggle a booby-trapped car into Israel. Earlier, the IDF had arrested the Tanzim commander in Tulkarm, Hadi Hamshadi. The army began the operation on Wednesday when soldiers gathered all men between the ages of 15 and 40 and transferred them to the Nur Shams camp, four kilometers to the east. At the completion of the operation Friday, the IDF moved out and allowed residents to return to their homes. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S.: After Iraq, We'll Deal with Other Radical Mideast Regimes - Aluf Benn
    A communique received in Jerusalem from the American administration this week says the U.S. is operating with strong resolution to neutralize the Iraqi threat to Israel. After the war, the message continued, the U.S. will deal with other radical regimes in the region - not necessarily by military means - to moderate their activities and fight terrorism. The American message also said Israel must play its part to help ease tensions between the U.S. and the Arab world by taking action with regard to settlements in the territories. However, the heads of the U.S. administration chose not to raise the issue of the settlements in their meetings with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Washington this week.
        The principal issue discussed in Shalom's meetings was the appointment of Abu Mazen. Washington, like Jerusalem, is not convinced of Abu Mazen's ability to take real power out of Arafat's hands. Nor does it know if Abu Mazen will be able to impose his will on the elements of power and the terror organizations on the Palestinian side. Shalom stressed Israel's demand that the process begin with steps by the Palestinians to prevent terror and implement government reforms. He made it clear that Israel was not prepared for a parallel process of mutual steps. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Protesters Shoot at Bush, Blair Photos
    Some 10,000 Palestinians thronged the streets of Jenin on Thursday, chanting for Saddam Hussein to bomb Tel Aviv, and shooting at photographs of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Saddam's Regime is a European Import - Bernard Lewis
    To blame the Saddam Hussein-type governments on Islamic and Arabic traditions is totally false. Those traditions led to the development of societies that, while not democratic in the sense of having elected bodies, produced limited governments. That is, governments limited by the holy law, limited in a practical sense by the existence of powerful groups in society, like the rural gentry and the military and religious establishments. These acted as constraints on the power of the government. The idea of absolute rule is totally alien to Islamic practice until, sad to say, modernization made it possible. What the process of modernization did was to strengthen the sovereign power, and place at the disposal of the sovereign power the whole modern apparatus of control and repression. (National Post-Canada)
  • An Army Sergeant's Ties to Saudi Arabia - Joel Mowbray
    Asan Akbar is the black Muslim Army sergeant who killed two and wounded 14 of his fellow soldiers when he hurled a grenade into a tent in Kuwait. Akbar spent a lot of time during his formative years at the Saudi-funded Bilal Islamic Center in south central Los Angeles, according to the center's imam, Abdul Karim Hasan. In college in 1989 at the University of California at Davis, Akbar spent much time at the Islamic Center of Davis, home to the UC-Davis chapter of the Muslim Students Association, a Saudi-created and -funded national organization with branches on campuses across the country. (National Review)
  • Among Arabs, Iraqi Resistance is Perceived as Victory - Donna Bryson
    In the Arab world, military victories have been so scarce in recent decades that Arabs celebrate the mere fact that Iraq hasn't lost yet and that its people haven't surrendered in the face of America's technological superiority. Mokhtar Ali is a teacher escorting his students touring a Cairo museum dedicated to what Egyptians like to think of as the Arabs' last military triumph. The war museum's centerpiece, a giant mural in the round, depicts the Oct. 6, 1973, assault, with 400 Egyptian tanks crossing the Suez Canal and Syrian forces pouring into the Golan Heights. Visitors listen to the narrator of a sound and light show proclaim the 1973 battle the "greatest victory in history." (AP)
  • Prospects for Democratization in a Post-Saddam Middle East - Patrick Clawson
    While democracy will not come to the post-Saddam Arab world the way it did to post-Soviet Eastern Europe, in a sudden wave made possible by a single transformative event, political liberalization could come to the Middle East after Saddam, especially if the U.S. government vigorously promotes it. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • What to Do about Palestinian Aspirations - Daniel Pipes
    If Israel's existence remains at issue, then the conflict will end only when the Palestinians finally and irrevocably accept the Jewish state. Seen this way, the main burden falls on the Palestinians. Also, if the Palestinians reject Israel's very existence, diplomacy is useless, even counterproductive, and Israel needs to convince the Palestinians to give up on their aggressive intentions; more bluntly, Israel would need to defeat the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • Anti-Semitism in the Post-Soviet States - Betsy Gidwitz
    In both Russia and Ukraine, the average age of the Jewish population is in the late 50s and increasing. The great majority of Jewish adults are Jewishly illiterate, intermarried, and indifferent to the Jewish religion. Violence against individual Jews, particularly those who are easily identifiable as Jews, has increased, and recent months have witnessed the emergence of anti-Semitism in mainstream publications. Few Russian Moslems have attacked Jews, unlike France, where most anti-Jewish violence seems to have been perpetrated by local Moslems, although the Russian population includes about 18 million Moslems. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Islam's Other Victims: Africa - Serge Trifkovic
    Moslem fanatics have been emboldened to demand sharia in all northern Nigerian states where they have a majority. Resulting clashes in mixed areas included two bouts of bloody riots, in February and May 2000, in which over two thousand people were killed. The only places in the world today where one can buy a black man as a slave for ready cash are in Moslem nations. (Front Page Magazine)
  • Observations:

    Road Map to Where? - Editorial (Washington Times)

    • The last two and a half years of Palestinian terrorist violence against Israel, most of it orchestrated by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat (who rejected then-President Clinton's July 2000 Camp David proposal for a two-state solution to end that conflict) make it clear that peace will require a wholesale change inside the leadership of the Palestinians. But, based on the details made public thus far, the road map now being advanced by Messrs. Bush and Blair is a flawed instrument for achieving this.
    • American Enterprise Institute scholar Joshua Muravchic seriously doubts that it is realistic to think that such a far-reaching, comprehensive blueprint for peace can possibly be implemented in just two years - especially when it will require a wholesale transformation of Palestinian leadership and a society where much of the body politic continues to support suicide bombings.
    • Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy is troubled by what he asserts is a "sham, even indecent, parallelism between Palestinian and Israeli behavior" embodied in the road map, which calls on each side, using virtually identical language, to "cease violence" against the other, as if blowing up a restaurant or commuter bus is the moral equivalent of a commando raid against a terrorist safe-house.
    • Both note that the road map calls on both sides to end incitement in the popular media - even though virtually every bit of the actual rhetoric comes from Palestinian media organs that answer to Mr. Arafat.
    • The road map - which seeks to transfer the mediating authority over the peace process from the U.S. to the EU and the UN - bumps up against some serious political realities. Over the years, the EU and the UN have issued statement after statement and passed one-sided resolution after resolution blaming Israel for everything that goes wrong in the peace process, even though the lion's share of the blame for its failure lies with Mr. Arafat and the Palestinians.

    See also Road Map to Peace...or Undue Pressure? - Two Views: (Forward)
              Marvin Lender        David Forman

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