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 11, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Terror Groups "Shocked and Awed' by Fall of Saddam - Erik Schechter (Jerusalem Post)
    The fall of the Baathist regime in Iraq has hurt both the morale and organizational ability of Palestinian terror groups, according to ex-intelligence agents.
    "This is a huge blow to the prestige of those who backed Saddam Hussein," said Reuven Merhav, a former Mossad official.
    While most security experts agree that, at least in the short-run, groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad will take a low profile, MK Ehud Yatom, a former senior Shin Bet official, predicted that the respite from major acts of violence will last for just three or four weeks.
    "Then they will strike out to prove that they have not been defeated," he said.

Experts: Saddam's Fall Alters Israel's Strategic Situation - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    From depriving the families of Palestinian suicide bombers of a $10,000 dividend, to placing Syria in a geographic vice, to removing the threat of a hostile eastern front, diplomatic officials and experts believe Saddam Hussein's fall will have immediate strategic ramifications for Israel.
    "Today the Arab countries will realize more than ever that Israel has the strongest ally in the world, and this will have an impact on our standing in the region," said former Foreign Ministry director-general Eitan Bentsur.
    One Foreign Ministry official said one of the likely U.S. demands of Syria now will be to rein in Hizballah.
    Another may be to close the 14 terrorist organization headquarters located in Damascus, which Israeli security officials say continue to give directives and stir up trouble in Gaza.

Secret Shipments from Baghdad to Damascus - Uri Dan (Jerusalem Post)
    Though the inevitable American victory in Baghdad has delivered a fatal blow to international terrorism, this is not the end of the campaign.
    At the end of 2002, Israeli military intelligence discovered that major figures in the regimes of Iraq and Damascus were involved in secret shipments of unidentified materials from Baghdad to Damascus, the aim being to hide them in Syria.
    Since Hans Blix and his inspection team were then seeking weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Israelis and the Americans justifiably suspected that these were shipments of chemical and biological weapons.

U.S. Issues List of 50 Most-Wanted Leaders - Walter Pincus and Dana Priest (Washington Post)
    Of the 50 most-wanted Iraqi leaders, only three have been killed and none have been captured, senior administration officials said.

The News We Kept to Ourselves - Eason Jordan (New York Times)
    Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders.
    Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard - awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized lives.
    I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected.
    A few months later Uday lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad, where they were soon killed.
    An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss.
    One senior official of the Information Ministry has long been missing all his fingernails.

How the War Changed the Media - Martin Walker (UPI)
    Something fundamental has happened to the British and U.S. media during this war.
    Those who have spent time on the front lines with the coalition troops, whether embedded with individual units or traveling independently through liberated Iraq, have learned to love the military.
    We saw how hard they tried to avoid civilian casualties, and the risks they took by their self-restraint.
    We began to understand their quiet pride in their skills, and the plain decency of the men and women who follow the profession of arms.

SLU Nurses Partner with Israel for Anti-Terrorism Training - Tina Hesman (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
    When St. Louis University nurses wanted to know how to handle the aftermath of a terrorist attack, they called on nurses in Israel.
    The result was a whirlwind trip to Jerusalem, the first online anti-terrorism training course for nurses in the U.S., and a partnership between a Jesuit university and Jewish teaching hospital.
    Now, 55 nurses from 16 states and Mexico are enrolled in the online program.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Mosul Falls to Kurdish, U.S. Forces
    The northern city of Mosul fell into Kurdish and U.S. hands Friday with the surrender of an entire corps of the Iraqi army, touching off looting and celebrations in the streets. (AP/Washington Post)
        To avert a potential clash with Turkey, Bush administration officials said American forces would soon take control of the northern town of Kirkuk from the Kurds. In eastern Iraq near the town of Kut, U.S. marines said they were facing a force of up to several thousand Islamic fighters from various Arab countries. In Baghdad, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint, seriously wounding four Marines. Hussein loyalists still held broad stretches of the capital and its suburbs. On Wednesday, a group of young Iraqis in Basra, seething over torture and repression they said they had suffered, captured and killed seven Baath party members. (New York Times)
  • Marines Battle Foreign Arabs at Baghdad Mosque
    U.S. Marines battled non-Iraqi Arabs at the Imam Mosque in northern Baghdad Thursday in some of the most intense fighting of the war. Officers said about 200 men attacked the Marines and most were killed; they appeared to be Syrian or Jordanian. One Marine was killed and 22 were injured in the fighting. (Washington Post)
  • Heavy Fighting for Desert Base at Syria Border
    Out of sight of television cameras, some of the heaviest fighting in Iraq has been raging for nearly three weeks near the town of Qaim on the Syrian border, where American Green Berets and British commandos have been attacking units of Iraq's Special Republican Guard and Special Security Services. The Qaim area, 200 miles northwest of Baghdad along the route from the Iraqi capital to Syria, was a launching point for Iraqi ballistic missile attacks during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. It was also identified by American officials as a possible site for any effort to revive Iraq's nuclear weapons program. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Again Warns Syria
    Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz warned Thursday that the U.S. might adopt a tougher policy toward Syria if it continues to harbor terrorists and provides a haven for Iraqi war criminals. Wolfowitz told the Senate Armed Services Committee that, "In recent days the Syrians have been shipping killers into Iraq to try to kill Americans. We don't welcome that." He added: "If they continue, then we need to think about what our policy is with respect to a country that harbors terrorists or harbors war criminals, or was in recent times shipping things to Iraq." For now, Wolfowitz said, "by calling attention to it we hope that in fact that may be enough to get them to stop." (Washington Post)
        See also Syria Calls for End of Iraq "Occupation"
        Syria "urges the international community to exert every possible effort to put an end to the occupation and manage the catastrophic situation that has resulted from the aggression," the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday. (Reuters)
  • Crowd Kills Two Islamic Clerics in Iraq
    A furious crowd hacked to death two clerics during a melee Thursday at one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines, witnesses said, at a meeting meant to serve as a model for reconciliation in post-Saddam Iraq. One of the clerics killed, Haider al-Kadar, was a widely hated loyalist of Saddam Hussein, part of the Iraqi leader's ministry of religion. The other was Abdul Majid al-Khoei, a high-ranking Shiite cleric and son of one of the religion's most prominent ayatollahs, who was persecuted by Saddam. Al-Khoei had urged cooperation with U.S. troops. It appeared that when the two men appeared at the shrine, members of another faction loyal to a different mullah, Mohammed Baqer al-Sadr, were furious at al-Kadar's presence. Both men were rushed by the crowd and hacked to death with swords and knives. (New York Times)
  • Professor Denied Bail in Terrorism Case
    Palestinian-born professor Sami al-Arian will remain jailed without bond until his trial on charges that he led a terrorist organization's U.S. operations and helped its members enter the country, a federal judge in Tampa ruled Thursday. The former University of South Florida computer engineering professor, and co-defendant Sameeh Hammoudeh, must remain jailed because each poses a danger and a flight risk, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo ruled. "These two, based on the government's strong presentation, repeatedly assisted, promoted, or managed the [Palestinian Islamic Jihad], an organization which indiscriminately murders to achieve its goals," Pizzo wrote. The defendants were indicted on Feb. 20 on racketeering, conspiracy, and other charges. Prosecutors say al-Arian ran the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's U.S. operations. The government says the group is responsible for 100 murders in Israel and its territories. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Islamic Jihad Commander Killed in IAF Missile Attack - Margot Dudkevitch
    Senior Islamic Jihad commander and bomb maker Mahmoud Zatma, 30, was killed and 10 Palestinians were wounded when a missile fired by an IAF Apache helicopter hit the car he was driving in Gaza City on Wednesday. Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad, coordinator of government activities in the territories, said that now was the time to crack down hard on terrorists and bring an end to the terror. Failure to do so will prevent chances of peace negotiations with the Palestinians in the future as the new Palestinian leadership will not be able to combat the terror. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jerusalem: Bush and Sharon See Eye to Eye on Everything - Aluf Benn
    Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said Thursday that despite the collapse of the regime of Saddam Hussein, "the day after" is still not here, and it is still early to talk about diverting the attention of the U.S. from the war effort in Iraq to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Americans are still busy with bringing under their control the remainder of Iraq and are waiting to see if Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen is going to meet international expectations and shake the shadow of Arafat.
        In Jerusalem the assessment has been that the road map would be postponed until after the war in Iraq. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is pushing for the implementation of the road map - diplomatic lingo for dictating a solution to Sharon. Blair convinced Bush to do something in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and they are trying to decide how to act. According to Jerusalem, Bush has no political interest in a squabble with Sharon on the eve of elections in 2004 and does not see how pressure will have any results. Bush is also personally fond of Sharon and shares a common strategy with him. According to the sources, there is no real dispute between Israel and the U.S., and the administration will not pressure Israel into making concessions while there is ongoing terrorism. (Ha'aretz)
  • Renewed Political Process a Victory for Israel - Amir Oren
    There appears to be a conditioned reflex that as the Americans finish their mission in Iraq, they will turn to Israel and plant the "road map" on the Palestinians and us. True, say the moderates in the IDF, the road map is close to its official launch, but it should not be seen as a defeat, rather a great success. This is exactly what the IDF was fighting for - a renewal of the political process with a new Palestinian leadership that has shaken off terror and will fight against it. Israel wanted Abu Mazen appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, and got him. It waited for the American campaign in Iraq, and has the right to be satisfied with the American moves and their results. This is the genesis of a new regional order. Under these circumstances, the renewed political process is precisely the necessary achievement, part of the change, and not a remnant of the destroyed world of Saddam and Arafat. Therefore, this is an important victory for Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Residents Begin Move into New East Jerusalem Jewish Neighborhood - Etgar Lefkovits
    In the new Jewish neighborhood of Ma'aleh Hazeitim (Olive Hill), just down the road from the ancient Jewish cemetery at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the first 35 apartments have been completed and the first residents moved in last week. When the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem asked Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski to halt the occupancy of the building, last Thursday, Lupolianski responded that the occupants had all the requisite approvals. Residents say that the relationships with their Arab neighbors are in fact good. "We were living down the street from the complex for the past five-and-half years, 20 meters away," said apartment owner Aryeh King. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Giving Peace a Chance - Christopher Hitchens
    So it turns out that all the slogans of the anti-war movement were right after all. And their demands were just. "No War on Iraq," they said - and there wasn't a war on Iraq. Indeed, there was barely a "war" at all. "No Blood for Oil," they cried, and the oil wealth of Iraq has been duly rescued from attempted sabotage with scarcely a drop spilled. The Arab street did finally detonate. You can see the Baghdad and Basra and Karbala streets filling up like anything, just by snapping on your television. We were told that Baghdad would become another Stalingrad - which it has. Just as in Stalingrad in 1953, all the statues and portraits of the heroic leader have been torn down. (Slate)
  • Jubilant V-I Day - William Safire
    Because the U.S. believed that we would get Turkey's cooperation against Saddam, we refused to arm the Kurds, even though they were under attack from terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. When we launched our invasion, the 70,000 Kurdish pesh merga troops volunteered to serve in the coalition under the command of our small airborne units in the north. The Kurds were and still are the only indigenous force fighting against Saddam's regime. (New York Times)
  • Let Rumsfeld Rebuild Iraq - Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
    Will President Bush entrust the realization of the promise of a liberated Iraq to those whose military successes have nearly brought it to fruition in just over a fortnight's time? Or will he agree to turn this hugely important task over to those who either intentionally sought to forestall such an outcome, or who recommended policies that very nearly had that effect? (National Post-Canada)
  • A Map to National Disaster - Uzi Landau
    If the Quartet's road map is accepted, Yasser Arafat will win the greatest victory of his life. Despite the blatant violation of all his commitments in the Oslo agreements and his responsibility for the murder of more than 1,000 Israelis, he will get a state, "independent, viable, sovereign with maximum territorial contiguity," and without negotiation. That state is the main goal of the map, resulting from a childish belief on the part of the Quartet that the mere creation of the state will guarantee peace. The road map does not express the "Bush vision" as expressed last June. It is not a recipe for peace, but for national disaster. In its wake the Palestinians will get all the concessions we shower on them, organize themselves with money they get from the world and us, rebuild their terror units, and attack us at the moment convenient for them. As far as Israel is concerned, there are two inviolate conditions: public recognition of Israel's right to exist, including an end to the incitement educating toward our destruction in the Palestinian school system and inculcating peace as a value from an early age, and Palestinian relinquishment of their demand for the refugees to return to Israel. (Ha'aretz)

    The Fall of Baghdad

    Views from the Arab World:

  • Arab World Reels as TV Reveals '"Lies" - Paul Martin
    "We are all in shock," Abu Dhabi Television's reporter told his viewers from Baghdad's streets. "How did things come to such an end? How did U.S. tanks enter the center of the city? Where is the resistance? How come Baghdad falls so easily?" "We thought that Baghdad would be the impregnable fortress of Iraq," wrote Samir Ragab, chief editor of the Egyptian government daily Al Gumhurriya. (Washington Times)
  • Muslims Shamed by Quick Defeat - Anwar Iqbal
    There is no question that the fall of Baghdad has been a blow to Arab and Muslim pride. The Arab and the Islamic worlds today stand defeated, and the sense of humiliation will be there for a long time. Many Muslims and Arabs wanted the U.S.-led coalition to beat Saddam. But they also wanted the Iraqis to put up a better fight. They were waiting for the battle of Baghdad that Saddam had promised. (UPI/Washington Times)
  • Palestinians Vow to Step Up Attacks after Saddam's Fall - Khalid Abu Toameh
    Leaders of various Palestinian groups said Thursday they will escalate the fight against Israel following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. The threats came as many Palestinians were saying they still don't understand what went wrong in Baghdad. In some places, Palestinians were seen removing posters of Saddam Hussein from public buildings. "There's a big mystery and a big secret surrounding the Iraqi surrender to the U.S., Britain, and Israel," said Fuad Abu Hijleh, a Palestinian political analyst. "We will wait to see what really happened there." A cartoon in the PA's daily Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda depicted an Arab man, with tears streaming from his eyes, hoisting a black flag that carries the label Baghdad. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Against the Occupation - Editorial
    For the Iraqi people to be rid of a tyrant only then to be vulnerable to exploitation by the conservative Zionist junta who have taken over the White House is merely for them to be thrown from the frying pan into the fire. Now those who were against the war must double their protests against an American occupation. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

    Views from the West:

  • Victory in the 21-Day War - Stephen Farrell
    "Yankee bastard," yelled the young British peacenik at the first American tank to roll up to the Palestine Hotel. "Go home." She picked a man who had waited for 576 days to give his answer. Marine First Lieutenant Tim McLaughlin leant from the turret of his Abrams tank and screamed back: "I was at the Pentagon September 11. My co-workers died." Lieutenant McLaughlin had with him a Stars and Stripes that he had been given at the Pentagon that fateful day. In Baghdad's Paradise Square, he handed the flag to Corporal Edward Chin [son of Burmese-American immigrants - CNN], who climbed a giant statue of Saddam and draped it over the deposed dictator's head. (London Times)
  • The Arab Opportunity - Editorial
    This week's scenes from Baghdad have had the effect of cutting through all the Arab illusions and invalidating all the conventional rhetoric, at least for a moment. Whether or not they acknowledge it, Arabs everywhere now watch anxiously, maybe even hopefully, to see what the U.S. will do. Will it rush to install an administration of exiles and other favorites, which will then be pressed to adopt policies most Iraqis would likely reject - such as the immediate recognition of Israel? (Washington Post)
  • U.S. General's Gamble Wins Baghdad
    "We thought they were kidding when the battalion commander said we're going to drive tanks into the middle of Baghdad," marveled Captain Jason Conroy, one of the members of Maj.-Gen. Buford Blount III's Third Infantry Division. John Pike, a military specialist at Global, called the attack "the 'thunder-run' tactic - basically taking the city all at once rather than trying to take it one room at a time." "They appear to have correctly conceptualized that the assault on Baghdad was essentially a coup d'etat. When you have a coup, you basically grab the airport, grab the main government buildings downtown, grab the TV station, claim that you're in charge, and dare anyone to dispute you." In just three days, Gen. Blount drove his 19,000-strong mechanized infantry division from the Kuwaiti border to within 100 km of Baghdad. Pentagon officials hailed it as the longest and fastest armor attack in military history. (National Post-Canada)
  • From Quagmire to Rout - Margaret Wente
    The war began as a cakewalk, turned into a quagmire, and ended as a rout. But in military terms it scarcely could be called a war at all. It was a collapse. Saddam's defenses proved to be as hollow as the statue that toppled in the square. "The U.S. advance on Baghdad is something that military historians and academics will pore over in great detail for many years to come," British Air Marshal Brian Burridge told MSNBC. "They will examine the dexterity, the audacity, and the sheer brilliance of how the U.S. put their plan into effect." (Toronto Globe & Mail)
  • A New Age of Warfare - Ralph Peters
    Saddam had a classic 20th-century, industrial-age war plan. But our forces fought a 21st-century, post-industrial war. Governments and militaries around the world just learned: Don't fight the United States. Period. This stunning war did more to foster peace than a hundred treaties could begin to do. Saddam's principles were: Delay your enemy, attrit his forces, trade space for time, harass his supply lines, and husband your best forces for a mighty counterattack. Yet the Iraqis - and the Russian advisers who helped plan their defense - don't seem to have advanced beyond mid-Cold War thinking. They clearly had no sense of the battlefield awareness, speed, precision, and tactical ferocity of America's 21st century forces. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    What Must be Done to Complete a Great Victory - Gen. Wesley Clark (London Times)

    • Effective power so clearly displayed always shocks and stuns. Many Gulf states will hustle to praise their liberation from a sense of insecurity they were previously loath even to express. Egypt and Saudi Arabia will move slightly but perceptibly towards Western standards of human rights. Al Qaeda, Hizballah, and others will strive to mobilize their recruiting to offset the Arab defeat in Baghdad.
    • The operation in Iraq will also serve as a launching pad for further diplomatic overtures, pressures, and even military actions against others in the region who have supported terrorism and garnered weapons of mass destruction. Don' look for stability as a Western goal. Governments in Syria and Iran will be put on notice - indeed, may have been already - that they are "next" if they fail to comply with Washington's concerns.
    • Whatever the brief prewar announcement about the "road map," this issue is far from settled in Washington, and is unlikely to achieve any real momentum until the threats to Israel's northern borders are resolved. And that is an added pressure to lean on Bashir Assad and the ayatollahs in Iran.
    • Remember, this was all about weapons of mass destruction. They haven't yet been found. It was to continue the struggle against terror, bring democracy to Iraq, and create positive change in the Middle East. None of that is begun, much less completed. So don't demobilize yet. There's a lot yet to be done, and not only by the diplomats.

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