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 21, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Prepares for Strike by Hizballah - Tony Allen-Mills (London Times)
    American military planners have been told to draw up options for possible retaliatory action against Hizballah and other Middle Eastern terrorist groups in the event of suicide attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, according to official sources in Washington.
    Intelligence specialists have concluded that the greatest threat to U.S. military bases in Iraq may come from groups operating out of Syria.
    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to warn Damascus during his upcoming visit that Washington will no longer tolerate the use of Syrian-controlled territory as a “safe haven” for terror groups.

The Ethical Code of the Israeli Army - David B. Green (Boston Globe)
    The IDF, unlike the U.S. military, is guided by a single, overarching ethical code - one that existed orally for most of the army's history, but which was formalized and set to paper in the mid-1990s, and rewritten in concise, 10-point form two years ago.
    Though simple in language, ''The Spirit of the IDF'' borrows from a multiplicity of sources - IDF tradition, Israeli and Jewish law, and international conventions - all drawn together with the assistance of some of the country's leading moral philosophers.
    At the heart of the IDF code is the concept of ''purity of arms,'' which requires that soldiers be willing to put their own lives at stake to avoid harming noncombatants and that they respond to all attacks and threats with proportional force.

Jewish GIs in Iraq
- T. Trent Gegax (Newsweek)
    Bret Turpin of the Fourth Infantry Division observed Passover this year in Iraq. Pfc. Turpin opted for "No Pref" stamped on his dog tags rather than "Jewish," over concern about what would happen if he got captured.
    Pfc. Joe Kashnow, an Orthodox Jew from Baltimore, chooses not to wear his yarmulke in the region - the better to avoid hostility, he says.

Death of Jewish Marine in Iraq Leads to Outpouring of Sympathy - Joe Berkofsky (JTA)
    The death of Corporal Mark Asher Evnin, 21, of the 1st Marine Division, the first known Jewish casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom, opened an emotional outpouring from Jews around the world.
    Evnin's mother, Mindy, asked that anyone wishing to make a contribution to a Jewish cause in her son's name send a donation either to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem or to Israel's Magen David Adom emergency medical service.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Iraqi Scientist: Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War
    An Iraqi scientist has told an American military team hunting for unconventional weapons in Iraq that chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment were destroyed only days before the war began, team members said. The scientist led Americans to a buried supply of material that proved to be the building blocks of illegal weapons. He also said that Iraq had secretly sent unconventional weapons and technology to Syria, and was cooperating with al Qaeda. He said Iraq had been focusing its efforts on research and development projects that are virtually impervious to detection. (New York Times)
  • Bush Says Syria's "Getting the Message" on Iraq
    President Bush said Sunday, "There's some positive signs" that Syria is "getting the message that they should not harbor Baath Party officials, high ranking Iraqi officials." Hours after Bush spoke, a spokesman in London for the Iraqi National Congress said Saddam's son-in-law, Jamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al-Tikriti, had surrendered in Baghdad after previously leaving Syria. One of Saddam's top bodyguards, who also had been in Syria, was also arrested Sunday in Baghdad. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Lawmakers Take Aim at Syrians
    When Congress returns at the end of the month, lawmakers in both parties say they will renew a push for economic and diplomatic penalties against Syria. Under the House proposal, Syria would be held accountable for any attacks committed by Hizballah, and would be found in violation of UN Security Council resolutions because of its occupation of Lebanon. The measure also states that Syria's "acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security interests of the United States." The proposal would prohibit U.S. exports to Syria other than food and medicine, halt American investment, freeze Syrian assets in the U.S., restrict Syrian diplomats, and reduce diplomatic contacts between the U.S. and Syria. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • IDF Photographer Killed in Rafah - Margot Dudkevitch
    IDF photographer Sgt. Lior Ziv, 19, was killed and three other soldiers were wounded Sunday by Palestinian gunfire in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Minutes before being shot by a Palestinian sniper, Ziv had photographed the pile of grenades, ammunition, and other weapons found in the home of a local Hamas commander. According to reports, five Palestinians were killed in the IDF operation and 40 were wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Forces Operate in Rafah (IDF)
  • Qassam Rockets Hit Apartment Building in Sderot, 1 Hurt
    Two Qassam rockets launched by Palestinians landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot Sunday, with one hitting the roof of a building and starting a fire. More than 50 such rockets have hit the town since the start of the year. (Ha'aretz)
  • Brinkmanship in Ramallah - Danny Rubinstein
    The war of nerves between Yasser Arafat and his newly appointed prime minister, Abu Mazen, continued Sunday over Abu Mazen's insistence on naming Mohammed Dahlan as head of the security services in a new Palestinian Authority government. For Arafat, it is a matter of political survival, since the appointment of a prime minister with real powers is commonly accepted to mean that Arafat has been deposed from the leadership position he has held for the last three decades. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Arafat Begins Exploring Replacements for Abu Mazen (IDF Radio)
  • Hamas, Fatah Warn Abu Mazen Against Crackdown - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The armed wings of Fatah and Hamas on Saturday warned PA prime minister-designate Abu Mazen against trying to crack down on the two groups, following reports that he plans to set up a special security force to fight Fatah and Hamas terrorists. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF is Preparing for a Turnaround in the Territories - Alex Fishman
    At a recent meeting of the senior command of the Israeli army, the military leadership was presented with encouraging data about how the IDF has blunted the terrorist capabilities of the Palestinians. For example, in the first quarter of 2002, from January to March, over 40 major lethal attacks on Israel were executed. In contrast, in the first quarter of 2003, only 5 major lethal attacks were executed. The presentation emphasized the fact that the offensive operations of the IDF had reduced the terrorists' capabilities. In light of this data, there is a feeling among the military leadership that the day is not far off when it will be possible to declare that Palestinian terrorism has been defeated. (Yediot Ahronot)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Fall of the House of Saud - Robert Baer
    Saudi Arabia is ruled by a royal family that is deeply corrupt, increasingly dysfunctional, and, to a surprising extent, complicit in the support of international terrorism. This veteran former CIA operative in the Middle East predicts that the House of Saud is on the verge of collapse - and if it falls, the economic and political effects on the world order could be calamitous. (Atlantic Monthly)
        "The royal family continues to exhaust the Saudi treasury, buying more and more arms and funnelling more and more 'charity' money to the jihadists, all in a desperate and self-destructive effort to protect itself....Sometime soon, one way or another, the House of Saud is coming down." (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Must Iraq Stay Whole? - Ralph Peters
    Traditional wisdom insists that Iraq must remain in one piece. But what if some Iraqis prefer to live apart from others who slaughtered their families? The key lesson of Yugoslavia was that no amount of diplomatic pressure, bribes in aid, or peacekeeping forces can vanquish the desire of the oppressed to reclaim their independence and identity. We live in an age of breakdown, of the dissolution of artificial states whose borders were imposed arbitrarily nearly a century ago by European diplomats. (Washington Post)
        See also Thinking Out of the Iraqi Box - Michael Oren
    Would it really be so terrible if Iraq were to divide into three separate states - a Kurdish state in the north; a Sunni state in the center; and a Shi'ite state in the south? (Jerusalem Post)
  • Teaching the Middle East a Lesson - James Schlesinger
    The rapid collapse of what many had expected to be a long and stout-hearted resistance has altered the tone in the Arab world. The many-heralded "catastrophes" did not take place. There was no "explosion" in the Middle East, no widespread unrest immediately upsetting governments, no endless urban warfare, no heavy casualties. The same people who said that an attack without an additional UN resolution would be the end of the UN are now desperately scrambling to refurbish and reestablish the role and the credibility of the UN - and, they hope, its ability to act as a constraint on American power. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    It's Time to Abolish the Quartet - Martin Peretz (Ha'aretz)

    • The Quartet is a work of the antebellum period - the era before the U.S. tried unsuccessfully to enlist the Europeans, the Russians, and the UN in its venture against Saddam Hussein's charnel house.
    • The U.S. has no great interest in the presence of these parties in the negotiations that it hopes to convene for another go at peace between Israel and Palestinians. And Israel has no interest at all being euchred and then judged by these, its standing impugners.
    • The EU, the UN, and Russia have historically been at odds with Israel, whether Labor was in power or Likud. Moscow is the place where the now expired Iraqis, the Syrians, and the Iranians routinely did their military shopping. There are times when the essential business of the UN seems to be the chastisement of Israel, and that time is almost always. The EU's hazy relevance to the Israeli-Arab conflict is a consequence only of its insistence that it is relevant. Its eminences have been Arafat's ready emissaries, and in this they have been arrayed against those Palestinians who did not want the terror to begin or, at least, arrived at the point where they wanted it to end.
    • Israel ought to insist that the Quartet dissolve. The stakes are too high, for both Israelis and Palestinians, to have these jivers play. This should be a master class run by the U.S.

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