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 25, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Hunting Saddam's Hidden Treasure - Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
    U.S. investigators are seeking to locate millions of dollars worth of Iraqi wealth stolen by Saddam - money the U.S. hopes to spend on rebuilding Iraq.
    Administration officials suspect large sums of illicit Iraqi money have moved through Syria, which for years helped Saddam's government evade UN sanctions by operating a black market in Iraqi oil.
    International oil traders have also talked of illicit kickbacks paid to secret bank accounts in Jordan. U.S. officials note that Amman allowed Iraq's biggest financial institution, the Rafidain Bank, to continue operating despite sanctions.
    Investigators believe Saddam and other family members still have large sums squirreled away in financial havens like Switzerland and the Far East.

Australians Capture Bulk of Iraqi Air Force - Pamela Sampson (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
    The Al Asad airfield in the western Iraqi desert, captured by the Australian Special Air Service Regiment earlier this month, housed three fighter squadrons - the bulk of the Iraqi air force.
    The Australians have so far found 57 fighter aircraft, mostly Soviet-era MiGs but also three advanced MiG 25 Foxbats, the fastest combat aircraft today.
    Helicopters, radar systems, 18 million pounds of explosives, and a French-made Roland anti-aircraft missile system were also found.
    The MiGs escaped detection during the coalition bombing campaign. Some were buried, others were parked in date palm tree groves or tucked in dried out riverbeds and covered with camouflage sheets.

Asia Refiners Lining Up for Iraqi Oil - Wing-Gar Cheng (Bloomberg News/International Herald Tribune)
    Asian oil refiners are lining up to buy Iraqi crude, which may start flowing abroad again within weeks, according to a poll of six refiners and trading companies.
    "Basra Light is a very good crude.... Everyone would like to grab it," said Amit Mahajan, an independent oil analyst in Bombay.
    Iraq pumped an average 2.48 million barrels a day of crude oil in February, before the war. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has said Iraq may be able to pump as much as 3 million barrels of oil a day by the end of this year, and generate annual revenue of $20 billion.
    With less likelihood of disruption, oil companies in Japan, China, India, and South Korea hope to get a bigger share of those exports.

Iran Frees Remaining Jews Jailed as Spies (AP/Washington Post)
    Iran has freed the last five Iranian Jews imprisoned for espionage three years ago, the Iranian government said Thursday.
    They are the remainder of a group of 10 Jews sentenced for spying for Israel in 2000.

Palestinian Terrorist Exile Homeless in Dublin - Marese McDonagh (Independent-UK)
    Jihad Jara, one of 13 Palestinians taken in by six European countries in a deal to end the protracted siege at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity and described by Israel as a senior terrorist, says he has been homeless for five months and has had to sleep in parks because Dublin failed to keep its promise of accommodation.
    Irish authorities said Jara, one of two Palestinians who went to Ireland, would be allowed to move to another country on 22 May.
    Three Palestinians exiled to Italy have been given new identities.

Key Links

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Powell to Arab World: No Mideast Peace without End to Terrorism
    Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a telecast to the Arab world on Lebanese television, said Thursday, "Unless terrorism and violence stops, then it's almost impossible to get going on any process toward peace." In a separate interview with al-Arabiya television in Dubai, Powell said he hoped Abu Mazen, the designated Palestinian prime minister, and Muhammad Dahlan, the designated security chief, "will work hard to end the violence, end the terrorism." That, Powell said, "will create conditions that will allow us to go forward." (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Bush on Arafat and Abu Mazen
    In an interview with Tom Brokaw of NBC News, President Bush said: "I looked at the history of Mr. Arafat. Now, I saw what he did to President Clinton. There was no need to spend capital, unless you had an interlocutor who could deliver the Palestinian people toward peace. And I believe Abu Mazen is a man dedicated to peace, and I look forward to working with him for the two-state solution." (New York Times)
  • Bush Pressed to Limit Role of EU, UN in "Road Map"
    A majority in Congress has signed onto a lobbying campaign to limit the oversight role of Washington's three Quartet peace plan partners - the EU, UN, and Russia - seen by many of Israel's supporters as biased in favor of the Palestinians. Already 83 senators and 278 members of the House of Representatives have signed letters objecting to efforts to pressure Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to make concessions until the Palestinians do more to fight terrorism, according to the pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC.
        The lawmakers are warning Bush against giving the three other Quartet members a "meaningful role" in monitoring the peace plan. "There is growing disdain for those other parties based on Iraq," said one senior congressional aide. The White House has not spelled out what role its Quartet partners would play going forward, but has suggested it would be limited. "The Quartet was producing the road map," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, adding, "The future of the road map is up to Israel and the Palestinians. Those are the parties that will determine the acceptance of the road map." (Reuters)
        See also Senators, Congressmen Put Pro-Israel Stance in Writing - Nathan Guttman (Ha'aretz)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Sharon Shuns Foreign Officials Who Meet Arafat - Herb Keinon
    A new policy of not meeting with high-level foreign officials who meet with Yasser Arafat is slowly and quietly being implemented in the Prime Minister's Office, senior diplomatic officials said Thursday. One official said the policy has the backing of the U.S. administration, which has made it clear not only to U.S. officials but also to its allies that meeting Arafat at this time strengthens him and undermines PA prime minister-designate Abu Mazen. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Diplomatic Struggle to "Free" Arafat - Diana Bachor
    Europe is pressing Israel to "free" Arafat, who has remained in his Ramallah compound for the past 15 months. On Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office clarified that it has given no assurances of any kind about the location or future of Arafat. Sources in Sharon's office said they only promised President Bush not to harm Arafat physically. Sources in Jerusalem said that Arafat is free to leave his compound and go anywhere he wishes, but without a return ticket. He stays there because he knows that as soon as he leaves, Israel will arrest the wanted terrorists hiding in his compound. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Talk Alone Will Not Curb Terrorism - Ze'ev Schiff
    The PA prime minister says he opposes suicide attacks such as the one at Kfar Sava's railway station Thursday, yet they continue - including by members of Fatah, Abu Mazen's organization. In the past week, the number of Palestinians planning suicide attacks and who were caught was larger than ever. Experience shows that curbing terrorism cannot be achieved just by smoothtalking the Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Egyptians tried that in Cairo and failed. If the terror organizations remain armed and continue enlisting people freely for attacks, it will be impossible to turn over a new leaf in the war on terror. (Ha'aretz)
  • A Race Against the Clock - Amos Harel
    Only dedicated action against the terror groups - mass arrests of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, an official announcement of the dismantling of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade - will be interpreted by Israel as meaning Dahlan is serious. Few noticed that Arafat retained control over three key security forces - National Security, General Intelligence, and Force 17 - with a total of 20,000 troops.
        The defense establishment is in a race against the clock against local terrorist cells, trying to catch as many of the main wanted men as possible before the American referee whistles an end to the race and starts the discussions of the road map and Israeli gestures for Abu Mazen. Then, it will apparently become necessary to sharply restrict military activity, not only in Gaza but in the West Bank, and without Palestinian efforts against the terror groups, that will end up costing Israel a double price. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Unrolling the Middle East Road Map - Editorial
    The Palestinian decision on the creation of a new cabinet is merely a starting point for discussion, not an indication that any resolution will be easy or expedited. Also the removal of the tainted Mr. Arafat from the scene must be permanent and not just temporary political sleight-of-hand designed to solve a short-term problem. There is a danger that Israel will be bounced into premature negotiations when the new Palestinian administration is far from proving its credentials, either as a successful guardian against terrorism or as a corruption-free management organization. Mr. Arafat has not yet sabotaged the prospects for peace but his shadow still looms over the region. (London Times)
  • The Challenge of Success - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    From now on, every Arab dictator knows he must change if he doesn't wish to see his own statues come down. As with Iraq, there will be no saviors for cruel and corrupt regimes. Not from the Arab "street," which stayed quiet, nor from other Arab capitals, which largely lined up behind the victors. The toughest part now will be to weed out and prosecute the hundreds of hard-core Baath Party members, demobilize the Army, reform the police force, eviscerate the hated intelligence services, and rebuild a corrupt judicial system. We are now dealing with the problems of success, not with the problems of failure; in foreign policy, that is heaven. (U.S. News)
  • Mahmoud Abbas's Task - Editorial
    The PA prime minister-designate has reportedly explained that his disagreement with Arafat is not about aims, but about means. In other words, violence against Israel is bad not because Jewish children are not to be killed in their mothers' arms, and not because the Jews deserve to have a state of their own in their ancestral land, but because that would not be the efficient way to end Israel's existence. Instead, it is the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel that will ultimately lead to Israel's decline and fall, according to Mahmoud Abbas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction - Jeff Jacoby
    Whatever chemical, biological, or nuclear evidence the U.S. and its allies may find, they have already eliminated the real weapons of mass destruction: Saddam Hussein and his evil government. Saddam and his circle of thugs were responsible for the violent and often sadistic deaths of an estimated million human beings - put to death for thinking the wrong thoughts, having the wrong friends, uttering the wrong words, or for no reason at all. (Boston Globe)
  • How to Build a Democratic Iraq - Adeed and Karen Dawisha
    Despite Saddam's long repression, democratic institutions are not entirely alien to the country. Under the Hashemite monarchy, which ruled from 1921 until 1958, Iraq adopted a parliamentary system modeled on that of the United Kingdom. Political parties existed, even in the opposition, and dissent and disagreement were generally tolerated. Prior to the 1958 revolution that toppled the monarchy, 23 independent newspapers were published in Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra alone. (Foreign Affairs/New York Times)

    Weekend Features:

  • After Suicide Bombings, Israel Comes Knocking - Dan Williams
    For Israel, demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorists is a last-ditch response to suicide bombers and gunmen who have killed hundreds of its citizens, and a justified deterrent to future violence. Almost weekly, Palestinian families turn in their would-be bomber sons for fear of losing their homes, say Israeli field commanders. "I know of people who, having had houses destroyed, rebuild and refuse to allow stone throwers or gunmen to operate nearby," says Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid. Colonel Daniel Reisner, head of the Israeli military's international law division, likens the practice to the seizure and "liquidation" of felons' personal assets in many Western countries. (Reuters)
  • This is Not a Popular Uprising - IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon
    From a Passover Eve interview on IDF Radio:
        First of all, this isn't an intifada - a popular uprising. What we have experienced since September 2000 is a proactive attack and a strategic decision by the current Palestinian decision-maker to embark on a terror assault against us. The International Solidarity Movement peace activists come here after accepting the Palestinian story. Ostensibly, as they see it, we are the aggressors and they are the victims. In factual terms, the ones who started this aggression are the Palestinians. Those who initiated the incidents in Rafiah, in a place where unfortunately two of those activists were wounded, were the Palestinians. There are incessant terror operations there, stemming from the Palestinian terror organizations' need to smuggle weaponry from Egypt into the Palestinian-held area. I have just given an order to remove the organization's activists from the area, firstly for their own benefit - they are endangering their own lives in a superfluous way - but are also creating provocations that injure our freedom of action on the ground. (ISM/Scoop-NZ)
  • Palestinian Love Affair with Saddam Sours - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Saddam Hussein has gone from hero to zero among Palestinians angry that the man they deemed their only true Arab champion was removed so easily by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. "It has become clear that we all were deceived by Saddam's words," said Gaza taxi driver Ahmad Yahya. Saddam's disappearance and the impression that his army put up little fight against U.S.-led forces, making a mockery of his vows of heroic resistance, plunged many Palestinians into dismay and confusion. "Some Palestinians still believe Saddam is alive and that he will resurface and fight the Americans again," said Gaza psychiatrist Fadel Abu Heen. (Reuters/Swiss Info)
  • One Town's Test of Iraqi Democracy - Warren Richey
    In Umm Qasr, Najim Abed Mahdi could suddenly think the unthinkable. He and a handful of other Iraqis banded together to form their own town council because their community needed fresh water, electricity, garbage collection, and security from looters. By taking up the mantle of leadership in a fashion banned by Hussein, the Umm Qasr council may have made history - creating what U.S. officials see as the first Iraqi model of a grass-roots democracy in a once-barren political landscape. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Road Map to Trouble - Abraham H. Foxman (ADL/New York Sun)

    • During these difficult two and a half years of Palestinian terrorism against the people of Israel and one-sided condemnation of Israel in the international community, the U.S. Congress has strongly stood with Israel, most noticeably in two resolutions, passed overwhelmingly, declaring Israel's right to self-defense in the face of suicide attacks on its citizens.
    • The White House continues to say that the impressive vision laid out by President Bush on June 24, 2002, is American policy. Still, there are real concerns about the contents and concepts of the Quartet's road map. Israel is the problem, according to the road map's logic.
    • Unlike the Bush vision, the road map sees the Quartet, not the parties themselves, as the ultimate decision-makers, something that Israel has long rejected and that the Palestinians have long desired. The road map demonstrates the long-recognized danger of the international community becoming the focal point of Middle East diplomacy.
    • The president early on expressed recognition that Palestinian suffering, which needs amelioration, is not the product of Israeli occupation but of the betrayal of the Palestinian people by their leadership. The Palestinians could have had a state in 1948 when there were no refugees; they could have had a state in 1967 when there were no settlements; they could have had a state in 2000 when there was no intifada. In all these critical instances, Palestinian leadership has been more interested in destroying the Jewish state than in building a Palestinian state.
    • Israel's responsibility to respond to a peace initiative, which is necessary and real, can only come after the Palestinians demonstrate they have finally changed, through new leaders and reformed institutions and through the cessation of terrorism.

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