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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May 6, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

France Helped Iraqis Escape - Bill Gertz (Washington Times)
    The French government secretly supplied fleeing Iraqi officials with passports in Syria that allowed them to escape to Europe, U.S. intelligence officials said.
    The French support, which was revealed through sensitive intelligence-gathering means, angered Pentagon, State Department, and intelligence officials in Washington because it undermined the search for senior aides to Saddam.
    A Bush administration official said, "It's like Raoul Wallenberg in reverse. Now you have the French helping the bad guys escape from us."

Qusay Hussein Took $1 Billion From Iraq's Central Bank - Dexter Filkins (New York Times)
    On March 18, just before the start of the war in Iraq, Saddam Hussein's second son, Qusay, along with Abid al-Hamid Mahmood, the president's personal assistant, carried off nearly $1 billion in cash from the country's Central Bank, according to American and Iraqi officials.
    The removal of the money, which would amount to one of the largest bank robberies in history, was performed under the direct orders of Saddam Hussein.
    The sheer volume of the cash was so great - some $900 million in American $100 bills and as much as $100 million worth of euros - that three tractor-trailers were needed to cart it off.
    Some Americans suspect that the money may have been spirited across the border into Syria. Col. Ted Seel, a U.S. Army Special Forces officer, said intelligence information at the time indicated that a group of tractor-trailers crossed the Iraqi border into Syria.

Int'l Solidarity Movement Members Met British Terrorists - Sharon Sadeh and Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    International Solidarity Movement member Raphael Cohen told a press conference Monday that he met the two British bombers on Friday, April 25, five days before the Tel Aviv bombing, when 15 people gathered in a Rafah apartment belonging to the movement.
    The participants included four Britons from London who planned to establish a summer camp in Gaza, three Italians, the two bombers, and Cohen and another five ISM members.

Useful Reference:

Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars and Israel Independence Day:
6-7 May 2003

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    21,540 soldiers and security personnel have fallen in the line of duty.

Prime Minister's Speech on Remembrance Day
(Jerusalem Post)

Message to Diaspora Communities Abroad on Israel Independence Day:
    From the President of Israel
    From the Prime Minister of Israel
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Key Links

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Today is Israel Memorial Day
Daily Alert will not appear on Wednesday, May 7
We wish our readers a Happy Israel Independence Day

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Al Qaeda May Be Rebuilding
    Some intelligence sources and experts believe that al Qaeda has been quiet by choice, not because its plans have been disrupted. Just last week, U.S. officials warned Americans against traveling to Saudi Arabia, as they'd received "credible" information about plans for an attack on U.S. interests there. "Has al Qaeda been hurt by its losses? Sure," says a senior U.S. intelligence official. "But there's no indication that the losses aren't being replaced." According to a European intelligence report, Saudi Arabia is still important financially to al Qaeda, and both Saudi Arabia and Yemen continue to provide recruits, as well as places for the group to retreat and plan. (Christian Science Monitor)
        For a contrasting viewpoint, see Spy Agencies' Optimism on Al Qaeda is Growing
    The failure of al Qaeda to launch terrorist attacks against the U.S. or its allies during the war in Iraq has bolstered a growing belief among U.S. intelligence agencies that 19 months of worldwide counterterrorism operations and arrests have nearly crippled the organization. (Washington Post)
  • Furor Over Blair's "Jewish Cabal" - Colin Brown and Chris Hastings
    Labour MP Tam Dalyell sparked outrage Saturday by accusing Prime Minister Blair of "being unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers." In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dalyell named Lord Levy, Tony Blair's personal envoy on the Middle East, Peter Mandelson, whose father was Jewish, and Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, who has Jewish ancestry, as three of the leading figures who had influenced Mr. Blair's policies on the Middle East. The Prime Minister, Mr. Dalyell claimed, was also indirectly influenced by Jewish people in the Bush administration, including Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Ari Fleischer, the President's press secretary. (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Terrorists Murder Israeli Driver, Wound Two Others - Margot Dudkevitch
    Gideon Lichterman, 27, was shot to death and his daughter Moriah was seriously wounded in a shooting attack Monday night near the West Bank community of Shilo. Lichterman, a resident of the Ahiya outpost, volunteered to pick up a reserve soldier at a nearby intersection and, not wanting to leave his six-year-old daughter alone, brought her along. Tomer Dar, 25, the soldier Lichterman had gone for, ran toward the scene of the shooting and was seriously injured by terrorist gunfire. Security sources suspect there were two gunmen who apparently fled the scene in a waiting car. The military wing of Arafat's Fatah organization took responsibility for the attack. (Jerusalem Post/Yediot Ahronot/Israel Radio)
  • Tears in the Shape of Knives - Danny Rubinstein
    Last Thursday, Al-Hayyat al-Jedida, the Palestinian newspaper whose workers are, in effect, officials of the Palestinian Authority, published a front-page picture of the smashed skull of a Palestinian baby. While the road map requires the Palestinians to put an end to the violence, it is difficult to find a single Palestinian who thinks it is possible or necessary to disarm the armed factions that conduct the terror attacks. Abu Mazen may have succeeded in forming a government, but his political plans to end the military intifada and turn it into a nonviolent struggle now appear to be hopeless. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • After Concessions, Arafat Digs In - Charles A. Radin
    President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon spent months trying to sideline Arafat. Their failure to do so became clear last week during the investiture of the new Palestinian prime minister. First, Arafat demonstrated his power by temporarily blocking the new prime minister from receiving a vote of confidence, a warning that Arafat can get a no-confidence vote later if he desires it. In his speech on Tuesday, Arafat portrayed the new government not as a way to improve and democratize Palestinian governance, but as a strategic tack to avoid "the tempests of the Middle East.'' ''His program does not differ from our basics,'' Arafat said of Abbas. Photos of the first cabinet meeting chaired by Abbas showed him seated beneath a larger-than-life portrait of Arafat. The week's events ''show that, once again, efforts to write Arafat's [political] obituary have been grossly premature," said a Western diplomat. (Boston Globe)
        See also Don't Count Arafat Out - Daoud Kuttab
    This is not the first time that the head of the PLO has been declared politically dead only to reappear with little loss of power. While Abbas and Arafat have differed in the past few months over the make-up and powers of the new government, both are in agreement about basic political issues. They see eye-to-eye on issues of negotiations with Israel and on the minimum national demands that Palestinians would accept. In fact, many Palestinians feel that the combination of the two will make the Palestinian position in any upcoming negotiations even more steadfast in defending Palestinian rights. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Chief Ya'alon: Yasser Arafat, Not Hamas, is Main Threat to Abu Mazen - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
  • How to Get Syria Out of the Terrorism Business - Flynt Leverett
    Can we change the behavior of a terrorism-sponsoring state like Syria without unseating its regime? Is it possible to reform Syria's posture not through force, but through diplomatic engagement? The answer is a qualified yes. But given Mr. Assad's political constraints, sticks alone will not produce more than short-term tactical adjustments in Syrian behavior. To bring about real change, we must also offer concrete benefits in exchange for meeting our demands. Doing so would enable Mr. Assad to demonstrate to the regime's inner circle that Syrian interests would be better served by cooperation with us than by a gradually intensifying confrontation. The author was senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council from February 2002 to March 2003. (New York Times)
        See also Paralysis in Syria - Zvi Bar'el
    Bashar Assad has been ruling Syria for almost three years, and the economic and diplomatic paralysis is spreading in every branch of the country. The annual growth rate, 2.8 percent, is almost identical to the natural population growth, and the income per capita hardly reaches $1,000 a year. Last week, French Foreign Affairs Minister Dominique de Villepin announced it was time Syria withdrew from Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
  • Road Map vs. Reality - Gareth Evans and Robert Malley
    The "road map" finally presented last week has no hope of being implemented, and yet it is crucial that its implementation be pursued. The road map consists of a number of steps that Israelis and Palestinians are expected to undertake without these steps being precisely ordered or defined and without an agreed method of verification or any indication of what happens if obligations or timetables should slip. The result is likely to be endless debate between the parties about who has met his obligation and who has not, who needs to take what step and when. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    U.S. Policy Successes in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Charles Krauthammer (TIME)

    • For months conventional wisdom on the Middle East has been that 1) the Bush Administration has neglected the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and 2) as a result, things have gone from bad to worse.
    • A year after the Passover massacres of 2002 (seven suicide bombings in seven days), terrorism deaths are down more than 80%, Yasser Arafat is being edged aside, a new reformist Palestinian leadership has been approved, Palestinian finances are starting to become transparent, and negotiations between the parties are becoming possible once again - all because of the radical new policy adopted by President Bush and enunciated last June 24.
    • Bush refused to follow the old Clinton doctrine that had made Arafat the center of the universe (he was invited to the Clinton White House more than any other leader on the planet) and made talking an end in itself - even as the blood flowed. Arafat is not just the man who refused to make peace with Israel, he is the man who uses his power to make sure that no one else can make peace with Israel.
    • But the transition away from Arafat is incomplete, and Arafat is doing everything to undermine the new prime minister, portraying Abu Mazen as an American stooge and opposing the dismantling of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which just last week took credit for a massacre at a seaside cafe in Tel Aviv.
    • The road map might produce a tactical cease-fire, but that would just provide an interval of safety for Palestinian terrorists to rearm, regroup, and prepare to fight later on. By rewarding the Palestinians before Arafat is gone and by demanding Israeli concessions while the violence continues, it belies the very premise of the June 24 policy, the only policy since Oslo that has produced real progress.

    "The Spirit of Israel" Concert

    When: May 19, 2003 - 8:15 p.m.

    Where: MCI Center, Washington, D.C.

    Who: Performers include Tony Bennett, Tova Feldshuh, Norah Jones, Noa, Jerry Seinfeld, Ben Stein and others.

    Tickets: Tickets are available NOW. Prices range from $1,000 to $36 for students with valid ID.
    Tickets available online through Ticketmaster
    Or through Ticketmaster by phone: (202) 432-SEAT (7328)
    Group package discounts are also available through Ticketmaster by phone: (202) 661-5061
    Group ticket prices: $36 for students and $50 for adults. Busses are being organized.

    Why: Now is the time to show your solidarity with the people of Israel, her continuing advancement for all walks of life, her friendship and support of America, its values, and the enhancement of democratic ideals. These are difficult times for Israel and the entire world. Now is the time to lift the spirits of the Israeli people as they strive to excel for the next 55 years and beyond. Now is the time to showcase to the world the truly amazing advancements in science, technology, agriculture, arts and the humanities, which have occurred in Israel's free democratic society.
        Help us lift the spirits of the Israeli People to continue to excel for the next 55 years...and forever.
        For more information, please contact the Israel Forever Foundation at 202-462-8994 or

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