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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June 16, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Al Qaeda in America: The Enemy Within (Newsweek)
    An al Qaeda terror network in the U.S. was organized and directed by the group's chief of operations, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM), a top U.S. law-enforcement official said.
    After 9-11, al Qaeda began to recruit U.S. citizens or people with legitimate Western passports who could move freely.
    They used women and family members as "support personnel."
    And they made an effort to find African-American Muslims who would be sympathetic to Islamic extremism.
    Using "mosques, prisons, and universities throughout the U.S.," according to intelligence documents, KSM lined up agents in Baltimore, Columbus, Ohio, and Peoria, Ill.
    The plotters were apparently scheming to take down the Brooklyn Bridge, destroy an airliner, derail a train, and blow up a series of gas stations.

U.S. Would Not Oppose Arafat's Exile - Ben Caspit et al. (Maariv-Hebrew; 13 June 2003)
    The Americans have become convinced that Arafat is cooperating with Hamas, supporting that organization in order to harm Abu Mazen.
    In contacts between Washington and Jerusalem, it has become clear that the Americans would not oppose Arafat's exile.
    Nevertheless, Jerusalem believes such a step would do more harm than good at this time.
    According to an intelligence report, if Arafat is exiled or injured, Abu Mazen's government would not survive and Hamas would take control of the territories.

Israeli Arabs Weigh Citizenship in Palestinian State - Mohammad Darawshe (Jerusalem Post)
    Some cabinet members and leading academic demographers propose that as part of a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some Arab towns currently in Israel be transferred to the future Palestinian state.
    Three years ago, polls showed that no more than 3% of Israel's Arab citizens favored this option, but more recent polls show a growing acceptance of this idea - as high as 17%.

"Fridge Bomber" Named Special Adviser to Arafat - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Ahmed Jbarra, the Palestinian prisoner who was released last week after serving 28 years of a life sentence in an Israeli prison for planting a booby-trapped refrigerator in central Jerusalem in 1975 and murdering 14 people, has been named a special adviser to Yasser Arafat.
    Senior PA officials said the decision was a "natural" one, taking into consideration Jbarra's "great contribution to the Palestinian cause."

U.S. Ambassador's Cousin Dies in Jerusalem Bus Bombing (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    A cousin of the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, was among the 17 people killed by a Palestinian bomber in an attack on a bus last week, the State Department said Sunday.
    Anna Orgal, 55, was buried Thursday at a cemetery outside Tel Aviv, and Kurtzer attended the funeral.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush: "Deal Harshly with Hamas"
    President Bush said Sunday: "Those of us who want peace to go forward, we must combine our efforts to prevent people like Hamas from sabotaging peace....We must combine our efforts to cut off all money, support for anybody who tries to sabotage the peace process....The mission of the free world, those who care for peace, is to deny the people like Hamas the ability to destroy and to kill....It is clear that the free world, those who love freedom and peace, must deal harshly with Hamas and the killers. And that's just the way it is in the Middle East." (White House)
  • Saudis, Yemenis, and Other Foreign Forces Entering Iraq to Engage U.S. Forces
    The U.S. military launched air strikes last week on a "terrorist training" camp in Iraq with combatants from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, and other Arab nations. Although military officials believe most foreign fighters entered Iraq just before or just after the recent war, intelligence officials now acknowledge that there is still a "trickle" of foreigners entering the country to fight against the Americans. The presence of Yemenis and Saudis in Iraq may indicate links to al Qaeda. (FOX News)
  • Saudis Refuse to Condemn Hamas
    At a Washington news conference Thursday, called to claim that the Saudi government was cracking down on terrorism, Saudi Arabian official Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign affairs adviser to the crown prince, refused to condemn the terrorist group Hamas. He also said some Saudi money might go to institutions run by the "political wing of Hamas. That may be the case. I don't know. I'm not an expert." Al-Jubeir further defended the practice of providing aid to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Policy analyst Stephen Schwartz explained: "They control Hamas." Another critic of the Saudi government, Ali Al-Ahmed, who runs the Saudi Institute in Washington, said there is no doubt of the Saudi link to Hamas. (New York Sun)
        See also Al Qaeda Discovered in Mecca, Battles with Saudi Security Forces (AP/MSNBC)
  • Who are Iran's Islamic Vigilantes?
    During the fourth night of protests in the capital Tehran, armed plain-clothes groups raided university hostels, injuring a number of students. Conservatives in the Iranian leadership for many years have been using hardline Islamic groups as one of the most effective tools to suppress any challenge to their rule. They normally arrive on motorcycles, wielding knives, chains, and clubs, attacking their opponents viciously. It is widely believed that the vigilantes are paid and organized by people close to Ayatollah Khamenei. The hardline authorities often portray these militia forces as the true representatives of the Iranian people, but most Iranians regard them as young thugs. (BBC News)
        See also Iran Faults U.S. for 5 Days of Protests
    News agencies in Iran reported that the demonstrations had spread to several other cities, including Isfahan, Ahvaz and Shiraz, where one student was reported killed Saturday. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Bush to Israel: Stop Building Separation Fence - Hemi Shalev
    At the end of the Aqaba summit, President Bush asked Prime Minister Sharon to halt construction of the separation fence between Israel and the Palestinians. According to senior political sources, Sharon responded that the fence served as an "additional means" to prevent the entrance of terrorists into Israel. Sharon had opposed a fence on principle, but changed his position in response to widespread support for such a fence among the Israeli public. (Maariv-Hebrew; 13 June 2003)
  • Israel Prepares to Withdraw from Northern Gaza - Arnon Regular et al.
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet Sunday that the IDF is preparing to quit the Beit Hanun area of northern Gaza and transfer it to the Palestinian security services. At the same time, Israel is giving positive consideration to a Palestinian request to expand the "pilot project" to include Bethlehem. On Saturday night, Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, the government coordinator in the territories, met at U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer's Herzliya residence with Palestinian Security Minster Mohammed Dahlan to discuss the arrangement.
        On Sunday, in addition to five rockets fired from the Beit Hanun area toward Sderot, there were four rockets fired from the southern part of the Gaza Strip at Israeli border villages, signifying an apparent Hamas shift to southern Gaza.
        Sharon told the cabinet that Israel has prepared a set of principles for a meeting with John Wolf, the American diplomat sent to oversee the implementation of the road map. The principles include the 14 reservations Israel's government attached to the road map when it was approved two weeks ago. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon: U.S. Understands that Terror Threatens Political Process
    A statement issued after Sunday's weekly Cabinet meeting noted: The Prime Minister pointed to the change in the U.S. position, and explained that the U.S. understands that terror will cause the political process to fail. Prime Minister Sharon noted that Israel would welcome a ceasefire, should one be attained. Provided that Israel is not attacked, we will not retaliate except for essential operations in self-defense, such as in the case of a "ticking bomb." Should there be terror activity in an area defined as being under Palestinian responsibility, Israel retains the right to act in those areas. Moreover, as long as the Palestinians refuse to take full responsibility and act accordingly to prevent terror, as opposed to paying mere lip service, Israel will continue to act. (Israeli Cabinet/IMRA)
  • Did Aqaba Matter? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian factions were united in describing Abbas's denunciation of terrorism and his pledge to end the armed intifada as a crossing of red lines. Angry viewers from all over the Arab world phoned al-Jazeera and other TV stations to condemn Abbas, describing him as a "U.S.-made quisling," an "Israeli collaborator," and a "traitor." Even the Palestinian media, which are fully controlled by Arafat and his aides, joined the chorus. What should be most worrying for Abbas is Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. If even his political allies in Fatah are openly challenging him, how can he be expected to rein in his rivals in Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Abbas and his minister for security affairs, Muhammad Dahlan, were hoping to strike a deal with the Aksa Brigades, according to which its members would voluntarily surrender (or sell) their weapons to the PA and join a new Palestinian security force. The Brigades have emphatically turned down Abbas's offer, insisting on pursuing their attacks against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • It's Hamas or Us - Ehud Olmert
    Unfortunately, the other parties at the Red Sea Summit have yet to fully appreciate that there are no compromises or accommodation with the Palestinian terrorist organizations. Support and funding for such groups come largely from foreign nations such as Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, which are still actively opposed to the Jewish state's very existence and are determined to undermine the peace negotiations. In these circumstances, Israel cannot afford to let its efforts to confront the terrorists lapse for even one day. From Israel's perspective, the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure and the termination of the suicide attacks are the only tangible benefits we can possibly secure at the negotiating table. Our acceptance of the road map is predicated on this crucial assurance. If the Palestinians are unable or unwilling to deliver on this point, then there can be no final agreement. (Washington Post)
  • The 36-Year War - Michael Oren
    Although PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat affirmed Israel's existence at Oslo, in practice he never abandoned the goal of annihilating the Jewish state. To Arabic-speaking audiences, he justified Oslo as the first stage in the Phases Plan. The Palestinian media and educational system, meanwhile, rejected the idea of Israel even in its pre-1967 borders, and glorified acts of "martyrdom" against it. By insisting on returning millions of Palestinian refugees to Israel, Arafat aimed at turning it into Palestine in all but name. Unlike the fundamental shifts in Israeli attitudes on the Palestinian issue, the changes in Palestinian policies regarding Israel were merely tactical. The Israeli government today accepts the fact that a Palestinian people exists, that it has suffered in the past, and should now have a state. By contrast, the Palestinian leadership still refuses to recognize a permanent and legitimate Jewish state. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Feeling Vulnerable: Syria After the Demise of Saddam Hussein - Alan George
    The second half of 2000 saw a "Damascus Spring" in which political discussion groups mushroomed, the state-run media opened up, and hundreds of political prisoners were freed. In early 2001, however, regime hardliners, centered on the long-serving Vice President, Abdul Halim Khaddam, struck back. President Bashar Assad, still dependent on them and keen to maintain unity, had no option but to acquiesce. Civil society activists - including two members of parliament - were denounced as stooges of foreign states and sentenced to terms of up to five years in prison. External threats were a key pretext used by the conservatives. In a major interview with the pan-Arab daily Ash-Sharq al-Awsat on Feb. 8, 2003, Bashar Assad dismissed the intellectuals of the civil society movement as an irrelevant minority. (The World Today, June 6, 2003 - Royal Institute of International Affairs, London)
  • Observations:  

    A Reasoned Decision to Engage in "Shock Therapy" - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz, 15 June 2003/IMRA)

    • An Israeli security source says American reservations over Israel's recent measures in the territories have been replaced by renewed pressure on Abbas and Dahlan to accept security control in the northern Gaza Strip.
    • According to a high-ranking IDF officer, "The Americans finally understand that if Hamas is not neutralized, Abbas's government will not be able to take off."
    • The defense establishment is convinced that, despite criticism of its policy of targeted killings, the assault on the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip has brought results. Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said, "They [Hamas] are on the verge of surrender, and are already negotiating a cease-fire." Security sources added that as long as those being targeted were lower-ranking activists, the Hamas leadership was undeterred, "but since the threat has become personal, the leadership is showing signs of stress."
    • The IDF claims Dahlan has 20,000 armed men at his disposal (providing Arafat does not prevent their mobilization) - a sufficient number to control several hundred armed Hamas men.
    • The decision to target Hamas leaders was not an emotional response that got out of control, sources in the IDF General Staff claimed. They insist that the new policy is the result of calculated considerations, and came after a host of in-depth discussions among top defense establishment officials.
    • Israel opted for "shock therapy": it placed Hamas leaders in the crosshairs and generated a crisis that will force Abbas and his people to act.

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