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 30, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

PA "Has No Intention" of Disarming Terror Groups - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The PA has no intention of disarming armed Palestinian groups, the head of the PA Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip, Rashid Abu Shabak, announced Sunday.
    Abu Shabak, who is wanted by Israel for his role in terror attacks, said PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas assured representatives of all the factions he met with over the past few weeks that they would be allowed to keep their weapons.
    Abu Shabak vowed to continue chasing Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel, saying his men have arrested several people.
    "We are waiting for President Yasser Arafat to approve the death sentences so that we can execute them," he added.

Saddam's Aide Organized Suicide Squads in Syria Last Month - Philip Sherwell and Martin Bentham (Telegraph-UK)
    Saddam Hussein's trusted aide Abid Hamoud Mahmud travelled to Syria last month to organize a suicide campaign by Arab fighters against American forces within Iraq.
    Mahmud, captured by U.S. troops two weeks ago, has told military interrogators that he fled to Syria with Saddam's sons after Baghdad fell.
    While in Syria, Hamoud drew on funds already deposited in foreign bank accounts before the war to make travel arrangements and payments for Islamic radicals, who had gathered in Syria to volunteer for so-called "martyr" operations inside Iraq. He also conducted financial deals on Saddam's behalf.
    It is not known how many of the extremists have entered Iraq, although U.S. forces wiped out a group of about 75 mainly foreign fighters at their temporary camp in the western desert near the Syrian border three weeks ago.

    See also The IRS Takes on Saddam's Kin (TIME)
    Under interrogation, the dictator's half brother and financial mastermind, Barzan Tikriti, speaks out against the regime he served and gives U.S. investigators leads on where to find what may be billions of dollars in assets he helped hide.

Arab Ping Pong Player New Celebrity for Refusing to Play Israeli - Saleh Fareed (Arab News - Saudi Arabia)
    Getting banned from international table tennis competitions for the rest of the year after refusing to play against an Israeli has made Nabeel Al-Magahwi a sporting hero in Saudi Arabia.
    At the table tennis World Championship in Paris in May, Al-Magahwi from Saudi Arabia and Hani Al-Hammadi from Yemen refused to play their scheduled men's singles qualifiers against Gay Elensky from Israel, and were banned from the rest of the competition.
    "When it came to playing an Israeli, I told the head of our delegation that I wouldn't do it, and they agreed with me," Al-Magahwi said.
    "In addition to the great support I received from government officials, residents and expatriates, I have received a special certificate from the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat that I'm very proud of," Al-Magahwi said. "I feel like a winner after the reaction I received from everybody."

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Wahhabi Strain of Islam Faulted; Saudis' Funding Helps Foster Terror Groups, Experts Say
    In a congressional hearing on Saudi funding of extremism, a panel of terrorism experts said Thursday that top Saudi officials and institutions spend huge sums from the kingdom's oil wealth to promote an intolerant school of Islam embraced by al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Treasury Department general counsel David Aufhauser testified that "in many ways, [Saudi Arabia] is the epicenter" for the financing of al Qaeda and other terrorist movements. Islam's "severe and uncompromising" Wahhabi movement "is a very important factor to be taken into account when discussing terrorist financing," Aufhauser said. Aufhauser added that the Saudis' largely unmonitored spending to disseminate the Wahhabi viewpoint worldwide "is a combustible compound when mixed with religious teachings in thousands of madrasahs [Islamic schools] that condemn pluralism and mark nonbelievers as enemies....It needs to be dealt with."
        Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) noted, "The Wahhabi presence in the U.S. is a foreboding one that has potentially harmful and far-reaching consequences for our nation's mosques, schools, prisons, and even our military," where a number of chaplains are influenced by the movement. (Washington Post)
        See also Interview with Senate Hearing Chairman Sen. Jon Kyl (FOX News)
  • Outrage as Oxford Bans Student for Being Israeli
    An Oxford University professor has provoked outrage by rejecting an application from an Israeli Ph.D. student purely because of his nationality. Andrew Wilkie, a professor of pathology, is under investigation after telling Amit Duvshani, a molecular biology student at Tel Aviv University, that he and many other British academics were not prepared to take on Israelis. On June 23, Prof. Wilkie wrote: "I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army."
        The university issued a statement from Prof. Wilkie apologizing to Mr. Duvshani and making clear that he was not speaking on behalf of Oxford. The spokesman said that the university was investigating Prof. Wilkie and added: "Freedom of expression is a fundamental tenet of university life but under no circumstances are we prepared to accept or condone conduct that appears to, or does, discriminate against anyone on grounds of ethnicity or nationality, either directly or indirectly." "I made a mistake," said Prof. Wilkie. "I expressed personally-held opinions that have nothing to do with Oxford University and they should not have been expressed in that manner. I have learned a lesson....I have a view on the situation in the Middle East but I am not a racist or anti-Semitic." When asked if he would look again at the student's application for a Ph.D., he replied "absolutely" and added that he "entirely accepted" the university's equal opportunities and race equality policies. (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Factions Declare Cease-Fire - Daniel Sobelman and Amos Harel
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad Sunday announced they are suspending terror attacks against Israel for a period of three months. The Fatah movement and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued their own similar declarations. Israeli concerns center on local Fatah groups which receive funding from Iran and Hizballah. Both military intelligence and the Shin Bet believe that the PA will find it very difficult to control the various Fatah factions. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Texts of Cease-Fire Statements (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • PA Takes Over Security on Main Gaza Highway - Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, Nathan Guttman, and Arnon Regular
    PA police forces Monday took over security responsibility for the Gaza Strip's main highway artery from the Ezra entry crossing in the north to Khan Yunis in the south. Israeli forces pulled out of northern Gaza on Sunday. Meanwhile in the West Bank, an Israeli suffered light injuries from a shooting attack in the Givat Ha'avot area of Hebron. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rice Asks Sharon to "Rethink" Fence Route - Aluf Benn
    U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice Sunday asked Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to reconsider with 'greater sensitivity' the planned route of the separation fence between Israel and the West Bank. Sharon agreed to the request. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Rice, "250 Palestinian suicide bombers have entered Israel from the West Bank, but not one from Gaza. Building the fence is not a political move, it is a security move." Ministers Yosef Lapid and Avraham Poraz from the centrist Shinui party backed Netanyahu's view.
        Rice said that the U.S. sees construction of the fence as highly problematic, since the Palestinians see Israel using it to determine political borders and annex Palestinian territory. Even if the fence is a security issue, she continued, it is perceived as being political. Prime Minister Sharon said there is one issue Israel would not compromise on - the security of the country and its citizens, and the fence fulfills a vital security need, even if Israel and the U.S. disagree on its necessity. (Ha'aretz)
  • Delaying the Disarmament is Dangerous - Ze'ev Schiff
    The advantage of the cease-fire agreement with the PA is that the Palestinians are willing to assume responsibility for security in the Gaza Strip, followed by Bethlehem a week later. The disadvantage is that Abbas has told Hamas and other opposition groups that he will not, at this stage, disarm them. Despite recent statements by President Bush, in which he called for the group to be disbanded, Washington does not support Israel's position on the need to start dismantling Hamas' terrorist infrastructure immediately. The Americans believe that, at the present stage, Abbas is not capable of winning a head-on confrontation with Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Importance of the Hudna - Zvi Bar'el
    The importance of the hudna (cease-fire) is in the fact that it will bring the opposition groups and the Hamas and Jihad, which were not part of the PLO, back into a broad national framework under a common leadership. Deriving from this comes the implementation of Abu Mazen's vision to have one law, one security force, and one leadership. The PA will be spared going to war against an organization that represents more than 25% of the population. Hamas' weapons will become an inseparable part of the Palestinian defense establishment. That is the vision. Meanwhile there are only agreements in principle, held together by fragile consent, to conditions that are yet to be filled and pending an Israeli and American nod. A hudna, it should be remembered, is only a temporary agreement. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Clarifying How I Stand on Palestinian Sovereignty - Benjamin Netanyahu
    The choice of headline for my June 20 op-ed article, "A Limited Palestinian State," did not accurately reflect my position. As stated in the article, I believe that in a final peace agreement the Palestinians should be given all the powers that are necessary to govern themselves but none of the powers that could threaten Israel. There is, to my knowledge, no accepted term in international law for this type of nonbelligerent sovereignty. Until there is an accepted term, I prefer not to use the word "state," because of the unlimited sovereignty it implies. (Washington Post)
  • Palestine: Nation or Death Cult? - Cynthia Ozick
    No one can refute the truth that the Palestinians have fashioned a culture peculiarly their own - but one so steeped in the negative as to have been turned into a kind of anti-history. By replacing history with fantasy, the Palestinians have invented a society unlike any other, where hatred trumps bread. They have reared children unlike any other children, removed from ordinary norms and behaviors. The most ingeniously barbarous Palestinian societal invention, surpassing any other in imaginative novelty, is the recruiting of children to blow themselves up with the aim of destroying as many Jews as possible in the most crowded sites accessible. The child who has been taught to die and to kill from kindergarten on, via song and slogan in praise of bloodletting, represents an inconceivable cultural ideal.
        A Palestinian ethos of figment and fantasy has successfully infiltrated the West, particularly among intellectuals, who are always seduced by novelty. We live now with an anti-history wherein cause and effect are reversed, protection against attack is equated with the brutality of attack, existential issues are demoted or ignored - "cycle of violence" obfuscations all zealously embraced by the State Department and the EU. The Road Map permits no contradiction to the Palestinians' emerging nationhood. But if it is teachings and usages that characterize a nation, then what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches out of Bethlehem to be born? (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Knows What the U.S. is Dealing With in Iraq - Rand H. Fishbein
    U.S. field commanders find themselves confronting many of the same problems faced by Israel in its fight against Palestinian terrorism: soldiers disguised as civilians, weapons hidden among mosques, hospitals, and schools, child fighters, and suicide bombers. Bush administration officials have vowed to end all resistance to the U.S. presence in Iraq and to use whatever force is necessary to do so. The American attempt to subdue Iraq highlights an age-old battlefield dilemma. How far should a commander go to protect the lives of civilians when in doing so he may jeopardize the lives, morale, or tactical position of his own troops? It also begs the question: Why is there a double standard when it comes to Israel? There is little that differentiates Israel's strike at Palestinian terrorists and America's efforts to control Iraqi terrorists linked to Saddam's old regime. (National Review)
  • Observations:  

    Iraq - A Source of Oil or a Quagmire for the U.S.? - Mordechai Abir
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • In an interview in Jordan on June 21, Iraq's acting oil minister, Thamir al-Ghadhban, said, "Restoration of the [Iraqi] oil industry will take some time, at least a year and a half." Currently, Iraq is producing about 500,000 barrels per day (b/d) from the old northern fields (Kirkuk) and only 300,000 b/d from the enormously rich southern (largely Rumeila) fields.
    • Saddam Hussein's loyalists and volunteers from several Arab countries are intensifying their attacks on American troops in (Sunni Arab-inhabited) central and northwestern Iraq every day. Installations essential for (American) rehabilitation of the Iraqi economy, such as the strategic oil pipelines, have become prime targets for anti-U.S. terrorists.
    • Arab analysts have been wondering why the Shi'a spiritual leaders, especially those who openly reject the continuous American presence and administration in Iraq, have not issued fatwas (religious edicts) calling upon their followers to rise against the foreign (infidel) conquest. The truth is that all Shi'a spiritual leaders realize that they need massive American/Western aid to rehabilitate their country.
    • The attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqi strategic installations are being carried out by members of Sunni parties like the Iraq Islamic Party and the pan-Islamic Hizb al-Tahrir, reinforced by jihad volunteers from other Arab countries. As long as the U.S. authorities in Baghdad lack sufficient military power to enforce pax-Americana in the country, guerilla warfare against the American presence and strategic assets in Iraq is likely to escalate.

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