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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July 22, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

CIA Blocks Warning on Syria's Weapons Plans - Douglas Jehl (New York Times)
    The CIA and other agencies blocked a Bush administration plan to deliver sharp new warnings last week about Syria's efforts to develop unconventional weapons, objecting to testimony that Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John R. Bolton was to present to Congress.
    Bolton planned to say in a classified portion of his testimony that Syria's development of chemical and biological weapons had progressed to the point that they posed a threat to stability in the Middle East.
    Government officials said they had no doubt that the separate controversy surrounding President Bush's use of disputed intelligence about Iraq's suspected nuclear weapons program had caused the intelligence agencies to be particularly rigorous in scrutinizing the testimony Bolton had prepared about Syria.
    In the last year, Bolton has been among the administration officials most publicly critical of Syria, identifying the Damascus government as being among those whose pursuit of chemical and biological weapons made them international threats.
    In June, Bolton said that American officials "know that Syria is pursuing the development of biological weapons." A CIA report in April said only that it was "highly probable that Syria is also continuing to develop an offensive BW capability."

China Thanks Israel for Assistance in Controlling SARS (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    The annual political dialogue between the foreign ministries of Israel and China took place in Jerusalem on July 16-17, 2003.
    The Director-General of the Western Asian and North African Affairs Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wu Chunhua, headed the Chinese delegation. The Deputy Director-General of the Asia Department of the Foreign Ministry, Zvi Gabay, headed the Israeli delegation.
    During the visit, the head of the Chinese delegation expressed gratitude to Israel for its assistance to China in controlling the SARS epidemic through the acquisition of medical equipment.
    Today, the volume of trade between the two countries is more than $1 billion.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush: Syria and Iran Continue to Assist Terrorists
    President Bush said on Monday, "Both Prime Minister Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon are showing leadership and courage. Now it is time for governments across the Middle East to support the efforts of these two men by fighting terror in all its forms. This includes the governments of Syria and Iran. Today, Syria and Iran continue to harbor and assist terrorists. This behavior is completely unacceptable and states that support terror will be held accountable." (White House)
  • U.S. Said to Seek Help of Ex-Iraqi Spies on Iran
    The U.S. has moved to resurrect parts of the Iraqi intelligence service, with the branch that monitors Iran among the top priorities, former Iraqi agents and politicians say. The Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi, says its senior officials have met with senior members of the so-called Iran and Turkey branch of the Mukhabarat, or Iraqi intelligence, over the last several weeks. The party received documents from intelligence officers and recruited them into a reconstituted version of the unit, said Abdulaziz Kubaisi, an Iraqi National Congress official. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Hamas Building 1,000 Kassam Rockets - Matthew Gutman and Margot Dudkevitch
    Terrorist organizations are taking advantage of the cease-fire to replenish their stocks and rearm, an IDF brigade commander in Gaza said Monday. Hamas is building more than 1,000 Kassam rockets, sparking fears that should hostilities resume, "the opening of the next phase in the conflict will be much more violent," he said.
        In accordance with the understandings reached with the PA, the IDF halted operations in the Rafah area to destroy tunnels under the Egyptian-Gaza border that serve as a conduit for smuggling weapons and bomb components. The IDF had almost brought to a halt the smuggling of weapons. However, the commander said, "We estimate that there are eight to 10 tunnels currently functioning." "It is unfortunate that all our achievements appear to have gone down the drain. The PA, which meant to deal with the situation, is doing nothing, and the situation is being taken advantage of by all the terrorist organizations who are receiving the weapons and arms," he said. The IDF says that it has recorded 85 attacks in the Gaza Strip alone since the declaration of the cease-fire 20 days ago. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mofaz: Arrow Missile Protects Israel from Iran's Shihab-3
    The Arrow missile can effectively defend Israel from the threat of Iran's Shihab-3 missile, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon: Unauthorized Outposts to be Removed
    During a Knesset debate Monday, Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that "the question of unauthorized outposts is an internal Israeli question, but one affecting international sensibilities. Many world leaders have spoken to me about this, and I clarified to them that the unauthorized outposts were built without permits. Israel, as a state of law, will deal with this matter through its authorized bodies according to its abilities and judgment, as it acts against illegal building everywhere." "Unauthorized outposts will be evacuated," Sharon said. Nevertheless, the prime minister emphasized that "the future of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria will be decided only during discussions on a permanent settlement. We have no intention of dealing with this now, and it is not in Israel's interest to do so." The Knesset approved the prime minister's statement by a vote of 47-27. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
        See also Text of Sharon's Remarks (Prime Minister's Office-Hebrew)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • New PA Textbooks Full of Anti-Israel Propaganda - Shira Schoenberg
    Since 2000, the PA has replaced half of the Egyptian and Jordanian textbooks that were previously used in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to a report released Monday by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) on 35 third- and eighth grade PA textbooks, however, the new texts are much like the old. The textbooks do not live up to criteria recommended by UNESCO, including requirements such as recognition of others' achievements, honest presentation of political disputes, and avoidance of wording likely to create prejudice. There is no recognition of the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state, and the name "Israel" does not appear on a single map; the entire land is called "Palestine." (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Other Islamic Revolution - Geneive Abdo
    Demands for political change in Egypt might not produce the result the Bush administration had in mind. The Islamists are poised for power, and their foreign policy would be far less tolerant of Israel and U.S. interference in the Middle East. (Boston Globe)
  • Syria Loosens Grip But Remains in Lebanon - Nicholas Blanford
    While Syria has staged its fourth troop redeployment from Lebanon in three years, analysts maintain that Syria will remain in Lebanon, home to about 15,000 Syrian troops. Syrian soldiers continue to man an antiaircraft position overlooking the southern end of Beirut airport. The bulk of the remaining troops are deployed in the Bekaa Valley, in the northern city of Tripoli, and in the mountains of the Christian heartland overlooking Beirut. "We have to state that Syria is occupying a country which is not part of it," Secretary of State Colin Powell told Paris-based Monte Carlo radio on Saturday. (Christian Science Monitor)

        The article "UN Farce as Libya Judges Israeli Rights" by Ian Mather, as published in Scotland on Sunday, is based on a misunderstanding. On July 23-24, Israel's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee, a committee of 18 (supposedly) "independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights," not the UN Commission on Human Rights, composed of 53 states and chaired by Libya.
        - Andrew Srulevitch, Executive Director, UN Watch

  • Observations:  

    Monitoring the Political Role of NGOs - Gerald M. Steinberg (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • One of the harshest fronts of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the information war, in which powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with major influence on the international media consistently display a biased approach.
    • The hijacking of the Durban anti-racism conference in 2001 by anti-Israel NGOs illustrated the dangers of politically motivated humanitarian groups that derive credibility simply on the basis of mission statements promoting "universal human rights."
    • In spite of the hypocrisy of Durban, and the highly visible distortions in NGO reports of the IDF's military operations in Jenin in April 2002, many of these NGOs, some of which enjoy observer status at the UN, continue to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from governmental sources, especially the EU, as well as from private donors.
    • Their influence is particularly felt when NGOs direct political discourse by misquoting international law and over-using the terms: "war crimes," "genocide," and "ethnic cleansing."
    • The NGO Monitor project was initiated to examine how certain humanitarian NGOs covering Israel and the Middle East deviate from their mission statements and fund-raising activities that claim to support universal human rights values, in order to engage in overt political and ideological activities.

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