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 25, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Hamas Terror Cell Planned to Poison Israeli Bakery - Felix Frisch (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    A Hamas terror cell from Hebron that was responsible for a homicide bus bombing in Jerusalem in May that killed 7 Israelis, planned a series of homicide attacks at wedding halls, kidnapping of soldiers, and mass poisoning at a bakery in Beit Shemesh - according to an indictment filed Thursday in Beit El military court against cell member Samar al-Atrash, 25.
    Al-Atrash, a resident of Shuafat in northern Jerusalem and holder of an Israeli identity card, was recruited into the ranks of Hamas in 1999.
    He planned to send a homicide bomber to the wedding hall at Kibbutz Tzora during a wedding, and insert poison into food products at a Beit Shemesh bakery where one of the cell members worked.
    Al-Atrash was valued for his Israeli ID card and as someone who knew Jerusalem. He was asked to gather information about when city buses were especially crowded, places to kidnap soldiers, and information on Knesset members and other leading figures in order to harm them.
    On one of his missions he purchases 4 fringed garments worn by Orthodox Jews, 10 kippot, a Magen David on a silver chain, and a bus pass.
    On May 17, al-Atrash brought home the bomber, Jemal Tahriri, and the next morning helped him put on his explosive vest and dress as an Orthodox Jew.
    They walked toward the French Hill bus stop, al-Atrash handed Tahriri the bus pass, and told him to board the next bus.

Arafat's Financial Advisor Transfers Allegiance and Money to Abbas - Ben Caspit (Maariv-Hebrew)
    Yasser Arafat's financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, has transferred his allegiance and secret bank accounts to Mahmud Abbas, according to intelligence and diplomatic sources in Jerusalem.
    Rashid's current patron is Palestinian Security Minister Muhammad Dahlan, whose accounts he manages.

PA: Ceasefire Doesn't Mean Intifada Will Stop (Al-Hayyat Al-Jadeedah/Jerusalem Times/IMRA)
    Palestinian Brig. Gen. Saleem Al-Wadyeh, Deputy for Political Affairs of the Border Police, during a visit to Border Police headquarters at Al-Mintar in the eastern part of the Gaza District, stressed the need to continue the intifada until the rights of the Palestinians are all granted.
    Wadyeh explained that the PA-announced ceasefire does not mean that the intifada will stop, adding that the decision improves the standing of Palestinians worldwide and should be honored by all factions.
    He continued, "Our leadership is wise and understands the dimensions of the current stage very well."
    The Palestinians, Wadyeh added, were able, through tenacity and sacrifice, to force the U.S. into acknowledging their rights, and their sacrifices, partly as a result, are finally beginning to pay dividends.

Survey: Americans Believe Palestinians Must Disarm Terrorists - Melissa Radler (Jerusalem Post)
    According to a poll released Wednesday of 800 registered voters on July 21-22, commissioned by the Israel Project, 95% of Americans think the Palestinians need to arrest and disarm terrorists, and 88% believe the leadership must halt all incitement before a state of Palestine is created.
    The survey also found that just 36% said they thought the road map would be successful.
    Some 83% said Israel should not release any Palestinian prisoners who have killed Israeli citizens, and just 15% said they have faith in the hudna, or temporary ceasefire.

Georgia Police Attend Counter-Terror Course in Israel (Athens Banner-Herald)
    Clarke County (Georgia) Sheriff Ira Edwards and Maj. Alan Brown of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department recently visited Israel for a two-week counter-terrorism training program, as part of a 14-person delegation sent through the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange.

Two New Israel Advocacy Groups Formed in Montreal - Janice Arnold (Canadian Jewish News)
    The 90,000-member Montreal Jewish community now has two new Israel advocacy organizations, with B'nai Brith Canada (BBC) entering the field shortly after the Quebec-Israel Committee (QIC) was created by FEDERATION CJA.

Useful Reference:

Embassy of Israel, London
    The website of the Embassy of Israel of Great Britain has a new look.

Israel's 14 Road Map Reservations (Ha'aretz)

Disputed Territories: Forgotten Facts About the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Anti-Semitism: The Pipeline of Hatred
    A Powerpoint presentation

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Hill's 9/11 Probe Finds Multiple Failures
    The U.S. intelligence community "failed to fully capitalize" on information that might have allowed agents to unravel the hijack plot and bungled clues that should have led the FBI to two or more of the terrorists before they could act, according to a partially declassified investigation by the joint Congressional Committee on Intelligence released Thursday. The report paints a picture of a poorly organized, understaffed, and sometimes half-hearted effort, in agencies across the government, that missed the warning signs and failed to add up the clues.
        In particular, the report raises questions about the role of several men who aided hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, who moved to San Diego after attending a January 2000 al Qaeda meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the attacks may have been planned. The two hijacked and crashed an American Airlines plane into the Pentagon. They were befriended in California by a Saudi, Omar Bayoumi, an employee of the Saudi civil aviation authority who had been the subject of a counterterrorism investigation begun in 1998. Bayoumi, who had large amounts of cash from Saudi Arabia, put down a security deposit and first month's rent on an apartment for the conspirators and set them up with a translator, a man whose brother is the subject of a counterterrorism investigation. After Sept. 11, the FBI found that Bayoumi "has connections to terrorist elements," including ties to al Qaeda, the report said.
        The FBI also determined that another Saudi who had befriended the San Diego hijackers, Osama Bassnan, "is an extremist and a bin Laden supporter." The FBI was aware that in 1993 Bassnan hosted a party in Washington for Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric now imprisoned for his role in the first World Trade Center attack. Bassnan and his family received charitable support from Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Passages that were declassified portray the Saudi government as uncooperative in the fight against terrorism both before and after Sept. 11. (Washington Post)
        See also Text of 9/11 Report (New York Times/FindLaw)
  • September 11 Report Raises Saudi Question
    The September 11 hijackers received foreign government support while they were in the U.S. plotting the attacks on New York and Washington, according to the head of the U.S. Congress investigation into the attacks. The conclusion will raise new questions in particular about the role of Saudi Arabia, particularly because the administration insisted on deleting a 28-page section of the report that focused on the Saudi link. Senator Bob Graham, the former Democratic intelligence committee chairman who led the investigation, said the hijackers "received, during most of this time, significant assistance from a foreign government which further facilitated their ability to be so lethal." He would not identify the government but he charged that the administration was refusing to release the information "to protect the country or countries that were providing direct assistance to some of the hijackers." (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Report Is Wary of Saudi Actions (Los Angeles Times)
        See also White House, CIA Kept Key Portions of Report Classified
    The report cited one CIA memo that concluded there was "incontrovertible evidence" that Saudi individuals provided financial assistance to al Qaeda operatives in the U.S. The CIA refused to permit publication of information potentially implicating Saudi officials on national security grounds, arguing that disclosure could upset relations with a key U.S. ally. The report makes no accusation that it was ever the policy of the Saudi government to support terrorism. Rather, the questionable activity involved Saudi citizens, some of whom worked for the Saudi government. One U.S. official told the panel "he believed the U.S. government's hope of eventually obtaining Saudi cooperation was unrealistic because Saudi assistance to the U.S. government on this matter is contrary to Saudi national interests." (Washington Post)
        See also Saudi Envoy Slams 9/11 "Lies" (Courier-Mail - Australia)
  • Secrets of Saddam's Family at War
    Uday Hussein's personal bodyguard broke a three-month silence Thursday to give the first authoritative account of how Saddam and his sons spent the war. In an exclusive interview, the bodyguard claimed that, far from fleeing Baghdad, the three men held out in the capital for at least a week after its fall. He described how they escaped the U.S. bombing of a restaurant by ten minutes, drove past American patrols in ordinary cars, and appeared at public prayers at mosque after the fall of Baghdad. (London Times)
  • Palestinians Target Arafat's Nephew
    A rocket-propelled grenade struck the main Gaza prison Thursday, critically wounding seven people in what Palestinian military intelligence sources are calling a failed assassination attempt against Musa Arafat, chief of PA military intelligence and Yasser Arafat's nephew. (CNN/Ha'aretz)
  • Powell: Hamas Terror Wing Kills Hopes for Palestinian State
    Secretary Powell on Hamas: "Any organization that has a terrorist component to it and supports that kind of terrorist activity cannot have a place in the peace process. Now, if an organization that has a terrorist component to it, a terrorist wing to it, totally abandons that, gives it up, and there's no question in anyone's mind that that is part of its past, then that is a different organization. But right now, Hamas still has a social wing to it that does things for people in need, but, unfortunately, its good works are contaminated by the fact that it has a terrorist wing that kills innocent people and kills the hopes of the Palestinian people for a state of their own." (Department of State)
  • Senate Postpones Daniel Pipes Nomination Vote
    A U.S. Senate committee postponed a vote Wednesday on Daniel Pipes' nomination to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace, a government-funded, nonpartisan think tank. Pipes, an author and lecturer who has spoken out about the threat of Muslim fundamentalism, was nominated by the White House in April. Pipes' nomination has been opposed by Arab groups and backed by prominent Jewish groups. (JTA)
  • DeLay Doubts Mideast is Ready for a Palestinian State
    As he travels next week through Israel, Jordan, and Iraq, House majority leader Tom DeLay will take with him a message of grave doubt that the Middle East is ready for a Palestinian state. "I can't imagine in the very near future that a Palestinian state could ever happen," he said in an interview Thursday. "I can't imagine this president supporting a state of terrorists, a sovereign state of terrorists," he said. "You'd have to change almost an entire generation's culture." DeLay's persistent skepticism about Bush's peace initiative indicates that the president may yet have to wrestle with his right flank in pursuing a plan that ultimately calls for a Palestinian state.
        "In the Arab world before 9/11, they thought the U.S. was a paper tiger....Now they see this is real stuff and real power. And they respect power. If the experiment going on in Iraq comes off, it will have a huge, huge impact in the Arab world, showing people who want freedom and self-government and education that they can have it," DeLay said. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Prisoner Release List Swells to Nearly 600 - Amos Harel and Moshe Reinfeld
    Several dozen of the almost 250 names added over the last several days are members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Most of the new names are genuine security prisoners who have been convicted of terror-related offenses. The list of prisoners to be released will be posted on the Internet 48 hours in advance to give anyone who feels himself injured by a particular release the time to appeal.
        The IDF is also preparing a series of humanitarian gestures toward the Palestinians in advance of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to Washington next week, including the removal of checkpoints and the reopening of roads to Palestinian traffic. The army is also considering increasing the number of Palestinians permitted to work in Israel. But the defense establishment is opposed to more far-reaching measures as long as the PA continues to refuse to disarm the terrorist organizations.
        An investigation by the IDF's Central Command revealed that over the last few weeks, the ranks of the terrorist organizations' local cells have swelled, whereas prior to the cease-fire they had thinned considerably, thanks to the mass arrests carried out by the IDF and the Shin Bet. In addition to actively recruiting new members, the cells are also trying to build more powerful bombs. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Soldier Missing, Feared Kidnapped
    Hundreds of troops, volunteers, and mounted police assisted by bloodhounds are scouring the north for missing soldier Oleg Shaichat, last seen hitchhiking on Monday afternoon. (Ha'aretz)
  • Checkpoint Horror Story False: PA Security Forces Beat Palestinian, Not IDF - Amira Hass
    A Palestinian who claimed he was held and beaten for 30 hours at an IDF checkpoint now admits that it was actually the Palestinian security services who held him and beat him. For four days, over and over, Afif Barghouti, 31, told family, friends, and journalists how Israeli soldiers had held him at the Kalandiya checkpoint for some 30 hours, blindfolded and with his hands tied, and beat him, then released him on July 20. The Palestinian press ran prominent photos of his bruised and battered back, and Ha'aretz published his story with the headline "Anyone Who Walked By, Kicked."
        What really happened, Barghouti now admits, was that Palestinians he recognized as working for the Palestinian security services seized him, held him for almost two days, and beat him. He said that they suspected him of being an Israeli collaborator. (Ha'aretz)
  • Confronting Hizballah on Israel's Northern Border - Amos Harel
    Brig. Gen. Meir Caliphi, who Thursday completed a posting as commander of the Galilee Division, said, "Today I feel much more confident about our ability to respond along the northern border. If we are drawn into a confrontation, we will be able to win the fight and create a new situation in which Hizballah will not be able to return to its positions along the fence. In such a confrontation, Syria, Hizballah, and the government of Lebanon could be the targets - and they will have to pay the highest price possible. They are fully aware of the rules of the game." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Middle East: The Realities - Charles Krauthammer
    In every country from the Khyber Pass to the Mediterranean Sea, the forces of moderation have been strengthened since Sept. 11, 2001. This is a huge strategic advance not just for the region but for the world, because this region in its decades-long stagnation has incubated the world's most virulent anti-American, anti-Western, anti-democratic, and anti-modernist fanaticism. This is not to say that the Near East has been forever transformed. It is only to say that because of American resolution and action, there is a historic possibility for such a transformation. But it all hinges on success in Iraq. On America's not being driven out of Iraq the way it was driven out of Lebanon and Somalia - which is what every terrorist and every terrorist state wants to see happen. Yes, every soldier's death is painful and every life uniquely valuable. But remember that just yesterday we lost 3,000 lives in one day. If this region is not transformed, on some future day we will lose 300,000. If we win the peace in Iraq and leave behind a decent democratic society, enjoying, as it does today, the freest press and speech in the entire Arab world, it will revolutionize the region. If we leave in failure, the whole region will fall back into chaos, and worse. (Washington Post)
  • A Fence on the Defensive - Ze'ev Schiff
    The Americans do not object to the security-defense aspect of the fence, but to the fact that it draws a political boundary in some places - always eastward. Nevertheless, a distinction must be made between the American stance, which accepts Israel's defensive needs, and the Palestinian stance, which opposes any fence and wants a porous border between Israel and the territories. A porous border is dangerous because of the ease with which terrorists could pass through it into Israel.
        The dispute with the Americans began after the fence's route, which was originally closer to the Green Line, was moved eastward. By moving the fence to include Ariel, the planners succeeded in bringing another 40,000 people into the fenced area, of which some 37,000 are Israeli and about 3,000 are Palestinian. (Ha'aretz)
  • Arafat's Soldiers - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinians refer to him as the sheriff of Jenin. Zakariya Zubaidi, head of Fatah's Aksa Martyrs' Brigades in the city, demonstrated this week just how fragile Mahmud Abbas's grip on the West Bank remains, and how America's designs in this part of the Middle East remain largely theoretical even three months after its conquest of Iraq. It was Zubaidi who with 20 followers staged what is being described as a successful coup, beating the PA's governor for the Jenin district, Haidar Irsheid, in the main city square.
        In Jenin, people asked why it took Arafat five hours before he ordered his loyalists to release Irsheid. They believe Arafat knew in advance of the intention to kidnap and humiliate the governor and had given the green light to Zubaidi and his men to act. This was Arafat's way of punishing Irsheid for daring to challenge the Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, a group whose members blindly support Arafat. Says a journalist from Jenin, "Arafat wanted the governor to stay in custody for a number of hours so he would set an example for others." Earlier this month, Arafat dispatched one of his ministers, Abdel Fattah Hamayel, to the Jenin Aksa Brigades with NIS 60,000 in cash.
        Palestinian officials say they believe the best solution for the hundreds of disgruntled Fatah gunmen in Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm is to absorb them in the PA security forces. In Nablus there are at least 250 members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades and its sister group, al-Awdah (The Return), who for the past 2 1/2 years have been functioning as the de facto police in the city, to the dismay of many residents. Many people in Tulkarm, Jenin, and Nablus said this week they are desperately looking forward to the day law and order are restored to their cities. Yet they know that even after Dahlan's men are deployed there, the Fatah gunmen would continue to play a major role in day-to-day issues because that's the way Arafat wants it. "We consider ourselves to be Arafat's soldiers," said the leader of Aksa in Tulkarm. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Jewish U.S. Army Chaplain in Nineveh - Carlos C. Huerta
    Nineveh is the city of the prophet Jonah. Its present name is Mosul. There is a mosque at the site of Jonah's tomb; but hundreds of years ago, the Iraqis we work with tell me, it was a synagogue and the reason the site is so sacred is because of the sacredness in which the Jews held it. One day I came across a building missing half of its roof. The building's interior was three-quarters full of rotting garbage. I could just make out writing engraved on the walls; it was Hebrew. I had stumbled into the ancient synagogue of the city of Mosul-Nineveh, the first Jew to enter this holy place in over 50 years.
        The Iraqis told me that the houses in the streets surrounding the synagogue had been filled with Jews. They took me to the children's yeshiva. As I walked through the quarter I saw that many of the doorposts had an engraving of the lion of Judah on the top. Tears came to my eyes, but I had to hold them back lest I put myself and the soldier with me in a dangerous situation. I had to pretend that I was only mildly interested in what they were showing me. Since then I have gone back to the Jewish quarter of old Mosul with members of my congregation, Jewish soldiers of the 101st: infantrymen, artillerymen, medics, pilots, lawyers, doctors, all proud to be Jewish and serving their country. Together we have found five more synagogues, more yeshivot, and many Jewish homes. I have not yet discovered the ancient Jewish cemetery of Mosul-Nineveh. One native told me that a major highway had been built through it. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:  

    Mr. Sharon Goes to Washington - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • When Secretary Powell asks Sharon for more action on removing illegal outposts, Sharon will say, "Let's see the Palestinians start dismantling the terrorist organizations." When National Security Adviser Rice asks Sharon for more prisoner releases, Sharon will say, "Let's see the Palestinians start dismantling the terrorist organizations." And when President Bush asks Sharon to reconsider building the security fence, Sharon will say, "Let's see the Palestinians start dismantling the terrorist organizations."
    • Sharon will tell the administration Israel appreciates that Palestinian incitement has decreased, and that the PA is taking action to prevent terrorist activity. But the PA is not going after the Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructure, and as a result these organizations are regrouping to fight another day.
    • On the prisoner issue, Sharon will remind the administration that this is a unilateral step taken by Israel, independent of the road map, for the express purpose of strengthening Abbas. But Israel has no obligation under the road map to take this step. As important an issue as the prisoner release is for the Palestinians, it is also very sensitive emotionally and politically for Israelis. Diplomatic sources said Sharon will make clear that it will be easier to release more prisoners if the PA dismantles the terrorist organizations and ensures there is no terrorist infrastructure to support the prisoners even if they want to return to terrorism.
    • The security fence, Sharon will likely argue, was not something Israel wanted but something the Palestinians forced Israel to put up. Until three years ago there was little public support for such an intrusive barrier, until Palestinian terrorists started blowing up buses every Monday and Thursday. Then there was a public outcry for the fence in order to make it more difficult for suicide bombers to kill Israelis. Sharon will likely hint that Israel will weigh where to continue constructing the fence depending on what action the PA takes against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. If these organizations are really dismantled, there will be less of a security need for the fence.

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