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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September 8, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Inside the Kingdom - Lisa Beyer with Scott MacLeod (TIME)
    One of the administration's top counterterrorism officials says the Saudis still appear to be protecting charities associated with the royal family and its friends.
    The Saudis have offered only "selective cooperation" on the financial front.
    The bank records of a charity suspected of being an al-Qaeda front mysteriously disappeared, he says.
    The official also says the Saudis have denied U.S. officials access to several suspects in custody, including a Saudi in detention who had knowledge of extensive plans to inject poison gas in the New York City subway system.
    Saudi spokesmen claim they have fired hundreds of clerics for being too extreme and are re-educating thousands more, but some wonder how long the imams will stay in line.
    "We have noticed lately in influential mosques the imam has condemned terrorism and preached in favor of tolerance, then closed the sermon with 'O God, please destroy the Jews, the infidels, and all who support them,'" says Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Riyadh.
    Apart from channeling money to foundations that have assisted terrorist groups, Saudis have for years supported institutions abroad that propagate Wahhabism.
    According to Mohammed al-Khilewi, a Saudi diplomat who defected to the U.S. in the mid-1990s, "The Saudi government spends billions of dollars to establish cultural centers in the U.S. and all over the world."
    "They use these centers to recruit individuals and to establish extreme organizations," he said.
    In March 2002, Ain al-Yaqeen, an official Saudi magazine, wrote that the royal family wholly or partly funded some 210 Islamic centers, 1,500 mosques, 202 colleges, and 2,000 schools in countries without Muslim majorities.
    According to Khalid Duran, president of a Washington-based Muslim cultural association, virtually every Muslim child in the U.S. receiving religious instruction in Arabic is using Saudi textbooks.

Peace Front Faces Schism Over "Right Of Return" - Eric Marx (Forward)
    Arab groups are threatening to quit the U.S.'s largest anti-war coalition unless it does more to support the Palestinian cause, but Jewish members say that such a move would lead them to break ranks.
    Several Arab and Muslim groups announced last week that they would drop out of United for Peace and Justice, a leading American-based coalition opposed to the Iraq war, unless the umbrella group explicitly endorses the Palestinian "right of return" to Israel.
    But Rabbi Michael Lerner, chairman of the Tikkun Community, which is part of the anti-war coalition's steering committee, said he would quit if such a position is adopted.

Useful Reference:

Israel Campus Beat
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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush: U.S Fighting to Protect "Our Own Streets," "Our Own Cities"
    Addressing the nation Sunday, President Bush said: "The terrorists became convinced that free nations were decadent and weak. And they grew bolder, believing that history was on their side. Since America put out the fires of September the 11th, and mourned our dead, and went to war, history has taken a different turn. We have carried the fight to the enemy. We are rolling back the terrorist threat to civilization, not on the fringes of its influence, but at the heart of its power....We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. And the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans. We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities." (White House)
  • Powell Urges Palestinians to Fight Terror
    Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas submitted his resignation on Saturday and Arafat reportedly named parliament speaker Ahmed Qureia [Abu Ala] to the post. On Sunday, Secretary of State Colin Powell flatly rejected the idea of further dealings with Arafat. "We did everything we could to support" Abbas, Powell said. "The major challenge we had, and he had, was that Hamas, a terrorist organization, would not stop its terrorist activities. And the Palestinian Legislative Council and Mr. Arafat and other authorities within the Palestinian community did not give Mr. Abbas the resources he needed in order to go after Hamas. We have to change that," Powell said. Powell said it was important for the Palestinian Legislative Council to give the next prime minister the political authority as well as the resources to combat terrorism. (AP/USA Today)
  • EU Declares Hamas Political Wing as Terrorist Group
    European Union foreign ministers denounced the political wing of Hamas as a terrorist organization on Saturday following the group's claim of responsibility for a truce-shattering bomb attack in Jerusalem. The decision, long sought by both Israel and the U.S., opens the way for Europe to freeze the group's assets and place its leaders on a terrorist blacklist. "A consensus emerged to decide on putting Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations," French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told reporters, dropping France's earlier objections to outlawing the Palestinian militant movement. (Reuters)
  • Al-Qaeda Plans a Front in Iraq
    The al-Qaeda network is determined to open a new front in Iraq to sustain itself as the vanguard of radical Islamic groups fighting holy war, according to European, American, and Arab intelligence sources. After the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the locus of al-Qaeda's degraded leadership moved to Iran where the Iranian security services, which answer to the country's powerful Islamic clerics, protected the leadership. From Iran, this al-Qaeda group planned the May 12 bombing in Riyadh. After the Riyadh bombing, the Iranians, under pressure from the Saudis, detained the al-Qaeda group.
        According to Arab and U.S. officials, almost all of the senior al-Qaeda figures in captivity have been cooperating with the U.S., which has employed a variety of stress techniques that stop short of direct physical abuse or torture to disorient the prisoners and break their morale. In some cases, U.S. officials holding senior al-Qaeda figures at a secret location have created a parallel universe to hasten their cooperation, where captives have been given what appear to be copies of Arab and Western newspapers and magazines that are, in fact, written and printed by the CIA. Stories in these phony publications include reports that bin Laden had been killed or that the Saudi government had fallen in a coup d'etat, Arab officials said. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Operation Taking Toll on Taliban
    Over the past two weeks, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have conducted their deadliest operations in a year against suspected Taliban forces infiltrating from Pakistan and attempting to regain power, the top U.S. commander in the country said Monday. As many as 200 enemy fighters have been killed since the operation began Aug. 25, said Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who said about l,000 Taliban fighters are hiding in Afghanistan. Vines said the Taliban has been trying to make a comeback for nine months, and the number of fighters trying to enter the country is increasing. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Qureia Wants Guarantees Before Taking PA PM Job - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Palestinian parliament speaker Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) said Monday that he first wanted American and European guarantees and support before accepting the post of PA prime minister. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Weighs Deporting Arafat - Aluf Benn
    Following talks held by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's bureau chief, Dov Weisglass, at the White House last Thursday, officials in the Prime Minister's Office believe there has been a significant turnaround in the U.S. position on the matter of Arafat's deportation. Weisglass did not explicitly ask for U.S. consent for the deportation, but the matter did come up for serious discussion, and the Americans did not reject the idea outright as they have in the past. The U.S. has insisted that the White House be consulted before any decision to harm or deport Arafat.
        When the Americans went to war in Iraq, they explained that the ousting of Saddam Hussein would be a blow to the extremists throughout the region and would make it easier to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. No one took the opposite view - that American entanglement in Iraq would cause a collapse of the peace process due to U.S. attention being diverted, and with elections just around the corner. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Powell and Rice Warn Israel Not to Expel Arafat (New York Times)
  • Hamas's Yassin Survives Gaza Strike - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Hamas's spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was lightly injured in the hand Saturday when an IAF F-16 dropped a 250-kilogram bomb on a building in Gaza City in which the Hamas leadership was reportedly meeting. It appears that intelligence placed the Hamas meeting on the third floor of the building, while the organization's leadership was actually meeting in a first-floor apartment. Israeli security sources explained that a lighter bomb was used to ensure that the entire building would not collapse and that minimal collateral harm would be caused. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF: Hamas Leadership to Still be Targeted - Amos Harel
    The IDF is convinced that it will get more opportunities to strike at the Hamas leadership, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas Resignation Endangers Road Map - Khaled Abu Toameh, Herb Keinon, and Janine Zacharia
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office responded to Abbas's resignation Saturday by saying Israel will not accept a situation where the PA is controlled by Arafat or someone who does his bidding. One senior diplomatic official said if Abbas does indeed leave the scene, he will be taking the road map with him, since Israel signed on to this plan with the understanding that Abbas would be the partner, not Arafat. Regarding Abbas's resignation, a Palestinian legislator explained, "As a man who served the Palestinian cause for more than 40 years, he couldn't put up with the fact that Palestinians were now accusing him of being a traitor and a CIA agent....Abu Mazen is not built to take such a thing." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat Wins, Palestinians Lose Again - Khaled Abu Toameh
    On Saturday Yasser Arafat added George W. Bush's scalp to his impressive collection. Mahmoud Abbas, the man who less than two months ago was being feted at the White House as the world's choice for Palestinian leader, has been reduced to nothing, simply because he was not Arafat's choice. It took just 100 days for Arafat to trash the dream of the U.S. president that he could impose an alternative leader on the Palestinians. It was clear that Arafat, who has never agreed to share powers with any Palestinian, would do his utmost to undermine Abbas and bring about his downfall. Arafat is now looking for a prime minister who would serve under him, not next to him. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Blows to Israel Must Never Go Unanswered - Martin Peretz
    One of the fundamental and actionable principles of Zionism is that Jewish blood is no longer cheap. It follows that the shedding of Jewish blood will not pass without an accounting, without being avenged. And not just for vengeance's sake. But to bring about the elimination of the organized blood sport in Jewish lives. Israel has for years vacillated between responding to terror with exquisitely calibrated force and pacifying terrorists by giving them some of what they want. The U.S. is in great measure responsible for the moral ambiguity of peace-making between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian strategy is terror, pure and simple, like the terror of al-Qaeda. George W. Bush has not quite admitted this, but he has come close. Still, his diplomats behave as if there are two different categories of terror: one with which we can never compromise and another that we will reward with a state. This is a bankrupt program, both morally and practically. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Arafat is the Problem - Editorial
    Arafat's brutal methods were symbolized by the masked thugs who tried to batter down the door of the Palestinian legislative council on Thursday while prime minister Abbas was speaking. Abbas's fate proves, if proof were needed, that no truly moderate Palestinian leader can work alongside Arafat. If the simmering Middle East conflict now boils over, the blame will lie at Arafat's door. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    Netanyahu on Fighting Terrorism - Armstrong Williams (Jerusalem Post)

    • "Terrorism requires you to suspend normal morality for the sake of a supposedly higher cause. And when you do that you have no morality and no cause and eventually no freedom, because the people who are willing to obliterate all human rights are not going to establish democracy when they win."
    • "You couldn't negotiate with Hitler. It didn't matter if you had peace conferences. He meant to destroy. There was never a middle ground. That sort of fanaticism you need to vanquish."
    • "We achieved peace with Egypt and Jordan. The reason we didn't make peace with Arafat is because he wants to overrun the Jewish state. He says so quite openly to his people. Hamas is even more explicit."

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