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 12, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
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In-Depth Issue:

Report: IDF Ready to Snatch Arafat Since April 2002 (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel Radio reports that an elite IDF unit has been ready for over two years to "remove" Yasser Arafat, should the political echelon give it the order to do so.
    The unit was to have broken into Arafat's compound, eliminate any resistance it faced, snatch Arafat and whisk him away to a North African country on board a helicopter.
    According to a senior IDF officer, the plans to remove Arafat are still in place, and that there would be "no problem to quietly enter the Muqata and carry out the plans," adding that the plans made room for armed resistance by Arafat loyalists.

The Saudi-Al Qaeda Connection - Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
    A cache of documents purportedly recovered from the files of ex-Taliban chief Mullah Omar in Afghanistan provides potentially damning new evidence of a secretive money trail through which millions of dollar in funds from Saudi Arabia allegedly flowed to al-Qaeda terrorists in the late 1990s.
    One document appears to be a direct order from Mullah Omar to the Afghan ambassador in Pakistan to turn over $2 million "in Saudi Arabia aids" to Jon Juma Namangani who headed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which the U.S. State Department designated a terrorist group.
    Other documents appear to show the Taliban leader ordering similar releases of millions of dollars in funds "from the aids of Saudi Arabia, brotherly country," as well as the "the brotherly nation" of the United Arab Emirates.
    Other orders refer to "Wafa aids" and "the aids of Al-Rasheed" - two apparent references to Islamic charities that have been linked by U.S. officials to the financing of terrorism.
    Just this week, the top White House official responsible for counterterrorism policy, Francis Townsend, returned to Saudi Arabia to iron out the details of a newly created joint U.S.-Saudi task force that is supposed to share "real-time" intelligence to track terrorist financiers.
    But on Capitol Hill, there is deep skepticism that the Saudis are serious about cracking down, and at least three Senate committees have launched investigations into the issue.
    In addition, a Senate resolution threatening Saudi Arabia with economic sanctions - unless the president annually certifies the country is taking demonstrable steps to curb the financing of terror groups - is rapidly gaining support.

Al-Qaeda Recruiting on the Internet - (Washington Times)
    Since the U.S.-led war on terrorism began, militant Islamic groups have been turning to the Internet increasingly to disseminate propaganda and recruitment material, and raise funds.
    Web discussion forums and Hotmail-type e-mail accounts that require no proof of identification offer a good degree of security for terrorists.

Congress Pushed Out of Supervision of PA Aid (Middle East Newsline)
    The Bush administration has rejected congressional oversight of funding for Palestinian security agencies.
    "There were efforts by some members of Congress to delve into the process of U.S. funding for the restructuring of Palestinian security agencies," a senior congressional source said. "The administration said this was a war on terrorism issue and the members backed off."
    Sources estimate that the administration has invested more than $100 million in the PA security agencies, with much of the money apparently funneled directly to outgoing PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan.

EU Funds for NGOs Misused (NGO Monitor/JCPA-ICA)
    Since 1994, the Palestinians have received approximately $3 billion from the EU.
    EU funding from the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) goes to I'lam, The Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel.
    In fact, I'lam is a political tool that presents a distorted picture of the Israeli press and is part of a wider campaign to delegitimize Israel in the international community.

Poll: Israel Among Top U.S. Allies (Israel21c)
    A Harris Interactive poll shows that Israel is among the U.S.'s leading allies.
    In this year's survey of 1,011 adults conducted August 12-17, 2003, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia continued to lead the list as our closest allies, followed by Israel, which also ranked 4th in the poll last year.

Hadassah ER Report Earns NBC an Emmy - Anat Balint (Ha'aretz)
    An NBC documentary on the trauma unit at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem was awarded an Emmy at the News and Documentary Awards Ceremony in New York last week.
    The documentary, entitled "Jerusalem ER," focused on Prof. Avi Rivkind, the director of the hospital's Surgery and Trauma Unit.

Useful Reference:

National Jewish Population Survey (United Jewish Communities)
    The core Jewish population of the U.S. is 5.2 million, according to the just released National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) 2000-01.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Wary of Steps by Israelis on Arafat
    U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was understood to have been in contact with senior Israeli officials, including a telephone conversation in advance of Thursday's Israeli security cabinet meeting where a decision was taken to remove Arafat. (See more on Israeli Cabinet Decision below.) Rice was said to have expressed the administration's concern about any expulsion order. Administration officials said they did not expect Israel to take any immediate action. Speaking to ABC News, Secretary of State Powell said: "I don't think there's any purpose in doing it right now....What purpose would it serve? To give him a broader stage to operate from outside of the region?" (New York Times)
  • U.S. Troops Nab 80 Foreign Fighters in Iraq
    About 80 foreign fighters captured in the northeast region of Iraq were being interrogated, senior defense officials said. The fighters were nabbed between the city of Mosul and the Syrian border, and came from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, and Syria. A senior administration official said the number of foreign fighters in Iraq ranges from "at least 1,000 to as high as 3,000." (FOX News)
  • EU Demands Palestinians Stop Terrorists
    The European Union moved Thursday to increase pressure on Hamas by adding the entire organization to the EU terrorist list, but it stopped short of a U.S. crackdown on related charities that are alleged to funnel money to the Islamic militant group. Five days after EU foreign ministers agreed to crack down on Hamas, their ambassadors in Brussels were only able to agree on adding its political wing to the blacklist, diplomats said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Israel: EU Move to Ban Hamas is "Very, Very Helpful" (Ha'aretz)
  • Questions Grow on Pakistan's Commitment to Fight Taliban
    The Pakistani military is credited by American officials with excellent cooperation in hunting down members of al-Qaeda. But members of the Afghan government and some Pakistani political and intelligence officials suggest that Pakistan is not doing all it could to stop Taliban forces from using its territory to attack Afghan territory, and that some elements of Pakistan's army are harboring Taliban and Qaeda members. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • U.S. Blocks Cabinet Move to Exile Arafat - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    The U.S. Thursday blocked Israel from immediately expelling Arafat from the territories. The Americans contacted Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz on Wednesday night to demand that they not expel Arafat. In return, they promised to insist that new Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei should fulfill the PA's obligation under the road map peace plan to fight terrorism rather than making do with temporary cease-fires. (See text of Israeli Cabinet Decision below.) (Ha'aretz)
        Once more, the White House intervened and demanded that Israel give a chance to the new Ahmed Qurei government and lay off Arafat. In return, the Americans have promised not to restrict Israel's actions against Hamas and will insist that the new Palestinian government carry out a real war against terrorism.
        The cabinet's decision faces Qurei with an ultimatum: If you fight terror, we'll talk with you, and if you don't, you'll be faced with the responsibility for the expulsion of your leader. Sharon does not reject the new Palestinian prime minister, with whom he has conversed on a number of occasions. But he has also made clear that Israel will not take any steps to reinforce his position, the way he did with his predecessor Mahmoud Abbas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz to Kurtzer: Israel Should Have Exiled Arafat Earlier - Aluf Benn and Gideon Alon
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer on Friday that Israel's failure to exile Arafat earlier was a historic mistake. Mofaz told the envoy that Israel views Arafat as an obstacle to making progress in any diplomatic process, Israel Radio reported. Mofaz also said Israel remains committed to the road map and to the vision of President Bush. Political sources told Army Radio on Friday that Arafat would not be expelled without American agreement. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Pressure Changes Fence Route in Northern Jordan Valley - Felix Frisch
    In response to American pressure, Israel has changed the route of the security fence in the Gilboa region that was to have included the northern Jordan Valley, to a route much closer to the "green line." In addition, senior security sources promised that a decision would be made in the coming days on the route of the western fence from Elkana to northern Jerusalem. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • PA Minister Calls Arafat "the Most Incompetent Revolutionary Leader in History" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Arafat stormed out of a meeting of the Fatah Central Council in Ramallah on Thursday after a bitter confrontation with Gen. Nasser Youssef, nominated to be interior minister in the new cabinet led by Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala). According to well-informed sources in Ramallah, an enraged Arafat left the meeting after Youssef described him as "the most incompetent revolutionary leader in history." Qurei's attempt to form an emergency cabinet was strongly opposed by many PA, PLO, and Fatah officials, forcing Qurei to back off from his intention. Hundreds of Palestinians converged on Arafat's compound Thursday night, vowing to foil any attempt to expel him. Flashing a V for victory sign, a smiling Arafat walked out to the crowd, shouting through a loudspeaker that he prefers to die rather than be expelled. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas is the Largest Palestinian Political Movement - Danny Rubinstein
    Hamas today is considered the largest Palestinian political movement. The increasing power of Hamas is especially prominent compared to the decline of Fatah, the Palestinian ruling party, whose leaders are preoccupied with internal fighting. (Ha'aretz)
        Cells belonging to Hamas's military wing have organized in every neighborhood, village, and refugee camp. A clear sign of their presence is the omnipresent graffiti: paeans of praise for suicide bombers can be found on every corner of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jerusalem Bus Bombing Toll Reaches 23
    Tova Lev, 37, died Friday of wounds sustained in the August 19 homicide bus bombing in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • In Need of a New Abbas - Charles Krauthammer
    The fall of moderate Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas - systematically destroyed by Yasser Arafat - represents a spectacularly missed opportunity. Abbas wanted to end the terror and cash in on the American promise of an independent Palestinian state. Arafat, whose unswerving objective is a Palestinian state built on the ruins of Israel and who will not put down the gun until he gets it, undermined Abbas from the very beginning. He now has chosen a puppet as his new prime minister. Abbas's fall is only the latest chapter in the tragic story of the Palestinians' repeated decision to refuse the dignity of independence if it meant accepting Israel. Every peace plan, every road map, every truce is bound to fail until the Palestinians make a historic collective decision to accept half a loaf and build their state within it.
        The administration should reconsider its puzzling opposition to the Israeli security fence. The fence not only will save lives by preventing suicide attacks, it will change the strategic equation by neutralizing the terror weapon. If the fence is built, yes, some Palestinians will be cut off from their fields. On the other hand, if the fence is not built, innocent people on the other side will be blown to bits. Which of these two misfortunes is the more morally compelling? (Washington Post)
  • War on U.S. Didn't Begin on 9/11 - Jeff Jacoby
    The war we are in began 22 ago on Nov. 4, 1979, when Islamist radicals stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and, with the support of the Ayatollah Khomeini, proceeded to hold 52 Americans hostage for the next 15 months. Americans living in Lebanon were abducted - and some of them tortured and killed - by Iranian- and Syrian-backed terrorists between 1982 and 1991. A massive car bomb at the U.S. embassy in Beirut murdered 63 people in April 1983, and another attack in Lebanon in October killed 241 Marines in their barracks. And so it went when TWA Flight 847 was hijacked in 1985. When Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Scotland. When the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993. When two U.S. military compounds in Saudi Arabia were destroyed in 1996. When al-Qaeda blew up the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. When the USS Cole was attacked in 2000. Atrocity followed atrocity, but the fury of the United States was never aroused.
        What happened on 9/11 is that America began fighting back. And the counterattack was launched not from Washington but from the skies over southeastern Pennsylvania, when the heroic passengers of United Flight 93 rose against the terrorists, and aborted the fourth attack. American eyes have opened to the threat from Islamofascism, the totalitarian ideology that has succeeded Nazism and communism as the foremost menace to the norms of civilization.
        We have taken the fight to the terrorists, but we have not yet taken on the states that are their mainstay and refuge: Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. The governments of those three countries, more than any other, were responsible for Sept. 11 and the 22 years of terrorism that preceded it. Until they are toppled or transformed, the war against us will go on. We are in a fight to the death. Either America will destroy the terror masters or the terror masters will keep destroying Americans. Let us strive to be like the heroes of Flight 93 - to have the moral clarity to see what must be done, and the strength of will to do it. (Boston Globe)
  • Connecting the Dots - Senator Jon Kyl
    Disturbing is the presence of radical Islamist groups and cells here in the United States that often have the support financially, ideologically, and even diplomatically, of the Saudi regime. Contrary to popular opinion, the voice of moderate Muslims is not often heard here in Washington and across America. Instead, a small group of organizations based in the U.S., with Saudi backing and support, is well advanced in its four-decade effort to control Islam in America - from mosques, universities, and community centers to our prisons and even within our military. Moderate Muslims who love America and want to be part of our great country are being forced out of those institutions. The Wahhabi-backed extremists then denounce critics of Wahhabism and other forms of Islamist extremism as being racists and bigots. (National Review)
  • When Jimmy Carter Met Menachem Begin - Yehuda Avner
    When Menachem Begin met with Jimmy Carter at the White House in July 1977, Begin gave a detailed presentation on the inalienable rights of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael. This being the first summit between a Likud premier and an American president, Begin was determined that Carter hear firsthand what he stood for. Carter responded: "Mr. Prime Minister, my impression is that your insistence on your rights over the West Bank and Gaza would...close off all hopes of negotiations." But Begin had readied himself for this encounter and he knew that he and the president were on vastly different trajectories, a no-exit confrontation on the settlement of the biblical heartland.
        "Mr. President," he said, "I wish to tell you something personal - not about me, but about my generation. What you have just heard about the Jewish people's inherent rights to the Land of Israel may seem academic to you, theoretical, even moot. But not to my generation. To my generation of Jews these eternal bonds are indisputable and incontrovertible truths, as old as recorded time. They touch upon the very core of our national being. For we are an ancient homecoming nation. Ours is an almost biblical generation of suffering and courage. Ours is the generation of Destruction and Redemption. Ours is the generation that rose up from the bottomless pit of Hell."
        Begin then displayed a map showing the old armistice line as it existed until the 1967 Six-Day War, the so-called "green line." Pointing to Haifa: "The armistice line is hardly 20 miles away from our major port city," and then Netanya: "Our country here was reduced to a narrow waist nine miles wide....Nine miles, Mr. President. Inconceivable! Indefensible!" Then Begin pointed to Tel Aviv: "Here live a million Jews, 12 miles from that indefensible armistice line. And here, between Haifa in the north and Ashkelon in the south" - his finger ran up and down the coastal plain - "live two-thirds of our total population. And this coastal plain is so narrow that a surprise thrust by a column of tanks could cut the country in two in a matter of minutes. For whosoever sits in these mountains" - his fingertips tapped the tops of Judea and Samaria - "holds the jugular vein of Israel in his hands." "Gentlemen, there is no going back to those lines. No nation in our merciless and unforgiving neighborhood can be rendered so vulnerable and survive."
        "Mr. President," continued Begin, "This is our map of national security, and I use that term in its most unembellished sense. It is our map of survival. And the distinction between the past and the present is just that: survival. Today, our menfolk can defend their women and children. In the past they could not. Indeed, they had to deliver them to their Nazi executioners." And then Begin declared, "Sir, I take an oath before you in the name of the Jewish people - this will never ever happen again." The writer, a veteran diplomat, was an adviser to four prime ministers, including Menachem Begin. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • Heroes of Jerusalem - Jon Medved
    The blast at Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim St. shook the windows of our house and left no doubt that we had been hit again - this time in our own neighborhood. Our son Momo, 16, was crossing Emek Refaim when he heard the blast. A trained volunteer with Magen David Adom, Momo took out the plastic gloves he keeps in his school backpack and began to run the block to the cafe to help with the injured; he was one of the first to arrive at the scene, which he described later as something straight out of Dante, or Eli Wiesel. Momo helped carry the injured on stretchers. Within 10 minutes it was over, and the amazing Israeli emergency medical teams had again acted with alacrity and professionalism. Momo's mother and brother found him covered with victims' blood and walked him home. My son and his friends are true heroes of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Scientists Confirm Jerusalem Tunnel Built in 700 B.C. - Guy Gugliotta
    In a rare success by scholars attempting to match existing archaeological structures with events in the Bible, researchers say they have shown conclusively that Jerusalem's King Hezekiah built the meandering Siloam Tunnel beneath the city around 700 BC. The tunnel runs 1,749 feet from Gihon Spring to the Siloam Pool beneath the ancient section of Jerusalem known as the City of David. In research reported in the journal Nature, geographer Amos Frumkin of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem used radiocarbon and other radioactive isotope testing to establish the age of the tunnel, confirming that the tunnel was built about 700 BC and is almost certainly Hezekiah's "conduit," mentioned in II Kings 20:20 and II Chronicles 32:3-4. (Washington Post)
  • India's Diamond Skills Sparkle, Thanks to Israel
    If India can claim to be cutting and polishing 9 out of 10 diamonds sold in the global market, it is thanks to the skills imparted by the Israelis who have dominated the trade for decades. "Indians learned the know-how of fine cutting and polishing from Israel, which at one time had around 35,000 people engaged in the trade," said Sanjay Kothari, chairman of India's Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council. Today an estimated 700,000 Indians are engaged in the diamond trade, while in Israel it is down to a few thousand. Diamonds dominate the nearly $1.2 billion bilateral trade between the two countries. Diamond trade between the two countries grew 33.8% during the January-June period from $392.3 million in 2002 to $525 million this year, according to official sources. (
  • Observations:

    Israeli Cabinet: Israel Will Work to Remove Arafat
    (Prime Minister's Media Adviser/IMRA)

    • On Thursday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon instructed the security forces to act relentlessly, continuously, and determinedly to eliminate the terrorist organizations and take all appropriate measures against their leaders, commanders, and operatives until their criminal activity is halted.
    • This activity will continue until the Israeli government is satisfied that the PA is taking tangible steps to dismantle and eliminate the terrorist organizations.
    • Events of recent days have reiterated and proven again that Yasser Arafat is a complete obstacle to any process of reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel will work to remove this obstacle in a manner, and at a time, of its choosing.
    • Israel will negotiate only with a Palestinian prime minister who acts immediately to dismantle and remove the terrorist organizations, implements and carries out full reforms of the PA, and fully upholds the other commitments that the PA has taken upon itself according to the roadmap, as it has been adopted by the Israeli government.
    • The Israeli government rejects any idea of a ceasefire as a way of dealing with terror; terror will stop only after the terrorist organizations have been dismantled and liquidated. This is the obligation of the PA and it will be judged solely by its actions and results.
    • The Cabinet has decided to accelerate the construction of the security fence.

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