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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October 27, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Report: U.S. Capitol Was Sept. 11 Attackers' Fourth Goal (Reuters)
    The U.S. Capitol Building, not the White House, was the fourth target of the Sept. 11 attackers, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday, citing results of interrogations of suspected al-Qaeda leaders Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the attacks, and Ramzi bin al-Shaibah, the man suspected of coordinating them.
    The fourth hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania before it could reach its target in Washington.

New Terrorist Attacks Expected in Saudi Arabia (BBC)
    Terrorists in Saudi Arabia "may be in the final phases of planning attacks," the British Foreign Office warned Friday. "We advise British nationals against all but essential travel to Saudi Arabia."
    On Thursday, Australia issued a similar warning.
    See also Al-Qaeda May Be Poised to Attack, U.S. Warns - Andrew Buncombe (Independent-UK)

Palestinian Anti-Americanism - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. has never been regarded by the Palestinians as a friend or an ally. On the contrary, American flags are often burned together with Israeli flags in the streets of Ramallah, Nablus, Gaza City, and Rafah.
    The war in Iraq has further fuelled anti-American feelings among the Palestinians, many of whom seem to be rejoicing over the daily attacks on U.S. troops there.
    Palestinian newspapers report with a tone of admiration on the "heroic resistance" attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq and "Uncle Sam" is depicted in cartoons as a badly injured and defeated, stupid figure.

  See also Politics Trumps Religion - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    There is no doubt that Palestinian public opinion is very pleased with the Iraqi resistance to the American occupation.
    All the Muslim Palestinians are Sunnis, and many of them have undergone a process of returning to religion, which is expressed in the strengthening of the Islamic movements.
    But the source of the Palestinian enthusiasm for the attacks on the Americans in Iraq is solely political and has to do with hostility toward the United States.
    Whoever harms the U.S. (and Israel) more is beloved by the Palestinians.

    See also The PA's Anti-U.S. Message - Itamar Marcus (Jerusalem Post)
    Notwithstanding hundreds of millions of dollars in annual U.S. aid for the PA, and President Bush's support for a Palestinian state, the PA's message remains staunchly anti-U.S.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Series of Blasts Across Baghdad Kill Nearly 40
    A series of blasts shook Baghdad Monday, including a suicide attack on the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross where about 10 people were killed. Iraqi police said an attacker driving an ambulance crashed through the security gate. 27 others were slain in attacks on three police stations. On Sunday, an American colonel was killed and at least 16 people were wounded when a barrage of missiles slammed into a highly protected hotel where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying. (New York Times/FOX News)
        See also French Bombs in Baghdad
    Half of the missiles fired at a Baghdad hotel where U.S. defense chief Paul Wolfowitz was staying were modern French weapons, said experts - produced after the arms embargo imposed on Iraq following the first Gulf War. (Sun-UK)
  • Iran "Studying" Uranium Enrichment Halt
    Iran said Sunday it had not yet suspended enriching uranium after promising to do so. "Iran is currently studying suspending uranium enrichment," the Foreign Ministry said, saying its spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi had been mistaken when he told reporters earlier Sunday that enrichment had already been suspended. (AP/FOX News)
  • Syria Threatens to Attack in Golan If Israel Strikes Again
    Syria has threatened to attack Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights if Tel Aviv launches another assault on its territory. After Israel struck a suspected terrorist training camp near Damascus earlier this month, Farouk Sharaa, Syria's foreign minister, warned that further "aggression" would prompt Syria to use "other cards." "We have many cards that we have not played. Don't forget there are many Israeli settlements in the Golan."
        The foreign minister also claimed that Syria was unable to stop resistance fighters pouring across the border into Iraq to attack American troops. "They are very determined and many of them dream of seeing an American tank," he said. Wajeeh Maoud, muezzin of the Al-Wasim mosque in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, five miles from central Damascus, confirmed that many Palestinians were going into Iraq and some had been killed there. (Telegraph-UK)
  • U.S. to Expand Training of Saudi Military
    The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are looking to expand military cooperation in the coming months, planning a major conference next year at the Pentagon to discuss further U.S. training of the Saudi military, a senior State Department official said Thursday. The official said the Saudis are allowing - for the first time - the U.S. military to train its army. Up to now, most U.S. training for the Saudi military was limited to their air force and national guard. Part of the new military training will even take place on Saudi soil. There were more than 10,000 U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia at the height of the second war with Iraq. A few hundred remain. (UPI/Washington Times)
  • El Al Threat in Toronto Blamed on Al-Qaeda
    An Israeli passenger jet again steered clear of Toronto's airport on Friday, the same day the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot said the source of the security fear stems from a planned attack by al-Qaeda. (National Post-Canada)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Israel to Open Talks with PA Cabinet - Aluf Benn
    Israel intends to begin talks with the Palestinians but at cabinet level, and not with prime ministers meeting, following Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's request to avoid such meetings at present. The Israeli delegation, headed by Dov Weisglass, director of the Prime Minister's Bureau, will try to establish what are Qurei's intentions and whether the implementation of the road map can be advanced, Israeli sources said. Prime Minister Sharon assumes that Qurei (Abu Ala) will not resign and will remain in office after his temporary appointment expires on November 4.
        Qurei met Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs William Burns in Egypt last Wednesday and told him he was optimistic about forming a new cabinet. Burns demanded that the PA unite the security forces under the prime minister's authority. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Ease Closure on Territories - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz will announce Tuesday that the tight closure on the territories will be relaxed in several areas. Several thousand Palestinian workers will be allowed to enter Israel, some of the activities in the industrial zones along the "green line" will be renewed, and restrictions on the transport of goods between Israel and the territories will be eased. The Shin Bet remains strongly opposed to easing any of the restrictions currently in place, arguing that the local terror networks are regrouping and planning attacks against Israeli targets on both sides of the "green line."
        In response to the Netzarim attack, IDF troops entered the adjacent A-Zahra neighborhood and demolished three uninhabited, high-rise buildings, as well as a Palestinian police station. Colonel Yoel Strick said Sunday that the buildings served as a lookout for terrorist organizations, which collected information on IDF movements in Netzarim. He added that the perpetrators of the Netzarim infiltration hid out in the buildings before the attack and one of them took refuge in the police station that was demolished. (Ha'aretz)
  • Army Seizes Terrorists Hiding in Hospitals
    IDF soldiers arrested two Palestinian terror suspects at hospitals in the West Bank city of Nablus before dawn Saturday. In Nablus' Anglican Hospital, soldiers took Khaled Hamed, 25, a Hamas militant who was badly injured Wednesday when explosives inside a car he was riding in went off accidentally. A military source said Hamed had planned suicide bombing attacks. At Rafidiyeh Hospital troops arrested an armed member of the violent Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, linked to Arafat's Fatah faction. Jawad Ishtayeh, 27, was hiding out in the hospital's cellar and armed with a pistol. Palestinian security sources said the man was not a patient and was using the hospital as a hide-out. Israeli army spokeswoman Maj. Sharon Feingold said Palestinian militants were making a new strategy of hiding out in hospitals to avoid arrest. "Hospitals should not be used to harbor terrorists," Feingold said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Anatomy of an Air Force Raid into Syria - Arieh O'Sullivan
    The Israeli F-16 pilots who carried out the raid near Damascus on October 5 said their bombs caused huge secondary explosions since they scored direct hits on ammunition bunkers. Air Force Magazine published before and after aerial photos of the terrorist training base north of the Syrian capital, hit in retaliation for the suicide bombing of Maxim restaurant in Haifa which killed 21 people. "Just 100 meters from the wadi where the training base was located were houses from a civilian village. We needed to have absolute accuracy," said squadron commander Lt.-Col. Z. "The secondary explosions that followed a few seconds later proved that the place was an ammo dump and full of weapons," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Saudi Arabia - A New Player on the Nuclear Scene? - Ephraim Asculai
    In the late 1980s, China sold Saudi Arabia thirty-six CSS-2 missiles, with a range of 3,000 kilometers. This raised many eyebrows, since the only logical use for such missiles would be to deliver unconventional warheads to well-protected strategic targets. Otherwise, the considerable Saudi Air Force would be capable of delivering a more substantial conventional explosives payload at much reduced cost.
        As reported by a former U.S. intelligence officer, it is China that is actually interested in the cooperation with Saudi Arabia. But China has chosen Pakistan as the vehicle for this cooperation since it does not want to disclose a direct nuclear link. China and Pakistan have a lengthy history of nuclear cooperation that facilitated Pakistan's becoming a de facto nuclear weapons state. Saudi Arabia, it was reported, has been financing Pakistan's purchases from China, and thus has become deeply involved in the nuclear development program that Pakistan could hardly have financed on its own.
        The Saudi-Pakistani agreement confronts the world with a number of problems: the possibility that Saudi Arabia will, in fact, become a nuclear weapons state; the growing role of Pakistan as a global nuclear proliferator; and the further danger that nuclear weapons on Saudi territory could fall into the hands of terrorists or be inherited by a successor regime in case the current regime is overthrown. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies/Tel Aviv University)
  • Footprints of a Saudi-Pakistani Nuclear Deal - Anwar Iqbal
    The State Department, which is now saying it is unlikely that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have a nuclear pact, carried a study on its official web site last year saying the kingdom had discussed a nuclear deal with its Muslim ally. UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave, who broke the story from Islamabad last week, said Friday, "I knew that denials would rain down from both countries. They were hardly in a position to confirm a secret understanding 48 hours after it had taken place. Besides, denials from both countries about many major events that subsequently turned out to be correct news reports are fairly routine. The late President Zia ul-Haq denied repeatedly during his 11 years in power that Pakistan was involved in a nuclear weapons program. Saudi officials have also denied time and again that they were funding Pakistan's madrassas (Koranic schools) to the tune of several billion dollars since 1989 where several million young Pakistani boys have been taught only the Koran by heart - and to hate America, Israel, and India. Despite all the adverse publicity, the Saudi clergy is still funding them today." (UPI)
  • Observations:

    The Mahathir Affair: A Case Study in Mainstream Islamic Anti-Semitism - Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • At the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Mahathir, the conference host, represented relations between Muslims and Jews as a worldwide frontal confrontation, offering some new examples of a "Jewish conspiracy." His words were broadly applauded.
    • Since an EU summit was being held at the same time, it was proposed to include a condemnation of Mahathir's remarks in the summit's final statement. However, this was blocked by French President Jacques Chirac and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Instead, the condemnation was delegated to the Italian EU presidency.
    • A New York Times editorial said the EU's refusal to condemn Mahathir's speech at its own summit adds "a concern that displays of anti-Semitism are being met with inexcusable nonchalance," while a Le Monde editorial noted that "such words are common currency in the Arab Islamic world where they pass for evident truth...and this direct form of racism, purely and simply is practiced as a normal category of the 'political debate.'"
    • The importance of the Mahathir affair is that it has exposed in a short time and in a concentrated way the profound anti-Semitic thought present among major layers of both mainstream Muslim elites and society.
    • The Mahathir affair is also an important case study for the analysis of Western reactions to Islamic anti-Semitism.

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