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 28, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Egypt Invests Heavily in Air Force Modernization (Middle East Newsline)
    A report by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies said Egypt has developed a powerful offensive air capability that could challenge any country in the Middle East, including Israel.
    "The Egyptian Air Force has attempted one of the most far-reaching modernization efforts of any Arab air force in the Middle East, weathering the burdensome transition from Russian systems and doctrines to Western ones," said the report, authored by [Res.] Col. Shmuel Gordon.
    "Moreover, the Egyptian Air Force's increasing confidence is reflected in its acquisition of aircraft for deep-penetration strikes into enemy territory."
    The report, entitled "The Egyptian Air Force: Modernization Efforts and American Assistance," is part of a new book published by the Tel Aviv University center, entitled Dimensions of Quality - A New Approach to Net Assessment of Airpower.

Palestinians Demand Missing PA Money - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A group of Palestinian legislators, who form the 9-member Democratic Bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council, is demanding an investigation into the whereabouts of hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to the Palestinian people.
    Hassan Khraisheh said he and his colleagues believe that Arafat's adviser on economic affairs, Muhammad Rashid, is holding at least $200 million in a secret bank account. Rashid is now living in Cairo after he reportedly fell out with Arafat.
    According to a report released last September by the IMF, $591m. in tax revenue and an additional $300m. in profits from commercial investments were "diverted away from the budget." In other words, PA officials stole the money.
    The report said petroleum duties paid via Israeli customs were not reaching the PA Finance Ministry, but were instead being deposited in a private account controlled by Arafat and Rashid in an Israeli bank in Tel Aviv.
    "Senior officials control many monopolies and deposit the money in secret bank accounts abroad. We have also discovered that the Palestinian Authority has a secret bank account in Switzerland. That's where they deposit tax revenues from the workers paid by Israel," said Khraisheh.
    Khraisheh said Arafat and Rashid have exclusive control over the Swiss bank accounts.

GSS Bars Renewal of Flights to Kenya - Dror Marom (Globes)
    El Al Israel Airlines will not renew its flights to Nairobi, Kenya, at this time, due to opposition from the Israel General Security Services.
    El Al CEO Amos Shapiro said Sunday that Nairobi was a commercially valuable destination, but the security authorities had forbidden El Al to operate on the route, after deciding that adequate security could not be guaranteed for the planes and passengers.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • "Syrian" Bomber Caught Alive in Baghdad, U.S. Says
    Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling of the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division said one attacker captured in the bombings that killed 34 Monday was "a foreign fighter. He had a Syrian passport and the policemen claim that as he was shot and fell that he said he was Syrian." Hertling said suicide attacks were not typical of supporters of Saddam Hussein. "There are indicators that certainly these attacks have a mode of operation of foreign fighters," he said. (Reuters)
        See also Non-Iraqis Now a Concern for U.S. Military Planners
    While military commanders have increasingly focused on gathering tactical intelligence from Iraqis to generate targeted raids on former Hussein loyalists living in their midst, different intelligence networks would have to be built to go after foreign terrorists. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Doubts Iran Nuclear Deal
    In Washington, even moderate Bush advisers question whether Iranian ministers and clerics who agreed to the deal to "suspend" a suspected uranium-enrichment program have the power to deliver Tehran's end of the bargain. Some U.S. officials fear the Iranian government has now splintered into three major factions: a reformist or "moderate" faction, personified by the president, Mohammed Khatami; a hard-line faction, led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme religious leader; and an ultra-hard-line faction of no-name spooks and extremist clerics who secretly pursue radical policies, such as the clandestine support of terrorists, in a way that gives public hard-liners "deniability." (Newsweek)
        See also Israel, U.S. Skeptical about Pact to End Iran Nuke Program - Amos Harel
    According to a senior Israeli intelligence official, "It is already possible to conclude with certainty that the Iranians have lied once again. Domestically, they describe their commitment to the Europeans as a temporary halt. They are not giving up their capabilities, but freezing them for a limited period." Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi, the head of Israeli Military Intelligence, said this week that he views the chances of halting Iran's nuclear program as "extremely low." (Ha'aretz)
  • Senate Votes to Restrict Military Aid to Malaysia
    The Senate voted Monday to restrict military aid to Malaysia in response to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's assertion that Jews control the world through their influence over major powers. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Row Tutor Suspended
    Professor of pathology Andrew Wilkie, who rejected a doctoral student's application because he had been in the Israeli army, has been suspended without pay by Oxford University for two months and will have to undergo equal opportunities training. A university spokesman said: "This ruling reflects that there can be no place for any form of discrimination within the University of Oxford." "Professor Wilkie fully accepts the gravity of the situation and...particularly wishes to make it clear that he greatly values the diverse backgrounds of the staff and students with whom he works and looks forward to applications from able candidates, whatever their background." (BBC)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Soldier Injured in Hizballah Attack - Amos Harel and Uri Ash
    One soldier was lightly injured Monday when Hizballah attacked three IDF outposts in the Har Dov region with dozens of anti-tank missiles, mortar and artillery shells over two and a half hours. Hizballah also fired two antitank missiles at an IDF position outside the Har Dov region. (Ha'aretz)
  • No Plans to Kill Arafat, PM Assures Visitors - Gideon Alon
    In response to a question from visiting Irish parliamentarian David Norris, Prime Minister Sharon said Monday: "Arafat lives, and not only is he healthy, but he is very active in organizing acts of murder against women and children....I don't see any plans to kill him, although the man is responsible for the deaths of hundreds, of thousands, of mostly civilians because his strategy is a strategy of terror." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Abraham Foxman's Finest Hour - Seth Lipsky
    Abraham Foxman's thesis, well-documented in his new book Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, is that we are seeing a new eruption of the oldest hatred. Myriad incidents the world over are being recorded by his organization: synagogues are bombed and individual Jews attacked in France; statesmen like the prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, deliver anti-Jewish tirades; and right-wing and left-wing intellectuals, clergymen, and popular culture figures in America disclose their biases in anti-Semitic rants. (New York Sun)
  • Graffiti on History's Walls - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Just as historic anti-Semitism has denied individual Jews the right to live as equal members of society, anti-Zionism would deny the collective expression of the Jewish people, the State of Israel, the right to live as an equal member of the family of nations. Israel's policies are thus subjected to criticism that causes it to be singled out when others in similar circumstances escape any criticism at all. Surely if any other country were bleeding from terrorism as Israel is today, there would be no question of its right to defend itself. But Israel's efforts merely to protect its own citizens are routinely portrayed as aggression. Recent criticism of Israel has become so perverse, so persistent, so divorced from reality that it can be seen only as emotional anti-Semitism hiding behind the insidious political mask of anti-Zionism. (U.S. News)
  • Antiglobalism's Jewish Problem - Mark Strauss
    Anti-Semitism is again on the rise. Why now? Blame the backlash against globalization. As public anxiety grows over lost jobs, shaky economies, and political and social upheaval, the far right and extreme left are seeking solace in conspiracy theories. Modern anxieties are merging with old hatreds and the myths on which they rest. The backlash against globalization unites all elements of the political spectrum through a common cause, and in doing so it sometimes fosters a common enemy - what French Jewish leader Roger Cukierman calls an anti-Semitic "brown-green-red alliance" among ultra-nationalists, the populist green movement, and communism's fellow travelers. (Foreign Policy)
  • Observations:

    Victory in Iraq, One Tribe at a Time - Amatzia Baram (New York Times)

    • Some of the latest bombings across Iraq were the work of forces loyal to Saddam Hussein from the so-called Sunni Triangle northwest of Baghdad, who retain a stubborn fealty to the former dictator - a loyalty rooted in part in centuries-old tribal kinship and religious identity. Only by understanding these ties and then using them to its advantage will the coalition authority reduce the resistance. The coalition is eminently capable of winning over many tribes. An old saying in Iraq has it that you cannot buy a tribe, but you can certainly hire one.
    • The nation's Sunni minority, who make up only 15% of the population, have now been deprived of their long-standing political hegemony, losing their prestigious and well-paying jobs in the armed forces and internal security apparatus and largely frozen out of the Governing Council and the senior bureaucracy. Coalition leaders must bear in mind that the violence is not unstoppable - in large part, we are dealing with people who are open to persuasion.
    • Attacks on coalition troops should be viewed through the prism of tribal warfare. This is a world defined in large measure by avenging the blood of a relative (al-tha'r); demonstrating one's manly courage in battle (al-muruwwah); generally upholding one's manly honor (al-sharaf). For some of these young men, killing American soldiers is a political act, but it is also not unlike what hunting lions was to British colonial officers in 19th-century Africa: it involves a certain risk, but the reward is great.
    • Specifically, the Governing Council and its American supporters must come up with a coherent tribal policy. Hesitation to give power to tribal leaders has been understandable: cultivating the tribes and the sheiks might be seen as a contradiction of the new leaders' stated goal of forming a democratic Iraqi civil society in a modern way. But to avoid increasing violence in the Sunni Triangle, there is a need to rethink that approach.
    • There are about 10 large tribal federations in central Iraq and hundreds of subgroups, each with its own sheik. New efforts ought to be made to persuade the sheiks to assert their influence and help keep the peace. The easiest would simply be to hire the sheiks and their tribesmen - putting them on salaries and allowing them to spread the wealth among their people. In addition, sheiks in areas where coalition soldiers and oil pipelines are coming under frequent attacks should be told that the only way their tribes can receive luxuries - extra government services, construction aid, easy access to senior officials in Baghdad - is by making sure that there are no attacks against coalition soldiers in their domain.
    • In the Middle East, more often than not, tribes have been willing to give up a great degree of their autonomy in exchange for government services, and Iraq is no exception. The risk is worth taking.

      The writer is professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of Haifa in Israel and a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace.

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