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 31, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Brutality of Saddam's Iraq on Video (U.S. Defense Department)
    Asked about a recent videotape declassified for release to the media, Secretary of Defense Rumsfield said he had seen such tapes, that "portray a regime that was about as vicious as any regime could conceivably be."
    "When you have people filming, in front of crowds cheering and clapping, you have people cutting off people's tongues, and cutting off people's heads, and chopping off their fingers and chopping off their hands, throwing them off three-story buildings, you learn something about a group of people and how they live their lives and how they treated their people. And we are so fortunate they are gone and that those 23 million people are liberated."
    See also Videotape Shows Saddam's Men Torturing Iraqis (FOX News)
    The filming locations appear to be public squares and military installations. In attendance are dozens of black-clad Fedayeen, uniformed Republican Guards, civilians, and children.
    "Saddam's regime took sadistic pleasure in documenting the horrors it perpetrated on the Iraqi people," said Tom Malinowski, a director of Human Rights Watch.
    "In fact, they wanted people to know this, because the purpose of this treatment was to terrorize the population so no one would even think of opposing Saddam."

Poll: 59% of Europeans Say Israel is Greatest Threat to World Peace (AFP/EUBusiness)
    According to a Eurobarometer poll carried out for the European Commission, to be published next Monday, 59% of Europeans believe Israel poses the biggest threat to world peace, ahead of the U.S., Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea, the Spanish daily El Pais reports.

Israel Sees Growing Involvement of Hizballah in Territories - Ramit Plushnick-Masti (AP/Washington Times)
    Last Friday's attack in Netzarim was the latest of a series of Palestinian attacks with Hizballah's fingerprints.
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad spent weeks spying on Netzarim, planning the attack and waiting for ideal weather conditions - a pea-soup fog - to move in.
    Two gunmen, one of whom escaped, burst into the soldiers' sleeping quarters, spraying machine-gun fire in all directions.
    Hours later, the groups released a videotape that included surveillance footage - showing cars and bike riders moving along the town's roads - reminiscent of images Hizballah would release after successful attacks on the Israeli army.

Security Official: Palestinians Can Carry Out Chemical Attack - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian terrorist organizations have the ability to carry out a chemical attack in Israel, but have refrained from doing so due to the repercussions of such an attack, a senior security official said this week.
    "It is not a problem for terrorist organizations to obtain chemical materials, and they are aware of the advantages of such an attack; but on the other hand [they know] it would be considered breaking all the rules of the game," the official said.

Removing El Al Insignia Temporary - Erik Schechter and Tal Muscal (Jerusalem Post)
    Yediot Ahronot reported Thursday that two weeks ago, El Al flew unflagged jets to Bangkok, Thailand, to avoid presenting an obvious target to terrorists.
    Until the entire fleet can be outfitted with a sophisticated anti-missile system, removing the corporate logo and Star of David from some of its passenger aircraft is better than nothing, said a top aviation analyst.
    "Taking the markings off a plane cuts the effectiveness of a Stinger by half," said one missile expert.
    From a technical point of view, a lumbering jumbo jet should be an easy target. However, many countries use identical commercial passenger aircraft, so identifying such a plane at a distance is difficult.

Forms of Palestinian Public Protest - Abdul-Hadi Muslim and Muhammad Ahmed (Jerusalem Times/IMRA)
    Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets around the world to criticize the ways of the government, and the police do not interfere, but stand aside, watch, and direct traffic, because the rallies are licensed and the people do not burn tires or smash store windows.
    The opposite happens in Palestine, where freedom of expression usually takes a different direction; destruction of public property, attacks on police stations, and burning of tires.
    Ibrahim Abu Al-Naja, a top representative in the Legislative Council, wondered what message could be sent from a burning tire that clogs roads and harms the environment.
    Mousa Abdul-Nabi, commander of Intervention and Order-Keeping Forces in the Police Corps, stressed the danger of attacking police stations. He considered firing at police stations a criminal act.

Economist: Growth in Israel Much Higher in 2004 - Zeev Klein (Globes)
    The British weekly The Economist Thursday published an optimistic updated forecast for the Israeli economy, predicting that growth in Israel would be much higher in 2004, led by exports.
    Recovery in economic activity and tax revenues had begun as early as mid-2003.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Officials See Hussein's Hand in Attacks on Americans in Iraq
    Saddam Hussein may be playing a significant role in coordinating and directing attacks by his loyalists against American forces in Iraq, senior American officials said Thursday, citing recent intelligence reports indicating that Hussein is acting as a catalyst or even a leader in the armed opposition. Hussein is believed to have met with Izzat Ibrahim, an Iraqi general who was the second highest ranking member of the Iraqi government at the time of the invasion, and who is described by American officials as playing a significant role in the insurgency. Ibrahim, No. 6 on the American most-wanted list, has been described by some Defense Department officials as having recently been in contact with members of Ansar al-Islam, a militant group that had been based in northern Iraq before the American-led invasion and which is linked to al-Qaeda. (New York Times)
        See also Senior Saddam Aide Said Working with Islamists on Iraqi Suicide Bombings
    A senior Pentagon figure said that two captured members of Ansar al-Islam, a northern Iraqi militant group, have named Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri as a force behind some of the bombing attacks. Al-Douri's daughter was married to Saddam's son, Uday. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • State Dept. Will Support Syria Sanctions
    State Department officials said Thursday diplomatic efforts with Syria have shown little success and they are prepared to support a sanctions bill that Congress is close to passing. "We have to recognize that we have some quite significant problems in our relationship," William Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Rice Urges Palestinians to Take Care of Security Issues
    Speaking to reporters at New York's Foreign Press Center, U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the Palestinian leadership must strive to take control of security. "The roadmap is a fact of political life," she said, describing it as "the most reliable guide to achieving the objective of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side." But she noted that for the roadmap to work, certain fundamentals have to be in place, especially a situation in which "terrorism is being fought, terrorist infrastructures are being dismantled, and the Palestinian leadership has control of its security forces." She said President Bush had met Palestinian leaders in the past and "under the right conditions it would make sense to do so in the future," but only after the Palestinian security service issues had been resolved. (Xinhua-China)
  • U.S. Slowly Scaling Back Role in Israel
    Call us when you're serious about disarming militants - that's the message Palestinians are getting from U.S. mediators who have scaled back their presence in the region. The apparent disengagement comes amid a deadlock in the U.S.-led "road map" peace plan, Washington's growing troubles in Iraq, and the distractions of the U.S. presidential election campaign. A U.S. State Department official said, "There is engagement, but don't forget that in the absence of concrete steps that are not ours to make, there is a limit to what we can do."
        Palestinian officials are now saying they have been told by the Bush administration it is waiting for a crackdown on the militant groups that have killed hundreds of Israelis in the past three years of fighting. Three Palestinian legislators heard that message last week in a meeting in Washington with David Satterfield, a senior State Department official. "We were able to understand from him that the Americans will stay outside until the Palestinians take some steps," said Kadoura Fares, a member of the delegation from the ruling Fatah movement. (AP/USA Today)
  • No Deployment of Turkish Troops in Iraq
    After months of wrangling between the U.S. and Turkey over the possible deployment of up to 10,000 Turkish troops in Iraq, the matter is closed, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said Wednesday. Ankara set as conditions of deployment having control of its own discrete zone of operations, and for its troops to be under direct Turkish command. (NTV MSNBC-Turkey)
        See also Turkey is Still a Reliable U.S. Ally - Mark Parris
    In October, despite continuing anxiety in Turkey over U.S. policy toward Iraq, Prime Minister Erdogan used important political capital to move the troop authorization motion through his government and Parliament with dispatch. Yet Washington now seems to be having difficulty taking Turkey's "Yes" for an answer. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party have now demonstrated that, even on an issue as contentious and laden with emotional history as this one, they can deliver. The writer was U.S. ambassador to Turkey, 1997-2000. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Top Israeli Officer Says Tactics are Backfiring; Dispute between Israeli Intelligence Agencies Exposed
    Israel's senior military commander, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, told columnists for three leading newspapers this week that Israel's military tactics against the Palestinian population were too repressive and were fomenting explosive levels of "hatred and terrorism" that might become impossible to control. Yaalon took his complaints public after several weeks of security staff meetings in which he advocated easing the military restrictions on Palestinians. But in each session he was overruled by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and the intelligence chief, Avi Dichter, who argued that loosening controls on travel in the territories could allow Palestinian militants to slip into Israel, according to two military officers familiar with the internal disagreements. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the final arbiter in the meetings, sided with Mofaz and Dichter, the officers said. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon: Israel "Maintaining Dialogue with Palestinians" - Arnon Regular
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Thursday that Israel is "maintaining dialogue with the Palestinians, although not on the level of prime minister...due to a Palestinian request to allow Prime Minister Abu Ala [Ahmed Qurei] to gain strength." "We are open to holding a dialogue with any Palestinian government that will rule out incitement, terror, and violence," Sharon said. "I believe that we are at the brink of a new opportunity to find the way to quiet and peace." (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz to Meet Senior PA Official Next Week - Aluf Benn and Amos Harel
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz plans to meet with a top Palestinian figure next week prior to his visit to the U.S. on November 9. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week gave the green light for contacts aimed at reaching an accord with the new Palestinian government headed by Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala). Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Gilad, now a top defense ministry official, has held a number of meetings with senior Palestinian officials in recent days to lay the groundwork for this process.
        The American administration has made it clear to the Palestinians that "the ball is now in their court" - that progress in the peace process depends on unifying the Palestinian security forces under the authority of Prime Minister Qurei and taking steps against terror. It has also made clear to Israel it must improve humanitarian conditions in the territories. (Ha'aretz)
  • Another "Hudna"? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei believes Hamas and Islamic Jihad are eager for a deal that eases the pressure on the groups' leaders; over the past four months, the majority of leaders in the Gaza Strip have gone underground. "Their normal life has been severely disrupted," notes a veteran Palestinian journalist in Gaza City. "They have been forced to leave their homes....Life for them has become intolerable."
        Qurei's ambitious plans include elections in the West Bank and Gaza in July 2004. However, many in the Palestinian leadership are opposed to holding elections. Apart from the possibility that elections could exacerbate feudal and factional tensions, many legislators and mayors are comfortable with the status quo. "He's a serious man with good intentions," remarked a legislator from Ramallah. "But I can't believe that he's so naive as to believe he would be able to eliminate corruption as long as Arafat and his cronies are around. In fact, Abu Ala [Qurei] is himself one of these cronies." (Jerusalem Post)
  • PM Wants Putin to Drop Plan to Move Roadmap to UN - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, heading to Russia on Sunday for a three-day trip, wants to try to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to drop his plan to have the Security Council pass a resolution adopting the Quartet's roadmap for peace. Israel is vehemently opposed to the roadmap being moved to the Security Council. Sharon will also discuss developments in Iran, including Russia's involvement in Tehran's nuclear program. (Ha'aretz)
        One diplomatic official said Israel opposes this resolution because it represents an "internationalization" of the conflict, and because the roadmap itself states that in the final phase a comprehensive permanent status agreement will be negotiated by the parties. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Move in U.S. Congress on Jews from Arab Countries - Ran Dagoni and Itamar Levin
    A resolution to recognize the distress of Jewish refugees from Arab states has been initiated by U.S. House of Representatives members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). It seeks to awaken public opinion in the U.S. to the suffering of Jewish refugees, which is virtually unknown, in comparison with the suffering of Arab refugees. The initiators of the motion say the world must recognize that there are two refugee populations in the Middle East - Jewish and Arab. The thriving Jewish life in the Arab world came to an end in the 1940s and early 1950s when almost 900,000 Jews were driven out of Arab countries. (Globes)
  • Diplomatic Officials: Iranian Overtures a Ploy - Herb Keinon
    Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem dismissed reports on Thursday that Iran sent messages to Israel through a third party indicating a desire to talk. Even if the reports are true, one official said, it is clearly an attempt by Iran to improve its standing with the U.S. "This is a tactic used recently by Syria," the official said. "When the pressure is on from the U.S., make overtures to Israel." Another diplomatic official said even the "reformist camp" in Iran has shown no signs of changing either the country's position or rhetoric toward Israel. Reports of an overture from Iran stand in direct opposition to efforts by Hizballah not only to heat up the North and carry out a large-scale attack, but also to continue making inroads among Israeli Arabs. Iran cannot put out feelers for talks and at the same time support Hizballah's actions, the official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Radical Islam and Suicide Bombers - Michael Radu
    The suicide bomber terrorist phenomenon is a growing element in international terrorists' arsenal, but it remains a weapon with religious background. It was, and is everywhere, a weapon of the relatively educated: Tamil Hindu women who were able to mix well at Buddhist electoral meetings in Sri Lanka; Palestinian high school and university students posing as Israelis; and it was Western-educated Islamists who trained to murder thousands in America on 9/11, hundreds in Bali, many in Casablanca and Riyadh. Suicide terrorism works - according to Israeli sources, during the past three years suicide bombers were responsible for 50% of Israeli fatalities, while making only 0.5% of the total number of terrorist attacks. (Foreign Policy Research Institute)
  • Defeat Terrorism - Uri Elitzur
    The "vision of a Palestinian state" is something we have already tried. In the 10 years since Oslo, particularly the last three, we have seen what the Palestinians intend to do with the tools of independence and statehood, if they are given them. They already had a state-in-the-making, and they used it to build a huge terrorist base and a society mobilized and incited to hate Israel. If the PA has been a swamp of terrorism, corruption, and incitement, then the Palestinian state will be a whole lake, totally mobilized towards war over the next phase of "liberating Palestine." No political plan has any hope unless it is preceded by a decisive defeat of terrorism, not just militarily but conceptually. No peaceful solution has any chance unless every child in Gaza knows that terrorism has been militarily defeated, and caused the Palestinian people only harm, and that every person and every organization that engaged in terrorism has disappeared from the political map. The idea that a political solution can appear instead of defeating terrorism is the illusion that keeps the political horizon infinitely distant. The road cannot be shortened. A political solution will come only after terror is defeated. The writer is a former chief of the Prime Minister's Office. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Deadly Denial - Daniel Pipes
    Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, described Malaysian prime minister Mahathir's comments as "hateful, they are outrageous." But she then added, "I don't think they are emblematic of the Muslim world." If only she were right about that. In fact, Mahathir's views are precisely emblematic of current Muslim discourse about Jews - symbolized by the standing ovation his speech received. In its attitudes toward Jews, the Muslim world today resembles Germany of the 1930s - a time when state-sponsored insults, caricatures, conspiracy theories, and sporadic violence prepared Germans for the mass murder that followed. (New York Post)
  • Is Hizballah Waging War on Americans? - Aaron Mannes
    The October 15 attack against U.S. diplomatic personnel in Gaza may have been a signal that Hizballah (after al-Qaeda, the number one terrorist killer of Americans) has reinitiated hostilities with the U.S. after a lull in anti-U.S. attacks since the 1980s. A first priority must be defanging Hizballah by breaking up its cells around the world and pursuing sanctions against Iran and Syria, its state backers. These steps may lead to further confrontation - but, if past experience teaches anything, retreat will only embolden the terrorists. (National Review)
        See also Should Hizballah Be Next? - Daniel Byman
    Hizballah is fomenting violence in post-war Iraq and fanning the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its bloody track record makes it a natural target in the war on terror. But Washington's only option is to confront Hizballah indirectly: by getting its backers, Syria and Iran, to help change its focus from militancy to politics. (Foreign Affairs)
  • "If You Harbor a Terrorist" - Barbara Lerner
    Foreign infiltrators in Iraq don't just increase the number of terrorists attacking Coalition forces and the Iraqis who fight beside them. They also bring in foreign state influence and subversion, targeting Shiites as well as Sunnis; and they bring expertise - the latest in terror warfare methods from all over the Middle East and beyond. We should launch a shock-and-awe campaign aimed at demolishing all the terror training camps on Syrian-controlled turf. (National Review)
  • Dennis Ross Defends Think Tank Invitation to Fatah Activists - Ori Nir
    Facing criticism for hosting three prominent Fatah activists at the Washington think tank he heads, former special Middle East envoy Dennis Ross defended inviting them in a letter to the institute's board of trustees in which he wrote that government decision-makers should be exposed to authentic Palestinian leaders. Ross, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote that the three Palestinians are leaders of the push for democracy and reform in the PA and critics of corruption. "This group has authenticity and wants to make peace with Israel," Ross wrote. "If Arafat is irredeemable, it is important to focus on a younger generation." (Forward)

    Weekend Features:

  • UK Media Blasted Over Israel - Lawrence Marzouk
    The media bias against Israel and the Jewish community is at pre-Second World War levels, warned Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips at a debate last Sunday on "The Media and the Middle East" hosted by Michael Gove, assistant editor of The [London] Times. Both lambasted the British media, branding it dysfunctional, and attacked it for its pro-Palestinian slant on the coverage of Middle Eastern affairs. Phillips said: "It is not just the gullible, but the majority of the country, who have formed a very strong view over Iraq and believe that it is not so much a rogue state as Israel. What the public will be seeing of the State of Israel is not objective and not equal."
        Gove said: "I do not know how newspapers can get away with it. You can have criticism of the State of Israel but it is entirely different to say it shouldn't exist. It is applying to the Jew a different standard than you apply to anyone else." "It is Israel which is called into question, because criticizing Israel is far easier than for other countries." Both journalists claimed the press cherry-picked evidence to distort stories on the Middle East, and the lack of ethics shown by journalists in terms of cross-checking Palestinian versions of events was also criticized. The BBC was also condemned for its policy to seek balance rather than objectivity in reporting. (Barnet & Potters Bar Times-UK)
  • FBI Courts Relations with Arabs, Muslims - Laura Sullivan
    Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI has courted Arab and Muslim groups for investigative help and as sources of new recruits and translators. Arab groups, meanwhile, want help dealing with hate crimes as well as making contacts and even having some influence when the bureau investigates some of their own. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Adalah and the Impact of Legal-Based NGOs in the Arab-Israeli Conflict
    Certain highly political NGOs "dedicated to legal human rights" have been exploiting the ambiguities in international law in a continuous output of publications and legal opinions. One of the most active of the legal-based NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict is Adalah (Justice in Arabic), an Arab-run NGO based in Israel and heavily supported by the New Israel Fund. (NGO Monitor/ICA-JCPA)
  • Observations:

    Sen. Clinton Blasts PA for Teaching Children Hate - Melissa Radler (Jerusalem Post)

    • The anti-Semitic indoctrination of children by the Palestinian Authority must stop, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) told a Senate hearing on the education and indoctrination of Palestinian children Thursday, chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA).
    • Clinton denounced recent broadcasts on PA television that feature ordinary children expressing their support for terrorism and declaring their desire to become martyrs as an "horrific abuse of children." "How can you think about building a better future, no matter what your political views, if you indoctrinate your children to a culture of death?" "We should all agree that children should not be indoctrinated into hatred and violence and then indoctrinated into killing themselves."
    • Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus presented taped segments from PATV showing "the role that the Palestinian Authority television plays in perpetuating anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic attitudes," said Clinton. "It is clear that the Palestinian Authority, as we see on PATV, is complicit" in terrorist attacks, she said.
    • "This is not Hamas [running the television station]. This is the Palestinian Authority." Clinton said she supports conditioning aid to the PA on a "cessation of propaganda and hateful rhetoric" in textbooks and the media, and that she has written to President Bush urging him to demand an end to official Palestinian anti-Semitism and the promotion of terrorism as a pre-condition to resuming Middle East peace talks.

          View the video documentary - "Ask for Death," presented at the Senate hearing. (Palestinian Media Watch)

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