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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November 11, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

UN Finds Iranian Plutonium - Anton La Guardia (Telegraph-UK)
    UN nuclear inspectors have found fresh evidence that Iran tried to hide its ambitious nuclear program, and even produced a small amount of plutonium.
    A confidential report by Mohammed El-Baradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency chief, said Teheran acknowledged testing uranium-enrichment technology.

PA Security Forces Exceed Oslo Limit by 20,000 - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    An official report compiled by the International Monetary Fund reveals that 56,128 security personnel are receiving wages from the PA - almost 20,000 more than the number that appears in the Oslo Accords.

Author of Saudi Curricula Advocates Slavery - Ali Al-Ahmed (Saudi Information Agency-Washington)
    Leading Saudi government cleric Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan is the author of the religious books currently used to teach 5 million Saudi students, both within the kingdom and in Saudi schools abroad - including those in the Washington, D.C. area.
    Al-Fawzan is a member of the Senior Council of Clerics, Saudi Arabia's highest religious body, and a professor at Imam Mohamed Bin Saud Islamic University, the main Wahhabi center of learning in the country.
    Al-Fawzan has refuted the mainstream Muslim interpretation that Islam worked to abolish slavery by introducing equality between the races.
    In his most famous book, Al-Tawheed [Monotheism], taught to Saudi high school students, he says that most Muslims are polytheists, and their blood and money are therefore free for the taking by "true Muslims."
    According to Saudi liberal writer and scholar Sheikh Hassan Al-Maliki, Al-Fawzan threatened him with beheading if he continued in his criticism of the extremist Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

"Israel's Existence Threatens Iran's National Interests"
(Daily Times-Pakistan)
    "Israel was created to prevent unity and cooperation between Islamic countries, that is why the existence of Israel is in contradiction with the national interests of Iran," former Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, now a top advisor to Iran's supreme leader, told the Ressalat newspaper Monday.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

Kosher Baby Formula Recalled in Israel and U.S.
Remedia, a soy-based kosher baby formula that may be linked to the deaths of three children, is being yanked from store shelves. The label says it contains vitamin B1, thiamin, essential to a baby's central nervous system, but it doesn't. The warning extends across the U.S. and Canada as well as Israel because Remedia is popular especially in Jewish communities. (WABC)

  • Report Evaluates al-Qaeda Risks Worldwide
    A report released Tuesday by the London-based Control Risks Group said Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network has been largely dismantled, but the threat posed by extremist Muslim terrorists remains high and has grown harder to track. Kevin Rosser, one of the report's authors, said, "The al-Qaeda organization that existed on Sept. 11...really no longer exists, it's been largely dismantled....What we're beginning to see is a much more disparate movement of people who are sometimes coordinating their acts and sometimes not, but who are inspired by the example of al-Qaeda." While the report noted the continued risk of a major attack on the U.S. or Europe, "the area which we expect in 2004 is going to see the highest incidence of attacks is going to be the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia," Rosser said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Greece: Where Jews Are Unwelcome
    The Simon Wiesenthal Center has issued a travel advisory for Greece, suggesting that those visiting use extreme caution until authorities take appropriate measures to contain anti-Semitism and other expressions of hate. On June 10, 2002, the Rhodes local daily Drasis reprinted a March cartoon from the pro-government paper Eleftherotypia equating the Nazi destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto with an Israeli attack on Ramallah. In July 2003 the newspaper Stochos interviewed the caricaturist Dimitris Kitsikis, who said, "It's a fact that the Jews are the Greeks' great rivals....The Jews and the Greeks are competing for who will reign over the planet...I'm sure we will beat the Jews." (Wall Street Journal-Europe; 7Nov03)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Separation Fence Has Reduced Terror Casualties by a Factor of 20 - Ben Caspit
    According to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, in the area from Afula to Hadera, in a one-month period last year, there were 59 casualties from terrorist attacks. This year during the same month, with the fence standing, the number dropped to 3. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • U.S., Israel Defense Ministers Meet in Washington - Yitzhak Ben-Horin
    Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met with his American counterpart Donald Rumsfeld in Washington on Monday, where they discussed tensions on Israel's northern border and Iranian support for terror and its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Mofaz explained that the Israeli airstrike near Damascus last month occurred because there are many terrorist bases in Syria, and that if the terrorist organizations continue to operate from there, Israel will be forced to attack Syrian territory again. Mofaz also said Hizballah terrorist cells are operating in the PA-controlled territories. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
        See also Mofaz: Israel to Offer Ceasefire to PA - Amir Rapaport
    Israel will propose a renewed ceasefire to the new PA government, Mofaz told Rumsfeld on Monday. According to an analysis by Israeli security sources, Abu Ala is interested in a ceasefire as occurred under Abu Mazen. Hamas leaders in Gaza also appear ready to cease attacks. Mofaz told the Americans that Israel has already sent a message to the Palestinians that it is willing to "give Abu Ala a chance." However, Israel fears intervention by two sources that could disturb the quiet: Arafat, who may undercut Abu Ala as he did Abu Mazen; and the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Damascus who are pressing for continued attacks. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Armitage: Solution to Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Won't Stop Global Terrorism
    U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on Tuesday rejected a suggestion that a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would stop a wave of "global terrorism." "It was only (lately) that Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda leadership could even find it in themselves to mention the word Palestinian," Armitage told reporters after talks in Cairo. "So I reject the notion that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, overwhelmingly important as it is, would stop the terrorism that has been directed against the United States, Western interests, and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," he said. "I can accept the point that they will make use of conflict in the occupied territories for their own ends, but it is not the root cause of al-Qaeda terrorism," he added. "The support of the U.S. for Israel is something that is a bedrock principle of the United States," said Armitage. (Albawaba-Jordan)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinian Reactions to the "Geneva Understandings" - Y. Yehoshua
    In October 2003, in Jordan, Israeli and Palestinian politicians and activists were reported to have reached a detailed understanding on a permanent-status Israeli-Palestinian settlement, known as the "Geneva Understandings," following two years of secret talks. Mamdouh Nowfal, military advisor to Yasser Arafat, told the Jordanian daily Al-Rai: "What was offered [to the Palestinians] at Taba was better than what was offered at Camp David, but what was offered at the Dead Sea [i.e., in the Geneva Understandings] is twice as much progress as both, and also more than the initiative of former president Bill Clinton." Ashraf Al-Ajrami, director of the PA Information Ministry's Department of Israel Affairs and columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, wrote: "The Geneva document is considered the best thing that the Palestinians and Israelis can attain at this stage. This can put an end to the Zionist expansion enterprise that knows no borders. This will enable a strategic change that will perhaps make the solution of a bi-national state or a united democratic state feasible in the long run." (MEMRI)
  • Saudi Extremists Decry Even Small Reforms
    The Saudi royal family faces four staggering problems: It must liberalize its ailing economy, which means more, not less, contact with the West. It must satisfy many Saudis' desire for greater freedom and more say in politics. And it must tame the radical religious elements so the royal family's role as guardian of Islam's holy places will not be challenged. Finally, it must battle violent extremists whom many people believe have been encouraged by the preachings of the religious establishment and its strict Wahhabi Muslim philosophy. "The state is in trouble now," said Abdulaziz al-Gasim, a reformist lawyer. "It was the one that created Wahhabism and Wahhabism is what's strangling it now." (AP/FOX News)
  • Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia - Khaled Abou El Fadl
    The Saudis fund mosques, university chairs, Islamic study centers, and religious schools known as madrassas, all over the world, from New York to Nigeria. During the Afghan war against the Soviets, madrassas emerged in Pakistan that were concerned less with scholarship than with war on infidels. They provided ideological training for those who went to fight in Kashmir, Chechnya, and Afghanistan - and many still do. The peaceful propagation of religious beliefs, including Islam, is a human right. But the concern is that the Saudi government may be propagating an Islam that promotes violence against non-Muslims and disfavored Muslims. In the age of global terrorism, the U.S. should be concerned when there are credible allegations that Saudi Arabia is propagating globally a brand of Islam that is not only incompatible with the war against terrorism, but may well be promoting it. The writer, a law professor at Yale, is on the Commission on International Religious Freedom. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Terrorism in Saudi Arabia - Editorial
    Crown Prince Abdullah and his successors will have to be prodded by others, including Washington, to take the drastic steps needed to keep the world's leading oil producer from descending into violent turmoil and to check the rising power of international terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. America has a huge interest in the struggle for Saudi Arabia's future, and the idea of an Osama bin Laden in control of one-fourth of the world's known oil reserves would be a nightmare come true. Meanwhile, the extended royal family, which numbers in the thousands, lives in opulence, flouting the puritanical precepts of Wahhabi Islam and draining funds that could be used to create a more modern, diversified economy. As President Bush rightly noted, Americans cannot be made safer by excusing misgovernment in countries like Saudi Arabia. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Palestinian Penetration of Europe - Ovadia Sofer (Jerusalem Post)

    • Anyone systematically following the European press cannot fail to note the deep shock 9/11 caused Europe's establishment. It suddenly realized the danger it faces from a massive and uncontrolled presence of millions of Muslim immigrants.
    • These immigrants are not successfully integrated into European society, and some are a possible source of subversion or recruitment into the ranks of Islamic terror groups. The initial organization of the 9/11 attacks began on European soil, where the organizers found a vast pool of Muslim zealots.
    • At the same time, this very presence of Muslims has forced European decision-makers to lower their voices. They have essentially tried to buy peace by granting vocal support to the Palestinian cause and to various peace programs, even when reality did not justify them.
    • European governments have introduced into European public opinion the notion that only peace with the Palestinians can save the enlightened world from the scourge of terrorism.
    • A vocal Palestinian presence has taken root in the Western European media, and it is this presence that helps explain the EU poll results better than all the other possible explanations. Palestinian penetration of Europe, sometimes using professional propagandists, into universities and campuses has yielded impressive gains.
    • A sizable majority of young people believe there once was an independent Palestinian state on Palestinian land that was conquered by European immigrants and Holocaust survivors - who expelled hundreds of thousands of unfortunate Palestinians.

      The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to France.

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