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 12, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Syria Completes Chemical Warheads for Scud Missiles (Middle East Newsline)
    U.S. officials said Syria, with help from North Korea, has succeeded in designing and installing chemical warheads for its arsenal of Scud-based missiles that can reach distances from 250 to nearly 700 kilometers.
    The chemical agent in the warheads is sarin, regarded as the most toxic of material.
    "Since the 1970s, Syria has pursued what is now one of the most advanced Arab state chemical weapons capabilities," Undersecretary of State John Bolton said on Oct. 30.
    "It has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin that can be delivered by aircraft or ballistic missiles, and has engaged in the research and development of more toxic and persistent nerve agents such as VX."
    See also Syria Has Armed All Its Scuds with Chemical Warheads - Omer Carmon (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
    Washington had previously estimated that only Syria's Scud B's had chemical warheads. Syria has now armed its Scud C's and D's with chemical warheads as well.
    Three months ago an Israeli security source told the British weekly Jane's that at least 100 Scuds armed with VX nerve gas were aimed at central Israel.
    Jane's also reported that Syria has stocks of biological weapons.
    Syria now has the capability to launch a chemical warhead 700 km., a range that covers all of Israel and even threatens Ankara, Turkey.

Poll: Support for Oslo at All-Time Low - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    According to an annual national security survey published by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, support for the Oslo peace process dropped to an all-time low of 31%, with 54% of Israelis believing it is impossible to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
    80% said they oppose having the U.S. impose a solution on Israel and the Palestinians, compared to 68% last year.

Useful Reference:

Anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim World: October 2003 (ADL)
    Anti-Semitism in the Arab world is a worsening problem, a phenomenon that is not on the fringes, but in the mainstream of many Arab and Muslim countries. In Arab nations with low levels of adult literacy, people are getting daily doses of anti-Jewish stereotypes through the cartoons.
    The ADL report Anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim World: October 2003 exposes anti-Semitic articles and cartoons appearing during the 10-week period ending October 31 in Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Surprise Word on Nuclear Gains by Iran
    Iran's nuclear program turns out to have been even broader and deeper than American intelligence agencies suspected. A 30-page confidential report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency and sent to 20 governments on Monday describes a program that reached back at least 18 years and involved extremely complex technologies, including an exotic program to use lasers to enrich uranium. The report is full of examples showing that Iran fooled the global nuclear watchdog for years. It refers to "limited and reactive" cooperation with inspectors and "changing and contradictory" stories.
        Despite that history of deception, though, IAEA insisted that there is no evidence of a current weapons project in Iran. That conclusion left many experts agape. "It's dumbfounding that the IAEA, after saying that Iran for 18 years had a secret effort to enrich uranium and separate plutonium, would turn around and say there was no evidence of a nuclear weapons program," said Thomas Cochran, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, a private group that tracks nuclear arms. "If that's not evidence, I don't know what is." (New York Times)
  • Syria Sanctions Bill Easily Clears Senate
    The Senate joined the House Tuesday in voting 89 to 4 to impose sanctions on Syria unless it ends its occupation of Lebanon, cuts ties to groups that the U.S. regards as terrorist organizations, and stops development of chemical and biological weapons. "This is a very important issue for national security [and] for peace in the Middle East," said Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who cosponsored the bill with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.). (Washington Post)
  • Washington: New Palestinian Cabinet Must Dismantle Terrorist Groups
    State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday the new Palestinian cabinet must make clear it opposes all forms of terrorism, and must demand an end to terrorist attacks. He said Palestinian officials must also take steps to disarm and dismantle terrorist organizations. Boucher repeated the U.S. view that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is, in his words, a "failed leader." (VOA News)
  • Palestinians Seek Rejection of UN Resolution Calling for Protection of Israeli Children
    The Palestinians have asked that a UN committee reject a resolution calling for the protection of Israeli children victimized by Palestinian terrorism. Ariel Milo, the spokesman for Israel's UN Mission, said the vote on the draft will reveal whether the General Assembly "thinks that the lives of Israeli children are less important than those of Palestinian children." (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • U.S. Forces Responding More Fiercely to Iraqi Guerrilla Strikes
    "If you shoot at an American or a coalition force member, you are going to be killed or you are going to be captured, and if we trace somebody back to a specific safe house, we are going to destroy that facility," said Maj. Lou Zeisman, a paratroop officer of the 82nd Airborne Division. "For people who harbor attackers or allow their houses to be used for planning attacks," he said, "we are going to destroy their property - period." (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Give New PA Government "Grace Period" - Aluf Benn
    The government intends to open talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's new government, even though Arafat will retain control of the PA security services, government sources said Tuesday. The government plans to give Qurei a "grace period" in which to get ready to fight terror - meaning that, though it does not consider a cease-fire with the terrorist organizations to be a permanent solution, as long as there are no attacks, Israel will refrain from all military operations in the territories except those aimed at foiling imminent attacks ("ticking bombs"). (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon: Roadblock Removals Encourage Terrorism - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Tuesday, "I would very much like to carry out humanitarian steps at a faster pace. Our problem is that if we ease the restrictions more, and open the roadblocks, terror increases." At the same time, Sharon said, "We gave directives to take the steps that are possible, and to remain vigilant that these steps are carried out, even though they do involve a degree of risk." Speaking to reporters after meeting visiting Slovakian Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda - who will not be meeting Arafat - Sharon said that had the PA taken genuine steps to combat terrorism, Israel would not have had to build the security fence. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Suicide Bomber Planned to Attack Synagogue
    Israel Police and the Shin Bet recently arrested Muhammed Tushiya, 19, from Kfar Yassin, an Islamic Jihad terrorist who was planning a terrorist attack in Afula but changed his target to a synagogue at the nearby settlement of Shaked in the northern West Bank. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • To Hell With Sympathy - Charles Krauthammer
    It is pure fiction that the world's pro-American sentiment was either squandered after Sept. 11 or lost under the Bush administration. It never existed. Envy for America, resentment of our power, hatred of our success has been a staple for decades, but most particularly since victory in the cold war left us the only superpower. Bill Clinton was the most accommodating, sensitive, multilateralist president one can imagine, and yet we know that al-Qaeda began the planning for Sept. 11 precisely during his presidency. Bin Laden issued his Declaration of War on America in 1996 - at the height of the Clinton administration's hyperapologetic, good-citizen internationalism. Sympathy is fine. But if we "squander" it when we go to war to avenge our dead and prevent the next crop of dead, then to hell with sympathy. The search for logic in anti-Americanism is fruitless. On Sept. 11, they gave it a rest for a day. Big deal. (TIME)
  • Flightmare - Daniel Benjamin
    The downing of two helicopters in Iraq should send a shudder through anyone who flies, even if they never board anything but commercial wide-body airliners. Removing the locks from Iraq's enormous stores of armaments has virtually ensured that some of these arms will wind up in the hands of terrorists who will want to use them outside the current war zone. Though rocket-propelled grenades pose a real threat, especially at unsecured airports, shoulder-fired missiles are far more dangerous because of their greater range - some can strike aircraft 5,000 meters away - and the accuracy of their heat-seeking sensors. The Chinook that was shot down is believed to have been felled by an SA-7. In Afghanistan in the 1980s, U.S.-armed mujahideen using shoulder-fired missiles - mostly the more effective American-made Stinger, but also some captured SA-7s - destroyed at least 270 Soviet aircraft. At least two dozen terrorists groups, including al-Qaeda and Hizballah, are believed to possess shoulder-fired missiles. In January 2002, Israeli commandos boarded a freighter in the Red Sea that was carrying 40 tons of weapons, including four SA-7s, to Palestinians from Iran. (Slate)
  • Syria: Reform Efforts Fall Short - Sen. Richard Lugar
    Syria's failure to stop terrorist groups, including Hizballah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, from using Syria as a base for training and planning suicide bombings in Israel has continued. Syria also has failed to withdraw its forces from Lebanon or take concrete steps in support of the "Road Map." It reportedly has continued to maintain stockpiles of chemical weapons and pursue development of lethal biological agents. Moreover, Syria is working against the U.S. and Coalition forces, refusing to release assets in Syrian accounts that Saddam's regime stole from the Iraqi people. (Miami Herald)
        See also "Unhelpful" Syria - Editorial
    It's time to get tough on the world's remaining Baathist dictatorship. Damascus remains a primary source and transit point for the foreign terrorists working to destabilize Iraq. The old policy of winking at Syrian support for terrorism was perhaps tolerable before September 11. But with U.S. troops at risk in Iraq, and the cost of failure there so high, that status quo is damaging U.S. interests. President Bush has to convince Damascus there will be consequences for its actions. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Blotting Out Hatred in the Middle East - William Fisher (Beirut Daily Star)

    • The recent Arab Human Development Report 2003 recommends the encouragement of "free critical thinking" rather than "submission, obedience, subordination, and compliance." Yet the report ignores an issue that should be of great concern if "free critical thinking" is ever to occur: religious and ethnic bigotry in primary and secondary education.
    • Arab history and religious textbooks are not only anti-Israel, they are openly anti-Semitic. In Saudi Arabia, religious studies make up about 40% of the school curriculum. The textbooks used in schools declare that God's wisdom mandates continuing the struggle between Muslims and Jews until the Day of Judgment.
    • In Egypt, despite the country's peace treaty with Israel, school texts contain much the same anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric as elsewhere in the Arab world.
    • The Palestinian Authority has introduced its own texts, curious for their omissions: Israel's right to exist is nowhere acknowledged, and in history and geography books containing maps of the Middle East, Israel is not shown. In these maps, the area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean is called "Palestine." Towns in Israel such as Jaffa, Nazareth, and Beersheba are mentioned as Palestinian towns only. Pictures of Jerusalem nearly always exclude the western part of the city. When Israelis are shown at all, they appear as soldiers.
    • The large donors to Middle East educational reform the World Bank, EU, USAID, UN agencies and others sponsor endless workshops and conferences on how educational reforms can be achieved. They suggest changes in syllabi and curricula, train teachers, introduce computers and access to Internet in classrooms. The response from most of the official recipients of this help comes in the form of lofty, idealistic speeches, followed by virtually nothing.

      The writer has managed programs in the Middle East for the U.S. State Department and USAID.

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