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 14, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Arafat OK'd Suicide Bombings - David R. Sands (Washington Times)
    Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz Thursday recalled being shown a package of intelligence reports on Feb. 11, 2001, four months after the beginning of the Palestinian violence, that told of a meeting held by Arafat with senior leaders of Palestinian militant organizations and the Palestinian Authority's own security forces.
    "This was the moment he gave the green light to the terrorist organizations and to some members of his own security groups" to engage in suicide bombing attacks, Mofaz said.
    At one point in the meeting, Arafat asked those around the table why there were not more Israeli casualties from the violence.
    "You know what to do," Arafat reportedly said.
    "And from this moment, the wave of suicide bomb attacks started in Israel," said Mofaz.

Pentagon Explores Option to Export Northern Iraqi Oil via Israel - Iason Athanasiadis (Beirut Daily Star)
    More sabotage strikes in recent weeks on Iraq's Kirkuk-Yumurtalik oil pipeline are prompting the U.S.-led coalition authority to examine the possibility of reopening the long-defunct Kirkuk-Haifa export route.
    The pipeline has not functioned for 55 years, following sabotage attacks by Palestinian nationalists in the 1930s and the subsequent creation of Israel.
    The 20.3-centimeter diameter pipeline would be replaced with a 106.6-centimeter diameter line at an estimated cost of between $0.5 billion and $1.5 billion.
    One former CIA official said: "It has long been a dream of a powerful section of the people now driving this administration and the war in Iraq to safeguard Israel's energy supply as well as that of the United States."
    However, "The State Department shot the plan down," said Middle East Economic Survey editor Walid Khadduri. "And it doesn't make economic sense to do it because the pipeline goes through Fellujah and Ramadi (centers of resistance to the US occupation)."
    The Turkish port of Ceyhan is the current destination point for northern Iraqi oil. The Turkish government has made it clear to Israel that it will interpret any moves to divert Iraqi oil through Haifa as a mortal blow to bilateral relations.
    The last effort to revive the route was initiated by current U.S. Defense Secretary and then-adviser to President Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld, in the mid-1980s.

New Syrian Human Rights Group Formed (UPI/Washington Times)
    Syrian human rights activists announced Tuesday the formation of a new watchdog group, the "Arab Organization for Human Rights in Syria."
    The group's lawyer, Mohammed Raadoun, said Syrian prisons are crammed with 1,000 political prisoners.
    "The new group will set up offices in the various Syrian provinces to monitor human rights violations and defend political prisoners," Raadoun said.

4,000 N. Americans Coming for GA - Jenny Hazan (Jerusalem Post)
    Over 4,000 delegates from across North America are expect to attend the 72nd General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities in Jerusalem next week. Some 2,500 of the delegates have already arrived.

World Sephardi Congress Meets - Daphna Berman (Ha'aretz)
    The World Sephardi Congress took place this week in Jerusalem, attracting 80 delegates from the diaspora and 80 Israelis.
    Participants arrived from North America, Latin America, Western Europe, the Balkans, India, and Turkey to attend the third such congress, held once every ten years.

Maryland Gov in Israel, Fosters Business and Political Ties - Peter Herman (Baltimore Sun)
    Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. visited Israel with an entourage of 27 state officials and corporate executives.
    Ehrlich advertises Maryland as a place for Israelis to invest.
    Israel ranks 27th on the list of countries as a source of foreign investment in Maryland - 18 Israeli companies have offices in the state - and Maryland businesses invest about $70 million a year in Israel, according to the Maryland-Israel Development Center.

Useful Reference:

Updated Map of Israel's Security Fence (Ministry of Defense)

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.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Warns of Terrorist Training Bases in Lebanon
    Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Thursday terrorist bases in Lebanon are training some of the foreign fighters who are moving into Iraq to kill American troops. Mofaz said his intelligence shows that some foreign fighters who are organizing suicide attacks in Iraq are trained by Hizballah, a Shi'ite terror militia funded by Iran and supported by Assad of Syria. "We do have information that Hizballah members, al-Qaeda members, and other terrorist groups from Syria are crossing into Iraq, and they are part of the resistance against the U.S. forces," the defense minister said.
        Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said this week he thinks about 200 foreign fighters are now in Iraq in an alliance with Saddam Hussein loyalists attacking American soldiers. Another 200 foreign insurgents are in custody and scores have been killed. (Washington Times)
  • Only 5,000 Guerrillas in Iraq, Says U.S.
    The senior American commander in the Middle East said Thursday that the Unites States-led occupation in Iraq faces no more than 5,000 guerrilla fighters, but that they are increasingly well organized and well financed, and are gradually expanding their attacks to the previously calm north and south. Gen. John Abizaid said loyalists to Saddam Hussein - not foreign terrorists - pose the greatest danger to American troops and to stability in Iraq. He said these militants hired unemployed "angry young men" to do much of their "dirty work." (New York Times)
  • Powell Congratulates Palestinian PM on New Cabinet
    Secretary of State Powell telephoned new Palestinian Prime Minister Qurei Thursday to congratulate him on forming a government. Powell called on Qurei and his cabinet to take "tangible" action against Palestinian factions involved in terrorism. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the secretary made clear the Bush administration expects him to move against the terrorist factions held by Washington to be the principle obstacle to progress toward Middle East peace. "He also made the point performance is what counts, and that the Palestinian cabinet needs to declare its firm opposition to terror, and to take tangible, immediate steps against terrorist organizations," he said. A senior diplomat said the U.S. is disappointed that Palestinian security forces have not been consolidated under the control of the new prime minister. (VOA News)
  • Canada Bans Three More Palestinian Groups
    The Palestine Liberation Front, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command on Thursday joined 31 other groups on the list of organizations banned by Canada. Federal Solicitor-General Wayne Easter said that the groups have "knowingly engaged in terrorist activity" and warned that there are "severe penalties [for people who] participate in, contribute to, or facilitate the activities of a listed entity." (Toronto Globe & Mail)
  • Pollard Denied Appeal, Chance to Review Papers
    A federal judge Thursday rejected requests by convicted spy Jonathan Pollard to appeal his life sentence and review classified government documents that Pollard contends will prove his spying was not as damaging or extensive as prosecutors had charged. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon, Qurei in No Hurry to Meet - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Sources in Sharon's office said that his earlier promises to meet very soon with Qurei were made before the power struggle between Qurei and Arafat ended with Arafat asserting control over the security services through the PA National Security Council. "The Palestinians have gone backward," said a government source. "We want to proceed but the new PA government doesn't even resemble the last government headed by Mahmoud Abbas."
        Israel refuses to engage in any cease-fire with the armed factions, nor does it want a formal cease-fire with the PA, but it is proposing a lull of a few weeks during which Israel will avoid harsh military actions - except in the case of ticking bombs - and it will grant the PA a "grace period" during which the PA can start dismantling the terror infrastructure. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Wants More Changes in Fence Route, May Trim Loans
    The White House pressed Israel on Thursday to make additional changes to its planned barrier fence through the West Bank and appeared to be leaning toward making small deductions from a $9 billion package of loan guarantees. Sources close to the deliberations said deductions for the fence were likely, though they would be small in size and come from loan installments in future years.
        "They have made some adjustments (to the fence) that I think have helped a lot...and we'll see what other adjustments they might be able to make," said U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Rice said the fence "continues to be a problem" because of U.S. concerns it "somehow prejudges" future peace talks and could "infringe...on the lives of ordinary Palestinians." "But the issue of how this relates - one way or another - to loan this particular point is premature," she added.
        Several of Bush's senior advisers favor making deductions for construction of the fence. But that could anger Israel's staunch supporters in Congress, including some of Bush's closest Republican allies. Under U.S. law, the State Department must deduct from the guarantees, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, sums that are spent "for activities which the president determines are inconsistent with the objectives and understandings reached between the United States and the government of Israel." Israel says it is building the fence to prevent Palestinian militants from entering Israeli territory and launching attacks. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Security Fence Blocks Illegal Palestinian Workers - Sharon Rofe Ofir
    Border police units dealing with illegal Palestinian workers report a major decline in their number and routes of passage due to the new security fence. In addition, while in the past the workers would return home every night, more are staying in Israel for longer periods. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Hamas: "Every Inch of Palestine Belongs to the Muslims" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Senior Gaza Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar lashed out at the composition of the new PA cabinet, pointing out that many ministers whose names have been linked to corruption have returned to their posts. Of the "Geneva Initiative," hammered out between Israeli left-wing politicians and Palestinian intellectuals, Zahar said: "Our position is clear: all of Palestine. Every inch of Palestine belongs to the Muslims. Some marginal elements in the Palestinian Authority have begun trading with the Palestinian cause as they did in Oslo." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Another Palestinian Prime Minister - Editorial
    Not many jumped with joy around the world on news that Yasser Arafat and his new prime minister Ahmed Qurei were extending an olive branch to Israel. Not that it is bad new that they said they want to negotiate a cease-fire; it's just that reasonable people can't be faulted for thinking it means nothing. We've all been here before. To be sure, there were the ritualistic "negotiations" between Arafat and Qurei over this cabinet post and that. But in the end most of the 24-member cabinet were Arafat men and women to the core. All but a handful hailed from Fatah, Arafat's terrorist network. Europe could exert pressure on Arafat by withdrawing its moral and financial support for the PA. After all, the man's principal instrument of political power is his absolute control over PA funds. In the absence of such pressures, count on Arafat to maintain his iron grip and the possibilities of peace to remain remote. (Wall Street Journal Europe; 14Nov03)
  • What's "Cheating" in Farsi? - Gary Milhollin
    Iran has just revealed that for more than a decade it has been running secret programs to produce plutonium and enriched uranium - the two materials that fuel atomic bombs. Yet the IAEA concluded that although Iran had lied for 18 years and although making plutonium and enriched uranium were the most "sensitive aspects" of the nuclear process, Iran might still be innocent. There is absolutely no use for plutonium in Iran's civilian nuclear program.
        Because Iran has been caught cheating, the IAEA should refer the matter to the UN Security Council, which should then order Iran to shut down and dismantle its illicitly used equipment for making plutonium and enriching uranium. This, in effect, is what the Council did to Iraq after Saddam Hussein was found to be cheating in the same way. If Iran refuses to comply, the Council should slap Iran with the same kind of comprehensive trade sanctions that were used against Iraq. This would cost Iran and its trading partners a lot of money in the short run, but in the long run it would be much cheaper than giving a green light to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. The writer directs the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control in Washington. (Wall Street Journal Europe; 13Nov03)
  • Destroying Israel is Not a Legitimate Mideast Option - Saul Singer
    The West is in a fight to the finish with militant Islam. Two masks must be lifted before we can win. First, it must be realized that drawing borders does not generate peace. Peace - that is, an Arab decision to stop trying to destroy Israel - will generate borders. Second, it is not possible that militant Islam will end its war with the West without ending its war against Israel. To the enemy, Israel and America are two fronts in the same war. For the West, this war, like any other, will not be won until it is won on all fronts. (National Review)
  • Can Riyadh Reform Before the Royal Family Falls? - David Pryce-Jones
    Some 5,000 or more princes control all power and resources in Saudi Arabia, sharing out ministries and governorships and oil revenues as they see fit. Their idea of democracy is to appoint an advisory council and religious leaders carefully vetted to provide a facade of legitimacy. Immemorial tribal custom and the local Wahhabi brand of Islam are defended and perpetuated. Rights and the rule of law are only what the ruling family says they are. No blueprint exists for successfully modernizing a society like this one. Individual Saudis, including some princes and their so-called charities, continue to sponsor terror groups, including their homegrown al-Qaeda, in some 60 countries. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also How Safe Is the House of Saud?
    The monarchy seems secure at the moment, buoyed by high oil prices, but the legions of unemployed Saudi youths may not always sit idly by as yet more princes award each other lavishly paid jobs. (Economist-UK)
        See also Terrorists? What Terrorists? - Claude Salhani (Washington Times)
  • Syria Faces Test of Wills with Washington - Cynthia Johnston
    Syria is betting Washington has too much on its plate in Iraq to turn up the heat after threatening Damascus this week with sanctions for supporting terrorism, diplomats say. Experts say the rift is unlikely to progress beyond diplomatic saber-rattling, with Iraq-style "regime change" not on the cards as the U.S. military was too stretched in Iraq and European allies were showing no support. "The Syrians are judging the United States is coming close to playing its last hand," said one Western diplomat in Damascus. Syrian political analyst Imad al-Shuaibi, who is familiar with official thinking, said, "We know our enemy in the region is Israel, not the USA. And we have a hierarchy of priorities that means we don't want to make problems with America." (Reuters)
  • Bush and a Democratic Middle East - Daniel Pipes
    The president renounced a long-accepted policy of "Middle East exceptionalism" - getting along with dictators - and stated U.S. policy would henceforth fit with its global emphasis of making democracy the goal. Understanding the rationale behind the old dictator-coddling policy makes clear the radicalism of this new approach. The old way noticed that the populations are usually more anti-American than are the emirs, kings, and presidents. Washington was rightly apprehensive that democracy would bring in more radicalized governments; this is what did happen in Iran in 1979 and nearly happened in Algeria in 1992. It also worried that once the radicals reached power, they would close down the democratic process (dubbed "one man, one vote, one time"). Bush's confidence in democracy - that despite the street's history of extremism and conspiracy-mindedness, it can mature and become a force of moderation and stability - is about to be tested. (Jerusalem Post)
  • They Say We're Getting a Democracy - Editorial
    In Washington on November 6th George Bush made an excellent speech in which he said that Arabs were no less capable than other people of enjoying democracy and that helping them to do so should and would be part of American policy for decades to come. Indeed, the Arabs' British and French colonizers seldom took the view that Arabs were fit for democracy. There are still many people - both Arabs (usually the ones in power) and observers of Arabs - who invoke religion, culture, and a medley of other excuses in order to argue that the Arab world is uniquely unsuited to democracy. It is no bad thing for an American president to declare that he believes none of the excuses. Having the power to hire and fire your government is a simple idea that most Arabs both understand and, according to opinion surveys, want for themselves. (Economist-UK)
  • The Humiliation Factor - Thomas L. Friedman
    The single most underappreciated force in international relations is humiliation. One reason Yasser Arafat rejected the Clinton plan for a Palestinian state was that he and many followers didn't want a state handed to them by the U.S. or Israel. That would be "humiliating." They wanted to win it in blood and fire. Why have the U.S. forces never gotten the ovation they expected for liberating Iraq from Saddam's tyranny? In part, it is because many Iraqis feel humiliated that they didn't liberate themselves. (New York Times)
  • Revisionist Thoughts on the War on Iraq - Fawaz Turki
    Is it too early to adopt a revisionist view of the U.S. war in Iraq and for this column to admit its mistake in having vehemently opposed it from the outset? The supreme virtue of this war is that Saddam Hussein was gotten rid of. Period. The very man who had established arguably the closest approximation of a genuine fascist state in the Arab world, that sustained itself on fear, repression, genocide, cult of personality and wanton murder - a state whose law was that those who rule are the law. Washington may not succeed in turning Iraq into a "beacon of democracy" but it will succeed in turning it into a society of laws and institutions where citizens are protected against arbitrary arrest, incarceration, torture, and execution. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia; 6Nov03)

    Weekend Features:

  • Facing Muslim Hate- Neil J. Kressel (Book Review)
    In 1982, terrorists held reporter Ken Timmerman hostage for 24 days in an underground cell in Lebanon. Now, in Preachers of Hate, he offers a guide to the wave of anti-Americanism and Jew-bashing that has swept across the Arab and Muslim world - and to a lesser extent, through Europe. Timmerman documents a civilization in deep trouble, where politicians, clergymen, academics, and common citizens seem gripped by a venomous and self-destructive hatred. The favored target, of course, is Jews. But Americans are next in line. As Timmerman notes, "What begins with the Jews doesn't end with the Jews." The mindset that leads to Jew-hatred leads equally to a rejection of Western civilization. (New York Post)
  • The New New Israel Historians - Ethan Bronner (Book Review)
    The new historians of the 1990s had an agenda - promoting the peace process then beginning. And many Israelis, eager to put an end to their century-old conflict, were willing to be told that their successful nation-building had come at a high cost to the Palestinians. But it went unreciprocated. There were virtually no Palestinian ''new historians'' asking whether their leader in the 1930s and 40s, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was right to collaborate with the Nazis, calling for the killing of Jews "wherever you find them."
        Today, few Israelis worry about the suffering of the Palestinians; they are too focused on their own. Into this very different context, two accounts of Israeli history take us back to a more traditional Zionist narrative, a kind of corrective to the corrective. Right to Exist, by Yaacov Lozowick, the director of archives at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum, and The Case for Israel, by Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, are polemics, not works of scholarship. But they are intelligent polemics. They don't seek to discredit the new history. Instead, they partly rely on it, while arguing vehemently - and fairly convincingly - that contemporary European and Arab discourse on the Middle East is indefensibly unbalanced against Israel. (New York Times)
  • A Brokenhearted Mother Tries to Heal - Matthew Mosk
    Sherri Mandell read to an audience gathered at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville, Maryland on Sunday from her just-published book about the journey of self-discovery that followed her 13-year-old son Yaakov's brutal death in a cave near their home in Israel. She described her son's final hours - how he cut school with a friend to go hiking, how the boys were accosted as they descended into a canyon, how they were bludgeoned with stones the size of bowling balls, how the killers painted the walls of the cave with their blood. The Mandells once were a local family. Before moving to Israel, they lived on a quiet block in Silver Spring. During the summer of 2002, little more than a year after her firstborn had died, Mandell and her husband opened a summer camp in Israel for the relatives of victims of terrorism, and 200 children attended. This year, there were 600 campers. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    For Arab Democracy - Robert Freedman and Mohamed Hamdi (Baltimore Sun)

    • As a start on the road map to democratization, both the U.S. and the EU should make economic aid to the Arab world conditional on the establishment in recipient Arab countries of genuine freedom of the press. A free press:
      • Would limit the authoritarian nature of a regime.
      • Would mean that opposing corruption would not be left only to radical Islamists, who put it at the top of their political agenda.
      • Would mean multiple voices in the public arena - secular and Islamic - that could compete openly for the public's attention. Islamists would have a stake in the existing system.
      • Would inspire the creation of political parties, which often are focused around newspapers. Independent political parties would be another check on authoritarianism.
    • Both the Palestinian Authority, which has pledged to democratize as part of its commitment to the U.S.-engineered "road map" to an Israeli-Palestinian peace, and Iraq, which is under U.S. military control, would appear to be the best candidates to try conditioned U.S. and European Union financial aid.

      Robert O. Freedman is a professor of political science at Baltimore Hebrew University. Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi is the director of the London-based Arab TV network Al-Mustakillah.

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