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 18, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Arafat Pockets $14 Million in 60 Days - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Arafat continues to directly receive as much as 10% of the official PA budget.
    According to a report released Monday by the PA Finance Ministry, Arafat's office received more than NIS 62 million ($14 million) during the past two months.
    NIS 2m. went for the salaries of officials and employees in Arafat's office, but there is no accounting for the remaining NIS 60m.
    Arafat's office received an amount roughly equal to the funds allocated in the same period to the PA Health Ministry, which oversees dozens of ill-equipped and understaffed hospitals and clinics.
    See also A Short History of PA Corruption - Bret Stephens (Jerusalem Post)

    See also Arafat Stays to Skim Off the PA - Rachel Ehrenfeld (National Review)
    The IMF report on the PA, published last September, talks about Arafat's assets, foreign bank accounts, and secret budgets fed by aid money and monopolies held by the PA (such as oil, tobacco, and alcohol).
    Altogether, the IMF estimated that Arafat funneled at least $900 million between 1995 and 2000 to his own bank account.
    Finance Minister Fayyad claimed that this money was invested on behalf of the Palestinian economy.
    However, the PA's investments for that period were valued at between $300 and $345 million. Where is the rest of the money?

Saudi Charities Linked to Terror Groups - Shefali Rekhi (Straits Times-Singapore)
    "Saudi charities have been the primary vehicles for the spread of Wahhabism in Southeast Asia," says Zachary Abuza, the Boston-based author of Militant Islam in Southeast Asia: Crucible of Terror.
    But it is their links to terrorist groups such as the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front and paramilitary groups like the Laskar Jundullah that are worrying, he said.
    An arrested JI militant, who is in prison in the Philippines after being convicted for possessing explosives and suspected of being involved in bombings there, was the regional field officer for the Indonesian Islamic charity Kompak.
    Kompak received funding from at least two Saudi charities, the Al-Haramain Foundation and the Islamic International Relief Organization.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Israel Proposes Council to Fight Anti-Semitism
    Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Monday anti-Semitism was creeping back into Europe and he would propose setting up a joint ministerial council with the European Union to fight it. While Shalom met his EU counterparts in Brussels, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon flew to Rome to enlist the bloc's current president, Italy, in stemming what he calls a rise in European anti-Semitism. (Reuters)
  • Synagogue Bombings Highlight Dangers for U.S. Allies
    The suicide bombing in Istanbul fits clearly into the pattern of al-Qaeda's targeting of Jewish interests, as well as its determination to punish America's allies for supporting the invasion of Iraq, counterterrorism experts said Monday. Over the past 18 months, there have been al-Qaeda-related attacks on synagogues and Israelis in Kenya, Tunisia, and Morocco. "The targeting of Jewish interests has become more prominent in al-Qaeda's ideology thanks to the influence of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri [the Egyptian surgeon who is bin Laden's deputy]," said Mike Whine of the Community Security Trust that organizes security at Britain's synagogues. "It was a political message that Jews and Muslims should not mix," explained Jonathan Stephenson, an expert in counterterrorism at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "Turkey is seen as modern secular and not sufficiently Islamic. Synagogues are easy to hit. Al-Qaeda is in a mode now that it takes targets where it finds them." (Guardian-UK)
  • Syrian Opposition Meets in Washington
    Farid Ghadry, the Washington businessman who heads the pro-democracy Reform Party of Syria, credits the Iraq War for "catapulting" his group into viability. Opposition members gathered in Washington for a closed, two-day session over the weekend. Ghadry has spoken with tribal leaders and the heads of other parties. "This is a good time for us to talk about democracy and start deploying the hidden majority within the Syrian diaspora and inside Syria that really wants to see regime change," he said. "Five percent of the population controls the other 95 percent with an iron fist." (UPI)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Terrorist Kills Two IDF Soldiers Near Bethlehem - Amos Harel
    A Palestinian gunman armed with an AK-47 assault rifle concealed in a blanket, ambushed a group of IDF soldiers at a checkpoint on the Tunnel Road south of Jerusalem Tuesday, killing two. The terrorist escaped in a waiting car that headed toward Bethlehem. (Ha'aretz/Yediot Ahronot)
        "It looks like the declarations of a truce were premature," Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said on Army Radio. "What happened this morning casts doubt on the sincerity" of Qurie's efforts to halt attacks, Lapid said. (Reuters)
  • Mossad: Iran is Existential Threat to Israel - Gideon Alon
    "We believe the Iranians will continue developing nuclear military projects and in their hands such weapons pose, for the first time, an existential threat to Israel," Mossad head Meir Dagan told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Monday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Mossad: 40 Terrorist Alerts on Jewish Targets Abroad - Gideon Alon
    The Mossad has received 40 alerts of terror attacks planned against Jewish and Israeli targets in various places in the world, Mossad head Meir Dagan told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Monday. Dagan said the attacks in Istanbul are believed to have been perpetrated by organizations belonging to the Global Jihad and al-Qaeda. Global Jihad is a world movement of radical Sunni groups present in countries with large Moslem populations. Dagan said al-Qaeda is only one of dozens of organizations that believe in Global Jihad, espousing war against the West. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. and Israel Facing "War of Civilizations" - Daphna Berman
    "It is possible that [Iran's] first atomic bomb will fall on Tel Aviv, but then the second will explode in New York," Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said Monday at the UJC General Assembly in Jerusalem. Israel and the U.S. are united by the "existential threat" posed by "fanatical Muslims," he said. "The world is engaged in a war of civilizations, and we are the fortress of all that," Lapid said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • War for the Middle East - Editorial
    By turning its bombs on Muslims in places such as Riyadh and Istanbul, al-Qaeda has effectively confirmed President Bush's assertion earlier this month that the war on terrorism is also a battle over the political future of the Middle East. People across the region have been offered dramatic evidence of the real stakes in this war: not only whether the United States or Israel is driven out of the Middle East but whether Arabs will be ruled in this century by democrats or Islamic zealots. (Washington Post)
  • Building Arab Democracy - Hala Mustafa and David Makovsky
    Arab democratization is not a fantasy, it is a necessity - for both Americans and Arabs alike. Islamist fanatics such as al-Qaeda gained ground by painting America as the main pillar of support for what they would call bloated, corrupt, and oppressive Arab regimes. Instead of confronting the ideology of the Islamists, Arab leaders tried to ride the Islamist wave, just as they rode anti-colonial, pan-Arabist, and anti-Israel waves in previous decades. But these regimes could never truly out-Islam the Islamists. A strategy of promoting Arab democratization would demolish the cynical "Islam is the solution" myth propagated by the Islamists and would give ordinary citizens a stake in the development of their own countries. (Washington Post)
  • In the UN, Arabs Have the Ultimate Revenge over Israel - Barbara Amiel
    Israeli presented a resolution at the UN on behalf of Israeli children that was a mirror copy of one on behalf of Palestinian children sponsored by Egypt and passed (88-4, 58 abstentions) in the General Assembly three weeks earlier. Ambassador Dan Gillerman asked for security for Israeli, Palestinian, and all children of the world. He mentioned the deliberate bombing of discos, pizza parlors, and school buses, almost exclusively used by children. The PA delegate argued that the situation of Palestinian children was "unique" - which it may well be, since most children of the world are not used as human shields for terrorist camps or encouraged to be suicide bombers so their pictures can be put up in grocery stores as "martyrs." (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    Why Condemn Israel for Fighting Back? - Peter Worthington (Toronto Sun)

    • In the late 1950s and 1960s I spent a fair amount of time covering crises and wars in the Middle East - Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria - always from the Arab (Muslim) side. To this day, I've never been to Israel. In those days, our media were mostly sympathetic with Israel and against the Arabs. But today, CBC [state-funded Canadian Broadcasting] reporters who cover the Middle East often seems hostile to Israel when commenting on suicide bombings and Israel's inevitable military response.
    • CBC's, in fact, much of the media's coverage - and certainly the UN's attitude - is more hostile to Israel than to Palestinian terrorists (which is what suicide bombers are). Today's suicide bombers are a product of indoctrination of the young in Palestinian schools. In the old days, it would have been called brainwashing. A generation of youths has probably been so corrupted to hate it is now incurable.
    • What's puzzling in media coverage of the Middle East - and more puzzling in governments that should know better - is how Israel is blamed for retaliating against terrorism. Israel is always scolded or condemned for fighting back - Palestinian terrorism is rarely held accountable. Be it terrorist acts by Hizballah, Islamic Jihad, or Hamas, excuses are always made. Historically, Canada has been reluctant to criticize Hizballah or Hamas without also urging restraints on Israel.
    • Many fair-minded people who criticize Israel don't seem to understand it doesn't initiate violence, it reacts to violence. We know the instigator. When Arafat rejected 95% of the West Bank for a sovereign Palestinian state, it became irrefutable that the goal was not peace, but the elimination of Israel. One gets the feeling this is also the goal of some at the CBC.

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