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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December 8, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraqi Resistance Directed by Syria's Secret Service? (MEMRI)
    In an article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa titled "Syria is Committing Suicide in Baghdad, and No One Besides Her is Dying," Ahmad Al-Jarallah wrote:
    "On the face of it, Syria washes its hands, because it is Iraqis who are resisting the American occupation - even though suicide bombers possessing Syrian identity cards with serial numbers of the [Syrian] secret service have been apprehended."

Trail of Anti-U.S. Fighters Said to Cross Europe to Iraq - Desmond Butler and Don Van Natta, Jr. (New York Times)
    A string of recent arrests of terror suspects has shown that al-Qaeda and groups linked to it have established a network across Europe that is moving recruits into Iraq to join the insurgency against American and allied forces, European intelligence and law enforcement officials said last week.
    A network of recruiters working in at least six European countries - Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Britain, and Norway - has assisted hundreds of young men trying to get to Iraq, providing high quality fake documents, training, money, and infiltration routes into the country.

Hamas Leader Says Israelis Should Move to Europe (Reuters/MSNBC)
    Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas, told the German weekly Der Spiegel that he opposed a separate Jewish state on Palestinian land and the Israelis should found a state in Europe.
    See also Hamas Chief Yassin Rejects Coexistence with Israel (DPA/Ha'aretz)
    Sheikh Ahmed Yassin has again rejected the continued existence of Israel next to an independent Palestinian state.

Egypt Library Removes Anti-Semitic Tract - Nadia Abou el-Magd (AP/Washington Post)
    The Alexandria Library has withdrawn the first Arabic translation of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" from an exhibit after UN cultural officials questioned the display of the 19th century anti-Semitic tract.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell Meeting with Drafters of Geneva Initiative
    Secretary of State Powell met Friday with the Israeli and Palestinian initiators of the Geneva Initiative, and reaffirmed America's commitment to President Bush's vision, articulated on June 24, 2002, of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Powell explained that the Quartet Roadmap provides the appropriate pathway for moving to the realization of that vision and that there are no shortcuts along the way. (State Department)
  • The Saudi Connection: How Billions in Oil Money Spawned a Global Terror Network
    U.S. intelligence officials knew about Saudi Arabia's role in funding terrorism by 1996, yet for years Washington did almost nothing to stop it. Examining the Saudi role in terrorism, a senior intelligence analyst says, was "virtually taboo." Over the past 25 years, the desert kingdom has been the single greatest force in spreading Islamic fundamentalism, while its huge, unregulated charities funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to jihad groups and al-Qaeda cells around the world. In some 20 countries, the money was used to run paramilitary training camps, purchase weapons, and recruit new members. The charities were part of an extraordinary $70 billion Saudi campaign to spread their fundamentalist Wahhabi sect worldwide. (U.S. News)
  • Saudi Embassies to Close "Islamic Affairs Section"
    U.S. authorities have revoked the diplomatic visa of Jaafar Idris, an influential Islamic cleric affiliated with the Fairfax, Virginia-based Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America and a leading figure among Washington-area adherents of Wahhabism. In addition, the Saudi government has decided to stop providing diplomatic status to Islamic clerics and educators teaching overseas, according to a senior Saudi official, who said that in the future, Saudi embassies will get out of the business of promoting religion. "We are going to shut down the Islamic affairs section in every embassy," officials said. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Cairo Negotiations End Without Cease-Fire - Arnon Regular and Aluf Benn
    Talks in Cairo between the heads of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other factions, along with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, failed to achieve an agreed total or partial cease-fire. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Objects to Cease-Fire Deal
    In the wake of the failure of the Cairo cease-fire talks, Sharon spokesman Raanan Gissin said, "Hamas today is a danger more to the Palestinian Authority than it is to us....The minute you have forces...challenge the government you can't talk to have to disarm them....The only way to deal with terrorists is to put them behind bars and dismantle their organizations and take away their weapons."
        Fatah officials said that Hamas' external leadership was the main objector to a full cease-fire deal, Army Radio reported. Senior Hamas official Mohammed Nazzal said: "Every centimeter of the land of Palestine from 1948 onwards is occupied land and we will continue our resistance against Israeli targets in every place." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas is Laying a Hudna Trap - Ze'ev Schiff
    There is no need for a cease-fire agreement as proposed by the Palestinians; Israel is prepared to keep the peace and limit its military activities to defense only, if the Palestinians will keep the peace on their side and stop terror entirely. That was the message delivered to PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's bureau chief, Hassan Abu Labda, at a meeting Sunday with his Israeli opposite number, Dov Weisglass. The term "cease-fire" as meant by the Palestinians bears an advantage for the terror organizations, granting them indirect recognition and leading to their empowerment both militarily and politically. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF: Syria and Iran Involved in Palestinian Terror
    Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon told a cabinet meeting Sunday that Damascus is conveying clear and precise instructions to perpetrate terror attacks in the West Bank and Gaza, and is also transferring cash to banks in Nablus to fund these operations. Yaalon also said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was trying to make inroads into Palestinian terror activities. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israeli Cabinet Communique (Cabinet Secretariat/IMRA)
  • EU Pledges Emergency Aid to Palestinians
    The European Union agreed on Saturday to provide the Palestinian Authority with 32 million euros ($38.9 million) in aid to weather an economic crisis and help government reform efforts. The funds are in addition to some 300 million euros ($364.4 million) budgeted in 2003 for the Palestinian territories. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is expected to attend a donors' conference of European and Arab states scheduled for December 10 in Rome. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Fantasy - Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren
    The Sharon government was elected in a landslide victory to pursue a policy fundamentally incompatible with Geneva. The losers of that election are now trying to circumvent the electoral process and, together with the PA, impose their will by summoning international pressure for the Accord in order to delegitimize the Sharon government. Geneva is the product of Israelis who have forgotten how to defend their nation's most basic interests. That was reinforced at the Geneva signing, where Carter blamed the conflict almost entirely on Israel, Palestinians denounced the occupation, and Israelis in attendance spoke only of their hope for peace, without mentioning the Palestinians' violent rejection of the Israeli left's peace offer three years ago.
        We see an Israeli society that has heroically withstood terrorism aimed at demoralizing us and forcing us to sacrifice our most vital national interests. That is precisely what the negotiators of Geneva have done - signed on a document of surrender. After providing the world with an example of strength in the face of terrorism, there is no reason now for Israel to concede defeat. (New Republic)
  • The UN Refuses to Condemn Anti-Semitism - Anne Bayefsky
    Last week a draft resolution on anti-Semitism - which would have been a first in the UN's 58-year history - was withdrawn in the face of Arab and Muslim opposition. Two weeks ago, in a behind-the-scenes deal struck between Irish Foreign Minister Cowen and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Israel agreed to drop efforts to include "anti-Semitism" in a religious intolerance resolution in exchange for a promise from Ireland to introduce a new resolution specifically on anti-Semitism. But after the General Assembly's Third Committee adopted the resolution on religious intolerance minus any reference to anti-Semitism, Ireland refused to carry out its side of the bargain. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan - who has occasionally paid lip-service to the problem of anti-Semitism - ignored the requests of both NGOs and the state sponsors of the anti-Semitism resolution to weigh in on the importance of the issue with UN members. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    The Israel "Threat": Making of a Myth - Robert A. Levine (Washington Post)

    • Here is how a public myth is born and becomes embedded in the global consciousness as a pseudo-fact even though it is incorrect and even dangerous. This one says that Europeans are turning against Israel.
    • Since the beginning of November, world media have given wide coverage to the striking response to one question in a complex survey taken within the nations of the European Union by the European Commission. The finding, as put, for example, by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, is that: "59% of EU citizens now consider Israel the greatest 'threat to world peace.'"
    • But that does not happen to be what the survey reports. Rather, the 59%, when asked the question, "For each of the following countries, tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world?" answered "yes" for Israel. The other top losers were Iran, North Korea, and the United States at 53%, Iraq with 52, and Afghanistan with 50.
    • That most Europeans consider Israel, a country at war, to be a threat to peace is quite different from their believing that the Jewish state is the "greatest threat." Respondents were asked to list as many threats as they wanted; they were not asked to think hard about which they thought to be the greatest single one.
    • In fact, the five countries gaining the disapprobation of 50% or more of Europeans are involved in combat (Israel, Iraq, the United States, Afghanistan) or are presenting the world with new nuclear challenges (North Korea, Iran). All the survey says is that most Europeans believe that countries at war are threats to world peace. Surprise!

      The writer is a Los Angeles-based economist and former deputy director of the Congressional Budget Office.

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