Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 18, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

IDF Thwarts Terror Attacks (IDF)
    Since the murderous suicide attack at Maxim restaurant in Haifa on Oct. 4, in which 22 Israelis were killed and tens wounded, the IDF has thwarted 24 attacks planned for inside Israel and another 15 attacks in Judea and Samaria.
    During this period the IDF arrested 22 senior terrorists and discovered 4 bomb factories and 6 explosive belts.

Jamming Device Saved Pakistan's President - James Astill (Guardian-UK)
    An electronic jamming device installed in the limousine of President Musharraf of Pakistan delayed a remote controlled explosion on a road bridge by seconds Sunday, allowing him to escape with his life, intelligence officials said Wednesday.
    The 250kg (550lb) bomb destroyed a road bridge less than a minute after Musharraf's motorcade had passed.
    The jammers emit a magnetic impulse to block frequencies used to trigger explosive devices.

Church of Nativity Deportee Held for Major Theft in Belgium - Sharon Sadeh (Ha'aretz)
    Khalil Mohammed Abdullah al-Nawara, one of the 13 Palestinians deported from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in May 2002, was arrested Tuesday in Belgium on suspicion of participating in a number of robberies in which explosives were used to steal more than $250,000 from post offices.
    His asylum in Belgium included financial assistance and housing.

Saudis Ban Female Doll Imports - Brian Whitaker (Guardian-UK)
    Saudi Arabia has banned imports of female dolls and teddy bears, and shopkeepers have been given three months to dispose of any stock.
    The ban also applies to non-Islamic religious symbols, such as crosses and statues of Buddha.
    It was imposed by Prince Nayef, 69, the interior minister (who is also in charge of the feared religious police), al-Riyadh newspaper said Wednesday.
    "Prince Nayef is trying to appease the extremists because the followers of Wahhabi Islam believe in forbidding this sort of thing," said Ali al-Ahmad of the Washington-based Saudi Institute.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Lawmakers Urge Iraq Relations with Israel
    The Bush administration should try to ensure that the next Iraqi government has diplomatic relations with Israel, two U.S. lawmakers said Wednesday. "Will Iraq turn out to be pro-American and anti-Israel? We need to make sure it is not," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), a member of the Republican leadership, during a visit to Israel along with Rep. Jane Harman (D-Cal.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Warns Americans to "Consider Departing" Saudi Arabia
    The U.S. Wednesday issued another warning about the threat of new terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and urged an estimated 37,000 private American citizens to "consider departing." U.S. intelligence "continues to receive indications of terrorist threats aimed at American and Western targets, including the targeting of transportation and civil aviation," the State Department warning said. An FBI official in Washington said there has been a notable increase in intelligence indicating that something is being planned in Saudi Arabia. (Washington Post)
        See also Israeli Defense Minister: Al-Qaeda Trying to Infiltrate Saudi Arabia's Armed Forces - Gideon Alon
    The al-Qaeda terrorist organization is trying to infiltrate the ranks of Saudi Arabia's armed forces and security services, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday. He said al-Qaeda was also trying to carry out an attack in Saudi Arabia. These attempts, he said, could destabilize the Saudi regime. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Soldiers Kill Four Palestinian Gunmen
    Israeli soldiers killed four armed Palestinians in Nablus Thursday during operations against militants planning suicide bombings. "Israeli forces identified an armed man on a rooftop. Firing erupted. Two more armed men joined the fighting. The troops returned fire. The three were killed," said an army spokesman, adding that three automatic rifles were found with the gunmen. In addition, an armed Islamic Jihad member was shot dead when he tried to plant a bomb in an alley where soldiers were operating. Troops also captured a would-be suicide bomber who was apparently planning to head toward Israel Thursday. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Bomb IDF Outpost in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    A powerful bomb containing hundreds of kilograms of explosives blew up on the wall of the Hirdon outpost near Rafah in the south Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The bomb had been placed by Hamas militants inside a 100-meter-long tunnel that had been dug leading up to the base. No one was wounded in the attack but the position suffered damage. An hour later a second bomb placed by Palestinians exploded, that had been intended for the emergency and rescue teams arriving after the first blast. The security establishment reports 52 current terror alerts. (Jerusalem Post/Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Reject One-Year Truce Proposed by Egypt - Yoav Stern and Amos Harel
    Palestinian organizations have rejected an Egyptian proposal aimed at forging a one-year cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians. Cease-fire talks will continue next Monday when Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher visits Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Envoy Won't Return Until Gaza Bomb Probe Advances - Aluf Benn
    U.S. officials have informed the Palestinian Authority that special road map envoy John Wolf will not return to the region until progress is made in the investigation of a Gaza Strip terror attack in which three American guards were killed two months ago. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Arab World Grapples with Saddam's Captivity - Fouad Ajami
    Saddam, it is true, was alone in that "spider-hole" amid the litter of a run-down farm house. But he had been a creature of the Arab order; as late as March 2002, his principal lieutenant, the barbarous Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri (still on the run, an illiterate former street-vendor of ice who came into great power in the rise of the Tikritis) had come to an Arab summit in Beirut. He had been embraced by the rulers assembled there, and reconciliation was in the air. The crimes of the Baathist regime were papered over. It is not so difficult to see that a different destiny could have been had by that stupefied man flushed out of his "rathole" by soldiers of Task Force 121. He had once been the "knight of Arabism" marked by destiny to crush the "fire-worshipping Persians," and to lay to waste the Jewish state. The "knight" has stumbled, but those deadly dreams are not abandoned. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Qatar’s Forward-Thinking - Rob Sobhani
    The State Department's Commission on International Religious Freedom announced recently that Saudi Arabia's continued funding and export of Wahhabism is making the country a "strategic threat" to the United States. This is in sharp contrast to Qatar, Saudi Arabia's neighbor. The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, and his wife, who heads Qatar Foundation, firmly believe that in order for the Arab-Muslim world to protect its rich culture and prevent Islam from being hijacked by extremists, a major investment in and commitment to education is essential. (National Review)
  • Anti-Americanism in Contemporary Saudi Arabia - Josh Pollack
    While the U.S. military remains in Iraq, and while the Palestinian intifada continues, anti-American sentiment in Saudi Arabia is likely to remain high. As American military power continues to play a prominent role in the Persian Gulf region, it is not easy to envision an early return to the relatively stable and cooperative U.S.-Saudi relations of the past. (MERIA Journal)
  • The Money Keeps Pouring into the PA - Rachel Ehrenfeld
    The international donor community has approved another contribution of $1.2 billion to the PA for 2004. The U.S., Japan, the EU, and Norway are the biggest contributors. But giving any money to the PA before it fully accounts for the more than $6 billion already received in aid since 1993 could facilitate ongoing PA terror activities. In news reports from Saudi Arabia, the chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank, Zekariya Zubeidi, stated that, "the Brigades are backed by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah and the faction stipend is a welcome supplement to police wages." Despite thousands of Palestinian documents, captured by the IDF, demonstrating Arafat's and the PA's complicity in funding and encouraging terrorist attacks against Israel, the money keeps pouring into the PA coffers. (Washington Times)
  • WMD Found - Editorial
    If anyone doubted the grip that Arafat has on Palestinians and Israelis, Saddam's rule should be food for thought. Like Saddam on the run, Arafat has such powers that even in exile he would retain sufficient power to torpedo any initiative he might oppose. The U.S. and Israel are acting as if it is possible to progress toward peace with Arafat in full control of the PA. The current discussion of unilateral measures, which no one suggests will bring an end to the conflict, has arisen as a substitute for the only real hope, which remains regime change on the Palestinian side. This was the essential insight of President Bush. We hope that Saddam's capture will reverberate against the terror network everywhere, and help end the Palestinian jihad against us as well. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    ADL Poll: Americans Continue to Strongly Support Israel (ADL)

    • A survey of American attitudes toward the Middle East conducted December 1-4, 2003, found that Americans sympathize more with Israel (40%) than with the Palestinians (15%).
    • 39% believe the Palestinians are more responsible for the current violence; 16% blame Israel.
    • 70% believe Israel is serious about reaching a peace agreement, while only 46% think the Palestinians are serious.
    • 57% believe the real goal of Arafat and the Palestinian leadership is to destroy Israel.

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