Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 26, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Evidence of Syrian Complicity in Attacks on U.S. in Iraq - Douglas Davis (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. administration in Iraq and the Iraqi Governing Council have solid evidence of direct, top-level Syrian complicity in attacks against American and Iraqi security forces, a senior source within the council said Thursday.
    One of the two Iraqis captured with Saddam in the Tikrit area had acted as Saddam's personal envoy to Syrian President Bashar Assad until just six weeks before his arrest.
    The source also said that suicide bombers from various Arab countries had crossed into Iraq from Syria, carrying Syrian documents.
    He said he believes the Syrian regime has attempted to make life as difficult - and as bloody - as possible for the Americans to dissuade them from turning their sights on Damascus once the security threats in Iraq are contained.
    He added that the council had acquired thousands of documents from the files of the Mukhabarat (secret police), the state oil company, and in Saddam's personal office, which expose a network of politicians throughout the Arab world and Europe who had accepted huge payments from Saddam in the form of "oil contracts."
    He said the evidence incriminates the most senior members of the Jordanian royal family in allegedly illegal and corrupt dealings with Saddam.
    Saying that the absence of a hostile regime in Baghdad has reduced Israel's strategic dependence on the Hashemite kingdom as a buffer against Iraq, he predicted that Jordan would, sooner rather than later, become a Palestinian state.
    He said many members of the governing council are personally well-disposed toward Israel, and insisted that the new Iraq would not be hostile to it.

Al-Qaeda Targets Gaddafi - Stewart Bell (National Post-Canada)
    A Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report says al-Qaeda-backed militants in Libya want to assassinate Col. Muammar Gaddafi, providing a possible explanation for the dictator's recent attempts to improve relations with the West.
    The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) is the most powerful radical faction waging holy war against Gaddafi, aiming to establish an Islamic state in Libya, CSIS said.
    "In order to achieve their goals, the LIFG has made numerous attempts to kill Col. Gaddafi," said the report, dated September 2002.
    Headed by Anas Sebai, a key al-Qaeda leader, the Libyan fighting group includes about 2,500 Libyans who fought in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The group's stronghold is in the mountains on Libya's northeast coast.
    Three other armed groups, the Islamic Movement of Martyrs, Libyan Jihad Movement, and Islamic Movement for Change are also battling Gaddafi and at one point had "thousands, if not tens of thousands of supporters," CSIS said.
    A section of the report called "Presence and Activities in Canada" was entirely deleted by CSIS before the document was released under the Access to Information Act.

VC Indicator Survey Shows Surging Optimism - Batya Feldman (Globes)
    Deloitte Brightman Almagor published its Israel VC Indicator Survey for the fourth quarter of 2003, looking at expectations for the upcoming six months by partners and investment managers at 45 venture capital funds in Israel.
    The survey found that 68% of venture capital managers predict at least a three-fold increase in investment returns over the next six months, 81% expect that the source of money for the next funds will be the U.S., and 85% expect an increase in investment in Internet and e-commerce.
    Survey director Ilan Birnfeld CPA, head of Deloitte Brightman Almagor's high-tech group, said 72% of fund managers expect the economic climate to improve, compared with 54% in the third quarter.
    A majority of respondents predict higher investment in Internet, homeland security, medical devices, and software, while investment in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and wireless and communications will decline or remain the same.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Suspicious Passengers Questioned in France
    U.S. government officials said Thursday they believe some of the passengers boarding one of the three Air France flights from Paris to Los Angeles that were canceled this week because of security concerns might have intended to hijack it and crash-land in Las Vegas or another city along its flight path. Officials are suspicious about some of the passengers who did not show up at the airport to claim their seats on the ultimately aborted Flight 68 from Paris to Los Angeles, including one who is a trained pilot. In addition, "our fear is that other things are going on" that have nothing to do with jetliner flights in or out of U.S. airports, said one U.S. official briefed on high-level intelligence. (Washington Post)
        See also Personal Preparedness Guide
    A printable guide to address basic questions about personal preparedness for the possibility of a biological, chemical, or radiological event. (Washington Post)
  • Bethlehem Becomes Sanctuary for Hunted Palestinian Militants
    Palestinian militants have been quietly migrating to Bethlehem since Israeli soldiers pulled out over the summer. The day before Christmas Eve, the Bethlehem commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant group with ties to Arafat, sat in an idling sedan at the edge of Manger Square. The trunk of his car was stocked with a tangle of M-16 rifles. "I'm sitting here talking to you, and the people can see me," said Abu Hussein. "This wouldn't have happened before, with the Israelis." Hussein enjoys a certain freedom in Bethlehem under the watch of Palestinian troops, with whom he says he enjoys an "excellent, excellent, excellent" relationship. "With the Palestinian police, it's mutual respect. We visit them and they visit us. We're all under the instructions of the president," he said, referring to Arafat. "Here we can walk around, we can drive around," said Abu Diya, a fugitive from Hebron who sought sanctuary in Bethlehem five months ago. Israel's complaints that Bethlehem has become a sanctuary for militants on the run are accurate, Palestinian security officials say. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Pakistani Leader Escapes 2nd Assassination Attempt
    Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf escaped an assassination attempt Thursday, the second in 11 days, when two suicide bombers plowed their vehicles into his motorcade and detonated car bombs, killed at least 14 people and wounding 46. Describing the incident, Musharraf said the first suicide bomber had driven out of a gas station toward his car. A policeman tried to stop the car, and the bomber exploded the vehicle. "We increased the speed, but another bomb exploded at another petrol pump a few yards ahead of the first explosion," he said. "Debris of the blasted vehicle fell on my car, but Allah saved us," he said. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Homicide Bomber Attacks Bus Stop Near Tel Aviv, Kills 4 - Roni Singer and Amos Harel
    A Palestinian suicide bomber killed four Israelis at a bus stop under the Geha bridge east of Tel Aviv Thursday - Corporals Angelina Shcherov and Rotem Weinberger, and Advah Fisher, all 19, from Kfar Sava, and Staff Sgt. Noam Leibovitch, 21, from Elkana. "Tonight's attack is another indication that the Palestinian Authority's terror industry is always ready to strike Israel at any opportunity," said David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office. "This goes to show that Israel cannot let its guard down," he said.
        The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack. Most of the PFLP cells' orders, defense officials say, still come from a group of PFLP leaders who have been in a Palestinian jail in Jericho, under British and American supervision, for more than a year, following the PFLP's assassination of minister Rehavam Ze'evi in October 2001. They have been given virtually unrestricted telephone access, issue frequent press statements, and receive regular visits from other PFLP members. The PFLP has also been known to receive money from organizations in Lebanon, and it frequently cooperates with local Fatah cells. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Who are the PFLP? (Jerusalem Post)
  • PM: Terrorist Attack Only Brings Unilateral Steps Closer - Herb Keinon
    "We are still committed to the road map and will try to implement it," a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said. "But there is no doubt that these types of attacks, the continuous instigation, the lack of any preventive action, and the fact that Arafat heads the PA security apparatus and keeps them from taking any action will bring us closer to the security steps needed to ensure the security of our citizens."
        The official said that just as 130 suicide bombers over the last three years led to the construction of the security fence, and the failure to stop arms smuggling tunnels in Rafah leads to continuous IDF action there, the failure of the PA to take any action against the terrorist infrastructure "will bring them closer to what they want to avoid - Sharon's unilateral steps." Since the last suicide attack at Maxim restaurant in Haifa on Oct. 4, there have been over 300 terror attacks of various types, the official said. In addition, there have been some 40 to 50 terror warnings a week. "There has been no lull or quiet, just outstanding success by the security services in preventing the attacks," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Prevents Mega-Attack, Kills Gaza Islamic Jihad Head - Amos Harel, Arnon Regular, and Roni Singer
    The head of the Islamic Jihad's military wing in Gaza, Makled Hamid, 39, was killed Thursday along with four other Palestinians in an IDF missile strike on a car in Gaza City. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said "the military worked to foil what I would call a mega-attack in the Gaza Strip." IDF spokesman Capt. Jacob Dallal described Hamid as a "ticking bomb," and said Hamid "was behind a long, long list of terror attacks, and he was in the midst of planning a major attack." Soldiers also killed an Islamic Jihad member armed with a bomb near Ganei Tal in the central Gaza district Thursday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Who is Makled Hamid?
    Makled Hamid was preparing a major terror attack inside Israel. Terrorists under Hamid's command fired Kassam rockets into Israel, carried out numerous shooting attacks against IDF and civilian targets, fired anti-tank missiles and mortar shells, dispatched suicide terrorists, and detonated dozens of explosive charges at IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians in Gaza. Palestinian security sources received Hamid's name a number of times from Israeli security sources, but did not take any action against him. (IMRA)
  • Israel and India Sign Space Agreement
    Three telescopes built by Tel Aviv University will be sent into space on an Indian satellite to conduct a series of experiments in 2005. (Aljazeera-Qatar)
        See also Science Pact Signed with Israel (Financial Express-India)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Henry Ford's "Legacy" - Editorial
    The quip going around nonprofit circles these days is that the Ford Foundation's support for Palestinian extremists is the one area of funding it could defend on the grounds of donor intent - an allusion to the notorious anti-Semitism of automaker and founder Henry Ford. In response to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency series detailing Ford's support for Palestinian NGOs crusading against Israel, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley has announced that the Senate Finance Committee will review the matter. With $10 billion in assets and offices that stretch from Santiago to Hanoi, Ford today has become a major player in international affairs. We hope Senator Grassley goes through with hearings, not only to find out where all that Ford money ended up in the Middle East, but also to raise the larger public issue of whether the tax code is being used to subsidize attacks on American interests. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Arafat's Succession Battle is Looming
    In a certain sense, Arafat was the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Authority was Arafat. The result of this autocracy was, according to one Palestinian human rights activist, "a police state without a state." Arafat's critics accuse him of eliminating virtually all alternatives to him and refusing doggedly to appoint a deputy who would take over in case of the chairmanís death, senility, or incompetence. Arafat is nearly 75, and with frail health. According to Atif Udwan, professor of political science at al-Azhar University in Gaza, "when he disappears, many will leap for power and money." "The question of who will succeed Yasser Arafat will not be an exclusively Palestinian affair. There are the Jordanians, the Egyptians, the Americans, and even the Israelis. All those will try to manipulate the post-Arafat arrangements to their favor."
        According to the Palestinian Basic Law, the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council will assume executive power pending the election of a president in two months. However, many doubt that the largely undisciplined Fatah hierarchy would adhere to the rule of the Basic Law. According to Azmi Shuaibi, a former PA cabinet minister, the absence of Arafat will weaken Fatah considerably. Abd al-Sattar Qassim, professor of political science at al-Najah University, argues, "Fatah will definitely disintegrate and polarize into many groups and factions." (Aljazeera-Qatar)
  • Israel Gets Failing Grade on U.S. Campuses - Natan Sharansky
    A recent poll showed that 28% of students were more "sympathetic" to Israel and 22% more "sympathetic" to Palestinians, as compared with the general American population that sides with Israel by more than 3 to 1 (49% to 14%). During the 1990s, Israel stopped all of its programming on college campuses, as well as many of its auxiliary public relations efforts, because it was convinced that good policies (i.e., the peace process) needed no explaining. Our government must re-enter the fray and stand shoulder to shoulder with those organizations that have worked so hard on campuses to defend Israel against this unprecedented onslaught. (New York Jewish Week)
  • The Triumph of Hanukkah - Jeff Jacoby
    Today Hanukkah is well established as part of the annual "holiday season." Its enhanced status is a tribute both to the assimilating tug of America's majority culture and to the remarkable openness of that culture to Jewish customs and belief. Hanukkah was established to commemorate the revolt of the Maccabees, the first time in history that a people rose up to fight religious persecution. (Boston Globe)

    Weekend Features:

  • Book Review: A Season in Bethlehem: Unholy War in a Sacred Place - Charles M. Sennott
    In A Season in Bethlehem, Newsweek's Jerusalem bureau chief Joshua Hammer covers the siege of the Church of the Nativity and all of the disheartening violence of the Palestinian intifada as it unfolded from the fall of 2000 to the present. At the center of the book is the Abayat tribe, a Bedouin clan whose sons became leaders of the Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigade, which to Israel was a terrorist cell behind a surge of attacks in the weeks before the siege and which to Palestinian Christian residents was to be feared as a band of thugs who set out to put their historic town in the center of the conflict. Hammer takes readers inside Bethlehem and its surrounding villages, stripping away the cliche image of Hallmark nativity scenes. He accurately points out the storming of the holy site by armed Palestinian gunmen "exacerbated the ill will" felt by Palestinian Christians toward the Palestinian leadership. (Boston Globe)
  • Book Review: Caliphate Dreams - Andrew G. Bostom
    In Islamikaze - Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology, Raphael Israeli proposes the creation of an alliance of Western and democratic states (AWADS) that follows six "rules of engagement":
    1) Strict control of immigration from Muslim countries;
    2) Reciprocal arrangements for controlled immigration, tourism, and educational exchanges to guarantee equivalent, unimpeded bilateral flow, devoid of characteristic Muslim discriminatory regulations towards other races, faiths, or nationalities;
    3) Making various forms of assistance contingent upon accountability, progress in human rights, meaningful efforts at population control, renunciation of force/violence in dealing with other nations/communities, and monitoring and controlling incitement to hatred and violence in mosques and media outlets;
    4) Terminating all military assistance and weapons sales by AWADS to non-member states;
    5) Mosque construction in AWADS nations, particularly projects funded by Saudi Arabia, will be contingent upon reciprocal arrangements to construct religious institutions for other faiths in Muslim nations;
    6) The importation into AWADS nations from Muslim countries of books, movies, clerics and missionaries, print media, or audio/video tapes must be reciprocal, contingent upon the unrestricted flow of similar AWADS cultural assets into Muslim countries, and all such assets will be required by law to be devoid of messages that disseminate hate. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • A Jewish Heavyweight Champion? - Steve Bunce
    Roman Greenberg was 10 when he arrived in Tel Aviv from Russia with his mum, dad, and younger brother. At 14, Greenberg found his way to one of the anonymous little boxing gyms in Israel. He won silver medals at the European Cadet Championships in Macedonia in 1997 and the European Junior Championships in Latvia the following year. In 2000, he won another silver medal in Budapest for the World Junior Championships. After meeting Robert Waterman, a British boxing promoter, Greenberg relocated to Finchley and turned professional at age 19. "Max Baer was the last [Jewish] heavyweight champion of the world and that was for about five minutes 70 years ago," Waterman admits. In 2003, Greenberg fought eight times and stopped or knocked out all of his opponents with a casual ease that separates dumb heavyweights from real prospects. (Independent-UK)
  • Observations:

    The Continuing War - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • In Judea and Samaria, the Tanzim, which is connected to Fatah, has been infiltrated by Hizballah agents. This reinforces the argument that the longer the battle against the Palestinian terror infrastructure is put off, the more difficult it will be for the PA to deal with the problem when it does want to do so.
    • The Hamas came out strengthened from the truce talks between the Palestinian factions in Cairo, with President Mubarak's bureau granting them recognition. Hamas has succeeded in seizing the role of the "governing alternative" to Arafat and the PA.
    • Arafat definitely knew in advance that the chance for a hudna (cease-fire) among the Palestinian factions was very slim when he sent Abu Ala off to Cairo. At the same time Arafat is sending out signals to the U.S. and Israel that it is only with him, and not with Abu Ala, that a cease-fire can be reached.
    • Abu Ala is unable at present to satisfy the basic precondition for a meeting between him and Prime Minister Sharon. Israel has requested that Abu Ala come to the meeting with a security plan in which the stages of implementation are detailed.

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