Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 31, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Former Soviet Bloc Nations Provided Saddam with Illicit Arms - Jeffrey Fleishman and Bob Drogin (Los Angeles Times)
    Companies in several former Soviet bloc nations, which were saddled with ruined and corrupt economies, were among the main suppliers to the global illicit arms bazaar.
    Over the last decade, the Polish army has shrunk to 140,000 troops from 400,000, and masses of military hardware have been relegated to scrap heaps and auction blocks.
    In the summer of 2001, Iraq's arms brokers shipped up to 380 missile engines from Poland to Syria, which were then trucked toward Baghdad, part of Saddam Hussein's covert program to extend the range of his missiles beyond the limit of 150 kilometers imposed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
    According to Iraqi documents, "The embargo against Iraq is not considered an [obstacle] for the supplying Polish party," and "spare parts and parts for motors...are sent from Poland through many different channels that cannot be detected."

    See also Syria "Made Millions" Selling Arms to Iraq - Richard Beeston (London Times)
    Senior figures in the Syrian regime were accused Tuesday of making millions of pounds by illegally supplying Iraq with weapons in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion.
    The allegations are likely to increase pressure on a country already facing sanctions from Washington to force it to stop supporting militant groups, dismantle its chemical and biological weapons program, and stop fighters crossing into Iraq to attack coalition troops.

Despite Cold Shoulder from Iran, Jews and Israelis Aid Quake Victims - Rachel Pomerance (JTA)
    One of the few U.S. non-governmental organizations running relief on the ground in earthquake-stricken Iran is led by an Iranian-American Jew.
    Farshad Rastegar formed the Los Angeles-based non-sectarian Relief International 14 years ago to aid victims of an earlier earthquake in Iran.
    Rastegar said his group has raised more than $150,000 for relief work in Iran, $65,000 of which already has been routed to a bank there.
    Ra'anan Amir, project manager of Latet (To Give), an Israeli humanitarian group that provides domestic and international relief, said the group has sent "tens of thousands of dollars" to Iranian earthquake victims.

German Hospital Used by U.S. Troops Sealed After Car Bomb Warning - Peter Finn (Washington Post)
    A German military hospital in Hamburg that has treated American soldiers was sealed Tuesday after German officials received a tip from U.S. intelligence that the radical Islamic group Ansar al-Islam was planning a car bomb attack on the facility.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Arafat Halts Progress on Roadmap
    Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei is powerless to stop Palestinian attacks in Israel. Mofaz said Qurei has avoided meeting Prime Minister Sharon since assuming office in November, because Qurei's hands are tied. The two sides undertook to implement an internationally devised roadmap for peace that initially requires a Palestinian "unconditional cessation of violence." Mofaz said Qurei realizes it would be difficult to curb terror because Arafat, who controls the security organizations, "will not let him and because the terrorist organizations won't agree to disarm....He fears we will offer to hand over responsibility for parts of Judea, Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza...and he must know that it would be very difficult for him to undertake (to stop attacks from there)."  (UPI/Washington Times)
        See also With Palestinian State, Deadlock at Deadline
    According to the ambitious "road map" for peace heralded dramatically at two presidential summits in the Middle East this year, Wednesday is the deadline for the birth of the provisional state of Palestine. Prospects for success of the U.S.-brokered plan remain dim if Palestinians do not take major action soon, Secretary of State Colin Powell warned this week. (Washington Post)
  • Israeli Helicopter Targets Hamas Men in Gaza City
    An Israeli helicopter fired missiles on Tuesday at a car carrying members of the militant Hamas group in Gaza City, wounding one of the two passengers - Jamal al-Jarah, a senior member of Izz el-Deen al-Qassam, the armed wing of Hamas, a Palestinian group that has carried out dozens of suicide bombings in Israel since the start of an uprising in September 2000. About 10 bystanders were hit by shrapnel and flying glass, medics and Palestinian security sources said. (Reuters)
  • Israel to Tweak Route of Barrier
    Israel plans minor changes to the route of the separation barrier being built in the West Bank to make life easier for Palestinians, security sources said Tuesday. Israel says completed sections of the obstacle are already stopping suicide bombers. The changes will entail widening the existing opening that links the city of Kalkilya to the rest of the West Bank. They will also mean the village of Baka al-Sharkiya shifts from the Israeli side to the West Bank. "There will be adjustments to the route to make life easier for the Palestinian population, but it will not change the overall picture," said one senior security source. (Reuters)
  • Israel Says Settlement Population Has Doubled Since '93
    The Israeli Interior Ministry released figures on Tuesday showing that the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had increased by 16% in the last three years, to 236,381 - about double the number that existed when Israel signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. "The way the Israeli government sees it is there will be no additional building outside the authorized municipal parameters of the existing settlements, but inside the settlements one cannot stop life going on," said Zalman Shoval, foreign affairs adviser to Sharon. In Neve Dekalim in Gaza, the number of families has grown from 480 to 520 in the last three years. (New York Times)
        See also Israel's Settler Population Sees Growth
    Population in the outlying settlements - which tend to attract Israelis motivated more by ideology than economic benefits - grew faster than those in areas closer to the line with Israel. For example, Kfar Darom in Gaza grew by 52% during the past three years. Nearby Netzarim grew by 24%. Jewish enclaves in the West Bank city of Hebron grew by almost 15% to 554 residents. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Diplomatic and Legal Aspects of the Settlement Issue - Jeffrey Helmreich (ICA/JCPA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Investigation of Last Week's Fence Shooting Incident - Gideon Alon
    IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that the initial IDF investigation of last week's shooting of a protester at the security fence indicated that the soldiers saw a wild and inflamed Palestinian mob of 70 to 80 people, some of them disguised, running along the fence with wire cutters, without knowing that there were Israelis among them. The soldiers felt their lives were in danger and that they must defend themselves and the town of Elkana, located about 100 meters behind them. The demonstrators did not heed the soldiers' calls to get away from the fence, so they fired 13 warning shots in the air, that did not deter the mob. At that point, the commander in the field received permission from the company commander to shoot at the legs of the head inciter, who was holding wire cutters. Even after opening fire, the soldiers did not realize that some of the demonstrators were Israeli, noting that the wounded protester was evacuated by Palestinians, said Ya'alon. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Chief of Staff: Evacuating Netzarim Under Fire Will Only Encourage Terror - Amos Harel and Jonathan Lis
    In response to a question from lawmakers regarding the unilateral evacuation of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip and other isolated settlements, IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday, "When I have spoken in the past about Netzarim, I said that if it is evacuated under fire, we will not be saving a regiment, because we will have to station an entire division there. I have not changed my mind since then. Evacuating Netzarim while we are being fired on will only encourage terror among the Palestinians." Ya'alon later stressed that his comments "do not reflect a position on Israel's diplomatic plans, which are formulated by the prime minister." (Ha'aretz)
  • Jordan's Hassan: Sharon Pragmatic, But Cannot Find a Partner
    Prince Hassan bin Talal, uncle of Jordan's King Abdullah, told the Italian newspaper La Stampa in comments published Monday that he sees Prime Minister Sharon as a pragmatic man, who wants security for his people, but is unable to find a partner on the Palestinian side with whom to conduct negotiations. "Arafat is at a transitory stage, but, unfortunately, we can see the growing influence of Hamas and Hizballah among the Palestinians." Hassan also said, "From my perspective, Jordan should include all the Palestinians, and Israel, Palestine, and Jordan should enjoy the same sort of interdependence as there is in the Benelux countries." (Ha'aretz)
  • Policemen Injured by Anti-Fence Protesters - Margot Dudkevitch
    On Wednesday, Palestinian, Israeli, and foreign demonstrators engaged in a violent protest at the site where the security fence is being constructed in Budrus, in the Ramallah area, throwing rocks that wounded several border policemen. Five Palestinians were wounded from rubber bullets and tear gas used to disperse the crowds. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Mideast: A Cesspool of Hate - Salim Mansur
    When U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl is murdered in Pakistan for being a Jew, and when Neve Shalom, Istanbul's main synagogue, is bombed for being what it is, it represents a rising tide of anti-Semitism among Arab Muslims that can no longer be denied by their demagogic representatives. What is involved here in the spreading slime of anti-Semitism among many Arabs and Muslims is the wreckage of Islam. Following World War II, Jews returned to Palestine after their longest period of exile to found a state for themselves, and successfully defended it against tremendous odds. In the modern post-colonial resurgence - the creation of Israel and the emergence of independent Arab states - the success of the one contrasts with the failures of the others. Anti-Semitic bile became a crutch to explain Arab failure.
    (Toronto Sun)
  • Deciding Between Good and Evil - Carolyn Glick
    Last month at a lecture I gave at Tel Aviv University on my experiences with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division during the Iraq war, some students were appalled when I argued that journalists must be able to make moral distinctions between good and evil when such distinctions exist. "Who are you to make moral judgments? What you say is good may well be bad for someone else," they asked. "I am a sane human being capable of distinguishing good from evil, just like every other sane human being," I answered. "As criminal law states, you are criminally insane if you can't distinguish between good and evil. Unless you are crazy, you should be able to tell the difference." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Global Anti-Semitism - Arnold Beichman (Washington Times)

    • I wonder why the thesis is rarely examined publicly that the Palestinians will never never never be allowed to make peace with Israel even if the Palestinians wanted to. Yasser Arafat, Hamas, Hizballah, and free-lance terrorists won't allow it to happen because they believe victory is at hand.
    • The reason this thesis is not on anybody's public agenda is that were it considered a reality it would mean recognizing the futility of Oslo-Camp David-shuttle diplomacy.
    • I believe that Israel could close down all the settlements and still the three-year Palestinian uprising would continue and intensify. Why? Because the PLO regards Israel as the Settlement, which has to be "relocated," as the PLO constitution has it, right into the Mediterranean Sea.
    • And the PLO's dedication to terrorism is fully supported by its Egyptian and Syrian neighbors. Their revolting propaganda, directed at their Arab citizenry and future generations of suicide bombers, underscores that belief.
    • Why should the Palestinians give up hope and make peace where anti-Semitism has seen its biggest growth since the Hitler era, not just among skinheads but also among "the best people?" The real problem for Israel is that a world of otherwise intelligent, literate people will not make peace with an entity called "the Jews."

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