Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 2, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

"Arafat Connected to Murder of Americans in Gaza" - Ben Caspit (Maariv-Hebrew; 2 Jan 04)
    Yasser Arafat is the factor delaying the investigation of the attack in Gaza in which three American security guards in a diplomatic convoy were killed - according to government sources in Washington.
    In recent closed meetings in the American capital, anger was expressed that the investigation has reached a dead end: the Palestinian security services refuse to arrest or question new suspects.
    One estimate raised by the Americans is that Fatah men were behind the attack, and that Arafat himself is connected, perhaps indirectly, to the perpetrators.
    This appears to be the main reason causing Arafat to block progress in the investigation - the fear that if his connection to the attack becomes clear, this could seal his fate with the American government.

Freeze on Terror Cash Not Working - John Solomon (AP/Washington Times)
    Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), have written the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), questioning the agency's ability to block terrorist money and citing its reliance on voluntary compliance by banks to impose sanctions against suspected terrorists.
    OFAC is charged with freezing the bank accounts and other financial assets of countries, companies, and individuals who are deemed enemies of the U.S.
    In 2002, the Treasury inspector general issued a report questioning OFAC's effectiveness in the war on terror.
    Grassley and Baucus also questioned why OFAC had failed to block the assets of several people designated by allies as terrorist financiers and publicly reported by the media.
    In one case, AP reported that the UN in 2001, before September 11, ordered its members to freeze the assets of several high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden's brother-in-law and a security coordinator. OFAC did not.
    More recently, a money laundering newsletter divulged that three persons listed in a December 2002 UN report as terrorist financiers weren't blacklisted by OFAC.

Police Raid Palestinian Factory Producing Counterfeit CDs - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli police raided a Palestinian factory in Ramallah Wednesday that was producing counterfeit CDs and video cassettes.
    Over the past few years, the factory had produced 100,000 counterfeit CDs a month.

New NGO: Arabs Against Discrimination (AAD) - Omayma Abdel-Latif (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
    Based on a personal initiative by Al-Ahram Board Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Nafie, who also heads the Arab Journalists Federation, a group of Arab activists have been laying the groundwork over the past six months for a new NGO, Arabs Against Discrimination (AAD), to monitor the Israeli media.
    AAD will also feature a legal unit to take those media outlets or figures who make anti-Arab or anti-Muslim pronouncements to court.

Unemployed Tour Guides Sue Arafat, PA - Irit Rosenblum (Ha'aretz)
    58 tour guides have filed damage claims of NIS 6 million against the PA and the PLO, saying they lost almost all their income because of the intifada.

U.S. Students Responsive to Israel Campaign - Amiram Barkat (Ha'aretz)
    Israel supporters have gained the upper hand in Berkeley's debates about the conflict, says Jesse Gabriel, senior at the University of California.
    "We've learned how to operate, and we are winning today," he says.
    Gabriel was in Jerusalem taking part in a world conference of activists from Jewish student groups sponsored by the Jewish Agency, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky, and WUJS - the World Union of Jewish Students.

Useful Reference:

The Security Fence: Israel's Line of Defense (Foreign Ministry)
    What would you do if terrorists were attacking your people?
    A Power-Point presentation on Israel's security fence.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Terror Concerns Cancel British, Mexican Flights
    Britain canceled two British Airways flights between London and Washington Thursday and tightened air security also prompted U.S. officials to forbid a New Year's Eve flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles and to question passengers for hours who had arrived at Dulles International Airport on a flight from London. The extraordinary measures, which included fighter-jet escorts for some foreign flights over U.S. airspace, demonstrated the concern of U.S. officials that terrorists planned to use international flights to attack American targets. (Washington Post)
  • Egyptian Leader Won't Bequeath Power to Son
    Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, 75, whose recent illness set off debate over succession, said Thursday he would not bequeath power to his son. "The regime of Egypt is a republican regime and there is no inheritance of power," Mubarak said in an interview broadcast on state television. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • James Baker, U.S. Special Envoy for Iraqi Debt, to Visit Middle East
    President Bush says he is sending his special envoy James Baker on another mission in search of Iraqi debt relief. He is to visit the Middle East, where several countries are owed massive amounts of money by Iraq. Baker was tapped recently to lead an all-out effort to help ease Iraq's $120 billion debt burden. (VOA News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PM Explains Unilateral Disengagement Plan to MKs - Gil Hoffman
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon intends to meet individually with all 40 Likud MKs in upcoming weeks to try to persuade them to accept his plan for unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians, officials in the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday. The meetings began Wednesday, with each one-on-one meeting lasting more than an hour. The prime minister explained in the meetings that he does not believe it is likely that he will be able to make serious progress with Palestinian Prime Minister Qurei. He said that both he and the Americans are disappointed with Qurei. Sharon said that his deputy, Minister Ehud Olmert, went too far in his call for a unilateral departure from most of the territories. Sharon discussed the legal, moral, and physical difficulties involved in moving legally established communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 2 Soldiers Wounded in Nablus
    Two IDF officers were wounded Thursday after a bomb exploded under their jeep in Nablus on the West Bank. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, linked to Arafat's Fatah movement, took responsibility. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Shots Fired at Bus Near Bethlehem
    Palestinians opened fire on a bus traveling on the tunnel road to Gush Etzion near Bethlehem Thursday. There were no injuries, but damage was caused to the bus. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Armed Gangs Terrorize PA - Amos Harel
    The West Bank is dominated by armed gangs, which no longer fear the PA's security forces. Last month Tanzim activists tried to assassinate Nablus Mayor Ghassan Shaq'a and accidentally - or not - killed his brother. In Qafr Surda near Bir Zeit, thugs cut off the ears of an administrator in Bir Zeit University, to dissuade him from firing workers. In Jenin and Nablus, militias extort protection fees from merchants and kidnap businesspeople to supplement their income.
        Security meetings between the IDF and the PA have resumed. Most of the IDF's division commanders meet their Palestinian counterparts regularly to reach local understandings. Senior officers recommend letting PA police carry arms again in their motorized street patrols. The assumption is that one or two revolvers per vehicle would not threaten the IDF but may help the police deter the militias. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA: Egypt Humiliates Visiting Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Egyptian authorities have imposed severe restrictions on the entry of Palestinians into Egypt, PA officials said Thursday. Some Palestinians believe the move is linked to the recent attack on Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher at the al-Aksa mosque. Sources in the Gaza Strip said that following the assault on Maher, the Egyptian authorities banned hundreds of Palestinians from entering Egypt through the Rafah crossing. A PA official said that Palestinians who arrived at Cairo Airport from different countries were also denied entry to Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Pakistan Plays Nuclear Footsie with Iran and Saudi Arabia - Gopalaswami Parthasarathy
    Writing his memoirs in his prison cell just before he was executed by General Zia-ul-Haq in 1979, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto stated that his aim as prime minister of Pakistan had been to put the "Islamic Civilization" at par with the "Christian, Jewish and Hindu Civilizations," by giving the Islamic world a "full nuclear capability." But how was a cash-strapped Pakistan to get the financial resources to achieve these objectives? Bhutto's press adviser, Khalid Hasan, has since revealed how Bhutto sought and obtained financial assistance from Saudi Arabia and the mercurial Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to fulfill his ambitions. While successive rulers in Pakistan have vowed that they would not transfer nuclear technology to others, the IAEA has come up with evidence indicating that both Libya and Iran received assistance in developing uranium enrichment capabilities from Pakistan.
        There has been little or no attention paid to the nexus between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on nuclear issues. Eyebrows were raised when Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan was provided unprecedented access to Pakistan's nuclear enrichment facilities in Kahuta in March 1999. During this visit he invited Dr. A.Q. Khan, the "Father of the Islamic Bomb," to visit Saudi Arabia. Just after the visit of Dr. Khan to Saudi Arabia in November 1999, a Saudi nuclear expert, Dr. Al Arfaj, stated at a seminar that "Saudi Arabia must make plans aimed at making a quick response to face the possibilities of nuclear warfare agents being used against the Saudi population, cities, or armed forces." The writer is a former Indian ambassador to Pakistan. (Wall Street Journal; 2 Jan 04)
  • Pakistan and Saudi Arabia Coddling Fundamentalist Fanatics - Max Boot
    Pakistan and Saudi Arabia profess to be cooperating in the war on terror, yet they have done a lot more than Libya to spread terrorism and weapons of mass murder around the world. Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have published investigative articles showing that Pakistan was probably a prime supplier of nuclear technology to Iran, and there is widespread suspicion that Pakistan shared nuclear know-how with North Korea.
        The Saudi government spends billions of dollars supporting Koranic schools and mosques around the world that preach a virulently anti-American strain of Islam. These institutions churn out jihadists faster than Delta Force can hunt them down. Abd al Aziz bin Issa, a leading al-Qaeda member, recently called Saudi Arabia "the primary source of funds for most jihad movements." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Saddam is Gone, the Mideast is Changing, and America Remains Resolute - Editorial
    The majority Shiites are enjoying their first liberty in decades and have proven to be Iraqi patriots, not agents of Iran. No one has been more impressed by the U.S. invasion than the Saudis, who are finally cooperating seriously against al-Qaeda. Colonel Gadhafi got the message that playing with WMD is a bad career choice, while Iran is at least meeting with the UN again in order to dodge sanctions and to preserve its nuclear program. Much as Bernard Lewis predicted, in short, respect for America has only increased with this demonstration of strength and purpose.
        Another global benefit of the war is the end of illusions about the UN and a certain kind of "multilateralism." The UN couldn't enforce its own resolutions before the war, and afterward it fled Iraq the first time it was targeted by terrorists, a special insult to the brave UN officials who died trying to rebuild Iraq. The lesson of Iraq, as before in Kosovo, is that only the U.S. has the political will and military means to defeat global threats. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Defending the Security Fence - Jenny Hazan
    Minister Natan Sharansky told visiting student activists who went to see the security fence Tuesday that building the fence "is the only way for us to defend our democracy, our free world, from the terrorists." "One of the examples of the democracy of our country is that people who aren't even citizens of the country [Palestinians] have the ability, through the institutions of our government, to appeal certain decisions about the fence as it is being built," added Sharansky. "That's one of the reasons why the building of the fence has been delayed even though the delay means we are taking a much bigger risk of more terror attacks."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Who the Coalition is Facing in Iraq - Amir Taheri
    With Saddam Hussein under arrest, at least three rival groups are positioning themselves to fight for control of what they call "popular resistance." The largest group is led by Col. Hani Abdul-Latif al-Tikriti, a former head of the Secret Services Organization (SSO) and a cousin of Saddam, who is reportedly trying to maintain the cohesion of what is left of the Tikriti clan that provided Saddam with his principal support base for 30 years. The nominal head of the second group is Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, who was number-two in Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council. The third group is led by Muhsin Khudhair al-Khafji, who has just declared himself president of the Iraqi section of the pan-Arab Socialist Baath party. According to Iraqi sources, there are enough arms in secret locations to supply the needs of the insurgency for months, if not years. (National Review)

    Weekend Features:

  • A Promotion for Israel's Female Soldiers - Joshua Mitnick
    For the past three years, female ground troops from Israel's Carcal company have patrolled the quiet desert borders with Jordan and Egypt, freeing up their male counterparts for duty in more dangerous areas. Now the military is appointing its first female company commander. Carcal company, whose name is Hebrew for wildcat, has a 2-1 ratio for women to men and requires women to sign on for an extra year of service. The four-month boot camp includes training in urban warfare and 20-mile stretcher marches, a regimen based on other infantry brigades. (Washington Times)
  • Rebel in an American Mosque - Asra Q. Nomani
    Islamic teaching forbids men and women praying directly next to each other in mosques. But most American mosques have gone well beyond that by importing largely from Arab culture a system of separate accommodations that provides women with wholly unequal services for prayer and education. I had no intention of praying right next to the men, who were seated at the front of the cavernous hall. I just wanted a place in the main prayer space. As my mother, my niece, and I sat about 20 feet behind the men, one of the mosque's elders yelled at me, "I will close the mosque." (Washington Post)
  • Selling Israel - Shlomit Lann
    American evangelist Pat Robertson has his own television station, with an enviable rating. He looks his viewers in the eye and says, "These roses," referring to some red, dew-laden flowers behind him, "are grown in a kibbutz. They are put on an El Al flight at two in the morning, and arrive fresh. You should buy them." Robertson's broadcast is done for free out of ideology. Seeing the broadcast gave Joey Low, 52, a New York diamond and high-tech businessman, an idea: help small Israeli businesses market their produce directly in the U.S. through the Internet site developed by the Israeli Consulate in New York. 300 businesses sell directly to consumers via the site. Low now wants to organize a niche of Israeli products on U.S. shopping channels. (Globes)
  • Canadian Volunteer Medic in Israel
    Sara Ahronheim, 24, decided to spend a year in Israel before starting medical school at McGill University and was a volunteer this past year with Magen David Adom in Jerusalem. Sara served as a first responder on first aid teams for many years. "I felt the best way to help Israel was to come here using my skills as a medic," she adds. An honors graduate of Queens University in Ontario, Sara came to Israel last June, to participate in the Yochai Porat Magen David Adom Oversees Volunteer Program. She was already fluent in Hebrew, thanks to her religious Zionist day school education and years of Hebrew-speaking summer camp. As a medic she was called in during two terror attacks in Jerusalem. "You come to a scene that you hope that you'll never see," she says. "There, in front of you, is a carcass of a bus. But all of my training kicked in. I knew what to do, and how to help people." (Jewish Agency for Israel)
  • Queen Elizabeth's Israel Forest - Gideon Long
    A forest in Israel dedicated to Britain's Queen Elizabeth sparked a diplomatic spat during the early 1970s, documents released Thursday showed. The JNF wanted to dedicate a forest near Nazareth to the British Queen "as a tribute from British Jewry on the occasion of her silver wedding anniversary" in 1973, and the monarch gave her consent for the project. While Arab diplomats and newspapers were incensed, the Foreign Office explained that the forest lay within Israel's pre-1967 borders, that the Queen would not own it, and that money raised by Jews in Britain would be used to cover the cost of planting. (Reuters)
  • Observations:

    In Defense of a Fence - Maj. Gen. (Res.) Uzi Dayan
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • The past three years of violence have resulted in 900 dead and 6,000 injured Israelis. Such figures demand that Israel take decisive steps. Building a security fence is not an obstacle to peace, but rather the first step of disengagement and a precondition to any political process.
    • Israel has constructed a fence along its borders with Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The fence in Gaza has been 100% effective in preventing terrorist infiltration.
    • Similarly, Stage A of the West Bank fence has already been successful, forcing terrorist groups to move their headquarters to areas where there is no fence and greatly decreasing the number of criminal incidents along its route. Eventually, this fence will also eliminate the problem of illegal Palestinian immigration, which has already resulted in 150,000 illegal residents in Israel.
    • Approximately 85% of the West Bank is likely to be east of the fence, where an overwhelming majority of Palestinians live. Some have questioned whether Israel will erect an eastern fence in the West Bank. Because such a fence would not provide any significant security advantages, it is unlikely to be built.
    • Israeli and U.S. policymakers must keep in mind that failure to agree on a route is not an excuse to abandon construction. This sort of disagreement is a poor excuse to delay protecting Israelis from terrorism and giving the political process a chance.
    • Moreover, a completed fence would not be perpetual; it would exist solely in order to create a reality of disengagement, much like the extensive fence that Israel built and dismantled along the Suez Canal.

    The writer served as deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces and national security advisor under Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon.

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