Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 13, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Treachery: How Iraq Went to War Against Saddam - Ed Harriman (London Sunday Times)
    A massive coalition spying operation against Saddam before the war involved hundreds of Iraqi exiles. Several of Saddam's senior generals also betrayed him.
    General Mahar Soufiane al-Tikriti was chief of staff of Saddam's elite Special Republican Guard and also one of his close bodyguards.
    One of his colleagues, General Mahdi Abdullah al-Douleimi, has described how Soufiane sent a private letter to other commanders saying he was not going to fight and would withdraw as American forces approached Baghdad.
    On April 7, on board the first flight out of Baghdad airport after the capture of the capital are thought to have been the most senior Iraqi commanders who had betrayed Saddam, being whisked to safety and anonymity outside Iraq with their families.
    Ibrahim al-Janabi, a significant figure in the new Iraq, believes that Soufiane was one of the "two or three" senior commanders on board.

Study Raises Projection for "Dirty Bomb" Toll - Joby Warrick (Washington Post)
    A Pentagon-funded study released Monday sharply raises estimates of the human toll from a well-executed "dirty bomb" attack on a U.S. city that could expose hundreds of people to potentially lethal amounts of radiation.
    The year-long study concludes that a dirty bomb attack is "unlikely to cause mass casualties," but the economic impact could be devastating.
    In 1987 in Goiania, Brazil, workers ruptured a capsule of highly radioactive cesium they discovered inside an abandoned radiotherapy machine. Within weeks, 249 people suffered serious radiation injuries and five died.

Court-Martial for Syrian-Born Translator Begins in California (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
    Court-martial proceedings against the Arabic translator accused of spying at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp begins Tuesday, military officials said.

Saudi Pleads Guilty to Killing Jewish Friend in Houston - Andrew Tilghman (Houston Chronicle)
    A Saudi Arabian national who slashed a Jewish friend's throat in Houston after apparently undergoing a religious reawakening has pleaded guilty to murder rather than face trial.
    Mohammed Ali Alayed, 23, faces up to 60 years in prison for the Aug. 6 attack on Ariel Sellouk.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Attacks in Iraq Down 22% Since Saddam's Capture
    Attacks against coalition forces in Iraq have dropped 22% in the four weeks since Saddam Hussein's capture, military records show. (USA Today)
  • Al-Qaeda Terror Plot Foiled, Say French Police
    French police are convinced their country has escaped a planned chemical or biological attack by an Islamist cell linked to al-Qaeda. An interior ministry official said evidence from Islamist militants arrested last week made it "very plain" that an attack with deadly botulism or ricin toxins was being actively prepared. The eight suspects were mainly relatives of Menad Benchellali, the son of a radical imam in the Lyon suburb of Venisseux and a chemicals expert who had been trained in poison-making in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. He had tested his chemicals on animals, suspects said.
        "We thought we were dealing with a group planning bomb attacks on Russian interests," an investigator said. "It now seems a cell around the Benchellali family was trying to manufacture chemical and biological weapons for attacks around Europe." Muslims in Venisseux protested against the arrests on Saturday. (Guardian-UK)
  • U.S. Indicts Saudi Student for Helping Terrorists Wage Jihad Using the Internet
    A federal grand jury in Idaho Friday charged Sami Omar Hussayen, a doctoral candidate in computer science at the University of Idaho, with conspiring to help terrorist organizations wage jihad by using the Internet to raise funds, field recruits, and locate prospective U.S. targets - military and civilian - in the Middle East. He is accused of creating websites and an e-mail group that disseminated messages from him and two radical clerics in Saudi Arabia that supported holy war. (Washington Post)
  • Middle East Studies Under Scrutiny in U.S.
    In the once-neglected field of Middle East studies, enrollments in Arabic-language courses and area studies programs have boomed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Government funding is up. Universities and colleges are recruiting Middle East experts as fast as they can. In addition, there have been calls for stronger congressional oversight of the $95 million in government subsidies for Middle East and other area studies programs in order to ensure that government-funded academic programs reflect diverse perspectives and a full range of views. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Shares Israel's Concerns about Fence Discussions in The Hague - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    The U.S. is privy to Israel's concerns about the upcoming discussions on the security fence at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. American officials believe these discussions will set a negative precedent, and politicize international law. The U.S. government is leaning toward submitting a brief on the case, and perhaps even taking part in the discussions, Israeli sources say. Israeli officials are working on the assumption that the ICJ verdict will be hostile to Israel and are making preparations for a legal, diplomatic, and public relations battle designed to deny that the ICJ has authority to reach a decision on the separation fence. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Pressures Journalists to Call Killed Palestinians "Martyrs" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority is demanding that all journalists who work for Arab satellite TV stations refer to a Palestinian who is killed by the IDF as a shaheed (martyr) and refrain from voicing any criticism of the PA in their reporting. The remarks of Yussef al-Qazzaz, a senior official with the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, were directed mostly at Palestinian correspondents who work for the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, who have been using the term "dead" instead of "martyred" when referring to Palestinians killed in the ongoing violence.
        Last week, Al-Arabiya's correspondent in the Gaza Strip, Seif al-Din Shahin, was attacked and wounded in the center of Gaza City. The attackers told Shahin they were unhappy with his coverage of celebrations in the Gaza Strip marking the 39th anniversary of the founding of Fatah. Many Palestinians have criticized Fatah for allowing hundreds of armed men at the celebrations to shoot extensively into the air, wounding several people. The celebrations reportedly cost Fatah more than $3 million. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Ariel Sharon's Ultimatum - Editorial
    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon issued an ultimatum to the Palestinians a few weeks ago: Either bargain in good faith over the American-backed road map peace plan or Israel will complete the wall being erected between them and "disengage" from the Palestinians, leaving them with far less land than they might otherwise receive in a negotiated agreement. There are myriad reasons to dislike Sharon's threat of disengagement - and one hope for it, born out of the desperation that nothing else is working. Nothing else has shaken the bloody status quo. Maybe the prospect of a wall separating Israelis and Palestinians will shock some sense into all those who perpetuate the impasse. To adapt Winston Churchill's famous quote about democracy: Sharon's disengagement plan is the worst solution to the crisis, except for all the others that have been tried. (Chicago Tribune)
  • The Other Refugees - Amnon Rubinstein
    The U.S. Congress passed a historic resolution in October 2003, demanding that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) set out a course of action for the settlement of the descendents of the Palestinian refugees - either in their countries of residence, in Arab countries, or third countries that agree to take them in. As a result of "ethnic cleansing," some 900,000 Jews fled from Arab countries where they had lived for 2,500 years, and were forced to leave "lands, homes, private property, businesses, community assets and thousands of years of Jewish heritage and history," the resolution states. It calls on the international community to officially recognize the distress of these Jewish refugees as part of any solution to the Middle East conflict. (Ha'aretz)
  • Countering Arab Antisemitism - Menahem Milson
    The recent resurgence of antisemitism has two distinguishable new characteristics: (a) the anti-Jewish positions are presented as a just response to Israel's conduct in its conflict with the Palestinians; and (b) Arab media are the source of most of this anti-Jewish propaganda. This calls for special attention to the issue of Arab antisemitism, which is quite distinct from that of Muslim attitudes to Jews and Judaism prior to the modern era. (World Jewish Congress)
  • Observations:

    The Security Fence and International Law - Shlomo Slonim (Jerusalem Post)

    • Is Israel's placing the security fence beyond the "green line" a violation of international law?
    • Israel's legal claim to the entire area of the former British Mandate has been consistently in accordance with international law.
    • The UN partition resolution of November 29, 1947, envisioned the creation of three separate entities when the British Mandate terminated: a Jewish state, an Arab state, and an internationalized Jerusalem.
    • When that mandate ended on May 15, 1948, only one of the three projected entities - Israel - emerged. On that date, in clear violation of the UN resolution and of general international law, five Arab countries invaded Israel in an attempt to destroy the nascent Jewish state. At war's end, Israel survived, the Gaza Strip came under Egyptian control, and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, came under Jordanian control.
    • Neither Egypt nor Jordan gained any legal title to the areas they conquered since, as the then U.S. ambassador to the UN stated, they were engaged in "aggression." These Arab states were throughout the period 1948-1967 "belligerent occupants," which gave them no title under international law.
    • When war erupted on June 5, 1967, Israel expelled the belligerent occupants from the lands they had illegally conquered and thus was in a position to claim title to the whole area vacated by the two aggressor states. Israel clearly had a superior title, since it was the only entity legitimately to survive from the 1947-48 era.

    The writer is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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