Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 28, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Saddam's Web of Bribery "Went Round the World" - Philip Delves Broughton and Jack Fairweather (Telegraph-UK)
    Saddam Hussein bribed his way around the world in 46 countries, buying the support of presidents, ministers, legislators, political parties, and even Christian churches, according to the new Iraqi newspaper al-Mada.
    The 270 individuals and organizations alleged to be in his pay included the sons of a serving Arab president, Arab ministers, a prominent Indonesian leader, the PLO, the party led by Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and even the Russian Orthodox Church.
    On Tuesday, Le Monde named several Frenchmen alleged to have been on the list.
    See also Arabs, Westerners Deny Allegations of Receiving Bribes on Iraqi Oil Sales - Jamal Halaby (AP/San Diego Union Tribune)

The State Department and the Saudis - James Taranto (Wall Street Journal)
    The 9/11 investigation commission has found that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the bin Laden lieutenant captured in Pakistan last March, applied for and was granted a visa to visit the U.S. in July 2001, despite being under indictment for terror-related crimes, Reuters reports:
    "Mohammed took advantage of a third-party U.S. visa processing system to submit his application and photo in Saudi Arabia, using a false Saudi passport and name....Maura Harty, assistant secretary for consular affairs in the State Department, said the U.S. visa application system had improved significantly since Sept. 11, with virtually all visa applicants now getting interviewed by a consular officer."
    But in the New York Post, Joel Mowbray reports that Harty has a "plan to once again loosen rules for Saudi visas":
    "I've acquired an internal State Department document that one State official calls a 'preview of the case State is making in the near future, to re-open the floodgates for Saudis,' sent in November from the U.S. embassy in Riyadh and headed, "Losses to U.S. Economy from Fewer Saudi Visitors," making an impassioned pitch for increasing Saudi travel here."

Islamic School in California Accused of Bias - Christine Hanley (Los Angeles Times)
    An African American woman dismissed as principal of an Islamic elementary school in Garden Grove, California, is suing the school and its board, alleging she was the target of racism and bigotry rooted in a long-standing rift between black and immigrant Muslims.
    Zakiyyah Muhammad said her ouster was orchestrated by the school board's new Pakistani-born president after she had been principal of the Orange Crescent School for five years.
    The complaint describes her dismissal by the male officers of the Islamic Society, "all men of Pakistani or Arab descent."
    "The only reason that she was unceremoniously ushered out the door is that Dr. Mirza [Fazal Mirza, president of the Orange Crescent school board] would not work with a principal who was an African American, a member of the indigenous Muslim community in the U.S., and a woman who was not willing to be completely submissive," the lawsuit says.
    Laura Lee Blake, Muhammad's attorney, said her client tried to resolve her dismissal through the Council on Islamic Education, which found that the decision to dismiss her was hasty, unethical, and violated a number of Islamic principles.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Judge Orders Hamas to Pay $116 Million
    A federal judge in Providence, R.I., ordered the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, to pay $116 million in damages for the deaths of an American citizen and his Israeli wife in a drive-by shooting in 1996 near the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh. Family members of Yaron Ungar sued in March 2000 under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 allowing relatives of American victims of overseas terrorism to seek damages in U.S. courts. U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux awarded $30.5 million each to the Ungars' children and $15 million each to Yaron Ungar's parents. The lawsuit also names the PLO and the PA as defendants for allegedly providing a haven and operational base for Hamas, which is responsible for many of the suicide bombings in Israel. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Pakistanis Aided Iran, Libya in Nuclear Weapons Technology
    Pakistani investigators have concluded that two senior nuclear scientists used a network of middlemen operating a black market to supply nuclear weapons technology to Iran and Libya, according to three senior Pakistani intelligence officials. Abdul Qadeer Khan, considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, and Mohammed Farooq provided the help - including blueprints for equipment used to enrich uranium - both directly and through a black market based in the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai. The middlemen, from South Africa, Germany, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, allegedly also offered the Pakistani scientists' services to Syria and Iraq, but the deals apparently never materialized. In return for the scientists' assistance in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Iran channeled millions of dollars to foreign bank accounts allegedly controlled by the two men. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Supports Israel at The Hague - Janine Zacharia and Tovah Lazaroff
    The U.S. will inform the International Court of Justice at The Hague before this Friday's deadline that it opposes its hearings on the legality of Israel's anti-terrorist fence, an administration official said Tuesday. The U.S. has said the court proceedings would "undermine rather than encourage direct negotiations between the parties to resolve...differences." Officials said, "this is the wrong way and the wrong time to proceed on this issue." Elliott Abrams, director for Near East and North African affairs on the White House National Security Council, was instructed Tuesday to inform Israel of Washington's decision. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon to Set "Security Line" in Pullout Plan - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet Wednesday with Giora Eiland, the new chairman of the National Security Council, to give him instructions for the designation of a "security line" to which Israel will withdraw as part of the overall plan for disengagement from the Palestinians. Sharon wants to have a disengagement plan ready for meetings next month with top administration officials in Washington. His bureau chief, Dov Weisglass, heard last week in Washington that the Americans would support moves that fit in with President Bush's two-state vision. (Ha'aretz)
        See also PM's Disengagement Plan May Include Evacuation of Seven Settlements - Jonathan Lis and Mazal Mualem
    Bentzi Lieberman, chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, met twice this week with the prime minister's director general, Avigdor Yitzhaki, and said Sharon's "disengagement" program would include the removal of Ganim, Kadim, Sanur, and Homesh in the West Bank, and Netzarim, Kfar Darom, and Morag in Gaza. Yitzhaki is said to have drawn three maps, showing three Palestinian-populated areas from which settlements would be evacuated - in the northern West Bank, in the area south of Hebron, and in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Prime Minister: Ignore Media Reports on Disengagement Plan
    Regarding media reports on his disengagement plan, Prime Minister Sharon said Tuesday: "The only task force working on the disengagement plan is that headed by National Security Council Chairman Giora Eiland...[who] will submit the task force's final conclusions to me only when it will have finished its work. Until then, I assume that we will hear many baseless ideas. I suggest that they all be ignored." (Prime Minister's Office)
  • 9 Palestinians Reported Killed in Gaza Fighting - Eli Vaked and Hanan Greenberg
    Palestinian sources report nine Palestinians were killed Wednesday near the Zaitoun neighborhood of Gaza, including five Islamic Jihad members, the organization announced. The IDF said Palestinians opened fire on IDF forces near Netzarim and the IDF returned the fire. The IDF emphasized that the entire area is characterized by intensive terrorist activity that includes shooting and firing mortars at Israeli civilians and soldiers. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • IDF: Hizballah Unlikely to Resume Kidnapping - Nina Gilbert
    Hizballah is unlikely to enter into a new kidnapping exploit after the prisoner exchange is completed, since an Israeli reprisal could undermine its legitimacy in Lebanon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. As opposed to the past, Ya'alon said the "groundwork" has been laid for obtaining information on missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad. Israel will not release the terrorist Samir Kuntar, who murdered three members of a Nahariya family, until it receives proof about Arad, Ya'alon said. Ya'alon said that groups in Lebanon are questioning the need for Hizballah, given the economic problems it causes in its conflict with Israel. Ya'alon noted that the West is also increasing pressure on Hizballah and boosting its opposition to the group being armed. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Ya'alon: "Economy in Territories on Upswing" - Nina Gilbert
    IDF Chief of Staff Ya'alon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee he was recently "stuck in traffic" in Ramallah and saw stores with produce, open cafes, and much traffic, a situation that was not previously evident. He said there is "economic and humanitarian improvement" in Ramallah, Kalkilya, Tulkarm, and Hebron, which he attributed to the removal of barriers that limit movement. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • After Israel, Will The Hague Court Go After America? - Nathan Guttman
    The U.S. is not a big fan of expanding the authority of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague and the transfer of disputes between nations for adjudication there, but it is also far from liking the separation fence that Israel is erecting in the territories. The message that Israel is sending to the U.S. is that the issue to be discussed at The Hague is not the question of whether the separation fence is good or bad, but rather whether the International Court is becoming the supreme forum for settling questions of international affairs. If it is the ICJ that makes the decisions, then America's diplomatic strength as a great power is eroded.
        The U.S. has a truly hostile attitude toward the ICJ's younger brother, the International Criminal Court (ICC), which was established a year ago to deal with war criminals. President Bush and Congress have refused to ratify U.S. membership in this court. The Americans fear it will serve as a political stage for trying American soldiers and statesmen for actions they have carried out overseas. This fear plays a key role in the U.S. attitude toward the deliberations in The Hague on the separation fence. Getting a binding decision against Israel at the court will pave the way for a series of possible complaints to the court against the U.S. on the American presence in Iraq or the holding of foreign detainees without legal rights at Guantanamo. In the case of the ICJ, the U.S. is interested in setting the limit before American policy finds itself in the defendant's dock. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jordan and the Israeli Security Fence - Asher Susser
    In the early 1960s, it was King Hussein who argued that "Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan." This was his way of saying that the formation of the PLO to represent the Palestinians was unnecessary. In the mid-1980s, however, this policy underwent radical revision, with Hussein now arguing that "Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine." As problematic as the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza may have been for Jordan, it was still a lot better than Jordan itself being replaced by Palestine. The construction of the Israeli security fence is seen by the Jordanians entirely in this analytical context. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies/Tel Aviv University)
  • Observations:

    Withdrawing from the Arabs to the Embrace of the Europeans - Sharon Sadeh (Ha'aretz)

    • British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week accused the Palestinians of having caused the peace process to fail. Blair said, "In today's world, particularly post-11 September, terrorism is the obstacle to political progress...whether it is in Northern Ireland, or it is in the Middle East....Terrorism is the enemy of progress for the Palestinian people."
    • A few weeks ago, Dr. Rosemary Hollis, the head of the Middle East department at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), a research institute that has always had a pro-Arab image, proposed resolving the conflict by bringing Israel closer to the European Union and making Europe its strategic backup. In other words: in addition to the planned detachment from the Palestinians, Israel's detachment from the Arab Middle East altogether.
    • Israel, says Hollis, is dealing with legitimate concerns in the area of security, and Europe, which has historical responsibility for Israel's existence, must extend a hand to it to dispel its suspicions. If the EU, British included, "are asking Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians that leaves Israel feeling more naked in security terms, then their duty is to explain what they are going to do to help with Israel's security. And I would suggest that they embrace Israel and say: We will be your strategic depth, instead of you having to regard the Arab world as your strategic depth, come with us and be a member of NATO and integrate more closely into the EU."
    • Contrary to the prevailing opinion in Israel, Hollis believes that the British Foreign Office is no longer "a hotbed of Arabists." "If you are a high-flyer in the foreign service you certainly don't go to Arabic any more; you would go Chinese, or you would go for Europe or Washington, or a combination of both. And that will never be coming back. Quite a lot has shifted."
    • Blair has warm feelings toward Israel, says Hollis. "Tony Blair personally has some close friends who are Jewish, and didn't have any close friends who are Palestinians or Arabs. He didn't come to office with a developed position on this but did see that the UK has regretted this perception, that Britain is pro-Arab, and so number 10 [Downing Street] is guarded about Israel because they wanted to reverse that image. Under Blair's auspices, the idea was that Britain is going to get along better with Israel." After Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister, Blair has taken care to maintain good relations and to intervene personally in cases of disagreement.

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