Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 2, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Planned to Kill Israeli Diplomats (AP/Ha'aretz)
    A military court sentenced Allam Kukeh, 28, of Jenin, to 18 years in prison for plotting to kill the Israeli ambassadors in China and Germany, IDF sources reported Thursday.
    The court judgment said he also planned to poison an Israeli reservoir and bomb the banquet hall of a Jerusalem hotel.

Jordan Hunts Explosives Truck (Jerusalem Post)
    Jordanian security forces were engaged in heated pursuit of a truck laden with explosives that had entered Jordanian territory from neighboring Syria, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
    On Tuesday, a number of suspects affiliated with a terrorist cell planning to carry out attacks in the kingdom were reportedly arrested, while additional suspects who had managed to evade arrest were being pursued, along with the truck, a government official revealed.

Secret Bunkers Held Chemical Weapons, Says Iraqi Exile - Russell Skelton (The Age-Australia)
    A former Iraqi scientist now living in Melbourne claims to have had access to secret underground bunkers where chemical weapons were stored.
    "Maybe those weapons no longer exist, but I find it hard to believe they could disappear so easily," he says.
    Arrested by Saddam's security forces in 1998, he escaped to Syria when a high-ranking military officer and close friend bribed the guards.
    The scientist says he knows of five secret storage bunkers around Baghdad, Basra, and Tikrit, three of which he visited regularly as a senior employee of Iraq's now defunct Atomic Energy Commission.
    One was under an island in the Tigris River near Saddam University. Another was beneath the house of one of Saddam's cousins, and reached by a tunnel with a hidden entrance 800 meters away.
    "The lethal chemicals were stored in drums...there were also artillery shells and 122-millimeter rockets armed with chemicals."

Captured PA Documents Reveal Payment to Anti-Zionist Sect - Amir Rappaport (
    Documents captured in Arafat's headquarters show that Rabbi Moshe Hirsch, the "Foreign Minister" of Neturei Karta, a religious sect that refuses to recognize the State of Israel, received $55,000 from Arafat just two months before Operation Defensive Shield.
    Among the documents are receipts with Arafat's personal signature authorizing the transfer to Hirsch under the heading "ongoing expenses."
    Hirsch is a member of the Palestinian National Council and served in the past as Minister of Jewish Affairs in the PA government.

Palestinians Smuggling Bombs in Teddy Bears - Meir Suissa and Uri Yiblonka (Maariv-Hebrew)
    Hamas attempts to smuggle explosive belts into Israel inside children's toys, according to an indictment against a Hamas activist filed Wednesday in Nablus.
    The man, arrested a month ago, told investigators that he received explosives from the terrorist organizations hidden in children's toys.
    He said that three weeks before his arrest, he was asked to bring an explosive belt into Jerusalem hidden inside a big teddy bear.

Eastern Temple Mount Wall May Collapse - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    The eastern wall of Jerusalem's Temple Mount is in danger of immediate collapse because of damage caused by the February 11 earthquake, a classified government report issued this week by the Israel Antiquities Authority concludes.
    Sections of the wall are liable to cave in on the underground architectural support of the mount, known as Solomon's Stables.

Protective Barriers: The Spanish Experience - Erick Stakelbeck (National Review)
    Spain, India, Thailand, Botswana, Uzbekistan, and Saudi Arabia have built or are in the process of building protective barriers similar to the ones erected by Israel.
    According to John Snow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Spain's "fence, designed to curb the flow of illegal immigrants into Europe, has undoubtedly played a role in the death of more than 4,000 people who have died trying in vain to cross the strait to enter Spain."

Biomedical Entrepreneur Pledges $100 Million to Israel's Technion - Julia Green (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
    The American Technion Society has announced that Alfred Mann, chairman of Advanced Bionics Corporation, has pledged $100 million to establish a biomedical-engineering institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Bank of Israel: Violence Cost at Least 30 Billion Shekels - Moti Bassok (Ha'aretz)
    The current wave of violence has cost Israel between NIS 31 billion and NIS 40 billion so far - not including defense costs - according to the Bank of Israel report for 2003, released Tuesday, amounting to 6-8% of the gross domestic product.

Useful Reference:

Anti-American and Antisemitic Cartoons in Egyptian Government-Controlled Newspapers - Steven Stalinsky (MEMRI)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Puts Penalties on Iran's Nuclear Suppliers
    The Bush administration is imposing sanctions on 13 foreign companies and individuals in seven countries that have sold equipment or expertise that Iran could use in nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs. (New York Times)
        See also below Commentary: Halting the Nuclear Black Market
  • Spanish Police Name Planner of Madrid Bombings
    Spanish investigators have identified a Tunisian man, Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, as the "leader and coordinator" of the March 11 bomb attacks in Madrid, according to court documents released Thursday. On Tuesday, Angel Acebes, the outgoing interior minister, said the investigation is focusing on the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, which authorities have linked to bombings last year in Casablanca that included 12 suicide bombers. (New York Times)
  • Federal Judge Rules Against PLO in Terrorism Lawsuit
    Federal judge David Martin has ruled that the PLO and its governmental entity must each pay more than $116 million in connection with the murder of Yaron Ungar, an American citizen, and his Israeli wife, Efrat, in a drive-by shooting in Israel in June 1996. One of their two children was in the car during the attack, but escaped unharmed. The plaintiffs have argued the PLO and PA should be held accountable for the Ungars' deaths because they provided a safe haven and operational base for the murderers. (AP/Providence Journal)
  • Palestinian Militant Groups, Once Rivals, Forge Alliances
    There is a growing trend toward cooperation among Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. "Since they're having problems carrying out terror operations, they're cooperating" with one another, said Maj. Gen. Yisrael Ziv, the Israeli military chief of operations. "One organization has the money; another has the guy that knows the area - the best guide; the third has the best suicide bomber." Since the start of this year, militant groups have asserted joint responsibility for three of the eight major attacks conducted against Israelis. Imad Falouji, a former top Hamas activist and now an independent member of the Palestinian legislature, said cooperation among the three main groups is temporary: "When there are problems and pressures, you can see all the parties working together."  (Washington Post)
  • Marines Hunt Smugglers at Iraq-Syria Border
    Along 400 miles of lonely desert along the Iraq-Syria frontier, U.S. Marines have begun an aggressive effort to block weapons and foreign fighters from flowing into Iraq through one of the world's most notorious smuggling corridors. Marines discovered an arms cache including antiaircraft missiles that they believe was stored no more than 24 hours earlier. In a recent interview with a Lebanese newspaper, Syrian President Assad suggested that smuggling was endemic and unstoppable. (Los Angeles Times)
  • German State Bans Muslim Headscarves in Schools
    Legislators in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg voted Thursday to ban Muslim teachers from wearing headscarves in public schools. At least four other German states have proposed similar legislation. Germany is home to 3.5 million Muslims. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in December that "headscarves have no place among civil servants, including teachers," but he added that he could not prevent schoolgirls from wearing headscarves in class. (FOX News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon: "Arafat Does Not Have an Insurance Policy" - Ben Caspit and Shalom Yerushalmi
    In a pre-Passover interview to be published next week, Prime Minister Sharon said, "Arafat does not have an insurance policy....Today, everyone already knows that Arafat is the obstacle to any progress. As long as he's there and disrupting matters, Abu Ala cannot move a Palestinian police officer from one side of the street to the other."  (
  • Palestinians Riot on Temple Mount - Jonathan Lis and Arnon Regular
    Hundreds of Palestinians rioted and attacked police with rocks at the conclusion of Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount on Friday. Police arrested 14 people, Israel Radio reported. After thousands of Muslims barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy and leaders of the Muslim Waqf negotiated a peaceful end, allowing those in the mosque to leave while police refrained from making further arrests. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Seeks UN Support for Sharon's Plan - Herb Keinon
    The U.S. wants the UN to release a statement following an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza that the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip has ended, a senior diplomatic official said Thursday. The statement would be similar to what the UN released after Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, and would make it easier to market the disengagement plan to the Arab world. However, Israel will have to withdraw from the strategic Philadelphia Corridor that separates the Gaza Strip from Egypt, according to one of the ideas that a high-level U.S. delegation brought to Jerusalem Thursday.
        An Israeli official said Israel does not want to hold on to the corridor "forever," but that in the short term it will be necessary to maintain a presence there to ensure that everything does not "blow up in our face." The corridor is key to preventing the smuggling of men and arms across the border. The tendency now is for the U.S. to make commitments to Israel - in terms of refugee repatriation and settlement blocs - in language as vague as possible. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Envoys Press PA to Crack Down on Terror
    American diplomats meeting with PA Prime Minister Qurei in Jericho on Thursday said Israel's plan to pull out of Gaza brings an opportunity to revive an international peace initiative, but future progress would depend on a Palestinian crackdown on terrorists. "We don't see unilateral disengagement as a replacement for the road map. It's a way to jump start the road map," one U.S. official said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Bethlehem Experiment is Over - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Security sources said the IDF raid in Bethlehem Thursday netted nine senior Tanzim terrorists who were in the midst of planning suicide attacks, and virtually crushed the deadly cell behind 17 attacks since Israel handed over control of the city to Palestinian security forces last summer. Bethlehem became a haven for wanted terrorists from across the West Bank where they had no fear of local 500-strong Palestinian security forces. In fact, some of the terrorists were members of the security forces themselves. Israeli security sources said the PA failed to initiate any kind of crackdown on terrorist cells, and even failed to act on intelligence Israel passed on to them. A senior IDF officer said this week that the army has resumed operating in Bethlehem as in any city whenever it sees fit. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Iran's Nuclear Quest

  • Halting the Nuclear Black Market - Tom Lantos
    Globalization and the Cold War's end have given rise to a nuclear black market with chilling implications for the future of arms control. Rogue nations and terrorist groups have greater access to the makings of a radioactive "dirty bomb," or even a nuclear device, than ever before. While the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty codified the right of non-nuclear states to receive and develop the means for peaceful applications of nuclear energy, under this guise, countries can develop or import essentially all the equipment they need to produce a nuclear weapon. Such countries do not even have to reveal the existence of these facilities or let inspectors visit them until they are ready to begin operation.
        The U.S., with outside assistance, is now attempting to shut down this supplier network, but new suppliers may come along if the international community does not act immediately. Strong economic and diplomatic action must be taken against countries such as Iran, even if it means additional costs and lost investment opportunities. Iran, as a state abusing its access to the means of peaceful nuclear development, has forfeited the right to produce nuclear material for reactors and must be deprived of new nuclear-related trade, investment, and trade agreements until it permanently and verifiably ceases all suspect nuclear activities and dismantles any fuel-production facilities. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Who Rules Iran? - Amir Taheri
    Westerners often meet with assorted officials who, they are led to believe, run Islamist Iran. They don't. The real strings of power remain in hands that Western diplomats never see. Since 1979, Iran has been ruled by an occult oligarchy with a strong theocratic component. At the center stands the "Office of the Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the "Supreme Guide, who represents Allah's sovereignty on earth. According to the Khomeinist Constitution of 1979, the "Supreme Guide" is also the leader of all Muslims throughout the world, whether they like it or not. (Jerusalem Post)

    Arab World

  • The Middle East Needs Its Helsinki - Natan Sharansky
    A document produced by Arab representatives at a conference in Alexandria, Egypt, two weeks ago pointed to the urgent need for political, economic, and social reform in the Arab world. These recommendations should be turned into a yardstick to measure the intentions of Arab governments and to chart their progress. In addition, the free world must be willing to link its international policies to how Arab regimes treat their own people. If the free world uses this leverage, Arab regimes will no longer be able to violate human rights with impunity. European states, for their part, might demand that if the PA wants to keep receiving financial support, it will have to show that this money is being used to improve the lives of the Palestinian people and not to fund terrorism and corruption. The lesson of Helsinki is that when demands to uphold human rights are backed by effective action, the cause of freedom and peace can be advanced. (International Herald Tribune)
  • The Sick Man of the World - Saad Eddin Ibrahim
    Most of the 30-odd countries of what American officials are calling the Greater Middle East have been sociopolitically stagnant for decades. This is not for lack of popular desire for change. Saudi women defied the puritanical Wahhabi traditions and broke a stifling taboo by driving their cars in the streets of Riyadh 14 years ago. Thousands of political prisoners have been rotting in Syrian, Tunisian, and Egyptian detention compounds for years without trials. Such people provide an eloquent answer to the Arab rulers who met recently in Riyadh and Cairo for the purpose not of proposing plans for reform but of circumventing such plans. Egypt's President Mubarak seems to be taking the lead in resisting democratization in the region. The writer is a professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo. (Washington Post)
  • A Loud Silence in Tunis - Editorial
    The abrupt and indefinite postponement of the Arab League summit meeting in Tunis last weekend was a more eloquent statement about Arab politics than any proclamation that might have come from the gathering. The rulers-for-life who gather at these extravaganzas usually produce grand declarations that are quickly forgotten. This time, under pressure from the Bush administration and from domestic dissidents to get serious about democracy, the Arab potentates were unable to agree even on a way to mark time. The Arab world's need to defy Washington and revile Israel is not a valid excuse to perpetuate medieval autocracies and repressive dictatorships. (New York Times)

    Israel Targets Hamas Leader

  • Israel Was Entitled to Kill Yassin - Alan Dershowitz
    The targeted killing of Sheikh Yassin was a moral and lawful instance of pre-emptive self-defense. Yassin was a combatant under any reasonable definition of that term, and combatants - including leaders - are appropriate military targets during a war of the kind Hamas has declared against Israel. The international condemnation of Israel for defending its civilian population against a self-proclaimed terrorist leader sends a dangerous message to terrorists around the world: namely, that a democracy that targets a mass murderer who has sworn to continue his killing rampage is to be condemned as morally indistinguishable from a tyrannical terrorist group that targets innocent civilians. (The Age-Australia)
  • Wheelchair Didn't Stop Yassin's Reign of Terror - Pierre M. Atlas
    Yassin became a quadriplegic after an accident when he was 12. Being wheelchair-bound did not prevent him from founding Hamas in 1988 or from sanctioning its charter, which advocates the creation of an Islamic state "over every inch of Palestine." Hamas is also largely responsible for the culture of death that is taking over Palestinian society. Its kindergartens teach suicidal martyrdom as a virtue, and its "military wing" has perpetrated the vast majority of bombings against Israelis since the mid-1990s. Hamas began its terror campaign when Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister and Palestinian self-rule was being established in line with the Oslo accords. (Indianapolis Star)
  • The Moderates Are Pretty Extreme, Too - Nigel Farndale
    Using helicopter gunships to vaporize disabled terrorists is not something one should be flippant about, I suppose. But at least the Israelis made the effort to check with their agents on the ground that the sheikh wasn't surrounded by innocent bystanders before they fired their missile. The sheikh had no such qualms when he ordered his suicide bombers to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible, several hundred, according to conservative estimates. (Telegraph-UK)

    European Anti-Semitism

  • Difficult for a Jew to Live in France - Linda Grant
    On the streets of Tel Aviv, French has now overtaken English as the most commonly heard foreign language, after Russian. "There are 600,000 Jews in France and four million Arabs. We are too small a population to live in France, we can't exist there any more. All the young people are leaving, some to Israel, some to America. We didn't imagine this problem 10 years ago," said Robert, a radiologist in the process of making the move from Paris. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Anti-Semitism has "Taken Root" in France
    The number of anti-Jewish acts in France dropped in 2003 compared to the year before, but was still higher than any year in the 1990s, the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights said in a 650-page report that cataloged every recorded act of anti-Semitism and racism for the year. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Anti-Semitism: Integral to European Culture - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    The resurgence of European anti-Semitism after the Holocaust suggests that it is integral to European culture. By its discriminatory anti-Israeli declarations, the EU plays the role of arsonist, fanning the flames of anti-Semitism. It also serves as fireman by trying, at the same time, to quench the flames of classic religious and ethnic anti-Semitism. New European anti-Semitism often originates from youth, which indicates that rather than an anti-Semitism of the past it is one of the future. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Weekend Features

  • Bomb-Sniffing Dogs Make Aliya - Dana Cohen
    Specially trained explosive-detecting dogs and their handlers are to begin working in bus stations throughout the country thanks to Pups for Peace (PFP), a U.S.-based organization founded by Glenn Yago, a Los Angeles economist. "Dogs can smell and recognize what the human eye cannot even see, and their ability to recognize explosives is what can save lives," said Yago. Pups for Peace plans to train roughly 300 dogs per year for three years. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Bobsledding for Israel - Paul Friesen
    Canadian David Greaves teamed up with Americans Aaron Zeff and John Frank to form the first Israeli bobsled team. Their goal is to qualify for the 2006 Winter Olympics by becoming one of the top-30 crews in the world. Team Israel has worked its way up to 34th place. Greaves recalled the opening ceremonies of the world championship in historic Berchtesgaden, Germany, in February. "That was a Nazi stronghold. Here comes a little kid walking down the aisle with an Israeli flag, and there was a big cheer and they played the Israeli national anthem. I still get chills." (Winnipeg Sun)
  • Observations:

    Jews Who Fled Arab Lands Now Press Their Cause - Jack Epstein (San Francisco Chronicle)

    • In June 1967, Regina Bublil Waldman, then 19, received a phone call at work in Tripoli, Libya, from her frantic mother: "Don't come home. There's a mob outside the house. Find a place to hide."
    • Waldman is one of nearly 856,000 Jews who fled Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen in an exodus that began after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and ended about 1970. Today, only an estimated 5,000 Jews remain in Arab lands, most of them in Morocco.
    • "In its zeal and need to address the plight of Palestinians, the world allowed the plight of the Jewish refugees to fall by the wayside," said Stanley Urman, executive director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, a New York-based coalition of 27 Jewish organizations.
    • Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has introduced a resolution in Congress that would instruct U.S. envoys to raise the Jewish refugee issue every time the Palestinian refugee issue is raised as "an integral part of any comprehensive peace."
        See also Senate Takes Up Issue of Jews Who Fled Arab Lands - Melissa Radler (Jerusalem Post); Congressional Bills Introduced on Jews Displaced by 1948 War - Marc Perelman (Forward)

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