Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 14, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

CIA Says Qaeda Militant Decapitated American - Douglas Jehl (New York Times)
    The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is believed with "high probability" to have been the one who beheaded American Nicholas Berg, a CIA official said Thursday.
    The CIA assessment, based on a technical analysis of the video, also says the voice on the video clip is believed with "high probability" to be that of Zarqawi.
    Zarqawi, who has links to al-Qaeda, has previously been identified by American officials as being behind some of the deadliest attacks in Iraq.

    See also Iran and Syria Aid Zarqawi - Niles Lathem (New York Post)
    Jordanian terror master Abu Musab Zarqawi has eluded a massive U.S. military campaign to bring him to justice with help of an extensive network of Middle East connections, including rogue elements of security services in Syria and Iran.
    U.S. military and intelligence officials said Wednesday that Zarqawi has managed to dodge several secret operations by the CIA and U.S. Special Forces over the past year.
    "Iran and Syria are giving him cover," said a U.S. official with access to intelligence reports.
    "He is taking advantage of the infrastructure that is allowing the movement of money, arms, and fighters into Iraq from those countries."

    See also Iraq's bin Laden? Zarqawi's Rise - Peter Grier and Faye Bowers (Christian Science Monitor)

U.S. Media Shuns Horror Video - Verity Murphy (BBC News)
    Fox News, CBS, NBC, and ABC all broadcast footage of the bound and frightened American seated on the floor surrounded by five masked men, but they stopped the tape at the point the knife was drawn.
    "It's a pretty clear call for us," Jon Banner, executive producer of ABC's World News Tonight, said. "I think the viewer will understand what happened to Berg. They won't have to sit through the graphic images."
    But news editors were insistent that the American public be told of the true nature of what did happen next - and be made to understand that this was no swift death.
    Most newspaper editors also showed the image of Berg surrounded by his captors, but passed up on the grainy stills of the attack and of his severed head.

Abuse Photos Were Faked in Britain - George Jones and Michael Smith (Telegraph-UK)
    Photographs published by the Daily Mirror allegedly showing British soldiers abusing an Iraqi captive "were categorically not taken in Iraq," Adam Ingram, the Armed Forces minister, told MPs Thursday.
    Ingram said the lorry in which the pictures were taken "was never in Iraq." According to military sources, the incidents were staged at Kimberley Barracks, Preston.
    Ingram told MPs that a two-week investigation by the Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch concluded definitely that they were fake and it had independent corroboration that they were not taken in Iraq.

Want a Different Abu Ghraib Story? - Daniel Henninger (Wall Street Journal)
    In 1995, Saddam Hussein arrested nine Iraqi businessmen to scapegoat them as dollar traders. They were sentenced, after a year's imprisonment, to have their right hands surgically cut off at Abu Ghraib prison.
    Saddam had a videotape made of each procedure. The surgeon also carved an X of shame into the forehead of each man.
    Last year, after we liberated Iraq, veteran TV news producer Don North was determined to make a documentary of the story of the seven survivors he found.
    Cutting through red tape, the men were flown to Houston where reconstructive surgeons Dr. Joe Agris and Fred Kestler operated.
    Prosthetic "hands" were donated by a German-American prosthetic company, while rehabilitation and training is being donated by two other Houston companies.
    And oh yes, the brands on their heads were removed.
    Don North's film "Remembering Saddam" indeed should be seen, but after two months of trying, no U.S. broadcast or cable network will take it.
    TV can run Abu Ghraib photos 24/7 but can't find 55 minutes for Saddam's crimes against humanity?

Egyptian Parliamentarian Silenced After Visit to Israel (AFP/International Herald Tribune)
    A member of the Egyptian parliament was silenced during debate for having spent a 10-day vacation in Israel, the independent newspaper Nahdat Misr reported Thursday.
    Mohammed Badrashini wanted to ask a question about an Israeli proposal to cede parts of the Negev to Egypt in return for its handing over territory in Sinai to the Palestinians to enlarge the Gaza Strip.
    But he was cut off by Speaker Fathi Sorur, who said: "You go swimming in Tel Aviv and then you come back here to pummel us" with questions about Israel.

Useful Reference:

1,004 Israelis Killed Since September 2000 (Jerusalem Post)
    1,004 Israelis have been killed since the start of the Palestinian violence in September 2000.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Condemns Beheading of American Civilian
    President Bush says the beheading of an American civilian in Iraq shows the true nature of the terrorists who want to block the drive to freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people. "Nicholas Berg was an innocent civilian who was in Iraq to help build a free Iraq. There is no justification for the brutal execution of Nicholas Berg," he said. The Bush administration has vowed that the killers will be brought to justice. (VOA News)
  • Syrian President Refuses to Expel Palestinian Militants
    Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday he would not expel Palestinian militant groups as demanded by the U.S., in response to sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Tuesday. Syria hosts Palestinian militant groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and is on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist-sponsoring countries. Hamas head Khaled Mashaal has been living in Damascus since 1999. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, who heads the Islamic Jihad, moved to Syria in the 1990s. (AP/USA Today)
        See also U.S. Sanctions Not Enough to Deter Syria, Israeli Analyst Says
    Syrian expert Dr. Yossi Olmert said he did not believe that the sanctions against Syria would have a big impact. Some analysts have said that Syria could skirt the sanctions altogether since goods flow freely across the Syrian-Lebanese border. America needs to take a "three-pronged" approach, Olmert said, which would include encouraging opposition elements in Syria, anti-Syrian elements in Lebanon, and indicating to Syria that if it gets caught "red-handed" in involvement in terrorism, the U.S. will not stop Israel from responding militarily against Syria. (CNSNews)
  • UN Inspectors See Signs Iran May Have Tried to Make Bomb-Grade Uranium
    UN atomic energy inspectors see a pattern in Iran of radiation contamination that could indicate attempts to enrich uranium to bomb-grade levels, diplomats close to the agency said. Reflecting the current thinking of investigators, one diplomat said particles of highly enriched uranium have been found in specific sites, hinting that "someone brought material or equipment and then removed it." IAEA inspectors have reported two such concentrations - at a Kalaye Electric Company workshop in Tehran and at the Natanz pilot fuel enrichment plant. Traces found at "one room in the Kalaye Electric Company workshop" were particles of "uranium enriched to 36%," according to an IAEA report in February. Iran has been asked to explain this "particularly in light of its declaration that it has not enriched uranium to more than 1.2%," the report said. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • U.S. Commission Slams Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt for Abuses of Religious Freedom
    The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom heavily criticized Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt for discrimination and recommended threatening the Saudi government with sanctions unless its record improves. "The government of Saudi Arabia engages in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief," the congressionally mandated panel said in its annual report. "The commission continues to recommend that Saudi Arabia be designated a 'country of particular concern,'" which would open Riyadh to possible U.S. sanctions.
        The panel noted with concern that Saudi Arabia continued to export an extreme form of militant Islam despite pledges to rein in radical, anti-Western imams. "The sponsorship by a close ally of the United States around the world of extremist intolerant religious views or views that incite to violence seems to be something that the American people must know more about," said Michael Young, the commission's chairman. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF to Widen Philadelphia Corridor Between Egypt and Gaza
    Prime Minister Sharon, Defense Minister Mofaz, and other top officials on Thursday approved an IDF plan to widen the Philadelphia corridor in southern Gaza along the Egyptian border, political sources said on Friday. "It's a measure that we are taking to provide better protection for armored personnel carriers and the soldiers, and to reshape that theater of war so we will enjoy an advantage and not the Palestinians," one Israeli official said about the corridor, where five troops were killed on Wednesday. Palestinians carry out daily attacks against Israeli positions and soldiers in the area adjoining Rafah refugee camp. (Ha'aretz)
        Widening the corridor will require demolishing abandoned as well as populated dwellings adjacent to the border area on the Palestinian side. Some of the buildings have been used by Palestinians as bases of operation, while others have been commandeered by Palestinian gunmen from civilians. One official noted that if and when the disengagement plan will be put into action, Israel will maintain control of the area. Widening the corridor will disrupt Palestinian weapons smuggling tunnels activity. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mofaz: Israel Will Not "Run Away" from Gaza - Yifat Zohar
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Thursday: "The IDF's operations in Gaza are essential and unavoidable. It is also the right thing to do....The struggle includes battling hundreds of terror cells, alleyways, explosive charges, bomb-making laboratories, tunnels and hideouts - and all inside a densely populated area....Our operations both in Zeitun and on the Philadelphia route are essential. If we do not operate against the tunnels we will find ourselves being attacked in the heart of Israel. No one plans on running away from the Gaza Strip." (Maariv International)
        Mofaz said that Palestinians should not be given "credit" for having managed to blow up two explosives-laden armored personnel carriers in two days, killing 11 soldiers, which he called a "coincidence." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Mofaz: Palestinians Smuggled Body Parts in UN Ambulances - Hanan Greenberg
    Defense Minister Mofaz said Friday that Palestinians smuggled parts of the bodies of IDF soldiers killed in the Philadelphia corridor Wednesday into their territory using UN and UNRWA ambulances. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • UNRWA: Palestinian Gunmen Hijacked Ambulance
    On Tuesday armed Palestinians threatened the lives of an UNRWA ambulance team (a driver and a paramedic) and forced them to transport an injured gunman and two of his armed colleagues to a hospital in Gaza City. "UNRWA condemns this action in the strongest possible terms; at no time and under no circumstances should armed men enter any UNRWA vehicle," a statement from the organization said. The army has witnessed a growing trend in the cynical use of Palestinian medical crews and ambulances by terrorist organizations that operate within populated civilian areas, use ambulances to transport weapons and fugitives, and seek refuge in hospitals in an attempt to evade inspection by IDF troops. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Suicide Bombers Arrested in Nablus - Margot Dudkevitch
    Two Fatah Tanzim terrorists arrested by security forces in Nablus on Thursday planned to launch a suicide bomb attack in a supermarket or restaurant in the greater Tel Aviv region. Sources in the Shin Bet said the two received their instructions from Hizballah operatives in Lebanon. Following the arrests, the two led security forces to a bag containing 20 kg of explosives. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Fire at Bus in Samaria
    Palestinians fired at an Israeli bus near Sanur in northern Samaria Thursday. The bullet-proof bus was damaged, but none of its passengers were injured. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Turning Shame into Outrage - Charles Paul Freund
    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - the Jordanian militant who is reportedly responsible for the videotaped butchery of Nicholas Berg - may have inadvertently delivered his enemy from its own demoralization. Americans were feeling so shamed, dishonored, and demoralized by the repulsive images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib that even many prominent war supporters were reconsidering the effort. So in "retaliation" for the Abu Ghraib abuses, Zarqawi stages a singularly abominable execution of a private American citizen. The probable effect is to offer many Americans an exit from their own moral horror.
        Elemental empathy is a primary measure of civilization. The shame that Americans felt at the Abu Ghraib images is rooted in such empathy. But if this is a moment of comparative atrocity, the murder offers many of those who feel disgust and shame a different context in which to perceive those images. Zarqawi has reminded his enemies that, unlike him, they are at least capable of shame. Zarqawi's righteous snuff movie is a gift to his enemies, and, one hopes, an unwitting suicide note. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Berg's Death Augurs Ill for Arab Societies - Editorial
    The beheading of Berg has eclipsed the shame and failure of the U.S. and its allies over the Abu Ghraib scandal. Berg's self-appointed executioners appear to have been oblivious to the fact that a public relations disaster for the U.S.' Middle East policies was a prime opportunity for the Arab and Muslim worlds to push Washington for a new, just approach to the region. Instead, they sabotaged this unique opportunity. They have created a reactionary climate in which Abu Ghraib can be seen as a deserving punishment for an entire society, a climate which fosters the belief that Berg's killers represent the real face of Arabs and Muslims. Not only did an innocent civilian lose his life in appalling circumstances, but the Arab and Muslim worlds have been dealt a severe body blow by the same blade that ended Berg's life. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Anti-Semitism in the Arab World - Dominique Vidal
    Anti-semitic propaganda was a marginal phenomenon in the Arab world for a long time, but unfortunately it has been gaining strength in several countries over the past three years. Ultra-nationalist and religious movements are spreading the poison of anti-semitism on fertile ground, with the connivance of the authorities. In November 2003, Robert Fisk, whose commitment to the Palestinian cause is well-known, wrote in The Independent about his disgust at finding a new edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an old Tsarist forgery, in a Beirut bookshop: "I'm always careful about accusing Arabs of anti-semitism....But how come this vicious little tract can turn up in a sophisticated country such as Lebanon?" The current anti-semitic propaganda is retrogressive for the Arab world and will do it untold harm. (Le Monde Diplomatique)
  • Average Suicide Bomber is Rational, Educated, and Prosperous - Deborah Smith
    Research on the social and psychological background of terrorists show they tend to be more prosperous and better educated than most in their societies, and no more religious or irrational than the average person. A study of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad suicide terrorists from the late 1980s to 2003 found only 13% were from a poor background, compared with 32% of the Palestinian population in general, according to a New Scientist report. Suicide bombers were also three times more likely to have gone on to higher education than the general population, Claude Berrebi, an economist at Princeton University, found. Ariel Merare, a psychologist at Tel Aviv University, said he changed his view that most suicide bombers were mentally ill after studying the background of every suicide bomber in the Middle East since 1983. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • Europe En Route to Islamic Takeover - Daniel Pipes
    Christianity's ancient stronghold of Europe is rapidly giving way to Islam. Europe is increasingly a post-Christian society, one with a diminishing connection to its tradition or its historic values. The number of believing, observant Christians has collapsed in the past two generations to the point where analysts estimate Britain's mosques host more worshipers each week than does the Church of England. In addition, indigenous Europeans are dying out due to an anemic EU birthrate of 1.5 per woman. Some 5% of the EU, or nearly 20 million persons, presently identify themselves as Muslims, a figure that will reach 10% by 2020 if present trends continue. Europeans seem to find it too strenuous to have children, stop illegal immigration, or even diversify their sources of immigrants. Instead, they prefer to settle unhappily into civilizational senility. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • The Worst is Yet to Come - David Rudge
    Global terrorism is on the rise and is likely to continue unabated for the next 100 years, according to Prof. Yonah Alexander, director of the Inter-Universities Center for Terrorism Studies. He also believes it is only a matter of time before groups like al-Qaeda use non-conventional weapons as part of attempts to promulgate their ideology and undermine Western society. He anticipates that al-Qaeda's next theater of operations will be Europe, where the organization has established a widespread base and network. (Jerusalem Post)
  • How to Run a Military Prison - David Brinn
    I first joined the ranks of the IDF in 1990 as a 30-year-old reservist corporal in the Military Police. "We need you to go to these prisons and be in charge of the hour-by-hour contact with the prisoners," an officer told us during basic training. "We need mature, thoughtful people who aren't going to blow up and let their emotions dictate their actions." For the next 14 years, I joined conscripts, officers, and other reservists down on the ground with Palestinian detainees, making things run. Huge shipments of food delivered daily had to be dispersed, prisoners had to be taken to doctors and to dentists. Others had appointments with their attorneys, and every day there were staggered visits from family members.
        Could such a travesty as in Abu Ghraib occur at an Israeli military prison? Almost certainly not. In no corner would there have been any tolerance or simply turning the other way in the event of anything remotely resembling abusive or humiliating behavior. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • Listening to Allah Versus 18 Million SMS Messages - Zvi Bar'el
    Last December the Lebanese satellite television station LBC premiered "Star Academy," with contestants from around the Arab world. Prerequisites were: attractive physical appearance, knowledge of three songs by heart, and modern dress. Some 5,000 young people from Jordan alone applied to take part. The ratings for the Lebanese program were higher than any previously broadcast show. During the five months of the contest, about 18 million SMS messages were sent from Egypt, 17 million from Syria, 11 million from Saudi Arabia, and 8 million from Jordan. The show reignited the acrid debate between East and West, between religion and the modern world, between local nationalism and Arab nationalism. (Ha'aretz)
  • Book Details U.S. Protection of Former Nazi Officials - Charles Lane
    The book U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis - based on FBI records, CIA files on individuals, and U.S. Army information detailing the Army's postwar relationship with former officers of the German Wehrmacht's intelligence service - was released Thursday by historians who have been reviewing the records for the government. (Washington Post)
  • Book Review: Why Do We Care about Israel? - Richard Ben Cramer
    On a research visit in 2003, I was privileged to tour the old Negev battlefields with Itzhak Pundak, a brigade commander from the '48 War. He marched me from a wrecked railroad bridge, around the Jewish sniper posts, onward to Egyptian artillery bunkers, from time to time regarding me narrowly from under handsome silvery brows. "Is this too much?" asked the eighty-nine-year-old. "Do you need a rest?" - Excerpt from How Israel Lost. (USA Today)
  • Observations:

    The Two-Conflict Delusion - Saul Singer (Jerusalem Post)

    • Pride in barbarism is the bedrock of terrorism. The terrorist is in a constant struggle to outdo himself. Each atrocity must be more shocking than the last, or it risks losing the ability to shock and therefore to inculcate fear and despair.
    • Events in Israel and Iraq are linked not just because the terrorists in each place compete to raise the current global terrorist threshold. They are linked because the hooded men who displayed the head of an Israeli soldier and those who decapitated Nick Berg are part of the same global jihad. One wants an Islamic dictatorship in Iraq, the other the same thing but in place of Israel.
    • Every attempt to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict has been based on the notion that it is about borders, not about Israel's existence. But the jihadis don't care about Israel's borders, just like they don't care about America's. It is not about territory.
    • There are not two conflicts, but there are two kinds of Palestinians: those who can accept living independently beside Israel and those who care more about keeping the door open to Israel's destruction than having their own state.
    • Israel is the only place where terrorism in its most brutal forms is granted a degree of legitimacy. The cause is just, only the means are unacceptable, goes the argument. If the cause was their own peaceful state, it would be just. But does anyone really believe that all the head-severing crowd wants is to live in peace with Israel?
    • Someday, the West will win and the jihadi camp will lose its stranglehold over the Palestinians and other parts of the Muslim world.

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