Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 28, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Report: Iran Establishes Suicide Bomber Unit to Strike Israel (ArabYnet-Hebrew)
    Iranian intelligence has established a unit charged with recruiting suicide bombers to be sent to Israel, Iraq, and Lebanon, the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Friday.
    The newspaper received a video cassette of the speech of a senior Iranian intelligence official speaking to students at al-Hussein University, where Revolutionary Guards are trained.
    In it, he warns that Iran has the capability to strike the U.S. and other Western countries: "We've looked at 29 sensitive sites in the West and we know how to hit them."

An al-Sadr/Saudi Wahhabi Alliance? - Stephen Schwartz (Weekly Standard)
    Iraqi Shia sources claim that rebel Shia leader Moktada al-Sadr has sought an alliance with the Wahhabi sect, even though they express murderous hatred of Shias, whom they consider a non-Muslim product of a Jewish conspiracy, incredibly enough.
    Some Iraqis say al-Sadr recently visited Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabism is the official religion, for talks with Princes Sultan and Nayef, the main holders of power in the kingdom - notwithstanding the figurehead role played by Crown Prince Abdullah, who is said to oppose Wahhabism.
     Sultan is the father of Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to Washington. Nayef is best known for his remarks soon after September 11, 2001, blaming the horrors of that day on "Zionists."

Saudi with Ties to 9/11 Hijackers Arrested in California (Reuters)
    Hasan Saddiq Faseh Alddin, 34, a Saudi Arabian national, was arrested on Thursday on immigration violations, U.S. authorities said.
    Authorities said Alddin had shared a room with a close friend of the two San Diego-based hijackers of the plane that smashed into the Pentagon - Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid al Midhar.
    The roommate left the U.S. the day before the attacks.

Philadelphia Mosque Raided, Muslim Cleric Held (AP/Los Angeles Times)
    Federal agents raided a mosque - the Ansaar Allah Islamic Society - and two homes in Philadelphia on Thursday and took Muslim cleric Mohamed Ghorab, an Egyptian, into custody on immigration charges.
    Internal Revenue Service agents executed the search warrant with FBI agents present.

Japan Arrests Five Foreigners in al-Qaeda Probe (Reuters/ Washington Post)
    Japanese police arrested five foreigners on Wednesday in a probe into the activities of Lionel Dumont, a French national of Algerian descent who was arrested in Germany last December.
    Dumont is suspected while in Japan of delivering equipment and funds to al-Qaeda and may have been trying to create a network of foreign contacts.
    Those arrested included a Bangladeshi man who sold international telephone calling cards from an office near the gates of a U.S. military base.
    Tokyo has been on heightened alert since a letter purportedly from al-Qaeda said Japan would be targeted once its troops were deployed in Iraq.

Missile Defense for El Al Fleet - John Vause (CNN)
    Next month, El Al will begin equipping all of its planes with an anti-missile system called "Flight Guard" - the first airline in the world to use such a system.
    Within seconds of a missile being detected, an onboard computer releases flares, fired at different angles to act as a diversion.
    The system is completely automated because a missile attack could happen before the pilots could react.

Mossad Website Swamped with Tips - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    The new Mossad website launched this week has drawn not only an enormous amount of interest and applicants, but officials said the Mossad has been swamped with "tips" by the public willing to help the Israeli spy agency.
    The website informs the visitor that they are invited to send in anything "you think might affect state security."
    While the Mossad cannot reply to every message, it does promise to read seriously each message it receives.

Car Crash Sparks Saudi Driving Debate - Sebastian Usher (BBC)
    A woman has been killed while driving a car in the north of the desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
    While this may not be an unusual occurrence anywhere else in the world, it is a real rarity in Saudi Arabia, since women are banned from driving there.

Useful Reference:

Rafah, Gateway to Terrorism (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    If Palestinians were not smuggling arms into Gaza for the purpose of murdering Israelis, Israel would not have to act against them - and Palestinian noncombatants would not be endangered.

The Demolition of Palestinian Structures Used for Terrorism - Legal Background (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Weapon Smuggling Tunnels in Rafah (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Weapon Smuggling Through the Rafah Tunnels - a graphic presentation (IDF)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Sharon Sets Cabinet Gaza Vote for Full Pullout Plan Despite Opposition Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided on Friday to put his full Gaza pullout plan to a cabinet vote on Sunday. Sharon offered a whittled-down version of his U.S.-backed plan on Thursday, envisaging the evacuation of just three of 21 Jewish settlements from Gaza while "taking note" of his original scheme to remove all of them. But after Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - Sharon's powerful rival - rebuffed the compromise, Sharon "decided to submit the full, original plan, as originally intended. He is challenging the right-wing ministers, both in Likud and the National Union and National Religious parties," a senior confidant said.
        There was one key new element in the plan to go before the cabinet: it would raze or dismantle houses instead of leaving them intact for Palestinians. The change could be aimed at winning over rightists convinced militants would seize the property and declare victory from the rooftops. Netanyahu and others have insisted that Sharon abide by a May 2 referendum of Likud party rank and file that turned down the initial plan. (Reuters)
  • Australian Pleads Guilty in Israeli Embassy Bomb Plot
    British-born terror suspect Jack Roche changed his plea to guilty Friday in an al-Qaeda-linked plot to blow up the Israeli embassy in Canberra, the Australian capital. Roche, 50, has admitted to meeting al-Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, during a trip to Afghanistan in 2000 when he received training in terrorist techniques. After returning to Australia, Roche said he realized he was out of his depth when he looked up the FBI's Most Wanted List and saw on the website at least five people he had met in Afghanistan. However, he admitted carrying out surveillance of possible targets for attack, including the embassy in Canberra, and that he tried unsuccessfully to recruit militants to carry out attacks in Australia. (CNN)
  • In the Scrapyards of Jordan, Signs of a Looted Iraq
    As the U.S. spends billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq's civil and military infrastructure, there is increasing evidence that parts of sensitive military equipment, seemingly brand-new components for oil rigs and water plants, and whole complexes of older buildings are leaving the country on the backs of flatbed trucks. By some estimates, at least 100 semitrailers loaded with what is billed as Iraqi scrap metal are streaming each day into Jordan, just one of six countries that share a border with Iraq. "There is a gigantic salvage operation, stripping anything of perceived value out of the country," said John Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research institute. "This is systematically plundering the country....You're going to have to replace all of this stuff." (New York Times)
  • Five Killed in Lebanon Protests
    Demonstrators in Beirut set fire to the Labor Ministry Thursday after Lebanese soldiers shot and killed five people and wounded 12 others during protests against the government's economic policies. The violence followed a strike call by the General Confederation of Labor and Trade Unions protesting the government's economic policies and demanding a reduction in gasoline prices. (AP/CNN)
  • Britain Arrests Radical Muslim Cleric
    Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri was arrested Thursday on an extradition warrant issued by the U.S. government. Al-Masri, who has British citizenship, is one of Britain's best known Islamic radicals. He has been fighting deportation by the government, which has accused him of advising and supporting terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. (AP/New York Times)
        See also U.S.: Cleric Tried to Start Terror Camp
    A fiery Muslim cleric whose now-shuttered London mosque attracted Sept. 11 suspect Zacarias Moussaoui and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid was accused of trying to build a terrorist training camp in Oregon. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called al-Masri "a freelance consultant to terrorist groups worldwide." The Egyptian-born al-Masri claimed the Sept. 11 attacks were a Jewish plot and called the Columbia space shuttle disaster a "punishment from Allah" because Christian, Jewish, and Hindu astronauts were aboard. (AP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • "Jeep-Bomb" Rocks Civilian Convoy on Philadelphia Route - Amir Buhbut and Marwan Athamana
    An IDF soldier was lightly injured when a "jeep-bomb" exploded near a civilian convoy traveling near Rafah Friday. A dirt embankment built on the route absorbed most of the shock wave and prevented additional casualties. As a bus carrying Port Authority workers who man the Rafah merchandise terminal arrived in the area of the Philadelphia route, a jeep suddenly emerged and blew up near the military vehicle escorting the bus. (Maariv International)
  • Turkish Envoy: Relations with Israel Remain Strong - Herb Keinon
    Turkey's relationship with Israel is based on mutual interests, and the relationship will remain strong as long as those interests exist, Turkey's ambassador to Israel Feridun Sinirlioglu said Thursday.
        Prof. Ephraim Inbar, the head of Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, says "Israel will make a mistake if it does not respond more firmly " to the current Turkish line. "We should make it clear to Ankara that there are certain statements that are not acceptable," Inbar said. "These relations are based on mutual interests, and they are not doing us any favor." Some 300,000 Israeli tourists visited Turkey in 2003 and there was $1.4 billion in trade between the two countries, with Turkey enjoying a clear balance of trade advantage. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Political Troubles Between Turkey and Israel? - Pemra Hazbay
    Following Israel's recent raid in Rafah, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel's actions as "state terrorism" while Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul hinted that strains had emerged in the Turkish-Israeli relationship. In general, Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lately adopted an alarmingly critical attitude toward Israel. Will Turkey seek to alter its ties with Israel? From an economic point of view, such a development would seem highly unlikely; Turkey ranks thirteenth on Israel's list of trading partners, while Israel ranks ninth among Turkey's trading partners. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Seeking Closer Ties to Hispanic Groups, U.S. Jews Bring Their Leaders to Israel - Sarah Bronson
    Led by the president of New York City's Bronx borough, 15 Latino religious leaders were in Israel this week to visit Christian holy sites and talk with political and security officials. Funded by Jewish organizations in the U.S., the trip is part of a larger plan among American Jewish leaders to establish closer relations with American Hispanics. "The Latino community is the fastest-growing ethnic population in New York City," said Michael Miller, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council. "It's to the advantage of the Jewish community to build close ties with the leadership of the Hispanic groups, particularly through their religious leaders. [Latinos] have a high identification with their churches, whether they are Catholic or Protestant."
        Demographics in the U.S. are changing to such an extent that the Israeli consulates in New York and Los Angeles have appointed community relations officers whose sole assignment is to reach out to the Hispanic and African-American populations on behalf of the State of Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • On the Threshold of Failure in Iraq - Ze'ev Schiff
    Anyone who compares the military situation in Iraq about a year ago to the situation today will realize that the U.S. Army's control over the large cities is weaker than it was. The Iraqi military unit established by the Americans has fallen apart. Some of its members have joined those operating against the Americans. In Fallujah, relative quiet was achieved after the Americans reached an agreement with an Iraqi general, a supporter of Saddam Hussein, to take responsibility for security in the city. Yesterday his men were firing on the Americans and today he is maintaining security in exchange for dollars.
        A substantial American failure in Iraq will have far-reaching global implications, which will affect Israel as well. It is no coincidence that the Iranian ambassador to the UN told a senior American politician: "The more entangled you get in Iraq, the more we benefit." (Ha'aretz)
  • The Real Story of Fallujah - Robert D. Kaplan
    Whenever the Marines with whom I was attached crossed the path of a mosque, we were fired upon. Mosques in Fallujah were used by snipers and other gunmen, and to store weapons and explosives. Time and again the insurgents forfeited the protective status granted these religious structures as stipulated by Geneva Conventions. By the standards of most wars, some mosques in Fallujah deserved to be leveled. But only after repeated aggressions was any mosque targeted, and then sometimes for hits so small in scope that they often had little effect. The news photos of holes in mosque domes did not indicate the callousness of the American military; rather the reverse. As their own casualties mounted, the only time I saw angry or depressed Marines was when an Iraqi civilian was accidentally hit in the crossfire - usually perpetrated by the enemy. (Wall Street Journal, 28 May 04)
  • Relying on the Saudis: The Challenge for U.S. Oil Policy - Simon Henderson
    Just as OPEC oil rates have recently flouted the cartel's notional price band, it would seem that the U.S.-Saudi relationship no longer operates within acceptable limits. Crown Prince Abdullah's publicly stated view that "Zionists" were probably behind the recent terrorist attacks in Yanbu shocked Washington, ruining the credibility of the prince's views on Middle East peace. His argument that only Zionists benefited from such acts was regarded as absurd, and his perceived need to invoke Zionism as a means of delegitimizing local Islamic militancy was contemptible. Moreover, reports suggest widespread sympathy in Saudi Arabia for those attacking U.S. forces in Iraq, with some Saudis lauding volunteer jihadists. The prospect of additional increases in oil prices, which could cause an abrupt slowdown in the global economy, underscores the urgency of pursuing vigorous new efforts in energy conservation and diversification. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Saudi Arabia and Oil: What If?
    Oil prices have recently been above $40 a barrel. A soaring world economy has sucked global oil inventories dry. Nearly every OPEC producer, save Saudi Arabia, is already producing about as much oil as it can. Oil traders report that fears of terrorist attacks that might disrupt Middle-Eastern oil exports may account for as much as $8 of the current per-barrel price. Soaring oil demand, private-sector destocking, and lack of investment in new production capacity by OPEC has left the world with an extraordinarily tight oil market today. Building a new surplus will inevitably take a long time. Until then, the potential instability of Saudi Arabia's oil supply will remain a strategic weakness for the world economy. (The Economist)
  • The Gaza Paradox - Moshe Arens
    For the terrorists in Gaza, the plans for withdrawal are seen as a victory for their campaign of terror, a justification for their strategy, an indication of things to come, with Israel being rolled back again and again under the pressure of blows inflicted on Israel. If anything, the IDF's Gaza operation, seemingly cut short because of international pressure, will only confirm their view.
        The idea of amending the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty to permit the stationing of Egyptian armed forces along the international border is preposterous; it will only add another concern to Israel's defense establishment. What Egyptian border guards are unable or unwilling to do will not be done by soldiers of the Egyptian army. The writer is a former Israeli foreign and defense minister. (Ha'aretz)
  • Arabs, Too, Are Losing Patience with Arafat - Uri Dromi
    For the last several years, Israelis and Americans have been saying that unless Arafat goes, peace in the Middle East is doomed. They say he never rose to the historic occasion offered to the Palestinians in 2000, when he rejected the far-reaching peace offer placed on the table by Prime Minister Barak of Israel and President Clinton. When King Abdullah of Jordan visited Washington recently, he told Jim Lehrer of PBS, "I think the message from not only myself, but other Arab leaders and those in the Palestinian constituency, is that, Arafat, you have to step up to the plate, and if you don't deliver this time, then there's a serious chance that the Palestinians will lose a chance at their future." The writer is director of international outreach at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Iran, Terrorists and Nukes - Editorial
    "If Iran goes nuclear, you worry that Hizballah goes nuclear," said Paul Leventhal, president of the Nuclear Control Institute. An often-overlooked danger of Iranian possession of nuclear weapons would be that the regime could pass along nuclear weapons to Hizballah or other terrorist organizations that it supports. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Hizballah could try to smuggle a crude nuclear device into the hold of a ship or a truck and deliver it to a highly populated Israeli city. According to Leventhal, if such a device functioned properly, it could result in an explosion roughly equivalent to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. (Washington Times)
        See also Tehran's Tentacles of Terror - Aaron Mannes
    Iran's mullahs carefully keep their eye on the ball - pursuing a nuclear-weapons capability, flooding Iraq with money and agents, infiltrating Afghanistan, supporting terrorism against Turkey, and (with Syria) directing the Palestinian intifada. For Iran, Iraq's fate is a winner-take-all contest. American success building a stable, free Iraq would leave Iran hemmed in by American-allied Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iraq. But it would also be fatal ideologically to the oppressive Iranian theocracy. In the worst-case but all-too-conceivable scenario, a nuclear Iran could emerge as a radical Islamic superpower, locked in a global struggle with the U.S., making the long war on terror much longer and much more dangerous. (New York Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • Don't Expect Arab Apologies - Nonie Darwish
    To expect the Arab and Muslim leadership to apologize for the barbaric murder of Nick Berg is a reflection of the West's naive and wrong expectations of Arab culture. In the Arab world, to take responsibility and say "sorry" is taken as an unmanly sign of weakness. Those who admit guilt, even if it is accidental, are given no mercy and may end up taking all the blame and being brutally punished. Honesty is not rewarded.
        President Bush's apology for the humiliation and abuse of Iraqi prisoners was taken by the Arab media and the Arab "street" as an admission of guilt and a sign of weakness. It was not appreciated as taking responsibility to find out the truth behind the events that happened due to the actions of a few Americans. Americans should stop judging other cultures with the American value system, and especially stop expecting Arab/Muslim culture to respond rationally according to Western standards. The writer was born in Egypt and raised in Gaza. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Berkeley Intifada - Anneli Rufus
    Some of the most virulent anti-Semitism in America today seethes amid the multicultural ferment of American college campuses. And at UC Berkeley, which owes as much of its allure to radical rhetoric as to academic excellence, it thrives. In the late '90s, many on the campus left adopted Palestine: a struggle involving both economics and ethnicity, one in which an underclass battled a militarily and economically dominant opponent. They lob verbal Molotov cocktails: apartheid, atrocities, genocide, fascist, Nazi, racist, terrorist. In Berkeley's version of the struggle, Israel is more often cast as the villain, the denier of statehood, the vector of violence, the mocker and crusher of human rights. (East Bay Express)
  • Arabia's Deficit of Hope - Amir Taheri
    At a conference on "The Region and the Future" organized by the Kuwaiti parliament, I stop at a desk to register. Sitting behind the desk is a person dressed all in black with a veil covering the entire face. When we ask a question, the person answers in a strange voice. A guide explains that the person behind the desk is, in fact, a woman, and that she changes her voice in accordance with an "Islamic" rule that insists that a woman's real voice should not be heard by any man who is not her grandfather, father, brother, son, or husband. Having frequently visited Kuwait since 1969, we had never before seen anyone dressed like that. But our guide reports that an increasing number of women are adopting the fashion of the sitri, a sect in Pakistan whose members, male as well as female, cover themselves from head to toe from the age of four. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Gaza's Future - Editorial (Washington Times)

    • The large-scale Israeli military operation in southern Gaza that ended earlier this week is an integral component of Sharon's plan to withdraw Israeli settlements from Gaza. Sharon is determined not to repeat the mistakes made by his predecessor who unilaterally withdrew from southern Lebanon four years ago under relentless attack from the Hizballah terrorist organization.
    • Although Israeli casualties in Lebanon fell following the pullout, Hizballah's victory had disastrous consequences elsewhere. It helped persuade Arafat that he stood to gain more from terrorism and violence than from negotiating with Israel.
    • Since the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian war on September 29, 2000, Hizballah - with the support of Iran and Syria - has stepped up its cooperation with Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups in the West Bank and Gaza.
    • By launching a robust military campaign to destroy weapons-smuggling tunnels along the border separating Gaza and Egypt, Sharon seeks to prevent a situation in which Israel is perceived as being weak. But the most critical reason for the campaign (which is likely to be repeated in the months ahead, whether settlements remain in Gaza or not) is to deny the terrorists the ability to smuggle long-range weapons into Gaza for use against nearby Israeli cities.
    • Israel's failure to do that before withdrawing from Lebanon has resulted in Hizballah being able to deploy missiles capable of reaching Haifa, an area where much of Israel's industrial capacity is located. Sharon is understandably determined to prevent Hizballah and its friends from doing this in the south.

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