Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 21, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Report on Israeli Agents in Iraq, Iran Discounted - Matthew Gutman (Jerusalem Post)
    New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh told CNN on Sunday that "hundreds" of Israeli agents are working to infiltrate Iran through Kurdistan in northern Iraq to gather intelligence on Iran's developing nuclear program.
    However, an Israeli intelligence source scoffed at the report, saying that infiltrating "hundreds" of agents into Iraq is both ludicrous and pointless.
    He said Israel makes use of satellite imagery to monitor Iran's nuclear development, and only a high-level source could provide relevant information on Iran's nuclear program.
    While human intelligence is necessary, such a large-scale operation would be bound to fail, if only for the ease with which it could be detected, he added.
    See also As June 30th Approaches, Israel Looks to the Kurds - Seymour M. Hersh (New Yorker)

Recruiting Suicide Bombers Among Troubled Souls - Smadar Peri (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 18 June 04)
    Experts in the security services explain that "locators" in the West Bank seek out unstable elements on the Palestinian street and recruit them to become suicide bombers, either willingly or through intimidation.
    Documents captured at Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah detail the use of threats and blackmail against drug addicts, alcoholics, and homosexuals.
    Women accused of "dishonoring" their families are given a choice: either join the ranks of the "martyrs" or be raped - and then they will be murdered by family members upholding family honor.

Mubarak Appoints Acting President - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 76, who traveled to Germany Sunday for surgery to repair a slipped disc, has appointed Prime Minister Atef Obeid as acting president during his absence.

U.S. Admits Mistake in Funding Center Named for Palestinian Terrorist - David R. Sands (Washington Times)
    James Kunder, deputy assistant administrator for Asia and the Near East at the U.S. Agency for International Development, has acknowledged that the agency made a "mistake" in its grant for the new Salah Khalaf Recreation and Sports Center in the West Bank village of al-Fara'a, named for the man considered the spiritual godfather of the Palestinian terrorist Black September organization.
    The U.S. charity Save the Children received a USAID grant to help build the center.
    "That was a mistake; we should have checked it better," Kunder said. "We will be demanding on behalf of the U.S. government that the name of the center be changed."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Islamic Radicals Behead American in Saudi Arabia
    The decapitated corpse of Paul M. Johnson Jr. was found on the outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Friday, after the group calling itself al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula announced his death and posted photos of his remains on a website. Johnson was the third American in less than two weeks to meet a violent death in Riyadh. Saudi officials reported Friday that Abdulaziz Muqrin, leader of the al-Qaeda group, was one of three men killed in a shootout with security forces. (Washington Post)
        See also Al-Qaeda: Saudi Security Forces Helped Us
    Al-Qaeda militants disguised in police uniforms and cars provided by sympathizers in the Saudi security forces set up a fake checkpoint to snare the American engineer they later beheaded, according to an account posted Sunday by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on Sawt al-Jihad, or Voice of the Holy War, an Islamic extremist website. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Saudi Anti-Extremist Campaign Not Working
    The Saudi government's intense public relations campaign to discourage people from supporting extremists appears to be having little effect. "These (kidnappers) are holy warriors, heroes, who never waver, even if they will fail....All Saudis hate Americans, not only these heroes," said Mizahen al-Etbi in Riyadh. "The Americans deserve what they're getting for shedding Arab and Muslim blood all over the world. Plain and simple, they are our enemies," said another Saudi, Faiz. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Airstrike in Iraq Kills Foreign Terrorists
    A senior Iraqi official said Sunday that 23 of 26 people killed in an American airstrike in Falluja Saturday were foreign terrorists, including men from Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. American officials said those targeted were agents of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the suspected mastermind of dozens of suicide attacks in Iraq. (New York Times)
  • UN Sets Anti-Semitism Seminar
    The UN on Monday is to hold its first-ever seminar dedicated to anti-Semitism, which Jewish leaders say is escalating around the world but is ignored by UN institutions. Author Elie Wiesel, a Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, is the keynote speaker. "There is nothing wrong with criticizing policies of the State of Israel. Israelis do it all the time," said Elon Steinberg, executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress. "The problem is when it degenerates into an anti-Semitic screed. It does not give you the right to act violently. It does not give you the right to demonize the State of Israel." (Reuters)
  • Former French PM: Creation of Israel a Historic Mistake
    Former French prime minister and current member of the European Parliament Michel Rocard blasted Israel on June 16, describing its creation by the 1917 Balfour Declaration as a "historic mistake." Rocard, a well-known member of the French Socialist Party, described the Israeli state as a "unique and abnormal condition because it was created with a promise, and that millions of Jews gathered from all around the world, creating an entity that continues to pose a threat to its neighbors until today." (Asharq Al-Awsat-London/ Palestinian Authority)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S.: Hizballah Sending Combatants to Iraq - Nathan Guttman
    According to American intelligence, Hizballah has been moving fighters to Iraq through Syrian territory in recent months to battle American troops, as part of a broader force of pro-Iranian militants operating in Iraq to destabilize the country. In its interim report, the Congressional commission of inquiry into the events of 9/11 states that the cooperation between Hizballah and al-Qaeda is extensive. American officials said recently that Syria has not seriously responded to American demands to seal its border with Iraq against the transit of "foreign fighters." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Air Force Targets Hizballah Outpost Following Hizballah Fire
    On Sunday, the terrorist organization Hizballah fired on the western Galilee, under the guise of anti-aircraft fire. Following the attack, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a Hizballah outpost in the western sector of southern Lebanon, from which a canon is used to fire on northern Israel. Since the Israeli pullout from southern Lebanon in May 2000, 6 Israeli civilians and 11 IDF soldiers have been killed in Hizballah attacks. Israel is determined not to allow attacks from Lebanese territory and to hold the governments of Lebanon and Syria responsible. (IDF)
  • Palestinians Wound Foreign Worker in Gaza
    A foreign worker was seriously injured Monday in a Palestinian shooting attack in the greenhouses of Kfar Darom in Gaza. (Maariv International)

    Egypt's Security Plan for Gaza:

  • Arafat Refusing Egyptian Demands - Lamia Lahoud
    Arafat informed Mubarak two weeks ago that he welcomes Egyptian involvement in general, but refuses to agree to specific demands to unify the security services and give up control over them. "Arafat will not agree to give up security control and is not eager to unify the security forces under new commanders," a PA official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Popular Front Threatens to Harm Egyptian Officers - Eli Vaked
    The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has attacked Cairo's security plan for Gaza and warned that it won't promise not to attack Egyptian officers who would come to train the PA security services. Islamic Jihad has also announced its opposition to the Egyptian plan.
        Meanwhile, efforts continue to recruit the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades into the PA security services, in return for an end to attacks by the Brigades. PA officials are insisting that the Brigades end all contact with outside forces, particularly Hizballah. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Palestinian PM Rules Out Dissolution of Fatah Armed Group
    "The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades form part of Fatah and will not be dissolved; they will be integrated in the institutions of Fatah," Palestinian premier Ahmed Qurei told the London-based Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday. (AFP/Khaleej Times-UAE)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Saudi Trap - Fareed Zakaria
    Abdullah Bijad al-Oteibi was once an Islamic radical and some years ago turned away from that world view. "The problems [in Saudi Arabia] don't simply come from the outside," he said. "Our biggest problem is that our founding creed, Wahhabism, is itself an extreme ideology. It is revolutionary and was used to revolt against the Ottoman Empire. In a sense, bin Laden is using Wahhabi ideology in this original, revolutionary form against the Saudi state." How deeply does Wahhabism run through Saudi society? "This version of religion comes from the religious establishment. The regime supports the imams, judges, and teachers. And people don't hear anything other than the imam's voices. People are barely aware that other, more tolerant forms of Islam exist," said Oteibi. (Newsweek)
  • Push the Princes - Stephen Schwartz
    The brutal murder of Paul Johnson was just the latest atrocity by terrorist Wahhabis - extremist acolytes of the hate cult that's rooted in the heart of the Saudi state. The Saudi royals are more afraid of democratic dissenters than of the terrorists. Exiled liberal Saudis believe the Saudi hardliners brought al-Qaeda back into the kingdom as a warning to forward-looking Saudis, and to external critics: If you try to force change in Saudi Arabia, you will get something worse. But something worse may not be conceivable, because the friends of al-Qaeda already hold power in the kingdom. Quiet diplomacy and pressure behind the scenes has not worked since 9/11, and it won't work now. It's way past time to get tough with the desert rats who rule the Saudi kingdom. (New York Post)
  • Iran Ups the Nuclear Ante - Shmuel Bar
    The international pressure on Iran to accept further restrictions on its nuclear program and to publicly reveal its nuclear activities so far is causing a backlash in Tehran. Iran is seeking to deter strategic rivals by radical rhetoric, implied willingness to endorse "popular resistance" (i.e. terror), and a projection of an image of a nation which cannot be intimidated or deterred. In this context, the regime promotes the readiness of the Iranian public to absorb the most extreme damage and the Iranian soldier's readiness for self-sacrifice. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Policy & Strategy, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Access/Middle East)
  • Observations:

    Hopeless in Gaza - Charles A. Radin (Boston Globe)

    • Gaza is a place overflowing with people, poverty, nationalism, extremism, and corruption. It has been that way for decades. It is difficult to imagine peace here, or even order, in the foreseeable future.
    • Gazans' desire for vengeance on ''the Jews," as most refer to the Israelis, runs deep. Their contempt for the Palestinian Authority is total. Hamas is far and away the most popular organization in Gaza, and it is devoted to the destruction of the Jewish state.
    • Abu Hamid, 75, described the effect on his life of the PA taking control of the Gaza Strip in 1994: In the first intifada, the 1987-92 round of fighting with Israel that occurred before Arafat returned from exile in Tunis and the PA took over Gaza, ''Israel hit us badly, but they supplied food, they let us work in Israel, and things continued. When these people [the PA] came, they brought poverty, death, and corruption, and when the second [current] intifada came, everything collapsed."
    • Complaints about corruption are heard at all levels of Gazan society. It is impossible to do business or get a job here without paying off the people who run the PA, either by hiring a well-connected middleman to land a job, or accepting a nonworking PA man as a business partner and allowing him to rake off half the profits in return for making sure necessary permits are issued.

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