Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 25, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Black Market Nuclear Probe Focuses on Syria - Douglas Frantz (Los Angeles Times)
    International investigators are examining whether Syria acquired nuclear technology and expertise through the black market network operated by rogue Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.
    Intelligence reports found that Khan and some associates visited Syria in the late 1990s and later held clandestine meetings with Syrian nuclear officials in Iran.
    Concerns were heightened after an experimental U.S. electronic eavesdropping device recently picked up signals indicating that Syria was operating centrifuges, which enrich uranium for possible use in nuclear weapons.
    Syria maintains one of the Middle East's largest arsenals of ballistic missiles, developed in cooperation with North Korea and other countries.
    Analysts also believe Syria possesses chemical and biological weapons.

Iraqis, Seeking Foes of Saudis, Contacted bin Laden, File Says - Thom Shanker (New York Times)
    Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990s were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq.

Senate Appropriations Panel Boosts Funding for Arrow Missile - Amy Klamper (GovExec.Com)
    The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved Tuesday a $416.2 billion fiscal 2005 Defense appropriations bill that adds $87 million for Arrow missile co-production.

Swiss Say Qaeda Suspects Used Country for Base - Fiona Fleck (New York Times)
    Associates of al-Qaeda used Switzerland as a financial and logistical base, Attorney General Valentin Roschacher said Thursday, adding that he was referring three cases to federal court for further judicial investigation.
    Roschacher said his team of federal investigators had identified 13 suspects in cases involving an Islamic charity, a human smuggling scheme, and an investment company.

Arms Hunter Fears Fiends Seek WMD - Deborah Orin (New York Post)
    The U.S. expert heading the weapons hunt in Iraq Thursday said he's worried that terrorists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are trying to get chemical weapons to use against U.S. troops.
    "We want to follow that very, very closely. I mean, this is one bad actor [Zarqawi]. And if he gets his hands on it, he'll use it," said Charles Duelfer, a former UN weapons inspector.
    Duelfer also said his team has now found 10 or 12 chemical-weapon rounds armed with sarin and mustard gas. Until now, only a few chemical rounds had been reported.

What the Saudi Public Really Thinks - Nawaf Obaid (Beirut Daily Star)
    A survey conducted in Saudi Arabia last year showed that while only 5% of respondents supported bin Laden as leader, 49% had a positive opinion of his rhetoric.
    One interviewee from a conservative southern province explained: "When we hear bin Laden railing against the West, pointing out the corruption and incompetence of the Arab governments and the suffering of the Palestinians, it is like being transported to a dream."
    But "when we see the images of innocent people murdered for this ideology, it's as if we've entered a nightmare."

Useful Reference:

Patterns of Global Terrorism - 2003 (U.S. State Department)
    Sixteen of the 35 U.S. citizens who died in international terrorist attacks in 2003 were killed by Palestinian terrorists.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Senate Joins House in Supporting Bush Position on Israeli Pullout from Gaza
    The Senate voted Thursday to embrace President Bush's support of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's plan to abandon his country's Gaza Strip settlements. By 95-3, senators approved nonbinding language that also said "it is unrealistic" for any peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians to require Israel to return to the borders that existed before the 1967 Mideast war. In addition, the resolution said a Palestinian state would have to be part of a "just, fair, and realistic framework" for peace - with Palestinian refugees settling there, not in Israel.
        Voting against the resolution were Sens. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.; James Jeffords, I-Vt.; and John Sununu, R-N.H. Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and John Kerry, D-Mass., did not vote. (AP/Providence Journal)
  • Arafat Agrees to Appoint Security Chief
    After weeks of prodding, the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has agreed to appoint an interior minister to take charge of security for the PA, Israeli and American officials said Thursday. The pending appointment of Taid Abdul Rahim for the post, and Arafat's agreement to consolidate a dozen armed groups into three divisions for the police, military, and intelligence under Rahim's control, appears to satisfy Israeli and Egyptian requirements for the Palestinians to take charge of security after Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip by September 2005. (New York Times)
        See also Arafat Refuses to Concede Powers - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Arafat does not intend to give up any of his prerogatives, Rouhi Fatouh, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, announced Thursday. PA officials said Arafat has agreed to reduce the number of security forces to three, but he insists on maintaining control over these forces. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Says It Will Renew Nuclear Efforts
    Iran made good on recent threats Thursday and announced that it will resume building equipment essential for a nuclear weapons program, despite its agreement with three major European powers. The decision does not violate international treaties that allow Tehran to make centrifuge parts for peaceful nuclear energy. But the move does break an agreement Iran signed with France, Britain, and Germany, in which it promised to suspend nuclear efforts as a goodwill gesture toward earning trade incentives with the EU. (Washington Post)
  • Attacks in Five Iraqi Cities Leave More Than 100 Dead
    Fighting raged in five cities across Iraq on Thursday as insurgents unleashed a surge of apparently coordinated attacks that killed at least 105 people and wounded hundreds more. Plumes of smoke boiled up from the streets of Falluja, Ramadi, Baquba, Mosul, and Baghdad as masked insurgents battled American and Iraqi security forces in what several officials said could be the opening salvo in a violent push to derail the June 30 transfer of sovereignty. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Army Told Not to Use Israeli Bullets in Iraq
    Israeli-made bullets bought by the U.S. Army to plug a shortfall should be used for training only, not to fight Muslim guerrillas in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. lawmakers told Army generals on Thursday. Since the Army has other stockpiled ammunition, "by no means, under any circumstances should a round (from Israel) be utilized," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, the top Democrat on a House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee with jurisdiction over land forces. The Army contracted with Israel Military Industries Ltd. in December for $70 million in small-caliber ammunition. (Reuters)
  • Bombings Rock Two Turkish Cities
    Small bombs exploded in Turkey's two largest cities Thursday in advance of a summit of leaders of NATO alliance countries that starts in Istanbul on Monday. One bomb was left in a package a few dozen feet from the entrance of the Ankara hotel where President Bush is scheduled to spend Saturday night. The second blast killed four people and injured 14 aboard a municipal bus in Istanbul. The fatalities included the bomber, a 20-year-old woman who was a member of a Marxist-Leninist militant organization. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Air Force Chief: "The Shihab-3 Missile Exists, Is Ready, and Can Reach from Iran to Tel Aviv" - Alex Fishman
    The new commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkeidi, was asked: "Iranian missiles with a 1,200 to 1,500 kilometer range already exist. The Shihab-3 is already an operational missile. Is there already a standing battery aimed at us?" Shkeidi: "The missile exists and is ready to reach from Iran to Tel Aviv." He was also asked: "The Saudis deployed F-15 aircraft at the Tabuq airfield, minutes from the Israeli border, contrary to agreements. Does this disturb you?" Shkeidi: "I am very disturbed. They were moved to Tabuq in violation of all agreements and decisions taken when they bought the F-15s....Again, this returns us to the distance between capabilities and intentions. And intentions in our region can change quickly." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 25June04)
  • IDF Launches Extensive Operation in Nablus - Amir Buhbut and Uri Glickman
    The IDF has embarked on an extensive operation to detain suspected terrorists in Nablus. (Maariv International)
  • Mubarak Reassures Egyptians He Will Return Soon - Herb Keinon
    President Hosni Mubarak, in Germany for treatment for a slipped disc, gave an interview to Egyptian television from his hospital room to reassure Egyptians that he will return home soon. The appearance seemed designed to counter rumors that Mubarak is seriously ill. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Think Tank Says Israel's Policy Has Negative Effect on World Jewry - Arik Bender
    The policy of the Israeli government has a negative effect on world Jewry - a report recently published by the Institute for Jewish People Policy Planning found. The chairman of the new institute, funded and founded by the Jewish Agency, is Dennis Ross, former chief U.S. negotiator for Middle East peace. The report accuses the Israeli government of not sufficiently thinking through the ramifications of its actions, especially to Jews and Jewish institutions abroad. They argue that Israel should see itself as the country of the entire Jewish nation, not just those who live in Israel. The solution they offer Israel is granting an official status to a consulting world Jewish body, which would take part in the decision-making process. (Ma'ariv)
        See also Jewish People Near Zero Growth - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Can of Worms - Gamal Nkrumah
    Saudi security forces killed al-Qaeda's reputed leader in Saudi Arabia Abdul-Aziz al-Muqrin in a gun battle last Friday. Al-Muqrin was quickly succeeded by Saleh al-Oufi, an ex-policeman and war veteran of Afghanistan. The quick succession suggests that there is no shortage of militant Islamist leaders in the country, and Saudi analysts believe al-Oufi to be an even more formidable foe of the Saudi authorities than al- Muqrin.
        The fact that a former policeman succeeded al-Muqrin as head of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia reinforced the widely-held suspicion that militant Islamists have infiltrated all strata of Saudi society including the royal family, the security forces, and the military establishment. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • Arab Women: Out of the Shadows, Into the World
    Saudi Arabia certainly presents male chauvinism at its worst. Yet it is a mistake to imagine, as many Westerners do, that Arab women as a whole suffer strictures as tight as their Saudi sisters. It is equally incorrect to judge the donning of veils and headscarves - attire that is optional everywhere save in Saudi Arabia and non-Arab Iran - to be a sign of exclusion. For some it is simply a personal expression of religious devotion; for others, a means of escape from the tyranny of fashion.
        It is even wrong to assume that life for the women of Saudi Arabia is necessarily hard. Boring, yes, and cluttered with minor annoyances, but also full of compensating richness. Many Saudi women take pride in the protectiveness, family-centeredness and Muslim piety of their society. Slowly but surely, too, the lot of Saudi women is improving, just as it has been for women in most Arab countries. (Economist-UK)
  • Anti-Semitism and Hypocrisy in Dutch Society - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    Verbal and violent anti-Semitism in the Netherlands is probably greater today than it has been during any other time in the last two centuries except the Nazi occupation. Excessive Dutch tolerance has become an incentive for crime. Developments in anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism are a good indicator of what is happening in Dutch society at large. Due to the relatively high crime rate among the Dutch Moroccan community and international Arab anti-Semitic hate propaganda, Jews are above average targets for their racists' behavior. Easily recognizable Jews often try to hide their identity in public. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israeli-Indian Food Moguls Vie for Overseas Kosher Market, IDF Contract - Sarah Bronson
    Reena Pushkarna has been called "the most successful Indian in Israel," "our beautiful Lady of Indian food," and "India's unofficial cultural envoy to Israel" by Israeli and Indian media. In September, she was part of Prime Minister Sharon's delegation to New Delhi, representing Indian immigrants to Israel. Now, Reena's face graces the boxes of packaged, frozen Indian foods as well. The Pushkarnas recently bought a Galilee-based food manufacturing plant and are producing Indian TV dinners both for export and local sales. This week the couple expect to sign a lucrative contract with the IDF, who will serve the packaged foods to soldiers. (Ha'aretz)
  • Ancient Rabbi Becomes a Modern Israeli Matchmaker - Joseph Berger
    Thousands of men and women in Israel look for love in a decidedly old-fashioned way: they pray at the tomb of a rabbi who has been dead for 2,000 years. Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel was a disciple of Hillel, the revered Talmudic sage of the first century BCE. There has evolved around him an unshakable belief that he can intercede for those desperate to find love. Every year, on the anniversary of his death in the Hebrew calendar, thousands of pilgrims visit his grave in the northern Galilee to recite Psalms. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Sharon's Disengagement Plan - Zalman Shoval
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Israel has chosen to act unilaterally for several reasons. First, there is no reliable partner on the Palestinian side. Second, under current circumstances, no formula appears capable of producing an eventual final agreement that would be acceptable to both sides. Therefore, Israel is trying to improve the situation by making tangible progress. The revised plan will allow Israel to improve its security and to decide for itself the scope of withdrawal, with U.S. backing.
    • The U.S. will be part of the process, and Egypt and Jordan are projected to play certain roles as well (e.g., as indirect leverage on the Palestinians). Any potential coordination with the Egyptians should be viewed as a positive sign (though not all Israelis agree with this sentiment).
    • Israelis also have their doubts about the Palestinians' true intentions. Although these suspicions are partly rooted in the failure of the 2000 Camp David summit, the subsequent peace talks at Taba, and the Oslo Accords in general, they are also informed by the cool reaction that many Palestinians exhibited toward the Geneva Accord (polls showed that only 25% of Palestinians believed the Geneva initiative could bring an end to the conflict).
    • Israel's unilateral withdrawal plans should also be viewed in light of President Bush's April 14, 2004, letter to Prime Minister Sharon which emphasized that Israel must have secure and recognized borders. The letter also mentioned that every agreement must be mutually accepted while reflecting the realities on the ground. Indeed, given the new realties on the ground, it is unrealistic to expect a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. Bush's letter also emphasized that the solution to the refugee problem should involve Palestinians returning to their own state rather than to Israel.

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