Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 23, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Heads of Israeli Intelligence Warn: Iran Will Have Nuclear Capability in Three Years - Itamar Eichner (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew; 22 July 2004)
    Iran is likely to achieve a nuclear capability in three years, the heads of the Israeli intelligence community warned the security cabinet Wednesday.
    According to the Annual Intelligence Assessment, the greatest threat to Israel's existence comes from Iran: the Iranians are likely to reach "the point of no return" in the year 2007.
    The implications: if nothing is done in three years, it will be too late to prevent Iran from equipping itself with nuclear weapons.
    With that, the date is not absolutely certain: two years ago Israeli intelligence estimated that Iran would be armed with nuclear weapons in 2005.
    See also below Commentary: Iran's Nuclear Program

Security Warnings Up Sharply - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli security officials Thursday warned of a sharp increase in the number of terror threats compared with several weeks ago.
    Israel is now facing 57 daily terror attack warnings, compared with 30 to 35 last month.

Palestinians Trying to Block Gaza Missile Launch Shot by Terrorists - Uri Glickman and Marwan Atamna (Maariv-Hebrew)
    A Palestinian boy, 15, was shot to death and five members of his family were wounded by Palestinian terrorists in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza on Friday when they refused to allow the terrorists to launch a Kassam rocket at Israel from next to their home.

Hizballah Confirms Assisting Palestinian Militants - Matthew Kalman (Toronto Globe and Mail)
    Hizballah official Ghaleb Awwali, 40, died when he turned the ignition key in his car in Beirut on Monday, triggering a powerful explosive device.
    At his funeral on Tuesday, Hizballah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged that Awwali was responsible for covert assistance to Palestinian militants.
    Awwali was "among the team that dedicated their lives in the last few years to help their brothers in occupied Palestine," Nasrallah said. "We do not want to hide this truth. We want to declare it and boast about it."
    In the West Bank city of Nablus, leaders of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the terrorist wing of Fatah, said they speak to their Hizballah handlers by telephone almost daily.

Arafat's Pilfered Profits - Rachel Ehrenfeld (
    Arafat is determined to maintain control over the situation because he holds the keys to the vault.
    Jawad Ghussein, who was secretary-general of the Palestinian National Fund until 1996, said this week in London, "the billions Arafat has stolen over the years from the Palestinian people facilitated the corruption of the Palestinian leadership, and is the source of his power over them."
    Arafat "took aid money and contributions that were earmarked for the Palestinian people, to his own account."
    For twelve years, Ghussein deposited $7.5 to $8 million each month into Arafat's personal bank account.
    In 1996, Arafat's wife Suha arrived in Buenos Aires with $30 million in cash that she invested in a business with other Palestinians.
    As of August 2002, Arafat's personal holdings were reported to total $1.3 billion, including $500 million of the PLO's money.

NY Congressmen Lead Effort to Prohibit Aid to Saudis - James DeWeese (Flushing [NY] Times Ledger)
    In a move aimed at sending a message to the Saudi Arabian government, the House of Representatives last week voted to prohibit foreign aid to the Middle Eastern monarchy, in a move led by three New York congressmen.
    The amendment, introduced by U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens), and Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), passed the House in a 217-191 vote.
    Crowley said he expected the amendment to be stripped from the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill when it reached the Senate, but by then the message will already have gotten through.

Poll: 74% of Americans Oppose PA Aid Package - Melissa Radler (Jerusalem Post)
    An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose sending $213m. in annual aid to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a new poll found.
    In a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted on July 14-15 by McLaughlin Associates, 74% said they oppose the Bush administration's annual aid package to the Palestinians, while just 10% said they support it.
    The poll also found that 77% of Americans oppose the idea of stationing U.S. troops in the West Bank and Gaza, while 13% support it.

PA Blocks Israeli Humanitarian Gesture (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories/IMRA)
    Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav, in coordination with the security establishment, decided Thursday to open the Nitzana border crossing to enable 2,000 Palestinians to return to Gaza who are currently stuck in Egypt because of the closing of the Rafiah crossing due to the security situation.
    However, the PA has decided to block this humanitarian initiative and are preventing the stranded Palestinians from entering Gaza.

New Israeli Weapon Targets Terrorists While Protecting Troops (AP/Toronto Globe and Mail)
    Israeli troops in Gaza are using a new weapon - a rifle and video camera mounted on a six-meter-high pole attached to an armored personnel carrier - for firing at Palestinian terrorists not visible from the ground, the Israeli military weekly Bamahane reported Thursday.
    Soldiers inside the vehicle use the camera to aim the rifle and then open fire on terrorists without exposing the soldiers to return fire.

Tourism Up 66% in First Half of 2004 - Dalia Naamani-Goldman (Jerusalem Post)
    Tourism to Israel in the first six months of 2004 increased 66% over last year, totaling 673,900 people, the Ministry of Tourism announced Tuesday.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • 9/11 Report Cites Lapses Across Two Presidencies
    The Clinton and Bush administrations failed to grasp the gravity of the threat from al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and left counterterrorism efforts to a disparate collection of uncoordinated, underfinanced, and dysfunctional government agencies, the commission on the attacks said in its final report published Thursday. "Across the government, there were failures of imagination, policy, capabilities and management," said the report. (New York Times)
        See also Summary of Final Report (New York Times)
        See also Report Urges New Strategy on Muslims
    The final report of the Sept. 11 commission includes a call for a broad rethinking of American foreign policy toward the Arab and Muslim world, declaring that the U.S. needs "a preventive strategy that is as much, or more, political as it is military,'' and that reshapes its approach to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Crucial to the strategy is ensuring that terror groups cannot find sanctuary in "the least governed, most lawless places in the world." The commission recommends that "the U.S. government must identify and prioritize actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries," and "have a realistic strategy to keep possible terrorists insecure and on the run." The commission report called the Saudis "a problematic ally in combating Islamic terrorism,'' though acknowledging that they are now "locked in mortal combat with al-Qaeda."  (New York Times)
        See also below Commentary: The 9/11 Commission Report
  • Saudi State-Linked Charities May Have Backed al-Qaeda Against U.S.
    Charities with Saudi Arabian government links may have diverted funds to al-Qaeda, which staged the September 11 attacks on the U.S., a national commission probing the strikes said. While it found no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials had funded the organization, "this conclusion does not exclude the likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to al-Qaeda," the commission said. "Al-Qaeda found fertile fund-raising ground in Saudi Arabia." (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Sharon: No EU Peace Role Without Attitude Change
    Israel sees no EU role in Middle East peacemaking without a big change in attitude after EU states backed a UN resolution against Israel's West Bank barrier, Prime Minister Sharon said Thursday. Sharon told EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Jerusalem that a World Court ruling that the barrier should be torn down "could be understood that Jewish blood is worthless." "The main significance of this opinion, and the decision of the Assembly, is the granting of a green light to Palestinian terror," Sharon told Solana. (Reuters)
        See also Sharon to Solana: "We Will Continue to Build the Fence" (Prime Minister's Office)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Soldier Wounded by Palestinian Sniper - Uri Glickman and Marwan Athamna
    An IDF soldier was moderately wounded Thursday night by Palestinian sniper fire while manning a guard post in the settlement of Shavei Shomron in the West Bank. (Maariv International)
  • Three Islamic Jihad Terrorists Killed in Gaza - Yoav Stern
    Three Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed Thursday when an Israel Air Force helicopter missile hit their car in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Israeli security sources confirmed that the strike's target was Hazam Rahim, who had planned to carry out an attack in Israel in the coming days. Rahim was one of those responsible for the removal of the body parts of IDF soldiers killed in the neighborhood in May. (Ha'aretz)
  • Show of Force by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In Gaza City, thousands of Palestinians participated in a huge rally Thursday to demand reforms and an end to corruption in the PA leadership. The protest came amid growing tensions between rival Palestinian security services. Palestinian journalists reported that members of the National Security Force were preparing to launch a massive crackdown on former Gaza security chief Muhammad Dahlan's supporters. (Jerusalem Post)
        The rally was intended as a show of force by opponents of Musa Arafat inside Fatah, following two days of loudspeaker appeals in Palestinian refugee camps. Supporters of Musa Arafat had managed to muster only about 300 people at their own rally on Wednesday. Chanting "Try the symbols of corruption before the people tries them," the Thursday demonstration marched to the Palestinian Legislative Council building, spraying automatic gunfire in the air. Earlier, the armed militants said in a statement, "Our primary task now is to fight against corruption and corrupt people in the same way that we are struggling against the Israeli enemy." (AFP/Yahoo)
  • The PA Media on the Internal PA Crisis - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
    PA TV remains firmly in Arafat's control, as it repeatedly broadcasts various "Hail Arafat" style musical video clips. Dominating the print media this week are opinion articles openly critical of the PA leadership and the corruption, though most do not specify Arafat by name. However, many articles supportive of Arafat continue to be published.
        "We have no need for a symbolic formal government that cannot enforce any decision....We want...a strong government that will restore the Palestinian national project that has started to be consumed and shrunk through the treaty between the corrupt and the nouveau riche and the new possessors of power....What is needed is a bloodless overthrow which Yasser Arafat will impose against Arafat Yasser, if he wants to avoid a bloody coup by others - and they are many everywhere." - Hafez Al-Barghuthi, editor, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, 18 July 2004 (Palestinian Media Watch/IMRA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    The 9/11 Commission Report

  • 9/11 Report: Qaeda Planned Eilat Strike; Israeli Tackled Hijackers - Nathan Guttman
    According to the report by the September 11 commission, published Thursday, during the summer of 2001 Sheikh Mohammed proposed to Bin Laden that they try to recruit a Saudi air force pilot who would use a Saudi combat plane in an air attack on the southern resort city of Eilat.
        The report also elaborates on the story of the Israeli flying on American Airlines flight 11 who attempted to stop the hijackers from breaking into the cockpit before the plane plunged into the World Trade Center. Daniel Levin, 31, who had served in the IDF General Staff's elite reconnaissance unit, saw two of the hijackers getting up in order to enter the cockpit and take control of the plane. He tried to stop the two, but a third hijacker, sitting behind him, stabbed Levin. According to a telephone conversation from a stewardess aboard the plane, Levin was badly injured in the stabbing. (Ha'aretz)
  • Excerpts from the Report: Assistance from Hizballah and Iran to al-Qaeda
    Intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al-Qaeda figures after Bin Laden's return to Afghanistan. Khallad (Sheikh Muhammad) has said that Iran made a concerted effort to strengthen relations with al-Qaeda after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, but was rebuffed because Bin Laden did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia.
        In October 2000 a senior operative of Hizballah visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate activities there. He also planned to assist individuals in Saudi Arabia in traveling to Iran during November. In mid-November [2000] we believe three of the future muscle hijackers...all of whom had obtained their U.S. visas in late October, traveled in a group from Saudi Arabia to Beirut and then onward to Iran. An associate of a senior Hizballah operative was on the same flight that took the future hijackers to Iran. Hizballah officials in Beirut and Iran were expecting the arrival of a group during the same period.
        In sum, there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al-Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers. There is also circumstantial evidence that senior Hizballah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of these future muscle hijackers into Iran in November 2000. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of a remarkable coincidence.
        After 9/11, Iran and Hizballah wished to conceal any past evidence of cooperation with Sunni terrorists associated with al-Qaeda. A senior Hizballah official disclaimed any Hizballah involvement in 9/11. We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government. (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States)
  • More Evidence of an Iran/Al-Qaeda Connection - Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
    Eight months before the September 11 terror attacks, top conspirator Ramzi bin al-Shibh received a four-week visa to Iran and then flew to Tehran - an apparent stop-off point on his way to meet with al-Qaeda chiefs in Afghanistan, according to German law-enforcement documents. A U.S. intelligence analysis indicates that Iranian border inspectors were instructed not to stamp the passports of al-Qaeda members entering and exiting their country. (Newsweek)
        See also CIA Points to Continuing Iran Tie to al-Qaeda - Bill Gertz (Washington Times)

    Iran's Nuclear Program

  • Axis of Evil, Part Two - Charles Krauthammer
    One of the lessons being drawn from the Sept. 11 report is that Iran was the real threat. It had links to al-Qaeda, allowed some of the Sept. 11 hijackers to transit, and is today harboring al-Qaeda leaders. The single most urgent issue of our time is rogue states in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. There are only two things that will stop the Iranian nuclear program: revolution from below or an attack on its nuclear facilities. The regime is detested, but the long-awaited revolution is not happening, which makes the question of preemptive attack all the more urgent.
        Iran will go nuclear during the next presidential term. If nothing is done, a fanatical terrorist regime openly dedicated to the destruction of the "Great Satan" will have both nuclear weapons and the terrorists and missiles to deliver them. All that stands between us and that is either revolution or preemptive strike. Both of which, by the way, are far more likely to succeed with 146,000 American troops and highly sophisticated aircraft standing by just a few miles away - in Iraq. (Washington Post)
  • Experts: Force Would Delay, Not Destroy Iran Nuke Plans - Louis Charbonneau
    A military strike on Iranian atomic facilities would delay but not destroy the development of any nuclear weapons program, diplomats and analysts said. Gary Samore, director of studies at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, said, "Military action could delay the development of nuclear weapons, assuming they know the right sites. It could buy them a considerable amount of time." Israel Elad Altman, director of studies at the Institute for Policy and Strategy in Herzliya, Israel, said the French, German, and British "carrot and stick" approach had failed and sanctions were needed. "Iran needs sanctions that make them pay a price. If sanctions don't work, then they'll have to use military strikes," Altman said. (Reuters)

    The World Court Ruling and the Struggle for Israel's Legitimacy

  • The Real Danger of the Hague Ruling - Yossi Klein Halevi
    The real meaning of the court's decision is to delegitimize not Israel's right to self-defense but its right to claim any territory, even for self-defense, over the "green line." The danger of that decision is to create the legal groundwork for an imposed solution that would force Israel back to the 1967 borders, even without a peace agreement - Arafat's dream scenario. So the war Israel needs to fight now isn't so much over the decision itself but its premise: that all land beyond the 1967 border belongs by right to Palestine.
        In determining that Israel has no legitimate claim to any of the long-disputed territory it won in 1967 in a defensive war of survival, the court has, in effect, overturned UN Resolution 242, the basis of the land for peace formula. In a Middle East that celebrates acts of terrorism as sacraments and denies the most basic legitimacy to the Jewish story, from the existence of the Temple to the existence of gas chambers, it would be madness to return to the eight-mile-wide borders of 1967 - whose vulnerability, after all, tempted the Arab world to try to destroy Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The UN's Blinkers - Editorial
    Israel has long been the UN's favorite punching bag. About a quarter of the denunciations issued by the UN Commission on Human Rights focus on Israel. In the UN General Assembly, each year sees a ritual lineup of resolutions condemning Israel. The World Court's ruling was breathtakingly one-sided - all but ignoring the purpose for which the barrier was built: to stop Palestinian terrorist attacks inside Israel. If the General Assembly really wanted to advance the cause of peace, it would not be condemning Israel for responding to terrorism. It would be condemning Arafat for fomenting it. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • The UN: A Battering Ram to Pound Israel - Frida Ghitis
    Few doubted that the World Court would rule against Israel in the case of the West Bank barrier. That's because the UN has grown over the years into a battering ram with which to pound Israel. Most democratic nations did not want the UN's judicial arm to take on the highly politically charged case, but an anti-Israel bloc has grown inside the UN General Assembly, fusing the agendas of the Arab League, Muslim nations, and so-called nonaligned countries. The result is that when the name of Israel emerges for discussion, the outcome is preordained and often a travesty. This, of course, hurts Israel. But it also corrodes the credibility and moral standing of an institution that was supposed to stand for humankind's highest aspirations. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

    Other Issues

  • Time Has Come For a Long, Hard Look Inside the Palestinian Authority - Editorial
    For 56 years the Palestinians have been led from one disaster to another. The PA has to sort itself from the inside out. The mistakes that have been made have to be rectified, and accountability, transparency, and a more unified front must develop or the PA will hang by its own noose. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Potent Ingredients Stirred into a Dangerous Anti-Semitic Cocktail - Andre Glucksmann
    A left-wing anti-Semitism rages on French campuses (and European, and American ones) that, under the pretext of anti-Zionism, turns the Palestinian into an emblematic figure. He replaces the proletarian from the recent past as a symbol of all the oppressed on the planet, spearhead of the struggle against imperialism, capitalism, globalization, and so on. Israel's right to exist is called into question by numerous academics, militant environmentalists, anti-globalization activists, or more simply by the paleo-Marxists searching in vain for the next revolution.
        At the same time, a traditional anti-Semitism, shameful and repressed since the days of Vichy, Petain, and the collaboration with the war-time occupation, is sneakily rearing its head again - in particular within the old establishment and among French conservatives. A few slips here and there reveal that the Quai d'Orsay sees Israel as a weed planted in the heart of the "Arab world." Sadly, the reality of the day is that the rogue Islamists, the rising global Left, and the traditional anti-Semitism of European conservatives are mixing together in a dangerous cocktail for the Jews. (Scotsman-UK)
  • If al-Wahhab Was So Humane, Why Are Some of His Followers So Fanatical? - Michael J. Ybarra
    In the 18th century, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab and his army destroyed shrines and minarets throughout Islamdom. They even attempted to raze the dome over the Prophet Muhammad's own tomb in Medina. Wahhab created a religious movement that insisted on a return to the first principles of the Quran and the Hadith, the sayings of the prophet. He warred against fellow Muslims, whom he denounced as apostates, and wanted to tear down, sometimes literally, centuries of accretions to Islam. (Wall Street Journal)

    Weekend Features:

  • The BBC and the Middle East: The Documentary Campaign, 2000-2004 - Trevor Asserson and Cassie Williams
    In their Fourth Report on BBC coverage of the Middle East, issued in July 2004, BBCWATCH has analyzed all documentaries shown on BBC from late 2000 until June 2004. The principal findings are as follows: the BBC is running a campaign to vilify Israel, broadcasting a documentary critical of Israel every 2-3 months; 88% of documentaries on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict paint either a negative impression of Israel or (in 2 cases) a positive image of Palestinians; of 17 programs, only 1 was positive towards Israel. While the report concludes that there is no evidence that the BBC is anti-Semitic, the effect of the documentary campaign against Israel is the same, regardless of the motive. (BBCWATCH)
  • Fairness Overdue at Library Journal - Andrea Levin
    Libraries make important choices, such as which books to purchase, and librarians rely in part for title selections on the recommendations of such well-known book reviewers as Library Journal, which describes itself as the "oldest independent national library publication" read by "over 100,000 library directors." A look at Middle East-related commentary produced by Library Journal, however, suggests a striking pattern of laudatory, uncritical endorsement of patently one-sided books written by extreme critics of Israel. Unabashedly pro-Palestinian volumes and apologetics for anti-Israel terrorism are cast as non-partisan, balanced, informative, and "essential" reading. For librarians interested in balanced and objective reviews of books on the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is "highly recommended" that they look elsewhere. (CAMERA)
  • There's Wealth in Poverty - Larry Derfner
    One thing about writing stories about Arabs and their problems - you find yourself interviewing the solution-seekers in some of Israel's finest restaurants. I've been trying to work up a story about Israeli Beduin - about life at the bottom of Israel's socioeconomic ladder - and every Beduin activist I'm put together with seems to be living better than the last one. At one point I joined up with a party of Beduin school teachers and parents who were going down into the Ramon crater in a convoy of late-model 4X4s that cost $50,000 or more.
        The last Beduin activist I met lives in a shack and he told me how he hasn't worked in years. Then I saw this huge tractor-trailer worth hundreds of thousands of dollars parked in his yard. "Yeah, that's mine," he said. "I don't drive it now, though. I just lease it to drivers." Of course he doesn't work; people work for him. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Who's Defying the World Court? - James S. Tisch (New York Jewish Week)

    • In 1975, the ICJ issued an advisory opinion on Morocco's claim to the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara, finding the claim to self-determination by the indigenous Saharawi population to be superior. Morocco rejected the opinion and, thirty years later, negotiations continue on the status of Western Sahara. Sanctions were never enacted against Morocco for non-compliance.
    • Six years after the ICJ opinion, Morocco began to build a thousand-mile security barrier through the middle of Western Sahara to protect against Saharawi attacks. The 10-foot high earthen rampart is fortified with 1 to 2 million landmines that have killed or injured dozens of people.
    • In May 1973, New Zealand asked the ICJ to order France to end atmospheric nuclear testing in the South Pacific. France responded that it did not consider the court competent to hear the case, did not accept the court's jurisdiction, and would not participate in any proceedings.
    • In 1974, the ICJ ruled against Iceland's unilateral expansion of its exclusive fishing zone, following a complaint by Britain. Iceland disregarded the decision because fishing represented such a large part of Iceland's economy that it was considered a national security interest.
    • In 1984, after the U.S. lost the jurisdictional decision on a Nicaraguan complaint to the ICJ, Washington withdrew from the proceedings.
    • In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court disregarded an ICJ order to stay the execution in Arizona of Walter LaGrand, a German citizen.
    • Israel is adjusting the route of the security fence following the decision of its own highly respected Supreme Court, which balanced Israel's need to prevent suicide bombings with the humanitarian concerns of Palestinian civilians.

      The writer is Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

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