Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 17, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Saddam Agents on Syria Border Helped Move Banned Materials - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
    Saddam Hussein periodically removed guards on the Syrian border and replaced them with his own intelligence agents who supervised the movement of banned materials between the two countries, U.S. investigators from the Iraq Survey Group have discovered, fueling speculation that Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before March 2003.
    After border inspectors were sent away, there was a movement of trucks in and out of Syria suspected of carrying materials banned by UN sanctions.
    There is evidence of unusually heavy truck traffic into Syria in the days before the U.S.-led invasion.
    The U.S. spotted the truck traffic via satellite imagery before the war.

Arafat "Heaped Cash" on Cronies - Justin Sparks and Tom Walker (London Times-Honest Reporting)
    Arafat has enriched a privileged inner circle of cronies and salted away billions of dollars in secret bank accounts, according to his former treasurer.
    Jaweed Al-Ghussein, 74, described last week how, during his 12 years as chairman of the Palestine National Fund, the financial arm of the PLO, he gave Arafat a monthly check for $10.25m - amounting to $123m every year.
    He was told the money was being spent on the Palestinian movement's paramilitaries and on families who had lost "martyrs" in the struggle.
    Arafat would hand bodyguards wads of cash from a briefcase he kept in his office and instruct them to take it to individuals he had decided to help.
    Each day the briefcase would be refilled from bank accounts that Arafat controlled.
    Al-Ghussein believes investigations should be carried out into many contracts awarded by the PA to Arafat's friends.
    "Before Oslo these people had no money. Now look at them," he said.

Rajoub Says Dahlan Stole $30 Million (Itim/Ha'aretz)
    Arafat's national security chief Jibril Rajoub accused former PA minister Mohammed Dahlan of embezzling $30 million in public money, in an interview in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Useful Reference:

The Leading Palestinian Terrorist Organizations (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
    A new comprehensive overview.

Key Links

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Rockets Bring Death and Destruction
    Avi Yehudai's house in the Israeli town of Sderot was hit two weeks ago by a Kassam rocket, fired from the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun, three miles away. His daughter's bedroom was destroyed. Cracks are visible in the walls of his house and its front needs rebuilding. Fortunately, the house was empty when the rocket hit. More than 300 of the rockets have been fired and about 70 have landed in Sderot, including five in Rekefet Street.
        Tamar Trabelski, a teacher and mother of four, said: "This street has been hit five times. When it happens it feel like the whole town is exploding. Fixtures fall off the wall and the children start crying....We feel we are very much on the frontline." Mrs. Trabelski sees no parallel between her fears for her children and the fears of a Palestinian mother. "The army is only there [in Beit Hanoun] because they were firing the missiles at us." (Guardian-UK)
  • U.S. Renews Calls For Syrian Withdrawal From Lebanon
    Vincent Battle, the U.S. ambassador to Beirut, told the Lebanese daily An-Nahar Monday that it "was time the Syrian army withdrew from Lebanon" so that the country "could enjoy total sovereignty." Walid Maalouf, a member of the U.S. delegation to the UN who is of Lebanese extraction, told An-Nahar Monday: "Lebanese foreign policy is subjected to that of Syria....We have been able to observe at the UN that Lebanese diplomats do not take the slightest initiative but simply wait for the orders of Syrian diplomats."
        Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), who headed a U.S. congressional delegation which met the Lebanese and Syrian presidents, said that more than 10 years after the end of the Lebanese civil war and with Israeli forces no longer present in Lebanon, Syrian troops should withdraw and the Lebanese be given control over their security. (AFP/Turkish Press)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: Iran Seeking Nuclear Warheads
    Iran plans to arm its missiles with nuclear warheads, according to Israel Air Force chief Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedi, who told Army Radio that not just Israel is threatened but the entire world. Iranian officials said Sunday they can now strike anywhere in Israel with their latest missile. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • UN: Arab Countries, Israel to Attend Forum on Nuclear-Free Mideast
    The International Atomic Energy Agency will host a conference next January, including Israel and Arab states, to discuss steps to make the Middle East into a zone free of nuclear weapons, the agency's director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, said Sunday. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Web Scanner Can Detect Terror Content - Yuval Dror
    Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev reported Sunday that they have developed a system that can identify 95% of Internet pages with terrorism-related content. According to Dr. Mark Last of the Department of Systems Information Engineering, the system uses pattern recognition to locate users affiliated with terror organizations and new sites set up by terrorist elements. The development has great importance in view of the considerable use of the Internet in coordinating and orchestrating terror acts. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Won't Be Fooled Again - James Bennet
    Sharon's story has become Israel's story, and today's Israel - with its won't-be-fooled-again attitude about any warm peace with Arabs - is Sharon's Israel. Capitalizing on a White House that has chosen to view the world much as he does, he is trying to gird Israel for a conflict - not merely with the Palestinians - whose end he cannot foresee. Israel now has peace agreements with two of its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan. ''But these are agreements between leaders,'' Sharon said. ''There is no peace between nations or peoples. And the main problem is that the Arabs are not ready recognize the birthright of the Jewish people to have an independent Jewish state in the homeland of the Jewish people.'' To Israelis, Arafat walked away from Camp David because he wanted, and wants, to destroy Israel, not build a state beside it. (New York Times Magazine)
  • The Weird Right of Return Coalition - Ben Dror Yemini
    Following World War II, 11 million ethnic Germans living in Poland and Czechoslovakia were unceremoniously given one-way tickets and told never to return. Within a few years they were totally absorbed into Germany, ceased being refugees, and disappeared from the headlines - no UNRWA, no refugee camps, just Germans living in Germany. The German left has always rejected any talk of right of return or compensation, claiming that any such attempt would re-ignite dormant nationalistic passions best forgotten, and that a new reality has been created and must be respected.
        However when it comes to the Middle East, elements of the German left support the right of the Palestinians to return to a home they have not lived in for over fifty years. This week Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visited Poland where he gave a resounding no to any talk of right of return or compensation. (Maariv International)
  • Divest Terror - Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
    The U.S.'s leading public pension funds are heavily invested in some 400 publicly traded companies that do business with terrorist-sponsoring regimes - providing them with lifeblood in the form of vital resources, high technology and cash, according to a report by the Center for Security Policy. The top 100 U.S. public pensions hold stock of such companies worth roughly $200 billion, which helps them do upwards of $73 billion worth of projects in states like Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and North Korea. Cutting off such business could hurt the bad guys in material ways. (Washington Times)
  • How the PLO Suppresses the News - Jeff Jacoby
    According to veteran Arab reporter Khaled Abu Toameh, no credible, professional reporter can get a job at the three major Palestinian newspapers. "There are many professional Palestinian journalists," he told the Middle East Forum last April, but they can only find work with the non-Palestinian press. (Boston Globe)
  • Censoring the Olympics - Amir Taheri
    The Greek organizers of this summer's Olympics claim that more women athletes are competing than ever before. Seen from the Muslim world, however, the Athens game will look like a male-dominated spectacle in which women play an incidental part. According to officials in Athens, the number of Muslim women participating in this year's games is the lowest since 1960. Several Muslim countries have sent no women athletes at all; others, such as Iran, are taking part with only one, in full hijab. State-owned TV networks in many Muslim countries, including Iran and Egypt, have received instructions to limit coverage of events featuring women athletes at Athens to a minimum. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Understanding Arafat Before His Attempted Rehabilitation - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The internal crisis in the Palestinian Authority over the leadership of Yasser Arafat has resulted in renewed efforts on his part to present himself at the end of the day as the only realistic partner for moving forward in the peace process.
    • Arafat's hope for rehabilitation has many sources. According to diplomatic officials, the Quartet is thinking of reintroducing Arafat into Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations after the U.S. elections, despite longstanding U.S. and Israeli opposition to such a move. French President Jacques Chirac noted at a June NATO summit that Arafat was "probably the only person who could impose compromise on the Palestinian people." Furthermore, former President Bill Clinton told the Guardian on 20 June 2004 that Arafat is so influential in the Palestinian territories that America and Israel have no choice but to work with him if they want Mideast peace.
    • However, what emerges from a careful analysis of his statements since the outbreak of Palestinian violence in September 2000 is that Arafat has not abandoned his aspirations to bring about the destruction of the State of Israel, and he continues to view demographics as a prime vehicle for achieving this goal. Incorporating Arafat in the peace process will likely produce again the same negative consequences as were reached in the period from 1993 through 2000.

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