Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 17, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

The Iran-Hizballah Connection - Edward T. Pound (U.S. News)
    In the summer of 2003, Iranian intelligence agents in Tehran began planning to kill Paul Bremer, then the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, on the second anniversary of 9/11, according to a classified American intelligence report.
    A review of thousands of pages of intelligence reports reveals the critical role Iran has played in aiding some elements of the anti-American insurgency.
    American officials say Iran has provided funding, safe havens, training, and weapons to several terrorist groups, including Lebanon-based Hizballah.
    Six of the Hizballah terrorists indicted in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that claimed the lives of 19 U.S. servicemen, "directly implicated" senior Iranian government officials "in the planning and execution of this attack," former FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote last year.
    The dissident Iranian group Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (MEK) told American intelligence officers that Hizballah collected information on American and British troops in Iraq, photographed them, then sent the information to Qods Force commanders in Iran.
    Hizballah had some 800 operatives in Iraq as of last January, including assassination teams.
    The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad warned U.S. intelligence officials in October 2003 that Hizballah planned to set up a resistance movement that would cause mass casualties, according to a report prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Syria "Colluding" with U.S. Enemies - Edward T. Pound (U.S. News)
    A senior Defense Department official complained in an interview that "elements in the Syrian" government "are actively colluding with our enemies."
    He says that "extremists in Iraq are using Syria as a place to organize and to get support and to flow back and forth across the border, and we believe this is tolerated by the Syrian government....This means they share responsibility for the killing of Americans, and this has to stop."

Saudi Threat to End British Arms - Dominic O'Connell and Paul Durman (Times-UK)
    The Saudi authorities have warned the British government that British companies will receive no further contracts if any member of the royal family is embarrassed by the investigation into alleged accounting irregularities in contracts between BAE Systems, Britain's largest defense contractor, and two travel agency firms.
    BAE Systems is alleged to have footed £17m of expenses run up by Prince Turki bin Nasser, the Saudi minister responsible for negotiating arms purchases from Britain, including the cost of private jets and grand suites in luxury hotels.


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  • Hamas Rejects Palestinian Leader's Pleas for Cease-Fire
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza dismissed on Tuesday a call from interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to halt attacks in the run-up to a Jan. 9 election to replace Arafat. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Militants to Back Off Before Palestinian Vote
    Nablus Al-Aqsa commander Nasser Juma'a and senior Islamic Jihad political spokesperson Abu Khaled both said their organizations are ready to call a ceasefire until Jan. 9, although beyond the borders of pre-1967 Israel, they say, the uprising will continue with "resistance as usual." "We will refrain from attacks inside Israel for 60 days so that we will not be accused of destroying the democratic process inside Palestine," said Abu Khaled.
        Meanwhile, senior Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said in Gaza, "We don't care what the others say. Whenever there is a need to defend our people, we will do so." (Toronto Star)
  • Power Struggle Broadens Palestinian Race
    A power struggle is brewing in the ruling Fatah party ahead of the Jan. 9 election. Elder statesman Mahmoud Abbas, 69, the establishment candidate, has been picked to lead the PLO and plans to run for president, but he does not have the following Arafat did. With Arafat gone, younger Palestinians, who have long felt underrepresented in the main Fatah decision-making bodies, are considering a challenge.
        In addition, Monib al-Masri, 66, a billionaire industrialist and longtime friend of Arafat, is considering running. "We need a man who can take care of our economic growth," al-Masri said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Arafat Critic, Loyalist Declare Candidacies
    Abdel-Sattar Qassem, 56, who teaches political science at al-Najah University in Nablus, said he was running to fight corruption that he had long criticized under Arafat's rule. Talal Seder, 50, an Islamist from Hebron who was once Arafat's sports minister and more recently an adviser on religious affairs, said he would "follow in the footsteps" of Arafat. (Reuters)
  • Group Says Iran Has Secret Nuclear Arms Program
    An Iranian opposition group, the National Council for Resistance in Iran, says it has new evidence that Iran is producing enriched uranium at a covert Defense Ministry facility in Tehran that has not been disclosed to UN inspectors. The group says that inspection of the site would demonstrate that Iran is secretly trying to produce nuclear weapons even while promising to freeze a critical part of its declared nuclear program. The group was the first to disclose the existence of the then-secret Iranian nuclear site at Natanz in 2002. (New York Times)
  • Head of CARE International in Iraq Believed Slain by Captors
    Relatives of aid worker Margaret Hassan said Tuesday they believed her captors in Iraq had killed her, four weeks after she was kidnapped in Baghdad. Hassan's Iraqi husband, Tahseen Ali Hassan, told the BBC that a videotape appeared to show her death. Irish-born Margaret Hassan, 59, who headed CARE International in Iraq for the last decade, had lived in Iraq for 30 years and was a convert to Islam. Her siblings described her as a "friend of the Arab world." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Probe: Oil-for-Food Money Went to Palestinian Bombers' Families
    Money from the UN Oil-for-Food program helped pay the families of Palestinian homicide bombers, the House Committee on International Relations is expected to reveal during a hearing Wednesday. Investigators will reveal that some of the bounties of $15,000 to $25,000 that Saddam paid to the Palestinian families of bombers who attacked Israeli citizens were deposited from illegal profits Saddam made from 10% kickbacks on contracts of the UN's Oil-for-Food program. The funds were deposited into the Central Bank of Iraq account in the Rafidain Bank in Amman, Jordan, and then transferred to another account in the bank controlled by Iraq's ambassador to Jordan Sabah Yaseen. (FOX News)
  • Chirac Sees No Gain for Blair on Mideast and Israel
    French President Jacques Chirac told the London Times Tuesday that Britain has gained nothing from its support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Chirac said he had urged Britain before the invasion to press President Bush to revive the Middle East peace process in return for London's support. "Well, Britain gave its support but I did not see much in return," said Chirac. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades Threaten to Hang PA Men Suspected of Corruption - Arnon Regular
    Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades groups in the northern West Bank threatened Tuesday to establish "revolutionary courts" in order to try PA figures and Fatah officials who served under Arafat that are suspected of corruption. The announcement by the group included the names of senior PA figures and those who had held senior positions in the past who were allegedly involved in corrupted dealings, and said: "We are expecting substantive and quick results within one month. If this does not happen, the Brigades will use their rifles to put an end to all expressions of corruption. They will take the law into their own hands and will establish revolutionary public courts and hanging scaffolds in city squares." The announcement, headed by a demand to reveal the causes of Arafat's death, was written as an open letter to PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Al-Aksa Challenges Abbas's Leadership - Matthew Gutman
    "If [Abbas] subsequently goes back on our unalterable demands - a state on pre-1967 lines, its capital in Jerusalem, the right of return of refugees, and the release of prisoners - we will not recognize him," Al-Aksa's Jenin chief Zakariya Zubeidi told the British Financial Times. "I believe that people can get killed when their people believe they are surrendering them to the enemy," said Nablus Al-Aksa leader Nasser Juma'a. Juma'a said that since Arafat's illness the group has received "not a single shekel," but noted that if the PA "makes us feel good and includes us in decisions and shows us respect, then we might change our position." (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Navy is Well Prepared - Ze'ev Schiff
    The foreign submarine that secretly entered Israel's territorial waters and quickly left upon being discovered by the Israel Navy was probably American or French, experts say. The possibility that it was Iranian, Egyptian, or Syrian has been ruled out completely. The sub was discovered fairly quickly by the navy, which took the necessary steps to make it withdraw. Those who sent it can conclude that Israel's navy is well-prepared. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Out of the Barrel of a Gun - Shlomo Avineri
    The future Palestinian leadership will not emerge out of the ballot box, regardless of whether PA elections take place on Jan. 9. The system imported by Arafat and his Tunis colleagues nipped in the bud whatever promises of an open society might have emerged in the Palestinian autonomous areas. Like other Arab potentates from Syria to Egypt to Algeria, the Palestinian Authority became a typical mukhabarat - secret police - regime. Dennis Ross recounts that when Arafat was asked why he needed seven security services, his answer was: "But Mubarak has 12!" There is no realistic chance that the Palestinians will develop a uniform and transparent security structure. The plethora of security services was not a sign of misadministration or bureaucratic inefficiency. It was the secret, the very foundation of Arafat's rule.
        Arafat's authoritarian rule has become deeply embedded in Palestinian life, which, like other Arab societies, still lacks most of the ingredients of a civil society: pluralism, tolerance, civil courage, non-conformism, and the theoretical and institutional anchoring of individual responsibility. All this will not change overnight. The writer is professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • These People Deserve a State? - Yosef Goell
    There is no doubt that the frenzied mobs of tens of thousands of uncontrollable young men who prevented the unloading of Arafat's casket from the helicopter in Ramallah truly mourned their leader. They chose to express that mourning in an ethos of savagery, many frenziedly firing AK-47 assault rifles. By contrast, the pre-funeral rites for Arafat at Cairo's airport were conducted with exemplary order and formal respect because Mubarak's moderate but effective military dictatorship ordered that it be so, and kept the Egyptian populace away from the airport. Nor are such armed mobs permitted in the Jordanian, Syrian, and other Arab dictatorships.
        The problem all along was not merely the murderer Arafat but the Palestinian people whom he truly represented and led. It is a population with an unprecedentedly high proportion of violence-prone young men. Such a population does not deserve an independent state, even if it does hold superficially democratic elections. Such an armed independent state would constitute a great danger to Israel, to the surrounding Arab world, and to the stability of the Middle East and the world as a whole. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egyptian Columnists Do Not Regret Arafat's Death
    Anwar Wagdi, a columnist for the Egyptian government weekly Akhbar Al-Youm, wrote on November 6, 2004: "I have not forgotten, and will not forget, as long as I live, how Arafat jumped for joy, dancing, singing, and praising [the killers] as soon as he learned of the death of the late Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat." (MEMRI)
  • Observations:

    The Cliches about Arafat - Yair Sheleg (Ha'aretz)

    • Arafat succeeded in placing the Palestinian issue in the limelight not through his political skills, but rather thanks to the unbridled terrorism he instigated. Grabbing attention that way is a no-brainer. Admiring his ability "to place the Palestinian problem on the world map," without expressing reservations about the methods by which he did so, is morally equivalent to admiring Osama bin Laden's ability to accomplish something similar.
    • We must no longer put up with the notion that the weak are not subject to any moral restrictions. The Jewish people and the State of Israel possess the utmost moral justification for such a demand: It is doubtful whether in the course of human history there has been another people like the Jewish people in the 20th century for whom achieving sovereignty was not just a matter of national honor and identity, but an existential question.
    • During the Jewish people's struggle for independence, most Jews chose to focus their efforts on constructive building of a nation and its defense, and the pre-state organizations that subscribed to "armed struggle" (Etzel and Lehi) limited their terror to attacking British soldiers and institutions.
    • Israel is fully within its moral rights to demand that the Palestinians restrict the methods of their struggle and to insist that the nations of the world address that demand with the Palestinians.

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