Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 18, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Syria Finances Insurgency War Against U.S. (Middle East Newsline)
    U.S. officials said Bashar Assad's regime used the state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria to relay hundreds of millions of dollars to Saddam Hussein loyalists in Iraq to finance the Sunni insurgency.
    The Commercial Bank held more than $1 billion in Saddam regime accounts on the eve of the war in March 2003.
    Over the last 18 months Damascus transferred up to $800 million of Saddam's assets to his senior aides, including ex-Iraqi vice president Izzet Ibrahim Al Douri, identified as the chief financier of the Sunni insurgency.

Arafat Took $2M a Month from Gasoline Sales - Margaret Neighbour (TIME-Scotsman-UK)
    Auditors investigating Arafat's finances discovered that he skimmed $2 million each month from the petrol industry, TIME magazine reported this week.

    See also The Money Trail - Arafat Family Values - Christopher Dickey and Dan Ephron (Newsweek)
    Arafat amassed billions to buy loyalty. An aide shadowed him everywhere with a bag of cash - as much as $2 million, according to a Palestinian diplomat.

Rumsfeld Urges a Latin Push Against Terror - Thom Shanker (New York Times)
    At a meeting with Western Hemisphere defense ministers Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cited the skill of the groups Hamas and Hizballah - which are on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations - in raising money in the region.
    He warned that smugglers' routes now used to move illegal workers toward the U.S. border could just as easily be used by terrorists.

Israel Navy Acquires Three New Fast-Class Ships - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Navy last week commissioned three Israeli-made Super Dvora Mk-III fast patrol ships to protect the coast and intercept terrorists.
    The ships have a range of 750 nautical miles and can remain at sea for 96 hours without resupply.

Arafat TV Tribute Angers Kuwaitis - Julia Wheller (BBC News)
    Kuwaiti MPs have called for an inquiry into the airing of a flattering documentary about Arafat, who is despised by many Kuwaitis for supporting Iraq's invasion of their country in 1990.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell: Iran Seeks Nuclear Missiles
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday that he had seen information suggesting Iran had been studying ways to adapt nuclear weapons for use on missiles. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Exiles Add to Claims on Iran Nuclear Arms
    The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance charged on Wednesday that Iran had bought blueprints for a nuclear bomb and obtained weapons-grade uranium on the black market. Paul Leventhal, of the Nuclear Control Institute in Washington, said, "Everything that came out initially about the Iranian clandestine program was from this organization." (New York Times)
  • Bush to Give $20M to Palestinians
    The Bush administration notified key congressional committees on Wednesday that it plans to give $20 million in aid directly to the Palestinian Authority "to jump-start the peace process," a senior congressional aide said. American aid typically goes through international groups that bypass the PA. (Reuters)
  • Conspiracy Theories Persist on Arafat's Death
    Unwilling to accept the official explanation that Arafat died of an illness, many Palestinians seem to favor the explanation that Israel, with help from a senior Arafat aide, poisoned him, a charge Israelis deny and many others have discounted. The French government went as far as it could on Wednesday to quash rumors that Arafat was poisoned. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei on Wednesday ordered an inquiry to determine the cause of Arafat's death. "In the Western media, you think this is paranoid conspiracy theories, but here in the Arab world, that is not the case at all," said Hishad Ahmed, a political scientist at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Examining Possibility Arafat Died of AIDS (Maariv International)
        See also The Cause of Arafat's Death
    The usually well informed French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine wrote that Arafat died of liver cirrhosis. Since this ailment is usually linked with heavy alcohol drinking, Arafat's family decided not to disclose the cause of his death. (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Apologizes after IDF Mistakenly Kills Three Egyptians Near Egypt-Gaza Border - Amos Harel
    Prime Minister Sharon apologized to Egyptian President Mubarak on Thursday after an IDF tank mistakenly killed three Egyptian policemen near the Egypt-Gaza border. "We must find ways to ensure it won't happen again," said Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim. The tank crew believed the three to be terrorists planting a bomb. (Ha'aretz)
        This region is characterized by frequent terrorist attacks against IDF forces and Israeli communities nearby, as well as by infiltration attempts and weapons smuggling into Israel to and from Egypt. (IDF)
  • U.S. to Continue Pressure on Damascus over Lebanon
    "We want to see the Syrian Army out of Lebanon," U.S. ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman said Tuesday in Beirut. Feltman said the U.S. wanted Lebanon to assert its sovereignty over all of Lebanese territory. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1559 in September calling on foreign troops to pull out of Lebanon. Feltman said the first step in implementing the resolution "is for the Lebanese Army to start redeploying to the south to prevent further katyushas being fired across the Blue Line" border with Israel. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • NATO Invites Israel to Joint Exercises - Aluf Benn
    NATO has suggested that the Israel Defense Forces, for the first time, take part in multinational military exercises and participate in anti-terror activities such as patrols in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. NATO is also considering sending forces to the Gaza Strip after Israel implements the disengagement plan, if Israel and the PA reach an agreement on the withdrawal and ask for NATO help. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • For Palestinians, a Sense that Arafat's Era Left Them Empty-Handed - James Bennet
    Israel has now dug three 100-foot-long underpasses beneath the security barrier in Kalkilya so that Palestinians can drive freely under Israeli roads to reach Palestinian villages to the north. As Israeli cars pass on the roads overhead, the Palestinians drive below them between rock walls 20 feet high surmounted by electrified fencing. It is a striking visual statement of the estrangement of the two peoples, a tangible display of the different dimensions they occupy in the same small space. Israeli officials say this separation will promote peace by permitting the two peoples to cool off. (New York Times)
        See also For Israelis, How Can Hope Be Restored? - Steven Erlanger
    While Arafat's passing may be seen as an opportunity by politicians, the bloodshed and suicide bombings of the past four years have broken Israeli optimism about peace. "It's not as simple as returning to Camp David or where we left off," said Tami Cohen. "What's lost is the basic belief that peace is attainable." (New York Times)
  • After Arafat, Palestinians Hope for Rule of Law - Ilene R. Prusher
    While Arafat was seen as the champion of Palestinian nationalism, he also came to represent corruption and dashed hopes for democracy. His passing has many Palestinians expecting a better caliber of leadership. "What we disagree with is the method of government in which personality supersedes the law and isn't beholden to it," says Jaber Asfour, a senior Fatah leader in the West Bank. But the bottom line, he says, is that "the young guards want to have a bigger share of the cake."
        "After Arafat, we are free. We can impose on the next Palestinian leader what we want, rather than having it imposed on us," says Sattam Mubarak, a student at Bir Zeit University. "We know that Israelis have internal freedom in their society, to move around as they wish and say what they like, and we want those freedoms, too." (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Arafat-Mania - Tom Gross
    For the Guardian, Arafat was to be compared to "Moses." On CNN, he was described as a "revolutionary romantic figure comparable to Ho Chi Minh and Nelson Mandela." Much of the Western media is still being taken in by the Stalin-like cult of personality Arafat nurtured for himself over the past 40 years. In scores of reports on both BBC and CNN, acts of terrorism were left completely unmentioned. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Moral Sickness of the World - Melanie Phillips
    The reaction of the free world to Arafat's death, along with the opprobrium heaped daily upon his victims in Israel, illustrates the decadence that now rewards evil and punishes those whom it terrorizes. It is a horrifying indication of a world that has simply lost its fundamental understanding of right and wrong. All who value life, liberty, and justice should take careful note and shudder at this moral - and mortal - sickness. This is the way a civilization dies. (
  • The Sins of Arafat: A Legacy of Death and Despair - Editorial
    Future historians, their view unclouded by contemporary politics, will rank Arafat in the same column as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Pol Pot. They will record for posterity his deliberate misdeeds that today remain shrouded by political passions, and they will note those who assisted, covered up, and apologized for Arafat's only accomplishment: the delivery of misery to millions. He devoted his entire life to accumulating as much wealth, power, and historical importance as possible while killing anyone who got in his way and caring nothing about the negative impact on his own people.
        No world leader of our time has been so enthusiastically embraced by decent people while presiding over the systematic murder of so many innocents - including scores of children deliberately targeted. (Manchester Union Leader)
  • Observations:

    How Britain Can Help Fight Terrorism - Rachel Ehrenfeld (National Review)

    • Although British Prime Minister Tony Blair rightly said, "Arafat came to symbolize the Palestinian national movement," he was wrong to say that Arafat "led his people to an historic acceptance of the need for a two-state solution." Arafat strived to eliminate the Jewish state, and that is what he left as a legacy to his people.
    • While the Bush administration is shutting down charitable organizations that support terrorism and has designated as a terrorist group the Hamas front: Palestinian Relief and Development Fund (Interpal), Britain keeps its branch of Interpal in business as the central fundraising organization for Hamas, not only in Western Europe but "worldwide."
    • To fight terrorism successfully, Britain must first stop the fundraising and propaganda campaign of Hamas. Cutting off Hamas's cash flow would prevent it from subverting the authority of the emerging Palestinian secular leadership, as well as its fueling further Muslim fundamentalism and anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

          See also Turning a Blind Eye to Hamas in London - Matthew Levitt (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)

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