Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see


December 29, 2006

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Saddam Hussein's Hanging Seems Imminent - James Glanz (New York Times)
    A senior administration official said Thursday night that Iraqi officials had told the White House to expect the execution of Saddam Hussein on Saturday, Baghdad time.
    An Iraqi appeals court ruled Tuesday that Hussein must be sent to the gallows within 30 days.
    See also Saddam May Not Hang within Month: Iraqi Officials - Mariam Karouny (Reuters)
    Two senior officials told Reuters on Thursday that the execution would only happen within 30 days if Iraq's president issues a decree ordering an immediate execution - which seems unlikely.
    If he does not do so within that time, the Justice Ministry can carry out the sentence at any date of its choosing.

Israel Not to Free Palestinians Before Kidnapped Soldier's Release (Reuters)
    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not plan to free Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to Mahmoud Abbas for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Israeli political sources said on Friday.
    The sources said Olmert did not have sufficient support in his cabinet for the move.
    "It does not look as though there will be anything before [Cpl. Gilad] Shalit is out," said one political source.

Israel Launches Networked Border Data Base (UPI)
    The Israeli Police Tuesday launched a new nationwide border security network covering land crossings, harbors, and airports.
    The ROTEM system, deployed by Elbit Systems, locates names in a database using the sound of the name rather than the spelling.
    The system is also highly secure and survivable against cyber-attacks.

No Slowdown Yet for Israel's Property Boom - Neal Sandler (Business Week)
    Israel's high-end real estate market is sizzling, and even attracting developers such as Donald Trump., who plans to erect a 70-story Trump Plaza Tower in Ramat Gan, just west of Tel Aviv.
    Foreigners account for 30% of the luxury market, estimates Hanan Schlesinger, managing director at one of the country's largest real estate agencies.
    Foreigners have sunk more than $1 billion in Israeli real estate in 2006, much of it in the housing market.

Two Vietnam Universities Send Students to Israel for Agricultural Training (Than Nien News-Vietnam)
    The Ha Tay College of Agriculture and Nam Dinh Water Resources University will each send at least 10 students every year to the International Agricultural Training Center for a 11-month course.
    They will also get access to state-of-the-art agricultural technologies, advanced irrigation techniques, post-harvest technologies, and farm management.
    Thirty-one Vietnamese students are currently attending this program in Israel and the figure is expected to increase to 80 next year.

Israel's Population: 76% Jewish, 20% Arab (Ynet News)
    In its annual report published Thursday, the Central Bureau of Statistics revealed that at the end of 2006, 76% of Israel's residents were Jewish (5,393,600), 20% were Arabs (1,413,500), and 4% were of other nationalities (309,100).
    During 2006 some 19,900 new immigrants arrived in Israel, a number similar to 2004 and 2005.

Nefesh B'Nefesh Brings 10,000th Immigrant to Israel - Sharon Roffe-Ofir (Ynetnews)
    See also Heeding a Call to Duty, Jews Move to Israel - Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times)
    See also Britons Head for the Promised Land - Yonit Farago and Stephen Farrell (Times-UK)
    See also "We're Religious: Spiritual Essence Drives Us There" - Louisa Barnett (Times-UK)

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert - and want to share it with friends - please click "Forward" in your email program and enter their address.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Open to "Any Murmur of Peace" - Josef Federman
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday he is open to "any murmur of peace" from Israel's enemies. "If our enemies genuinely want peace, they will find in us a fair partner, determined to establish relations of peace, friendship, and reciprocity," he said. (AP/Fox News)
  • Two Senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Captured in Iraq - Slobodan Lekic
    Two Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq were senior members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' elite Qods force and had coordinated attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi civilians, Maryam Rajavi, who heads the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NICR), said Thursday. The group has provided relatively accurate information on developments in Iran over the past several years. In Washington, a Pentagon official said Thursday that the two Iranians "are involved in the transfer of IED technologies from Iran to Iraq." IED stands for "improvised explosive devices" that are commonly used in attacks in Iraq. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Somalia Forces Retake Capital from Islamists - Jeffrey Gettleman
    Islamist fighters abandoned Mogadishu, the Somali capital, as thousands of troops of the transitional government and the Ethiopian infantrymen who have been backing them marched into the city on Thursday in a stunning reversal of fortune. In five days, the internationally recognized government, that was marooned in a provincial market town, captured the capital and most of Somalia - with more than a little help from Ethiopia. The Islamists, whom many Western nations had considered a grave and growing regional threat with terrorist connections, were vanquished or at least removed from power.
        On Sunday, Ethiopia, with tacit approval from the U.S., carried out an aggressive counterattack against the Islamist forces after the Islamists had vowed to invade Somali-speaking areas of Ethiopia and wage a holy war against it. (New York Times)
  • British Watchdog Probes Charity Over Links with Hamas
    The Charity Commission, Britain's charity watchdog, is investigating reports that Interpal, a British-based charity group which the U.S. calls a terrorist organization, is actually funneling funds to Hamas, the commission said Thursday. In 2003, the U.S. government named Interpal a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, freezing its assets in the U.S. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • Pakistan Proposes Fence to Rein in Taliban in Afghanistan - David Montero
    First, Pakistan tried to fight the Taliban militia along its remote, craggy border with Afghanistan. Then it tried to make peace with them. This week, Pakistan announced a new solution to the problem on its western frontier: mines and fences along the Afghan border, designed to keep militants from crossing in and out of the tribal zone. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF to Expand Danger Zone Surrounding Gaza to 20 Km. Due to Improved Palestinian Rockets - Alex Fishman
    The Israeli army is preparing for the possibility that Palestinian armed groups will improve the range of the rockets they fire from Gaza. The IDF is drafting plans to expand the protection zone to 20 km., three time wider than currently. The plan includes the fortification of schools and strategic sites at a cost of $332 million. About 50,000 residents live within the current 7 km. zone, and expansion to 20 km. will bring that number to 162,000, including residents of the Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Netivot, and Ofakim. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians: Egyptian Arms Will Be Used Against Israel - Ali Waked
    The Popular Resistance Committees on Thursday warned that arms transferred by Egypt to Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement will reach its operatives who will use them against Israel. "In all the security services, including in the Presidential Guard, there are activists affiliated with all the Palestinian groups, including ours, and Hamas," said spokesperson Muhammad Abdel Al. "At least a third of the workforce in the security apparatuses are affiliated with resistance movements," he said. (Ynet News)
  • U.S.-Initiated Changes at Gaza-Israel Crossing Fuel Palestinian Export Boom - Dan Izenberg
    The number of trucks carrying export produce from Gaza has tripled in the past three months due to security and infrastructural improvements on the Palestinian side of the Karni crossing, a senior diplomatic official said Thursday. The official said the improvements were part of a plan initiated by Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, Washington's security coordinator for the Palestinians. The international community has raised $6 million to make the crossing safer and more efficient. The official estimated it would take one more year to complete the project at a total cost of $20 million. Security on the Palestinian side of the crossing was taken over six weeks ago by forces of Abbas' Presidential Guard. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket from northern Gaza toward Israel on Friday morning that landed near Sderot. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Terror Attack Warnings Continue - Efrat Weiss
    The Israeli security system currently has six specific warnings and another 10 general alerts regarding plans to carry out terror attacks. Most of the plans originate in the northern West Bank. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Bomb and Bombast: Iran Is Vulnerable to External Pressure - Editorial
    Iran's official reaction to the modest but unanimous UN Security Council resolution is a defiant pledge to "accelerate" the nuclear program that has exposed it to UN sanctions. But that does not make the resolution unimportant. Ten months after being referred to the Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran is finally on the council's formal watchlist. That guarantees one thing: Iran's nuclear ambitions will be the focus of concentrated international attention throughout 2007, at last given a prominence commensurate with the dangers they present.
        Iran has proved itself an energetic troublemaker, not only in Iraq but in Lebanon. Defiance will be costlier now. It is evident that the regime is even more dependent on oil revenues than the world is on Iranian oil - and Iran's oil industry, starved of foreign technology, is in trouble. (Times-UK)
  • Drop This Cherished Illusion - Yosef (Tommy) Lapid
    Does anyone really think it is possible to reach a settlement with the Palestinians that will guarantee peace between us? How can one not see the rift among them, their inability to administer their own lives, Fatah's helplessness, Hamas' abysmal hatred, the murderousness of the popular resistance organizations, the destructive influence of radical Islam, the interference of Iran, and the belief - so deeply rooted in almost every Arab heart - that, sooner or later, Israel will disappear off the map?
        Even if Israel agreed to withdraw to the 1967 borders (and it doesn't); even if Israel agreed to allow the refugees to return to Israel within the 1967 borders (and it doesn't); would Hamas ever recognize the right of a Jewish state to exist in the heart of the Muslim Middle East? True, anything is possible. But not in the foreseeable future. Not in this generation. And if not the Palestinians, then radical Islam will make sure there is no peace agreement with Israel. The writer is a former Israeli cabinet minister. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Moment of Truth in the Middle East - Nadav Tamir
    Historically, conflict in the Middle East was defined by the struggle between Israel and the Arab world. Today, a new conflict has emerged between pragmatic moderates and fanatical extremists. In this new conflict, Israel finds itself on the same side as the moderate Arab community. Both support the implementation of a two-state solution to resolve the ongoing issues surrounding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Moderate Arabs also call for the renunciation of terrorism, and progression toward modernity and enlightenment.
        On the other side of the divide stands an alliance of strong forces. Iran has proven to be a leader in promoting chaos and terrorism and exporting Islamic extremism throughout the Middle East. Syria cultivates an alliance of convenience with Iran in a desperate attempt to divert attention from its brutal machinations in Lebanon. Consequently, both Iran and Syria support Hizballah, Hamas, and other Palestinian terrorist organizations as proxies in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories.
        In the wake of the war between Hizballah and Israel, moderates in the Arab and Muslim world are beginning to grasp the danger of supporting these extremists. In the Arab world, there is a discernible fear of fundamentalism in moderate regimes, including Jordan, Egypt, the Gulf, and the Maghreb states. These nations are wary of Iranian ambitions and the dangers of a destabilizing extremist alliance. The writer serves as consul general of Israel to New England. (Boston Globe)
  • Syria Poised to Assert Itself - Seth Wikas
    Although Bashar Assad does not possess the same state-building skills as his father, the American quagmire in Iraq, Syria's strong ties to rising power Iran, and Damascus' support of Palestinian terrorist groups have all recently converged to offer Assad his first real opportunity to manipulate Middle Eastern affairs on a grand scale.
        Syria still plays a dominant role in Palestinian politics. With Hamas leader Khaled Meshal ensconced in Damascus, Assad is a welcoming host, allowing his guest to be the main arbiter in the formation of any viable Palestinian government. Damascus - with its influence over Hamas and Hizballah - continues to be the key to the settlement of a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors and the formation of a Palestinian state. The writer is a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Baltimore Sun)
  • A Disproportionate Response? The Case of Israel and Hizballah - Joshua L. Gleis
    In responding forcefully to Hizballah's provocation in the summer of 2006, Israel not only restored much of its deterrent capability, but did so against a weapon of the Iranian and Syrian militaries. Israel acted only after exhausting a number of other options over the decades, including everything from all-out invasion and regime change to quiet diplomacy and open negotiations.
        Israel's overall response was not disproportionate when considering the enemy Israel was fighting, the tactics Hizballah used, and the past unprovoked attacks that had been left unaddressed. Appeasement simply does not work when dealing with terrorist organizations. Hizballah is not interested in gaining a portion of land from Israel, but plans to continue fighting until "all" of "historic Palestine" is "liberated." The writer is a Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Studies at Harvard University. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Weekend Feature

  • Flood Chasers Throng to Judean Desert - Nir Hasson
    The Judean Desert was teeming with hikers who came to see the floods. "When you see the rain front reaching the Hebron and Jerusalem area, it's time to be on your way," says Ofer Ben Asher, of Tel Aviv, who has been going to the Judean Desert whenever there is a flood since 1991. "Floods are a thrill," says Ein Gedi Field School director Kitri Maoz. "On such a day the desert changes completely. If you go out to the desert today you're in for a treat," said Amir Balaban, the director of the bird watching station of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) in Jerusalem. "It's an hour from Jerusalem." The most popular spots were the large rivers crossing the Dead Sea road - Og, Dragot, Arugot, Hever, and Ze'elim. Also, one must not miss the waterfalls of Hatzatzon, Salvadora, and Kedem rivers. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Options vs. Iran's Bomb - Joshua Brilliant (UPI)

    • Analysts maintain Iran needs a year or more to produce 25 kilos of enriched uranium for a first nuclear bomb. That bomb might be ready by the end of the decade. IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror says Israel has two options. "None are good, each one is difficult and each one is dangerous."
    • One is to stop the Iranians by force. It would be a much more difficult task than Israel's attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. The Iranian facilities are farther away. Israel would need "very, very accurate intelligence" to hit the "network of installations" spread over a wide area. Some installations are located in underground tunnels. Furthermore, attacking Iran is tantamount to signing an open check because the minute Teheran will have a bomb, it will retaliate, he warned.
    • The alternative is to accept the fact Iran will be a nuclear power and focus on defense. Israel would need an "active defense system" including missiles that could intercept Iranian attacks. It already has the Arrow ballistic missile interceptor and would have to invest in preparations for more advanced Iranian missiles.
    • "There is no human possibility of building a system that is 100 percent safe," Amidror stressed. Israel is very small, most of its population is near Tel Aviv, so every nuclear attack could cause terrible damage.
    • Israel would therefore need a deterrent that the Iranians would know that if they attack, Israel will retaliate so forcefully that "there won't be any Iranians left to count their dead," Amidror said.
    • However, some experts doubt Israel can deter the ideology that Ahmadinejad and other Iranians espouse. Ahmadinejad believes that the imam who disappeared 1,000 years ago is about to return. Bloodshed will speed his coming and then the Muslims will rule the world.

    Subscribe to the Daily Alert

    Unsubscribe from the Daily Alert