Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


May 15, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

President Bush Addresses Israel's Knesset
    See Observations below

Israel and Hamas on a Collision Course - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has recently changed his stance on the issue of a cease-fire and, according to top officials, now believes that Israel and Hamas are on a collision course.
    Ashkenazi had been reluctant to endorse a broad ground offensive, but the deadly attacks from Gaza in the past week have made him inclined to recommend a ground operation deep inside the territory, the officials said.

Lebanon Cancels Anti-Hizbullah Measures - Yara Bayoumy (Reuters)
    Lebanon's government cancelled measures on Wednesday that angered the Iranian-backed Hizbullah movement, rescinding a ban on Hizbullah's communications network and the sacking of Beirut airport's security chief, who is close to the group.
    At least 81 people were killed in six days of fighting as Hizbullah seized control of parts of Beirut following the cabinet's initial decisions.

Rocket Attack Survivors' Stories - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Even though Eve Malcha is only 11 years old, Wednesday's rocket attack was the fifth one she survived and the second one in which she was wounded. The other incidents involved Kassam rockets that landed close to her as she visited her grandparents in Sderot.
    Shirit Hazot, 25, had been waiting to see a doctor at the women's health center when she thought she'd heard a nurse call her name. She got up and went toward the doctor's office. "That saved me as the ceiling fell in," she said.

Three Jordanians Jailed for Bush Attack Plot (AFP)
    Jordan's state security court on Wednesday sentenced three Jordanians to 15 years in jail for plotting an attack against U.S. President Bush when he visited the kingdom in 2006.

Israel Deserves Admiration - Salim Mansur (Edmonton Sun-Canada)
    The birth of Israel has offered Jews a secure home where they may prosper without any fear or apology. If Israel had been born ten years earlier, then a great many Jews who perished in Hitler's death camps likely would have survived.
    Jews are an insignificant fraction of the present world population of over six and a half billion - around 14 million, or 0.2% of the total. Yet Jewish contributions in the making of the modern world tower above that of any other people in relative terms and the immense odds of survival as a people given the level of hostility directed at them.
    Turning a desert into one of the rich economies of the world few imagined six decades ago is a proof of how much more could be achieved if those fighting Jews joined with them instead.
    The writer, a Muslim, is an associate professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Medical Clinic at Israeli Mall - Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Ethan Bronner
    Palestinians in Gaza on Wednesday fired a rocket at the Israeli city of Ashkelon that crashed through the roof of a health clinic at a shopping mall, badly wounding a woman and her 2-year-old daughter. The doctor who was attending to them and a fourth person were also badly hurt. Maj. Gen. Uriel Bar-Lev, the police commander of Israel's southern district, said bomb experts had determined that the rocket was Iranian-made. "It has Iranian fingerprints on it," he said. (New York Times)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Wounds 15 in Ashkelon - Shmulik Hadad
    As President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert were meeting in Jerusalem, a Palestinian Grad rocket crashed into a busy shopping mall in central Ashkelon, wounding 15 people and burying several shoppers under piles of rubble. In addition to those badly wounded, 11 more suffered from moderate wounds and 62 people were treated for shock. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Intelligence: Palestinian Rockets Could Reach Beersheba within Two Years - Yuval Azoulay, Amos Harel and Ari Shavit
    Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said in an interview that "every community within a 40-kilometer range [of Gaza] may come within range of the Hamas rockets: Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, even Beersheba." (Ha'aretz)
  • Void of Leadership, Palestinian Movement Loses Momentum - Joshua Mitnick
    Sixty years after Israel's birth, the Palestinian national movement finds itself in a deteriorating state of paralysis. "There's almost no Palestinian leadership," said Kadoura Fares, a former Palestinian cabinet minister and member of Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. "When [the Palestinians] shoot rockets, it's not a sign of strengthening. It's a sign of weakness."
        Fatah, the political party founded by Arafat as the core of the PLO, remains paralyzed by internal fighting. It has been unable to shake the image of corruption rooted in years of cronyism and patronage that became the hallmark of the PA. Eyad Sarraj, the director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, notes, "We have a serious structural problem in the national movement. The control all the time was by the gun, and militants, who are largely uneducated and ignorant, caused most of the disasters we are in today."
        A final mistake, says Fares, was the failure to build an effective government in the 1990s when the Palestinians were offered autonomy under the Oslo peace accords. "It's like you demand a palace but get three rooms as a test before you get the palace," he said. "The world gave us a chance to establish an authority. We could have used the authority as a good model to show we are a modern people, an educated people. We failed." (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Welcomes Bush with Rocket Attack - Ron Ben Yishai
    Three days ago, Hamas started to target Ashkelon in order to welcome President Bush with an impressive rocket attack. Rocket cells test-fired several rockets that missed, but every strike was more accurate than the previous one. On Wednesday, they fired one of the 200 Grad (Katyusha) rockets they possess with lethal precision. As opposed to the Kassam, whose warhead contains 16 pounds of explosives, the Iranian Grad's warhead contains 44 pounds of explosives, which enabled it to penetrate the mall's thick walls and cement ceiling.
        The attack on Ashkelon was also Hamas' response to the terms presented by Israel Monday for a cease-fire. Hamas is unwilling to tie the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit to the cease-fire agreement and is unwilling to end arms smuggling and building up its military strength. If Israel is unwilling to accept Hamas' terms, Hamas says, it will see Grad attacks on Ashkelon and we'll see who breaks first. Hamas estimates that as long as President Bush and other leaders are in Israel, the Israeli government would not respond with a fierce military operation. (Ynet News)
  • "Cease-Fire Would Be Victory for Hamas" - Etgar Lefkovits
    A cease-fire that does not prevent the transfer of weapons to Gaza will be "a major strategic victory" for Hamas and will only serve to strengthen its rule there, a senior Israeli official said Wednesday. "A cease-fire, which is the easy way out, will ensure us several months of quiet but will also entrench the Hamas state in Gaza, which will become more and more dependent on the Iranians," he said. Such a cease-fire would also serve to further weaken Mahmoud Abbas, he added. The official noted that "hundreds" of Palestinians were freely crossing through Gaza's porous border with Egypt to receive training from Iran, and that "The Egyptians, to put it mildly, are not successfully preventing the supply and rearming of Hamas." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hizbullah Takes Charge in Lebanon - Editorial
    In reality, if not politically, Hizbullah, the terrorist group that takes its orders from Iran and Syria, now commands Lebanon. Where was the Lebanese army during the crisis? Nowhere. The army remained officially "neutral" while Hizbullah thugs trashed and burned the offices of a government-allied satellite television station and its newspaper affiliate. It did nothing while Hizbullah broke its promise never to turn its guns on fellow citizens. (Chicago Tribune)
        See also Why Hizbullah Should Be Condemned - Dean Godson
    Why does Hizbullah's putsch of 2008 not excite stern criticism? When the legitimate, democratic government of Lebanon dared to challenge Hizbullah, it went on a sectarian rampage, murdering scores of opponents and destroying much of the country's free media. Yet there has been not a peep from concerned humanitarians. Hizbullah and its allies - which command only 30% of the Lebanese vote - seek to make good its democratic deficit at the polls through the use of force. Hizbullah claims that it is an entirely indigenous "resistance" movement, but if so, why have pictures gone up of the Iranian leader, Ali Khamenei, and the Syrian President, Bashar Assad, for the first time in Beirut since the Cedar Revolution of 2005? The writer is research director of the Policy Exchange think-tank. (Times-UK)
  • The Tehran-Berlin Axis - Matthias Kuntzel
    The Iranian media reported that Iranian Vice Foreign Minister S.E. Mehdi Safari visited Berlin for three days in mid-April at the invitation of the German government, where he met with officials at the foreign, interior and economics ministries, as well as with lawmakers and businessmen. It is strange, to say the least, that neither the German government nor the media said a word about the visit. While Chancellor Angela Merkel argues for tougher sanctions if necessary to stop the Iranian bomb, Germany's foreign policy establishment preaches accommodation, even a "strategic partnership" with Iran.
        "Sanctions get us nowhere," wrote Christoph Bertram in the weekly Der Spiegel last month. Bertram used to head the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and later the German Foundation for Science and Politics, a think tank that advises the government and parliament on foreign policy. According to Bertram, the West must recognize "the immense advantage of a close and cooperative relationship with this country [Iran]." After slowing between 2005-2007, German exports to Iran surged 13% in January. Germany is the world's second largest exporter to Iran, and its products are crucial for Iran's economic survival. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Observations:

    Bush Denounces Extremists in the Middle East - Jennifer Loven (AP/Washington Post)

    • President Bush on Thursday criticized the deadly tactics of extremist groups like al-Qaeda, Hizbullah and Hamas and said he looks toward the day when Muslims "recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause."
    • In a speech to Israel's Knesset, Bush said: "Some people suggest that if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of our enemies, and America rejects it utterly. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you."
    • Bush took special aim at Iran and said the U.S. stands with Israel in opposing moves by Tehran to obtain nuclear weapons. "Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations....For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."
    • "This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is the ancient battle between good and evil....The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers."

        See also Bush: We Must Be Firm in Face of Those Who Murder the Innocent - Sara Miller (Ha'aretz)

    • Israel and the U.S. needed to be "steadfast in the face of those who would murder the innocent" in pursuit of their goals, President Bush told a presidential conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
    • Bush said Israel and the U.S. shared a "powerful" belief "to advance the cause of hope, freedom and liberty, as the great alternative to tyranny and terror."
    • The U.S., he said, was "Israel's oldest and best friend in the world" and the bonds between the two countries grew stronger "with every passing year."

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert