Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


August 12, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Blames Egypt for Deaths of Eight Palestinians in Border Tunnels - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghsain said Monday that Egypt was responsible for the deaths of eight Palestinians when it used water, gas and explosives to seal a network of tunnels under its border with Gaza.
    Three Palestinians were crushed to death on Monday when their tunnel collapsed; five others suffocated on Aug 1.

Islamic Extremists Planning German Attacks (AP/MSNBC)
    Some of the 50 Islamic extremists from Germany who trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan may be plotting attacks in Germany, Joerg Ziercke, head of the country's FBI equivalent, told the daily Tagesspiegel in an interview released Sunday.
    "In light of statements from al-Qaeda and (the Islamic Jihad Union) we are certain that a decision has been made to conduct attacks in Germany," Ziercke said.
    Ziercke said a small number of the newly trained militants had already returned to Germany and are among some 100 suspected extremists under investigation by the federal crime office.

Five Islamists Killed in Clash in Western China - Jill Drew (Washington Post)
    Police shot and killed five people who hurled homemade bombs at government buildings in the restive Xinjiang region of China, where an attack last week left 16 border police dead, state media reported Sunday.
    Xinjiang is home to the ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim minority. The Turkestan Islamic Party, an underground separatist organization, has threatened to stage attacks during the Olympic Games to draw attention to its demands for the region's independence.
    The Turkestan Islamic Party asserted responsibility for two bus bombings that killed two people last month in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in southwestern China.

Qaeda Deputy Zawahiri Releases Video in English (AFP)
    Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second-in-command to al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, has released an English-language video call for jihad in Pakistan, the U.S.-based IntelCenter said Sunday.
    Zawahiri describes A.Q. Khan - the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb under house arrest for transferring nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea - as a "scapegoat to appease the Americans."
    The Egyptian-born Zawahiri related his own personal experiences of having lived in Pakistan and said he "wants to speak directly to the Pakistani people and chose English because he cannot speak Urdu."

Hamas Bans Cars that Run on Cooking Gas (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Hamas banned the use of cooking gas to fuel cars in Gaza on Saturday, citing expected shortages ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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

  • King of Jordan Pays Secret Visit to Iraq, Discounted Oil for Jordan to Be Renewed - Deborah Haynes
    King Abdullah II of Jordan became the first Arab head of state Sunday to travel to Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Iraqi officials hope that it will pave the way for greater engagement with neighboring Arab states. Since the overthrow of Saddam, a fellow Sunni Arab, Jordanian officials had worried about the prospect of a pro-Iranian Shia government in Iraq, as well as the loss of discounted oil which Saddam once provided. Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, agreed to renew a 2006 deal to sell discounted oil to Jordan when he paid Amman a visit in June. (Times-UK)
  • In One Town, Gazans Yearn for Previous Israeli Presence - Rafael D. Frankel
    Three years have passed since Israel withdrew from Gaza, and in that time the economy has gone from bad to worse. "I want [the Israelis] to come back," says Riyad al-Laham, an unemployed father of eight from Mawassi - a mixed ethnic Palestinian and Bedouin town located in the middle of Gush Katif - who worked in the area's Jewish settlements for nearly 20 years. "All the Mawassi people used to work in the settlements and make good money. Now there is nothing to do. Even our own agricultural land is barren."
        Before Israel withdrew, Mawassi was a town of fertile corn crops and greenhouses, which - like the ones in the Jewish settlements - grew cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, and strawberries. Now, only shells remain of many of the greenhouses that were stripped of valuable materials. A town that fed itself with its produce and the money its men made from working with the settlers, Mawassi is now dependent on food handouts from the UN. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Islamic Terror Trial Opens in Denmark - Jan M. Olsen
    Two alleged Islamic militants of Afghan and Pakistani background, accused of preparing a bomb attack, went on trial in Denmark on Monday, with prosecutors showing secret video footage of them testing a highly explosive material in an apartment building in Copenhagen. The prosecution said the two men conducted the small test blast with the same explosive that was used by suicide bombers who killed 52 commuters in London in 2005. In May 2007, Denmark's PET intelligence service was tipped off by an unidentified foreign service that the man of Pakistani origin was on his way back to Denmark after having spent time in a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. (AP)
  • Car Ad in Israel Drives Saudis to Distraction - Orly Halpern
    A recent Israeli television ad campaign showed an Arab man, dressed in robes typical of the oil-rich Persian Gulf region, violently attacking and vehemently cursing a Nissan car for being fuel-efficient. After the Saudi-owned MBC Arab satellite channel led the evening news with a story about the ad, several Saudi and Arab websites and newspapers called on Arab and Muslim car dealers to boycott Nissan for insulting Arabs. Some Arabs wrote on websites that they would sell their Nissan cars in protest. Nissan International then asked Nissan Israel to remove the ad and not to use it again. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
        See also View the Ad (YouTube)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Calls for Peaceful Solution in Georgia
    On Sunday the Israel Foreign Ministry issued the following statement: Israel is following with great concern the developments in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and hopes the violence will end. Israel recognizes the territorial integrity of Georgia and calls for a peaceful solution. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Barak: We Mustn't Leave Our Friends During Times of Testing
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday, "We view Russia as a very important country both on a regional and global scale....[At the same time,] we see Georgia as a country with which we have friendly relations, and Israel, particularly due to its experience, must ensure that it does not rush to leave its friends at a time of testing."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Conference of Presidents Calls for Cease-Fire in Georgia
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said Monday: We urge that the cease-fire in Georgia be implemented fully and immediately and that the status quo ante be reestablished. We believe that the territorial integrity of Georgia must be recognized and upheld. Any issues should be dealt with at the negotiating table. (Conference of Presidents)
  • Russia Appreciates Israeli "Balance" in Georgian Conflict - Herb Keinon
    Russia very much appreciates the "balanced" approach Israel has demonstrated during the current Russian-Georgian conflict, its charge d'affaires, Anatoly Yurkov, told the Jerusalem Post on Monday. The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement Sunday recognizing the territorial integrity of Georgia and calling for a peaceful solution. Yurkov said Moscow was likely to take Israel's position of not selling offensive weapons to Georgia into account when weighing its own arms sales to Iran and Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Cut Georgia Arms Sales Months Ago - Yaakov Lappin
    An Israeli defense official told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday that "Several months ago, we carried out an evaluation of the situation in Georgia and realized that Georgia and Russia were on a collision course. We have good relations with both, and don't want to back either in this conflict," the official said. "We therefore made a decision to drastically minimize sales of weapons to Georgia." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Rejects Entry of Arab Forces to the West Bank and Gaza
    In a statement issued Sunday, Hamas renewed its categorical rejection of the entry of foreign or Arab forces into the West Bank or Gaza, after statements to this effect were made "by the American man [PA Prime Minister] Salam Fayad." (Hamas-Gaza)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues Despite Truce - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket on Monday afternoon that landed near a kindergarten in the Israeli town of Sderot. The "Color Red" rocket alert sirens sounded throughout the town and neighboring communities moments before the impact. Despite a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, intermittent rocket and mortar fire has been recorded every few days. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Tightens Its Hold on Gaza - Shlomo Brom
    The violent confrontation between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza has brought about a significant strengthening of Hamas' control and an almost total elimination of Fatah's presence there. Hundreds of Fatah members have been arrested, including the entire cadre of senior leaders there, and Hamas has taken control of all Fatah assets. The sole challenge remaining to Hamas' uncontested control of Gaza is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
        The developments in Gaza strengthened the determination of the PA and Israel to destroy the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank, and PA forces stepped up arrests of Hamas operatives. Hamas' nearly complete takeover of Gaza gives Israel better tools to manage the conflict because now Hamas bears full responsibility for everything that happens there. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Defiant Iran: Are the Mullahs Overplaying Their Hand? - Frank Richter
    Nuclear weapons would undermine, not enhance, Iran's national security. The mere perception that a country is trying to acquire nuclear weapons makes it a target. Saddam Hussein found that out the hard way. Iran has no need for a nuclear deterrent. The U.S.-led attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan eliminated Iran's two hostile neighbors - Saddam and the Taliban. Furthermore, an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel would spew massive radioactive fallout on millions of Muslims in the region. The writer, who taught international politics at Wayne State University, is a member of the World Affairs Council. (Washington Times)
  • Financial Crisis Grips PA Government - Mohammad Yaghi
    Despite a three-year $7.5 billion assistance pledge from the 2007 Paris donor conference, the PA remains in a financial crisis, with a projected shortfall of $400 million for the second half of 2008. If pledged funds do not arrive soon, Salam Fayad's government will have difficulty remaining in office. Furthermore, a PA budget crisis will likely allow Hamas to further consolidate its control of Gaza, since the PA has remained relevant there only because it continues to pay 77,000 employees. Increased Arab support for the PA could easily solve this budget crisis. Yet while such assistance is well within the financial means of the Gulf States, it remains unlikely to materialize, given their hesitancy to appear to be taking sides in the ongoing conflict between Fatah and Hamas. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Iran and Hamas Adore Darfur's Genocidal Dictator - Jonathan Schanzer (Weekly Standard)

    • The head of Hamas' politburo in Damascus, Khalid Mash'al, recently telephoned Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and denounced the International Criminal Court's accusations against him, according to the Palestinian Maan News Agency website. The "armed wing" of Hamas also proclaimed Bashir's innocence on their website.
    • Without addressing the allegations, Mash'al decried the submission of international organizations to U.S. pressure. He confirmed Hamas' solidarity with Sudan, its leadership and people "in confronting this new conspiracy targeting Sudan through its head of state."
    • The Islamic Republic of Iran also defends Bashir. Last year, as international pressure mounted over the slaughter in Darfur, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described Sudan as a second home full of "dear, pious and revolutionary brothers."
    • Ties over nearly two decades explain the current Hamas and Iranian support for Bashir, and why they ignore the incontrovertible evidence of genocide.
    • Islamist support for the Darfur genocide reveals much about the dangers of Islamism.

      The writer, a former Treasury intelligence analyst, is the director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert