Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


October 28, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Building Underground City in Gaza - Amir Rappaport (Maariv-24Oct08)
    There are few high-rise building sites in Gaza these days, but the demand for cement is huge. Copying Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas is building enormous underground installations - ammunition bunkers, tunnels, and command posts.
    Responding to intelligence reports, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai has reduced the flow of cement from Israel to Gaza and is weighing a total halt.
    Security officials say Hamas is building tunnels beneath the centers of major cities to enable freedom of movement for its forces should the IDF enter.
    In addition, outside the cities, Hamas is constructing tunnels beneath the major entry roads into Gaza, to be filled with explosives and then detonated beneath IDF convoys.
    The underground construction also includes hundreds of Kassam and Katyusha rocket launching positions that are protected from air attack.

Syria Hosts Anti-Israel Boycott Parley - Michael Freund (Jerusalem Post)
    Representatives of 14 Arab states held a three-day conference in Damascus last week aimed at reinvigorating the decades-old economic and trade boycott of Israel.
    The Arab League's Office for the Boycott of Israel has been based in the Syrian capital since its establishment in 1951.
    Arab League members such as Egypt and Jordan ceased applying the boycott after signing peace treaties with Israel, while Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia do not enforce it.
    See also Texas Company Fined for Complying with Arab Boycott - Michael Freund (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. government has imposed a $108,000 fine on Rohde and Liesenfeld Inc., a Texas-based subsidiary of a German firm, for repeated violations of American law regarding compliance with the Arab boycott of Israel.
    The company supplied the Syrian petroleum company Al-Furat with invoices stating: "We certify that the goods enumerated in this invoice are not of Israeli origin and do not contain any Israeli materials."
    U.S. law requires American companies to report requests for such information to the Commerce Department.

German Politicians Divided over Anti-Semitism - Charles Hawley (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    The German parliament wanted to pass a unanimous resolution against anti-Semitism to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass. But the effort has become a victim of political bickering.
    According to statistics cited by members of the federal parliament, one Jewish cemetery each week is vandalized in Germany.
    A September study released by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., found that 25% of Germans had unfavorable views of Jews, up from the 20% in 2004.

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

  • U.S.: Syria Raid Killed Terrorist Leader - Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef
    A CIA-led raid on a compound in eastern Syria killed an Al-Qaeda in Iraq commander who oversaw the smuggling into Iraq of foreign fighters whose attacks claimed thousands of Iraqi and American lives, three U.S. officials said Monday. The body of Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, an Iraqi national who used the nom de guerre Abu Ghadiya, was flown out of Syria on a U.S. helicopter at the end of the operation Sunday, one U.S. official said. "This was a significant blow to the foreign fighter pipeline between Syria and Iraq," said a second U.S. official. "Former Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi appointed Badran (al-Mazidih) as the group's Syrian commander for logistics in 2004," the U.S. Treasury Department said. (McClatchy-Miami Herald)
        See also U.S. Calls Raid a Warning to Syria - Ann Scott Tyson and Ellen Knickmeyer
    U.S. military and intelligence officials and analysts have asserted for years that such strikes are justified if a country is unwilling or unable to control its own territory or the threats emanating from inside its borders. U.S. strikes can goad such countries into action, officials say. The military's argument is that "you can only claim sovereignty if you enforce it," said Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "When you are dealing with states that do not maintain their sovereignty and become a de facto sanctuary, the only way you have to deal with them is this kind of operation," he said. (Washington Post)
  • UN Nuclear Chief Says Iran Blocking Progress - John Heilprin
    Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the UN General Assembly on Monday that Iran is blocking his agency from verifying whether Iran has any ambitions for nuclear weaponry. "I regret that we are still not in a position to achieve full clarity regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran," he said. He urged Iran to do more to ensure "transparency," but emphasized the IAEA "does not in any way seek to pry into Iran's conventional or missile-related military activities."  (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Resupplies Lebanon Military to Stabilize Ally - Robert F. Worth and Eric Lipton
    Lebanese soldiers drive new American Humvees and trucks, and some tote gleaming new American rifles and grenade launchers. The weapons are meant to build an armed force that could help stabilize Lebanon's fractured state, fight a rising terrorist threat, and provide a legitimate alternative to the Shiite militant group Hizbullah.
        Some officials within the Pentagon and State Department have expressed concern about extensive military aid to a country in which Hizbullah, which has close Syrian and Iranian ties, has continued to gain political power. That has been a main concern for Israel, which has been lobbying for a lower level of support to remove the possibility that American tanks and helicopters might one day be used against it. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Aware of Security Challenges, Despite Elections - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday at the opening of the Knesset's winter session that there is a very clear chain of command when it comes to security-related issues. "There are still borders to secure and security challenges to address. The security threats against the citizens of Israel do not wait for the political processes. The fear of terrorism cannot be postponed....Hamas' continued military buildup and the smuggling of weapons in the north and south do not stop. Iranian leaders do not sit still, but continue to threaten and prepare destructive weapons - even during an election period in Israel. To all those I highly recommend not to try our patience or put our ability to the test."
        There is no chance that as a caretaker prime minister, Olmert could push forward any significant diplomatic initiative because he would not get cabinet or Knesset approval for any such move. It was also doubtful any Arab leaders would engage him seriously, knowing that he will soon be replaced. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Stabbing Attempt on Mount of Olives Thwarted - Abe Selig
    Nature and National Parks Protection Authority ranger Pini Birenbaum was patrolling the Jerusalem Trail in the Yad Avshalom neighborhood of Jerusalem on Sunday, when a 20-year-old Arab attempted to stab him with a knife. Birenbaum was able to dodge the initial strike and pull out his handgun, subduing his attacker. "If I hadn't been paying attention, or if I had acted more slowly, God forbid, you might not be interviewing me right now," Birenbaum said. "I acted according to my training and was doing my job, which is to secure and safeguard the historic sites around Jerusalem."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian with Bomb Discovered at West Bank Checkpoint - Efrat Weiss
    IDF troops at the Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus in the West Bank, on Saturday apprehended a Palestinian carrying a pipe bomb. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • After Sponsoring Terrorism Against Its Neighbors, Syria Plays the Victim When Its Own Border Is Breached - Editorial
    The Syrian regime's most notable activities of the past few years have been the serial assassination of senior Lebanese politicians, including former prime minister Rafik Hariri; the continuous and illegal supplying of weapons to the Hizbullah militia for use against Israel and Lebanon's democratic government; the harboring in Damascus of senior leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups; and - most relevant - the sheltering of an al-Qaeda network that dispatches 90% of the foreign fighters who wage war against U.S. troops and the Iraqi government.
        The logic of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad seems to be that his regime can sponsor murders, arms trafficking, infiltrations and suicide bombings in neighboring countries while expecting to be shielded from any retaliation in kind by the diplomatic scruples of democracies. If Sunday's raid, which targeted a senior al-Qaeda operative, serves only to put Assad on notice that the U.S. is no longer prepared to respect the sovereignty of a criminal regime, it will have been worthwhile.
        Damascus should not be allowed to reap the diplomatic and economic rewards of a rapprochement while continuing to plant car bombs, transport illegal weapons and harbor terrorists. Israel has let Assad know that it is prepared to respond to his terrorism with strikes against legitimate military targets. Now that the U.S. has sent the same message, maybe the dictator at last will rethink his strategy. (Washington Post)
  • Hitting Syria, Five Years Late - Editorial
    After five years and six months during which Syria has been an active accomplice to the insurgency in Iraq, the U.S. has finally struck back. We wonder how differently the war in Iraq might have gone had the U.S. conducted this kind of raid as often as necessary in 2003 and 2004, or if it had put Assad on notice that his survival in power was at risk if he continued to support the insurgency. Our guess is that the war would have been shorter and far less bloody for American and Iraqi troops.
        There's a lesson in this for the next president. The Syrians interpreted diplomatic accommodation in the face of their anti-American acts as a sign of weakness to exploit. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Demographic Implosion in Muslim Societies - Yoram Ettinger
    The UN Population Division reports a sharp decline of fertility rates (number of births per woman) in Muslim and Arab countries, excluding Afghanistan and Yemen. The collapse of fertility rates in Muslim countries is a derivative of modernization and Westernization, rapid urbanization, and internal security concerns by dictators fearing the consequences of the widening gap between population growth and economic growth. The fertility rate in Iran - the flagship of radical Islam - has declined from nine births per woman 30 years ago to 1.8 births in 2007. Fertility rates have decreased in Saudi Arabia and Egypt from eight and seven births per woman 30 years ago to less than four and less than 2.5 respectively in 2007. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Why Is the West Funding Abbas' Hate TV? - Itamar Marcus (Jerusalem Post)

    • There has never been a period of such intense demonization of Israel, continuous hate promotion, and denial of Israel's existence by the PA (Fatah)-controlled media as during the 11 months since the Annapolis Conference.
    • Jews and Israelis are being demonized by the PA through malicious libels - including the lies that Israel intentionally spreads AIDS and drugs among Palestinians, conducts Nazi-like medical experiments on Palestinian prisoners, took Palestinian babies in 1948 to bring up as Jews, and is planning to destroy the Al-Aksa Mosque. Israel is even said to be breeding supernatural rats to chase Arabs who live in Jerusalem.
    • Abbas' TV is no different than Hamas TV - unequivocally denying Israel's existence and right to exist. Recent TV shows included numerous examples of young Palestinian children repeating that Israel is "occupied Palestine," eventually to be "returned."
    • The world was incensed when Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced his vision of a world without Israel. Yet when Abbas' TV teaches Palestinian children the identical vision of a world without Israel, Western countries run for their checkbooks to keep funding him.

      The writer is director of Palestinian Media Watch.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert