Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Quartet to Discuss Israel-Palestinian Peace Talks - Karin Laub (AP)
Court Gives Go-Ahead to Tolerance Museum in Jerusalem - Tomer Zarchin and Yoav Stern
Turkey Interested in Israeli UAVs - Yaakov Lappin and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
The Tunnel Kings of Gaza - Ulrike Putz
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran's supreme leader said on Wednesday Iranian hatred of the U.S. ran deep, remarks analysts said signaled an end to any debate about closer links between them. "This dispute (with America) is beyond differences of opinion on a few political issues," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted by state TV as saying.
"What he is actually doing is putting an end to the discussion that has been going on in the country sparked by the idea of opening an American interests section and the possibility it can create a thaw," said one political analyst. "Second, Iranians have been watching the American election closely, and this sends a clear message to everyone that whatever happens, that is not going to have any effect on the way Iran views the United States," he added. (Reuters)
Syria threatened Wednesday to cut off security cooperation along the Iraqi border if there are more American raids on Syrian territory, and the U.S. Embassy announced it would close Thursday because of a mass rally called to protest the U.S. attack. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Iraq Denounces U.S. Raid in Syria
The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, after initially saying the U.S. raid in Syria targeted an area used by militants to launch attacks into Iraq, on Tuesday denounced the raid and said Iraq must not be used to stage attacks on other nations. "Iraq hopes this unfortunate act will not disturb brotherly relations between the two countries," said an Iraqi government statement, quoting a Foreign Ministry source. (Reuters)
A Syrian court sentenced 12 dissidents to 2 1/2 years each in prison on Wednesday for political crimes after they had called for democratic reforms. The 11 men and a woman were arrested after holding a meeting to revive a movement calling for freedom of expression and a democratic constitution in Syria. The charges included "weakening national morale." (Reuters)
See also Syria Comes Down on Dissidents - Stephen Starr
The 12 Syrian dissidents were held behind a cage in a court room packed with family members and well-wishers. After the sentences were read out, several of the detained shouted cries of defiance and locked hands together. About a dozen diplomats from various embassies, including Canadian and Dutch representatives, attended the proceedings.
Several Internet cafes dotted around Damascus have recently seen new regulations posted whereby every computer user must provide an identity card before being assigned a computer. The computer number and time spent on the Internet is then recorded. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel on Thursday, in the latest violation of a six-month Israel-Hamas truce that began on June 19. Last week, Palestinian sources in Gaza predicted that Hamas is likely to seek to extend its truce with Israel for another six months. (Ha'aretz)
A water tunnel dating back to the First Temple era has been uncovered in the ancient City of David, Israeli archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar said Wednesday. The tunnel was discovered under an immense stone structure built in the 10th century BCE that has previously been identified by Mazar as the palace of King David. The tunnel's characteristics, date, and location, Mazar said, testify with "high probability" that the water tunnel is the one called "tsinor" in the story of King David's conquest of Jerusalem (Samuel II, 5:6-8; Chronicles I, 11:4-6). (Jerusalem Post)
See also Archeologists Find Hebrew Text in Ancient Town
An Israeli archeologist digging at Hirbet Qeiyafa near Beit Shemesh, southwest of Jerusalem, believes a ceramic shard found in the ruins of an ancient town bears the oldest Hebrew inscription ever discovered. The five lines of faded characters written 3,000 years ago, and the ruins of the fortified settlement where they were found, are indications that a powerful Israelite kingdom existed at the time of the Old Testament's King David, says Yossi Garfinkel, the Hebrew University archeologist in charge of the dig. A teenage volunteer found the pottery shard in July containing written characters in a precursor of Hebrew. Carbon-14 analysis dated the layer in which it was found to be between 1,000 and 975 BCE. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
See also Find of Ancient City Could Alter Notions of Biblical David - Ethan Bronner (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
When you lead a poor country with hardly any oil, only 19 million people and a pitifully weak army, you cannot afford to burn your bridges with anybody. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's foreign policy is to reach in all directions at once, play in every game and explore every possible alliance. In a country that calls itself a republic, Assad inherited the presidency from his father, Hafez, who died in 2000. This makes him the world's only example of an absolute monarch, with no throne, ruling a hereditary republic. When it comes to lacking any shred of popular legitimacy, no one can compete with Assad. He cannot even claim the dubious standing that comes from having led a successful coup, as his dad did 38 years ago.
The West and Israel both want Syria to shake off Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran. At present, Syria forms the crucial supply route linking Hizbullah with its chief paymaster and arms dealer, Iran. Assad's goodwill also saves Iran from near total diplomatic isolation in the Middle East. (Telegraph-UK)
In Latakia, Syria, Bashar Assad's hometown, people make an extremely good show of appearing to love their leader. The dictator's mustachioed face glares from the back of taxi cabs and smiles benevolently out from the windows of banks and hair salons. His countrymen were looking anxiously to see what Assad will do after U.S. troops and attack helicopters carried out a raid into Syrian territory. Unfortunately for Assad, there's not a lot he can do, at least not without jeopardizing the progress Syria has made in recent months toward bringing itself out of the international isolation imposed by the Bush administration.
"Syria has its hands tied behind its back. It can't allow its anger to rule this moment," said Joshua Landis, co-director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. "Syria does not want to let this raid have any impact on its relations with the European Union or other countries," said Marwan Kabalan, a political scientist at the University of Damascus. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
Almost a year after President Bush relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at Annapolis, sporadic talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have failed to bridge rifts over borders, refugees and the status of Jerusalem. Palestinian divisions have put any deal out of sight for now. Hamas Islamists seized Gaza in June 2007, leaving Abbas' Fatah faction in charge of the West Bank. Obama and McCain both stress how pro-Israel they are, but neither has proposed any policy shift to rescue the two-state solution from oblivion. (Reuters)
Lebanon's Enemy Within - Michael J. Totten (Commentary)
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert