Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


January 9, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Solidarity Rally
Sunday, Jan. 11
11 a.m. at 42nd St. and 2nd Ave., NYC
(Conference of Presidents)

Israel Protests Firing of Katyusha Rockets from Lebanon (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev wrote to the UN Secretary General and the President of the Security Council in the wake of the firing of rockets from Lebanon on Thursday.
    Ambassador Shalev noted that the firing of rockets constitutes a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and confirms Israel's contentions regarding the availability and use of weapons in southern Lebanon.
    Israel views the Lebanese government as responsible for maintaining quiet in southern Lebanon and from it, as well as for preventing the smuggling of weapons into its territory.

Israel's Gaza War Extends into Psychological Realm - Paul Schemm (AP/MSNBC)
    Images of triumphant masked militants and bloodstained hospitals abruptly disappeared from the screen of Hamas' Al Aqsa television, to be replaced by a message in Arabic telling the militant group's leaders to turn themselves in.
    The faces of Hamas' top leadership appeared against a black background, before being shot down one by one, followed by an image of a clock indicating that time is running out.
    Even as Israel's soldiers push into Gaza in an effort to stop militants from launching rockets into Israel, the war is also being waged with psychological operations designed to sap morale.
    At Islamic Jihad's radio station in Gaza City, broadcaster Kamal Abu Nasser said that at least once an hour, the Israeli military breaks into his signal and broadcasts messages blaming Hamas for everyone's problems.

IDF Warnings to Gaza Civilians (Israel Defense Forces/IMRA)
    Since the IDF has no quarrel with Gaza's civilian population whom terrorist elements have turned into human shields, the IDF has been transmitting announcements and warnings to the population in Gaza.
    The main messages include calls to evacuate buildings where weapons are stored and tunnels dug, instructions to move to the center of towns, and instructions to residents to avoid interaction with terrorist elements.
    These messages were conveyed by dropping leaflets, phone calls, and breaking into local radio transmissions (Radio Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Radio, and Radio PFLP).

Outrage in Italy at Call to Boycott Jews (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Italian politicians reacted with outrage Thursday to a proposal by a union calling for a boycott of Jewish-owned shops in Rome to protest Israel's offensive in Gaza.
    The FLAICA-CUB union, which claims to represent thousands of workers in shops and malls, said it would promote a boycott of businesses "tied to the Roman Jewish community" and would focus on clothing stores.
    Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno "firmly condemned" the initiative, saying it was reminiscent of the boycotts against Jewish shops organized by the Fascist regime as part of its anti-Semitic policies in the 1930s. In a show of support, he went shopping in a Jewish-owned clothing store.

Jan. 1 Attack by CIA in Pakistan Killed Two Al-Qaeda Leaders - Joby Warrick (Washington Post)
    A New Year's Day CIA missile strike in northern Pakistan killed two top al-Qaeda members long sought by the U.S., including the man believed to be behind September's deadly suicide bombing at a Marriott hotel in the Pakistani capital, U.S. counterterrorism officials confirmed Thursday.
    Usama al-Kini, al-Qaeda's chief of operations in Pakistan, was killed along with his lieutenant, Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan. Both men were associated with a string of suicide attacks in Pakistan in recent months and also helped plan the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.

Iran's President Has Much at Stake in Gaza Outcome - Chip Cummins and Roshanak Taghavi (Wall Street Journal)
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad has a lot at stake in the outcome of the fighting in Gaza. Western governments accuse Tehran of funneling cash and weapons to Hamas. If Hamas manages to bog down Israeli troops, Tehran stands to gain.
    If Israel delivers a crushing blow to Hamas, Iranian officials could see one of their most effective irritants against Washington and Israel significantly degraded.
    "I don't think the Iranian government is happy with the situation," said one Tehran-based political analyst. "To them Hamas is one of their deterrents. This is one of the things they threaten the West with."

Rocket Attack a Close Call for Toronto Star Reporter in Israel - Oakland Ross (Toronto Star)
    Only a fool ignores an air-raid warning in Sderot, Israel. In Sderot, you don't get much time. The town practically abuts Gaza at the closest point, leaving only 10 to 15 seconds between the onset of the warning and the impact of the rocket.
    I was just beginning to climb up a ridge for a broad view of Gaza when the air-raid warning sounded. I crouched and waited.
    Within seconds, a hollow whistle shrieked overhead, followed by a tremendous boom that reverberated a short distance to the east. I turned and watched as a large cloud of iron-grey smoke curled skyward, about 200 meters away.
    I took a deep breath. That was close. Then I realized the rocket had crashed within about 10 meters of where I'd been standing just two or three minutes earlier.

New York Mayor Bloomberg Has "Blast" in Israel - Sally Goldenberg and Andy Geller (New York Post)
    On a trip from the Israeli town of Ashkelon to Sderot, New York's Mayor Bloomberg heard missile sirens and a rocket explode five seconds later.
    Once in Sderot, Bloomberg and his party, which included Rep. Gary Ackerman, were hustled to a bomb shelter when a missile siren sounded again.
    The mayor said he fully understood Israel's actions in attacking Hamas to stop missiles from raining down on Israeli cities.
    "We've been attacked twice by al-Qaeda itself," he said. "We've seen enormous devastation and courage, and after that you sort of feel you have a bond, if you will, for those who live in a dangerous world and subject to someone trying to kill them."

Gaza Deals Blow to Palestinian Myths - Lorne Gunter (National Post-Canada)
    If Israel is the occupier of Gaza, how come it has no troops or military posts in Gaza and has not had since 2005?
    I have been told time and again by Palestinian-friendly readers that Gazans have been forced to dig tunnels between the Strip and Egypt just to get food and water. But Egypt, not Israel, controls its frontiers with Gaza. So how do Israel's restrictions make Gaza-Egypt tunnels necessary?
    If Egypt were not just as determined to keep Gaza sealed off, the tunnels would be unnecessary no matter what Israel was doing.
    Why, when Egypt controlled Gaza from 1948 to 1967, did it not allow the Palestinians to relocate freely? Why did it keep them in refugee camps?

Bringing Peace to Gaza - David Warren (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
    We should not stop at justifying Israeli action. As their allies against a common enemy - against Islamists who consider the West to be their ultimate target - we should be offering our help and encouragement for the completion of the task.
    The predictable resolution from the UN ("both sides stop shooting right away") is, alas, representative of public opinion in many Western countries.
    We did not cry, "Both sides stop shooting right away," on D-Day. The correct response was, "Onward to Berlin."
    Those who cannot live peacefully with their neighbors must be stripped of the power to disturb them. The compulsion to live peacefully can then lead towards the habit of living peacefully.

Why Israel Had to Fight to Look After Its People - Gail Walker (Belfast Telegraph-UK)
    The Israelis didn't learn tolerance from the industrial slaughter of Jews by Germany. The idea that because they were subject to a "final solution" they would somehow be "nicer"' in future to people who wanted to obliterate them is both offensive and stupid.
    What they learned was precisely what it is they will never tolerate again. And if no one else does, I for one will support that democracy. All the way.

Israel vs. Hamas; Civilization vs. Terror - Robert Fulford (National Post-Canada)
    Israel has already proven itself the most restrained nation in history. It has set an all-time record for restraint. Try to imagine any other state receiving randomly targeted rockets from a sworn enemy and refraining from violent response.
    In this war, the Israelis are fighting on civilization's side against a terror state. What can we do? Understand.

Indonesia: Protesters Seal Off Synagogue amid Pro-Palestinian Protests (AKI/Jakarta Post-Indonesia)
    As Israel's offensive in Gaza continues, massive anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rallies have been taking place across Indonesia.
    Muslim protesters also sealed off a Jewish synagogue in Surabaya, East Java, and have threatened to boycott American products.

For Researchers: Search the Daily Alert Archive
    All back issues of Daily Alert since May 2002 are available online and are searchable.
This invaluable Internet resource documents the recent history of Israel and the Middle East.
    See also
    Insider information on Israel's national security issues - filtered, sifted, and stored for easy retrieval - from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Add the Daily Alert Israel News Ticker to Your Website

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

  • Security Council Calls for Immediate Gaza Cease-Fire
    The UN Security Council Tuesday called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza leading to a full Israeli withdrawal and intensified international arrangements to prevent arms smuggling. The vote was 14-0, with the U.S. abstaining. The resolution called for renewed efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace with two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders. The Palestine Authority of Mahmoud Abbas accepts the two-state solution, while Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, does not recognize Israel's right to exist. (United Nations)
        See also U.S. Abstains on UN Vote, Awaiting Egyptian Mediation Efforts - Ethan Bronner
    Secretary of State Rice said the U.S. abstained on the UN resolution, which left it unclear how a cease-fire would be enforced, because it wanted to see whether mediation efforts undertaken by President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt succeed. The U.S. did not veto the resolution because Washington supports its overall goals, she said. (New York Times)
        See also Rice to UN: Our Goal Is a Durable Cease-Fire
    Secretary of State Rice told the UN Security Council Thursday: "Our goal must be the stabilization and normalization of Gaza through the implementation of a durable and fully respected cease-fire and an end to all terrorist activities....We must establish an international consensus that Gaza must never again be used as a launching pad for rockets against Israeli citizens, because it is important to remember how this crisis began. Violence in Gaza was instigated by Hamas, a terrorist group that called for the destruction of Israel. Eighteen months ago, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a coup, and since then, thousands of guns and rockets and mortars have been smuggled into Gaza....Hamas' commitment to violence is not only an attack on Israel, but also on the two-state solution." "I want to remind the Council also that Hamas continues to hold IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and he must be released." (State Department)
        See also U.S. Changes Position at UN - Griff Witte and Colum Lynch
    The UN resolution marked a sharp reversal by the Bush administration, which had refused to allow passage of a cease-fire resolution without binding assurances that Hamas would halt its rocket attacks against Israel. Israeli officials, who vigorously opposed the passage of any UN resolution on the crisis, privately expressed reservations about the current text on the grounds that it failed to include a firm guarantee that Hamas would stop its rocket fire before Israel would have to halt its military operation. The text makes no mention of Hamas' practice of launching missiles into Israel. (Washington Post)
        See also Hamas: UN Gaza Truce Resolution "Does Not Meet Our Demands"
    Hamas on Friday rebuffed a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. Osama Hamdan, a Hamas envoy to Lebanon, told al-Arabiya television that the group "is not interested in it because it does not meet the demands of the movement." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Rejects "Unworkable" UN Gaza Truce Resolution - Barak Ravid and Shlomo Shamir
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected a UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza as "unworkable," noting that Palestinians fired rockets at Israel on Friday. Olmert's office said Israel "has never agreed to let an external body decide its right to protect the security of its citizens," and that the army would go on defending Israelis. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Rockets Keep Raining Down - Patrick Martin
    Thirteen days of bombardment, six days of an Israeli ground assault, and still Hamas, or its cronies, are firing rockets out of Gaza. There are fewer of them to be sure, but they're still coming and Israelis still are running for cover. "They had a lot of rockets hidden away," says Mark Heller, principal research associate of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. "And the IDF still hasn't gone into the heavily populated areas where they hid them."
        Israel's drive into northern Gaza pushed back those militants who had used the area to fire short-range, Kassam rockets on Sderot and nearby communities. The inability of the Kassams to reach these targets from deeper inside Gaza is a big reason for the drop in the number of rockets fired each day. But the foreign-made Grad-type of Katyusha rocket can still reach major targets inside Israel even when launched from deep inside the biggest communities in Gaza. Israeli forces haven't reached the inland missiles. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
        See also Palestinian Rockets Strike Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod After UN Cease-Fire Call - Ilana Curiel
    Palestinian rocket fire directed at Israel from Gaza resumed Friday as at least 20 rockets struck Beersheba, Ashkelon, Ashdod and other locations several hours after the UN Security Council called for an immediate cease-fire. At least 30 rockets struck Israel on Thursday, wounding four. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza on Thursday, bringing the Israel Defense Forces' death toll to nine. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Grad Rocket Hits Ashkelon School - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Grad rocket that hit a school in Ashkelon Thursday. The school, which sustained damage, was empty at the time of the attack. Itay, 13, was playing soccer with his friends near the school when the rocket landed. "We were at the yard when we heard the siren. We looked for a place to hide and couldn't find one so we just lay on the ground and heard a strong whistle and then an explosion right next to us." (Ynet News)
        See also 450 Palestinian Rockets Fired During Gaza Operation - Efrat Weiss
    Some 450 rockets have been fired at Israel since the Israel Defense Forces launched its operation in Gaza on Dec. 27, the Israel Security Agency said Thursday. About 700 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire and 13 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian fire. Israeli defense officials say the operation undermined Hamas' status in public opinion. The fact that the organization's commanders and leaders went into hiding, and that the group members hid in tunnels, caused the population to feel abandoned. (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Senate Backs Israel in Hamas Conflict - Nicholas Johnston
    The U.S. Senate Thursday unanimously approved a resolution expressing support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas, while the House of Representatives prepared to act on a similar measure Friday. "The Israelis have every right to defend themselves against these acts of terrorism," said Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the resolution recognizes Israel's right to self-defense, calls on Hamas to end rocket attacks on Israel, and says any cease-fire must be "durable, enforceable and sustainable." (Bloomberg)
  • Terrorist Sees His Paradise in Gaza's Pain - Taghreed El-Khodary
    A car arrived at Shifa Hospital in Gaza with a 21-year-old man with shrapnel in his leg who demanded quick treatment. The Islamic Jihad militant, smiling a big smile, explained, "When we fire we run, but they hit back so fast. We run into the houses to get away." "Why are you so happy?" this reporter asked. "Look around you" at the suffering families in the hospital. He replied, "They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too."  (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: UN Driver Killed by Hamas Sniper - Amir Mizroch
    The Palestinian driver of an aid truck was killed and two others wounded as their convoy made its way into Gaza through the Erez crossing during Thursday's "humanitarian cease-fire." According to a Magen David Adom medic who spoke to soldiers in the field, the truck came under Hamas sniper fire, while UN sources claimed that IDF tank shells hit the truck. What is certain is that two wounded Palestinians are being treated at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center for gunshot wounds. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Discovers Hamas Booby-Trap Map - Hanan Greenberg
    A map depicting Hamas plans on how to hurt IDF soldiers in Gaza was discovered by paratroopers in the al-Atatra neighborhood Thursday. The map showed where entrances to civilian homes were booby-trapped, and explosive devices were planted near gas stations, Chief IDF Intelligence Officer Brig.-Gen. Yuval Halamish explained. The map describes the type of explosive device planted at each site, and also marked sharpshooters' stations. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians: IDF First Sends Dogs into Gaza Homes - Amira Hass
    M., a Jabalya resident, describes how Israeli soldiers clear a built-up area for terrorists: "The army moves very slowly. The tanks approach houses, then they send the dogs. If it's a three-story home, they send three dogs: The dogs have a camera on one leg and a walkie-talkie on the other. That's how the dogs transmit what is in the house. Then the tanks advance up to the doorway." (Ha'aretz)
  • Cease-Fire in Gaza? - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    A reasonable diplomatic agreement, especially one with the potential to reduce arms smuggling into Gaza, would allow the IDF to conclude the operation soon and withdraw with minimal casualties. Still, the assessment in Israel is that in the present circumstances, Hamas' military wing wants to go on fighting. While the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades have been severely damaged, the loss has not been fatal. The senior Hamas officials are stuck in bunkers under the hospitals. The resistance is based on hit-and-run tactics: fighting that is not very organized. The rocket launch teams are taking care to operate under cover of mosques or densely populated neighborhoods. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Time Running Out for an Escalation Israel's Leaders Don't Really Want - David Horovitz
    Israel's ground operation to date has been relatively constrained. Hamas' tactic has been to minimize its confrontations with the IDF. Hamas' main fighting force is largely intact. It was plainly not crying out for a cease-fire, confident that the international diplomatic clock was working against Israel. Hamas is hurt but not beaten. It may have been deterred from further rocket fire, but for how long? No mechanism is yet in place to ensure it cannot quickly rearm, through tunnels it would quickly rebuild under the Philadelphi Corridor. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas: Abbas No Longer Heads PA - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The IDF's anti-Hamas operation in Gaza has diverted attention from the row over PA President Mahmoud Abbas' term in office, which expires on Friday. Abbas was elected in January 2005 to a four-year term. "Thursday was Abbas' last day in office," said Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon. "Abbas's term in office has expired." Abbas claimed that the PA's Basic Law allows him to stay in power for another year. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    The War in Gaza


  • Yes, Israel Can Win in Gaza - Edward N. Luttwak
    Most of the West's news reporters and pundits agree with Islamists everywhere that an Israeli victory in Gaza is impossible. And they echo Hizbullah's claim that it won a great victory in Lebanon in 2006. In fact, Hizbullah was thoroughly shocked by the Israeli bombing campaign, and its supporters, who mostly live in southern Lebanon, are not likely to tolerate another wave of destruction caused by another Hizbullah attack. When three rockets were fired at Israel from inside Lebanon on Thursday, Hizbullah wasted no time assuring the Israelis that it had nothing to do with it, and that it did not even have that type of rocket in their inventory.
        Israel has conducted an extremely accurate bombing campaign. Few Hamas objectives were classic "high-contrast" targets such as bunkers or headquarters. Most targets were small groups of people in civilian vehicles that blend in with traffic, or inside unremarkable buildings. So how did Israel do it? The only possible explanation is that people in Gaza have been informing the Israelis exactly where Hamas fighters and leaders are hiding, and where weapons are stored.
        Hamas will claim a win no matter what happens, but then so did Hizbullah in 2006. Yet the Israeli northern border with Lebanon remains quiet. If Israel can achieve the same with Hamas in Gaza, it would be a significant victory. The writer is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Endgame in Gaza - Charles Krauthammer
    A cessation of hostilities in Gaza to be supervised by international observers would have the same elements as the phony peace in Lebanon: an international force that abjures any meaningful use of force, an arms embargo under which arms will most assuredly flood in, and a cessation of hostilities until the terrorist side is rearmed and ready to initiate the next round of hostilities. Such a deal would buy Israel maybe a couple of years. After which, Round Two - with Hamas rockets by then killing civilians in Tel Aviv and making Ben-Gurion Airport unusable. (Washington Post)
  • In Defense of Israel's "Disproportionate" Response in Gaza - Allan Richarz
    It seems that whenever Israel responds to violent overtures from groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas, leaders of the international community are quick to assign equal condemnation to Israelis and Palestinians regardless of whether one is legitimately acting in self-defense. In war, there are winners and losers, and the only palatable means of victory come from a disproportionate use of force. It does not make sense to demand one technologically or militarily superior belligerent to refrain from fighting to their full potential, simply because they are able to enact "disproportionate" damage on a weaker foe.
        Should the U.S. have refrained from using the atomic bomb because Japan did not yet possess one? Would it have been better to extend Lend-Lease to Nazi Germany as well as Britain so that neither side would gain the advantage? Simply put, a militarily superior force should not limit itself due to the international community's desire to root for the underdog. Furthermore, Hamas should garner no international sympathy simply because it made the poor decision of engaging an enemy of far-superior military might. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Re-establishing Deterrence? - Gideon Lichfield
    For more than three decades the main threat to Israel has been not from conventional armies but from movements like Hamas and Hizbullah. And these groups cannot be deterred. During the 2006 war, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that merely surviving an Israeli onslaught would equal victory for his movement. The same is true of Hamas. Even if Israel now manages to impose a cease-fire on its terms, the calm will be short-lived unless it is willing to reoccupy much of the Gaza Strip indefinitely.
        What could deter Hamas is the fear that by using violence it will lose support among its people. The aim should be to construct a long-lived state of calm in which Hamas has more to lose by breaching the cease-fire than by sticking to it - by improving Gazans' living conditions significantly. Hamas is no fringe movement that can be rooted out, but a central part of Palestinian society. Even though Hamas' stated goal is Israel's destruction, it has said many times that it would accept a truce extending decades. Some former Israeli security chiefs argue that such an accommodation would eventually oblige Hamas to accept Israel's existence, or else lose its own base of support. The writer was Jerusalem bureau chief for The Economist from 2005 to 2008. (New York Times)

    International Law

  • The Hamas War Crime Strategy - Alan M. Dershowitz
    As Israel persists in its military efforts to protect its citizens from deadly Hamas rockets, and as protests against Israel increase around the world, the success of the Hamas war crime strategy becomes evident. The strategy is to provoke Israel by firing rockets at kindergartens, playgrounds and hospitals; hide behind its own civilians when firing at Israeli civilians; exaggerate the number of civilians killed by including as "children" Hamas fighters who are 16 or 17 years old and as "women," female terrorists. The strategy is working because decent people all over the world are naturally sickened by the images and tend to react emotionally, rather than asking why these children are dying and who is to blame for putting them in harm's way. The strategy seems to work better against Israel than it would against other nations. The protestors were nowhere to be seen when hundreds of Jewish children were murdered by Palestinian terrorists over the years. (Hudson Institute)
  • Amnesty International's Criticism of Israeli Action in Gaza Distorts the Law of War - Marc D. Stern
    Amnesty International reads the law of war as if it was a law banning war. Amnesty's criticisms of Israel's actions in Gaza distort a body of law which actually permits, while regulating, war. Amnesty perversely reads that body of law in ways that unduly handcuff nations with legitimate reasons for military action. Indeed, in a recent letter to Secretary of State Rice about the Gaza conflict, Amnesty imposes a new - and entirely unfounded - restriction on the use of military force: that it be "strictly necessary." Presumably Israel's assault on Gaza is not "strictly necessary." Israel could live with ongoing rocket attacks or simply accept whatever terms Hamas dictates as a condition for stopping its rocket fire. Fortunately, peace at any price or yielding to blackmail by rocket fire is not required by international law. The writer is Acting Co-Executive Director/General Counsel, American Jewish Congress. (Jurist)

    Political Perspectives

  • Israel Acts Because the World Won't Defend It - Daniel Finkelstein
    The origin of the State of Israel is not religion or nationalism, it is the experience of oppression and murder, the fear of total annihilation and the bitter conclusion that world opinion could not be relied upon to protect the Jews. So when Israel is urged to respect world opinion and put its faith in the international community, the very idea of Israel is a rejection of this option. Israel only exists because Jews do not feel safe as the wards of world opinion. Zionism is founded on a determination that the Jews will defend themselves and their fellow Jews from destruction.
        The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have. Yet they will not say it. And they will not mean it. Again and again the Palestinians have been offered a nation state in a divided Palestine. And again and again they have turned the offer down, for it has always been more important to drive out the Jews than to have a Palestinian state. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the feeling that Hamas and Hizbullah don't want to kill Jews because they hate Israel. They hate Israel because they want to kill Jews. There cannot be peace until this changes. For Israel will not rely on airy guarantees and international gestures to defend it. It will lay down its arms when the Jews are safe, but it will not do it until they are. (Times-UK)
  • The Mideast's Ground Zero - Thomas L. Friedman
    "The Gaza that Israel left in 2005 was bordering Egypt. The Gaza that Israel just came back to is now bordering Iran," said Mamoun Fandy, director of Middle East programs at the International Institute of Strategic Studies. "Iran has become the ultimate confrontation state. I am not sure we can talk just about 'Arab-Israeli peace' or the 'Arab peace initiative' anymore. We may be looking at an 'Iranian initiative.'" In short, the whole notion of Arab-Israeli peacemaking likely will have to change. (New York Times)
  • Free Gaza - from Terrorist Tyranny - Reda Mansour
    Gaza should be freed from Hamas, a terrorist organization that seized the strip by force in June 2007. Since the takeover, Hamas has run Gaza's economy into the ground. Hamas has built a Taliban-style state in Gaza and introduced many of the Islamic Shari'a laws, institutionalizing the persecution of women and minorities. Hamas has transformed Gaza from a free territory to a large bunker, a place where rockets are stored under families, schools and places of prayer. Gaza should also be freed from the intervention of Iran, a state that openly admits to financing Hamas.
        As far as Israel is concerned, Gaza is free and it is the decision of its inhabitants whether they continue to buy into the self-defeating promises of terrorist organizations and extremist ideologies. And continue to let these organizations use them as human shields and demolish their hopes and futures. Gazans can only truly be free by declaring Gaza a terror-free zone. The writer is consul general of Israel to the Southeast U.S. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
        See also A Conflict Hamas Caused - Richard Cohen (Washington Post)
  • Behind Gaza: A New Middle Eastern Cold War - Michael Young
    At one level, the conflict is between Israelis and Palestinians; yet in many respects that is only a facade for a new Middle Eastern cold war in which a rising Iran, likewise a Syria pursuing its own ends, uses non-state actors such as Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad to put on the defensive Arab regimes seeking to accommodate Israel. In the coming days, America's Arab partners will try to contain Hamas through a UN resolution on Gaza, and by so doing also contain Iran and Syria. It may not look that way, but Israel's ground incursion is the muscle behind that effort.
        In the weeks before the outbreak of violence in Gaza, Egypt had tried to renew the truce between Hamas and Israel. By most accounts, Iran and Syria pushed Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based head of Hamas' political bureau, to undermine any accord by continuing to fire rockets at Israel, making the Gaza confrontation virtually inevitable. The idea was to welcome Barack Obama with a crisis making any American opening toward Iran and Syria more costly for the U.S. That should sober up those in the upcoming administration who speak of engaging Iran and Syria without conditions. (Forbes)
        See also The Arab-Israeli Conflict Is Over - Barry Rubin
    The Arab world is beset by a new conflict which takes up much of its attention and resources: the radical Islamist challenge to Arab nationalist regimes. In every country, the conflict is waged, sometimes violently, at other times through propaganda battles and electoral maneuvers. The Palestinians, too, fought among themselves along these lines. After winning an election victory and then making a deal for a coalition government, Hamas turned on its nationalist rivals and drove them out of Gaza by force. Every Arab state is battling Hamas' friends inside its own borders. In Lebanon, Hizbullah Shia Islamists bully Sunni Muslim, Christian and Druze rivals. Bloody civil wars between Islamists and nationalists erupted in Algeria and Egypt; terrorist campaigns swept Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Finally, the Arab states face a powerful Iranian-Syrian axis whose clients include Hizbullah, Hamas and Iraqi insurgents. This is a danger far exceeding the largely fabricated one from Israel, and Arab rulers know it. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • Why the Israeli People Have Finally Had Enough - Ian O'Doherty
    The conventional dinner party wisdom which we've had to put up with in the media, both here in Ireland and generally across Britain, is that somehow Israel is the aggressor in the rapidly worsening situation in Gaza. Contrary to the currently popular belief, Israel is actually acting with a ridiculous degree of restraint. Over the last couple of years, thousands of rockets have been landing on Israeli soil and, finally, they have had enough.
        Israel is the front line of the war between democracy and Islamic fascism. The civilian deaths in Gaza are to be mourned, and anyone who says otherwise is reprehensible. But in a sick and twisted irony, they are mourned more by Israelis than by Hamas, who know that every dead Palestinian kid is worth another piece of propaganda. We need to start standing shoulder to shoulder with this tiny oasis of democracy in a vast desert of savagery. To do otherwise is moral cowardice of the most repugnant kind. (Independent-Ireland)

    Israeli Perspectives

  • Why Israel Is United - Carlo Strenger
    The Gaza military operation has created a curious phenomenon in Israel. The country was united in a consensus that there was no choice. Even the most liberal among us felt Hamas had put Israel in a situation that no sovereign country could tolerate. This was not just because of the rocket attacks. Hamas' stated long-term goal is a war of attrition with the explicit objective of destroying Israel. Peace is not within Hamas' vocabulary. Israelis are united in the conviction that Hamas' hopes to vanquish Israel must be shattered. Israel must destroy the illusion that it can be wiped off the earth. This was one of the goals of the attack on Gaza.
        Israel is united by disdain for Hamas because it does not value the lives of its own children enough to avoid sacrificing them for political gain. Hamas has changed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from something that can be solved, to a clash defined by the principle that only one side can survive - critics cannot expect Israel to accept this simply because it is the stronger side. The writer is a professor of psychology at Tel Aviv University. (Guardian-UK)
  • Israelis See Gaza Campaign as Justified - Isabel Kershner
    According to military officials, the Israeli offensive is intended to break the military infrastructure of Hamas and to put an end to the incessant rocket fire. A majority of Israelis remain staunchly behind this operation, considering it utterly justified. Residents of the south who live within range of the rockets say they hope that the country's leaders will not give in to international pressure to end the campaign too soon. (New York Times)
  • Israel's Gaza Operation: "It's the Only Way to Stop the Rockets"
    Allon Schamroth, 29, an engineer: "This is the only way to bring an end to the rockets....We have been sitting quietly when rockets have been falling on homes." Rabbi Yossi Greenfeld, 36, army reservist: "I believe very strongly that we are doing things to defend ourselves. We happen to live in a very violent neighborhood here in the Middle East. We have no other choice. If we don't stand for our security it will deteriorate even more." Ruth Yashin, 85, involved in interfaith dialogue since 1966: "I'm prepared to share this country with my Arab neighbors...but they hate me. What can I do? This is my homeland. I regret every child and every family hurt in Gaza, but I live in Ashkelon. Do you know how many air raids we have had there?...I understand that Hamas was democratically elected, but they are on a policy of destruction."  (Guardian-UK)

    Editorials on the Gaza Conflict

  • Did the U.S. Betray Israel at the UN? - Editorial
    The Security Council Thursday agreed on a resolution calling on Israel to stand down against Hamas while leaving the rocket-firing terror brigade well-positioned to continue its reign of indiscriminate terror. The language of the ceasefire resolution - which does not even mention Hamas by name - leaves America's staunchest ally isolated and on the defensive in a decidedly hostile region. Israel is fighting in pure self-defense to stop Hamas from firing the missiles that endanger the lives of a million Israelis, to disarm Hamas and to prevent Hamas from restocking its arsenal. (New York Daily News)
        See also Don't Let the UN Sell Out Israel - Anne Bayefsky (New York Daily News)
  • The Gaza "Cease-Fire" Fraud - Editorial
    Halting military operations would only give Gaza-based terrorists a chance to replenish their weapons stockpiles and training facilities in preparation for the inevitable next round of warfare against the Jewish state. That's exactly what occurred in Lebanon following the August 2006 cease-fire with Hizbullah, and it has certainly been the case with Hamas in Gaza during the recent cease-fire which expired Dec. 19. U.S. diplomacy should focus on giving Israel the time it needs to finish the job. (Washington Times)
  • Proportion Rubbish - Editorial
    "Proportionality" against an enemy out to exterminate your country is folly and possibly suicidal. Effective deterrence means certainty both that a response will be made and that it will be very painful, so painful that the aggressor will be unwilling to repeat his offense. The 2006 Lebanon War was widely considered in Israel to have been a failure. But there haven't been many rockets fired into Israel from Lebanon since that cease-fire. At the time, a Hizbullah leader was quoted as saying that had he known what Israel's response was going to be, he would never have mounted the original attack. That's the attitude Israel wants to generate in Hamas. (Boston Herald)
  • Israel Is Not the Cause of Terror - Editorial
    The people of the West Bank are no friends to Israel but, under the secular Fatah regime that rules there, a peace of sorts exists. It is more than strange that Hamas, which was elected in 2006 on a platform of improving living standards in Gaza, is now making things much worse through violence that serves no purpose. The real reason for Islamic terrorism has less to do with Israel than the fact that around the world small groups of men feel powerless in cultures where women have the same rights they do, where people can say and wear what they like, and where democracy, not theocracy, is the universally supported form of government. (The Australian)
  • Observations:

    We Have to Defend Ourselves From the Terrorists Who Have Taken the Palestinian People Hostage - Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    Ambassador Shalev told the UN Security Council on Tuesday:

    • For eight years the citizens of southern Israel have suffered the trauma of almost daily missile attacks from Gaza. More than 8,000 rockets and mortar shells have targeted Israeli towns and villages. The residents of these towns have had a bare 15 seconds to hurry, with their children and their elderly, to find cover before rockets land on their houses and schools. No state would permit such attacks on its citizens. Nor should it.
    • Israel sought every way to avoid the current conflict. In 2005 Israel removed from Gaza every soldier and civilian, along with their homes, schools and cemeteries. We did this to try to create an opening for peace.
    • But Hamas is vehemently opposed to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas has no interest in making peace with the enemy; for Hamas peace is the enemy. It was the hope for peace that led us to withdraw from Gaza and the terrorism of Hamas that compelled us to re-enter.
    • When Hamas unilaterally announced the end of the Egyptian-brokered "calm" and began to wage a new campaign of rocket attacks against Israel's citizens with the weapons it had smuggled into Gaza during the "calm," we could restrain ourselves no longer. With its new Iranian-made missiles, Hamas is now able to reach the cities of Ashdod and Beersheba, placing over one million Israelis in the shadow of its terror.
    • This is not about a "cease-fire" with terrorism or a mutual cessation of hostilities. It is about ensuring the end of terrorism from Gaza, and the end of smuggling weapons into Gaza; so that there is no longer a need for Israeli defensive operations. This conflict will end not when terrorism is appeased or accommodated but when the international community stands determined and united against it.
    • It is not enough to support peace; we have to confront those who work to destroy it. For this reason, the current military operation is not an obstacle to peace; it is a prerequisite for peace.

    Support the Daily Alert
    Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert