Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Via Smartphone


October 8, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Blames U.S. for Defection of Nuclear Scientist - Catherine Philp (Times-UK)
    Iran has accused the U.S. of involvement in the disappearance of a nuclear scientist earlier this year amid speculation about his possible role in unmasking the clandestine nuclear plant near Qom.
    Shahram Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia in May during a pilgrimage to Mecca.
    Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday: "We have found documents that prove U.S. interference with the Iranian pilgrim Shahram Amiri in Saudi Arabia.... We hold Saudi Arabia responsible and consider the U.S. to be involved in his arrest."
    Amiri worked as a nuclear physics researcher at Malek-e-Ashtar University, a research institute closely associated with the Iranian military.

Chavez Jokes About Helping Iran Build a Nuclear Bomb - Guy Adams (Independent-UK)
    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday used a televised Cabinet meeting to crack jokes about helping Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to develop weapons of mass destruction.
    Welcoming his minister for mining to the meeting, Chavez cheerfully inquired: "How's the uranium for Iran? For the atomic bomb?"

Report: Global Muslim Population Hits 1.57 Billion - Eric Gorski (AP)
    The global Muslim population stands at 1.57 billion, meaning that nearly 1 in 4 people in the world practice Islam, according to a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life report released Wednesday.
    Islam is the world's second largest religion behind Christianity, which has an estimated 2.1-2.2 billion followers.
    Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon, China has more Muslims than Syria, and Russia has more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined.
    "This whole idea that Muslims are Arabs and Arabs are Muslims is really just obliterated by this report," said Amaney Jamal, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University.
    The report estimates that Shiites represent 10-13% of the Muslim population, with 80% of the world's Shiites living in Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq.

171 Jewish Nobel Prizewinners - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    There are only about 13.3 million Jews in the world today, yet Ada Yonath of Israel's Weizmann Institute will become the 171st Jew to win the Nobel Prize.

Israel Ranks 27th in Human Development Index - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel ranked 27th out of the 182 countries in the UN's Human Development Index, which measures quality of life and was published in Bangkok on Monday.
    The top ten were Norway, Australia, Iceland, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Japan. The U.S. ranked 13th.
    Israel ranked 10th in life expectancy at 80.7 years and 34th in Gross Domestic Product per capita.

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

  • CIA Knew About Iran's Secret Nuclear Plant Long Before Disclosure - Bobby Ghosh
    The CIA had known about Iran's undisclosed uranium-enrichment plant in Qom for three years, CIA Director Leon Panetta told TIME. The CIA worked with British and French intelligence, which had also been on the lookout for the secret plant. In 2006, the CIA noted unusual activity at the mountain inside of which the facility was constructed: the Iranians moved an anti-aircraft battery to the site, a clear sign that something important was being built there. Panetta said: "Our body of knowledge, based on multiple sources, grew to the point that allowed us earlier this year to reach the high-confidence conclusion that this was a covert nuclear facility."
        Panetta said British, French and Israeli intelligence agencies were involved this summer in compiling a comprehensive presentation about the Qom facility "in the event that that information leaked out or that [the Obama administration] wanted to present it to the International Atomic Energy Agency."  (TIME)
        See also Intelligence Fiasco Footnote: The Authors of the 2007 Iran NIE Have Some Explaining to Do - Editorial
    A recent White House "guidance paper" acknowledges that the U.S. has been "carefully observing and analyzing this facility for several years." That timeline is significant, because it was less than two years ago, in December 2007, that a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear programs asserted with "high confidence" that Tehran had "halted its nuclear weapons program" in the fall of 2003. Fast forward to the present, and it turns out the NIE was misleading even on its own terms: Iran did have a covert facility, perhaps for enrichment, and the intelligence community knew or at least strongly suspected it. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Security Council to Discuss Gaza War Crimes on Oct. 14
    The UN Security Council will discuss a report next week that claims war crimes were committed by both sides during last winter's Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. The council met behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss Libya's request for an emergency meeting on the Goldstone report, and agreed to advance its monthly meeting on the Middle East to Oct. 14 and focus on the report. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Qaddafi Vexes U.S. in Forcing UN to Take Up Gaza Report - Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Support for Israel Makes a Difference to Jewish Voters - Mark Mellman
    Support for Israel is a critical element of Jews' voting behavior. An experiment we embedded in a survey for the National Jewish Democratic Council provides the most telling evidence. For half of the sample we pitted a theoretical Republican candidate who had a "strong pro-Israel record" against a Democratic opponent who also had a "strong pro-Israel record." In the other half of the sample, the Democrat lacked the pro-Israel record. The pro-Israel Democrat won by a 45-point margin among Jewish voters, while the Democrat who was identical, except on Israel, eked out only a three-point win. Support for Israel alone created a massive 42-point swing in the margin, clear evidence of the centrality of Israel to Jewish voters. (The Hill)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Develops New System to Deflect Anti-Tank Missiles - Arie Egozi
    Israel Military Industries (IMI) has developed a new, innovative defense system that intercepts and deflects the flight paths of anti-tank missiles aimed at infantry and armored forces, Yediot Ahronot reported Wednesday. The "Shock Absorber" is a portable anti-missile system which can be deployed on the ground within minutes. "The system can disrupt the paths of missiles like the Kornet and Milan, used by Hizbullah in the Second Lebanon War," said Eyal Ben-Haim, head of IMI's Land Systems Division. "Such missiles are controlled by a handler who navigates them to their target. Our system ensures the missile hits anywhere but where it was aimed at."  (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Special Envoy in Mideast for New Talks - Roni Sofer
    U.S. special envoy to the Mideast George Mitchell begins a new round of talks in Israel on Thursday. Mitchell's aides said he believes peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians may be restarted in the near future. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Foreign Minister: Only Interim Peace Deal Possible
    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday he would tell visiting U.S. envoy George Mitchell that there was no chance of reaching a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians for many years. "I will tell him clearly, there are many conflicts in the world that haven't reached a comprehensive solution and people learned to live with it," Lieberman told Israel Radio. "What is possible to reach is a long-term intermediate agreement...that leaves the tough issues for a much later stage."
        "Whoever says that it's possible to reach in the coming years a comprehensive agreement that means the end of conflict, that both sides sign on the end of conflict, simply doesn't understand the reality," Lieberman said. "He's spreading illusions and in the end brings disappointment and drags us into comprehensive confrontation."  (Reuters-New York Times)
  • Saudi King's Visit to Syria Unlikely to Herald Radical Change - Jonathan Spyer
    The Syrian Al-Watan newspaper reported on Wednesday that a two-day visit by Saudi King Abdullah would conclude with the signing of a joint agreement on taxes. This is what is known as setting a low bar for success. Despite the great importance being attached by some regional analysts to the Saudi-Syria talks, they are unlikely to herald a fundamental shift in regional diplomacy. In seeking to repair relations with Syria, Riyadh is adjusting to an existing reality caused by the U.S. decision to end the isolation of Damascus. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Saudi King to Pressure Syria over Iran Alliance - Julien Barnes-Dacey and Margaret Coker (Wall Street Journal)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Waiting for the Deadline on Iran - Again - Dore Gold
    The Iranians have managed to push off the first inspection of their previously secret uranium enrichment plant at Fordu to Oct. 25, more than a month after it first came to light. Back in March 2004, the Iranians postponed for about 30 days an IAEA visit to the Lavizan technological research center near Tehran, the location of the Iranian weaponization group which designed and constructed nuclear warheads. In the meantime, the Iranians razed several buildings at the facility and dug out two meters of earth to make it more difficult for inspectors to take soil samples that contained radioactive materials. The Iranians also delayed IAEA inspection of the Parchin military complex in 2005, where conventional high explosives had been tested that could be used for detonating a nuclear device.
        Gaining time was clearly one of the purposes of Iran during its Oct. 1 meeting in Geneva with the P-5+1. Prior to that meeting the Iranians were facing rising international pressures, that could have resulted in immediate, severe sanctions. Iranian moves at the meeting were designed to burst the balloon of pressure it was facing and slip off the hook.
        The U.S. Congress is considering severe sanctions against Iran, including an embargo against gasoline imports to the Islamic republic. But there will be an effort to delay any Congressional action as long as the parties are talking. Meanwhile, the centrifuges in the main Iranian enrichment facility at Natanz will continue to spin, producing more enriched uranium and enlarging the potential arsenal of Iran's atomic weapons. As Iran succeeds in breaking every deadline that has been issued, its resolve only increases. The writer, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is the author of The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West (Regnery, 2009). (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Hypocrisy of "Universal Jurisdiction" - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was arrested when he set foot in Great Britain. (He was quickly released on grounds of diplomatic immunity because he was an official visitor.) And now Moshe Yaalon, an Israeli government minister and former Army Chief of Staff, was forced to cancel a trip he was scheduled to make in London on behalf of a charity, for fear that he too would be arrested. The charges against these two distinguished public officials are that they committed war crimes against Palestinian terrorists and civilians.
        Those demanding these arrests are political activists seeking to invoke so-called "universal jurisdiction" against those who they consider guilty of war crimes and genocide. They would never dream of demanding the arrest of Hamas murderers who target Israeli schoolchildren for suicide bombings or rocket attacks. They are willfully misusing the concepts of human rights and universal jurisdiction to serve their anti-Israel and anti-Western ideology.
        Let there be a legal proceeding - a fair one in an objective forum - in which Israel's policies are tested against those of other countries. The end result would be that Ehud Barak and Moshe Yaalon will be able to hold their heads high in the full knowledge that what they have done meets and exceeds every standard of international law applicable to their conduct. The writer is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • Observations:

    Deep Denial: Why the Holocaust Still Matters - Michael B. Oren (New Republic)

    • In his recent speech to the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu focused in his opening remarks on the Holocaust. "One-third of all Jews perished in the great conflagration of the Holocaust," Netanyahu reminded the delegates. "Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own." He went on to assail President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the world's premier Holocaust denier, who had addressed the same assembly the previous day, as well as those ambassadors who did not walk out on him. "Have you no shame?" Netanyahu upbraided them. "Have you no decency?"
    • Recognizing the murder of six million Jews more than six decades ago is, in fact, vital for understanding the supreme dangers posed to six million Jews in Israel today by a nuclear Iran and by the Goldstone Report. Reasserting the factuality of the Holocaust is a prerequisite for peace. Israel and its citizen defense forces represent the most palpable means for redressing the Jews' inability to defend themselves that led to the Holocaust.
    • Where Ahmadinejad leaves off, the Goldstone Report persists. Instead of probing Hamas' deliberate effort to maximize Israeli civilian casualties by firing more than 7,000 missiles at Israeli towns, the judges interviewed handpicked Hamas witnesses, several of them senior commanders disguised as civilians, and uncritically accepted their testimony.
    • Israel will, of course, continue to defend its citizens. No amount of vitriol will compel Israel onto a course of self-destruction. But having twice withdrawn unilaterally to recognized borders and received only onslaughts in return, and having suffered censure for protecting themselves from that aggression, Israelis will understandably recoil from additional retreats that will leave them vulnerable.
    • Israelis, moreover, will not withdraw from any territory liable to become staging grounds for terrorist groups empowered by international agencies and convinced of their ability to murder Israelis with impunity. By reaffirming Israel's right to safeguard its citizens, Prime Minister Netanyahu has demarcated the only path to peace.

      The writer is Israel's ambassador to the United States.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert