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August 5, 2011

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Libyan Rebels Say Gaddafi Son Killed in NATO Strike (VOA News)
    Libyan rebels say a NATO airstrike has killed Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's son Khamis and more than 30 other people in the western town of Zlitan, a rebel spokesman said Friday. There was no independent confirmation.
    Khamis Gaddafi has served as one of the main commanders of his father's military forces.
    [The New York Times reported on March 29:
    Gaddafi evidently trusted only two militias - with a total of about 10,000 men - to deploy against the rebels, said Henry Boyd, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
    They are the 32nd Brigade, loyal to his son Khamis, and the Ninth Regiment, under the direction of another son, Muatassim.]

Hizbullah in America - Alex Joffe (Jewish Ideas Daily)
    Evidence for Hizbullah's criminal and terrorist activities in the Western hemisphere continues to build.
    In July, four men were arrested in a U.S.-orchestrated sting operation. Their purpose: purchasing surface-to-air missiles and other munitions for Hizbullah and the Taliban in exchange for hundreds of kilos of heroin.
    Three Yemeni men in Rochester were convicted of illegally transferring money to Hizbullah in 2009.
    An Ohio couple pled guilty in 2011 to charges of conspiracy to support Hizbullah, including through insurance fraud.
    In July, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment against Faouzi Ayoub, formerly of Dearborn, Michigan, for using a forged U.S. passport in 2000 to travel to Israel at the direction of Hizbullah to attempt a terrorist attack.
    Hizbullah has long been implicated in the Iranian bombings of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Jewish community center there in 1994.
    The writer is a research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

Honduras' Palestine Gamble - Marco Caceres (Honduras Weekly)
    President Porfirio Lobo's decision last week to vote in favor of recognizing Palestine as a member of the UN in September represents a major foreign policy reversal for Honduras that has clearly blindsided Israel and its principal ally, the U.S.
    What many do not seem to appreciate is that, in many ways, Honduras has a more natural kinship to the Arab world than to Israel. Of Honduras' population of 8.2 million, an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 are people of Arab descent - the great majority, Palestinian.
    The country's powerful business class is dominated by Arab-Hondurans. Former President Carlos Flores Facusse (1998-2002) comes from Palestinian lineage. Honduras' current foreign minister, Mario Canahuati, is part Palestinian.
    The country's wealthiest individual, Miguel Facusse Barjum - Palestinian. Top coffee exporter Oscar Kafati - Palestinian.

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Declaring a Palestinian State, Yet Again - Daniel Pipes (
    By my count, this is the fourth Palestinian push to declare a state.
    On Oct. 1, 1948, Amin al-Husayni, the mufti of Jerusalem, stood before the Palestine National Council in Gaza and declared the existence of the All-Palestine Government.
    On Nov. 15, 1988, again before a meeting of the Palestine National Council, Yassir Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), declared the existence of a State of Palestine.
    Arafat later insisted he would declare a Palestinian state on May 4, 1999.

Palestinian Researcher to Palestinian Women: Rear Your Children for Jihad (MEMRI)
    On July 10, 2011, an article by Dr. Khaled Al-Khaldi, head of the Center for Palestinian Historiography and Documentation, appeared on the website of the Gaza-based newspaper Falastin praising the sahabiyat (women who lived in the time of the Prophet Muhammad) for raising their sons to wage jihad.
    He described the ways in which these women brought up their children to be mujahideen (holy warriors); preparing themselves to give birth to mujahideen; and teaching their children about Muhammad's life and war exploits so they could follow his example of jihad.

Offshore Gas Storage Tank Approved - Lior Gutman (Calcalist-Ynet News)
    The National Council for Planning and Construction has approved a plan for an offshore gas storage tank 10 km. off the coast of Hadera that will serve as a national emergency reserve in the event of a sudden shortage such as in the case of the suspended supply of gas from Egypt.
    It will also enable tankers carrying liquid gas to hook up to the tank and discharge their cargo.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S., Europe Consider Boycott of Syrian Oil - Mary Beth Sheridan and Alice Fordham
    The U.S. and European governments have begun to discuss whether to escalate sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad by targeting Syria's oil industry, as officials on both continents are looking at stepped-up measures to pressure Assad. While the U.S. has little economic leverage on Syria, having cut off most trade years ago, the Europeans buy about half of Syria's oil. France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are the biggest customers. Syria's petroleum exports of 150,000 barrels per day account for one-third of government revenue.
        "If these [sanctions] are implemented, does it immediately mean the regime stops killing? No," said Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "But does it mean several months from now the regime runs out of money? Yes."
        The U.S. ambassador in Damascus, Robert Ford, said this week that previous sanctions were starting to bite. "More and more business people, especially Sunni business people - an important pillar of the regime's support - we do see them slowly but surely shifting sides."  (Washington Post)
  • Russian President: Syria's Leader Will Face a "Sad Fate" If He Fails to Introduce Reforms
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday he has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that he will face a "sad fate" if he fails to introduce reforms and open a peaceful dialogue with the opposition. "Both on a personal level and in the letters I sent to him (Assad) I have emphasized that it's necessary to urgently conduct reforms, negotiate with the opposition, restore civil peace, and create a modern state," Medvedev said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Civilian Toll Is Mounting in Assault on Syrian City - Nada Bakri
    Syrian human rights activists said Thursday that Syrian government forces had killed more than 100 people in Hama since seizing control of its central square with armored columns and snipers on Wednesday, doubling the count of civilian dead there to more than 200 since the military's tanks began shelling the city over the weekend. Cars trying to carry food into the city have been attacked, and doctors trying to treat the wounded were being detained. One resident in Hama said that most women and children had fled the city. (New York Times)
  • Under Iranian Pressure, Iraq Reportedly Providing Financial Support to Syria
    A source in the National Alliance of various Shi'a groups in Iraq that support Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has told the London daily al-Sharq al-Awsat that "Iran has pressured its allies in Baghdad to support the Syrian authorities with $10 billion." He said that al-Maliki had "succumbed to the pressure and provided financial support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."
        According to the same source, Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Dana'i Fer carried a verbal message from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Brigade commander Gen. Qassim Suleimani (who is rumored to be one of the most influential figures in Baghdad) to the leaders of the National Alliance to provide $10 billion in financial support to the Syrian leader. (MEMRI)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Gaza Rocket Fire Is from Global Jihad Groups, Not Hamas - Yaakov Katz and Yaakov Lappin
    Defense sources said Thursday that those responsible for the recent rocket fire from Gaza are terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and global jihad elements, and not Hamas or Islamic Jihad. 25 rockets have been fired at Israel since the beginning of July, compared to 4 in June. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Air Force Responds to Gaza Rocket Fire
    The Israeli Air Force struck four terror tunnels and one terror activity base in Gaza on Friday following increased rocket fire from Gaza in recent days, the IDF Spokesperson confirmed. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IAF Targets Launch Site of Grad Rocket Fired at Israel
    Since the beginning of 2011, over 340 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza have hit the Israeli home front. The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers, and will respond with determination to any attempt to use terror against the State of Israel. The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • PA Leaders Invited to Washington in Bid to Avoid UN Plan - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In the context of its efforts to persuade the Palestinian Authority to drop its plan to ask the UN in September to recognize a Palestinian state, the U.S. has invited PA officials to Washington for a second round of talks on ways of avoiding the statehood bid. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • September Surprises - Reuven Berko
    In his campaign for a unilateral declaration of statehood in September, which is fast approaching, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has painted himself into a corner. The declaration will not change the reality on the ground. Palestinians know that if Abbas takes unilateral measures against Israel, Israel will respond with tough measures of its own, including economic ones. Palestinians realize that a unilateral declaration of statehood would release Israel from the Oslo Agreements and would also release Israel from cooperating with the Palestinians on numerous issues.
        Will the Palestinian Authority try to set the region alight? Palestinian officials are well aware of the Islamic devil waiting in the wings for its opportunity to take over the West Bank, just as it did Gaza. They are not anxious to commit collective suicide through a third intifada that could quickly spiral out of control. Those Palestinians who oppose the declaration do so because they believe the timing couldn't be worse. This pessimism derives from the current political turmoil in the Arab world, which prevents it from investing time and effort in the Palestinian cause. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestine's UN Bid: Between History and Hot Air - Tom Perry
    The Palestinians will likely emerge from September's General Assembly meeting with a UN status upgrade that will give them access to dozens of UN agencies. But talk in Israel of a looming "diplomatic tsunami" has subsided. Some argue that unless it is part of a deep rethink of Palestinian strategy, the upgrade will have little more than symbolic value and bring Palestinians no closer to independence. "It's a first step, but without further steps it is politically meaningless," said George Giacaman, a political scientist at Birzeit University in the West Bank.
        When discussing September, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's aides say he says: "Unpleasant, but not terrible." Israel seems more wary about the potential for September to trigger Palestinian protests, since the Palestinian leadership has called for mass protests in support of the bid. (Reuters)

  • Egypt

  • Egypt after Mubarak - Editorial
    The demeaning spectacle of a sick 83-year-old in a hospital bed being wheeled into a cage in a court of law had overtones of a Soviet-era show trial. Many warned at the time of Mubarak's downfall that the Arab Spring could produce results inimical to Western interests. This was a man who not only presided over a moderate, secular state, but had also proved a reliable ally of the West in a politically volatile region. Regardless of the outcome of the November elections, we must start getting used to the idea that the Arab world's most populous country might not in the future be any of these things. (Telegraph-UK)
  • 7,000 Years of Oppression - Michael Totten
    Hosni Mubarak may have been overthrown, but the military regime founded by Gamal Abdel Nasser and his cadre of Arab nationalist officers in 1952 is still firmly in place. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, rules Egypt as a military junta, though you’d hardly know it as a casual visitor. The men with guns who were everywhere on the streets of Cairo when I visited a couple of years ago were somewhere else throughout most of July. Egypt is bereft of any portraits of a strong man in charge.
        Anti-Americanism and its anti-Zionist twin were not a strong theme, but those sentiments were bubbling just under the surface. A random man in an orange hat saw my camera, figured that I was a journalist, and decided that was the time to yell about Israel. "We will go to Israel next!" he said. "Israel is next!"
        There have been strikes all over the country, but at the same time most Egyptians are tiring of all this revolutionary activity. They yearn for normalcy more than anything else at the moment, and an end to the upheaval that has brought the economy to its knees. (Pajamas Media)
  • Mubarak Moral to Arab Rulers: Fight Hard - Hamza Hendawi
    Facing tenacious uprisings, the leaders of Syria, Libya and Yemen must have thought of their own possible fates when they saw their one-time peer Hosni Mubarak in a defendant's cage, on trial for charges that could carry a death sentence. Syria's Bashar Assad, Libya's Moammar Gaddafi and Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh are likely to step up violence, judging that they must wipe out the uprisings against them to ensure their own protection. "That's the lesson Arab leaders have learned: Mubarak gave up too easily (and) without a fight," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. (AP)

  • Other Issues

  • The March toward a Nuclear Iran - Ray Takeyh
    For years it was assumed that economic sanctions and diplomacy would produce a pliable negotiating partner in Iran. But Iran's truculence has effectively undermined the once-popular notion. Iran's scientific infrastructure has grown in sophistication and capability in the past two decades. That Iran has crossed successive technical thresholds, has managed to sustain an elaborate and growing enrichment network, and is about to unveil a new generation of centrifuges are all indications of its scientific acumen.
        In today's Iran, a dedicated corps of scientific nationalists is committed to providing the mullahs with the means of building the bomb, and in the next few years Iran will be in position to detonate a nuclear device.
        An aggressive theocracy armed with the bomb will cast a dangerous shadow over the region's political transition, but the consequences will not be limited to the Middle East. An Iranian bomb is likely to unleash the most divisive partisan discord in the U.S. since the 1949 debate about who lost China. In the end, neither the turbulent order of the Middle East nor the partisan politics of Washington can afford an Islamic Republic armed with nuclear weapons. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
  • The Moral Imperative in Syria - Editorial
    For many world leaders, a moral tipping point may have finally been reached this week in the violent crackdown on Syria's democratic uprising. On Sunday, the regime occupied Syria's third-largest city, Hama, using tanks and snipers to kill innocent people in what is coming close to being genocide. It is being helped by Iran, a Shiite-run theocracy that gunned down its own pro-democracy protests in 2009. Moral condemnation and more sanctions are certainly needed, but the UN and the West must find other ways to tighten the pressure on the Assad regime before it kills more people. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Lebanon War Distortions - Abraham Bell and Gerald M. Steinberg
    This summer marks the five-year anniversary of the Lebanon war between Israel and the Lebanese-Iranian terrorist organization Hizbullah, which saw a flood of false accusations against Israel of "war crimes," "indiscriminate and disproportionate" force, and "violations of international law." Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International - ostensibly neutral watchdogs - issued over 40 press releases, statements and pseudo fact-finding reports largely ignoring the war crimes committed by Hizbullah and instead focusing overwhelmingly and negatively on alleged Israeli crimes.
        A multi-year study of all the HRW and Amnesty allegations regarding the 2006 Lebanon war reveals major contradictions as well as numerous unsupported charges, double standards and false or invented "evidence." Errors were overwhelmingly in one direction; almost without fail, errors consisted of exaggerated Lebanese casualties or unfounded accusations against Israel. Justice will only truly be served when the NGOs are held accountable for their distortions. Abraham Bell is professor of law and Gerald Steinberg is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University. (Ynet News)
  • Middle Eastern Christians and Anti-Semitism - Aymenn Jawad
    The Syriac Orthodox Church's bishop in Lebanon, George Saliba, told Al-Dunya TV on July 24 that "the source...behind all these [protest] movements, all these civil wars" in the Arab world is nothing other than Zionism, "deeply rooted in Judaism." The Jews, he says, are responsible for financing and inciting the turmoil in accordance with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
        These remarks are not an isolated case among Middle Eastern Christians. Two months after the assault last October on the Syriac Catholic Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, leaving 58 dead, the Melkite Greek Patriarch Gregory III Laham characterized the terrorist attacks on Iraq's Christians as part of "a Zionist conspiracy against Islam."
        It is telling that other non-Muslim minorities that have suffered discrimination and violence at the hands of Islamists - including the Yezidis, Mandeans and Baha'ís - have never blamed Jews or Zionism for their persecution; their religions have not featured anti-Semitic doctrines. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israel Helps Stem Global Food Crisis - Laura Kam
    As crops fail in Russia, as dust bowls replace fertile land in Asia and Central Africa, the issue of food security has leapt to the top of the world agenda. Israel, a desert nation, has developed a range of agriculture and water technologies that are already helping to feed the world. For decades, Israeli agriculture experts have been sharing their expertise with some of the poorest regions on earth, creating sustainable self-sufficiency in food and water supplies. In recent years, Israeli expertise has been heavily in demand in India, Africa and China.
        Israel is also a world leader in desalination - converting salt water to fresh water for human consumption or irrigation. The writer is the executive director for global affairs at The Israel Project. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Ingenuity Powers GM's Cars of Tomorrow - David Halevi
    General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, not only has an R&D facility in Israel, but an entire corporate structure in Herzliya. The mission of GM Israel is to develop the technologies that will make the car of tomorrow the best vehicle ever built. GM opened its Israel site in 2005 and expects about 200 people - mostly engineers - to be on board by the end of 2013.
        GM Israel is developing technology in five areas: advanced sensing and vision systems; human interface systems that adapt voice and touch technology for autos; wireless enabling, allowing a vehicle's systems to use networks to ensure constant communication; infotainment; and vehicle control and robotics for driverless navigation. One of GM's venture capital funds, located in Israel, invested in Israeli startup Powermat, which makes wireless charging mats for cell phones and other electronic devices. GM plans to include the mats in vehicles as soon as 2012, allowing drivers to easily recharge their handheld devices while on the road. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Land for War - Efraim Karsh and Asaf Romirowsky (Wall Street Journal)

  • In putting the Palestinian demand for statehood to a vote, Abbas will end up subverting the international organization's longstanding solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict - UN Security Council Resolution 242 - with unpredictable results. Passed in the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War, Resolution 242 established the principle of "land for peace" as the cornerstone of future peace agreements between Israel and the Arabs, to be reached in negotiations between the two sides. Israel was asked to withdraw "from territories occupied in the recent conflict."
  • The absence of the definite article "the" before "territories" was no accident: Issued a mere six months after Israel's astounding triumph over the concerted Arab attempt to obliterate the Jewish state, the resolution reflected acceptance by the Security Council of the existential threat posed by the 1949 armistice line. The Security Council expected negotiations between Israel and the Arabs to produce a more defensible frontier for Israel, one consistent with the right of every state in the region "to live in peace with secure and recognized boundaries."
  • In the 44 years that have followed, Israel has persistently striven to make peace with its Arab neighbors. It withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, constituting more than 90% of the territories occupied in 1967.
  • The Palestinians have consistently misrepresented the resolution as calling for Israel's complete withdrawal to the pre-June 1967 lines. They also sought to undermine the resolution's insistence on the need for a negotiated settlement, seeking time and again to engineer an internationally imposed dictate despite their commitment to a negotiated settlement through the Oslo process. Since the inauguration of the Obama administration, Mr. Abbas has dropped all remaining pretenses of seeking a negotiated settlement, striving instead to engineer international enforcement of a complete Israeli withdrawal without a peace agreement, or, indeed, any quid pro quo.

    Mr. Karsh is director of the Middle East Forum (Philadelphia) and professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London. Mr. Romirowsky is adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum and a doctoral student at King's College London.
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