Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 5, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

"U.S. Won't Launch Preemptive Strike Against Iran" - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israeli defense establishment's new and updated assessment for 2007 predicts that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons by the end of the decade, and does not foresee the U.S. undertaking a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear installations.
    Israel also believes that international diplomatic efforts to stop Iran will fail, security sources said.
    Even if sanctions were imposed on Iran today, they would not be effective in deterring the regime from continuing with its nuclear plans.

IDF Seeks Intelligence-Sharing with NATO - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    In a sign of growing ties between Israel and NATO, the IDF's Military Intelligence (MI) plans to establish an intelligence-sharing mechanism with the Western military alliance.
    Last week, MI hosted a weeklong conference on global terrorism and intelligence attended by 50 high-ranking NATO officers as well as officials from Jordan and Morocco.

No Blood Diamonds in Israel (AFP)
    The term "blood diamonds" describes diamonds used to finance child armies and civil wars that have ravaged African countries, and they are the subject of a new Hollywood movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
    Many in the diamond business fear human rights groups could unleash calls to boycott the precious stones.
    But Avi Paz, the president of Israel's diamond exchange, reassures: "Today the number of suspicious diamonds stands at less than one percent compared with a level of five to six percent several years back - because our trade has imposed draconian regulations on itself" to reduce the blood diamond trade.
    "We can guarantee that not one single diamond enters Israel without being checked by the authorities," said Moti Ganz, president of Israel's diamond institute.

More Israeli Arabs in Higher Education Today - Tamara Traubmann (Ha'aretz)
    According to a recent report by the planning and budget committee of the Council for Higher Education, the percentage of Israeli Arabs who go on to higher education after high school has risen from 11 percent in 1991 to 19 percent in 2002.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Offering Video, Israel Answers Critics on War - Greg Myre
    Israel's military has declassified photographs, video images, and prisoner interrogations from the war against Hizballah this summer to buttress its accusation that Hizballah systematically fired from civilian neighborhoods in southern Lebanon, itself a war crime, which made those areas legitimate targets. A detailed report on the war was produced by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, headed by Reuven Erlich, a retired colonel in military intelligence. The report says Hizballah stored weapons in mosques, battled Israelis from inside empty schools, flew white flags while transporting missiles, and launched rockets near UN monitoring posts.
        The report includes Israeli Air Force video of Hizballah firing rockets next to residential buildings and notes: "The construction of a broad military infrastructure, positioned and hidden in populated areas, was intended to minimize Hizballah's vulnerability. Hizballah would also gain a propaganda advantage if it could represent Israel as attacking innocent civilians." (New York Times)
        Read the Report, View the Videos (American Jewish Congress)
  • Beirut Protester Killed in Brawl Hailed as Hizballah "Martyr" - Anthony Shadid
    Within a day of his death in a street brawl in Beirut, Ahmed Mahmoud became the first symbol of the mass demonstrations by Hizballah and its allies which entered their fourth day, meant to bring down the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. (Washington Post)
  • Egypt Detains American in Terrorist Cell Case - Craig Whitlock
    Egyptian authorities said Monday that they had arrested an American after breaking up an international terrorist cell that was recruiting operatives to go to Iraq. The suspects included nine French citizens and two Belgians, as well as two Syrians, a Tunisian woman, and an undisclosed number of Egyptians. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Suicide Bombing Foiled - Avi Issacharoff
    Undercover Border Police operating in Tulkarm in the West Bank Monday arrested Anan Kamal Afif Yaish, a senior Tanzim militant who was planning a suicide bombing in Israel in the immediate future. The bomber, Amar Suliman, 18, was arrested on Nov. 23. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel on Monday evening that landed in PA territory, Israel Channel 2 TV reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Crime Up 50 Percent - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The anarchy and lawlessness in the West Bank and Gaza has claimed the lives of 332 Palestinians since the beginning of 2006, a 50 percent increase over the previous year, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights reported Monday. In 2005, 176 Palestinians were killed in internal disputes and crime, while 93 were killed in 2004. In 2006, 41 murders were politically motivated and 88 were due to clan feuds. 27 Palestinian women were slain by relatives in "honor killings." 33 of those killed were children. The group also documented dozens of assaults on various institutions, including courts, universities and colleges, municipalities, and media organizations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Engaging the Neighbors: Key to Resolving the War in Iraq? - Michael Eisenstadt
    One of the principal policy recommendations of the Iraq Study Group is expected to be that Washington should engage Iraq's neighbors - particularly Syria and Iran - in its efforts to staunch the ongoing violence in Iraq. However, both historical precedent and current conditions on the ground in Iraq suggest that, at least for the time being, this approach is unlikely to succeed. Unfortunately, none of the factors that make a conflict ripe for a settlement currently exist in Iraq.
        Neighbors and others can help when the belligerent parties are dependent on them for funds, arms, manpower, or political support. In Iraq, however, such leverage is minimal. The insurgents have access to all the weapons, funds, and manpower they need, in amounts sufficient to sustain current activity levels indefinitely. U.S. policymakers should assume that, at this point, neighbors like Syria and Iran are part of the problem, not the solution. The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Iran vs. Saudis in Battle of Beirut - Simon Tisdall
    Britain and other European countries are now scrabbling to shore up Fouad Siniora's shaky pro-Western government in Lebanon. All agree that this week's Hizballah-organized, largely Shia Muslim demonstrations must not be allowed to topple the government. Like Israel, the U.S. and Britain see the potential "loss" of Lebanon as a direct gain not only for Syria and its favorite militia, but more worryingly, for Iran. This places the battle for Beirut squarely in the wider context of a regional power struggle with an increasingly confident Tehran.
        No less nervous about Shia Iran's supposedly malign spreading influence are Sunni-led regimes in Cairo, Amman, and Riyadh. Riyadh is indirectly confronting Tehran by supporting Mahmoud Abbas against the Iranian-backed Hamas, and in Lebanon, where it is bankrolling the Siniora government. (Guardian-UK)
  • Islam and Violence - Daniel Allott
    In a recent survey on global conflict, Monty Marshall and Ted Burr of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management found that of the 24 major armed conflicts taking place worldwide in 2005, more than half (13) involved Muslim governments or paramilitary groups on one or both sides of the fighting. What's more, among six countries with "emerging armed conflicts," four are predominantly Muslim and another, Thailand, involves a Muslim separatist movement. Experts assure us that only a small percentage (perhaps 10 percent) of Muslims are willing to participate in terror; with 1.2 billion Muslims globally, that's more than 100 million jihadists. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    The Mullah Menace - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (U.S. News)

    • What's the most dangerous geopolitical development in the 21st century? Iran's emergence as the Middle East regional superpower. Why? Because it places the center of the world's increasingly stretched energy resources more and more under the influence of an oil-rich, fundamentalist, pro-terrorist, anti-Semitic regime that has not only nuclear ambitions but the means to realize them.
    • Iran's malign hand now reaches directly into southern Iraq, to Syria, to Hizballah in Lebanon, to Hamas in Gaza, and to the shores of the Mediterranean. Iran's long shadow now casts a deepening pall over the Sunni Arab countries of the region, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. All the Sunni gulf states have sizable Shiite populations, which Iran could turn against them.
    • What once promised to be a seed for democracy in the despotic Middle East, a new free state of Iraq, has betrayed every hope in an increasingly violent religious schism aggravated by Iranian meddling. The elections in Iraq led not to collaboration between different ethnic and religious groups but to a Shiite majority with a mandate to introduce what is, in effect, a radical Islamic republic.
    • The West will have to decide what is more dangerous - to attack the infrastructure of the Iranians sooner rather than later or to deal with an Iranian nuclear capability after the fact.

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