Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see


December 21, 2006

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Report: U.S. Nurturing Syrian Opposition - Adam Zagorin (TIME)
    The Bush administration has been quietly nurturing individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad.
    Parts of the scheme are outlined in a classified, two-page document that says the U.S. already is "supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora Syrian activists" in Europe.

New Threats by Al-Qaeda No. 2 Single Out Britain - Craig Whitlock (Washington Post)
    The threat of a terrorist attack on European soil by Islamic radicals has increased substantially in recent months, according to European counterterrorism officials.
    In a new videotape released Wednesday, al-Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri singled out Britain as a historical enemy of Muslims, blaming it for the creation of Israel and the downfall of the Ottoman Empire.
    He also said al-Qaeda would continue to plan attacks on the U.S. and its "Crusader" allies in Europe.

Hamas to al-Qaeda: We Haven't Quit Resistance - Ali Waked (Ynet News, 20Dec06)
    Hamas spokesperson Ismail Radwan responded to remarks by al-Qaeda No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri that condemned Mahmoud Abbas for threatening to hold early elections, saying his group has not given up its commitment to fight Israel.
    "We haven't quit, we won't quit, and will continue to abide by our principles, to raise the banner of resistance, and we won't recognize the shameful agreements," he said, referring to the Oslo Accords.

Britain: Flying to Saudi Arabia? Give Up on the New Testament - Modi Kraitman (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 20Dec06)
    British Midland, the second largest airlines in Britain, ordered its air crews not to take the New Testament with them on their flights to Saudi Arabia "so that they don't enrage the Muslims."
    Instead, crews have been ordered to take care of there being a sufficent supply of Korans for these flights.
    One of the stewardesses sued the company on grounds of religious descrimination.
    According to the company, the order they issued came from a recommendation of the British Foreign Office not to bring non-Muslim religious materials into Saudi Arabia.
    The order of British Midland came after British Airways instructed a stewardess to refrain from wearing a cross.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Ahmadinejad Opponents Win Elections - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Opponents of Iranian President Ahmadinejad won nationwide elections for local councils, final results confirmed Thursday. Moderate conservatives critical of Ahmadinejad won a majority of seats, followed by reformists. Some conservatives feel Ahmadinejad has spent too much time confronting the West and failed to deal with Iran's struggling economy. In Tehran, candidates supporting Mayor Qalibaf, a moderate conservative, won seven of the 15 council seats. Reformists won four, while Ahmadinejad's allies won three. Similar anti-Ahmadinejad sentiment was visible in the final results of a parallel election held to select members of the 86-member Assembly of Experts. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Iran President Facing Revival of Students' Ire - Nazila Fathi
    The Iranian student movement is reawakening and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against President Ahmadinejad. The students' complaints largely mirrored public frustrations over the president's crackdown on civil liberties, his blundering economic policies, and his harsh oratory against the West, which they fear will isolate the country. (New York Times)
  • Europeans Yield on Iran Sanctions - Colum Lynch
    Britain, France, and Germany have scrapped plans to impose a UN travel ban on Iranian officials who are linked to Tehran's most controversial nuclear activities, a move intended to win Russian support for a UN resolution restricting Iran's nuclear trade, according to U.S. and European officials. (Washington Post)
  • U.S Judge Dismisses Suit Against Israeli General
    The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dealt a blow last week to ongoing attempts to sue Israeli officials in America over alleged war crimes. In a December 14 decision, Judge Paul Friedman ordered the dismissal of the civil lawsuit against former Israeli army chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon. Friedman argued that the retired Israeli general is immune from any legal measures in the U.S. since his actions were carried out as part of his official capacity in the Israeli military. (Forward)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Intensifies - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired eight Kassam rockets toward Israel Wednesday and Thursday morning, despite a truce that went into effect last month. Some 40 rockets have been fired at Israel since the cease-fire. Prime Minister Olmert said Wednesday that "Israel's restraint to ongoing violations of the cease-fire in the form of rocket attacks at southern Israeli cities will soon end." (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Hits Gaza House, Wounds Three Palestinians - Hanan Greenberg
    Three Palestinians were injured Thursday morning after a Palestinian rocket hit their home in northern Gaza. Eyewitnesses said the rocket accidentally hit the home of the al-Masri family in Beit Hanoun, injuring the pregnant mother, who suffered a miscarriage, and her two children. (Ynet News)
  • IDF: Hizballah Almost at Full Strength - Yaakov Katz
    It is "just a matter of time" before Hizballah attacks Israel, a high-ranking officer from the Northern Command said Wednesday, adding that Hizballah had nearly returned to full strength. The officer said Syria had used the past four months since the end of the war to transfer truckloads of advanced rockets and weaponry to Hizballah in Lebanon, sometimes on a daily basis. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Cracks Begin to Appear in Support for Hizballah - Tom Lasseter
    Hizballah remains in firm control of southern Lebanon and enjoys overwhelming popularity there, but fissures are beginning to creep across that support as winter comes, with crops destroyed, jobs scarce, and the wreckage of war still unrepaired. "People are saying OK, it was a tremendous military performance [by Hizballah], but at the end of the day, it was the Shiites who suffered," said Timor Goksel, a former senior adviser to UNIFIL. (McClatchy)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Words That Can Kill - Jeff Jacoby
    Today Simon Bikindi is being tried by the international tribunal created to bring Rwanda's accused war criminals to justice. The central charge against him is that he incited genocide with his songs. Words can be deadly, opening the door to murder on a vast scale. That is why the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide unambiguously makes it as much of a crime to incite acts of genocide as to physically commit them. If Simon Bikindi has been charged with incitement to commit genocide, why hasn't Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? For many months preceding the Rwandan genocide, there was similar incitement to mass-murder. Yet international authorities did nothing to silence the inciters - with catastrophic results.
        The situation in Iran today is frighteningly similar, with one critical difference: "While the Hutus in Rwanda were equipped with...machetes, Iran, should the international community do nothing to prevent it, will soon acquire nuclear weapons," argues the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in a brief setting out in detail the legal case for prosecuting the Iranian president. At that point Tehran would be poised to commit the first "instant genocide" in history. Iran's intentions are nakedly, malignantly clear. What is not clear at all is what the civilized world will do about it. An indictment of Ahmadinejad under the Genocide Convention would not, by itself, eliminate the threat of a second Holocaust. It would, however, make a good first step. (Boston Globe)
        See also Referral of Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide (JCPA) - (1M pdf file)
  • Forget the Domino Theories - Robert Satloff
    In boldly suggesting that "all key issues in the Middle East are inextricably linked," the authors of the Iraq Study Group report seem stunningly indifferent to the past 25 years of Middle East politics. After a generation of theorizing about Middle East dominoes, the evidence is piling up: The linkages simply don't exist. There is no evidence to support the proposition that Israeli-Palestinian violence has substantial regional repercussions. The road to Baghdad does not pass through Tehran, Damascus, Jerusalem, or Gaza. The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute. (Washington Post/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Road to Tehran - Bret Stephens
    Jose Saramago, Portugal's Nobel Laureate in Literature, observed after a visit to Ramallah that the Israeli incursion into the city "is a crime that may be compared to Auschwitz." Never mind that at the time Mr. Saramago visited Ramallah a total of about 1,500 Palestinians had been killed in the Intifada, whereas Jews were murdered at Auschwitz at a rate of about 2,000 a day.
        There are more than six million Israelis who presumably wish to live in a sovereign country called Israel. Are their wishes irrelevant? Are their national rights conditional on their behavior - or rather, perceptions of their behavior - and if so, should such conditionality apply to all countries? (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Assad Can't Deliver - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)

    • Syrian President Assad knows well that if he meets even some of the demands presented to him by Israel, the U.S., and Europe, his regime would face genuine danger as would the Alawite-Shiite sect he leads. Therefore, he is unable to deliver the goods even if he receives everything he wants.
    • He is unable to disengage from Iran because it's getting stronger and is assisting him in expanding his ballistic missile arsenal. Iran also controls Hizballah, which is able to thwart overnight all of Assad's hopes regarding Lebanon. Tehran knows it has the power to veto any Syrian move it doesn't like.
    • Assad is also unable to deliver the goods in the American context regarding Iraq. If he curbs the flow of money, fighters, and weapons to the Sunni rebels in Iraq, he knows they will launch a war against him and his regime with the help of Syria's Sunnis.
    • The Sunni majority in Syria, and particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, are desperate for outside assistance in order to act against the Alawite-Shiite regime in Damascus. The Iraqi Sunnis refrain from acting against Syria because Assad provides them assistance. Should Assad stop the assistance, the Iraqi Sunnis would join forces with the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and threaten Assad's regime.
    • They will also resort to terrorism in order to torpedo any attempt for Syrian-Israeli cooperation or normalization should a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement be signed.
    • The bottom line is that Assad, under the conditions currently prevalent in the Middle East, cannot give Israel and the West anything substantive in exchange for a peace agreement involving the Golan, even if he wants to do so.
    • The reasons for Assad's peace offensive are mostly tactical: He believes that engaging in negotiations with Israel, even if indirectly, would remove international pressure regarding the Hariri trial.

    To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:
    [email protected]
    To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to:
    [email protected]