Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


January 22, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Opposition Delayed Indian Launch of Israeli Satellite - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's TecSar satellite, launched on Monday from India, was supposed to be launched in September but was delayed for months by Iranian pressure on the Indian government applied through Indian opposition parties, particularly the Muslim and Communist political factions.
    A Western defense official said prior to the launch, "The Iranians are scared of the potential this new satellite will bring Israel....They are doing everything they can to prevent its launch."

The Construction Site Called Saudi Arabia - Jad Mouawad (New York Times)
    More than 38,000 workers from China, India, Turkey and beyond have been toiling for two years at Rabigh, Saudi Arabia, to complete one of the world's largest petrochemical plants in record time.
    The plant is part of a $500 billion investment program to build new cities, create millions of jobs and diversify the Saudi economy.
    Persian Gulf countries earned $1.5 trillion in oil revenue from 2002 to 2006, twice as much as in the previous five-year period, according to the Institute of International Finance in Washington.
    As the top exporter, Saudi Arabia has been the main beneficiary. Riyadh is teeming with shopping malls, electronics stores and luxury boutiques.

Hundreds of Israeli Bedouin Women Attend University - Jessica Shepherd (Guardian-UK)
    The education of Israeli Bedouin girls is going through an unprecedented and dramatic transformation.
    For the last decade, non-governmental organizations and Ben-Gurion University have coached bright girls in the skills they need to secure a university place and then offered them scholarships.
    In 2007, almost 250 Bedouin women were on degree or teacher-training courses.

U.S. Fears "Disastrous" Links in Latin America with Islamic Militants (AFP)
    Admiral James Stavridis, head of the U.S. Southern Command, said Wednesday he fears a "disastrous" linkup between drug traffickers and radical Islamists in Latin America, where he said Iran wields growing influence.
    He told a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington that Iran had already opened 10 embassies in Latin America and "President Ahmadinejad says he wants to have an embassy in every country in this region."

Unemployment Drops to 10-Year Low - Adrian Filut (Ynet News)
    Israel's unemployment rate dropped to 6.6% last November - a 10-year low - down from 8.1% in November 2006, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported.

Useful Reference:

2008 Herzliya Conference on Israel's National Security (Institute for Policy and Strategy, Lauder School of Government, IDC Herzliya)
    View the conference sessions - January 20-23, 2008

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
G-Alert (Hebrew)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Eases Gaza Blockade - Ibrahim Barzak
    Israel Tuesday eased a blockade of Gaza imposed in retaliation for militant rocket attacks, allowing in some food and fuel. Israel pumped cooking oil and fuel for Gaza's power plant through the Nahal Oz crossing, and was expected to allow a shipment of fuel, food and medicine through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Prime Minister Olmert said Monday he will not allow a humanitarian crisis to develop. But he said Gaza's residents won't be able to live a "pleasant and comfortable life" as long as southern Israel is under rocket attack. "As far as I'm concerned, Gaza residents will walk, without gas for their cars, because they have a murderous, terrorist regime that doesn't let people in southern Israel live in peace," Olmert said.
        "We think Hamas got the message," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel. "As we have seen in the past couple of days, when they want to stop the rockets, they can." But Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror said a reduction in rocket attacks was not enough for Israel to ease the closure. "If we open the crossings again tomorrow, there will be rockets that fall again on Israel," Dror said. "They don't want to recognize Israel and want to destroy Israel - that's their problem. They shouldn't expect that we will help them destroy us." The power outage mainly affected Gaza City, while electricity in other areas of Gaza was not interrupted. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired four Kassam rockets at Sderot Tuesday morning. Nine Kassam rockets and 13 mortar shells were fired at Israeli communities on Monday afternoon. (Ynet News)
  • Iran Leader Under Fire for Gas Shortages - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei Monday reversed a decision by President Ahmadinejad and ordered him to implement a law supplying natural gas to remote villages amid rising dissatisfaction with the president's performance. Ahmadinejad's popularity has plummeted amid rising food prices and deaths due to gas cuts during a particularly harsh winter. Both reformists and conservatives are increasingly asking why Iranians are dying from the cold while sitting on massive gas fields. (AP)
        See also Radical Left Challenging Authority in Iran - Nazila Fathi
    In early December at Tehran University, 500 Marxist students held aloft portraits of Che Guevara to protest President Ahmadinejad's policies. Political protest has been harshly suppressed under the current Iranian government, but the radical left has been permitted relative freedom. Analysts say this may be because, like the government, it rejects the liberal reform movement and attacks the West. (New York Times)
  • Angry Egypt Cancels Talks with EU Officials
    Egypt has canceled political talks with senior EU officials after a European Parliament resolution criticized the state of human rights in Egypt, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Saturday. The resolution triggered angry reactions from the Egyptian government and parliament. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Prominent Arab Editor, PA Officials Blame Hamas for Gaza Crisis - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Abdel Rahman Rashed, a Saudi national serving as general manager of the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya news channel, said Hamas was responsible for the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. Writing in the London-based daily Asharq Alawsat, Rashed questioned the wisdom of firing rockets and mortars at Israel which, he said, was only increasing the suffering of the Palestinians.
        PA officials in Ramallah have also blamed Hamas for the crisis in Gaza. PA Information Minister Riad al-Malki said the latest crisis was the result of Hamas' "insistence on creating an Islamic republic in Gaza." A top PA official in Ramallah accused Hamas of ordering bakery owners to keep their businesses closed for the second day running to create a humanitarian crisis. "Hamas is preventing people from buying bread," he said. "They want to deepen the crisis so as to serve their own interests." The official said that, contrary to Hamas' claims, there is enough fuel and flour to keep the bakeries in Gaza operating for another two months. "Hamas members have stolen most of the fuel in Gaza to fill their vehicles," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Open Fire on Israeli Troops Near Gaza Border
    Palestinian gunmen opened fire on IDF troops near the southern Gaza border fence in two separate incidents on Tuesday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians in Gaza Open Fire at Israeli Farmers - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza opened fire Tuesday morning at farmers working near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha in southern Israel. An Ecuadorian volunteer was murdered by a Palestinian sniper in the same area last week. (Ynet News)
  • UK Taxes Fund PA Hate Education - Jonny Paul
    British taxpayers are funding hate education and violence in the Middle East, according to a new report published by the British NGO Tax Payers Alliance (TPA). The report shows that part of the £47.5 million of British aid to the Palestinian territories goes towards textbooks that praise insurgents in Iraq, encourage execution of apostates, and idealize martyrdom. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas' Dupes - Editorial
    A Hamas official warned that the reduction in fuel shipments to Gaza's power plant meant: "We have the choice to either cut electricity on babies in the maternity ward or heart surgery patients." Not exactly. Hamas has the choice of supplying the electricity it has first to hospitals and other essential humanitarian needs. Hamas also has the choice of stopping the Kassam rocket attacks against Israel. Instead, as usual, Hamas' leaders have chosen to deliberately increase the suffering of Palestinians, knowing the international community will cooperate with this cynical choice and blame Israel.
        There is no greater act of "collective punishment" than randomly firing missiles at the homes of innocent Israeli civilians. Where is the concern for the "humanitarian crisis" of Israelis who have had to live under the threat of rocket fire for the last seven years? Power outages cannot compare to the deadly and indiscriminate threat from missiles landing on kindergartens and homes. If Western officials uniformly blamed Hamas instead of amplifying its propaganda, it might be forced to stop its aggression, ending the "humanitarian crisis."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • How to Respond to Bombardment from Across the Border - Marty Peretz
    Israel has been under siege from missiles and rockets day in, day out ever since it withdrew from Gaza on Sep. 12, 2005. Israel is a tiny country, wedged in between the sea and a great swath of hostile Arab territories. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are within easy range of the land the peace processors have set aside in their imaginations for a Palestinian state.
        Imagine the U.S. tolerating a situation in which there is relentless bombardment from across its border, and the regime there in power not only tolerates it but facilitates it; not only facilitates it, but makes clear that it is a picture of the Israeli future. Not only the U.S., but any and all governments, would respond forcefully, more forcefully than Israel had responded. (New Republic)
  • Missile Test a Message to Our Enemies - Alex Fishman
    The missile that Israel tested Thursday was two-stage. The test examined the critical moment where the missile's first stage disconnects and the second stage's engine fires. Interested parties will analyze the missile firing and reach the reasonable conclusion that this capability enables Israel to produce long-range ballistic missiles. Particularly, this capability enables Israel to produce missiles that can launch satellites into space, and also missiles aimed at thwarting incoming ballistic missiles fired at Israel from great distances at very high altitude.
        The "show" presented by Israel was an explicit signal: Those who are playing with their own missiles, such as the Shehab, or pursuing nuclear weapons, should know they are not alone in this game. Adventures come with a price. This is also known as "deterrence." (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    The Gaza "Blackout" and the Laws of War - J. Peter Pham (National Review)

    • Although the so-called "Gaza blackout" was instigated by the Hamas terrorists who run the enclave as a sort of cynical publicity stunt, it has drawn the usual dire warnings of impending humanitarian crisis and protests from neighboring Arab countries and the EU. What tends to be forgotten in moments like this is that even if Israel, which supplies more than 75% of the terrorist enclave's power, did cut off the flow, it would not only be morally but also legally justified in doing so.
    • As Prof. Michael Krauss of George Mason University Law School and I pointed out last year when Gaza was designated "hostile territory" by the Israeli cabinet: If Gaza is territory under the control of the enemy - as it manifestly is under Hamas - then the Israeli government is both within its rights and arguably obliged by its responsibilities to its citizens to treat the strip as "hostile territory."
    • Siege and blockade of a hostile territory is a legitimate tactic of war, used in declared and undeclared (e.g., Cuban) conflicts and explicitly recognized by the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The Conventions' sole limitation is that there be "free passage of all consignments of food-stuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers, and maternity cases" (Fourth Convention, art. 23).
    • Even this exception was conditioned on there being "no reasons for fearing... that a definite advantage may accrue to the military efforts or economy of the enemy" (for example, if resources destined for humanitarian aid will be commandeered by the enemy). Israel has carefully respected this requirement.
    • Notwithstanding the outraged howls from the external enablers of Hamas, there is no basis in international humanitarian law for claiming any belligerent is obliged to supply energy to territory occupied by the enemy, conventional or otherwise.

      The writer is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University and an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert