Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


March 6, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Waives Congressional Restriction on Egypt Aid (Reuters)
    The Bush administration has released $100 million in military aid to Egypt, waiving congressional restrictions that had withheld the amount.
    Congress had withheld the sum until the administration certified Egypt had done enough to protect the independence of the judiciary, curb police abuses, and put a stop to arms smuggling from Egypt to Gaza.
    But it also gave the administration an option to waive the restrictions "in the national security interest of the United States."

U.S. House of Representatives Condemns Rocket Attacks on Israel - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
    The U.S. House of Representatives endorsed Wednesday by a vote of 404-1 with 4 abstentions a resolution condemning the rocket attacks on Israel, stating that the firing of rockets on a civilian population constituted a blatant violation of human rights and international law.
    The resolution expressed support for Israel's sovereign right to defend its territory against rocket attacks and called on President Bush to instruct the U.S. envoy to the UN to push for a UN resolution condemning the Palestinian terror.
    The resolution further emphasized the moral difference between Israel unintentionally harming Palestinian civilians during military operations, and the deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas and the other terror groups in Gaza.

Poll: Support for Israel Up Among Americans - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
    According to a new poll published Thursday by Gallup, 71% of Americans look favorably upon the State of Israel, a rise of 8% from last year.
    Israel was the fifth favorite country for Americans, after Canada, the UK, Germany, and Japan.
    Only 14% of Americans stated that they supported the PA.
    See also Gallup's 2008 World Affairs Survey (Gallup)

Two Arab Militants Arrested in Philippines for Plotting Embassy Attacks (Reuters)
    The Philippines has arrested two Arab militants believed to be planning to bomb embassies of the U.S., Britain, and Israel in the capital Manila, government officials said on Thursday.
    Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, the senior most member of the cabinet, said the men "were involved in teaching local terrorists how to make bombs."

New York Passes Law Against "Libel Tourists" (Times-UK)
    Politicians in New York have acted to protect the state's writers and publishers from so-called libel tourism after an English libel judgment went against an American author.
    The legislation was introduced after the New York Court of Appeals ruled in December that the state's laws did not protect Rachel Ehrenfeld, an American author, from a possible bid by a Saudi Arabian businessman to enforce a summary judgment issued by the High Court in London.
    It would allow New York's courts to declare that a foreign judgment was unenforceable if the courts decided that the libel laws in foreign jurisdictions did not protect freedom of speech and the press to the same extent as the laws in New York and the U.S.

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

  • Olmert to Hamas: Stop Rocket Fire and We Won't Attack Gaza - Dan Williams
    Israeli forces will not attack the Gaza Strip if Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups halt their cross-border rocket salvoes, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Wednesday. Speaking after his security cabinet authorized a campaign to stop rocket attacks from Gaza and undermine the territory's Islamist Hamas rulers, Olmert signaled a willingness by Israel to hold its fire. "One thing should be clear: If there is no Kassam (rocket) fire on Israel, there will be no Israeli attack on Gaza. We do not wake up in the morning and think about how to attack Gaza," Olmert said. (Reuters)
  • After Talks with Rice, Abbas Says He'll Resume Negotiations - Helene Cooper and Isabel Kershner
    After coming under heavy pressure from the U.S., Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that he intended to resume negotiations with Israel following talks with Secretary of State Rice. Abbas later said he would return to peace talks only when Israel reached a truce with Hamas. That prompted Rice to telephone Abbas, who then released a statement that the peace process was a "strategic choice and we have the intention of resuming." (New York Times)
  • Picking Up Pieces, Gazans Debate Israel Incursion - Steven Erlanger
    "We all support resistance to the Israelis," said Hitam Abed Rabo, 33, who supports Hamas. "They [the Israelis] talk about responding to rockets, but nothing justifies what the Israelis did here. They have to be confronted with strong resistance, so they don't come back." Will firing rockets on Israeli towns bring independence and freedom? "Yes," she said. "Absolutely." Ayash Abed Rabo, 34, her cousin, scoffed. "These rockets are a joke," he said. "We want to live. We want peace. I don't want Israel here, and I don't want resistance."
        It was a conversation that, in various forms, was repeated across Gaza this week. There is anxiety in Gaza about Hamas, which has moved swiftly to consolidate its power and whose armed policemen and military men are visible in the streets. They provide order and have ended security chaos and much crime, but they are also an intimidating force, smoothly breaking up a Fatah rally called for Wednesday by changing its venue, turning back buses of supporters trying to reach Gaza City, and putting hundreds of men, armed with guns and wooden sticks, along the streets. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Jeep Ambushed on Israeli Side of Gaza Border, One Soldier Killed - Amos Harel and Mijal Grinberg
    An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed and another seriously wounded when Palestinian militants blew up an IDF jeep patrolling the Gaza border on Thursday. The jeep blew up as it passed over explosives next to Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha on the Israeli side of the border. Rescue units came under Palestinian gunfire. (Ha'aretz)
  • 1,000 Damage Claims Filed After Recent Rocket Attacks - Moti Bassok
    More than 700 claims for property damage in Sderot and communities bordering Gaza were filed with the tax authorities in the past week, and another 260 were filed by Ashkelon residents - all due to Palestinian rocket attacks. 113 cars and 565 buildings were damaged, including at least 30 cars and 230 buildings in Ashkelon. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues Wednesday - Rebecca Anna Stoil
    Palestinians in Gaza fired 14 rockets into Israel on Wednesday. In the morning, three rockets were fired at the western Negev, and another two hit near a kibbutz south of Ashkelon. In the evening, nine rockets struck near Sderot and Ashkelon. (Jerusalem Post)
  • New U.S. Ambassador to Israel Named - Yitzhak Benhorin
    President Bush on Wednesday named James Cunningham as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, to replace Richard Jones. Cunningham, a career diplomat, has served over the past three years as consul-general in Hong Kong, and previously served as deputy U.S. representative to the UN. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • British Intelligence Is Smarter than Ours - Alan M. Dershowitz
    My concerns about Iran have been echoed by the British Parliaments' Foreign Affairs Committee, and the chief UN nuclear inspector. Here is how the British Committee's chairman put it, following a visit to Iran and based on the extensive evidence received by the group: "There is a strong possibility that Iran could establish a 'breakout' nuclear weapons capability by 2015. A 'breakout capability' is the ability to manufacture a nuclear device within a short period of time by virtue of its nonmilitary nuclear technical capabilities and assets." This is precisely what I and other critics of the National Intelligence Estimate have been saying. Iranian President Ahmadinejad seems to agree. Last Friday he boasted that Iran "will have the final victory in the nuclear arena." This doesn't sound like he's talking about a peaceful nuclear alternative energy source in his oil-soaked nation. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Hamas' Human Shields - Editorial
    The underlying moral disparity between the sides takes on particularly sinister attributes when terrorist rockets are purposely launched from crowded civilian sites to deter Israel from striking back at the rocket cells. This makes it a lose-lose situation for Israel. If it responds vigorously, it will be censured for the likely loss of life. If it doesn't respond, it abandons increasingly larger numbers of its own civilians to "the Palestinian roulette."
        According to all rules of warfare, including the Geneva Convention, Hamas' brazen use of human shields is nothing short of a war crime. When the crimes of Gaza's terrorists against their own people are consistently overlooked around the world, it can only encourage the Islamists' immorality. Democracies the world over need to internalize what is taking place here, to pin blame where it is due, and to condemn Hamas for its heartlessness toward its own people. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Security Council Sends the Wrong Message on Gaza - Abraham Foxman
    Where are the UN resolutions condemning Hamas for attacking Israel from Gaza, long after Israel pulled out? This past week, the Security Council sent the wrong message, criticizing both sides. The criticism of Israel essentially negated the criticism of Hamas, thus ensuring that Hamas will continue its rocket fire. Is the world going to sit back and let events unfold with a certain inevitability, and then complain about Israel's "disproportionate" response? Or will its leaders address the obvious question: Shouldn't we be doing everything in our power to make sure that rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza, and weapons smuggling into Gaza, are halted? Not so much because we worry about what is happening to Israelis, but because it is the only way to make sure that Israel doesn't invade Gaza?
        The Bush administration, together with the other members of the Quartet who pushed the Annapolis process, should make it a priority to bring the rocket assaults to a stop, because an Israeli invasion of Gaza will surely bring a suspension of the peace talks. The writer is national director of the Anti-Defamation League. (New York Sun)
  • What Hamas Wants - Editorial
    The Palestinian radicals who are firing rockets into Israeli towns measure success by the number of civilians who die. Here's the weird part - they don't care whether it's Jewish Israelis who die or their own Palestinian brothers. More significantly, Palestinian groups such as Hamas view the death of each Arab woman or child as a propaganda victory in the religious war against Israel.
        This is, sadly, old news. In the 1980s, before the Palestinians had rockets, they would arrange for children to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers, then they - the Palestinian fighters - would fire bullets at the Israelis from inside the crowds. Hamas' real objective was not to kill Israeli soldiers but to ensure Arab children got killed in the crossfire. Was this depraved? You bet. But it was effective. Israel is a liberal democracy and it didn't like being blamed for the deaths of civilians, so gradually it disengaged from the disputed Palestinian territories. In the case of Gaza, Israel withdrew completely. No matter, Hamas wanted to continue the fight, which brings us to today. (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
  • Observations:

    Israel Has No Other Alternative, Must Stop the Rocket Fire from Gaza - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni told the diplomatic corps in Jerusalem on Monday:

    • "More cities are under the threat of rockets coming from Gaza....We cannot live in a situation in which Israel is under daily attack. I know that sometimes there are those who use the term 'collective punishment.' Believe me, there is now collective punishment suffered by the citizens of Ashkelon and the citizens of Sderot, and Israel cannot live with this."
    • "Before the creation of the [Palestinian] state, we need to address the situation on the ground. We need to have an effective government, a government which can control - really control - all this terror coming from its territories....We cannot afford a terrorist state, a failed state, like in Lebanon - because we have this past experience with a government that cannot control its territory, with an armed militia in its territory. Of course, we cannot afford this kind of extreme Islamic state controlled by Hamas, which is not only a terrorist organization, which represents this extreme Islamic ideology, Islamic resistance, without any connection to relations with Israel, without any connection to the fact that Israel left the Gaza Strip - by the way, not in order to come back, but we may find ourselves in a situation that we have no other alternative."
    • "We decided to have this dual strategy - on the one hand to work with the pragmatic leaders, to support the moderates, and on the other hand to delegitimize Hamas as a terrorist organization, to work against terror - and to do it simultaneously because it cannot succeed by executing only one of these two different pillars of the same strategy. It's not enough to work with the moderates."
    • "Nobody can afford a Hamas victory. The first one who cannot afford a Hamas victory...or a perception or image of victory, is Abu Mazen [Abbas]. The second is Israel. And the third is our Arab and Muslim neighbors. Egypt cannot afford it because they don't want to see a Muslim Brotherhood victory in Egypt. The Jordanians cannot afford it."
    • "Speaking about the cycle of violence and that both sides need to stop the violence, and sending condolences to both sides - excuse me, but it's not the right thing...because Hamas takes this as the understanding by the international community that their terrorists are on the same stage as those who are trying to act against terrorism."

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert