Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


May 29, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

LBJ's Newly Released Oval Office Recordings Disclose His Deep Feelings toward Israel (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Tapes of Lyndon Johnson's Oval Office conversations, released to the public for the first time on Wednesday, reveal that the American president had a personal and often emotional connection to Israel.
    "I sure as hell want to be careful and not run out on little Israel," Johnson said in a March 1968 conversation with his ambassador to the United Nations, Arthur Goldberg.
    In a taped conversation from June 25, 1967, about three weeks after Israel defeated three Arab armies, Johnson relates a conversation with Soviet Premier Alexey Kosygin.
    "He couldn't understand why we'd want to support the Jews - 3 million people - when there are 100 million Arabs," the president said.
    "I told him that numbers do not determine what was right. We tried to do what was right regardless of the numbers."

    See also LBJ Rescued Hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust - Lenny Ben-David (I*Consult)
    Few know about LBJ's actions to rescue hundreds of endangered Jews from Europe.
    In 1938, Congressman Johnson was told of a young Austrian Jewish musician who was about to be deported from the U.S.
    With an element of subterfuge, LBJ sent him to the U.S. Consulate in Havana to obtain a residency permit. Erich Leinsdorf, the world famous musician and conductor, credited LBJ for saving his life.
    That same year, LBJ provided a Jewish friend with a pile of signed immigration papers that were used to get 42 Jews out of Warsaw.
    According to historian James M. Smallwood, Johnson used legal and sometimes illegal methods to smuggle "hundreds of Jews into Texas, using Galveston as the entry port.... Johnson smuggled boatloads and planeloads of Jews into Texas."
    "He hid them in the Texas National Youth Administration.... Johnson saved at least four or five hundred Jews, possibly more."

Egyptian's Bid for UN Post in Doubt After Call to Burn Israeli Books - Benny Avni (New York Sun)
    UN diplomats said Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni's candidacy to become director-general of UNESCO may now be doomed, after he told the Egyptian parliament that if any Israeli books were found in Egyptian libraries, he would burn them.
    Such a statement is "couched in the language and actions of Nazi 'Minister of Culture' Josef Goebbels," the director for international relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Shimon Samuels, said in a letter.
    "An aspirant book-burner, who threatens to wield culture as a weapon, cannot head the intellectual arm of the United Nations."

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

  • U.S. Urges UN Search for Syrian Nuclear Sites - Joby Warrick and Robin Wright
    The Bush administration is pressing UN inspectors to broaden their search for possible secret nuclear facilities in Syria, hinting that Syria's nuclear program might be bigger than the reactor destroyed by Israeli warplanes last year. At least three sites have been identified by U.S. officials as possible support facilities for the Al Kibar reactor destroyed on Sep. 6.
        "Do not assume that Al Kibar exhausted our knowledge of Syrian efforts with regard to nuclear weapons," CIA Director Michael Hayden said in an interview. "I am very comfortable - certainly with Al Kibar and what was there, and what the intent was....In fact, events since the attack give us even greater confidence as to what it was." (Washington Post)
  • Missile-Related Shipment to Syria Stopped, U.S. Says - Arshad Mohammed
    Four countries last year prevented Syria from receiving equipment that could be used to test ballistic missile components, U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley said Wednesday. Interdictions via the Proliferation Security Initiative, a network of countries that seeks to stop illicit weapons of mass destruction shipments, "have stopped many shipments of sensitive materials destined for Iran, North Korea, and Syria," he said. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Ahmadinejad Rival Elected Iranian Parliament Speaker - Nazila Fathi and Graham Bowley
    Ali Larijani, who resigned as Iran's nuclear negotiator in October over differences with President Ahmadinejad, was elected by a vote of 232 to 31 as speaker of the Iranian Parliament on Wednesday. His lopsided victory appeared to be a rebuke of Ahmadinejad, who has faced growing dissatisfaction over grinding inflation and fresh memories of rolling blackouts last winter that left people without electricity and heat for hours at a time - even as the nation's oil revenues were soaring.
        However, Larijani is far from a moderate. In Washington, a senior administration official said, "Unfortunately, the election of Mr. Larijani as parliamentary speaker is simply a continuation of the existing regime.... Whether he and Ahmadinejad get along is irrelevant. He's still fully supportive of all of their policies with which we disagree." (New York Times)
  • U.S. Trial Set for Two Accused of Aiding Hizbullah - Christine Kearney
    Javed Iqbal, 44 and Saleh Elahwal, 55, accused of agreeing to broadcast the Hizbullah television channel Al-Manar to U.S. customers, will face trial on terrorism charges, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ruled on Wednesday. The U.S. Treasury branded Al-Manar a terrorist organization in March 2006, saying it supported Hizbullah's fund-raising and recruitment activities. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Third Israeli Relief Team to Leave for Myanmar (IMRA/Israel Foreign Ministry)
    A third Israeli relief team departed on Wednesday for Myanmar, including medical personnel, training specialists, and logisticians who will continue IsraAID's relief efforts in the field.
        See also Video: Israeli Rescue Teams in Myanmar [Burma] (YouTube)
  • PA Demanding U.S.-Led International Force after Peace Agreement - Barak Ravid
    The Palestinians are proposing that a multinational force under U.S. command be deployed in the future Palestinian state after a peace agreement with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Mortar Shells Damage House in Kibbutz - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinian mortar barrages from Gaza on Wednesday damaged a house on an Israeli kibbutz. (Ynet News)
        See also Poll: Southern Israel Residents Plan to Stay Despite Palestinian Rocket Fire - Stephanie Rubenstein
    Despite thousands of rocket attacks, the vast majority of Israelis living in Gaza-periphery communities say they have no plan to leave their homes. In a poll released Wednesday by the Union of Local Authorities, 89.5% said they did not want to leave their areas. United Kibbutz Movement spokesman Aviv Leshem said remaining in the south, despite the situation, was the Zionist response to terrorism. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran Stonewalling UN Nuclear Inspectors - Editorial
    Last August, the International Atomic Energy Agency struck a deal with Iran on a "work plan" for clearing up outstanding questions about its nuclear program within three months. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, who launched the initiative as an end run around the Western campaign to stop Tehran's ongoing uranium enrichment, claimed that it would be a "litmus test." "If Iran were to prove that it was using this period for delaying tactics and it was not really acting in good faith, then obviously nobody - nobody - will come to its support when people call for more sanctions or for punitive measures," he said. On Monday, six months after the deadline, the IAEA issued a report saying, in essence, that Iran had not acted in good faith and was engaging in delaying tactics. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran and the Inspectors - Editorial
    The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency is a grim reminder that Tehran is pressing ahead with its nuclear program, and the U.S. and its allies don't have a strategy for containing it. The report says that Iran continues to defy the UN Security Council by enriching uranium - usable for reactors, or with a little more work, a weapon - and is building ever-more-powerful centrifuges. It also expresses serious concerns about evidence that Iran is working on programs with clear military applications: developing high-voltage detonators, underground testing and redesigning the Shahab-3 missile, possibly to accommodate a nuclear warhead. And why, as the report asks, is Iran's military involved in "procurement activities" for the program if it is intended only for nuclear power? (New York Times)
  • Burden Is on Syria to Prove It Is Ready to Break from Past - Editorial
    Reports of serious negotiations between Israel and Syria raise the possibility that the trouble-making Damascus regime may at last be contemplating a fundamental change in direction. Or Syria's rulers might be engaged in nothing more than an elaborate P.R. effort. Syrian promises alone are insufficient; they must be backed up by concrete and verifiable steps in the direction of long-term peace.
        The importance of the Golan buffer zone was demonstrated when Syria and Egypt launched a surprise attack on Israel in 1973. This buffer zone enabled a small number of determined Israeli tank crews to hold off the Syrian divisions until Israel could mobilize its reserves and prevent catastrophe. So Syrian demands for the entire Golan should receive a skeptical hearing. Certainly such demands should be rejected as long as Syria continues to employ terrorists, threaten its neighbors, seek nuclear weaponry and work hand-in-glove with the aggressive fanatics ruling Iran.
        Only a few months ago, President Bush put together a high-profile international conference to kick off what was supposed to be an intense Arab-Israeli peace effort. Administration officials worked hard to persuade Syria to attend that conference. It seems odd, then, that the Bush administration would complain about Israeli contacts with Syria. (Kansas City Star)
  • Observations:

    The Problem with Talking to Iran - Amir Taheri (Wall Street Journal)

    • There is nothing wrong with wanting to talk to an adversary. Every U.S. administration in the past 30 years has tried to engage in dialogue with Iran's leaders. They've all failed. Just two years ago, Secretary of State Rice proffered an invitation to Iran for talks, backed by promises of what one of her advisers described as "juicy carrots" with not a shadow of a stick. Rice is still waiting for Iran's mullahs to accept her invitation.
    • The Europeans negotiated with Tehran for more than two decades, achieving nothing. The Arabs, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have been negotiating with the mullahs for years, with nothing to show for it. Since 1993, the Russians have tried to achieve agreement on the status of the Caspian Sea through talks with Tehran, again without results.
    • The reason is that Iran does not know how to behave: as a nation-state, or as the embodiment of a revolution with universal messianic pretensions. Is it a country or a cause? The problem that the world, including the U.S., has today is not with Iran as a nation-state but as a revolutionary cause bent on world conquest under the guidance of the "Hidden Imam."
    • When Iran behaves as the embodiment of a revolutionary cause, no agreement is possible. The Islamic Republic might welcome unconditional talks, but only if the U.S. signals readiness for unconditional surrender.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert