Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 6, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Record Number of Jews Elected to Congress - Allison Hoffman (Jerusalem Post-Ynet News)
    The next Congress is expected to include 46 Jewish lawmakers - 13 Senators and 33 members of the House of Representatives.
    Three new representatives are Democrats Alan Grayson of Florida, John Adler of New Jersey, and Jared Polis of Colorado.

Neither Israelis Nor Palestinians Expecting a Major Obama Effect - Ashraf Khalil (Los Angeles Times)
    Everyone is intrigued, but Israelis aren't panicking and Palestinians aren't dancing in the streets.
    Both sides seem to accept that Barack Obama's ascension to the White House won't mean an immediate change either way in the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic.

Israeli Leadership Confident in U.S-Israel Ties - Barak Ravid, Ofri Ilani and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert congratulated Senator Barak Obama on winning the U.S. presidential election Wednesday.
    Olmert said that relations between Israel and the U.S. are not expected to change under Obama.

Hamas Bans Arafat Memorials in Gaza (PNN-PA)
    A source in Hamas told the Arab daily Al Hayat that the death of Yasser Arafat will not be officially marked in Gaza this year.
    On November 11, 2007, police killed a number of people in Gaza who were marking the day, and the Hamas source said that 2008 events are being banned out of fear of a repeat occurrence.

Moscow Invests $100M in Dead Sea Resort (Bloomberg-Jerusalem Post)
    The city of Moscow will invest $100 million to build a luxury resort hotel in Ein Bokek on the Dead Sea, the Israel Tourism Ministry said Wednesday.
    The Moscow municipality will subsidize flights and accommodation packages at the resort for city residents, the ministry said.
    Russia and Israel signed a visa-free travel agreement this year.

Morocco Bans French Magazine for Insulting Islam - Hassan Alaoui (AP/Washington Post)
    The Moroccan government has banned an issue of the French magazine L'Express International, claiming it insults Islam in articles exploring the relationship between that religion and Christianity.
    The magazine said the articles were inspired by a meeting in Rome between Christian and Muslim scholars and is intended to "help the dialogue between Islam and Christianity."
    It said pains had been taken to adhere to Islamic norms, notably by covering the face of Muhammad with a white veil in side-by-side cover portraits of Jesus and Islam's prophet, in line with Islamic law.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Sends Mixed Signals on Obama Victory - Borzou Daragahi
    Tehran feels the Obama team represents potential new threats to Iran, analysts say. A unifying figure like Obama might help convince fence-sitters such as India, China, Turkey, Malaysia and Russia to synchronize their Tehran policies with the U.S. "There is the thought that Obama could be as dangerous as Bush, but in a different way," said Abolfazl Amouei, a conservative-leaning political scientist at Imam Sadeq University in Tehran. "In Iran, Democrats don't have a good reputation. They were the first ones who started the sanctions under President Clinton."
        Obama's victory could take the wind out of the sails of Iranian hard-liners who have consolidated their power on the threat of an American attack and weekly chants of "Death to America!" at Friday prayers. Saeed Leylaz, a Tehran analyst and newspaper editor, predicted that outreach by the Obama administration might spell the end of Ahmadinejad and usher in a more pragmatic government more amenable to compromise over Iran's nuclear program. In any case, it might be a tough sell to condemn a country whose leader's middle name is the same as that of the prophet Muhammad's grandson. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israel Cautions Against Dialogue with Iran
    Israel said Thursday U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's stated readiness to talk to Iran could be seen in the Middle East as a sign of weakness in efforts to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear program. "We live in a neighborhood in which sometimes dialogue - in a situation where you have brought sanctions, and you then shift to dialogue - is liable to be interpreted as weakness," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Israel Radio. Asked if she supported any U.S. dialogue with Iran, Livni replied: "The answer is no." Livni also said "the bottom line" was that the U.S., under Obama, "is also not willing to accept a nuclear Iran." (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Israel Denounces UN Human Rights Council - Edith M. Lederer
    Israel accused the UN Human Rights Council Tuesday of targeting the Jewish state "in an obsessive and discriminatory fashion." The performance of the council, which replaced the discredited UN Human Rights Commission, was the subject of debate in the General Assembly. Israel's Deputy UN Ambassador Daniel Carmon said the council had adopted seven resolutions condemning Israel in the past year and held "a one-sided special session against Israel" - far more than any other UN member. The U.S. argued against the creation of the council and has not sought to join it because rights-abusing countries remain members. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Slams "Flagrant Violation" of Gaza Truce - Avi Issacharoff
    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Wednesday that Israel could not put up with "flagrant violations" of the cease-fire agreement with Hamas in Gaza, after dozens of Kassam rockets hit Israel on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Targets Gaza Rocket Launching Cell - Ali Waked
    An Israeli airstrike targeting a rocket launching cell in northern Gaza killed one Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant and injured four others, Palestinian sources said Wednesday. (Ynet News)
        See also Kassam Rocket from Gaza Lands Near Sderot Cemetery Thursday (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Preparing for Hamas Attacks after Gaza Operation - Hanan Greenberg
    Tuesday night's successful Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza, to blow up a tunnel to be used in a kidnapping attempt, thwarted a concrete terror threat, but military officials admitted Wednesday that this was only one of many threats to Israel which still exist in Gaza. The "operation conveyed a message to Hamas that the IDF will not turn a blind eye when a tunnel is being dug near the fence," a military source said. "We proved that we know about it and do not hesitate to operate when needed." (Ynet News)
        See also Both Hamas and Israel Want to Continue Ceasefire - Amir Mizroch
    Despite the recent flare-up, neither Hamas nor Israel has announced the end of the ceasefire. Hamas has no interest in sparking a war with Israel that would threaten its hold on Gaza. In the meantime, Gaza has turned into the world's largest terrorist base; it has not become the Middle East's Singapore. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • New U.S. Approach to Foreign Policy? - David Ignatius
    Conversations over the past few days with several members of the president-elect's inner circle yielded some basic outlines of the new administration's approach to foreign policy. Obama wants to make an early push on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, despite political turmoil in Israel. He has learned from watching Presidents Clinton and Bush that you can't wait until the eleventh hour to be an active mediator. On Iran, Obama wants to open the door to a process of engagement and dialogue, even though his advisers aren't confident it will succeed. They think Iran may not yet have found the language of "yes," but that's no reason not to explore areas of possible common interest. (Washington Post)
  • Mazal Tov, Obama - Editorial
    Those in our part of the world dedicated to rejectionism, violence and terror will soon discover anew that the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem is above partisanship. And the members of the new administration will see with their own eyes that no one wants peace more than Israel. Congratulations President-elect Obama on a historic victory. Godspeed. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Obama and the Challenge of Iranian Islamist Ambition - David Horovitz
    Blocking Iranian Islamist ambition is central to the vow at the heart of Obama's victory speech: "To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you." The stirring sentiment will count for nothing if this confrontation is ducked. For only by thwarting the death-cult Islamists can the new leader of the free world liberate the moderates who seek reconciliation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lawfare Against Israel - Anne Herzberg
    The detractors of the Jewish state are increasingly using civil lawsuits and criminal investigations around the world to tie Israel's hands against Palestinian terror by accusing Jerusalem of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." In the process, the NGOs also subvert and interfere with the diplomatic relations of Western countries with Israel.
        Anti-Israeli cases have been filed in Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada and the U.S. by exploiting "universal jurisdiction" statutes. These laws allow courts to rule on cases even though the parties and events at issue are wholly foreign. The honorable intent was to provide relief to victims of real mass murderers in countries that don't respect the rule of law. Instead, these statutes have been co-opted by NGOs to advance an anti-Israel agenda.
        NGO superpowers with budgets in the tens of millions of dollars have supported these efforts by providing publicity, organizing demonstrations and issuing reports crafted as legal briefs to coincide with court hearings. The writer is the legal adviser of NGO Monitor. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Observations:

    Obama Good for Israel If He Can Restore America's Power - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)

    • If Obama will be good for America, Israel will benefit as well.
    • Since Israel's establishment, all American presidents were ultimately pro-Israeli, because of the shared values and the deep involvement of American Jews in American politics.
    • Yet what is truly important to Israel's security are the economic power and military-strategic determination that America conveys, as well as its position as a superpower on the global stage, as Israel benefits from an American deterrence umbrella.
    • The U.S. also grants Israel a logistic-military safety net, which has already stood the test even during the terms of less sympathetic presidents, such as Richard Nixon and George Bush Sr.
    • Israel's strategic situation improves the greater the power America conveys in the international arena. As America's status as a global power is mostly affected by its economic and technological power, the next president's ability to address the financial crisis in the U.S. is of critical importance for Israel too.
    • The next president will be good for Israel should he be able to restore his country's economic and diplomatic power, extract its army from the Iraqi quagmire, and leverage his election victory in order to unite the American people behind his policies.

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