Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


November 10, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al-Qaeda in Many Countries - Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times)
    The U.S. military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against al-Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.
    A 2004 order signed by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld with the approval of President Bush identifies 15 to 20 countries, including Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and several other Persian Gulf states, where Qaeda militants were believed to be operating or to have sought sanctuary, a senior administration official said.
    The recent raid into Syria was not the first time that Special Operations forces had operated in that country, according to a senior military official.
    Since the Iraq war began, Special Operations forces have several times made cross-border raids aimed at militants and infrastructure aiding the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

Arabs Lament Lack of Dialogue on Iran Nuclear Crisis (AFP)
    Arab diplomats complained on Sunday about a lack of dialogue with the West over Iran's nuclear ambitions during a briefing by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
    Jordanian Foreign Minister Salah Bashir said, "the nuclear crisis became a crisis (for the West), but for us the Iranian surge for hegemony has become a crisis."
    Sunni Arab governments like Egypt, Jordan and the six oil-rich Gulf monarchies have repeatedly expressed concerns over what they see as the growing influence of Shiite Iran in the region, namely in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Son of Jewish Refugee Elected New Zealand Prime Minister (JTA)
    John Key, 47, the son of a Jewish refugee, was elected Prime Minister of New Zealand on Saturday.
    Key was raised by his mother, Ruth Lazar, after his father died when Key was seven.
    His mother owes her life to her aunt, who had an arranged marriage in Britain on the eve of the war that enabled Ruth, her mother and several other family members to escape Austria in 1939.

Sharansky Slams Egypt for Jailing Dissident Blogger - Haviv Rettig (Jerusalem Post)
    Democracy advocate Natan Sharansky lashed out at Egyptian authorities Thursday over the continued incarceration of Abdul Kareem Nabil Soliman, 24, an Egyptian blogger who criticized the Egyptian government. Sharansky's statement coincided with a string of demonstrations held at Egyptian embassies worldwide.
    Soliman has served half of a four-year sentence in Borg Alarab prison for insulting Islam and "defaming" Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak.
    His trial in 2006 marked the first time a blogger was tried in Egypt.

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

  • Iranian Economists Slam Ahmadinejad - Borzou Daragahi
    A group of 60 Iranian economists Sunday condemned the economic policies of President Ahmadinejad and contradicted recent boasts by Tehran leaders who said the Islamic Republic has been successfully weathering the global financial crisis. Their letter and its publication suggest that Ahmadinejad faces growing discontent among Tehran's elite political circles ahead of the presidential election in June. Oil prices have collapsed from a high of $147 a barrel in July to around $60 on worries about declining future demand. Meanwhile, Iranian government expenditures have ballooned since Ahmadinejad took office in 2005 and launched a series of populist economic policies meant to curry favor with voters. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Al-Qaeda Extremists Planning Mass-Casualty Attacks in Britain - Sean Rayment
    Secret enclaves of al-Qaeda extremists based in London, Birmingham and Luton are planning mass-casualty attacks in Britain, according to a leaked government intelligence report. The document, drawn up by the intelligence branch of the Ministry of Defense, MI5 and Special Branch, states that "some thousands" of extremists are active in the UK. They are predominantly UK-born and many are believed to have been trained in overseas terrorist camps. The report states: "For the foreseeable future the UK will continue to be a high-priority target for international terrorists aligned with al-Qaeda. It will face a threat from British nationals, including Muslim converts, and UK-based foreign terrorists, as well as terrorists planning attacks from abroad."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • Australia Switches Position, Votes Against Israel at UN - Phillip Hudson
    Australia has switched its position to vote against Israel on two resolutions at the UN, ending the Howard government's unswerving alignment with the U.S. and raising concern from the Jewish community. The move also signals that the Rudd government plans to take a different approach on the international stage. The Howard government had backed such resolutions from 1996 to 2002 but in 2003 began to vote against or abstain. The president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Robert Goot, said, "We are concerned that the vote has changed, we do not understand the basis for the change." Last month Australia announced new sanctions on Iran but backed down on a pledge to force the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, before an international court on charges of inciting genocide. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • Germany, Israel Mark 70 Years Since Kristallnacht - Melissa Eddy
    "We must not be silent" about condemning anti-Semitism, German chancellor Angela Merkel declared Sunday as Germany and Israel commemorated the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews seen by many as the first step leading to the Nazis' systematic murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. During the Nov. 9, 1938, riots, more than 91 German Jews were killed and more than 1,000 synagogues damaged. Some 30,000 Jewish men and boys were arrested and sent to concentration camps. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Jewish Artifacts Found Near Berlin Believed to Be from Kristallnacht - Henry Chu (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Defense Minister to Rice: All Options on the Table Regarding Iran Nukes - Barak Ravid
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel would not rule out any course of action to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. "Israel is convinced Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb," Barak told Rice," adding that Jerusalem "is not taking any option off the table, and we don't recommend that others take any option off the table." (Ha'aretz)
  • Mubarak Feels Betrayed by Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Egypt informed the various Palestinian factions over the weekend of its decision to postpone indefinitely a long-awaited conference for solving the dispute between Hamas and Fatah, PA officials said. The decision came after Hamas told the Egyptians that it would boycott the conference, which was scheduled to open in Cairo on Sunday. A PA official said Saturday that Egyptian President Mubarak was "furious" with Hamas for canceling its participation at the last minute. The official said that Mubarak had instructed his government to suspend all contacts with Hamas and to keep the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt closed until further notice. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top Abbas adviser, said Hamas' decision was taken under pressure from "regional powers" - an apparent reference to Iran and Syria - to foil Egypt's mediation efforts. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Fire 13 Rockets at Israel - Avi Issacharoff and Nadav Shragai
    Palestinians in Gaza fired at least 13 Kassam rockets and one mortar round into Israel over the weekend. Two rockets struck south of Ashkelon. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Rockets Fired at Israel from Gaza Residential Areas - Yaakov Lappin
    Defense Minister Barak told the cabinet Sunday that many of the rockets that struck Israel during the past week were fired from the vicinity of residential homes and schools in Gaza, precluding an Israeli response due to fear of harming civilians. During the meeting, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter warned that Hamas' heavy mortar shelling of the region could not be detected by the Color Red rocket alert system. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Unit on Gaza Border Comes Under Anti-Tank Fire - Yaakov Lappin
    IDF units patrolling the border fence with Gaza came under anti-tank missile fire on Saturday evening near the Karni Crossing. The soldiers returned fire. Also on Saturday evening, the air force struck a rocket launcher loaded with rockets and ready for use in the Beit Hanun area. On Saturday morning, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on IDF soldiers after the army discovered two explosive devices planted along the border with Gaza near Khan Yunis. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Uncertainty over Future of Israel-Palestinian Talks - Ashraf Khalil
    Secretary of State Rice's regional tour, her 19th in two years, included a stop Sunday in Sharm el Sheik for an update on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations launched under U.S. guidance nearly a year ago in Annapolis. Along the way, she has acknowledged the failure of the talks to reach their stated goal of a lasting peace agreement by the end of the Bush administration. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Peace Talks? - Editorial
    Here is the reality: Security in the West Bank continues to hang by a thread. Palestinian forces cannot maintain security control on their own. If it were not for nightly Israeli raids in search of terror cells, it is an open question whether Abbas would be able to maintain power in the face of a growing challenge from Hamas. As for Gaza, Hamas rule has transformed the Strip into what is perhaps the world's No. 1 terrorist statelet. Given these realities, it is unclear precisely what Secretary of State Rice hopes to achieve with her latest visit. (Washington Times)
        See also Rice Visits West Bank City; U.S. Announces Aid - Isabel Kershner
    In the first visit by an American secretary of state to the city of Jenin, a once-infamous hub of Palestinian militancy, Secretary of State Rice on Saturday sought to strike a positive chord at the close of what will probably be her last official trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. During the visit, the State Department announced a new round of American government assistance to Jenin totaling $14 million, much of it to be spent on road improvements and other infrastructure and educational projects. (New York Times)
  • Watching Obama from Tehran - Meir Javedanfar
    Increased international support and credibility for the U.S. represents a serious challenge to Iran. "A hawk in a dove's outfit" is the way Iran's Keyhan newspaper described Obama in a front-page article the day after his election. Jomhuriye Eslami headlined its editorial: "That Black Man Will Never Change U.S. Policy." These two newspapers are close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and this is a strong indication of how worried Iran's leadership is. The author runs Middle East Economic and Political Analysis. (Pajamas Media)
  • Observations:

    Abbas and Livni Brief Middle East Peace Quartet at Sharm el Sheikh - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (State Department)

    • Representatives of the Quartet met Sunday and heard from PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, at their request. They were joined by Quartet representative Tony Blair.
    • President Abbas and Foreign Minister Livni stated the parties had reached a number of mutual understandings on the principles governing their negotiating process. These include: the need for continuous, uninterrupted, direct bilateral negotiations; the principle that nothing would be considered agreed until everything is agreed; the need to reach a comprehensive agreement addressing all issues, as agreed at Annapolis, rather than just announce agreement on selected items in isolation.
    • In addition to describing the structure of the negotiations and indicating areas in which progress has been achieved, President Abbas and Minister Livni expressed gratitude for international support provided during the last year, and requested continued support from the Quartet and all members of the international community.
    • They asked that the international community support the parties' sustained efforts in the framework of the Annapolis process, and that, in respect, the agreed principles for their negotiations as described to the Quartet. They asked that all states promote an environment conducive to peace, non-violence, and the two-state solution. They asked the international community to redouble efforts to confront and deny support for extremism, incitement, terrorism, and intolerance. Finally, the representatives stressed that, absent the joint request of the parties, third parties should not intervene in the bilateral negotiations.
    • The Quartet reiterated its commitment to supporting the parties' efforts underlined as a commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations, pledged to respect the bilateral and confidential nature of the negotiation, and called on all states to adhere to these same commitments.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert