Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


November 12, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Denies Holding Secret Talks with Obama's Advisors (Xinhua-China)
    The Hamas government in Gaza denied on Tuesday published reports that secret talks were held with some advisors of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
    See also Obama's Office Denies Hamas Meeting - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's office flatly denied a claim Tuesday that advisers to Obama met with Hamas representatives while on a visit to the region.
    "This assertion is just plain false," said Obama's senior foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough.

Iran, the Taliban, and Saudi Arabia - James Brazier (Diplomatic Courier)
    Iran, a Shia theocracy, despises the Taliban. The Taliban are Sunni extremists who view Shias as heretics.
    In August 1998 Taliban fighters slaughtered thousands of Shia Hazaras. The Hazaras were closely aligned with the Northern Alliance, an Iranian-backed rebel coalition dedicated to fighting the Taliban.
    Iran's impact on the Taliban's drug revenue is one of the untold stories of the war on terror.
    The U.S. State Department's 2008 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report notes that Iran has deployed unmanned surveillance vehicles, real-time commercial satellite imagery, and night vision equipment against drug smugglers - and that some of this equipment was supplied by the West.
    Parts of Sistan-Baluchistan are a virtual warzone due to battles between state forces and heavily armed smugglers. Thousands of Iranian security forces have been killed in these encounters.
    Jundallah, a rebel group fighting for an autonomous Baluchistan, is clearly connected to the heroin rings.
    Some have suggested the Baluch rebels are a tool of the CIA, perhaps controlled from the CIA's station in Muscat, but the Iranians have another theory: Saudi Arabia is behind Jundallah.

Egyptians Decry Doctor's Sentence of 1,500 Lashes in Saudi Arabia - Salah Nasrawi (AP/Washington Post)
    Demonstrators in Cairo demanded Tuesday that Saudi Arabia release an Egyptian doctor sentenced to 15 years in prison and 1,500 lashes after he was convicted of malpractice - reportedly after treating a Saudi princess.
    Raouf Amin el-Arabi, a doctor who has been serving the Saudi royal family for 20 years, was convicted last year of giving a patient the wrong medication. Egyptian newspapers reported that he was accused of driving a Saudi princess "to addiction."
    El-Arabi is in jail in Jeddah and is believed to have received at least one of his weekly installments of 70 lashes so far.

Tony Blair's Bodyguard's Gun Goes Off in Tel Aviv Airport (Daily Mail-UK)
    Tony Blair's bodyguard caused a major security scare at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport Tuesday when his gun went off by mistake.
    The police special protection officer was unloading his gun prior to boarding a plane to London with Mr. Blair when he accidentally fired into the ground.
    Israeli security guards and police rushed to the scene and detained him.

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

  • Israel Calls for Support in Ending Gaza Violence
    Israel says the international community needs to put more pressure on Hamas to end violence in Gaza. Israeli government spokesman Jonathan Peled maintains Israel's response to attacks by Hamas militants has been appropriate. "We've said time and again that if Hamas is willing to recognize the State of Israel and denounce terrorism, then we're open to dialogue with it," he said. "But [here is] somebody who refuses to recognize us, who shoots at us, and attacks us all the time." (ABC News-Australia)
        See also Olmert Warns of Looming Confrontation with Hamas
    Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned on Tuesday of a looming confrontation with the Islamist Hamas movement which controls Gaza. "I have no doubt that the situation between us and Hamas is an unavoidable pre-confrontation situation," Olmert said while touring the military headquarters responsible for the Gaza region. "It's only a question of time and not a question of if," his office quoted him as saying. "We are not eager for it but we are not afraid either and if there is a need to fight Hamas we will do so." (AFP)
  • Closing Arguments in Holy Land Foundation Terrorism Financing Case - Jason Trahan
    Prosecutor Barry Jonas began his closing argument in the Holy Land Foundation trial Monday by telling jurors that their job is to determine if five defendants broke U.S. law by funneling more than $12 million to Hamas. He reminded jurors that since 1995, U.S. law has prohibited any support of Hamas, including humanitarian aid. The government contends that Holy Land sent money to specific Palestinian charity groups in Hamas' social services wing that provides aid to relatives of suicide bombers.
        Jonas re-played several videos of Holy Land fundraisers in the U.S., some featuring songs with lyrics praising martyrdom, jihad and glorifying Hamas founders. "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck," Jonas said. "This was a Hamas rally. Who are we kidding?" Jonas addressed defense arguments that praising Hamas is protected by the First Amendment. "They have every right to say they support of Hamas, but when they start giving money to Hamas, what they said can and will be used against them." "They were part of a larger plan to eliminate the State of Israel and take over their land," he said. "By supporting Hamas, they helped create widows and orphans." (Dallas Morning News)
  • Saudi Arabia Seeks UN Platform to Promote Pluralism Abroad - Neil MacFarquhar
    Saudi Arabia, which deploys a special police force to ensure that a narrow sect of Islam predominates in the kingdom, is sponsoring a discussion at the UN on religious tolerance starting Wednesday. More than a dozen world leaders are scheduled to attend the meeting including President Bush, British Prime Minister Brown, Israeli President Shimon Peres, and the heads of seven Arab states. King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch, and Peres were both expected as guests of Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, at a dinner Tuesday night, a rare chance for an encounter.
        But human rights groups are crying foul that Saudi Arabia is being given a platform to promote religious tolerance abroad while actively combating it at home. "It's like apartheid South Africa having a conference at the UN on racial harmony," said Ali al-Ahmed, a Shiite Muslim dissident from Saudi Arabia based in Washington. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Jerusalem Elects New Mayor - Etgar Lefkovits
    Businessman Nir Barkat will succeed Uri Lupolianski as mayor of Jerusalem. Barkat won 52% of the vote versus 43% for MK Meir Porush of the United Torah Judaism Party in the Jerusalem mayoral election Tuesday. Israeli-Russian billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak ran third with 3.5%. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jerusalem Arabs' Election Boycott Continues - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Only a few thousand Arabs - mostly city workers and their families - cast their ballots Tuesday in Jerusalem's municipal elections amid threats by Palestinian activists. Since 1967, the Arab residents of Jerusalem have been boycotting the municipal elections out of fear that their participation would be interpreted as recognition of Israel's annexation of the Arab neighborhoods.
        The PA issued several warnings to the Arab residents not to participate in the election. Issam Abu Rmaileh, a shopkeeper, said he didn't vote because he was afraid that PA activists would harm him. "I heard that they were standing outside the voting centers and threatening people who wanted to come and vote," he said. "I would have liked to vote because it's in our interest, but who's going to protect me and my family afterwards?" (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas at Arafat Memorial: We'll Continue to Follow Martyrs' Path - Ali Waked
    "The Palestinian leadership will continue to follow Yasser Arafat's path until a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established," PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday during a memorial service marking Arafat's death. Abbas said, "The path of the shahids (martyrs) - Arafat, George Habash (founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and (former Hamas spiritual leader) Sheikh Ahmed Yassin - is the path that we cherish." (Ynet News)
        See also No Ceremonies for Arafat in Gaza - Amira Hass
    There was not a single public commemoration in Gaza of the fourth anniversary of Arafat's death. Rallies scheduled for Gaza cities were canceled by order of the police, Fatah officials said. Printers were ordered not to print any material related to Arafat or his picture without approval. The security forces have increased their presence on Gaza streets and are randomly stopping cars, especially at night. A Hamas spokesman said no arrests were made, but people were invited for a short talk with the police. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Thwarts Infiltration Attempt from Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    IDF forces thwarted an attempt by a Palestinian terror cell to infiltrate Israel through the Gaza border fence on Wednesday. According to military sources, the gunmen approached the fence and were about to enter Israeli territory when an IDF force identified them and opened fire. Several gunmen were injured. During the event, Palestinians launched mortar shells at the Kissufim crossing. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A New Special Envoy for the Middle East - Marty Peretz
    The London Financial Times' first recommendation to Obama was not about the international economic calamity or domestic issues, or about Russia and NATO or the Korean bomb or Iran's much more ambitious nuclear designs. It was about the long and tortuous dispute between Israel and the political sects and clannish tribes which aspire to (isn't it really all of?) Palestine. They advised appointing Bill Clinton as "special envoy for the Middle East." By my count, there have been perhaps a dozen special envoys to the region in the last dozen years.
        Much blood has been shed since the fall of 2000 and Gaza was given over five years later. The Israelis cannot be expected to start a negotiation with its old concessions carved in stone. Which is what the Palestinians expect for starters, and only for starters. The first prerequisite for any solution to this conflict and for the acceptance of a real Palestinian entity is that the Palestinians demonstrate concretely that they do not still yearn to vitiate a Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. (New Republic)
  • Gaza Under Hamas Rule - Oakland Ross
    They don't kidnap foreigners in Gaza anymore, or they haven't done so in more than a year. The gunmen and masked thugs who once haunted the streets of Gaza have been forced out of business, along with the private militias who used to maraud through the territory. A year and a half after the radical Islamist group Hamas seized power, people can walk in public without fearing for their wallets, their purses or their lives. Unfortunately, almost everything else has become worse.
        Whom do people blame? They blame Israel, of course. But increasingly, it seems, they blame Hamas as well. "Fatah perceives themselves as the sole representatives of the Palestinians," said Ahmed Abu Tawahina, director-general of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. "Hamas perceives themselves as the ambassadors of God on Earth." (Toronto Star)
  • Observations:

    The Curious Response to Ahmadinejad at the UN - Matthias Kuntzel (Weekly Standard)

    • At the United Nations - an organization born out of the struggle against Nazi Germany and intended to embody the lessons of the Holocaust -a head of state openly spouts anti-Semitic propaganda in an address before the General Assembly. His speech is greeted with acclaim, and neither the UN secretary-general nor any Western head of government bothers to object. The media are mostly silent.
    • The Zionists, Iranian President Ahmadinejad told the assembly, are the eternal enemy of "the dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people." Zionists "have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the United States in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner."
    • "The great people of America and various nations of Europe...need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes and occupations and the threats of the Zionist network against their will."
    • The German and French foreign ministers criticized Ahmadinejad's "blatant anti-Semitism," and Barack Obama expressed disappointment that the Iranian president had been given "a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views." Otherwise Ahmadinejad's misuse of the UN to spread anti-Semitic propaganda didn't even register as a provocation.
    • The Iranian president uses the term "Zionist" in precisely the way Hitler used the term "Jew": as the embodiment of evil. Whoever holds Jews responsible for all the ills of the world - whether calling them "Judases" or "Zionists" - is propagating a potentially genocidal creed. In fact, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have gone hand in hand for over 80 years, not only in the annals of Nazism but also in the intellectual foundations of the Iranian revolution.

      The writer, a Hamburg-based political scientist, is the author most recently of Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert