Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


November 21, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Egypt Hosts Emergency Talks on Red Sea Pirates - Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times)
    Worried that piracy could scare ships away from the Suez Canal, Egypt on Thursday held emergency talks with nations bordering the Red Sea on how to stop Somali gunmen from hijacking oil tankers and other vessels.
    If lawlessness forced shipping companies to avoid the Red Sea region, this would hurt the Egyptian economy, which relies on more than $5 billion a year in fees collected from vessels passing through the Suez Canal.
    See also Major Shippers Change Routes to Avoid Pirates - Abdi Sheikh (Reuters-Washington Post)
    Rampant piracy off Somalia is forcing shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal and send cargoes on a longer journey around southern Africa, industry officials said on Thursday.
    Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk is routing some of its 50 oil tankers around the Cape of Good Hope instead and Intertanko said many other tanker firms were doing the same.
    They were responding to Saturday's capture by Somali pirates of a Saudi Arabian supertanker loaded with $100 million worth of oil, the biggest ship hijacking in history.

Herod's Lost Tomb Documentary to Air on Sunday, Nov. 23 (National Geographic Channel)
    See below Weekend Features for more on Herod's Lost Tomb.

    See also The Palace of David (PBS-NOVA)
    Israeli archeologist Eilat Mazar discusses some of the remarkable ruins her team has uncovered in the City of David in Jerusalem.
    See Video

Forecast by American Intelligence Expects Al-Qaeda's Appeal to Falter - Scott Shane (New York Times)
    A new study by American intelligence agencies suggests that al-Qaeda could soon be on the decline, having alienated Muslim supporters with indiscriminate killing.
    The report says that the group "may decay sooner" than many experts have assumed because of severe weaknesses: "unachievable strategic objectives, inability to attract broad-based support and self-destructive actions."
    "The appeal of terrorism is waning," said Mathew J. Burrows, head of long-range analysis in the office of the director of national intelligence and a lead author of "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World."
    See also Full National Intelligence Council Report (Director of National Intelligence) (pdf)

Turkey to Invest $12 Billion in Iran (Economic Times-India)
    "Turkey will invest $12 billion on developing phases of the South Pars offshore gas field in southern Iran and construction of a gas pipeline from Assalouyeh to the Turkish border," Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said Wednesday.
    Iran will pipe the gas to Europe through Turkey.

Germany Bans Hizbullah Television - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Germany has banned Hizbullah's Al-Manar satellite television station, Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter revealed on Tuesday.
    German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble issued an administrative order on Nov. 11 restricting Al-Manar advertisements, fundraising, and the station's reception in hotels. However, the station would still be permitted to broadcast to private residences.

Israeli President Knighted by British Queen - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II awarded President Shimon Peres honorary knighthood on Thursday in an official ceremony in Buckingham Palace in London.

Israeli-Developed Blood Test Can Detect Colon Cancer (UPI)
    An Israeli researcher says he has developed a simple early-warning, painless and inexpensive blood test to detect colon cancer.
    Nadir Arber, a professor of medicine and gastroenterology at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, said the test can detect cells of colon polyps - the precursors to colon cancer - in the blood, with a very high degree of sensitivity and accuracy.

Israel Turns 2,000-Acre Trash Dump into a Park - Brian Merchant (Treehugger)
    Hiriya, Tel Aviv's 2,000-acre garbage dump, was an ecological and aesthetic blight, with Hiriya Mountain - a massive 230-foot mound of waste - at its center.
    But after an intensive national revitalization effort, the eyesore has reemerged as Ayalon Park, an eco-tourism attraction and one of the largest metropolitan parks in the world.
    At its base is a Recycling Center that uses the most innovative technologies.

For Researchers: Search the Daily Alert Archive
    All back issues of Daily Alert since May 2002 are available online and are searchable.
This invaluable Internet resource documents the recent history of Israel and the Middle East.
    See also
    Insider information on Israel's national security issues - filtered, sifted, and stored for easy retrieval - from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Add the Daily Alert Israel News Ticker to Your Website

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert - and want to share it with friends - please click "Forward" in your email program and enter their address.

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

  • Israel Demands World Stop Ignoring Attacks from Gaza
    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni demanded in a telephone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday that the world stop ignoring attacks on Israel by Gaza militants. Livni "demanded that the international community stop applying a policy of ignoring acts of terror aimed at hurting innocent people," her office said in a statement. "There is no way where the rocket fire against Israeli citizens can continue without retaliation from the Israeli government," Livni said. (AFP)
        See also Inside Gaza's Rocket Factories - Janis Mackey Frayer
    Thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel by Palestinians in Gaza. They often crash into homes, schools, cars, shopping malls, and bus stops. Israelis, including the elderly and children, have been killed and wounded and the damage cannot be measured by statistics alone. Day after day lives on the Israeli side of the border are steered by warning sirens and concrete shelters. Kids tend to not play outside.
        There are rocket "factories" and storage facilities tucked in alleys across the Gaza Strip, empty rooms or garages in concrete block buildings. The room we were shown bristled with rockets in varying sizes and stages of readiness. We were also shown drum-like roadside bombs stuffed with ball bearings and shrapnel. Abu Abir, a leader in the Al-Nasser Brigades of the Popular Resistance Committees, explained, "We show you this to send a message to the Israelis that we are getting stronger." (CTV News-Canada)
  • PA Policewomen Search Palestinian Women for Weapons - Ilene R. Prusher
    Using female police officers in the field is part of the latest PA effort to help Mahmoud Abbas better control the West Bank and Hamas. As part of a new PA security initiative, every Hebron unit that searches houses includes two female officers. "In the past, we never had women in the police, except maybe some working in the office," says Brig.-Gen. Samaeeh el-Safy, who heads the new security campaign in the Hebron area.
        "When our forces used to enter houses in the past, before this campaign, the women would hide the weapons in their underclothes, and then they were automatically off limits," says Khitam Farraj, a female police officer with a PhD in psychology. But now women are taking a leading role in many security operations in the West Bank. When police enter a house, the female officers immediately take the women aside, usually to a separate room, and search them in a respectful way, while the men go to work on the men. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Generation Faithful: Hizbullah Marshals the Young - Robert F. Worth
    On a Bekaa Valley playing field, hundreds of young men wearing uniforms and kerchiefs bear aloft the distinctive yellow banner of Hizbullah, the militant Shiite movement. Each of them wears a tiny picture of Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran on his chest. "You are our leader!" the boys chant in unison, as a Hizbullah official walks to a podium. "We are your men!" This is the vanguard of Hizbullah's youth movement, the Mahdi Scouts. Some of the graduates will go on to join Hizbullah's army. Shiite religious schools, in which Hizbullah exercises a dominant influence, have grown over the past two decades from a mere handful into a major national network. (New York Times)
  • Syrian Arms Dealer Convicted in U.S.: Suspected of Providing Weapons to Terrorists Who Killed Klinghoffer - Larry Neumeister
    A wealthy arms dealer long suspected of aiding militants in some of the world's bloodiest conflicts was convicted Thursday of conspiring to sell weapons to informants who posed as arms suppliers for terrorists willing to kill Americans. Syrian-born Monzer al-Kassar, 62, and a co-defendant, Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy, were convicted of conspiring to try to sell heavy weaponry to Colombian militants. An indictment said al-Kassar had provided military equipment to known terrorist organizations determined to stage "attacks on United States interests and United States nationals."
        Al-Kassar was acquitted in Spain of supplying assault rifles used by Palestinian militants in the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. The hijackers killed 69-year-old New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer, dumping his body and wheelchair overboard. Klinghoffer's daughters were in court for Thursday's conviction. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • No Russian Missile Sale to Syria for Now - Yaakov Katz
    Russia informed Syria this week that Moscow will not sell Iskander missiles to foreign clients due to production delays. According to the Russian news agency Novosti, the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has decided not to export the missile until the Russian armed forces are fully equipped with the system. The Iskander missile - also known as the SS-26 Stone - is a long-range, solid fuel-propelled, theater quasi-ballistic missile system developed to carry conventional warheads. The missiles are reportedly difficult to intercept. In October, Prime Minister Olmert made a trip to Moscow to urge Russia not to sell advanced missile systems to Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Ashkelon - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket on Friday morning that landed in the city of Ashkelon's southern industrial zone. In addition, two mortar shells were fired at the Kissufim area. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Tries to Stab Soldier at West Bank Checkpoint - Efrat Weiss
    A stabbing attack was thwarted at the Beit Iba checkpoint northwest of Nablus on Thursday evening. A Palestinian man arrived at the crossing, pulled out a knife, and lunged at one of the female soldiers at the checkpoint. Soldiers were able to subdue the attacker. A search of the man's belongings uncovered an explosive device. (Ynet News)
  • Hizbullah Disputes Legitimacy of Israel-Lebanon International Border
    Recently, Hizbullah international relations official Nawaf al-Moussawi again raised the issue of the so-called "seven villages," disputing the legitimacy of the Israel-Lebanon international border and the "blue line" (the line agreed upon by the UN and Israel following the IDF's pullout from the security zone on May 23, 2000). The seven villages were Shi'ite villages abandoned during Israel's War of Independence (1948). They were situated inside Israeli territory, south of the international border, in areas populated now by Israeli villages. The international border was the result of an agreement reached in 1923 demarcating the line between the British mandate in Palestine and the French mandate in Syria and Lebanon.
        While the Lebanese government accepts the reality that emerged with the signing of the Armistice Agreement in March 23, 1949, Hizbullah uses the issue of the seven villages to create further justification for the existence of its military force and for the continuation of its terrorist and guerrilla activities ("the resistance"). (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Military Consequences of a Gaza Ceasefire Collapse - Jeffrey White
    Hamas used the period after Israel's August 2005 withdrawal to expand its forces to the point where it could prevail over Fatah and emerge as the only serious military and political power in Gaza. With Israel gone and Fatah defeated, Hamas gained control of Gaza's military and intelligence resources and infrastructure once controlled by the PA. The subsequent ceasefire agreement created even better conditions for Hamas' military ambitions by freeing the organization from the threat of Israeli raids and incursions. Egypt's failure to secure its side of the border also facilitated Hamas' buildup.
        Hamas aspires to emulate the military capabilities of Hizbullah. According to Israel's director of military intelligence, Hamas' defensive preparations in Gaza are "based on subterranean fortifications, explosive devices, and snipers." In future clashes, the IDF would be confronted with a better organized and trained force with more sophisticated arms, especially antitank weapons, and improved defenses. Despite its military improvements and ambitions, Hamas could not stand up to the IDF in an all-out fight. But there is little likelihood of such a direct conflict. The writer, a defense fellow at The Washington Institute, is a former career intelligence officer. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Forgotten in Libya's Dungeons - Mohamed Eljahmi
    Libyan democratic dissidents continue to suffer in Gaddafi's dungeon, their plight ignored by the State Department. One of Gaddafi's victims who continues to suffer is my older brother, Fathi Eljahmi. Fathi, 67, is a prisoner of conscience and probably Libya's most prominent democracy activist. He is being held in isolation, under inhumane conditions, in a hospital in Tripoli. Yet under the Bush administration, the State Department continues to engage Arab dictators at the expense of dissidents who support transitions to peaceful, modern societies. Our family hopes that our beloved brother and father survives - and that President-elect Barack Obama brings much-needed change to U.S. policy toward Libya. (Washington Post)
  • Obama and Arab-Israel Peace - Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski
    When Obama takes office in two months, he will find a number of difficult foreign policy issues competing for his attention. We believe that the Arab-Israeli peace process is one issue that requires priority attention. Not everyone in the Middle East views the Palestinian issue as the greatest regional challenge, but the deep sense of injustice it stimulates is genuine and pervasive. The president should speak out clearly and forcefully about the fundamental principles of the peace process. That should be followed by the appointment of a high-level dignitary to pursue the process on the president's behalf. Brent Scowcroft was national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. (Washington Post)
        See also Obama Will Find Middle East Peace Elusive - Con Coughlin
    Already expectations are running high that Obama will dive headlong into negotiating a final settlement of the poisonous Arab-Israeli dispute. President Clinton expended an enormous amount of energy and political capital on trying to reach a deal, starting with the signing of the Oslo Accords at the White House in 1993 and ending at Camp David at his presidency's end. The whole process fell into abeyance during the Bush presidency, not least because Bush was loath to expend his energy on the unattainable. There is a general expectation that Obama will try to pick up where Clinton left off.
        Al-Qaeda developed its capability to conduct acts of mass terrorism on Clinton's watch, while Iran made significant strides in the development of its nuclear programs. Clinton failed to take effective action against either of these emerging threats because of his preoccupation with securing a Middle East peace deal. Consequently, the international environment in which Obama will find himself operating will be very different from that of 2000, and he will no longer be able to ignore the threats posed by al-Qaeda and Iran, however much he might want to achieve a historic peace deal. (Telegraph-UK)

    Weekend Features

  • New Excavations Strengthen Identification of Herod's Grave at Herodion
    Analysis of newly revealed items found at the site of the mausoleum of King Herod at Herodion have provided Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeological researchers with further assurances that this was indeed the site of the famed ruler's 1st century BCE grave. Herod was the Roman-appointed king of Judea from 37 to 4 BCE, who was renowned for his many monumental building projects, including the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the palace at Masada, the harbor and city of Caesarea, as well as the palatial complex at Herodion, 15 km. south of Jerusalem.
        The palace was the largest of its kind in the Roman world of that time and must have attracted thousands of guests, says Prof. Ehud Netzer, director of the excavations. A description of Herodion, as well as of Herod's funeral procession there, can be found in the writings of the historian Flavius Josephus. (ScienceDaily)
        See also Herod May Have Been Buried Among Lavish Artwork - Steve Weizman (AP)
        See also Herod Family Sarcophagi Uncovered - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
  • Interview with the Captain of the Exodus - Ruthie Blum Leibowitz
    Ike Aranne (formerly Yitzhak Aronowicz), now 85, was the captain of the Exodus. On July 11, 1947, the ship set sail from France with a crew of Hagana members who were transporting more than 4,500 Jewish refugees, most of them Holocaust survivors, to Palestine. As it neared its destination, the British rammed and boarded it, resulting in a violent altercation that left three dead and dozens wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Atlanta Consul General an Arab Who Represents Israel Well - John Christensen
    Reda Mansour, who arrived two years ago as the Israeli consul general in Atlanta, is an Arab and a Muslim. He is also a Druze, a sect which broke away from mainstream Islam 1,000 years ago and has often been persecuted by other Muslims since. He is also an award-winning poet who mourns violence, hatred and death. Although Arabic is his first language - he speaks five in all - he writes poetry in Hebrew. Although a combat veteran himself, he is first and foremost a peacemaker.
        "Ambassador Mansour is one of the most thoughtful, passionate and eloquent representatives of the State of Israel that I've ever met. He's respected, appreciated and admired," says Steven A. Rakitt, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Mansour is referred to as ambassador since he held that position in Ecuador. There is now a Druze general in the Israeli army, Druze in the intelligence service, and ten Druze in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - including the deputy foreign minister. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Multinationals Discover Israel's Wealth of Hi-Tech Talent - David Shamah
    Large multinational companies have discovered that setting up shop in Israel - taking advantage of engineers, programmers, and even marketing and sales experts - is a wise move. Companies are expanding their research and development activities in Israel, and are doing business with Israeli firms on an unprecedented level. Google has opened two research and development centers in the past four years. "That's an honor reserved for large countries, like Russia and China," says Google Israel CEO Meir Brand.
        Cisco, another worldwide technology powerhouse, also has a huge presence in Israel - with some 750 employees, mostly engineers, working at the company's R&D facility in Netanya, the company's second largest research center outside the U.S. To date, Cisco has acquired nine Israeli companies which have furnished the technology for some of Cisco's most important products. IBM has three research labs, with almost 1,000 employees - including the company's largest research lab outside the U.S., in Haifa. Microsoft also has a large research and development center in Israel and has acquired several Israeli companies. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel's High-Tech Sector Thrives - David Shamah
    From processors to software, from innovations in online video to security systems, from cellphone technology to better ways to stay safe on the road, Israel is there - at the forefront, designing and producing the high-tech wizardry that has changed the world. Nearly three-quarters of Israel's $70 billion of exports last year were in the high-tech sector and the country has one of the highest per-capita rates of patents filed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Destruction of the Memory of Jewish Presence in Eastern Europe; A Case Study: Former Yugoslavia - Interview with Ivan Ceresnjes by Manfred Gerstenfeld
    The memory of the large pre-war Jewish presence in Eastern Europe is increasingly being destroyed. Part of this process is intentional; part is because of neglect of Jewish sites, monuments, and memorials. The successor states of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia provide a good case study of many aspects of the process of memory destruction. This federation's breakup over the past two decades has accelerated processes that are slower elsewhere. This concerns both attempts to change the collective memory of citizens, as well as the physical degradation of Jewish sites, monuments, and memorials. All successor states are rewriting their histories. Ivan Ceresnjes was the head of the Jewish community of Bosnia-Herzegovina and a vice-chairman of the Yugoslav Federation of Jewish Communities until his emigration to Israel in 1996. (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
  • Observations:

    International Law and the Disputed Territories - Melanie Phillips (Spectator-UK)

    • British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has urged enforcement of an EU boycott of produce from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, settlements he has called "illegal." I asked the Foreign Office for the legal basis of its opinion that the settlements were illegal. It replied that it was the Geneva Convention, which forbade the movement of a population into occupied territory. I asked whether it was basing this on a ruling by any particular body or whether this was merely its own reading of the Geneva Convention. Oh, everyone accepts this is what the Geneva Convention means, came the breezy reply. This is in fact a total misrepresentation of international law.
    • The Geneva Convention cannot apply to the West Bank, nor to East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip for that matter, because these have never been recognized as sovereign territory. As part of Mandatory Palestine, they never belonged to any sovereign state but were occupied and administered illegally by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967 after the Arab war of aggression against Israel in 1948.
    • The Geneva Convention was designed to prohibit inhumane practices such as by the Nazis and the Soviets before and during the Second World War in forcibly transferring or deporting people into or out of occupied territories. But the Israeli settlers in the West Bank went there voluntarily. The only force Israel has used is in getting them out of Gaza. So clearly the Geneva Convention does not apply in any sense to the West Bank settlements.
    • Israel is "occupying" the West Bank (which on a day-to-day basis is not "occupied" but ruled by the Palestinians) entirely within its rights under international law, which recognizes the right of a country that has been attacked to occupy and retain land that continues to be used for belligerent purposes against it. Which is why the UN's famous Resolution 242 was deliberately drafted to refer to Israel withdrawing from "territories" rather than all the territories - and then only when the Arabs end their war against Israel.
    • Most important of all is something that is almost totally overlooked. Jews lived in many parts of the West Bank for centuries and were ethnically cleansed from it in the last century by Arab pogroms in places like Hebron. It was in recognition of this, the historic and inalienable connection of the Jews to this land, that the original Mandate for Palestine instructed Britain to facilitate "close settlement" by the Jews in the whole of Mandate Palestine.
    • As the late Eugene Rostow, the former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs who played a leading role in drafting Resolution 242, repeatedly said, far from being illegally settled in the disputed territories, the Jews have every right to be there under international law.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert