Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


March 26, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Long Arm - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)
    Israel does not take official responsibility for operations deep in enemy territory, yet if they are attributed to Israel by the international media it responds with silence and a wink.
    This was the case with the bombing of the Syrian reactor in September 2007 and with the "strange accident" at a Syrian missile factory.
    The same happened when Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh died and when a Syrian general named Suleiman, who was involved in the nuclear project and in coordination with Iran and Hizbullah, was mysteriously assassinated.
    Sudan has become one of the favorite smuggling routes for Iranian intelligence, with arms from Revolutionary Guard bases going through Sudan to Egypt and then reaching Gaza.

Military Intelligence: Iran Has Crossed Nuclear Bomb Threshold - Shahar Ilan (Ha'aretz)
    Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday that Iran has "crossed the technological threshold" for making a nuclear bomb. He also said Iran has developed surface-to-surface missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.
    According to Yadlin, the bottleneck in Iran's nuclear weapons program was in obtaining fissionable material.
    However, he said the "battle to prevent a nuclear Iran is not yet lost....The right combination of talks and sanctions, the carrot and the stick, could bring about a change in Iran's policies."
    Yadlin also said Hamas was preparing for another round of fighting, noting that weapons that Hamas lacked during Israel's Gaza operation, such as long-range rockets, and anti-aircraft and anti-tank weaponry, are being smuggled into Gaza.
    This was "the reason Hamas will not, under any circumstances, sign an agreement to end Gaza smuggling."

Prominent U.S. Political Cartoonist Compares Israel to Nazis - Raquel Maria Dillon (AP)
    A syndicated cartoon by Pat Oliphant published Wednesday in newspapers across the U.S. depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling a fanged Star of David that menaces a small female figure labeled "Gaza."
    The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group, said: "The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras....It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide."

Palestinian Rights Group Says Hamas Beat Man to Death (AP/Washington Post)
    The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a Gaza-based human rights group, said Jamil Assaf died Wednesday after he was beaten to death by security forces belonging to Hamas.

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

  • Report: Israel Attacked Arms Convoy in Sudan - Dan Raviv
    CBS News national security correspondent David Martin has been told that Israeli aircraft carried out an attack on a weapons convoy in Sudan in January. Israeli intelligence is said to have discovered that weapons were being trucked through Sudan, heading north toward Egypt, whereupon they would cross the Sinai Desert and be smuggled into Hamas-held territory in Gaza. In January, the U.S. signed an agreement with Israel that calls for an international effort to stop arms smuggling into Gaza, from where Hamas was showering rockets on Israeli towns.
        In the airstrike - said to have been "in a desert area northwest of Port Sudan city, near Mount al-Sha'anoon," according to the Sudan Tribune - 39 people riding in 17 trucks were reportedly killed. The state minister for highways, Mabrouk Mubarak Saleem, said: "A major power bombed small trucks carrying arms - burning all of them." (CBS News)
  • Iran's Parliament Speaker Disparages Obama's Video Overture - Rod Nordland
    Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran's Parliament, criticized the U.S. on Wednesday in harsher terms than any other leading Iranian figure has done since President Obama extended his videotaped olive branch to Iran last week. "Our problem with America is not an emotional problem that could be solved by sending congratulations," Larijani said. (New York Times)
        See also below Commentary: Iran Has a Problem as "Great Satan" Turns on the Charm - David Blair (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel's UN Ambassador: Netanyahu Committed to Peace - Shlomo Shamir
    Israeli ambassador to the UN Prof. Gabriela Shalev on Wednesday told the Security Council that "the State of Israel is committed to the Middle East peace process." When the new government in Israel takes office, she assured the council, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians will continue to move forward. She added that the peace process must rely on the principles outlined by the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators: recognition of Israel's right to exist, a complete halt to violence and terror, and the honoring of previous agreements.
        The Israeli ambassador reiterated that Israel will not tolerate terrorist attacks on civilians from Gaza, and warned that the efforts of moderates in the region to achieve peace are being systematically undermined by extremist groups, including terror organizations supported by Syria and Iran. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Official: No Peace Possible until Syria Withholds Funds, Arms from Terror Groups - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East Tuesday that indirect Israel-Syria talks were "a positive sign," but stressed that no peace would be possible until Damascus withheld funds and arms from Hizbullah and Hamas. "On the one hand, Syria has been willing to show that it will engage, at least indirectly, with the Israelis," Feltman said. "On the other hand, they are in fact the conduit for the arms shipments to Hizbullah, and also host the Hamas political leaders who have been clear in their rejection of the conditions that would lead to Palestinian reconciliation, a condition that would lead to real Israeli-Palestinian peace."
        He said he had stressed during his recent visit to Damascus that U.S. policy had not changed simply because it was engaging Syria in dialogue. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Foils Palestinian Pipe Bomb Attack - Efrat Weiss
    IDF forces Wednesday detained three Palestinians in possession of a pipe bomb near the village of Beit Dajan, southeast of Nablus. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Human Rights Watch's Gaza Campaign: Advocacy Not Accuracy
    Human Rights Watch's latest report on the Gaza conflict, "Rain of Fire: Israel's Unlawful Use of White Phosphorous in Gaza," is inaccurate and distorted, revealing a readiness to manipulate "evidence" to match pre-determined ideological conclusions. The latest report completely omits the context of the broader conflict, including Hamas' deliberate exploitation of civilian areas to launch attacks. HRW claims that there was no Hamas activity around the Al-Quds Hospital, yet a Gazan ambulance driver reported that Hamas operatives "made several attempts to hijack the Al-Qud's Hospital's fleet of ambulances." HRW alleges there was "no indication" of "Palestinian armed groups" operating in Beit Lahiya, while photographic evidence shows Hamas fortifications in the town.
        HRW extensively relies on the Palestinian NGO Al Mezan. Among other claims, Al Mezan lists a child as deceased who was subsequently interviewed by HRW author Marc Garlasco in Gaza. The report reflects HRW's inconsistent definition of "human shield." When reporting on Sri Lanka, HRW condemns the LTTE for "deploy[ing] their forces close to civilians, thus using them as 'human shields.'" Yet in Gaza, HRW claims that it "found no evidence of Hamas using human shields." (NGO Monitor)
        See also Israeli Use of Phosphorus in Gaza Disputed - Howard Schneider
    White phosphorus shells are used as an "obscurant" to hide troop movements or block an enemy's vision. Israeli military officials said the shells, designed to produce a smoke screen, were used in accordance with accepted rules. The IDF said: "These shells were used for specific operational needs only and in accord with international humanitarian law. The claim that smoke shells were used indiscriminately, or to threaten the civilian population, is baseless."  (Washington Post)
  • Iran Has a Problem as "Great Satan" Turns on the Charm - David Blair
    If Iran's leaders could choose between a belligerent America threatening "regime change" and a conciliatory U.S. President hailing their "great and celebrated culture," they would probably prefer firebreathing threats. Their difficulties only arise when the "Great Satan" stubbornly refuses to be remotely satanic. President Barack Obama's conciliatory and nuanced approach towards Iran confronts its leaders with their greatest foreign policy dilemma in years.
        Any visitor to Tehran is struck by how young Iranians have embraced Western - and specifically American - popular culture. By appealing to Iran's Westernized youth, Obama is seeking to widen the divide between the regime and its people. In addition, there are pragmatic figures inside Iran's regime who want to explore the possibility of easing tensions with Washington. Obama's intervention is designed to help them while isolating Ahmadinejad. Obama's words are designed to help Ahmadinejad's opponents in the June election by raising the possibility of a genuine rapprochement with America.
        If Obama's approach succeeds, he will achieve one of history's greatest diplomatic coups. If he fails, America has carefully ruled nothing out. Obama may yet have to decide whether to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities by military means. If he ever reaches that juncture, he will be able to argue that America tried every alternative. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    30th Anniversary of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • Thirty years ago, on March 26, 1979, the historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt was signed at the White House. Today, the peace treaty is considered a watershed event in the geopolitical situation in the Middle East, opening the gateway to peace between Israel and the Arab world, and ushering in a new agenda of diplomatic relations in the region.
    • The two countries cooperate on a wide range of issues. The Joint Military Committee holds regular meetings to coordinate military-defense issues, thus ensuring continual communication between the armies. The Joint Economic Committee meets to promote economic trade cooperation between the two countries. Cooperation under the Joint Agricultural Committee has produced dozens of agricultural farms and training programs for which thousands of Egyptian agricultural trainees have come to Israel. In 2007, approximately 200 Egyptian farmers underwent training in Israel.
    • The Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) agreement, signed in 2004, permits Egyptian companies using Israeli agricultural products tax-free exports to the U.S. The mutual trade between the two countries in 2008 amounted to $271 million, compared with $59 million in 2004 prior to the agreement.
    • The peace between Israel and Egypt has proved to be solid and stable. There is an ongoing dialogue between Egypt and Israel on various issues, including problematic and sensitive matters.
    • Despite the solid foundations of Israeli-Egyptian relations, there are still many goals to be achieved. The primary objective is building stronger bonds of mutual understanding and tolerance between the two peoples, fostering a broader cultural dialogue, and the development of a culture of peace. Israel yearns to see the peace with Egypt become a vibrant, prolific peace in all fields.

          See also The Egyptian-Israeli Peace: Lessons for Today - Kenneth Stein
      When the Carter administration took office in 1977, it sought but failed to convene an international conference with all concerned parties, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, which refused to recognize Israel's existence. And without consulting Israel, Egypt, or the U.S. Congress, the Carter administration decided to invite the Soviet Union to play an influential role in resumed Arab-Israeli negotiations.
          The initial approach of the Carter administration failed. In addition, the administration failed to realize that Sadat and Begin were already negotiating directly through their emissaries. An impatient Carter administration often aligned itself with Sadat, who wanted quick action; it viewed Israel's slowness in the negotiating process as a stalling tactic. But unlike Egypt, where Sadat could essentially make unilateral decisions, Israel requires collective cabinet approval. The new U.S. administration can play a constructive role if misunderstandings like these can be avoided. The writer, author of Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin, and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace (1999), teaches Middle Eastern history and political science at Emory University. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
          See also Egypt-Israel: An Unfinished Peace - Zvi Mazel
      Egypt has steadfastly refused to be drawn back into the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. Mubarak turned down the opposition's calls to send the Egyptian army to fight Israel during the intifada, the war in Lebanon, and the recent war in Gaza. He repeatedly said his country knows only too well the price of war and has no wish to experience it again. Let whoever wants to fight Israel do so, he says; Egypt won't. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert