Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


April 1, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Taliban Threatens to Attack Washington - Zahid Hussain and Jeremy Page (Times-UK)
    Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, threatened to launch an attack on Washington, as he claimed responsibility for a raid on a police academy in Lahore Monday.
    "Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world....We will exact our revenge on them from inside America," he said Tuesday.
    Mehsud's power appears to have been enhanced after the Pakistani government reached a peace deal with the Taliban in the northwestern Swat Valley.

Spain to Probe Israeli "Crimes Against Humanity" - Soeren Kern (Spero News)
    Spanish National Court Judge Fernando Andreu says he will redouble his probe of seven top Israeli military and government officials for suspected "crimes against humanity" after determining that Israel did not prosecute anyone for the killing of Salah Shehadeh, the commander of the military wing of Hamas, in Gaza City in 2002.
    Spanish law allows the prosecution of foreigners for such crimes if the suspects will not be tried in their home country.
    The case was brought to the Spanish court by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which is represented in Spain by Gonzalo Boye, a Marxist revolutionary who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for collaborating with the Basque terrorist group ETA.
    Observers note that Spanish judges have never sought to prosecute any Hamas or Fatah terrorists for war crimes. Nor have they prosecuted any of the suspected Nazi war criminals who sought refuge in Spain after the end of World War II.
    The writer is Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Strategic Studies Group.

    See also Will a Spanish Judge Prosecute U.S. Officials? - Lisa Abend (TIME)
    On March 17, a group of lawyers representing the Association for the Dignity of Prisoners, a Spanish human-rights group, filed a complaint in Spain's National Court against former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and other officials for violating international law by creating a legal framework that permitted the torture of suspected terrorists.
    On March 29, Spanish investigative judge Baltasar Garzon sent the case to the prosecutor's office for review, a step seen as a sign that the judge will soon agree to investigate the case.
    Spain's National Court is perhaps the world's leading practitioner of universal jurisdiction, a legal principle that holds that in crimes of exceptional gravity, the right to render judgment is not limited to the country where the crime was committed.
    See also Averting Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction - Irit Kohn (ICA-Jerusalem Center)

Useful Reference:

List of New Israeli Cabinet Ministers (Ynet News)

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

  • Israel's Netanyahu Says He Can Work with Obama - Richard Boudreaux
    In the weeks since he was chosen to form Israel's next government, Benjamin Netanyahu has labored to dispel the perception that he's on a collision course with the country's most powerful ally. Netanyahu, sworn in as prime minister on Tuesday, says that Obama, with whom he has met twice, is "open to new ideas" on how to address the region's conflicts.
        "Netanyahu 2009 is very pragmatic. He puts Israel's interests first, but he does not ignore that one of those most important interests is the close relationship with the United States," said Zalman Shoval, a Netanyahu adviser and former ambassador to Washington. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iran Ups Support for Gaza and Lebanon Hardliners
    Iran is reportedly increasing its military aid to both Hizbullah and Hamas, according to Israeli intelligence sources. Meanwhile, Tehran is suspected of interfering in the reconciliation talks between the rival Palestinian factions. Even the veteran Egyptian mediators had underestimated Iran's influence. Khaled Mashaal is regarded as Tehran's man in Hamas. The politburo chief lives in exile in Damascus, but in recent months he has been frequently on the move, with Iran one of his most important destinations. Many Fatah officials, such as Ibrahim Abu al-Nasha from Gaza City who has known Mashaal for over 30 years, are convinced that the Hamas leader allowed the talks to fail under pressure from Tehran. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
        See also UK: Not the Time for More Iran Sanctions - Adrian Croft
    Big powers should not rush to impose new sanctions on Iran at a time when Tehran has a good chance to move to normal ties with Washington, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Tuesday. Miliband told Britain's parliament: "Now is not the time to be rushing for more sanctions." (Reuters)
  • In Reversal, U.S. Seeks Election to UN Human Rights Council - Neil MacFarquhar
    The Obama administration announced Tuesday it will seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, reversing the stance of the Bush administration, which viewed the Geneva-based council as irredeemable for its almost exclusive focus on human rights violations by Israel. Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the UN, said, "We do not see any inherent benefit as demonstrated by recent history in being outside the tent and simply being critical without having significant influence." (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: Israel Seeks Peace with the Entire Arab and Muslim World - Shelly Paz and Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel seeks peace with the entire Arab and Muslim world but continues to be threatened by the forces of Islamic extremists, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday as the Knesset voted 69-45 to approve his new government. "I separate extremist Islam from the general Muslim world, which is also threatened by extremist Islam," he told the Knesset. "The Muslim culture is a rich culture that knew times of prosperity, of Arabs and Jews who lived together and created things together."
        "If the heads of the Palestinian Authority want peace, I tell them now - we can achieve it." "We will carry out ongoing negotiations for peace with the Palestinians in an attempt to reach a permanent agreement," he said. "We don't want to rule another people, and the agreement will give the Palestinians all the rights to rule themselves, except for those that endanger Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Netanyahu: Israel Is Serious about Peace - Josh Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Four Rockets at Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    Four rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed near Sderot on Tuesday. A woman broke her leg while running to take cover. (Ynet News)
        See also In Sderot, Nighttime Is Wartime - Yanir Yagna
    Since the end of the Gaza operation, the Edry family of Sderot is struggling to return to a normal routine. The entire family still sleeps together in a small protected space instead of the upstairs bedrooms. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Obama and Netanyahu Can Unite on Iran - Yossi Klein Halevi
    With Iran about to achieve nuclear capability, and its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza gaining strength, this is the worst possible time for tension between the U.S. and Israel. But a crisis can be averted if both countries consider each other's most pressing needs and remain focused on their shared anxieties. The first prerequisite is genuine realism in Washington regarding negotiations with the Palestinians. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, couldn't have tried harder to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. Instead of continuing to pursue the unattainable, the American-Israeli approach should focus on creating a civil society in the West Bank that is an essential precondition for the eventual creation of a Palestinian state.
        This is not the time to be distracted by what are, for now, secondary issues, like eventual Palestinian statehood. Nor should disagreements between Israeli and American intelligence agencies over the pace of Iranian nuclear development distract the two governments from their agreement over the danger posed by a nuclear Iran. By focusing on thwarting Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the U.S. and Israel will find Arab allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. That dynamic is already creating a shift in regional alliances, and could eventually lead to a real Middle East peace process. The writer is a fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and a contributing editor of the New Republic. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The New Israeli Government - David Makovsky
    Benjamin Netanyahu has been sworn in as Israel's next prime minister almost a decade after the end of his first premiership. In addition, Ehud Barak continues his tenure as defense minister. Barak and Netanyahu appear to share common views on Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority. In the early 1970s, Netanyahu served under Barak in Israel's elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. As such, they seem to share a commando view of the world: utter secrecy among a tight circle and utilization of unorthodox methods to reach unswerving goals. In the West Bank, Netanyahu and Barak believe that some final status issues between Israel and the PA cannot be resolved in the current environment, yet both think PA institution building should be pursued. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Why the Murder of African Muslims Doesn't Matter to the Arabs - Marty Peretz
    The Arab states continue to be apoplectic over the Gaza war, at least in public. This is true even though some of the most significant of these states secretly cheered Israel on and certainly did nothing to help their Hamas brethren fight or recover. The big royals and small, plus all of the colonels and petty politicians, who run Arab Islam have gathered this week in Qatar. The big news event of the Qatar gathering was the arrival of Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, who is a fugitive from the International Criminal Court which has a warrant out for his arrest on charges of genocide.
        Do any of you doubt that Bashir is guilty of genocide? Do any of you doubt that hundreds of thousands of African Muslims have been murdered by Arab Muslim hordes deployed by Khartoum to kill, rape and pillage. Yet the Arabs are moved only by the plight of the Palestinians. Why? Because their condition can be blamed on Israel and on the Jews the world over.
        The leaders of the Arab world are welcoming a mass murderer into their midst. And, instead of turning him over to authorities in The Hague, they are welcoming him because he is an Arab who is killing black Africans. (New Republic)
        See also Arab Summit Embraces the Butcher of Darfur - Editorial
    The UN has reported more than 300,000 civilian deaths in Darfur as a result of the genocidal campaign sponsored by Bashir. If the Obama administration and the rest of the civilized world needed further demonstration of why the promotion of democracy and human rights must be central to any policy for the Middle East, Omar Bashir's reception in Doha ought to suffice. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Netanyahu: Iran Is the Terrorist "Mother Regime" - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal, 24 Jan 09)

    • "I don't think Israel can accept an Iranian terror base next to its major cities any more than the United States could accept an al-Qaeda base next to New York City."
    • "Notwithstanding the blows to Hamas, it's still in Gaza, it's still ruling Gaza, and the Philadelphi corridor [which runs along Gaza's border with Egypt] is still porous, and...Hamas can smuggle new rockets unless it's closed, to fire at Israel in the future."
    • Iran is the "mother regime" both of Hamas, against which Israel has just fought a war, as well as Hizbullah, against which it fought a war in 2006. "The arming of Iran with nuclear weapons may portend an irreversible process, because these regimes assume a kind of immortality....[This] will pose an existential threat to Israel directly, but also could give a nuclear umbrella to these terrorist bases."
    • "Most of the approaches to peace between Israel and the Palestinians have been directed at trying to resolve the most complex problems, like refugees and Jerusalem, which is akin to building the pyramid from the top down. It's much better to build it layer by layer, in a deliberate, purposeful pattern that changes the reality for both Palestinians and Israelis."
    • "We're not going to redivide Jerusalem, or get off the Golan Heights, or go back to the 1967 boundaries....We won't repeat the mistake...of unilateral retreats to merely vacate territory that is then taken up by Hamas or Iran."
    • "Peace is purchased from strength. It's not purchased from weakness or unilateral retreats. It just doesn't happen that way. That perhaps is the greatest lesson that has been impressed on the mind of the Israeli public in the last few years."

          See also Netanyahu: "You Don't Want a Messianic Apocalyptic Cult Controlling Atomic Bombs" - Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic Monthly)

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert