Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


April 16, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

IDF Tightens Borders with Egypt and Jordan - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF has beefed up forces along Israel's borders with Egypt and Jordan out of concern that terror cells currently operating in the Sinai Peninsula will infiltrate into Israel, defense officials said Wednesday.
    Special forces were deployed along the borders and were laying ambushes to catch terror cells that might try to infiltrate into Israel and particularly Eilat.
    Egypt has also beefed up its forces along the border with Israel.

BBC's Middle East Editor Breached Guidelines on Israel Reporting - (Telegraph-UK)
    The BBC Trust's editorial standards committee has ruled that pieces by its Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, broke BBC rules on accuracy.

Jordanian Court Sentences Three "Hamas Spies" (Maan News-PA)
    A Jordanian court on Wednesday sentenced three Jordanians to five years in prison for conducting espionage for Hamas.
    A Jordanian judicial source said that Thabet Abu al-Haj, 37, Azzam Jaber, 36, and Salim al-Husani, 27, were accused of collecting information about Jordanian military and government installations for Hamas.
    The three were convicted of spying on military posts along the Israeli border and the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Saudi Cleric on Al-Jazeera Teaches Children to Hate Jews (MEMRI)
    On Al-Jazeera TV on January 11, 2009, Saudi cleric Khaled Al-Khlewi said: "The Jew is treacherous, disloyal, deceitful, and belligerent by nature. Nothing works with him but force."
    Al-Khlewi asks: "Do you like the Jews?"
    Omar, age 8: "No."
    Al-Khlewi: "You hate them. Why do you hate them? What did the Jews do?"
    Omar: "They wanted to kill the Prophet Muhammad."
    Al-Khlewi: "Well done. They wanted to kill the Prophet Muhammad. And what are they doing to our Muslim brothers now? They are killing them. When you curse them, what do you say? 'Oh God...'?"
    Omar: "Oh God, destroy the Jews."

English Anti-Semitism on the March - Howard Jacobson (New Republic)
    In the tone of the debate, in the spirit of the national conversation about Israel, in the slow seepage of familiar anti-Semitic calumnies into the conversation, one can find growing reason for English Jews to be concerned.
    Mindless acts of vandalism come and go, but what takes root in the intellectual life of a nation is harder to identify and remove.
    In the end, it is frankly immaterial how much of this is Jew-hating or not.
    The inordinacy of English Israel-loathing - ascribing to a country the same disproportionate responsibility for the world's ills that was once ascribed to a people - is toxic enough in itself.

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

  • No New Iran Sanctions If Iran Freezes Nuclear Development - Bill Varner
    The Obama administration won't impose additional sanctions on Iran if it freezes nuclear development work and joins talks over the future of its program, European diplomats said. Undersecretary of State William Burns informed Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia of the new U.S. approach to the so-called "freeze-for-freeze" proposal at a meeting in London on April 8. Under President Bush, the U.S. said it was prepared to accept a freeze on UN and EU sanctions. President Obama would extend that offer to include U.S. sanctions, which under Bush often targeted Iranian banks.
        European diplomats said that in return for the new U.S. concession, Iran would have to refrain from further development steps, such as adding centrifuges to enrich uranium. Asked whether the U.S. has dropped the condition of ending uranium enrichment, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday, "We have not dropped or added any conditions."  (Bloomberg)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Warns Against Israeli Strike on Iran's Nuclear Facilities - Paul Richter
    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned this week that an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would probably delay Tehran's nuclear program from one to three years. A strike, however, would unify Iran, "cement their determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them," he said. In their private conversations, U.S. officials are discouraging such a course, even though officials say they would never deny Israel's right to act in self-defense. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israel Balks at UN War Crimes Probe of Gaza War - Diaa Hadid
    Israel is unlikely to cooperate with a Gaza war crimes probe because it distrusts the UN Human Rights Council sponsoring the investigation, an Israeli government official said Wednesday. The investigation is to be headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, who is Jewish. "(It's) not about Justice Goldstone," Aharon Leshno Yaar, the Israeli ambassador to UN organizations in Geneva, said Tuesday. "It's clear to everybody who follows this council and the way that it treats Israel that justice cannot be the outcome of this mission."  (AP)
  • Hizbullah Faces a Backlash in the Bekaa Valley - Nicholas Blanford
    Hundreds of Lebanese special forces backed by helicopters deployed this week into the northern Bekaa Valley, a Hizbullah stronghold, raiding homes and encircling villages in a manhunt for a gang that attacked an army patrol on Monday, killing four soldiers. After Hizbullah signaled its consent to the army to crack down, some angry Shiite clan members are vowing to vote against Hizbullah in the June 7 parliamentary elections. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Calls for Understandings with U.S. - Herb Keinon
    Israel and the U.S. "can and need" to "coordinate and reach understandings" on all the issues on the regional agenda, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told visiting U.S Middle East Envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday evening. Government sources said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is scheduled to meet Mitchell on Thursday, was keen on working together with the U.S. envoy, and that this trip was an opportunity to "touch base with one another and find the common ground to move forward."
        Both Israeli and U.S. officials have said there was wide understanding in Washington that the new Netanyahu government was still in its "policy review" stage. Mitchell, who is projected to set up an office in Israel by July, is expected to visit the region about every three weeks. It is anticipated that Netanyahu will complete his "policy review" by the end of May, when he is expected to meet with President Obama in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel: Durban 2 Text Is Getting Worse - Tovah Lazaroff and Hilary Leila Krieger
    Israel said that the newest version of the draft text for next week's anti-racism conference released Wednesday in Geneva was worse than the previous one when it came to singling out Israel. "The new text is not an improvement. If anything it is worse than the previous text because it includes a reference to foreign occupation which in the diplomatic world is code for Israel," said Israel's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Aharon Leshno Yaar. In addition, in its opening paragraph the new text continued to reaffirm the conclusions of the 2001 conference that singled out Israel. "We are worse off than we were yesterday," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Ilana Curiel
    Gaza's rocket attacks on southern Israel resumed on Wednesday after a two-week lull when a rocket was fired in the early evening that landed near the border fence. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How to Restart the Middle East Peace Process - Interview with Tony Blair by Tim McGirk
    Tony Blair, ex-British prime minister and current mediator for the Quartet, said: "The new Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] is really clear that he wants economic and security change on the West Bank. That's what we agreed we'd work on with him. There are one or two things that [Netanyahu's] term "economic peace" can mean. One, that economic development is a substitute for state, and that's obviously not acceptable. I personally think he wants the second, to build the [Palestinian] state from the bottom up. I understand and buy into that."
        "It's very hard for the international community to put the money into the Palestinian government where [Hamas] is saying, We reserve the right to use violence, to fire rockets at innocent Israeli civilians....Firing these rockets isn't just morally wrong - they're shooting at innocent civilians - but it's also tactically useless. At no level is it sensible." (TIME)
  • Mitchell's Trip to Bypass Damascus - Andrew J. Tabler
    U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is scheduled to visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, the Persian Gulf, and North Africa this week. Conspicuously absent from his itinerary is Damascus. Despite a Syrian public relations campaign designed to exploit Washington's opening gestures with Syria as a major policy change, the exclusion of Damascus from the envoy's agenda demonstrates that the Obama administration continues to pursue cautious and critical engagement with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. With Damascus unfortunately more interested in public relations than in addressing outstanding bilateral issues, Washington's step-by-step approach seems set to continue. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Protecting Israel and Its Good Name - David Horovitz
    Protecting Israel cannot now be achieved by walls and fences and defensive measures; the rockets have to be stopped at the source - and the source of the rockets, as ruthlessly determined by the Palestinians who manufacture and launch them, lies in the heart of the civilian populace. By cynical design, those who would kill our citizens thus ensure that their people are killed when we try to thwart the attacks - so that we are forced to fight not only to protect ourselves, but to protect our good name and our legitimacy as we do so. The true picture is an Israeli nation seeking to defend itself against a cynical, dishonest Palestinian terror leadership whose religiously inspired loathing for us far outweighs its concerns for the well-being of its own people. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Building a Palestinian State from the Bottom Up - Shlomo Avineri (Ha'aretz)

    • The U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, is an experienced statesman whose greatest achievement is the agreement between the Protestant majority and Catholic minority in Northern Ireland.
    • Some lessons can be learned from Northern Ireland. There, the decommissioning of militias' weapons was a precondition to elections. The PA elections failed in part because the movements running in them were essentially armed militias.
    • The Oslo process was an attempt to build the institutions of a Palestinian nation state from the top down; this fell through because Palestinian society did not produce the instruments for building a structure for the state.
    • In the last two years, the Quartet's Middle East envoy Tony Blair and U.S. Security Coordinator Keith Dayton have made some successful attempts to build Palestinian institutions from the bottom up. They are the only successful attempts so far to create infrastructure for a state.
    • True, this process is gradual and bound to take time, but the other process - the top-down one - failed, and it was time to admit it.

      The writer, professor of political science at Hebrew University, served as director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert