Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Via Smartphone


August 5, 2009

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Rockets Part of Iran-Israeli Chess Game - Richard Beeston (Times-UK)
    Sometime over the coming two to three years, Iran will be able to build its first nuclear weapon, putting it on par with Israel as the dominant forces in the Middle East.
    If diplomatic efforts fail to halt Tehran, then there is only one last obstacle - the open threat by Israel to destroy Tehran's nuclear sites before it can complete an atomic weapon.
    Israel has the political will and the military muscle to execute an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities. It is assumed that Arab states, whose airspace Israeli planes would have to fly through to reach Iran, would secretly cooperate on a mission to blunt the Persian threat.
    That is why Tehran is investing so heavily in its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah, so that any attack will provoke massive retaliation.
    Israel may be able to take Iran's queen. But in the process it could put itself into check.

Daily Alert Needs Your Support
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy.
    No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news.
    To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

White House Stands by Decision to Honor Robinson (AP/Washington Post)
    The White House is standing by its decision to award a Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Irish President Mary Robinson, who some Jewish groups say is biased against Israel.
    White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Robinson has made statements that President Obama doesn't agree with, but he said that is likely the case with a number of the 16 people Obama plans to recognize for their lifetime achievements.
    See also Democratic Congressman: Robinson Award "a Mistake" - Eric Fingerhut (JTA)
    Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that President Obama's choice of Mary Robinson for a Presidential Medal of Freedom "is a mistake, given her "bias and statements and actions."
    See also The Durban Debacle: An Insider's View of the UN World Conference Against Racism - Tom Lantos (Fletcher Forum of World Affairs-Tufts University, 2002)
    To many of us present at the events at Durban, it is clear that much of the responsibility for the debacle rests on the shoulders of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who, in her role as secretary-general of the conference, failed to provide the leadership needed to keep the conference on track.
    The late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos was chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

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

  • Hizbullah Stockpiles 40,000 Rockets Near Israel Border - Richard Beeston and Nicholas Blanford
    Hizbullah, the Shia Muslim militia, is stronger than it was in 2006 when it took on the Israeli army. Hizbullah has up to 40,000 rockets and is training its forces to use ground-to-ground missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv, and anti-aircraft missiles that could challenge Israel's dominance of the skies over Lebanon. Hizbullah is believed to have acquired large numbers of SA8 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and Western intelligence sources said Hizbullah fighters were receiving training in Syria on the SA8 system.
        Brig.-Gen. Alon Friedman, deputy head of the Israeli Northern Command, said that the peace of the past three years could "explode at any minute." Last month the scale of the Hizbullah build-up was revealed after an explosion at an ammunition bunker in the village of Khirbet Slim, 12 miles from the Israeli border. (Times-UK)
        See also Video: Trucks Move Rockets from a Hizbullah Ammunition Bunker (Times-UK)
  • Ahmadinejad Sworn In for Second Term in Iran - Robert F. Worth and Alan Cowell
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn into office for a second term Wednesday. While his supporters in the ruling elite attended the ceremony, it was boycotted by opposition leaders and reformist legislators, while opponents gathered outside the parliament building to protest his inauguration, despite the presence of hundreds of police officers. The opposition movement continues to press its claims that Ahmadinejad's landslide victory was rigged, and to muster large street demonstrations. (New York Times)
  • Hamas Goes to the Movies: "To Kill Israeli Soldiers Is to Worship God" - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    "Imad Aqel," which premiered at the weekend, is the first feature film produced by the Islamist Hamas movement and the title is the name of a Palestinian militant whom Israel held accountable for the deaths of 13 soldiers and civilians. The audience in Gaza clapped and cheered as the actor delivered the movie's most memorable line - "To kill Israeli soldiers is to worship God." The movie was written by Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior leader of Hamas, and was filmed on a set built inside the former Jewish settlement of Ganei Tal in Hamas-controlled Gaza. (Independent-UK)
        See also Director of Hamas Film Hopes It Will Air at Cannes Film Festival - Alex Sorin (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Military Intelligence: Iran Will Have Nuclear Capacity by the End of 2009
    Israel's military intelligence chief Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that from the end of 2009 an Iranian nuclear bomb will be a matter of a decision on Tehran's part, rather than a matter of technological ability, Israel Radio reported. Baidatz added that the atmosphere in the international community was to accept that Iran would eventually have nuclear weapons. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Fears Fatah Conference May Undermine PA Prime Minister - Yaakov Katz, Herb Keinon and Rebecca Ana Stoil
    Israel is concerned that the Fatah conference in Bethlehem will end with decisions that can undermine the authority of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, defense officials warned on Tuesday. Israel's concern is that the new leadership will not only be more radical but would want to see one of its own - a member of Fatah - as prime minister of the PA. Fayyad "has played a key role in Israeli and Palestinian efforts to improve the quality of life in the West Bank," one senior defense official said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also "Fayyadism" - A New Idea in Arab Governance - Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times)
  • Israel Refutes Claims on West Bank Water Supply - Yaakov Katz
    Palestinian claims that Israel denies water rights in the West Bank are "baseless and incorrect," Lt.-Col. Amnon Cohen, head of the civil administration's infrastructures department, said Tuesday. He said that in 2007 the Palestinians received 47 million cubic meters of water and in 2008 over 52 million. In addition, Israel recently allocated land on the beach next to Hadera for a Palestinian water desalination plant, which could provide over 100 million cubic meters of water annually. "The land was allocated over a year ago and the Palestinians have yet to move forward with the project," he said. "The Palestinians do not cooperate to try and independently improve their water situation," Cohen added. "While we in Israel are cutting back on water use due to the drought and imposing fines on people who use too much water, the Palestinians are doing nothing of the kind."
        The Palestinians claimed that while the Israeli-PA joint water committee approved the drilling of 82 wells, none have been carried out due to Israeli refusal. "This is nonsense," Cohen explained. "Out of the 82, 43 are in Areas A and B which are under PA control and they do not need us involved. Out of the remaining 39, in Area C and under Israeli security control, 21 have been approved and 11 have not even been submitted for approval." Dozens of drillings have been approved over the years but the Palestinians have not acted upon them. There are already 11 open wells in the territories that have not been connected to pumps. "If they were to connect the wells, they would get another 11 million cubic meters of water," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Talking to Israelis - Shmuel Rosner
    Words alone will not make Israelis trust Obama. Israelis do not suffer from lack of understanding of the issues; they suffer from peace-fatigue. They look at "peace processes" with suspicion, based on experience and events. They are scarred enough to know what has worked and what has not, and they are tired of the good intentions of enthusiastic novices, believing that with their youth and their smarts they'll be able to come up with some magic trick that can somehow round a square. What Obama needs is a convincing plan that makes sense. It does not look like he has one.
        The president has reportedly sent letters to seven Arab leaders reminding them of "the need for CBMs [confidence-building measures] in exchange for [a settlement] freeze and to [get] peace talks restarted." It hasn't worked very well, and Israelis will be aware of this failure if they hear Obama talking about the need to stop settlement construction. So perhaps instead of the president making the effort of "talking directly" to Israelis with nothing new to say, maybe he ought to put his efforts into convincing someone else to address Israelis - somebody whose very act of speaking to Israelis would be significant in its own right. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia or President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria come to mind. (New Republic)
  • Fatah Conference Aims to Boost Its Radical Credentials - Tony Karon
    Early signs suggest that the Fatah conference will, if anything, weaken Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' ability to follow Washington's script. Since the death of Abbas' predecessor, Yasser Arafat, U.S. peace efforts have relied on the moderate and relatively pliable leader to negotiate a two-state agreement with Israel, but many fear that a candidate backed by Hamas would likely beat Abbas in presidential elections currently scheduled for early next year. Much of the Fatah rank and file and even many in the leadership believe that the only way the movement can be saved is to break with American tutelage and seek to reclaim the mantle of "resistance" from Hamas. The conference will seek to rebrand Fatah with a more radical stance in order to more effectively compete with Hamas. (TIME)
  • The Radicalization of Fatah - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Many in Washington and European are hoping that the Fatah faction, which controls the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, is headed toward moderation and reforms as it holds its sixth general assembly in Bethlehem this week. But there are growing indications that Fatah is actually headed in the opposite direction, as seen in calls by top representatives for a "strategic alliance" with Iran. Hopes that the conference would pave the way for the emergence of a new and younger leadership have also faded. By adopting a hard-line approach toward the conflict and blocking reforms, Fatah is sending a message both to the Palestinians and the world that it's still not ready for any form of compromise or reforms. As such, Fatah remains part of the problem, and not part of the solution. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • Observations:

    Where Have All the Palestinian Moderates Gone? - David Schenker (Foreign Policy)

    • A series of comments by current and former senior Fatah officials undercut the fundamental premise of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking: the renunciation of violence and the acceptance of Israel's right to exist.
    • Democratic politics are indeed taking shape among Palestinians, but they're mirroring the increasingly extreme views of the population at large. Recent surveys suggest that 52% of Palestinians support armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel.
    • The statements have profound implications for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. The leading faction of the PLO that signed the Oslo Accords with Israel now says it never consented to the terms of the deal.
    • Fatah's formal rejection of the Oslo terms of reference essentially constitutes the PLO's renunciation of the entire agreement.
    • Moderates still exist and the PA continues to take some positive steps - such as removing militant preachers from West Bank mosques and cooperating with Israel on security matters - but its actions seem more focused on preventing Hamas inroads than promoting peace with Israel.

      The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert