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 21, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Only 12% of Israelis Believe Obama Supports Israel (DPA-Ha'aretz)
    Only 12% of Israelis believe President Obama's policies are supportive of Israel, according to a poll released Thursday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and the Truman Research Institute at Hebrew University conducted Aug. 9-15.
    59% of Israelis believe that in the light of the resolutions adopted at the recent Fatah conference, Israel does not have a partner for peace negotiations.
    See also Poll: 76% of Palestinians Oppose a Demilitarized Palestinian State (PSR-PA)
    The PCR-Truman Institute poll also found that 76% of Palestinians oppose a demilitarized Palestinian state.
    58% of Israelis oppose the American demand to fully cease all construction in the settlements including that intended to solve needs of natural growth.
    62% of Israelis oppose any arrangement in which the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem including the Old City and the Temple Mount come under Palestinian sovereignty.
    54% of Israelis oppose and 40% support the Saudi initiative, while 64% of Palestinians support the plan.

Syrian Arrested in Plot to Sell Arms to Terrorists - Anahad O'Connor (New York Times)
    Jamal Yousef, a former member of the Syrian military, was charged in New York on Wednesday with plotting to sell high-powered weapons to Colombian terrorists in exchange for more than a ton of cocaine.
    The weapons included 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2,500 hand grenades, C-4 explosives and antitank munitions.
    Yousef had claimed that the weapons he was selling had been stolen from Iraq with the help of a cousin who was a member of Hizbullah.

Israel to Send Ship to NATO Operation - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israeli Navy ship will actively participate in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean Sea as part of the Active Endeavor maritime counter-terror operation.
    NATO launched Operation Active Endeavor in the wake of 9/11, which brings together countries from the Mediterranean to share information concerning naval terror and suspicious ships in the region.

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

Roman-Era Mansion Uncovered in City of David in Jerusalem (Israel Antiquities Authority)
    A spacious edifice from the Roman period (third century CE) - apparently a mansion that belonged to a wealthy individual - was recently exposed in the excavations at the City of David in Jerusalem.
    Dr. Doron Ben-Ami said, "The building covered an area of approximately 1,000 square meters. In the center of it was a large open courtyard surrounded by columns. Galleries were spread out between the rows of columns and the rooms that flanked the courtyard. The wings of the building rose to a height of two stories and were covered with tile roofs."
    A large quantity of fresco fragments was discovered in the collapsed ruins from colorful paintings on the walls.

When Israeli Bedouin Women Go to University - Akiva Eldar (Ha'aretz)
    Last month Amal Abu-Saad, 36, became the second Israeli Bedouin woman to be awarded a Ph.D. - in genetics.
    Abu-Saad's master's thesis was on teaching biology to Bedouin schoolchildren using camels. "I thought they would be able to relate better to camels than to flies," she says.

Israeli Wine Flows onto International Shelves - Elana Ringler (Reuters)
    Modern techniques imported from top winemaking nations are now helping Israeli wine find space on shelves from Paris to New York.
    "There is no contradiction between wines that are kosher and wines that are excellent," said Israeli wine critic Daniel Rogov.
    Israeli wineries, both industrial-scale and boutique, make over 33 million bottles a year, according to the Israeli Wine Council.
    Robert Parker, among the world's most influential wine critics, has heaped praise and points on some 40 Israeli wines. Fourteen of them won more than 90 out of a maximum 100 points in Parker's rating system.

UNIFIL Building Fence to Stop Zionist Cows (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    The Spanish contingent of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is building a fence to surround Baathaiil Lake in southern Kfar Shuba, according to a report by the state-run Lebanese National News Agency on Sunday.
    UNIFIL is building the fence to preventing cows from Israeli flocks crossing the Blue Line and using Lebanese water supplies. The iron fence will be two meters high and surround the lake.

Google Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East
    You can now use Google Search to explore seven years of back issues of Daily Alert - Israel News, which has been offering 100 linked excerpts each week from the mainstream world media on Israeli security and Islamic terrorism issues since May 2002.

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

  • Obama Urges Renewed Mideast Peace Talks - Matt Spetalnick
    President Barack Obama called on Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states on Thursday to act simultaneously to help kick-start Middle East peace negotiations. The White House put forth the idea in announcing that Obama had spoken by phone with Jordan's King Abdullah and "agreed on the need to launch Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as soon as possible." "They also agreed that all parties - Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states - should take steps simultaneously to create a context in which these negotiations can succeed," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Arab states have resisted Obama's appeals to make good-faith gestures toward Israel and have instead put the onus on Israel to act first. (Reuters)
        See also President Wants Palestinian Concessions - Barry Schweid
    Now it's the Palestinians' turn. With Israel having issued no new housing settlement contracts for months, President Obama said Tuesday, "My hope is that we are going to see not just movement from the Israelis, but also from the Palestinians," citing the areas of incitement and security. With Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at his side at the White House, Obama said Arab states also must show their willingness to engage Israel.
        Obama already has obtained a big concession from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who agreed to the concept of a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel. The president's next big step toward that goal would be a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. His call on the Palestinians and the Arabs for concessions probably reflects a view by Israel and its supporters that the other side must give ground as well. (AP)
  • New Iran Defense Minister Wanted in '94 Attack on Argentina Jewish Center - Eli Lake
    Ahmad Vahidi, nominated Thursday by President Ahmadinejad to serve as Iran's defense minister, is a suspected international terrorist sought by Interpol in connection with a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina. Vahidi, a former commander of the elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds Force, was listed with four other Iranian officials on Interpol's most-wanted list in 2007 at the request of Argentine prosecutors.
        Kenneth Katzman, a senior analyst at the Congressional Research Service, said Vahidi is also suspected of having played a role in a 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia. "Vahidi was commander of the Quds Force during the late 1980s to early 1990s, and his choice certainly sends a very strong signal that Ahmadinejad plans to continue, and maybe even accelerate, Iran's material support for pro-Iranian parties and militias in the region," Katzman said.
        Vahidi's "reputed intimate involvement in various acts of terrorism, particularly against Argentina and the United States, makes his selection especially flagrant," said Kenneth Piernick, a former chief of the FBI's Iran-Hizbullah unit. "This does not look like an unclenched fist." Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said the elevation of Vahidi "is reflective of the hard-line nature of the new Cabinet." "This should heighten concerns about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons," he added. (Washington Times)
  • Iran Allows UN Watchdog Access to Planned Reactor
    Iran allowed IAEA nuclear officials to inspect the construction site of the Arak heavy water reactor last week after blocking visits by the UN non-proliferation watchdog for over a year, diplomats said. Western powers fear Iran may configure the reactor to derive plutonium from spent fuel rods as another possible source of bomb-grade fuel, besides its Natanz uranium enrichment plant. Diplomats also said Iran had allowed an upgrade of IAEA monitoring at the Natanz site as requested by the agency, which had been finding it hard to keep track of expanding activity. (Reuters-Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Foreign Minister: Settlement Construction Effectively Frozen
    Construction in West Bank settlements is effectively frozen, Israel Radio quoted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying Thursday. He clarified that Israel would not tolerate this situation for an extended period of time, and said that Jerusalem was waiting for the next round of talks with the U.S. on the matter. Senior diplomatic sources said Tuesday that U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell was well aware that the Netanyahu government has not approved any new building in the West Bank since taking office, and that a de facto settlement freeze had already been in effect for more than four months. Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with Mitchell on Aug. 26 in London to discuss the settlement issue and the diplomatic process. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Report: Mubarak Opposes U.S. Defense Umbrella - Roee Nahmias
    The U.S. has offered Israel, Egypt and Persian Gulf countries to be part of a nuclear umbrella against an Iranian attack, the Egyptian newspaper al-Gumhoria reported Thursday. In its editorial, the newspaper slammed the idea of a "suspicion umbrella," defining it as "a bribe to Israel for indirect normalization purposes." "The only one to reveal this satanic plan was President Hosni Mubarak, who was very firm in his response. He stressed that Egypt does not support free normalization with Israel."  (Ynet News)
  • Report: Saudi Arabia Pushing Ahead with Plans to Build Nuclear Power Plant - Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz
    The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported Thursday that the kingdom was working on plans for its first nuclear power plant. The U.S. inked civil nuclear power deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last year. Over the last two years, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Yemen, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt have all indicated an interest in developing nuclear programs, with Israeli officials saying that if these countries did not want the programs now for their military capabilities, they wanted the technology in place to keep "other options open" if Iran were to develop a bomb. "The Saudis are genuinely scared of what will happen if Iran turns nuclear," one official said. "This is part of their response."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Criticizes Israel for PA Visitors Policy - Hilary Leila Krieger
    The U.S. on Tuesday criticized Israel for stamping passports of tourists intending to visit the West Bank as "Palestinian Authority only," restricting visitors' ability to enter Israel. "We have let the government of Israel know that these restrictions unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab American travelers and are not acceptable," the State Department spokesman's office said. Israeli officials have defended the policy as necessary to insure that individuals who pose security risks aren't able to wander around Israel. In the past, some foreign terrorists were able to attack Israelis after first rendezvousing with contacts in Palestinian-controlled areas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Tehran's Self-Fulfilling Paranoia - Haleh Esfandiari
    Two years ago I was released from Evin Prison after 105 days in solitary confinement. I was arrested in early 2007 on the ludicrous charge of attempting to foment a "velvet revolution" to overthrow the Iranian government. Even President Ahmadinejad acknowledged the absurdity of the charges; this month, explaining why he fired his minister of intelligence, he noted that the intelligence chief had made himself the subject of ridicule by charging "a 70-year-old woman" with wanting to start a revolution. (Actually, I was 67 then.)
        Thousands were arrested in the protests after the June 12 presidential election that large numbers of Iranians believe was rigged in Ahmadinejad's favor. More than 100 of the protesters and their leaders were put on trial this month. In weeks of interrogation during my incarceration in 2007, I came to understand only too well the paranoia that drives Iran's security agencies and its hard-liners. These men fear that they will be overthrown by a mass movement of their own people. The trials have caused as much revulsion at home as abroad. The widespread discontent will not be easily silenced. Iran's hard-liners seem to have accomplished what their ubiquitous foreign "enemies" could not: They have planted the seeds for their own, homegrown velvet revolution. The writer is director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Washington Post)
  • Try an Alternative Paradigm to Achieve Real Peace - Saul Singer
    The Arab-Israeli conflict is not based on a misunderstanding. The conflict has a source, and it is the refusal to acknowledge that source - rather than any failure to "engage" - that is the main reason for the failure of decades of peacemaking. Under the conflict-as-misunderstanding model, the more one side takes "confidence-building measures," the more the other side will reciprocate. Israel has been going along with this idea for years, most dramatically by unilaterally withdrawing from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005. Yet instead of reciprocating, the Arab side became more belligerent: The more Israel acts as if it is responsible for the conflict, the more radicalized the Arab side becomes.
        The idea that pressing both sides is how you make peace has become so ingrained that no alternative is ever considered. There is, however, an alternative paradigm that has never been tried: to recognize, intellectually and publicly, that the engine of the conflict is the Arab refusal to accept Jewish history, peoplehood or sovereignty anywhere in the Land of Israel. The Arabs will not end the conflict that they started so long as they still have hopes that Israel will become delegitimized and will weaken and disappear. When these hopes are dashed, then the Arab world will see that there is no alternative to making real peace with Israel.
        Someday, the U.S. and Europe will, without equivocation, call on the Arab states to lead the way toward ending their conflict with Israel. When that happens clearly and consistently, and provided that radical Islam's bid for an Iranian nuclear umbrella has been defeated, real peace could come more quickly than anyone now imagines. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Barghouti Mania - Editorial
    Convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti was elected last week to the Fatah Central Committee. On May 20, 2004, Barghouti, commander of Fatah's Tanzim militia, was convicted by an Israeli civilian court on five counts of murder, including commissioning and organizing the attack on Tel Aviv's Seafood Market restaurant where three guests partaking in a bachelorette party were shot to death in 2002. Faith in Barghouti as peacemaker persists despite his self-acknowledged orchestration of the Second Intifada terror war and even recent inflammatory statements to the Fatah convention.
        In this context it is instructive to listen to Kadima's Avi Dichter, a former Israel Security Agency head and ex-minister of public security. Barghouti "earned his status in PA society with the blood of murdered and wounded Israelis," said Dichter, a proven advocate of compromise with the Palestinians. "This man has amply proved his unreliability."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fatah's Message - Caroline Glick
    A central pillar of the Obama administration's Middle East policy paradigm was shattered at the Fatah conference in Bethlehem. At the conference, Fatah's supposedly feuding old guard and young guard were united in their refusal to reach an accommodation with Israel. Both old and young endorsed the use of terrorism against Israel. Both embraced the Aksa Martyrs Brigades terror group as a full-fledged Fatah organization. Both approved building a strategic alliance with Iran. The U.S. argues that by barring Jewish building, Israel will encourage the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority to moderate its policies and so engender an atmosphere conducive to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian conflict with Israel. The Fatah conference put paid to that fiction. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mahmoud Abbas Visits Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir - Marty Peretz
    PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, partner of the U.S. and Israel in peace processing, was in Khartoum on Wednesday for talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has a warrant out for his head on charges of genocide. This indictment by the International Criminal Court has never bothered any other leaders of the Arab world. So why should it perturb Abbas? Al-Bashir is a big player in the Arab world, mostly in the role Sudan has taken on in the transfer of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Eritrea. Remember that Israel bombed a desert convoy in Sudan a few months ago - at the request of the United States. (New Republic)
  • The Goldstone Mission - Tainted to the Core (II) - Irwin Cotler
    The issue is not whether Israel must respect human rights, but that the human rights of Israel and its people have not been respected. The discrimination emerges not from suggesting that human rights standards should be applied to Israel - which they must be - but from the fact that these standards have not been applied equally to anyone else.
        It was Hamas that fired deliberately on Israeli civilians. It was Hamas that boasted - only days before the conflict exploded in December - that Israel was "hopeless and desperate" when faced with its attacks. It was Hamas that painted Israel and Jews as the sons of apes and pigs and that called for their murder in its charter and publicly incited to their genocide. Once the war began, it was Hamas that continued to target Israeli civilians as part of a systematic, widespread attack. It was Hamas that chose to position its fighters in Palestinian civilian areas. It was Hamas that misused ambulances to transport fighters to launch attacks. It was Hamas that recruited children into armed conflict.
        These are all indisputable war crimes. Yet they do not find their way into the resolution establishing the Goldstone Commission. Simply put, if there had been no Hamas war crimes, there would have been no need for an Israeli response. (Jerusalem Post)
  • When Criticizing Israel Becomes Ritual - Robert Fulford
    Opposing Israel has become an institutionalized ritual. It's now a movement across Europe and North America. It has its traditions, like Israel Apartheid Week, celebrated every spring in universities, often the cause of riots and an occasion to intimidate Jewish students. Vehement opposition to Israel appears to be the major interest of thousands of people all over the world. Many are Muslims, sympathizing with the Palestinians, but many are not.
        Those involved often insist that it's not a matter of anti-Semitism. But in my personal observation, enemies of Israel often turn out to be anti-Semites as well. The most distressing quality of the attacks is their singularity. They leave us with the impression that Israel deserves more censure than any other country on Earth - in fact, more than all other countries combined. Those who oppose Israel's policies have a right to their opinions and their anger, however unreasonable. And those, like me, who are infuriated by the relentless and totally selective drumbeat, also have a right to our grave suspicions. (National Post-Canada)
  • Observations:

    Taking the Mideast Peace Plunge - Editorial (Christian Science Monitor)

    • The Obama administration is trying to shake up the waiting game by moving all parties in "parallel steps" toward a return to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. But even as American special envoy George Mitchell scurries around the Middle East trying to get the peace ducks in a row, Egypt and the Arab nations could be doing much more to support Mr. Mitchell's efforts.
    • Since coming to power five months ago, the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not issued any new contracts for construction of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank - a key demand of Washington and the Palestinians.
    • Egypt and other Arab nations appear to be the odd men out here. Egypt has promised to end weapons smuggling into Gaza, including rockets, but arms still flow. Neither has Cairo been able to negotiate the release of an Israeli soldier held hostage since 2006.
    • It's disheartening that Arab nations reject the administration's request for small steps toward normalizing relations with Israel. Apparently, Arab autocrats still need Israel as a foe to deflect public disappointment from their own poor performance.
    • The new U.S. administration's "everyone together" approach is worth a try, but it won't work if Egypt and the Arab states hold out.

    Support the Daily Alert
    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.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert