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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
March 9, 2011

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Al-Qaeda No. 2 Calls for Islamic Rule in Egypt - Maamoun Youssef (AP)
    Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's deputy, urged fellow Egyptians to establish Islamic rule over the country in an Internet audio message released Friday.
    He warned Egyptians not to trust Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Armed Forces Supreme Council, which took over control from Mubarak.
    "Don't be deceived by Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's man and lackey who is trusted by the Americans, who consider him as the guarantor of stability in Egypt," al-Zawahri said.

Middle East Turmoil Jars U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts - Greg Miller (Washington Post)
    In a span of weeks, popular uprisings in the Islamic world have upended counterterrorism relationships that the U.S. spent much of the past decade trying to build.
    The popular revolts have led to the ouster of a stalwart counterterrorism ally in Egypt, and threatened an autocrat who has allowed the U.S. to use drones and special operations troops to hunt al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen.
    Seemingly stable monarchies such as those in Saudi Arabia and Jordan are being forced to sharpen the focus of their intelligence and security services on internal unrest.

NGOs Collaborate on Israel Apartheid Week (NGO Monitor)
    Israeli Apartheid Week is part of an anti-Israel campaign to falsely label Israel as an "apartheid state" as part of a strategy devised at the 2001 UN Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

Temple Mount Bridge Renovation Approved - Melanie Lidman (Jerusalem Post)
    A plan for the renovation of the Mughrabi Gate bridge, which leads from the Western Wall plaza to the Temple Mount and the Al-Aksa Mosque, received final approval from the Jerusalem Municipality last week.
    The new bridge is meant to replace the temporary wooden bridge that has been in use since a 2003 earthquake and winter storm caused part of the original bridge to collapse.

LAPD Bomb Squad to Train in Israel - Ryan Torok (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    Four Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) bomb squad technicians will visit Israel in May to train with their counterparts in the Israeli National Police Bomb Squad.
    Bomb squad officer Ronald Capra said LAPD's "exposure to local [Israeli] bomb units" will help the LAPD learn more about how to handle and dispose of explosive devices, given Israeli technicians' experience with suicide attacks.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egyptian Presidential Hopeful Amr Moussa Would Maintain Peace with Israel - Zeina Karam
    Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who is running for president of Egypt, suggested Tuesday that he would maintain a peace treaty with Israel. When asked about Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, the former foreign minister said: "We as Egyptians have a responsibility to lay the foundations for peace....We cannot rebuild Egypt...while adopting an adventurous foreign policy," adding, "we would be kidding ourselves" if Egyptians didn't recognize Israel as a state.
        However, Moussa said he would possibly reconsider the terms of a controversial 15-year gas deal with Israel. Moussa enjoys wide popularity in Egypt, largely because of his scathing criticism of Israel. (AP)
        See also Front-Runner Amr Moussa Attends an Egyptian Town Hall Meeting - Neil MacFarquhar
    Former president Hosni Mubarak removed Amr Moussa as foreign minister after a song called "I Hate Israel and I Love Amr Moussa" became a pop hit in 2001. (New York Times)
  • Jewish Leaders Appeal to Cuba to Free Alan Gross
    Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday called on the Cuban government to release Jewish U.S. government contractor Alan Gross, 61, jailed for more than a year. "We are disappointed that the prosecution presented Mr. Gross as attempting to destabilize the Cuban government when the project he was working on in Cuba was aimed at helping communication in the local Jewish community," said Presidents Conference Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.
        "As we mentioned in the appeal we sent to President of Cuba Raul Castro prior to the trial, Mr. Gross has managed multiple humanitarian projects around the world and believed he was advancing his humanitarian work in Cuba." State Department officials say Gross was in the country on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to help the country's 1,500 Jews communicate with other Jewish communities using the Internet. (JTA)
        See also Cuba's American Hostage - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
  • British Foreign Minister Slams Hamas for Blocking Palestinian Vote
    British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday that Hamas should not be allowed to "stifle" the democratic expression of Palestinians after the Islamist movement rejected a call for elections. Speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in London, Hague said, "I welcomed the recent call for Palestinian elections and I condemn the rejection of these by Hamas."  (AFP)
        See also UK Steps Up Pressure for Mideast Peace - James Blitz
    Britain signaled on Tuesday that it would significantly ramp up pressure on Israel to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority over the Middle East peace process. William Hague, Britain's foreign secretary, said the UK, France and Germany would press the international community to explain in the next few months what the shape of a peace treaty might look like. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also British Ambassador Says UK Won't Yet Recognize Palestinian State - Greer Fay Cashman
    British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould said Tuesday that the upgrading of the Palestinian delegation in Britain to mission level "is not a step towards recognition." Britain shares the goal of the creation of a Palestinian state, Gould said, "but the way to achieve this is through negotiations. This is a conflict that can only be solved through a negotiated settlement."  (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Enables Increased Imports at Gaza Border Crossing - Ben Hartman
    The recent transfer of traffic from the Karni border crossing to the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing will enable greater security for Israeli personnel and allow Gaza to import more materials more efficiently than before, Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), said Tuesday. Dangot said Karni "is a very popular target of Hamas." "Each time we open Karni twice a week, we would deploy thousands of soldiers to secure the lives of people on our side. As a result of these security threats, we had to move the operations to Kerem Shalom."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Moving 40,000 Tons of Construction Material into Gaza (AP)
  • Palestinian Caught with Five Pipe Bombs at West Bank Checkpoint
    Israel Border Police forces discovered five pipe bombs and three firebombs ready to be thrown in a Palestinian terrorist's bag at the Tapuach checkpoint south of Nablus on Tuesday. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Egyptian Press Revels in Newfound Freedom - Oren Kessler
    Since the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's press has undergone a revolution of its own, with the country's media reporting stories that would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago. Al-Ahram, Egypt's widest-circulation paper which for decades served as the president's mouthpiece, wrote that the storming of several offices of the reviled state security forces "revealed many torture devices used by state security in their devilish sadism and criminal unaccountability. Someone needs to be charged for crimes against humanity, soon."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • How Obama Can Help Iran's Opposition - Ilan Berman
    To hear Iranian officials tell it, the geopolitical earthquake now taking place in the Middle East represents an "Islamic awakening" that will forge a new regional order more sympathetic to Iran. But the renewed anti-regime uprisings that have taken place in recent weeks in Tehran, Isfahan, Mashad, Shiraz and other cities - and the brutality of the Iranian government's response to them - tell a very different story. Clearly, Iran's ayatollahs are deeply worried that the "Arab Spring" could end up bringing down their theocracy as well, and are working feverishly to prevent such an eventuality.
        What can and should the U.S. do to aid Iran's opposition? America needs to ratchet up the international focus on the plight of the leadership of the Green Movement - arrested former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister, and Mehdi Karroubi, twice speaker of Iran's parliament. The writer is vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • An Arab World in Ruins or a New Regional Beginning? - Zvi Mazel
    After decades of oppression, Arab masses are on the move. They have discovered that they can change their fate. Not all regimes will crumble, but they all will have to implement substantial reforms and allow a measure of freedom of expression as well as greater respect for human rights. It is clear that the Middle East will go through years of instability before the new regimes can find the right balance between the demands of the emerging political forces and those of traditional Arab societies.
        It does seem as if the issues which dominated both the Arab world and the West in recent years - the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and radical Islam - no longer occupy center stage. Arab masses above all want better economic and social conditions. Iran appears to be the main beneficiary of the turmoil, since its strongest opponents are busy with internal problems - which some say Iran has actively promoted. The writer is a former ambassador to Egypt and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Reflections on a Visit to Israel and the West Bank - Jose Ramos-Horta
    I recently completed my first State Visit to Israel and Palestine. I was surprised by the state of peace and economic prosperity prevailing in Israel and the West Bank. I envied the relative prosperity of the Palestinians in the West Bank who are far ahead of most sub-Sahara African states, and indeed well ahead of my own country, in economic well-being.
        Israelis were not bestowed with the same resources available to much of the Arab world. Yet Israelis are ahead of all their neighbors, and of many European countries, in such fields as humanities, science, food security, information technology, and medicine. They have harvested more Nobel prizes than any other individual country of its size. That this tiny country struggling with water scarcity is a major exporter of high quality agriculture goods to Europe and Russia illustrates the well-known Jewish resilience and creativity in the face of extreme adversity.
        In Israel and Ramallah there is deep resentment and opposition to radical Iranian meddling in Gaza and Lebanon. For many in Israel, Palestine and elsewhere in much of the Arab world, Iran presents the greatest threat to all. The writer is President of East Timor. (Huffington Post)

Impact of the Arab Spring - Aaron David Miller (Foreign Policy)

  • Unlike Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who were in love with the idea of Israel, President Obama is not. He sees Israel primarily in the context of U.S. interests - and less so in the context of its values. As the stronger party, he believes Israel should be much more magnanimous when it comes to the Palestinians.
  • Obama has learned that fighting with Israel without a good reason is a sure path to a room full of trouble. Though he can craft an initiative laying out a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, actually producing one requires working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu, since he can't find a way to do regime change in Israel.
  • It's true that neither the U.S. nor Israel has been on the radar screen of reformist opposition forces, but just wait. As these systems open up and politics finds the new normal, criticism of U.S. policy, including support for Israel, will grow without the authoritarians' hands keeping it under control.
  • In a new and more open democratic Arab world, there will be more voices from across the political spectrum expressing opposition to U.S. policies in the region - from containment of Iran to isolating Hamas to counterterrorism to support for Israel.

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