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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
April 27, 2011

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Report: Palestinian Security Forces Fire near Israeli Patrol (Maan News-PA)
    Palestinian security forces fired toward Israeli military vehicles in the West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian security sources said.
  There were no reports of injury in the incident, which came as military jeeps pulled up near the Palestinian security building at the northern entrance of Tulkarem.
    On Sunday, an Israeli was shot dead and four others were injured by Palestinian security forces.

Mohammed Says He Beheaded U.S. Reporter Despite Warnings - Richard A. Serrano (Los Angeles Times)
    A senior al-Qaeda military commander strongly warned Khalid Shaikh Mohammed not to kill Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, cautioning him "it would not be wise to murder Pearl" and that he should "be returned back to one of the previous groups who held him, or freed."
    Mohammed told his U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay that he cut off Pearl's head anyway, according to U.S. military documents posted Monday by WikiLeaks.
    Mohammed also told his captors of the aborted attempt by Richard Reid to light a shoe bomb aboard a flight from London to the U.S. in late 2001. "He had instructed Reid to shave his beard prior to boarding the airplane and to detonate the bomb inside the airplane bathroom." But Reid refused to shave his beard, tried to ignite the bomb in his seat, and was stopped.
    Mohammed boasted that the "planes operation" of Sept. 11 was his "dream and life's work." He was later forced to undergo 183 separate water-boarding treatments to get him to talk.
    Mohammed's right-hand man was Ramzi Binalshibh, the "9/11 coordinator." Binalshibh learned from lead Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta that "the targets were the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Capitol," sites personally selected by Osama bin Laden.
    It has long been in dispute whether the plane which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania was headed for the Capitol or the White House.
    See also Al-Qaeda Planned to Cut Brooklyn Bridge Cables (Jerusalem Post)

Israel's New Squadron of Fire-Fighting Planes Is Now Ready for Action - Zohar Blumenkrantz (Ha'aretz)
    A new squadron of seven Air Tractor 802 fire-fighting planes, purchased after a massive wildfire ravaged Israel's Carmel region last year, successfully completed its first training exercise and is now ready for use.

Israel Ranks 7th in "Happiness Index" - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
    According to Gallup's global wellbeing survey, published over the weekend, Israel ranked 7th out of 124 countries.
    63% of Israelis said they were happy with their lives, compared to 59% in the U.S.
    See also Global Wellbeing Survey (Gallup)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Blast Hits Egypt-Israel Gas Pipeline - Alaa Shahine
    Unidentified attackers blew up a gas-distribution facility south of El-Arish in Sinai at a pipeline that transports natural gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan, Egyptian state-run media said Wednesday. Authorities suspended gas flows after the explosion. The bombing is the second this year. Gunmen attacked the network on Feb. 5, stopping the supply of gas for 38 days. (Bloomberg)
  • Reports of Dissent in Syrian Army - Simon Cameron-Moore
    Anas Abdah, the British-based chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria, said he had reports that some army officers from the 5th Division, from captains to a lieutenant-general, were trying to stop the 4th Division from entering the city of Deraa, the heart of the uprising. "At this moment of time we have reports that certain elements in the 5th Division are not responding in the way Bashar and [4th Division Commander] Maher want them to, and are siding with the people," Abdah said. (Reuters)
        See also Mutiny in the Syrian Army? - Ammar Abdulhamid
    On April 25, the city of Deraa was invaded by units of the 4th and 5th Divisions of the Syrian army. Shortly thereafter, reports began of a mutiny in units of the 5th Division, and troops from these units standing up to and halting the advance of units from the 4th Division trying to reach the Al-Omary Mosque in Deraa. (Al-Jazeera)
  • U.S., Britain See Limits to Foreign Role in Syria - Missy Ryan and Phil Stewart
    U.S. and British defense chiefs meeting in Washington played down on Tuesday the possibility of a Libya-style intervention in Syria. Britain's Liam Fox said, "We can't do everything all the time and we have to recognize that there are practical limitations to what our countries can do." U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he agreed with "everything Dr. Fox said."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S.: Assad No Longer Potential Peace Partner for Israel - Hilary Leila Krieger
    After two years of pushing Israel to reach a peace agreement with Syria, a top U.S. State Department official indicated Tuesday the Obama administration is no longer looking at the current regime as a partner for such a deal. "It's hard for us to stand by and see [President Bashar] Assad and his government engage in the kind of things they're doing against their own people and to then think easily about how to pursue other diplomatic missions," said Jacob Sullivan, director of policy planning at the State Department. (Jerusalem Post)
  • In Syria, the Army's Loyalty to Assad Runs Deep - Zvi Bar'el
    The regime in Syria has not yet collapsed. Assad is sure that the Syrian army can deal with the enemy at home. Assad is still able to rely on at least most of the army, an army whose senior ranks are an inseparable part of the economic elite.
        It would be inaccurate to state that the struggle in Syria is between the Alawites and the Sunnis. Among the Alawite tribes there are also many who wish to see Assad and his regime toppled. In March, even before the mass protests began, the heads of four large Alawite clans published a manifesto in which they disavowed themselves of the Assad regime and of "all connections that were forcibly imposed on us during the period of President Hafez and his son, Bashar." Heads of large Alawite clans made it clear to representatives of the government that they would not agree to another massacre of the kind that took place in Hama in 1982. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Epic Arab Battle Reaches Syria - Rami G. Khouri
    In Syria, we are unlikely to see a Tunisian or Egyptian model of the security agencies abandoning the president while they remain in place. In Syria, either the entire system asserts itself and remains in control or it is changed in its entirety. Most Syrians do not want to risk internal chaos or sectarian strife and might opt to remain with the Assad-dominated system that has brought them stability without democracy.
        The specter of sectarian-based chaos within a post-Assad Syria is frightening to many people. Yet many Syrians indicate with their growing public protests that they see their current reality as more frightening. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
        See also Mixed Support for Syrian Protests
    A Stratfor source in Syria writes, "Support for the protests is mixed. Many of those out in the streets are there because someone close to them was killed. Think tribal mentality: I wasn't mad at you before but you killed my cousin/brother/friend and now I am mad. People are gathering to defend their honor. There is almost no organization inside Syria among the protesters. I asked several people and they agreed that the Muslim Brotherhood was almost non-present in the country....While the Muslim Brotherhood might have some latent support among Sunnis, they would not be welcome by any of the minorities in Syria."  (Stratfor)
  • The Freedom Movement Comes to Syria - Fouad Ajami
    When the Arab revolutions hit Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, Bashar Assad claimed that his country would be bypassed because it was the quintessential "frontline" state in the Arab confrontation with Israel. Let them eat anti-Zionism, the regime had long thought of its subjects.
        Syria is riven by sectarian differences - there are substantial Druze and Kurdish and Christian communities - and in the playbook of the regime those communities would be enlisted to keep the vast Sunni majority at bay. This is the true meaning of the refrain by Bashar and his loyalists that Syria is not Egypt or Tunisia - that it would be shades of Libya and worse. The writer is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Palestinian Leader Defies Israel and Vents about Obama - Dan Ephron
    "It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze," Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, told me. "I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it."
        In September, Abbas plans to make his big UN gambit. He believes a resolution that recognizes a new state of Palestine in the 1967 borders would be a game changer. But UN votes don't make 500,000 Jewish settlers suddenly disappear from the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, said about the UN initiative: "The Palestinians can go for more empty rhetoric or choose a path of real change. The only way to peace and Palestinian statehood is through negotiations with Israel."
        For the statehood resolution to have more than just symbolic impact, Abbas would have to assert sovereignty over the territory the UN just handed him. But that would entail confrontational measures with Israel. Abbas told me that's a path he will not take. (Newsweek)
  • The Grinding War in Libya Favors Gaddafi - Jeffrey White
    Despite appearances, the Libyan civil war is not a stalemate. Gaddafi's forces have adapted to NATO's control of the air and have continued offensive operations. Rebel forces in the east are far from being able to gain and hold ground against even depleted regime forces. Their offensive operations have consistently failed amid chaotic scenes of flight and disorder. Allied forces have not broken the regime's willingness or ability to continue the fight, and NATO is reluctant to take the military steps needed to turn the tide rapidly.
        The staying power of regime forces has been surprising after nine weeks of fighting and NATO airpower has not swept these forces from the field. Limited strike assets, lack of precise and timely information on mobile targets, low risk tolerance for collateral damage, and differing rules of engagement among contributing militaries have resulted in a less-than-decisive application of force. War is largely about willpower, and Gaddafi currently holds the upper hand on this front. The writer is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

The Moralist: Interview with Professor Asa Kasher - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

Tel Aviv University philosophy professor Asa Kasher co-authored the first IDF Code of Ethics.

  • Who tries harder than we do to warn the [non-combatant] neighbors [to leave a conflict zone]?...We recently carried out precisely such an act of warning - by publishing a map of Hizbullah positions in south Lebanon. Israel released details of hundreds of villages where Hizbullah has a position deep inside the village. From there, they'll fire on us if and when they want to, and we will have to protect ourselves. That means we'll have to fire into the village. The publication of this map is a warning....The populace has to know that it is in a dangerous situation.
  • If a neighbor doesn't want to leave, he turns himself into the human shield of the terrorist. He has become part of the war. And I'm sorry, but I may have to harm him when I try to stop the terrorist. I'll do my best not to. But it may be that in the absence of all other alternatives, I may hurt him. I certainly don't see a good reason to endanger the lives of soldiers in a case like that.
  • In Israel, where most of the soldiers are in the IDF because service is mandatory, "I, the state, took them out of their homes. Instead of him going to university or going to work, I put a uniform on him, I trained him, and I dispatched him. If I am going to endanger him, I owe him a very, very good answer as to why. After all, this is a democratic state that is obligated to protect its citizens. How dare I endanger him?...He is one of the citizens that I have an obligation to protect."
  • The package of measures that we take to minimize the harm to those who are not dangerous to us is truly without equal anywhere else....We make immense minimize the harm to people who do not constitute a threat.
  • Self-defense extends to attacking the source of the attack....If I don't take action, he will presumably attack me again. He always wants to attack me. I have no reason to think that there will only be one Kassam or Katyusha. He'll fire another....I need to silence the source of the danger and therefore I am permitted to attack it.
  • The Zionist mainstream supported the Partition decision [in 1947], which provided for a state for the Jews and a state for the Palestinians. We recognized a Palestinian state from the very start....The question is under what circumstances will a Palestinian state be established. I don't have to help in the establishment of something that wants to wipe me out.
    See also A Moral Evaluation of the Gaza War - Operation Cast Lead - Asa Kasher (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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