Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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


June 1, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Azerbaijan Foils Plot by Hizbullah and Iran to Bomb Israeli Embassy - Sebastian Rotella (Los Angeles Times)
    Last year in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, police intercepted a fleeing car and captured two suspected Hizbullah militants from Lebanon. The car contained explosives, binoculars, cameras, pistols with silencers and reconnaissance photos.
    Raiding alleged safe houses, police foiled what authorities say was a plot to blow up the Israeli Embassy in retaliation for the slaying of Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyah.
    The case remained largely a secret until last week, when closed court proceedings began for two Lebanese and four Azeris charged with terrorism and espionage.

Six Palestinians Killed in Hamas-Fatah Clashes in West Bank - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Two Hamas gunmen, three Palestinian policemen and a passerby were killed in exchanges of gunfire in the West Bank on Sunday, Palestinian security officials said. The clashes erupted when PA security forces sought to arrest Hamas gunmen in Kalkilya.
    See also Hamas Resuming Armed Activity in West Bank - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    A PA official said that Sunday's clash in Kalkilya was part of an effort to curb Hamas' increased activity in the West Bank, which includes resuming the activity of its military cells and obtaining arms and explosives.
    The source said the past few months have seen Hamas increase its efforts to funnel money into the West Bank to help resume armed activities there.

Man, 85, Fined for Giving Military Secrets to Israel in the 1980s - Benjamin Weiser (New York Times)
    Ben-Ami Kadish, 85, was fined $50,000 on Friday for leaking classified U.S. military documents to an Israeli agent in the early 1980s.
    From 1963 until 1990, he worked as a mechanical engineer at the Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, N.J., where he borrowed 50 to 100 classified documents from the arsenal's library.
    Kadish said he did not ask for nor did he receive anything of value for the documents. "I'm sorry I made a mistake," he told the judge. "I thought I was helping the State of Israel without harming the United States."

Israel Rejects Loyalty Oath Proposal - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    The ministerial legislative committee on Sunday rejected a bill stating that those who wish to retain Israeli citizenship would have to declare their loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state.

Lives Lived
    Ephraim Katzir, 93, Israel's Fourth President (Ha'aretz)
    Franklin Littell, 91, Scholar of the Holocaust (New York Times)
    Yona Baumel, 81, Father of missing Israeli soldier (Jerusalem Post)

Pro-Israeli Producer Goes for Hearts of Non-Jewish Viewers - Cnaan Liphshiz (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Documentaries for Education and Scholarship (IDEAS) has set out to "fight for people's hearts instead of their minds."
    Launched by retired professor Avi Naiman, the project has produced "Under Fire," the story of two Arab-Israeli families whose loved ones were killed by Hizbullah rocket fire in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. A second film, "Scorched Summer," depicts how 1.5 million people in Israel lived under fire or as refugees during the Lebanon War.
    View "Under Fire" - 4-Minute Promo (IDEAS)
    View "Scorched Summer" - 3-Minute Promo (IDEAS)

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

  • U.S. Weighs Tactics on Israeli Settlement - Helene Cooper
    As President Obama heads to the Middle East this week, administration officials are debating how to toughen their stance against Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The measures under discussion include stepping back from America's support for Israel in the UN if Israel does not agree to a settlement freeze, administration officials said. Even symbolic actions would be a sharp departure from the previous administration. However, a senior administration official said "Israel is a critical United States ally, and no one in this administration expects that not to continue."  (New York Times)
  • Settlements Issue Overrated, Says Top Israeli Adviser - Jason Koutsoukis
    As the U.S. hardens its policy of zero growth in West Bank Jewish settlements, the policy circle around Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to reject it as unworkable. Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, said the issue of settlements in the West Bank was overrated as an obstacle to peace. "The settlements themselves cover only 1.7% of the actual land in the area we are talking about that could become a Palestinian state. Growth itself is infinitesimal." "It's not the key issue affecting peace in the Middle East, and it's never been a big issue for other countries in the Middle East. It's disingenuous."
        Gold says it is time for a new approach. "Whenever we sit down to negotiate over a Palestinian state, we get stuck on the same issues. We can't give Palestinians control of the air space. We can't allow a Palestinian state to make defensive treaties with countries like Iran. Settlement growth? The issue is the security of Israel, not whether someone can build an extension to their home in Efrat."  (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • Thousands March, Celebrate Israel at NYC Parade - Karen Matthews
    Tens of thousands of supporters of Israel crowded New York's Fifth Avenue on Sunday as part of the annual parade celebrating the birth of the Jewish state in 1948. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson led off the parade, followed by floats blasting Israeli pop music. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Israel Pride Parade - Amber Sutherland (New York Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Won't Honor Previous Understandings with Israel - Barak Ravid
    Israeli political officials expressed disappointment after last week's round of meetings in London with George Mitchell, President Obama's envoy to the Middle East. "All of the understandings reached during the [George W.] Bush administration are worth nothing," said one senior official. Another official said the U.S. administration is refusing every Israeli attempt to reach new agreements on settlement construction.
        Israel Defense Ministry chief of staff Brig. Gen. Mike Herzog spoke to Mitchell and his staff about understandings reached by former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon with the Bush administration on allowing continued building in the large West Bank settlement blocs, asking that a similar agreement be reached with the Obama government. The Israelis were stunned by the uncompromising U.S. stance, and by statements from Mitchell and his staff that agreements reached with the Bush administration were unacceptable.
        An Israeli official privy to the talks said that "the Americans took something that had been agreed on for many years and just stopped everything." The Israeli envoys said the demand for a total settlement freeze was not only unworkable, but would not receive Israel Supreme Court sanction. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Won't Freeze Settlement Construction for Natural Growth - Herb Keinon
    Israel will not freeze settlement construction for natural growth, despite intense pressure from the Obama administration to do so. In addition, in Prime Minister Netanyahu's view, there is no reason housing cannot be built inside major settlement blocs. Defense Minister Barak will discuss the matter this week during a visit to the U.S. Barak has made it clear that he, too, feels it is illogical and impossible to completely stop all construction in the settlements.
        Israel has made clear to the Americans that it will build in a way that will not impinge on the Palestinians - meaning that construction will be within the designated boundaries of the settlements and there will be no expropriation of new land. The current sense in Jerusalem is that if the U.S. does not honor its previous understandings with Israel, then it has little right to demand that Israel live up to commitments it made in the past. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Abbas' Waiting Game - Jackson Diehl
    As he prepared for his White House meeting last week, Mahmoud Abbas insisted that his only role was to wait. He will wait for Hamas to capitulate to his demand that any Palestinian unity government recognize Israel and swear off violence. And he will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction. Until Israel meets his demands, he will refuse to begin negotiations. He won't even agree to help Obama's envoy, George Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building measures.
        What's interesting about Abbas' hardline position is what it says about the message that Obama's first Middle East steps have sent to Palestinians and Arab governments. From its first days the Bush administration made it clear that the onus for change in the Middle East was on the Palestinians: Until they put an end to terrorism, established a democratic government and accepted the basic parameters for a settlement, the U.S. was not going to expect major concessions from Israel.
        Obama, in contrast, has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the U.S. will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud.
        Palestinians remain a long way from swallowing reality. Setting aside Hamas and its insistence that Israel must be liquidated, Abbas - usually described as the most moderate of Palestinian leaders - last year helped doom Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, by rejecting a generous outline for Palestinian statehood. (Washington Post)
  • Mr. Obama and Mr. Abbas - Editorial
    Abbas displayed depressing passivity in an interview with the Washington Post before his White House meeting. He suggested that his only role in the American-led peace initiative is to wait - for Hamas to join in a unity government, for Netanyahu to act. He said he can't ask Arab states to have anything to do with Israel "until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognize the two-state solution....Until then, we can't talk to anyone." Abbas needs to do a lot more. He must keep improving Palestinian security forces. He must redouble efforts to halt the constant spewing of hatred against Israel in schools, mosques and media. He must work harder to weed out corruption. Unless Abbas' government does more to improve the lives of Palestinians, it will surely lose again to Hamas in elections scheduled for January. (New York Times)
  • Settlements and Diplomacy - Marty Peretz
    The idea of stopping all construction in all settlements means that once again the Israelis will be ceding something in advance and for nothing in return. This is a destructive negotiating tactic and will encourage the same kind of intransigence - you give me, I take - that has marked the Palestinians in all of the talks. Telling the Israelis that they can't build another house in all of the settlements means that no one can marry and no one can have children and no one can add a room to the house. This is not diplomacy; it is the smothering of ordinary life.
        In fact, the 2003 "Roadmap" made distinctions among settlements, envisioning that the largest would remain sovereign Israeli territory. The very largest happen to cling to Jerusalem. I wouldn't withdraw from them in a million years. This is a matter of the security of the city, its breathing room and, yes, its centrality in Jewish history and in contemporary Jewish life. There is a price to be paid by the Palestinians for their suicidal politics over the decades. And if I were Netanyahu, I would expect also to be able to increase defensive settlements in the Jordan Valley rift as a protection against Palestinian terror flowing east to west and west to east between the kingdom and the new Palestine. (New Republic)
        See also Jewish Babies Threaten the Peace Process - Editorial
    Last week, Secretary of State Clinton stated that Washington "wants to see a stop to settlements - not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions." The euphemism "natural growth" refers to children. About 9,600 babies were born in West Bank settlements in 2007, and the State Department views these bundles of joy as a threat to its precious peace process. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    No Room for Partisanship on an Iranian Nuclear Bomb - Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Wall Street Journal)

    • We need a multipronged strategy to end Iran's nuclear program that employs all of the elements of our national power. Such a strategy would include a clear and credible set of benchmarks by which we can judge Iran's response to our outreach, a timeline by which to expect results, and a set of carrots and sticks that both sides understand.
    • We must make clear to the Iranians and the region that engagement will not be a process without end, but rather a means to a clearly identified set of ends.
    • And we must build a consensus domestically and internationally. Just as steps forward by the Iranians will justify continued and rewarding engagement, a lack of progress will be met with what Mrs. Clinton characterized as "crippling" sanctions.
    • With the goal of giving President Barack Obama the authority to impose precisely such sanctions, a bipartisan coalition of senators, organized by Sens. Evan Bayh, Jon Kyl and me, recently introduced legislation that would empower the president to sanction companies that are involved in brokering, shipping or insuring the sale of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert