* The great hummus robbery
* Muslim-themed ‘Beurger King’ opens
* Jewish doctor’s “secret links” to Arab leaders
In order to try provide some “light relief” from the often intense and highly politicized nature of my Middle East dispatches, I occasionally try and send emails with more humorous or “human interest” aspects.
Today I am sending three such dispatches. This dispatch contains items on the Middle East and Muslim world.
1. “American soldier becomes Iraqi sheik” (Associated Press, August 1, 2005)
2. “The great hummus robbery” (Ynetnews, July 19, 2005)
3. “Muslim-Themed ‘Beurger King’ Opens” (Associated Press, August 5, 2005)
4. “Islamic Telephone in Syria Soon” (SANA, July 24, 2005)
5. “Jewish doctor’s “secret links” to Arab leaders” (Al Bawaba, August 2, 2005)
SHEIK HORN, THE AMERICAN SHEIK
Whilst the mainstream Western media tend to concentrate on the bad news from Iraq, occasionally an article illustrating American success in Iraq slips through. Army Staff Sgt. Dale L. Horn, from Florida, whose job was to glean information from locals about terrorists in Iraq, has become so friendly with many ordinary Iraqis, that they have now appointed him a Sheik. Sheik Horn has developed such a great relationship with local leaders that attacks on his American army base have been reduced.
Sheik Horn has taken to wearing a white robe and headdress, but he’s the only sheik with blonde streaks in his mustache and the only one who attended country music star Toby Keith’s recent concert in Baghdad with fellow U.S. soldiers.
“THERE IS NOTHING THAT AN ARAB LOVES MORE THAN A JEWISH DOCTOR”
The article below from Al Bawaba concerns Professor Moshe Mani, a Jewish Israeli who has treated many Arab rulers, including Saudi King Fahd, who died last week.
For months, Prof. Mani, head of “Tel HaShomer’s Urology” department (in Tel Aviv), would reportedly disappear from Israel and travel on to London, Rome or Geneva. He would then secretly join others on Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi’s private Boeing to various Mid-East and European destinations.
Al Bawaba suggests (at the end of their article) that Professor Mani may have been sent to Saudi Arabia by the Mossad. As I wrote in a dispatch last year, unlike some parents, who teach their children to grow up to become suicide bombers in order to murder innocent people, Jewish parents often encourage their children to go into medicine to save lives.
THE GREAT HUMMUS ROBBERY AND BEURGER KING
A further article below, is on the great hummus robbery. Masked men have stolen 75 tons of chickpeas, used to make hummus, from Kibbutz Einat in Israel. In the Middle East, hummus has been popular since the start of the 13th century, and it has been claimed that both Plato and Socrates in the fourth century B.C.E. wrote about their fondness for hummus.
THE WHOPPER GETS WHOPPED BY ITS ISLAMIC RIVAL IN FRANCE
Another article below concerns “Beurger King” a new fast food restaurant that caters to the French Islamic population. (Its name plays on the French word “Beur,” meaning a second-generation North African living in France.) Waitresses at the restaurant wear Islamic headscarves, as do many of their customers. The opening of this restaurant in the Paris suburbs follows the success of Mecca Cola, a soft drink marketed to French Muslims, which I reported on in this email list in October 2003.
FATWAS BY PHONE
There is also news of an Islamic telephone service that is now available in more than 15 countries including Egypt and Syria. The phone service offers the ability to send religious Fatwas similar to “The Islamic Cultural Centre” and “The London Central Mosque” who have set up online Fatwas for more on this see the dispatch from last week titled Denmark’s leading paper: “We are all Israelis now” (& email us your fatwas).
I attach five articles below.
-- Tom Gross
AMERICAN SOLDIER BECOMES IRAQI SHEIK
American soldier becomes Iraqi sheik
By Antonio Castaneda
The Associated Press
August 1, 2005
Sheik Horn floats around the room in white robe and headdress, exchanging pleasantries with dozens of village leaders.
But he’s the only sheik with blonde streaks in his mustache -- and the only one who attended country music star Toby Keith’s recent concert in Baghdad with fellow U.S. soldiers.
Officially, he’s Army Staff Sgt. Dale L. Horn, but to residents of the 37 villages and towns that he patrols, he’s known as the American sheik.
Sheiks, or village elders, are known as the real power in rural Iraq. And the 5-foot-6-inch Floridian’s ascension to the esteemed position came through dry humor and the military’s need to clamp down on rocket attacks.
Late last year, a full-blown battle between insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi forces had erupted, and U.S. commanders assigned a unit to stop rocket and mortar attacks that regularly hit their base. Sgt. Horn, who had been trained to operate radars for a field artillery unit, was thrust into a job that largely hinged on coaxing locals into divulging information about insurgents.
Sgt. Horn, 25, a native of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., acknowledges he had little interest in the region before coming here. But a local sheik friendly to U.S. forces, Mohammed Ismail Ahmed, explained the inner workings of rural Iraqi society on one of Sgt. Horn’s first Humvee patrols.
Sgt. Horn says he was intrigued, and started making a point of stopping by all the villages, all but one dominated by Sunni Arabs, to talk with people about their life and security problems.
Moreover, he pressed for development projects in the area. He boasts that he helped funnel $136,000 worth of aid into the area. Part of that paid for delivery of clean water to 30 villages during the broiling summer months.
“They saw that we were interested in them, instead of just taking care of the bases,” Sgt. Horn said.
Sheik Ahmed, Sgt. Horn’s mentor and known for his dry sense of humor, eventually suggested during a meeting of village leaders that Sgt. Horn be named a sheik. The sheiks approved by voice vote, Sgt. Horn said.
Some sheiks later gave him five sheep and a postage stamp of land, fulfilling some of the requirements for sheikdom. Others encouraged him to start looking for a second wife, which Sgt. Horn’s spouse back in Florida immediately vetoed.
But what may have started as a joke among crusty village elders has sprouted into something serious enough for 100 to 200 village leaders to meet with Sgt. Horn each month to discuss security issues.
And Sgt. Horn doesn’t take his responsibilities lightly. He lately has been prodding the Iraqi Education Ministry to pay local teachers, and he closely follows a water-pipeline project that he hopes will ensure the steady flow of clean water to his villages.
“Ninety percent of the people in my area are shepherds or simple townspeople,” said Sgt. Horn. “They simply want to find a decent job to make enough money to provide food and a stable place for their people to live.”
To Sgt. Horn’s commanders, his success justifies his unorthodox approach: No rockets have hit their base in the past half year.
“He has developed a great relationship with local leaders,” said Lt. Col. Bradley Becker, who commands the 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment. “They love him. They’re not going to let anyone shoot at Sheik Horn.”
He has even won occasional exemption from the military dress code villagers provide a changing room where he can change from desert camouflage to robes upon arrival.
There are downsides. In his small trailer on base, Sgt. Horn keeps antibiotics to take after unhygienic village meals.
“I still refuse to kiss him,” joked Col. Becker, referring to the cheek-kissing greetings exchanged among sheiks.
Sgt. Horn acknowledges that some villagers are offended at seeing a foreign soldier in clothing usually reserved for elders, but he says this has diminished over time.
The sheiks told Sgt. Horn they will give him an official document deeming him a sheik before he goes home in about two months. He plans to frame it.
And the robe? “Maybe I’ll put it in the closet and wear it on occasion,” Sgt. Horn said.
THE GREAT HUMMUS ROBBERY
The great hummus robbery
Masked men steal 75 tons of chickpeas, used to make hummus, from Kibbutz storage containers
By Avi Cohen
July 19, 2005
Hummus shortage in the cards? Some 75 tons (165,000 pounds) of chickpeas, used to make hummus, were stolen early Tuesday from Kibbutz Einat in the Sharon area, with farmers incurring a loss of NIS 200,000 (about USD 45,000).
The robbery occurred after kibbutz members placed the harvested chickpeas in storage containers and left them overnight in the field.
A group of masked intruders arrived during the night, attacked the guard, tied him up and stole the crops.
Liel Tayar, responsible for the growing of chickpeas at the kibbutz, told Ynet the humus grains are grown throughout the year.
“After we picked them yesterday, we stored them in large baths,” he said. “We placed a guard at the site and this morning had planned to transfer the chickpeas to buyers.”
However, he said, the kibbutz received a message earlier that the guard had been tied up and the crops had been stolen.
Tayar said he believes the stolen stock would be sold either in Israel or in Palestinian territories. Notably, both Israelis and Palestinians are known as avid hummus eaters.
Agricultural equipment is often stolen from the kibbutz, Tayar added, but said such chickpea theft was unheard of.
Farmers at the kibbutz say they will continue harvesting the remaining chickpeas, but plan to find an alternative storage solution.
Meanwhile, police have launched an investigation into the incident. At present no suspects have been arrested.
MUSLIM THEMED ‘BEURGER KING’ OPENS
Muslim-Themed ‘Beurger King’ Opens
By Sophie Nicholson
The Associated Press
August 5, 2005
Muslims in France are having it their way with “Beurger King” - a new fast-food restaurant that caters to the country’s large Islamic population.
The bright and colorful eatery was launched in July in an eastern Paris suburb crowded with immigrants and dilapidated housing projects. Its name plays on the French word “Beur,” meaning a second-generation North African living in France.
The menu at Beurger King Muslim, or BKM, is standard fast-food fare: burgers, fries, sundaes and doughnuts, and prices are comparable to those at major chains. But the beef and chicken burgers are halal meaning made with meat slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws.
Waitresses wear Islamic head scarves, as do many of their customers.
Mouna Talbi, 24, traveled 55 miles to Clichy-sous-Bois with her husband and two small sons to try it out.
“I was so happy to come here that I had tears in my eyes when I walked in,” she said, watching her sons climb on colored blocks in the play area as she ate a halal burger.
After the success of Mecca Cola, a soft drink marketed to French Muslims, it was perhaps only a matter of time before a Muslim-themed, fast-food restaurant opened in the country with Europe’s largest Islamic population.
Talbi’s children always clamor for fast food, but this was the first time they’ve been able to order something other than fish, she said.
“A woman in Muslim dress feels at home here,” she said, sitting in a red tunic and matching head scarf.
Three Muslim friends from the Paris suburbs set up the restaurant after seeing similar restaurants in Thailand and Algeria.
They saw a demand for a clean, family-oriented halal fast-food restaurant that would offer an alternative to the big non-halal chains and the many downscale halal street vendors.
One of the founders, Morad Benhamida, 33, said he and his partners worked for almost two years on a business plan to convince French backers.
“I was shocked when my bank manager believed in the project straight away,” he said, sitting under an umbrella on the restaurant’s terrace.
He said the business plan showed the halal meat came from reputable wholesalers and was inspected twice daily. But he had not anticipated how successful the idea would be.
“I was very surprised because people really liked the restaurant, so much so that we have tripled stocks since opening a month ago,” he said. “It seems like magic.”
He is planning to hire eight new employees in fall, expanding his staff of 28.
In an area with high unemployment, people are grateful to find work. Some female employees said they took the job because they were allowed to wear head scarves, unlike workers in other French fast-food restaurants.
Female customers also seemed happy. Cherifa Halimi, 19, sat in a booth sipping drinks with four friends, all dressed in black flowing gowns covering all but their hands and faces.
“There are a few changes they could make to give the place a completely Muslim image,” Halimi said. “The television is OK, but there shouldn’t be any music.
“But I’d like to work here.”
Muslim diners said they felt more misunderstood in France since last month’s terror attacks in London.
“Even the media demonizes the image of Islam in this country,” Ahmed Talbi said, sitting in a booth opposite his wife. “People are afraid of terrorist attacks here, too.”
Customers, including non-Muslims, said the restaurant was not segregating Muslims but showing a normal, peaceful Muslim activity that was open to all.
“Both Muslims and other people feel at ease here,” Talbi said. “Maybe this kind of place will help to correct the bad image of Muslims and tell the world to stop talking nonsense about us.”
ISLAMIC TELEPHONE IN SYRIA SOON
Islamic Telephone in Syria Soon.
July 24, 2005
In cooperation with the Administration of the Islamic Telephone Service in Egypt Sheikh Khalid al-Jindi, al-Azhar Scholar, is due to kick off the Islamic Telephone Service in Syria on Sunday.
This step came in the framework of the smart network services that are presented by the General Communication Company in Syria.
This service is available in more than 15 countries in America, Europe and the Islamic world.
It participates in offering religious Fatwa services and helps in explaining the verses of the Holy Quran on phone.
“THERE IS NOTHING THAT AN ARAB LOVES MORE THAN A JEWISH DOCTOR”
Jewish doctor’s “secret links” to Arab leaders
August 2, 2005
Who would imagine?
It all began with some health problems and ended up in a strong and warm relationship that lasted for years between a senior Israeli doctor and prominent Arab figures and rulers.
In mid-July, the mass-circulation Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot published in its weekend issue, a several page report on Prof. Mani and his secret encounters within the highest circles of the Arab world including close ties with the late Saudi King Fahd.
With the help of Saudi billionaire, Adnan Khashoggi, Israel’s Professor Moshe Mani would wrap himself up in a traditional Arab Jalabiya, and leap from one Arab leader to the other. According to the report, he went horse-back riding with the late Moroccan King Hassan, spoke with Sudan’s president Jaffer Numeiri as he tried to convince him to assist Ethiopian Jews in coming to Israel through Sudan. Mani would celebrate in extravagant meals on yachts in Jeddah and other Arab cities, until the day he felt he had enough caviar
For months, Prof. Moshe Mani, head of “Tel HaShomer’s Urology” department, would reportedly disappear from Israel and travel on to London, Rome or Geneva. He would secretly join others on Khashoggi’s private Boeing to various Mid-East and European destinations.
Upon his arrival, he would change into silk jalabiyas, which were made especially for him by top Riyadh tailors. His shoes were purchased in special fashionable stores in Morocco. “During all my visits to Saudi Arabia, I would wear this costume. That’s how I managed to fit into Khashoggi’s entourage without being suspected by anyone ever”, he said.
In a private air field in the Saudi capital, the limousines would await his arrival. None of his special Saudi patients knew that he was actually Israeli. Moshe Mani, born in Jerusalem, the son of a well-off family that included distinguished Rabbis and lawyers, with roots in Baghdad and Georgia, had undertaken a new identity during his secret journeys. With the help of a British passport that was issued in Rome he had “turned into” a Palestine-born son of an Iranian mother and Italian mother. His new name was Manual Mani.
“When I had entered the Saudi experience, I informed the relevant people (in Israel), and an order from the prime-minister’s office came out to Tel HaShomer not to ask me any questions regarding my long absences. They (the hospital officials) were also ordered to save my position and salary, also if I were absent for long periods of time, and not to intervene (in my affairs)”.
“When someone tried to ask any questions, I would state that I was going to take care of patients in Iran - and that sounded reasonable. Throughout the years, we received many patients from Tehran that had kept in touch with me, so those patients basically served as my cover story”.
The road to the Saudi royal family began incidentally in 1978. Prof. Mani was asked by two of his friends to take part in a meeting with businessman and billionaire Khashoggi in the Iranian island of Kish. Khashoggi, “the wondering ambassador” of the Saudi Royal house, had a flourishing agricultural farm in Kenya (with Israeli experts and knowledge). The Iranian Shah was expected to offer him a tourist project in the island, but at the end, he hadn’t arrived.
After a week, one of Khashoggi’s aides phoned Mani, and asked him to come to Geneva for a meeting. There, in a fancy hotel suite, Khashoggi’s entourage awaited. The team included, among others, head of staff Bob Shahin, a Christian of Syrian descent who was married to a Jewish woman and “Sheikh Yousef” (whose true identity was later on revealed he was actually Eugene Warner a Jewish lawyer of Hungarian descent).
“Khashoggi knew the entire truth about me: that I am a Jewish urologist, that I live in Israel, and that I have roots in the Orient.”
“We discussed various medical issues, and at one point, when he mentioned problems of impotence that Royal Arab leaders suffered from, I scribbled on a piece of paper a picture that automatically caught his attention.”
“It was a picture of a prosthesis that we inserted in those days into male sexual organs of various patients that complained of chronic erection problems.”
According to Mani, Khashoggi grabbed the drawing and asked for a more detailed explanation. The Saudi billionaire told Mani that he was exactly what Khashoggi needed a man like Mani that felt comfortable in the company of Arabs, one who speaks the language, has European gestures and is a doctor for “problematic” issues. Khashoggi reportedly invited Mani to join his entourage.
“There is nothing that an Arab loves more than a Jewish doctor”, Khashoggi said.
In October 1978, Mani arrived in Khashoggi’s palace in the Saudi Kingdom. Khashoggi took him to the palace of the Crown Prince. “It was Fahd”.
“I have been following media reports about the deterioration in his health in the past several weeks, and I doubt he is still alive”, Mani told Yediot last month. King Fahd died on August 1, 2005.
Saudi King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud suffered a major stroke in 1995 and since has been unable to perform his official duties; his half-brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, served as de facto regent of the kingdom.
On May 27, 2005, the Saudi government announced King Fahd had been hospitalized, with other sources claiming he was in a serious condition.
According to Mani, then-Crown Prince Fahd invited Khashoggi, Shahin, and Mani to the clinic. There, they discussed various global issues, the conversation was held in English. “Fahd was a very friendly host,” Mani said.
“Since I didn’t want to embarrass Khashoggi, I didn’t speak about politics”.
At one point, Fahd signaled to Mani to accompany him. The two entered the bedroom. “It was a gigantic mansion that was built inside the palace, with expensive furniture, a gigantic bed, designed closets and a desk”. Mani checked, listened to Fahd’s complaints, established a medical diagnosis and provided medical prescriptions. After two hours, Khashoggi told Mani, “You passed the test, there is chemistry. The Crown Prince is very pleased”.
The rumor about a visiting urologist spread among the princes, and the Israeli professor received invitations to attend elegant dinners that ended with Mani providing medical advice in closed rooms.
At one point in time, Mani felt he had enough of the life he was leading. He came to Khashoggi and told him he needed time off. This came after years of journeys to Saudi Arabia, as well as many stop-offs in various destinations, in which Saudi princes, as well as Crown Prince Fahd, had met him. A warm relationship was established between Mani and Fahd, according to the Jewish doctor.
During one of his visits to Saudi Arabia, Mani met Fahd’s half-brother, Abdullah, who has been the Saudi Kingdom’s de-facto ruler for the last 10 years. “I wasn’t asked to treat Abdullah, but I would attend events that he had attended. In contrast to Fahd, who was very friendly, Abdullah seemed to be quite cold and conservative. He wouldn’t let me get close to him, and there was no chemistry between us”.
Whether Mani was sent by the Mossad to Riyadh and other Arab capitals is a matter that wasn’t mentioned in the report, but, between the lines, one can understand that this may be the case.
Was Mani actually sent to “check out” other matters, besides the physical condition of Arab Royals and leading figures?