Elections imminent as Shimon Peres ousted (& items on French riots, NY Times, Islam)

November 10, 2005

CONTENTS

1. Amir Peretz defeats Shimon Peres: Elections imminent
2. Hadera death toll increases, as another injured woman dies
3. Plan to shoot down El Al plane in Amsterdam foiled
4. Foreign press protest Israel’s arrest of al-Jazeera cameraman
5. BBC bias again in Palestinian boy organ donation story
6. AOL alters web search for “Jews and Nazis”
7. Two synagogues damaged in French riots; The NY Times and Islam
8. “Muslims march over cartoons of the Prophet” (Daily Telegraph, November 4, 2005)
9. “Poisonous poetry” (By Julie Burchill, Ha’aretz, November 5, 2005,)
10. “Falluja-Sur-Seine?” (Weekly Standard, November 9, 2005)

 



[Note by Tom Gross]

AMIR PERETZ DEFEATS SHIMON PERES; ELECTIONS IMMINENT

In a shock result, fiery trade union boss Amir Peretz won a victory over senior statesman Shimon Peres yesterday, to become leader of Israel’s main opposition Labor party. All polls had shown a comfortable lead for Peres in the days leading up to the election. And many Israelis had regarded the Histadrut (and Peretz) as relics that are disconnected from the era of hi-tech and globalization. Repercussions of Peretz’s victory are expected to be swift and significant. Not long after victory was announced Peretz made clear that his first act as leader would be to pull the Labor party out of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s ruling coalition, thereby greatly advancing the likelihood of early general elections.

Shimon Peres, who is 82, received 39.96 percent of the vote, Peretz got 42.35 percent, and a third candidate, former party head Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, got 17 percent. Peres had previously said that he would keep Labor in the government until the next elections, scheduled to take place in November 2006. This was Peres’s sixth major defeat in a political election: four for prime minister, one for president and now one for leadership of the Labor party.

It is widely expected that Sharon had intended to begin unilaterally withdrawing from large parts of the West Bank next year, and Peretz’s move makes this much less likely, since Sharon does not have the backing of large sections of his own Likud party for such a withdrawal and needs the support of Labor in government.

AMIR PERETZ

Peretz, 54, also serves as leader of the Histadrut trade union organization. He has long been the nemesis of efforts to bring Israel out of its socialist past and into a free market society.

Peretz is from a Moroccan Sephardi background and in the next election he may challenge the Likud party in many of their Sephardi strongholds around the country. Peretz, who sports a Stalin-like moustache, emerged victorious in the primaries due to significant support in poorer neighborhoods and towns, traditionally bases where the Likud has a strong following.

After his victory, Peretz said, “I am in favor of a free market and a prosperous economy. But not, under any circumstances, a slave market. Competition yes, but competition like in the jungle that trounces people, no.”

Shinui leader Yosef Lapid described Peretz as a “social demagogue.” Lapid also compared the Peretz victory to the victory of Menachem Begin and Likud in 1977, which marked the first time the Labor party had been ousted from power since 1948.

Although Peretz resides in Sderot, the scene of many Palestinian rocket attacks, he also said following his victory that “We will not rest until we reach a permanent agreement (with the Palestinians) that would secure a safe future for our children.”

HADERA DEATH TOLL INCREASES, AS ANOTHER INJURED WOMAN DIES

Jenia Polise, a 66-year-old woman, died this week from wounds suffered in the October 26 suicide bombing at a food market in Hadera in northern Israel. Islamic Jihad carried out the attack, which killed six Israelis and wounded 55 people.

A new poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion showed that 70 percent of Palestinians did not support the Hadera suicide bombing – a surprisingly high number compared to previous polls among Palestinians welcoming the blowing up of Israeli civilians.

PLAN TO SHOOT DOWN EL AL PLANE IN AMSTERDAM FOILED

Dutch TV reported this week that during a large-scale raid in Amsterdam two weeks ago, a 19-year old Moroccan born man was arrested. He had been planning to shoot down an El Al plane at the Amsterdam Schiphol airport.

FOREIGN PRESS PROTEST ISRAEL’S ARREST OF AL-JAZEERA CAMERAMAN

Israel’s Foreign Press Association, the professional organization representing media from abroad working in Israel, has protested the arrest by Israel of Al-Jazeera cameraman Nabil Mazawi. He was arrested along with four other protestors who had chained themselves to a construction site where Israel’s security fence is being built.

Whilst the Foreign Press Association has made a big fuss over this cameraman (who was quickly released without being charged), they have made very few complaints over the intimidation and regular kidnappings that affect foreign journalists in Palestinian-controlled areas (many of which they don’t even report about in western papers). I have previously outlined some of these occurrences on this email list.

BBC BIAS AGAIN IN PALESTINIAN BOY ORGAN DONATION STORY

The family of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy accidentally and tragically killed by Israeli soldiers who mistook the toy gun he was holding for a real one during a firefight with Palestinian gunmen, have donated his organs to five Jewish and Arab Israelis in Israeli hospitals.

The BBC has given great prominence to this story implying that Israelis would never do the same, as Israeli racism is the main obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. In fact many families of Israeli suicide bomb victims have donated their organs to others, and often to Palestinians, such as the seven-year old Palestinian girl who received the kidney of Yoni Jesner, a Scottish victim of a Tel Aviv suicide bombing three years ago.

The Speaker of the Israeli Knesset paid tribute to the family of the Palestinian boy, Ahmad Khatib, whose organs were donated to Israelis. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin paid a formal tribute to the Khatib family during a session of Israel’s parliament on Monday, calling it “a remarkable gesture.” Rivlin said that such an act “despite the war and conflict without solution for nearly one hundred years must be noted.”

AOL ALTERS WEB SEARCH FOR “JEWS AND NAZIS”

The online Internet provider AOL announced on Tuesday that it would alter its search engine so that the web site of the Jewish Museum in Berlin ranks at the top of the results whenever German users seek information involving Jews and the Nazis.

The move demonstrates AOL Germany’s commitment to fighting neo-Nazi websites. Wolfgang Schultz, who chairs an independent advisory council to Hamburg-based AOL Germany, said he hoped other search engines would follow AOL’s “innovative” lead.

This kind of topic has been discussed in previous dispatches on this list, such as the one titled “German version of Google removes [anti-Semitic] ‘Jewwatch’; U.S. won’t” (April 17, 2004).

TWO SYNAGOGUES DAMAGED IN FRENCH RIOTS

Some commentators have noted that the mainstream media has gone out of its way to avoid mentioning that a large portion of those rioting in 200 towns all over France during the last two weeks, have been Muslim. Most media also failed to mention that some 20 Jewish graves were sprayed with swastikas in Remiremont, in eastern France, during this period and two synagogues damaged by rioters.

During the riots a 56-year-old disabled woman was set alight when the bus she was traveling on was attacked by youths in Sevran, a northern suburb of Paris. The attack left the woman with 30 percent burns. On Monday, a man died after being beaten on Friday in the northern Paris suburb of Stains. French policemen were also secretly filmed beating a young man while colleagues stood by in the northern Paris suburb of La Courneuve. The French government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday. The government invoked a 50-year-old law, dating from the colonial war in Algeria, which gives local officials the authority to call curfews, among other expanded law-enforcement powers.

THE NEW YORK TIMES AND ISLAM

I attach below an important article from the American magazine The Weekly Standard, on the American media’s portrayal of the riots in France, and how, for example, The New York Times has gone out of its way to avoid mentioning the Muslim aspect in its coverage of the riots.

***

I also include an article on death threats against Danish newspaper cartoonists by extremist Muslims after their use of Mohammed in cartoons.

As an update to the dispatch “Poem praising killing of Jews included in new UK national children’s poetry book” (October 25, 2005), I also attach an article by leading British journalist Julie Burchill, who in Ha’aretz last weekend kindly describes this email list as “the singularly excellent newsletter of the Middle East commentator Tom Gross.”

I attach three articles with summaries first.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

DANISH MUSLIMS MARCH OVER CARTOONS OF THE PROPHET MOHAMMED

“Muslims march over cartoons of the Prophet” (By Kate Connolly, The Daily Telegraph, November 4, 2005)

A Danish experiment in testing “the limits of freedom of speech” has backfired – or succeeded spectacularly – after newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed provoked an outcry.

Thousands of Muslims have taken to the streets in protest at the caricatures, the newspaper that published them has received death threats and two of its cartoonists have been forced into hiding.

Jyllands-Posten, Denmark’s leading daily, defied Islam’s ban on images of the Prophet by printing cartoons by 12 different artists. In one he is depicted as a sabre-wielding terrorist accompanied by women in burqas, in another his turban appears to be a bomb and in a third he is portrayed as a schoolboy by a blackboard.

The ambassadors of 11 Muslim countries called on Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the prime minister, to take “necessary steps” against the “defamation of Islam”...

 

POISONOUS POETRY

“Poisonous poetry” (By Julie Burchill, Ha’aretz November 5, 2005)

I’ve always distrusted both a) cretins who believe in the inherent goodness of children, and b) people who write poems. So imagine my delight when I read in the singularly excellent newsletter of the Middle East commentator Tom Gross about a piece of verse published in the new collection “Great Minds,” a collection of poems by 11- to 18-year-olds, which is to be distributed in schools throughout Britain.

Jewish organizations here are quite rightly quite upset about inclusion of a poem by one “Gideon Taylor,” a boy of 14, which includes the lines: “Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces.” Obviously not a young man who believes that less is more, Master Taylor goes for the big finale: “Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber where they will sleep in their manger. I’ll be happy Jews have died.”...

Because one does not have to be a paranoid Jew - or in my case, a paranoid “Jew-lover,” as many correspondents have seen fit to expose me as over the years - to believe that there is no way a poem which stated “Blacks are here, blacks are there, blacks are almost everywhere” or “I’ll be happy Muslims have died” would be in a book handed out like sweeties from a pedophile to the nation’s schoolchildren, even if it was made clear that the verse was written from the warped perspective of a white supremacist.

Once more, Jews are on the end of the hobnailed-boot while other minorities are handled with kid gloves. The idea seems to be that because they can “pass” for white, or because the Holocaust was “a long time ago,” liberties may be taken with their feelings which no one would dream of doing to other, louder minorities...

 

FALLUJA-SUR-SEINE?

“Falluja-Sur-Seine?” (By Edward Morrissey, The Weekly Standard, November 9, 2005)

When the media began covering the spreading violence in France, it appeared to go out of its way to avoid the notion that Islam had anything to do with the riots or their organizers...

After a few straight days of increasing violence, however, the only people still believing that comforting line appeared to be members of the French government and the media, who insisted on doing everything they could to miss the story. Twelve days into the riots, even after they had spread across France and inspired violence in Germany and Belgium, the media for the most part still could not bring itself to mention the “M” or “I” words: Muslim and Islamist. The lack of even any suggestion that radical Islamists might have initiated the violence, or at least be taking advantage of it, boggles the imagination.

The New York Times still hasn’t mentioned the Muslim aspect in its coverage of the riots. The paper mentions “youths” at least a half-dozen times in every report it writes on the violence, as if a post-Berlin Wall birthday automatically explains a proclivity to set fire to one’s neighborhood. The Los Angeles Times has barely covered the story at all. The Washington Post’s reporter Molly Moore bravely mentioned a possible Islamist connection to the violence, but the paper’s editorial board went out of its way to disavow this nexus...

France--like much of the media--stood foursquare against Bush’s interventionist policy in Iraq. So if Islamists have targeted France as their next front in an attempt to establish “no-go” territories in the center of Europe, it might call into question much of the anti-Bush narrative. Instead of Muslim anger being caused by America’s policies of intervention, Islamofascism might really be a worldwide movement against Western interests...

 



FULL ARTICLES

DANISH MUSLIMS MARCH OVER CARTOONS OF THE PROPHET MOHAMMED

Muslims march over cartoons of the Prophet
By Kate Connolly
The Daily Telegraph
November 4, 2005

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/11/04/wcartoon04.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/11/04/ixportal.html

A Danish experiment in testing “the limits of freedom of speech” has backfired - or succeeded spectacularly - after newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed provoked an outcry.

Thousands of Muslims have taken to the streets in protest at the caricatures, the newspaper that published them has received death threats and two of its cartoonists have been forced into hiding.

Jyllands-Posten, Denmark’s leading daily, defied Islam’s ban on images of the Prophet by printing cartoons by 12 different artists.

In one he is depicted as a sabre-wielding terrorist accompanied by women in burqas, in another his turban appears to be a bomb and in a third he is portrayed as a schoolboy by a blackboard.

The ambassadors of 11 Muslim countries called on Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the prime minister, to take “necessary steps” against the “defamation of Islam”.

But Mr Rasmussen, the head of a centre-Right minority coalition dependent for its survival on support from an anti-foreigner party, called the cartoons a “necessary provocation” and refused to act.

“I will never accept that respect for a religious stance leads to the curtailment of criticism, humour and satire in the press,” he said.

The Danish debate over how to integrate Muslims has raged for years, with nursery school menus and women-only opening hours for swimming pools particular battlegrounds. But the cartoons satirising the Prophet have injected a dangerous new element into the controversy.

“This is a pubescent demonstration of freedom of expression that consciously and totally without reason has trampled over the feelings of many people,” said Uffe Ellemann Jensen, a former foreign minister and member of Mr Rasmussen’s party.

Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands-Posten, spurned demands that he apologise, saying he “would not dream” of saying sorry.

“To demand that we take religious feelings into consideration is irreconcilable with western democracy and freedom of expression,” he said. “This doesn’t mean that we want to insult any Muslims.”

Juste commissioned the cartoons after learning of the difficulties a children’s writer, Kare Bluitgen, had in finding an illustrator for his book on the Koran and the Prophet’s life. Bluitgen said all the artists he approached feared the wrath of Muslims if they drew images of Mohammed.

Many cited the murder of the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by an Islamist as a reason for refusal.

Juste said he wanted to counter growing “self censorship” and see how many cartoonists would be “bold enough” to draw the Prophet.

One artist, Franz Fuchsel, said he intended no offence. “But I live in 2005, not 905 and I use my quill in the way that Danish law allows me.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch MP famous for her criticism of Islam and author of the screenplay for Mr Van Gogh’s film Submission, supported the paper. “It’s necessary to taunt Muslims on their relationship with Mohammed,” she said.

“Otherwise we will never have the dialogue we need to establish with Muslims on the most central question: ‘Do you really feel that every Muslim in 2005 should follow the way of life the Prophet had 1,400 years ago, as the Koran dictates?’”

 

POISONOUS POETRY

Poisonous poetry
By Julie Burchill
Ha’aretz
November 5, 2005

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/641722.html

I’ve always distrusted both a) cretins who believe in the inherent goodness of children, and b) people who write poems. So imagine my delight when I read in the singularly excellent newsletter of the Middle East commentator Tom Gross about a piece of verse published in the new collection “Great Minds,” a collection of poems by 11- to 18-year-olds, which is to be distributed in schools throughout Britain.

Jewish organizations here are quite rightly quite upset about inclusion of a poem by one “Gideon Taylor,” a boy of 14, which includes the lines: “Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces.” Obviously not a young man who believes that less is more, Master Taylor goes for the big finale: “Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber where they will sleep in their manger. I’ll be happy Jews have died.”

In its defense, the publisher of the book says that the poem states at one point “I am Adolf Hitler.” But this has not convinced the hundreds of Jews and Christians - but interestingly, not Muslims - who have seen fit to complain, nor the young Labor MP Louise Ellman, who while notoriously tough-minded and cool-headed, has called the piece an incitement to racial hatred.

Rather creepily, “Gideon Taylor” is the only contributor in the entire book whose school or location is not included. Even creepier, the country’s education minister, Ruth Kelly - a devout Catholic who is a member of the extremist cult Opus Dei, which astoundingly has an even more shameful history of anti-Semitism and Nazi-helping than the Church generally, not to mention whipping themselves for kicks - has yet to respond. And respond she should. And the publishers should do what the Holocaust Educational Trust has asked them to do: issue a formal apology and remove the poem. Because one does not have to be a paranoid Jew - or in my case, a paranoid “Jew-lover, ” as many correspondents have seen fit to expose me as over the years - to believe that there is no way a poem which stated “Blacks are here, blacks are there, blacks are almost everywhere” or “I’ll be happy Muslims have died” would be in a book handed out like sweeties from a pedophile to the nation’s schoolchildren, even if it was made clear that the verse was written from the warped perspective of a white supremacist.

Once more, Jews are on the end of the hobnailed-boot while other minorities are handled with kid gloves. The idea seems to be that because they can “pass” for white, or because the Holocaust was “a long time ago,” liberties may be taken with their feelings which no one would dream of doing to other, louder minorities. Can we trust the teaching profession not to have the usual quotient of anti-Semites among them? I don’t see why. What’s to stop them using a piece of writing like this as a starting point for peddling their own poisonous views?

In a country - mine! - where a Palestinian physics teacher recently terrified a group of children by telling them that he knew how to make bombs and would blow up their school bus if they didn’t behave, this isn’t quite as far-fetched as it may seem.

(Julie Burchill is a columnist for The Times of London.)

 

FALLUJA-SUR-SEINE?

Falluja-Sur-Seine?
There’s a reason the media is reluctant to connect the dots on the French riots.
By Edward Morrissey
The Weekly Standard
November 9, 2005

weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/332gzdsd.asp

When the media began covering the spreading violence in France, it appeared to go out of its way to avoid the notion that Islam had anything to do with the riots or their organizers. After all, even the French viewed the first couple of nights of unrest with a jaundiced eye. A nation that experiences nationwide protests every decade over some real or perceived injustice doesn’t react quickly to a few burning cars in the Parisian suburbs. France averaged 80 cars a day lost to arson this year even before the riots began, and they assumed the riots meant little.

After a few straight days of increasing violence, however, the only people still believing that comforting line appeared to be members of the French government and the media, who insisted on doing everything they could to miss the story. Twelve days into the riots, even after they had spread across France and inspired violence in Germany and Belgium, the media for the most part still could not bring itself to mention the “M” or “I” words: Muslim and Islamist. The lack of even any suggestion that radical Islamists might have initiated the violence, or at least be taking advantage of it, boggles the imagination.

The New York Times still hasn’t mentioned the Muslim aspect in its coverage of the riots. The paper mentions “youths” at least a half-dozen times in every report it writes on the violence, as if a post-Berlin Wall birthday automatically explains a proclivity to set fire to one’s neighborhood. The Los Angeles Times has barely covered the story at all. The Washington Post’s reporter Molly Moore bravely mentioned a possible Islamist connection to the violence, but the paper’s editorial board went out of its way to disavow this nexus.

Interestingly enough the Post warned its readers just three weeks ago that Islamist groups had targeted France for the next stage of their war.

In September, the Algerian Islamist terror group GSPC issued a communiqué describing France as “enemy number one” and called for Muslims to conduct attacks on France. Agence France Presse reported this threat without great fanfare, but the French authorities took it seriously enough to round up over a dozen suspected terrorist cell members throughout the country. The Post took a different look at the Algerian threat, noting that the training for terrorists had focused on younger French citizens, with a greater ability to move unrestricted through the streets of Paris and other target-rich environments. Among the training areas that intrigued the Post was the urban-warfare areas of Iraq:

French police investigating plans by a group of Islamic extremists to attack targets in Paris discovered last month that the group was recruiting French citizens to train in the Middle East and return home to carry out terrorist attacks, sources familiar with the investigation said.

One French official said the extremists were using a virtual “underground railroad” through Syria to spirit European and Middle Eastern citizens into and out of Iraq. A senior French law enforcement official, who declined to be quoted by name because he was speaking about classified information, said French citizens had undergone terrorist training at camps in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

“There’s always been an enormous jihad zone to train people to fight in their country of origin,” the official said. “We saw it Afghanistan, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, and now we’re seeing it in Iraq.”

John Ward Anderson wrote this dispatch, and the Washington Post published it, eight days prior to the start of the two-week insurrection that has now spread to over 300 cities in France. Various media reports have described the coordination of activities and evasive tactics via cell phones, web pages, and instant messaging. French police have discovered at least one bomb-making facility in the riot zone near Paris and suspect that more exist elsewhere. Despite this rather sophisticated infrastructure of support for the riots and the warnings just prior to the outbreak of the riots they themselves published, the Washington Post’s editorial page--and most of the rest of the media--seems stuck on the notion that poverty and a lack of opportunity alone must account for this sudden and growing uprising.

France--like much of the media--stood foursquare against Bush’s interventionist policy in Iraq. So if Islamists have targeted France as their next front in an attempt to establish “no-go” territories in the center of Europe, it might call into question much of the anti-Bush narrative. Instead of Muslim anger being caused by America’s policies of intervention, Islamofascism might really be a worldwide movement against Western interests.

Amir Taheri noted in the New York Post that the French have already heard from people who claim that they can negotiate an end to the violence. Local “emirs” representing the sink estates want the French police to withdraw from the territories and allow sheikhs from the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization with ties to al Qaeda, to arbitrate an end to the riots. “All we demand is to be left alone,” says Mouloud Dahmani, an “emir” who promises a return to quiet in exchange for autonomy. It is, in effect, a land-for-peace proposal aimed at the heart of France and Christendom.

Will the French surrender to the Islamist demands for sharia in the shadow of the City of Lights? Will they abandon their own territory and allow the establishment of enclaves in which French police dare not tread? Or will they, the media, and the world finally wake to the threat of Islamist expansionism after years of denial?

(Edward Morrissey is a contributing writer to The Daily Standard and a contributor to the blog Captain’s Quarters.)


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.