Israelis not safe outside Planet Earth either

May 28, 2002


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach several news items (some have been edited for space reasons).

(1) A one and a half-year old baby girl was among the victims of today's Petah Tikva suicide bomb. The bomb was deliberately targeted against children at an ice cream parlor. Several of the 53 injured are infants; some suffered critical head wounds from the 10-kilogram bomb, which was packed with screws and nails so as to maximize injuries. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO, claimed responsibility for the attack. (Jerusalem Post)

(2) Russian woman severely wounded in explosion while removing sign reading "Death to Jews" (Associated Press)

(3) "NASA fears attack on shuttle carrying Israeli astronaut." (Ha'aretz) Apparently, Israelis are not safe outside Planet Earth either.

(4) Adam Shapiro, the American Jew who defended Yasser Arafat during Israel's recent incursion in Ramallah following the Passover suicide bombing, and who reportedly called the Israeli people "Nazis," married a Palestinian activist in a Detroit church on Sunday. (Jerusalem Post)

(5) Five Israeli soldiers have been sent to prison for looting and vandalizing Palestinian property during the April offensive against Palestinian terrorists. (Associated Press)

(6) Prominent Schindler's list survivor dies. (Jerusalem Post)

(7) Polanski's Holocaust film wins Palme d'Or at Cannes. (News Agencies)

(8) Swedes, Belgians told not to vote for Israel in Eurovision. (Ha'aretz)

(9) European Jews to rally today against EU in Brussels. (Ha'aretz)

(10) Yasser Arafat cheese puffs are new hit food snack in Egypt. "The more you buy, the more you build," says the slogan on the bag. (Reuters)

-- Tom Gross


Two dead, 49 wounded in Petah Tikva suicide bombing
By Mayaan Jaffe and David Bender
The Jerusalem Post
May 27, 2002

A suicide bomber blew up at 6:50 PM in the central shopping center in Petach Tikvah, east of Tel Aviv. Two people were killed in the blast, and 53 were wounded. The two casualties, a woman, and a 1.5-year-old toddler, died in hospital after the attack.

In addition, 49 people are wounded, eight of them seriously, according to Sharon District Police Chief Aharon Franco, speaking on Israel Television Channel 1. Several of the wounded are infants. Dozens of the victims have been evacuated to area hospitals suffering from injury and shock.

The 10-kilogram bomb was filled with screws and nails in order to increase the lethality of the blast. Franco said police are searching Petah Tikva and the rest of the Sharon area for more terrorists or accomplices. Two terrorists were to have carried out simultaneous attacks, according to information received by security sources.

Fatah-Tanzim al Aksa Brigades, a branch Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, took responsibility for the attack, according to Hizbullah's al Manar Television in Lebanon.

"I was standing near the taxi stand. We heard a huge explosion," an eyewitness who gave his name as Haim told Israel Radio, describing the blast. "We are talking about children and babies who were sitting with their parents at the cafe near the supermarket." The bomber shot a security guard before blowing himself up, according to eyewitnesses.



May 27, 2002

Ruth Peled, 56, of Herzliya and her infant granddaughter Sinai Keinan, aged 14 months, of Petah Tikva were killed when a suicide bomber detonated himself near an ice cream parlor outside a shopping mall in Petah Tikva.

The explosion ripped through the Em Hamoshavot commercial center at around 6:40 PM. Among the injured were many children, who were inside the cafe and a nearby ice-cream parlor. Police said the bomb used contained around 10 kilograms of explosives, packed with metal objects to maximize the number of casualties.

Lior and Chen Keinan had gone to buy ice cream with their infant daughter Sinai and Chen's mother, Ruth Peled, when the blast occurred. Ruth and Sinai were killed. The infant's parents were among the 37 injured in the attack.

"You are talking about their first child," a family member said. "She was their whole world. They had gone for a walk and then stopped to rest and buy ice cream."

Ruth worked as an investigator for the Modi'in Ezrahi company and later as a medical secretary for the Mor Medical Institute. She suffered from kidney failure, and on the morning of the explosion had undergone tests for a possible transplant. Her husband, Natan, said: "If Ruthie had known that Sinai was killed, she would not have wanted to live." Her daughter Chen said, "I would need 30 years to write about my mother. It was 30 years of love, friendship and happiness. Not every mother is also a friend."

Ruth Peled and Sinai Keinan were buried side by side in Kibbutz Shefayim. Ruth is survived by her husband Natan, and their three children - Chen (31), Lee (30) and Udi (24).



Russian woman wounded in explosion while removing sign reading 'Death to Jews'
The Associated Press
May. 27, 2002

A woman was hospitalized Monday with severe burns from an explosion that went off while she was trying to tear down a roadside sign outside Moscow reading "Death to Jews," police said. The woman was in critical but stable condition at Moscow's City Hospital No. 1 after the incident on the Kiev highway about 18 miles southwest of the capital, said traffic police investigators at the site.

The woman had been driving along the highway when she spotted a sign hand-painted with black letters reading "Death to Jews" posted by the roadside. She stopped her car and tried to pull the sign out of the earth, and was hit by the explosion, according to a duty officer with the Moscow regional police. A traffic police investigator confirmed that the blast was caused by an explosive device.



NASA fears attack on shuttle carrying Israeli astronaut
By Nathan Guttman
May 17, 2002

The U.S. space agency NASA is concerned that the July 19 launch of its space shuttle, which will include for the first time an Israeli astronaut, could become a target for a terrorist attack

Although American intelligence services have not received a specific warning, NASA sources told the ABC-TV network that they are worried that the shuttle, which will include Colonel Ilan Ramon, could be a target for a terrorist attack.

According to ABC's report, NASA is afraid that a small plane may try and crash into the shuttle when it is on the launchpad. Since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, security around NASA launch sites has been intensified with fighter planes and AWACS spy planes protecting the area. Intelligence sources said there are no reports of a planned terrorist attack against the space shuttle, which is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 19.



US Jew who defended besieged Arafat weds Palestinian activist
The Associated Press and the Jerusalem Post
May 27, 2002

A Jewish American who joined Yasser Arafat at his besieged West Bank office has wed a Palestinian-American activist in a ceremony blending Christian and Jewish rites. Adam Shapiro, 30, of New York and Huwaida Arraf, 26, of the Detroit suburb of Roseville were married Sunday at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in Troy, Michigan.

"I'm very excited," Shapiro said before the ceremony began. "Now that it is actually happening, I'm very happy." About 300 relatives and friends attended the ceremony, in which a passage from the book of Genesis was read in Arabic and the groom followed the Jewish tradition of stepping on a glass.

"It is not political in any way, shape or form," said Arraf. "I don't even think along those lines. I'm marrying someone from a Jewish background. I have many friends who are Israeli. "This 'Arab vs. Jew' thing is misleading."

Both Shapiro and Arraf have played visible parts in promoting Palestinian rights during the recent flare-up of fighting between Israel and Palestinian forces. On March 29, Shapiro accompanied an ambulance crew into Arafat's Ramallah headquarters, besieged by the IDF after the Passover suicide bombing in a Netanya hotel.

Shapiro spent 24 hours in Arafat's compound, sharing breakfast with the Palestinian leader and about six aides. He later gave the media an account of conditions inside.

Shapiro, who told various news outlets he does not consider himself a Jew, previously worked for Seeds of Peace, a summer camp that brings Jewish and Arab teenagers to Maine every year to learn about coexistence. He also taught English in Yemen and led tour groups through the Muslim country. For the past three years, Shapiro has lived in Ramallah.

The newlyweds planned to honeymoon for a few days in Jamaica, The Detroit News said, before returning to their political work in the West Bank.



Five Israeli soldiers sent to prison for looting, vandalizing Palestinian property
The Associated Press
May 27, 2002

Five Israeli soldiers have been sent to prison for looting and vandalizing Palestinian property during a six-week Israeli offensive in the West Bank, the Israeli army said Monday.

The soldiers, who were sentenced to up to five months in a military jail, were also dropped to the rank of private, the army said in a statement. The army said another six soldiers have been charged for looting and vandalizing Palestinian property during the offensive that ended earlier this month. The incursions followed a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel that killed scores of people.

Palestinians have said personal possessions, including jewelry, office equipment and shop wares, were stolen by troops during the incursion. Not all reports of looting could be confirmed, and Palestinian journalists have said some complaints may be exaggerated or concocted to get compensation promised by Arab states.



Schindler list survivor dies
The Jerusalem Post
May 27, 2002

Holocaust survivor and artist Joseph Bau, one of the Jews who was on Oscar Schindler's famous list, died on Friday in Tel Aviv, he was 81. The Polish-born Bau was a survivor of the Cracow Ghetto and Plaszow concentration. The story of his concentration camp wedding to Rebecca Tannenbaum was a prominent feature and a moving scene in Steven Speilberg's movie Schindler's List. Bau maintained his contact with Oscar Schindler following the war and was often visited by him.



Polanski's Holocaust film wins Palme d'Or at Cannes
May 27, 2002
News Agencies

CANNES, France - Franco-Polish director Roman Polanski won the Cannes film festival's coveted Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award on Sunday for "The Pianist," the story of one man's survival in the Warsaw ghetto during World War Two.

The film stars Adrien Brody as a brilliant Polish pianist who manages to escape the Warsaw ghetto. As boy in Poland, Polanski himself survived the Krakow ghetto but lost his mother at a Nazi concentration camp in Poland.

It was the first time that Polanski, director of such classics as "Chinatown," "Repulsion" and "Rosemary's Baby," has taken the top prize at the world's most famous film festival. "I am honored and moved to receive this prestigious prize for a film which represents Poland," said Polanski, who was born in France to Jewish parents but later returned to Poland.


[Note for those of you on this list in north and south America who may not know, the Eurovision song contest is Europe's premier pop music contest, broadcast live on TV in 120 countries and watched by many tens of millions --TG]


Swedes, Belgians told not to vote for Israel in Eurovision
By Ha'aretz Staff
May 26, 2002

The Belgian and Swedish Jewish communities were left fuming Saturday night after their local TV presenters advised viewers not to vote for Israel's entry in the Eurovision song contest, held in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. Israel's entry, "Light a Candle," was sung by Sarit Hadad.

Swedes watching the national TV1 station said that the presenters announced before Hadad appeared that Israel was not even meant to take part in the contest "because of what it is doing to the Palestinians."

The Swedish jury did not award any points to Israel. Belgian viewers were also advised not to vote for Israel. Its jury however awarded Hadad two points. Announcers on Flemish TV told their viewers not to be duped into thinking that Hadad's white dress meant that Israel wanted peace, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

Hadad finished 12th with 37 points. The Latvian song "I Wanna" won the song contest. Due to the Israeli song's ranking, Israel will participate in next year's contest, to be held in Latvia.

Yoav Ginai, who wrote the lyrics for the Israeli song, told Israel Radio that the delegation was very pleased with the result. "This is a great achievement in light of the difficult situation, and the political nature of the vote," Ginai told the radio.

The Israeli delegation, he said, encountered anti-Israel remarks during their week-long stay in Tallin. "We heard very unpleasant remarks at the hotel and during rehearsals," Ginai said.

The Swedish ambassador to Israel told Army Radio on Sunday that he doubted the reports regarding TV1, but that if the presenters had made anti-Israel comments, they were expressing a "personal" position and not that held by the government.



European Jews to protest in Brussels
By Yair Sheleg, Ha'aretz Correspondent
May 28, 2002

Thousands of Jews from across Europe are expected to gather Tuesday in Brussels, capital of the European Union, to protest against the current wave of anti-Semitism and to express their support for Israel.

The demonstration is being organized by the European Jewish Congress, the umbrella organization of the European Jewish communities. The demonstrators will carry placards reading: "Terror is the same in New York, Karachi, Djerba or Tel Aviv."

Tomorrow's gathering is an indication of the renewed awakening of European Jewry after years of political apathy, according to Dr Avi Becker, secretary of the World Jewish Congress. He said thousands of Jewish students, as well as representatives of the large factions in the European parliament, would also attend the rally.



Yasser Arafat cheese snack is big hit in Egypt
May 28, 2002

Yasser Arafat cheese puffs are the new hit snack on the streets of Egypt's capital. A cartoon of the Palestinian leader salutes consumers from each 25-piastre ($.05) bag of Abu Ammar chips, beckoning them to buy the snack and support the Intifada.

"Abu Ammar, hero of the struggle," the cover reads in bright red letters, referring to Arafat by his nom de guerre. "The more you buy, the more you build," the bags say. "Heartbeat by heartbeat, hand by hand, we'll build a new era."

The bags feature a cartoon of an open-mouthed Arafat in khaki military dress and his trademark black-and-white checked headscarf against the backdrop of a Palestinian flag. The cheese-flavored corn puffs lie at Arafat's feet.

One Cairo shopkeeper said demand was high for the snack, launched two weeks ago by Egyptian food group al-Jawhara. "They [Egyptians] buy it because they see Abu Ammar, and they are sympathetic with the Palestinian people," said shopkeeper Mursi Mahmoud Mohammad on Monday. "They love this man. They love the people of Palestine," he said.

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