Al Jazeera.net: As Saddam’s trial resumes, Palestinians cheer him as a hero

December 07, 2005

* “Saddam will be back in power, just you wait,” Ramallah cafe owner Abu Zaid tells al Jazeera

* “Saddam is the most honorable of the Arab leaders and that’s why the Americans want to get rid of him and execute him. I just hope that they are not going to succeed” -- Khalil Abddin, a Palestinian

 

CONTENTS

1. “U.S. angry at Algeria for blocking U.N. statement condemning Islamic Jihad for Israeli suicide bombing” (AP, Dec. 7, 2005)
2. “Palestinians cheer Saddam as a hero” (Al Jazeera, Dec. 7, 2005)
3. “Sharon presses for fence across Sinai” (Daily Telegraph, Dec. 7, 2005)
4. “Palestinian soccer union plans to punish ‘Peace Team’ players” (Reuters, Dec. 7, 2005)
5. “Likud chairman defects to Sharon’s new party” (Reuters, Dec. 6, 2005)
6. “Clashes in Egyptian vote after Islamist gains” (Reuters, Dec. 7, 2005)
7. “First ‘labradoodles’ born in Israel” (By DPA, Dec. 7, 2005)
8. “Denmark’s offensive Jewish cookies” (EJP, Dec. 6, 2005)


Below are eight articles from the international media today. There are summaries first for those who don’t have time to read them in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

ALGERIA BLOCKS U.N. STATEMENT CONDEMNING ISLAMIC JIHAD FOR NETANYA BOMBING

“U.S. angry at Algeria for blocking U.N. statement condemning Islamic Jihad for Israeli suicide bombing” (The Associated Press, December 7, 2005)

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton criticized Algeria yesterday for blocking a U.N. Security Council statement blaming Islamic Jihad for a suicide bombing in Israel [on Monday in the coastal city of Netanya] and urging Syria to shut the militant group’s offices in Damascus.

… It was a rare outburst by Bolton against a fellow member of the Security Council, and drew a strong rebuke from Algeria’s U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali who complained that the American envoy’s “take it or leave it” approach went against the council’s give-and-take tradition of doing business.

… Bolton said “Algeria objected to the reference to Syria and to the reference to Palestinian Islamic Jihad” even though the group claimed responsibility for the attack and the Palestinians said the orders came from Damascus… Bolton said there was “nothing left to negotiate” so he decided to act alone and read the statement to reporters on behalf of the United States…

 

“SADDAM IS THE MOST HONOURABLE OF THE ARAB LEADERS”

“Palestinians cheer Saddam as a hero” (Al Jazeera, December 7, 2005)

Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein remains a heroic figure in much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whose residents remember him as a rare example of an Arab leader who was prepared to challenge both the United States and Israel…

“I had even more yesterday than today because people are beginning to be a little sceptical about the fairness of the court,” said Ramallah cafe owner Abu Zaid on the second full day of the trial…

With his trial over the execution of 148 people being broadcast live on satellite television throughout the Arab world, viewers in Abu Zaid’s packed cafe are not about to turn their backs on a man who was widely feared in other parts of the region.

Sharif Mahmud, a customer at the neighbouring Cafe Palestine, agreed that the trial was “a farce”. “It’s the Americans and not the Iraqi people who are judging Saddam,” he said. “During yesterday’s hearing, for example, he was not given enough time to speak…

Khalil Abddin, another customer at the Cafe Palestine, said: What kind of law is it that allows testimony from a witness who was 15 at the time of these alleged events.”

“Saddam is the most honourable of the Arab leaders,” he added.

 

£200 MILLION SECURITY FENCE “TO BE BUILT ACROSS SINAI”

“Sharon presses for fence across Sinai” (By Tim Butcher, The Daily Telegraph, December 7, 2005)

Palestinian incursions into Israel across its Sinai Desert border with Egypt have led to a plan for a £200 million security fence.

Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, angered by his army’s failure to stop the raids, has ordered his cabinet to consider the plan urgently. If it goes ahead, it will seal off the last big gap in Israel’s perimeter, effectively surrounding the country with a ring of steel…

With its troops no longer guarding Gaza’s border with Egypt after this summer’s Israeli withdrawal, Mr Sharon is worried that terrorists from Gaza can slip into Egypt and cut through the Sinai. They can then double back, using Bedouin smugglers to guide them across the border into Israel, carrying weapons and explosives. Israeli forces caught three members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and their Bedouin escort last month. Many more are likely to have got through…

If the plan for a fence is approved, it will block the overland route used for millennia by people leaving Africa. Israeli patrols often pick up African economic migrants wandering in the Sinai Desert. Thousands of years ago it was the route used by Moses and the Jewish tribes leaving Egypt in search of the Promised Land.

 

TZACHI HANEGBI JOINS KADIMA

“Likud chairman defects to Sharon’s new party” (Reuters, December 7, 2005)

[For space reasons, only a summary of this article is attached in this dispatch]

An opponent of Israel’s Gaza withdrawal who took over as Likud leader after Ariel Sharon quit the party joined the prime minister’s new Kadima faction on Wednesday in a surprise move ahead of the March election.

Israeli political commentators said Tzachi Hanegbi’s defection dealt another blow to the Likud, already trailing Kadima and the centre-left Labour Party in opinion polls.

Hanegbi, long a pillar of Likud’s right wing, could help Sharon appease rightists who may have been alienated by the prime minister’s recruitment of former Labour chief Shimon Peres…

“I believe that when hard decisions are needed... (Sharon) is the man I can trust,” Hanegbi said…

An opinion poll published on Wednesday, two days after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed five Israelis outside a shopping mall, showed Kadima maintaining its lead over Labour and Likud, indicating Sharon was on course to win a third term. The Teleseker survey in Maariv newspaper gave Kadima 39 seats in the 120-member parliament, unchanged from a poll last week. Labour was forecast to win 24 seats, down from 26 a week earlier. Likud which took 40 seats in the last election, in 2003, garnered 13 seats in the poll, up from 11 last week.

 

“PALESTINIAN SOCCER UNION TO PUNISH “PEACE TEAM” PLAYERS”

“Palestinian soccer union plans to punish ‘Peace Team’ players” (Reuters, December 7, 2005)

[For space reasons, only a summary of this article is attached in this dispatch]

The Palestinian FA plans to punish players under its jurisdiction for participating alongside Israelis in a “Peace Match” in Barcelona, an official said on Wednesday. A ‘Peace Team’ of Israeli and Palestinian players lost 2-1 to Barcelona at the Nou Camp last week in front of 31,820 spectators, including many dignitaries.

“The Palestinian FA will form a committee to investigate the players who participated in the match ... everyone involved will be punished,” senior FA official Jamal Zaqout told Reuters.

… Fifteen Israelis, including many internationals and 12 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank joined up for the match sponsored by Israeli statesman Shimon Peres’ Center for Peace foundation.

Zaqout, who is based in the Gaza Strip, said the five West Bank players who competed, including national team member Khaldon Fahd would be subject to the investigation.

… A Peres Center spokeswoman said the Palestinian FA’s reaction was “irresponsible and annoying.” … “The match in Barcelona was an unprecedented event in which we managed to convey to the world the message of peace and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians,” she said…

 

CLASHES IN EGYPTIAN VOTE FOLLOWING MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD GAINS

“Clashes in Egyptian vote after Islamist gains” (Reuters, December 7, 2005)

Police fired teargas and rubber bullets to stop many Egyptians voting in the last round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections on Wednesday, repeating what Islamists say are tactics to limit their startling gains.

President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party has maintained a big lead in voting that began on Nov. 9, but the Muslim Brotherhood has surprised the country by already winning 76 out of the assembly’s 454 seats, five times its previous tally.

The Brotherhood, which fields candidates as independents because the government bans it from forming a party, has said it expects to add 15 to 20 seats on Wednesday to its total. Rights groups have accused the authorities of widespread abuses, including blocking access to polling stations, vote-buying and fabricating results…

In the Nile Delta town of Badawi, one of the seats where the Brotherhood was competing against Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), youths near a polling station hurled rocks at a cordon of police who fired teargas and rubber bullets back…

In another Delta town, Zagazig, police prevented about 200 veiled women from voting, dragging one woman back by her clothes when she broke through their cordon. “There is no democracy. They don’t want to let us in,” Amal Salim said as she waited in the street.

Similar scenes were repeated elsewhere…

 

SIX “LABRADOODLES” BORN IN ISRAEL

“First ‘labradoodles’ born in Israel” (By DPA, December 7, 2005)

An Israeli dog breeder has succeeded in mating a poodle with a Labrador to produce the country’s first ‘labradoodles’, a newspaper reported. The six animals, born Monday, are intended to serve blind people who want a guide dog which does not shed hair and cost $1,000, the Israeli Ma’ariv daily said…

“This is good news for blind people, especially those who are allergic to dogs,” dog trainer Uri Beckerman, who succeeded in breeding the Israeli labradoodles, said. “The dogs are especially popular in the United States; they combine the robust character of a Labrador with the sensitivity of a poodle – a characteristic which is very important for people who need a guide dog,” he said.

 

DANISH MUSLIMS REFUSE TO EAT “JEWISH” COOKIES

“Denmark’s offensive Jewish cookies” (By Yigal Romm, European Jewish Press, December 6, 2005)

A group of Danish Muslims refuse to eat traditional “Jewish” cookies because they feel offended by the name.

According to the daily Danish newspaper B.T., Ole Poulsen, head of the public food consumer department said that the Muslim refusal to buy the cookies could have an effect on sales. “If this will be the case, then we would be obliged to do something about it,” he declared. He added that changing the product name was a possibility…

Jewish cookies, which are made with cinnamon and hazelnuts and actually have nothing particularly Jewish about them, are very popular in Denmark during the pre-Christmas period… Most of Denmark’s “Jewish” cookies are not kosher and they are therefore not consumed by a large part of the Jewish population.



FULL ARTICLES

ALGERIA BLOCKS U.N. STATEMENT ON ISLAMIC JIHAD NETANYA BOMBING

U.S. angry at Algeria for blocking U.N. statement condemning Islamic Jihad for Israeli suicide bombing
The Associated Press
December 7, 2005

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton criticized Algeria for blocking a U.N. Security Council statement blaming Islamic Jihad for a suicide bombing in Israel and urging Syria to shut the militant group’s offices in Damascus.

Algeria’s U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali accused the American envoy of being “totally inaccurate and unfair.”

It was a rare outburst by Bolton against a fellow member of the Security Council, and drew a strong rebuke from Baali who complained Tuesday that the American envoy’s “take it or leave it” approach went against the council’s give-and-take tradition of doing business.

Bolton said the United States had drafted a statement for the Security Council to adopt on Monday’s suicide bombing in the coastal city of Netanya which killed five Israelis and injured more than 35 others. It was the fifth since Israel and the Palestinians forged a cease-fire in February and Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for all of them, saying its attacks are in response to Israeli violations of the truce.

The draft U.S. press statement “unequivocally” condemned the terrorist attack, denounced all acts of terrorism and urged all parties to exercise restraint. It urged the Syrian government to take immediate action to close the offices of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and “prevent the use of its territory by armed groups engaged in terrorist acts,” and support progress on the so-called road map to Middle East peace.

Bolton said “Algeria objected to the reference to Syria and to the reference to Palestinian Islamic Jihad” even though the group claimed responsibility for the attack and the Palestinians said the orders came from Damascus.

“We are simply not going to accept watering down of Security Council press statements, and failing to name the names of the people responsible, in this case for terrorist attacks,” he said.

Bolton said there was “nothing left to negotiate” so he decided to act alone and read the statement to reporters on behalf of the United States.

Baali strongly disagreed with Bolton, saying the United States wanted the text adopted without any discussion. When Algeria, Russia and others proposed amendments and asked for a meeting of council experts to discuss the draft, he said, the United States withdrew it.

“I think the attitude of the United States is take it or leave it,” Baali said. He said Bolton’s claim that Algeria opposed references to Syria and Islamic Jihad were “not true.”

“We didn’t even have the opportunity to discuss it,” Baali said. “We had no chance to express our views, and I am confident if we had had such a meeting we would have been able to come up with a balanced text. This is the way the Security Council ... has always functioned.”

The U.S. stand that “you take it or you leave it is not helping the Security Council, and is not helping the cause of peace in the Middle East,” he said.

 

“SADDAM IS THE MOST HONOURABLE OF THE ARAB LEADERS”

Palestinians cheer Saddam as a hero
Al Jazeera
December 7, 2005

english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/A96C3D13-8A14-480B-B9A7-D3712D082EB4.htm

Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein remains a heroic figure in much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whose residents remember him as a rare example of an Arab leader who was prepared to challenge both the United States and Israel.

“He’ll be back in power, just you wait,” says Abu Zaid, the owner of a cafe in Ram Allah. Like many other Palestinians, he is keenly following Saddam Hussein’s trial.

And with his trial over the execution of 148 people being broadcast live on satellite television throughout the Arab world, viewers in Abu Zaid’s packed cafe are not about to turn their backs on a man who was widely feared in other parts of the region.

“I had even more yesterday than today because people are beginning to be a little sceptical about the fairness of the court,” said Abu Zaid on the second full day of the trial.

Seated on wooden seats in a room shrouded in the smoke of Narjila (hubble-bubble water pipe), dozens of people could be seen on Tuesday transfixed by the events in Baghdad, where harrowing testimony was followed by more defiance from the defendant.

Shouting at the trial judge from the dock, the deposed president proclaimed that “the Americans and the Israelis want the execution of Saddam Hussein”.

And Abu Zaid pointed out: “If Saddam is being tried for having killed those who tried to assassinate him, then why not put America on trial seeing as it has killed many more Iraqis than Saddam.”

Sharif Mahmud, a customer at the neighbouring Cafe Palestine, agreed that the trial was “a farce”.

“It’s the Americans and not the Iraqi people who are judging Saddam,” he said. “During yesterday’s hearing, for example, he was not given enough time to speak - unlike the witnesses.”

Saddam and seven of his deputies face the death penalty by hanging if convicted of the 1982 killings in Dujail, which followed an attempt by residents of the Shia village to assassinate the then Iraqi president.

The court heard harrowing yet at times confusing testimony on Tuesday from one woman who spoke of how she was jailed for four years and beaten by intelligence agents in the early 1980s when she was a teenager.

Khalil Abddin, another customer at the Cafe Palestine, said: What kind of law is it that allows testimony from a witness who was 15 at the time of these alleged events.”

“Saddam is the most honourable of the Arab leaders and that’s why the Americans want to get rid of him and execute him,” he added. “I just hope that they are not going to succeed.”

Other Palestinians have been closely following events in local newspapers, which have also provided comprehensive coverage.

Pointing to a photograph of Saddam in the dock, taxi driver Hamid Saqr said he was outraged by such an image.

“It is undignified that a president such as Saddam Hussein should be shown in such a state.”

 

£200 MILLION SECURITY FENCE TO BE BUILT ACROSS SINAI

Sharon presses for fence across Sinai
By Tim Butcher in the Sinai Desert
The Daily Telegraph
December 7, 2005

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/12/07/wmid07.xml

Palestinian incursions into Israel across its Sinai Desert border with Egypt have led to a plan for a £200 million security fence.

Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, angered by his army’s failure to stop the raids, has ordered his cabinet to consider the plan urgently. If it goes ahead, it will seal off the last big gap in Israel’s perimeter, effectively surrounding the country with a ring of steel.

The scale of the Sinai security problem is all too evident, with an old, rusty fence swamped by shifting sand dunes. A bored Egyptian border guard steps over the fence, illegally entering Israel, for a chat.

“The fence is nothing,” Samir says. “We have been told to stop people crossing but at night the frontier is too long and we are too few to make any difference.”

The smuggling of cigarettes and other contraband, often on camels ridden by Bedouins whose tribal lands straddle the border, has been a long-term problem. But the recent arrest of three terrorist suspects from Gaza as they crossed the Sinai has raised the security threat dramatically.

Recent wars have ensured that Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria are heavily fortified and monitored by United Nations peacekeepers.

Israel has a peace treaty with Jordan and the border is well guarded to stop incursions by Palestinians from the kingdom’s population of 2.6 million refugees. The border with Gaza is protected by a sophisticated fence and the controversial West Bank barrier will be completed within months.

With its troops no longer guarding Gaza’s border with Egypt after this summer’s Israeli withdrawal, Mr Sharon is worried that terrorists from Gaza can slip into Egypt and cut through the Sinai. They can then double back, using Bedouin smugglers to guide them across the border into Israel, carrying weapons and explosives. Israeli forces caught three members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and their Bedouin escort last month. Many more are likely to have got through.

The threat risks ending the tranquil atmosphere of the few Israeli settlements that dot the desert frontier. In Ezuz, a tiny community of 15 families set up in the early 1980s next to an ancient oasis known as the Spring of Moses, there has been a clear change of mood.

“We have had smugglers through this area as long as we have been here,” said Celia Friede, 47, a white Kenyan who chose to live in Ezuz because it reminded her of her desert childhood in east Africa. “It was all a bit of fun, really, like the time we stood on the hill and watched the police chase a jeep loaded with marijuana. We all caught a big whiff as it roared by in a cloud of dust.”

But she said that since Israel completed its withdrawal from Gaza in September the number of security alerts and Israeli border patrols had increased.

Mrs Friede’s husband, Dror, said: “The smugglers are business people, after all, and if all of a sudden it is more profitable for them to smuggle Palestinians across this border rather than cigarettes, it is inevitable they will smuggle Palestinians.”

Israeli soldiers and border police have stepped up patrols, using Bedouin trackers to look for camel spoor and other trails in the sand to lead them to smugglers. But the border is 220 miles long and cannot be sealed completely.

If the plan for a fence is approved, it will block the overland route used for millennia by people leaving Africa. Israeli patrols often pick up African economic migrants wandering in the Sinai Desert.

Thousands of years ago it was the route used by Moses and the Jewish tribes leaving Egypt in search of the Promised Land.

 

CLASHES IN EGYPTIAN VOTE FOLLOWING MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD GAINS

Clashes in Egyptian vote after Islamist gains
Reuters
December 7, 2005

Police fired teargas and rubber bullets to stop many Egyptians voting in the last round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections on Wednesday, repeating what Islamists say are tactics to limit their startling gains.

President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party has maintained a big lead in voting that began on Nov. 9, but the Muslim Brotherhood has surprised the country by already winning 76 out of the assembly’s 454 seats, five times its previous tally.

The Brotherhood, which fields candidates as independents because the government bans it from forming a party, has said it expects to add 15 to 20 seats on Wednesday to its total. Rights groups have accused the authorities of widespread abuses, including blocking access to polling stations, vote-buying and fabricating results.

The United States has toughened previously mild criticism of how Egypt was conducting the vote, saying events raised concerns about the path of reforms in one of its key Middle East allies.

The government has pledged to hold free and fair elections, and in previous rounds has blamed the Brotherhood for violence.

In the Nile Delta town of Badawi, one of the seats where the Brotherhood was competing against Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), youths near a polling station hurled rocks at a cordon of police who fired teargas and rubber bullets back.

A Reuters witness saw several people hurt by the bullets, which caused bruising and bleeding where they hit exposed skin.

Mohamed Foda, 22, who was bleeding from his head, told Reuters: “We were here since 7 o’clock waiting to vote. They didn’t let us vote. People got angry and started throwing rocks. The police fired teargas and rubber bullets.”

In another Delta town, Zagazig, police prevented about 200 veiled women from voting, dragging one woman back by her clothes when she broke through their cordon.

“There is no democracy. They don’t want to let us in,” Amal Salim said as she waited in the street.

Similar scenes were repeated elsewhere. Police seized ladders from voters trying to climb into a polling station in the Kafr el-Sheikh area, human rights group Sawasya reported.

“They are preventing voters reaching the ballot boxes so that the result will not be positive (for the Brotherhood),” Brotherhood spokesman Badr Mohamed Badr said.

In Qaleen, a police officer said he was stopping voters because of earlier fighting, but the judge inside the empty polling station said he had heard no disturbance. “There has been no trouble whatsoever,” Judge Bahaeddin Shawky said.

Voting has been staggered across the country so that judges can monitor polling. About 11,000 judicial personnel are monitoring the process, but judges in charge have no say beyond the confines of the polling stations.

In previous rounds, voters also clashed with riot police. Three people have been killed in the elections so far.

The United States has toughened its stance on Egypt in response to the clashes and after authorities detained former presidential candidate Ayman Nour during his trial on forgery charges, which Nour says are politically motivated.

“We’ve seen a number of developments over the past couple of weeks during the parliamentary elections that raise serious concerns about the path of liberal reform in Egypt,” deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said on Tuesday.

Voting had been due to take place for 127 seats but legal disputes over last week’s results delayed voting in some areas, the Brotherhood and a rights group said.

Secular opposition parties have been the biggest losers, securing only a few seats, leaving the NDP on the verge of winning two-thirds to retain control of the constitution.

 

SIX “LABRADOODLES” BORN IN ISRAEL

First ‘labradoodles’ born in Israel
By DPA (German Press Agency, Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
December 7, 2005

news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=183752&cat=Asia

An Israeli dog breeder has succeeded in mating a poodle with a Labrador to produce the country’s first ‘labradoodles’, a newspaper reported.

The six animals, born Monday, are intended to serve blind people who want a guide dog which does not shed hair and cost $1,000, the Israeli Ma’ariv daily said.

The first labradoodles were bred in Australia in the late 1980s, after research from the US showed the main problem people had with guide dogs was the amount of hair shed, a problem especially acute with Labradors.

“This is good news for blind people, especially those who are allergic to dogs,” dog trainer Uri Beckerman, who succeeded in breeding the Israeli labradoodles, said.

“The dogs are especially popular in the United States; they combine the character of a Labrador with the sensitivity of a poodle,” he said.

“The Labrador is a clever dog which loves to work but is very robust in its behaviour. The poodle, on the other hand, is sensitive and does not go wild - a characteristic which is very important for people who need a guide dog,” he said.

 

DANISH MUSLIMS REFUSE TO EAT “JEWISH” COOKIES

Denmark’s offensive Jewish cookies
By Yigal Romm in Copenhagen
European Jewish Press
December 6, 2005

www.ejpress.org/article/news/4479

A group of Danish Muslims refuse to eat traditional “Jewish” cookies because they feel offended by the name.

According to the daily Danish newspaper B.T., Ole Poulsen, head of the public food consumer department said that the Muslim refusal to buy the cookies could have an effect on sales.

“If this will be the case, then we would be obliged to do something about it,” he declared.

He added that changing the product name was a possibility, as had in the past been done with the “Negroes’ kiss” cakes, which were rebranded with a more neutral name.

Jewish cookies, which are made with cinnamon and hazelnuts and actually have nothing particularly Jewish about them, are very popular in Denmark during the pre-Christmas period.

Denmark’s chief rabbi, Bent Lexner, said that he did not see any problem in a name change.

“There is nothing Jewish in it and I wouldn’t mind another name, but I think that it would be better to educate Muslims to respect the culture of the majority in Denmark, if they want the majority to respect their culture”.

Most of Denmark’s “Jewish” cookies are not kosher and they are therefore not consumed by a large part of the Jewish population.


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