1. Hamas claims victory
2. Official Davos booklet: “Boycott Israel”
3. First foreign trip by Saudi king is to new ally China
4. Iran and Saudi Arabia to confirm security pact
5. Danish T-shirt firm funds Palestinian terror group
6. Venezuelan intellectuals slam Chavez
7. Assad says Israel killed Arafat
8. 10,000 Palestinians “fighting in Iraq”
9. Iran defends Holocaust (denial) conference
10. Jordan bars religious Jews from entering country
11. Humanitarian tragedies the world has forgotten
12. Poll: Israelis are most patriotic people in the west
13. “Davos booklet features malicious anti-Israel article” (Yediot Ahronot, Jan. 25, 2006)
14. “Venezuelan intellectuals slam Chavez for anti-Semitic remarks” (AP, Jan. 22, 2006)
15. “Iran Defends Planned Holocaust Conference” (AP, Jan. 24, 2006)
16. “Humanitarian tragedies the world has forgotten” (USA Today, Jan. 15, 2006)
U.S. President George W. Bush told The Wall Street Journal that the United States will not deal with Hamas until it renounces its position calling for the destruction of Israel.
For a “photo gallery” of how Arafat’s education system helped swell the ranks of the Al Aqsa Brigades and Hamas, please go to this page.
OFFICIAL DAVOS BOOKLET: “BOYCOTT ISRAEL”
An official publication handed out at the highly-important annual World Economic Forum, which began yesterday in Davos, Switzerland, includes an article that calls for a boycott of Israel and compares Zionism to racism.
The publication, named “Global Agenda,” was handed out to all conference participants.
The article, titled “Boycott Israel,” is by Mazin Qumsiyeh, a lecturer of genetics at various American universities, including Yale.
An editorial in yesterday’s Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot, severely criticizes the Davos organizers for the article, which it says “includes an unequivocal call to establish a global movement against Zionism and a global movement against the ‘Israeli apartheid,’ as well as anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic remarks and threats, the likes of which are usually published in marginal magazines in the West or by radical Islamists.”
Qumsiyeh writes that “Zionism is one of the worst colonialist and racist movements ever, and that Zionists are pulling the strings and setting the policy of the U.S. government.”
His article can be seen at www.globalagendamagazine.com/2006/Qumsiyeh.asp.
UPDATE: Within the last hour, the chairman and executive director of the Davos World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, has delivered a letter of apology to all Davos delegates regarding the article. Schwab wrote “this article is totally in contradiction to my own, and the Forum’s, mission and values.” (The Davos organizers have just removed the above URL of the article.)
FIRST FOREIGN TRIP BY SAUDI KING IS TO NEW ALLY CHINA
As the US increasingly attempts to spread democracy in the Middle East, it comes as little surprise that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah chose semi-Communist China as the destination for his first official trip abroad since acceding to the throne in August.
Abdullah visits China this week. The two dictatorships are laying the foundations for a strategic relationship that challenges U.S. interests, particularly with regard to oil, natural gas and minerals.
Indeed dictators with supposedly conflicting ideologies often form close alliances: witness China and Iran; or Muslim fundamentalist Iran and secular Baathist Syria. (Last week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Syria.) And, of course, in 1939, there was Hitler and Stalin.
IRAN AND SAUDI ARABIA TO SIGN SECURITY PACT
It was announced on January 23, 2006, in al-Vefagh, an official daily published by the Iranian regime in Arabic, that the Iranian government has confirmed a security co-operation pact with Saudi Arabia.
According to the paper, this decision was reported by Iranian Vice President Perviz Daudi.
If Shia-Persian Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the Sunni-Arab Saudis are likely to be worried, hence Saudi Arabia’s desire for a pact.
DANISH T-SHIRT FIRM FUNDS PALESTINIAN TERROR GROUP
A Danish fashion firm, “Fighters and Lovers,” is selling “rebel fighter” T-shirts and donating the proceeds to Palestinian and Columbian terror groups, reported Ynetnews, the BBC, and AFP on January 22/23.
The Danish fashion firm says it will donate 5 euros (around 6 U.S. dollars) to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (Farc).
According to the designers, the T-shirts were inspired by Leila Khaled, among others. Khaled was a notorious PLO airline-hijacker and hostage-taker in the 1970s, who was then set free by the British in a startling act of appeasement to the PLO.
The Colombian government has made an official protest to the Danish government.
Fighters and Lovers spokesman Bobby Schultz told AFP: “We are absolutely not worried about being dragged to court and sentenced. We have the right to fight for something, for justice or the right to education, which Farc and the PLFP are fighting for.”
VENEZUELAN INTELLECTUALS SLAM CHAVEZ
Hundreds of Venezuelan intellectuals have publicly condemned President Hugo Chavez for what they termed his anti-Semitic remarks in his Christmas speech. Chavez said that “the descendants of those who crucified Christ” have appropriated the riches of the world.
A group of 250 intellectuals, writers, artists, journalists and others, published a full-page letter in the leading Venezuelan daily El Nacional, denouncing Chavez, and expressing their “shock and consternation” as “these dangerous tendencies must be denounced and combated before our society loses its humanity.”
Since I first broke this news in the dispatch Venezuelan President Chavez: “The descendants of the Christ-killers’ control the world” (Jan. 2, 2006), several international news outlets have reported on this. (See, for example, “Venezuelan intellectuals slam Chavez for anti-Semitic remarks,” below, from AP and Ha’aretz, Jan. 22, 2006.)
There have also been some sharp public arguments between different Jewish groups over whether these comments were indeed anti-Semitic.
The American Jewish Committee, for example, have argued that the remarks were not anti-Semitic because Chavez did not specifically mention Jews, and because in the same remarks he also condemned Simon Bolivar, who led the 19th century fight to liberate Latin American nations from Spanish rule.
But historian Manuel Caballero, one of the promoters of the Venezuelan condemnation, said last weekend that Chavez’s remarks were a “clear allusion” against Jews and added the same tendency could be seen in Chavez’s former adviser, Argentine Norberto Ceresole, who is known for his openly anti-Semitic views. Simon Bolivar University professor Maruja Tarre, who signed the letter, said Chavez’s remarks were part of his continuous discourse of “very strong anti-Semitic comments.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center have backed my characterization of these remarks as anti-Semitic, saying Chavez’s comments were classic characterizations leveled against Jews regarding the accumulation of wealth and the crucifixion of Christ. The directors of both the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the American Jewish Committee are long-time subscribers of this list, and often send out press releases and email statements based on information within it.
ASSAD SAYS ISRAEL KILLED ARAFAT
Perhaps in an attempt to take international pressure away from his own regime, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has publicly accused Israel of a “methodical and organized” murder of Yasser Arafat.
Assad told a conference of Arab lawyers in Damascus that “under the world’s gaze and its silence, not one state dared to issue a statement or stance towards this, as though nothing happened.”
Assad has so far refused to be interviewed by the U.N. commission investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria routinely blames Israel for pretty much everything.
For more on other outlandish claims about Arafat’s death, please see the dispatch Arafat killed by high tech laser attack (March 21, 2005).
10,000 PALESTINIANS “FIGHTING IN IRAQ”
An independent candidate in yesterday’s Palestinian elections has told al-Quds al-Arabi (a Palestinian-owned daily paper published in London) that around 10,000 Palestinians are fighting with Iraqi insurgents and that the Americans are singling out the Palestinians for capture.
Abu Khalid al-Laham, a former confidante of Yasser Arafat, claims he was put in charge of a department regarding Palestinians in Iraq by former Palestinian President Arafat.
This claim that 10,000 are actively fighting in Iraq, which seems to me either untrue or exaggerated, is also noteworthy because the editor-in-chief of al-Quds al-Arabi is Abd al-Bari Atwan, one of the BBC’s regular guest analysts on Middle East, who is supposedly fair and accurate.
IRAN DEFENDS HOLOCAUST (DENIAL) CONFERENCE
On Tuesday, Iran reacted publicly for the first time to the international criticism surrounding its upcoming conference to examine “evidence of whether the so-called Holocaust really happened”. (News about that conference was originally broken on this list earlier this month.)
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, said, “For over half a century, those who seek to prove the Holocaust have used every podium to defend their position. Now they should listen to others.”
The official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Asefi as adding that “blind prejudice together with political interests and aims have closed the eyes of the Holocaust defenders to the realities of the world, and they reject without any logic a scientific conference.”
President Ahmadinejad has already called the Nazis’ World War II slaughter of 6 million European Jews a “myth” and said the Jewish state should be “wiped off the map.”
JORDAN BARS RELIGIOUS JEWS FROM ENTERING COUNTRY
Jordan has started preventing religious Jews from entering the country on the premise that they may be targets for terror groups in the kingdom. Jordanian authorities recently barred a group of Israelis after discovering Jewish ritual articles in their belongings.
Israeli National Religious Party chairman Zevulun Orlev claimed that “Jordan’s attitude is reminiscent of dark periods in the history of the Jewish people.”
HUMANITARIAN TRAGEDIES THE WORLD HAS FORGOTTEN
In a very rare piece for a mainstream paper, USA Today reminds us that nearly 4 million people have been killed in Congo since war broke out in 1998 – the largest conflict-related death toll since World War II. The BBC and CNN have dozens of reporters covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but barely any in Congo.
In addition to Congo, the other worst conflicts include those in Chechnya, Haiti, northeastern India, southern Sudan, Somalia, Colombia, northern Uganda, and Ivory Coast.
POLL: ISRAELIS ARE MOST PATRIOTIC PEOPLE IN THE WEST
Israelis are the most patriotic people in the Western world, according to a survey taken by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
85 percent of Israelis expressed a willingness to fight for their countries compared to 63 percent in the US and just 32 percent in Germany and Japan.
Most surprising for those European and American university professors and opinion writers who claim Israel is an “apartheid” state, 77 percent of Israeli Arabs believe that Israel is better than most other countries. 86 percent of Israeli Arabs said they would encourage their children to continue living in Israel.
I attach four articles below.
-- Tom Gross
DAVOS ARTICLE SAYS ZIONISM IS “COLONIALIST, RACIST MOVEMENT”
World Economic Forum booklet features malicious, hateful anti-Israel article
By Sever Plocker
January 25, 2006
Hate in Switzerland: The few Israelis who arrived Tuesday at the Swiss ski-resort town of Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, an annual meeting of approximately 2,500 business leaders, were in for a bitter surprise: A scathing and malicious article blasting Israel was included in a special booklet handed out to all the conference’s attendees.
The article calls on its readers to boycott Israel and compares Zionism to the most radical forms of racism.
The booklet, titled “Global Agenda,” bears the logo of the World Economic Forum and includes an introduction written by the conference organizers. It appears to be an official publication of the World Economic Forum and is included in every file handed out to conference participants. It is also distributed at the Zurich Airport and at Swiss hotels.
The booklet includes an unusually harsh article written by Mazin Qumsiyeh, a lecturer at a number of American universities, titled “Boycott Israel.”
The article includes an unequivocal call to establish a global movement against Zionism and a global movement against the “Israeli apartheid”, as well as anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic remarks and threats, the likes of which are usually published in marginal magazines in the West or by radical Islamists.
‘Colonialist, racist movement’
The writer claims that Zionism’s goal is to wipe out the Palestinian people, that it is one of the worst colonialist and racist movements ever, and that the Zionists of today are pulling the strings and setting the policy of the U.S. government.
The same booklet contains dozens of articles by state leaders, economists, philosophers and CEO’s with an international reputation, including articles by Russia’s president, Pakistan’s president and dozens of Jewish public figures, who were apparently unaware of the fact that they appear on Qumsiyeh’s list.
Although the booklet notes that the articles reflect the opinions and views of their writers and not necessarily those of the publishers, none of the conference’s participants were under the impression the forum did not give its approval and blessing to the publication.
Meanwhile, some Israelis who arrived at the conference on Tuesday expressed their outrage over the publication, but it is unclear whether they intend to take any steps in connection with the matter.
“THESE DANGEROUS TENDENCIES MUST BE DENOUNCED & COMBATTED”
Venezuelan intellectuals slam Chavez for anti-Semitic remarks
The Associated Press
January 22, 2006
Hundreds of Venezuelan intellectuals expressed “shock and consternation” in a public condemnation Saturday of allegedly anti-Semitic remarks made recently by President Hugo Chavez.
“These dangerous tendencies must be denounced and combatted before our society loses its humanity,” the group of 250 intellectuals, writers, artists, journalists and others said in a full-page letter published in the major Venezuelan daily El Nacional.
Chavez in a Christmas Eve speech last month said: “The world has enough for all. But it turned out that some minorities, descendants of those who crucified Christ, descendants of those who threw Bolivar out of here and also crucified him in their own way in Santa Marta, there in Colombia, a minority took the world’s riches for themselves.”
Chavez did not specifically mention Jews. Simon Bolivar led the 19th century fight to liberate Latin American nations from Spanish rule.
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center shortly afterward accused Chavez of anti-Semitic remarks and demanded a public apology. Chavez rejected the criticism as a misinterpretation of his comments and accused the center of representing the “imperialist” policies of the U.S. government with which he often clashes.
Historian Manuel Caballero, one of the promoters of Saturday’s condemnation, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he was worried about a possible “radicalization” of Chavez’s government.
He called the remarks a “fairly clear allusion” against Jews and said the same tendency was seen in Chavez’s former adviser, Argentine Norberto Ceresole, who was known for his openly anti-Semitic views. Chavez maintained close ties with Ceresole before his election to the presidency in 1998 but later distanced himself.
Simon Bolivar University professor Maruja Tarre, who signed the letter, said Chavez’s remarks were part of his continuous discourse of “very strong anti-Semitic comments.”
National Assembly President Nicolas Maduro called the condemnation “garbage,” calling it part of a U.S. campaign against Chavez.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the group have said that Chavez’s comments were classic characterizations leveled against the Jews regarding the accumulation of wealth and the crucifixion of Christ.
Venezuela’s local Jewish community, however, has backed Chavez’s claims, saying he was misinterpreted by people who don’t understand Venezuela.
The Information Ministry responded sharply to the condemnation, accusing those behind it of “a lack of intellectual honesty” and being part of a “privileged caste without authority.”
Some of those who signed are frequent, outspoken critics of the Chavez administration.
The advertisement was paid for by the signatories and anonymous donors, Caballero said.
Chavez, who frequently expresses his devotion to Christ but has battled with Catholic clergymen here critical of his policies, says he wants to have good relations with all religious groups.
IRAN DEFENDS HOLOCAUST (DENIAL) CONFERENCE
Iran Defends Planned Holocaust Conference
By Ali Akbar Dareini
The Associated Press
January 24, 2006
Iran on Tuesday defended its plan to organize a conference to examine what it terms the scientific evidence for the Holocaust.
At the United Nations, the Israeli ambassador said the conference plans were proof that Iran was run by an “extreme, fundamentalist, lunatic regime.”
The planned conference, which has drawn condemnation from Western leaders, is yet another step in hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s public campaign against Israel.
“For over half a century, those who seek to prove the Holocaust have used every podium to defend their position. Now they should listen to others,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, was quoted as saying Tuesday by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Ahmadinejad already had called the Nazis’ World War II slaughter of 6 million European Jews a “myth” and said the Jewish state should be “wiped off the map.”
Dan Gillerman, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the planned conference was “proof of what a global threat Iran really is.”
“I fear that the only reason Iran is showing so much interest in the Holocaust is because they may be preparing another Holocaust and it is up to the world and the United Nations to prevent that from happening,” Gillerman told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the opening of the “No Child’s Play” exhibit at the U.N. commemorating Holocaust remembrance week.
IRNA quoted Asefi as saying: that “blind prejudice together with political interests and aims have closed the eyes of the Holocaust defenders to the realities of the world, and they reject without any logic a scientific conference.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry, which was expected to sponsor the conference, has yet to fix a date or place. It was not clear who might attend.
“Iran is proving yet again what an extreme, fundamentalist, lunatic regime it is,” Gillerman said.
Ahmadinejad has been issuing the highly inflammatory comments about Israel and the Holocaust in conjunction with the country’s deepening confrontation with the West over its nuclear activities. The United States and its allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran says the program is its right under the Nonproliferation Treaty and is designed for electricity generation.
Russia’s national security chief and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said Tuesday that the nuclear standoff must be resolved by diplomatic efforts in the U.N. atomic watchdog agency.
The Kremlin statement reflected Russia’s efforts to delay Iran’s referral to the U.N. Security Council and Moscow’s opposition to international sanctions against Tehran.
(Associated Press Writer Tracee Herbaugh contributed to this report from the United Nations.)
“THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN BEING FORGOTTEN”
Humanitarian tragedies the world has forgotten
By Liz Szabo,
January 15, 2006
Nearly 4 million people have been killed in Congo since war broke out in 1998 – the largest conflict-related death toll since World War II, according to the International Rescue Committee. Yet aid groups say the suffering in the central African nation and other war-torn areas has gone largely unnoticed by the world.
“There is nothing worse than being forgotten,” says Nicolas de Torrente, executive director of the relief group Doctors Without Borders in the USA.
The medical aid agency has singled out 10 global health crises as the most underreported humanitarian tragedies of 2005. In addition to Congo, the group cited health emergencies in Chechnya, where people face the dangers of disease as well as land mines; Haiti, where thousands have been injured by political violence; northeastern India, where more than 90 were massacred in October; southern Sudan, where thousands remain homeless; Somalia, which has had no functioning central government since 1991; Colombia, wracked by a 40-year-old civil conflict; northern Uganda, where 1.6 million live in refugee camps; and Ivory Coast, where war has devastated the health care system. Doctors Without Borders included a 10th problem that affects countries throughout the world: the lack of research into medical treatments specifically designed to treat AIDS and HIV in impoverished countries.
Media coverage can make a crucial difference, Torrente says. In the first six months of last year, the food crisis in the African nation of Niger received very little news coverage. A report by the BBC excited interest around the world, however, and helped increase humanitarian assistance, Torrente says. Coverage of the December 2004 Asian tsunami also inspired tremendous charitable giving.
While the media still devote a lot of time to disasters, budgets for reporting on other international stories have dwindled in recent years, says Charles Davis, an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. News corporations find it easier and cheaper to “focus on the mundane and the trivial, the celebrity-driven news over the real needs of real people,” Davis says, adding that Doctors Without Borders’ report illustrates “everything that’s wrong with journalism.”
But journalists play crucial roles in unstable regions, Davis says. Beyond calling attention to suffering, he says, reporters also help hold public officials accountable. “Having a journalistic presence in a place like the Congo is about more than merely the daily story; it’s about Congolese officials knowing there is daily scrutiny of their actions,” Davis says. “Now you have corrupt officials, and they feel no eyes on their backs.”
George Rupp, president of the International Rescue Committee, says the new report may paint too bleak a picture. While many viewers are turned off by problems that seem hopeless, he says, those who hear about progress may be more willing to invest in solutions.
Rupp says security has been restored in parts of Congo patrolled by 17,000 United Nations troops. And villagers are rebuilding their homes and replanting crops in regions of Darfur in Sudan, protected by 7,000 troops from the African Union. Rupp says he’s concerned, though, that these international bodies lack the money to protect all of those who need their help. Without additional news coverage, countries may feel little pressure to increase aid.
“When we do get the resources and put the troops in, there is a clear improvement in health and mortality,” Rupp says. “We know what works. We just have to have the resources to do it.”