AP: the Muslim terrorists are “devout” while the 12 Jewish victims are “radical”

November 17, 2002

* Palestinian Muslims in Gaza celebrate Sabbath massacre of Jews in Hebron, nearby Judaism's second holiest site
* Pope, Kofi Annan condemn "vile" "despicable terrorist attack"



1. "El Al security guards foil hijacker" (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 17, 2002)
2. "Pope condemns Hebron attack as 'vile'" (AP, Nov. 17, 2002)
3. "Annan: Hebron was a 'despicable terrorist attack'" (Ha'aretz, and news agencies, Nov. 17, 2002)
4. HonestReporting: "AP spins Hebron." (Nov. 17, 2002)
5. "Palestinians in Gaza celebrate Hebron massacre" (AP, Nov. 15, 2002)
6. "Palestinian media refuses to condemn Hebron terror attack" (IDF, Nov. 16, 2002)
7. "Hutu Islam" (The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 17, 2002.)
8. Obituary of Abba Eban, Israel's foreign minister at the time of the Six Day War (Daily Telegraph, Nov. 18, 2002)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach various pieces related to this weekend's attempted hijacking of an El Al flight, and the Sabbath massacre in Hebron, followed by an obituary of Abba Eban.

In the fourth item below ("AP Spins Hebron"), in a report that went out to 6,500 newspapers and organizations worldwide, the Associated Press suggests that the Muslims who carried out the meticulously executed murder of 12 Israelis (3 of whom were teenagers, two aged 20, and one aged 22) are "devout" while the Jewish victims are "radical."

On the basis that the Hebron attack was deliberately carried out on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, nearby Judaism's second holiest site, the Jerusalem Post argues (in the seventh item below) that not only were Jews being targeted, but Judaism itself. "This is not just Taliban Islam but Hutu Islam, bent on the physical eradication of its enemies and their symbols," claims the Post.

So as to give a more neutral view of the great statesman Abba Eban's life, I attach an obituary from the (London) Daily Telegraph, rather than various obituaries from the Israeli or Arab press. As the Daily Telegraph notes, "Had Eban lived in 19th-century Britain, he would probably have returned to an Earldom [for his diplomatic skills]. Twentieth century Israel was rather less appreciative."

-- Tom Gross



El Al security guards overpower suspected hijacker on Tel Aviv-Istanbul flight
The Jerusalem Post
November 17, 2002

Airborne guards foiled an attempted hijack of an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, media reports said Sunday night. None of the 170 passengers on board was harmed and the plane landed safely, said Oktay Cakirlar, an official at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport.

Guards on El Al flight 581 to Istanbul stopped one of the passengers, who media reports said was an Israeli Arab, from entering the plane's cockpit.

He reportedly first threatened a flight attendant with a knife and tried to approach the cockpit but he was overpowered by two security guards, one posing as a passenger. The suspect was being held at the airport police station.

"We heard people saying there was fighting and half a minute later it became clear that from row five or six a man ran amok toward the pilot's cabin, attacked a stewardess and tried to enter the cockpit," an Israeli passenger on the plane told Army Radio.

"We saw a stewardess running like crazy from the front of the place to the business section... She was terrified," said the passenger, identified only as Menachem.

Security guards "threw him to the floor with his legs spread and his face to the floor. The passengers were hysterical but the flight attendants were very cool, they calmed us down," he said.

An Istanbul airport official was quoted earlier as saying "one terrorist" was arrested upon the plane's landing. Upon landing the man was transferred to Turkish police.

Since the plane had to land far from the terminal, she said, the passengers were now being accompanied to it by Turkish police carrying M-16s.

Pini Shif, Airport Authority Deputy Director General, said it was unclear how the man managed to enter the plane with a knife. He said investigation was still under way to ascertain how this happened.

El Al is widely regarded as the best protected airline in the world, but also one of the most threatened. From the late 1960s into the 1980s, El Al planes and passengers were subjected to shooting attacks, hijacking and bombing attempts.

El Al's formidable security includes armed guards at check-in, on-board marshals and extensive searches of luggage. Passengers are told to arrive three hours ahead of flights to allow enough time for the security checks

UPDATE: Hijacker sought to crash plane into Tel Aviv building

The New York Times reports that the Arab Israeli man charged with trying to hijack an Israeli airliner on Sunday told Turkish police he had been inspired by the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. and intended to crash the plane into tall buildings in Tel Aviv.



Pope condemns Hebron attack as 'vile'
The Associated Press
November 17, 2002

Pope John Paul II expressed distress Sunday at "a vile attack" by Palestinian militants in the West Bank town of Hebron that killed 12 Israeli security forces and guards as Jewish worshippers returned from prayers.

The pope has repeatedly urged an end to Mideast violence during the two-year-old Palestinian uprising. In his weekly remarks Sunday to pilgrims and tourists gathered below his window in St. Peter's Square, the pontiff prayed for all to pursue "the road of justice and peace."

"I want to express my emotional involvement in the pain of the families of those who last Friday were victims in Hebron in the Holy Land of a vile attack, just as people had finished praying at a few steps from the tomb of the man we recognize as the common father of our faith, the Patriarch Abraham," the pope said.

"While I invoke eternal rest for those who died, I pray to the Lord to instill in all the courage necessary to find anew the road of justice and peace."



Annan: Hebron was a "despicable terrorist attack"
Ha'aretz, and news agencies
November 17, 2002

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan also dennounced the killing in an extraordinarily harsh statement, calling it a "despicable terrorist attack" and urging Palestinian groups to halt the violence.

Annan has spoken out against Israeli military actions over the past 26 months of fighting, but Friday's statement was one of his toughest on Palestinian terrorism. Annan didn't describe any of the victims as Jewish settlers.

Annan said he was "horrified by the despicable terrorist attack in the West Bank... that killed Jewish worshippers on their way to the Sabbath eve prayers and left many injured."

He conveyed condolences to the families of victims and to the government of Israel and appealed to "all Palestinian groups to stop all such acts of senseless violence, which are extremely harmful to the Palestinian cause."



"AP spins Hebron"
November 17, 2002

Kofi Annan called it a "despicable terrorist attack." The Pope called it a "vile attack." The U.S. State Department called it a "heinous crime."

The Associated Press was far less sympathetic. In a report that went out to 6,500 news agencies worldwide – and was reproduced in the Washington Post, MSNBC.com, and hundreds of other media – AP's Jason Keyser characterized the city of Hebron as follows:

"Hebron, to the south of Jerusalem, has long been a volatile place filled with religious and political tensions. Muslims here are among the most devout and the Jewish settlers among the most radical."

What is the source for Keyser's biased assertion?! Perhaps the city's Muslims – who had just massacred 12 Jews – are the most radical, and the Jews of Hebron – who are perpetuating a Jewish presence in Judaism's second holiest city – are the most devout.

AP's Keyser then comes up with this adaptation of history:

"In 1994, Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein shot dead 29 Muslim worshippers before being beaten to death. The massacre sparked riots that lasted for days and helped spawn the phenomenon of suicide bombings against Israelis."

Read closely. The blame for hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombings – termed by Human Rights Watch as a "crime against humanity" – lies with a Jew.



Palestinians in Gaza celebrate Hebron massacre
The Associated Press
November15, 2002

In the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, dozens of Islamic Jihad supporters celebrated the news Friday of the Hebron attack that killed 12 Israelis and wounded at least 15.

The supporters rushed into the streets in celebration, some firing in the air.

"This is retaliation for the daily crimes and massacres committed by the Zionist occupation against our people," one armed man said over loudspeaker.

The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack in a call to the Al Jazeera telivision station, saying that it was in response for the killing of an Islamic Jihad leader Iyad Sawalha in Jenin by IDF troops earlier in the week.



Palestinian media refuses to condemn Hebron terror attack
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)
November 16, 2002

The Palestinian Authority has declined to condemn the brutal terrorist attack that took place in Hebron on November 15th 2002 in which 12 Israelis were murdered, and a further 30 were wounded, some critically. The Palestinian Minister of the Interior, Hani Al-Hasan, has reiterated over the past few weeks, that Israeli citizens residing in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem are "legitimate targets" in the "Palestinian armed struggle".

The view that Israelis living in the West Bank are "legitimate targets" was widely adopted by the Palestinian media covering the terrorist attack in Hebron. The attack was depicted by both the Palestinian Authority dailies Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Alayam as "an armed attack", and not as a terrorist attack. The two terrorists who carried out the attack, members of the Islamic Jihad, were called "Warriors" by the papers, who also called the perpetrators "Youths who died following the path of Allah" ("Istshehad" in Arabic).

Following is a translation from the front page of the Palestinian Alayam newspaper about the attack in Hebron:

Headline: 12 soldiers and settlers killed and a further 30 injured in armed strike near settlement.

Sub-headline: Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for the operation. Two of its youths die following the path of Allah.

Content of the article: 12 soldiers and settlers met their death and a further 30 were injured in the armed strike carried out by Palestinian warriors yesterday evening in Hebron between the Cave of the Patriarchs and the settlement of Kiriat Arbah.

Translation from the Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper:

The attack occurred at 19:30 last night as the settlers marched from the settlement of Kiriyat Arba toward the Cave of the Patriarchs for the Sabbath prayers. As the procession came to Wadi "Hanotsrim" near the entrance to the settlement, massive fire was opened towards them bringing the deaths of 12 settlers and soldiers.



Hutu Islam
The Jerusalem Post
November 17, 2002

Three weeks ago, after the IDF withdrew from most of Hebron on October 25, the city's Jewish community issued the following statement to the press. It read, in part, "We warn the prime minister and the defense minister: Spilled Jewish blood, be it in Hebron, or anywhere in Israel, as a result of this criminal act of abandonment, is your full responsibility. You will not be able to say, 'Our hands did not spill this blood.'"

On Friday, 12 Israelis were murdered, and 15 others wounded, by Palestinian terrorists in Hebron.

In a meticulously executed attack, Palestinians opened fire and tossed grenades at a crowd of Jewish worshipers and the soldiers guarding them as they made their way from the Machpela Cave to neighboring Kiryat Arba after Shabbat evening prayers. Among the victims was Hebron Brigade Commander Col. Dror Weinberg, 38, the most senior member of the IDF killed thus far in the current war. Five border policemen, three other soldiers, and three Israeli civilians also died.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, as the organization's head, Ramadan Shalah, proudly declared in a telephone interview on al-Jazeera. In the wake of the attack, Israeli forces placed Hebron under curfew, and IDF troops took up positions throughout the city.

As army spokesman Lt.-Col. Olivier Rafowicz rightly pointed out, the incident was especially grave because it was carried out "on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, close to the site of prayers." Put simply, not only were Jews being targeted, but Judaism itself.

Indeed, throughout the current conflict, the Palestinians have repeatedly targeted Jewish worshipers and Jewish holy sites. The destruction of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, the arson attack on the Shalom al Yisrael synagogue in Jericho, and periodic gunfire at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, are just a few of the examples that come to mind.

Such assaults signify a major step backward for Islam. They are reminiscent of the Taliban version of Islam that gripped Afghanistan, which deemed anything un-Islamic, such as the Buddha statues at Bumiyan, worthy of being eradicated. Now it seems the same goes in Hebron. A critical mass of Palestinians rejects Jewish claims to any part of the territories; it rejects Jewish claims to pre-'67 Israel; and it appears to reject a Jewish presence in "Palestine," even without political sovereignty. Thus does Yasser Arafat speak of Jerusalem being a city holy to "Christians and Muslims" while failing to mention Jews, as if we had no claim even to this city.

This is not just Taliban Islam but Hutu Islam, bent on the physical eradication of its enemies and their symbols. Those who question what Jews are doing in Hebron in the first place would do well to remember this point, particularly since the ratio of Jews to Muslims in the city is not all that different from the ratio between Israelis and Arabs in the entire Middle East.

It is impossible to escape the conclusion that Friday's massacre might well have been avoided had the IDF not withdrawn from the area last month. Under pressure from the Bush Administration to ease up on the Palestinians, then defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, with the support of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, agreed to pull out the troops. Now they have been sent back in once again, presumably for a more protracted period of time.

It is not in Israel's long-term interests to remain in day-to-day control of Hebron or other Palestinian cities. But it is still less in Israel's interests to endure constant bloodletting every time it withdraws from those cities. And this dilemma can only be resolved by a Palestinian leadership genuinely intent on divorcing itself, permanently and unequivocally, from terrorism. As the current one plainly cannot, a change of leadership is required.

Since President George W. Bush's Mideast speech June 24, the US has followed a contradictory policy toward Arafat: insisting he must go, while forbidding Israel from easing the way for his departure. For the sake of Jews and Palestinians alike, it's time to take more forceful measures to install a Palestinian leadership capable of fulfilling the most basic obligations of responsible government. The alternative is the next Hebron massacre.



Abba Eban
The Daily Telegraph (London)
November 18, 2002

Abba Eban, the Israeli statesman who died yesterday aged 87, represented his country at the United Nations from 1948 to 1959, in Washington as Ambassador from 1950 to 1959, and served as Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1966 to 1974; few Israelis brought greater talents to public life.

A highly skilful diplomat, he was also a considerable scholar, an elegant and successful writer and one of the foremost orators of his day. Yet in a strange way Abba Eban's many gifts impeded his advancement, and though he attained high office, he never rose quite to the heights for which he felt destined.

He was born Abba Solomon at Cape Town, South Africa, on February 2 1915, the child of Lithuanian immigrants. He lost his father when he was still an infant, and his mother took him to live in England. She remarried, and Abba, known in England as Aubrey, was brought up in south London, where his step-father, Isaac Eban, was a doctor.

As Aubrey Eban, the boy attended St Olave's school, near Tower Bridge, and from there won a scholarship to the Queens' College, Cambridge. He graduated with a Triple First in Classics and Oriental Languages, having won prizes in Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic along the way. His immersion in Arabic, he later wrote, made it impossible for him "to adopt the routine Zionist stereotype that regarded the Arab nation with intellectual condescension".

At Cambridge, he also found time to be active in the local synagogue and in the Zionist organisation. At the Cambridge Union, he came to be regarded as one of the most brilliant debaters of his generation.

He was elected a Research Fellow in Persian Studies at Pembroke College, Cambridge, but before he could settle down to the tranquil life of a Cambridge don the Second World War broke out. He immediately enlisted in the Army and was subsequently commissioned in the Intelligence Corps.

In December 1941 he was posted to the Middle East. The Germans were by then at the gates of Cairo, and Eban and other British officers were involved in training Jewish volunteers in Palestine to fight against a possible German invasion. In the course of the posting, he met Suzy Ambache, the daughter of a prosperous Jewish engineer. They were married in 1945, and Eban later introduced a fellow officer, Chaim Herzog, to Suzy's sister.

At Cambridge, Eban had joined the Labour Party, and as the war ended he was invited by the party chairman, Harold Laski, to stand in the General Election of 1945 as Labour candidate for Farnborough. But by then Eban had decided that his future lay with the Zionist movement in Palestine. He joined the Political Department of the Jewish Agency in 1946, and was appointed Liaison Officer with the UN Special Committee on Palestine in 1947.

Having won the UN General Assembly's approval for the partition of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish State, Eban became Israel's first Permanent Representative at the UN in 1949, and in 1950 was invited to couple the post with that of Ambassador in Washington.

Each job was demanding in its different ways, and the fact that Eban combined the two for more than eight years was a measure not only of his undoubted energies but also of the confidence he inspired in Israel and of the esteem he enjoyed in America.

His task was quite easy during the presidency of Harry Truman, who was warmly disposed towards Israel; but it became rather more difficult after Eisenhower became President in 1954. With America now anxious to strengthen its links with the Arab world, Eban sought to maintain what he called "a viable if not an affectionate" relationship with the new administration. He was not helped by the bellicose attitudes of Israel's Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.

In December 1955 the Syrians shelled an Israeli fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. There were no Jewish casualties, but Israel retaliated with an operation which left 73 Syrian dead. Eban protested to Ben Gurion privately, while defending the operation in public.

Ben Gurion replied that he, too, had doubts about the wisdom of the operation, but said: "When I read the full text of your brilliant defence of our action in the Security Council, all my doubts were set at rest."

Eban's job both at the UN and in Washington became even more arduous after Suez. He had been kept completely in the dark about the Suez campaign until it was launched, but when called upon to defend it at the UN made one of the best speeches of his career – though it made no difference to the outcome of the debate. Israel was roundly condemned and forced to withdraw.

Yet in spite of the atmosphere of rancour in which Eban had to work during his last years in Washington, he established the special relationship with America which was to become the cornerstone of Israeli foreign policy; and he engaged the loyalties of the American Jewish community which had previously not been particularly zionistic.

In 1959, he was elected to the Knesset and joined the Israeli Cabinet, first as Minister without Portfolio and then as Minister of Education and Culture. At the same time, he became president of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel's premier seat of higher learning.

He took urgent steps to improve the level of schooling available in deprived areas of his country's cities and in the new development towns. He encouraged the creation of new universities in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv and, as he put it, made education "a headline issue in Israel's national consciousness."

In 1963 Levi Eshkol became Prime Minister. Eban was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, a post without clearly defined duties or functions. He had to wait a further three years before he got an office he really wanted, that of Foreign Minister.

Ben Gurion had paid frequent tribute to Eban's powers as an "emissary" and a "spokesman"; to use the title of one of his most popular books, Eban had become "The Voice of Israel". Yet he hankered for an opportunity not only to defend Israeli policies but to formulate them.

When Nasser began to mass troops in Sinai in May 1967, Eban did not feel Nasser had any aggressive intent, and he sought to allay fears of war. But everything changed when the straits of Tiran were closed to Israeli shipping. France was then Israel's main arms supplier, and Eban was particularly mindful of General de Gaulle's warning not to take any precipitate action.

He flew to Paris, London and Washington in an attempt to organise an international stand against the blockade. He failed, as he was perhaps bound to fail, and on June 6 war broke out.

Eban's speech at the UN Security Council in defence of Israel's action was a tour de force, possibly the high-point of his career. He also handled the protracted negotiations on Resolution 242, which required Israel to withdraw from occupied territories, with consummate skill. Had he lived in 19th-century Britain, he would probably have returned to an Earldom. Twentieth century Israel was rather less appreciative.

Israel's foreign policy was now dominated by the fact that she was in occupation of Sinai, the West Bank and Gaza, which were almost the personal fief of Defence Minister Moshe Dayan. Moreover Levi Eshkol, who had the highest opinion of Eban, died in 1969. Golda Meir took his place and she preferred to act as her own Foreign Minister, at least where America was concerned.

Mrs Meir was a person of limited education, with strong likes and dislikes. Eban, with his polished urbanity and linguistic skills was not one of her favourites, and she would often go over his head to deal directly with her man in Washington.

Eban was also more of a "dove" than most of his Labor colleagues, especially Dayan. He preached a conciliatory attitude to the Arabs and advocated territorial concessions. But he received less support than Dayan who spoke of "a new state of Israel with broad frontiers, strong and solid with the authority of the Israel Government extending from the Jordan to the Suez Canal".

The Yom Kippur war brought an end to such complacency and when Mrs Meir retired in 1974 Eban believed that his track record made him her natural successor. But his name was not even seriously considered, and when Rabin became Prime Minister he was offered the Ministry of Information. Eban regarded the offer as derisory and retreated to the back-benches.

He was only 59, and comforted himself with the thought that Israel in her hour of need might yet call him back to high, perhaps even the highest, office. The call, though, never came and in 1988 he retired from politics altogether. He was inundated with invitations for lectureships and professorships at the best universities; but they were no compensation for the loss of office and in his last years Eban was an unhappy man.

Although he had spent less than a third of his life in England, Abba Eban was very English in manner, dress and speech; but where an Englishman of Eban's generation might have felt the need to hide his cleverness under a facade of frivolity, Eban tended to flaunt it – and as he was surrounded by people who were rather less intelligent, this did not add to his popularity.

His instincts were perhaps too old-fashioned: he was disinclined to elbow for position, or even to raise his voice, and he made no effort to build up a personal following. Nor did he belong to any "mafia": he had never served in the Israeli army, had never lived on a kibbutz, and was never active in the Labor movement. He was a lonely intellectual who expected to rise inexorably upwards on the strength of his natural attainments, which were actually something of a handicap.

Although the Israeli Labor movement had, even by the 1960s, discarded most of its egalitarian principles, Eban's wealth and earning capacity continued to excite envy. He wrote some dozen books, most of which became best-sellers in America; he was in great demand on the American lecture circuit; and he was paid handsomely for his television appearances. Political office, to many Israel politicians, meant a livelihood; to Eban it seemed an optional extra.

He was always readily accessible to foreign corespondents, especially as he could address most of them in their own language and would express himself in memorable phrases. As a result, no Israeli politician was more widely quoted in the overseas press, and Eban made the mistake of taking his international standing as the measure of his standing at home. In that sense, Abba Eban was a prophet in every country but his own.

He is survived by his wife, and by their son and daughter.

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