1. Just how dangerous is Iraq?
2. Da Vinci update: Now Albinos complain
3. Will anyone speak up for the chickens?
4. Targeted assassinations continue
5. Dahlan said to be ultimate Hamas target
6. A humanitarian gesture
7. Guardian anti-Semitism watch
8. BBC as anti-Israel as ever
9. In universities and cafes and on the bus
10. Florida teen’s death called “gift from Allah”
11. Protection racket
12. Israel seizes more explosives at sea
13. Hamas planning 9/11-style attack on Tel Aviv skyscrapers
14. Israeli General skips UK trip over arrest fears
15. Sharon to go to long-term care
This dispatch contains a variety of short items and observations on different matters.
JUST HOW DANGEROUS IS IRAQ?
Congressional Representative Steve King of Iowa this week offered some interesting figures on Iraq. According to Mr. King, the violent death rate in Iraq is 25.71 per 100,000 people per year. That may sound high, but not when you compare it to places like Colombia (61.7), South Africa (49.6), Jamaica (32.4) and Venezuela (31.6).
Challenging King’s figures, opponents of the Iraq war say the death rate in Iraq is in fact 31.03 per 100,000 – a higher rate but still considerably lower than many U.S. cities. New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina was 53.1. FBI statistics for 2004-05 put Washington at 45.9, Baltimore at 37.7 and Atlanta at 34.9.
DA VINCI UPDATE: NOW ALBINOS COMPLAIN
Not only Arab states, some Christians and most film critics are unhappy about the “The Da Vinci Code.”
The Associated Press reports that:
“Albinos are bothered that one of their own has yet again been depicted as a villain…
“Michael McGowan, an albino who heads the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation, in the U.S., said ‘The Da Vinci Code’ will be the 68th movie since 1960 to feature an evil albino.
“Silas is just the latest in a long string,” McGowan said. “The problem is there has been no balance. There are no realistic, sympathetic or heroic characters with albinism that you can find in movies or popular culture.”
(For more, see: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12820726/, and “Da Vinci Code” movie banned by Egypt, Lebanon, Syria & Jordan (May 16, 2006).)
WILL ANYONE SPEAK UP FOR THE CHICKENS?
Among the victims of the ongoing (but virtually unreported by most western media) Katyusha rocket attacks fired from the Gaza Strip were 30 chickens that were blown to bits when a chicken coop in the farming community of Nativ Haasara in southern Israel was hit last week.
Fortunately, no human was killed or injured even though the Grad-type Katyusha Rocket carried six kilograms (13 pounds) of explosives.
But also of note is the lack of concern shown about the incident by PETA, a leading animal rights group. PETA infamously complained to Yasser Arafat about his Fatah group using donkeys to carry suicide bombs when one donkey blew up, but when asked by journalists, refused to condemn Arafat for killing Jews with those same bombs.
Please see the dispatch of Feb. 24, 2003, titled Donkeys more important than Israelis, suggests animal rights group.
PETA’s letter to Arafat can be found here: www.peta.org/feat/arafat/
TARGETED ASSASSINATIONS CONTINUE
Senior Hamas and Fatah “military” chiefs continue to be targeted for assassination in Gaza: several have been killed in recent days, along with civilian bystanders, by masked gunmen and roadside bombs. Those carrying out the assassinations are Fatah and Hamas.
When Israel killed some Hamas terrorists, this prompted worldwide outrage. Among those at the forefront of lambasting Israel was UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the European Union’s “foreign policy chief” Javier Solana, and former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. This time, there is virtual silence by the international community.
DAHLAN SAID TO BE ULTIMATE HAMAS TARGET
Fatah chief Mohammed Dahlan is believed to have become the leading target for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian security sources said Hamas has been steadily moving toward the elimination of Dahlan in its campaign to control the Gaza Strip. The sources said Hamas has assessed that killing or driving Dahlan into exile would terminate the Fatah threat to them.
“Dahlan, with U.S. money, controls about 3,500 armed, equipped and trained fighters,” a security source said. “He’s the only one Hamas fears.” Hamas’s ally, the Popular Resistance Committees, has threatened Dahlan with assassination. So far, Hamas’s attacks have targeted Dahlan’s allies.
A HUMANITARIAN GESTURE
When the Palestinian Authority Intelligence Chief, Tareq Abu Rajab, an ally of President Mahmoud Abbas, was seriously wounded by a Hamas bomb packed with metal pellets at his headquarters on Saturday, he was transferred to Tel Aviv for medical treatment, where Israeli doctors have saved his life.
Abu Rajab remains at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, the same hospital where so many suicide bomb victims, including Danny Wultz, have died. That virtually no media outside Israel have reported on this is surprising.
GUARDIAN ANTI-SEMITISM WATCH
The Guardian’s much-touted blog “Comment Is Free” continues to allow itself to be used as a platform for anti-Semites to air their views.
Last week, for example, the following comment remained on The Guardian website for more than a day after repeated complaints by British Jews:
“There is no ‘global outcry’ because the global media is controlled by International Jewry... Jewish money has seen to it that the Israeli point of view is the dominant one... The Jews by their own grasping, cantankerous, uncompromising, dishonest nature will be the reason for their own destruction in Palestine.”
The Guardian’s reporting is bad enough as it is, with its constant inaccuracies and skewered stories, without now inviting readers of what is supposedly not a racist newspaper, to spread their hate.
British journalist (and subscriber to this email list) Stephen Pollard says some in Britain have dubbed The Guardian’s “Comment Is Free” blog, one of Britain’s most read blogs, “Anti-Semitism is welcome.”
The Guardian’s slanders against Israel, and some would say Jews, is unrelenting. Last week, a writer in The Guardian again compared Rachel Corrie to Anne Frank.
BBC AS ANTI-ISRAEL AS EVER
Following on from the dispatch “The BBC pro-Israeli? Is the Pope Jewish?” (& American teen Danny Wultz dies), May 15, 2006, it looks as if the BBC’s new chief Israel correspondent, Caroline Hawley, may not be that much better than her predecessors, Orla Guerin and Barbara Plett.
In her report on May 23, she questioned why the Israeli army had arrested its most wanted terrorist, Hamas “military” chief in the West Bank Ibrahim Hamad, after years of trying to locate him:
“Hamas has not carried out any suicide attacks for 15 months and Israeli military operations in the past few months have focused instead on the militant Islamic Jihad group, which has been responsible for most of the recent bombs.”
IN UNIVERSITIES AND CAFES AND ON THE BUS
Perhaps for Hawley it’s difficult to understand why Israel would want to arrest a man they have been after for years, who is behind the mass murder of Israeli citizens.
As I pointed out previously, the BBC this month triumphantly reported that its world service radio audience has now risen to 163 million worldwide. Tens of millions of others watch its various TV networks and read its online reporting.
Here, for Hawley’s benefit and for BBC listeners and viewers, are some of the crimes which Hamad, 41, is accused of masterminding (some of which he boasted about organizing):
* The murder of nine people (including five Americans) in a suicide attack in the cafeteria of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in July 2002
* The March 2002 suicide bombing of the Moment coffee shop in Jerusalem, in which 12 young Israelis including the waitresses were killed
* The attack on the Sheffield pool hall in Rishon Lezion in May 2002, which killed 16 people
* The double suicide bombing and simultaneous car bombing in central Jerusalem in 2001, in which 11 people were killed and dozens injured
* The double suicide bombing in September 2003, which killed a total of 17 people at the Hillel Cafe in Jerusalem’s German Colony, and at the Tsrifin junction
Hamad has boasted of his part in organizing the murder of dozens of civilians. That is why he has been arrested. Hawley might also have told her audience that the Israelis managed to locate Hamad in a building just yards from Mahmoud Abbas’s Ramallah HQ. Could it be that now that Hamas has turned its guns on Fatah, Abbas gave him up?
For more on Hawley, who says her “romantic memories of camels in deserts and starry nights” when she grew up in Oman, inspired her to study Arabic and Islamic studies at Oxford University, see the dispatch “Possibly the most maligned country on the planet is in the news again” (March 16, 2006).
FLORIDA TEEN’S DEATH CALLED “GIFT FROM ALLAH”
The death of Daniel Wultz, the Florida teenager critically injured in the Tel Aviv suicide bomb last month, who died last week, has been welcomed as a “gift from Allah” by Abu Nasser, a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. He said he was especially happy when American Jews died.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was set up by Yasser Arafat after he launched his Intifada. Much of its weaponry was bought with European Union aid money.
Last week, in a leaflet issued in the Gaza Strip, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades threatened to strike at European interests if the European Union didn’t give their parent party, Fatah, more money – a day later several European diplomats indeed called on the EU to rush another bundle of European taxpayers’ money to Fatah-related “non-government” organizations.
Only last week, yet another senior Palestinian official – Fuad Hejazi Muhammad Shubaki, from Gaza, admitted that international funds transferred to the PA were used to finance arms purchases. Shubaki, who was in charge of finances for the PA General Security service, said that from 2000 onwards, Arafat personally ordered him to use international aid money to purchase large quantities of weapons for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Instead of just continuing to give Palestinian gunmen money, could not the EU condition offer of future aid upon guns and rockets being handed in by Palestinians, in return?
Yesterday, Fatah and Hamas gunmen were engaged in a shootout at Gaza’s Shifa hospital. But most western media failed to report this and instead showed patients in Palestinian hospitals in an effort to try convince viewers that there are somehow more sick people in Gaza hospitals than hospitals elsewhere in the world.
ISRAEL SEIZES MORE EXPLOSIVES AT SEA
While the Palestinian Authority continues to tell gullible CNN journalists that they have no money, Israel continues to try and intercept the large quantities of weapons being smuggled into Gaza.
Last Sunday, for the second time in a week, the Israeli navy intercepted a shipment of explosives heading to Gaza. Again, the incident began when Israeli seamen spotted a Palestinian vessel crossing the Israeli-declared “no-sail zone” off the southern Gaza coast and into Egyptian waters. When the same vessel returned to the zone sailing in the direction of the Gaza coast, it was ordered by the Israeli navy to stop. Following the firing of warning shots and a sea-chase during which bags were thrown overboard, the boat was seized and searched. Several hundred pounds of high-grade explosives and parts of mines were discovered.
HAMAS PLANNING 9/11-STYLE ATTACK ON TEL AVIV SKYSCRAPERS
Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas’ military wing, has threatened to attack Israel using small airplanes containing explosives to be flown into important targets in Israel. Palestinian security officials believe Hamas recently smuggled three small airplanes into the Gaza Strip.
Abdullah said: “The goal is to have these planes carry maximum quantities of explosives and that they will be able to hit the targets that are fixed for its operation at a high level of accuracy… We will choose precious targets and I do not want to speak about strategic or any other targets... We know that the enemy is building new and high buildings in Tel Aviv.”
ISRAELI GENERAL SKIPS UK TRIP OVER ARREST FEARS
Agence France Presse reports that the Israeli Army has scrapped plans to send one of its generals on a course at a British military academy over fears he could be arrested on war-crime allegations. General Aviv Kohavi, commander of the division which protects southern Israel from ongoing Palestinian rocket fire, had been due to attend the prestigious Sandhurst Royal Academy.
Last September, a retired Israeli soldier, Doron Almog, refused to leave a plane at London’s Heathrow airport after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest over his time commanding troops in Gaza.
Almog was due to give a talk in Britain about a charitable project he is involved with in the Negev that helps Israeli Jews and Arabs with severe mental and physical disabilities. (Almog’s own child is severely disabled.) For more, see Islamic militant Hizb ut-Tahrir infiltrates Reuters (& Prince Harry apologizes) (Sept. 15, 2005).
INCREDIBLE DOUBLE STANDARDS
In March of this year, Major-General Salah Abdullah Gosh, the man accused of being one of the main instigators of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, visited Britain. The British Foreign Office, then headed by Jack Straw, granted him a visa despite UN sanctions against Sudan. During his stay Gosh received “medical treatment,” and also met with unnamed British government officials.
During the last week, over 300 people, almost all Afghans, have been killed in heavy fighting in Afghanistan. British troops were involved in the assault, which included British apache attack gunships. Is Britain also going to arrest its own military commanders for “war crimes”?
SHARON TO GO TO LONG-TERM CARE
Ariel Sharon is to be moved to a long-term care facility next week. The Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reports that doctors believe there is no chance that the former Israeli prime minister, who was felled by a stroke in January, will regain consciousness.
Sharon is expected to be moved from the intensive care unit at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem to a coma ward at Shiba Hospital in Tel Hashomer. The Knesset Finance Committee last week approved state funding for the next five years of Sharon’s hospital treatment.
-- Tom Gross