Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer and Heidi convert to Islam in Turkey

September 07, 2006

* D’Artagnan (of The Three Musketeers) follows suit
* Follows conversion to Islam of kidnapped Fox journalists
* UK anti-Semitism report out today
* 12-year-old girl beaten unconscious on London bus for being Jewish
* Attacks on Jews around world soar
* At last night’s soccer match, Andorra coach “calls Israel a country of murderers”



1. Pinocchio: “Thanks be to Allah”
2. The Boston Red Sox and Mel Gibson
3. New game sold in America urges killing of Jews
4. 12-year-old Jewish girl beaten unconscious on London bus
5. Attacks on British Jews soar; official report to be released today
6. “Make Israel history”
7. Record number of anti-Semitic incidents in Australia in July
8. Montreal Jewish school firebombed by masked man
9. Israeli concert pianist killed in Brussels
10. Two Israelis beaten in a Belgrade park
11. Explosive device found outside Corsica synagogue
12. Norway opens Holocaust museum in Quisling’s villa
13. Sarid rejects Norwegian offer of citizenship to bypass boycott
14. Israeli sports minister accuses UEFA officials of anti-Semitism
15. Pinocchio and friends converted to Islam (Daily Telegraph, Aug. 31, 2006)
16. “To Israel with hate-and guilt” (Economist, Aug. 17, 2006)

[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch primarily concerns increased anti-Semitism around the globe, which in part can be attributed to the sensational and extremely negative press coverage of Israel following the recent attack on the Jewish state by Hizbullah. The first point in this dispatch deals with Islamic cultural advancement in Turkey.


The (London) Daily Telegraph reports (article attached below) that Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer and 100 other classic non-Muslim story characters have been converted to Islam in new versions of classic books produced for the official Turkish school curriculum.

The adventures of Pinocchio, the Italian animated marionette and his father the woodcarver named Geppetto, now include references to Allah. “Thanks be to Allah,” the puppet says.

In the Turkish version of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, D’Artagnan is told that he cannot visit Aramis because he has “converted to Islam after his illness.”

Heidi, the Swiss orphan girl, is told that praying to Allah will help her in the Turkish version of the children’s book originally written in 1880 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri.

La Fontaine’s fables and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables have also been altered.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is Turkey’s first Islamic premier, has denounced his own educational publishers for making the changes. Last week, two Fox news journalists kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza were released after they converted to Islam. Al Qaeda and other groups have warned that converting to Islam is the “only” way non-Muslims will be spared.

I reported in a dispatch in June that Turkey’s public television TRT, which is controlled by Ankara’s Islamist government, has banned the screening of Walt Disney’s classic cartoon Winnie the Pooh because Piglet is one of its central characters. Muslims consider pigs to be unclean and Islam prohibits the consumption of pork. For more, see Iran bans The Economist & Turkey bans Winnie the Pooh (June 21, 2006).


Anti-Semitic attacks have soared around the world in recent weeks. In America, however, anti-Semitism is not nearly as prevalent as it is elsewhere. Indeed it is frowned upon and is the basis of much public ridicule by many non-Jews.

Before reading the rest of this dispatch, which makes depressing reading for those who are not anti-Semites, you may wish to watch this video, which is altogether more amusing:;jsessionid=602BE0E131AED13C0BD97C1E14D65B54?v=e107067WHhNhRh4

Dennis Leary and Lenny Clarke, the stars of the U.S. TV show “Rescue Me,” give their take on Mel Gibson’s recent drunken anti-Semitic comments while commenting on a Boston Red Sox baseball game. (These comments concern Kevin Youkilis, the first baseman for the Boston Red Sox, and Gabe Kapler, an outfielder.)


Anti-Semitism is not absent from the U.S., however, as witnessed by the recent shooting of women at a Seattle Jewish center, and the attack on Alaska’s only synagogue.

It was reported this week that a new board game being sold in America offers players the chance to act as Nazi soldiers by recreating the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943 and informs players: “Good god: The Jews have weapons.” The players receive a map of the ghetto and are instructed to “purify” it.

The game, on sale for $16, depicts fighters in a Nazi SS unit with tanks, mortars and machine guns. Every round of the game symbolizes two or three days of fighting. Players are encouraged to kill as many Jews as possible.

American Jewish groups and Israeli officials say they will submit a complaint to the American authorities against the game’s distributors.


A 12-year-old Jewish girl was kicked unconscious on a public bus in north London. As she screamed for help, none of the other passengers came to her aid.

The girl and a friend were approached by a group of four girls and three boys who asked if she was Jewish. She replied “I’m English.”

She was then pushed to the floor and repeatedly kicked and her face was stomped on until she lost consciousness. The four girls carried out the attack while the boys stood guard. The Jewish girl’s friend, who was wearing rosary beads, was left unharmed.

The girl, who does not want to be identified, sustained a fractured eye socket, bruising and swelling to her face and chest. The bus driver did not help her even after the attack. She was aided by a passing motorist who drove her to hospital. London police are treating the attack on the girl as racially aggravated.

The attack came on August 11, and is the worst in a wave of attacks on Jews in the UK carried out during the period of Israel-Hizbullah fighting and the sometimes virtually anti-Semitic coverage that accompanied it in parts of the British media.


The number of anti-Semitic incidents during July in the UK was the third highest on record. Individual Jews and Jewish institutions have received hate mail, harassment, and verbal and physical abuse.

For example, workers at a Jewish cafe in Golders Green, North London, were punched and the owner, Ruth Cohen, 34, was attacked with a knife while called a “dirty Jew.” A Jewish doctor had swastikas and the words “Kill all Jews” and “Allah” daubed on his house and car. Last week, Lord Janner, who is Jewish, was physically attacked in the British House of Lords by fellow peer Lord Bramall during an argument over Israeli actions in Lebanon.

In a report to be released today, a group of prominent MPs, alarmed at the rise of anti-Semitism in Britain, will accuse some left-wing activists and Muslim leaders of using criticism of Israel as “a pretext” for spreading hatred against British Jews. I have been told that the report, some of the authors of which are subscribers to this email list, will call for immediate action from the authorities.

It will state that police, prosecutors and the British government have failed to tackle anti-Semitism with the same determination as other forms of racism. The report will state that anti-Semitic violence is a particular problem on university campuses, and this has in part been stirred up by left-wing academics’ attacks on Israel. Some of the attacks on Israel have used “symbols and images associated with classical anti-Semitism,” it says.

The chairman of the report is the British Labour MP Denis MacShane, who is Tony Blair’s former Minister for Europe, and was previously a senior trade union official (and is also a subscriber to this email list). Other senior authors of the report include the former leader of the Conservative Party, Iain Duncan Smith, and the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne.

In recent days, MacShane said that British Jews were right to “shudder” at the “aggressive” comparison of Israeli policies with the Holocaust. He also spoke of a “witch’s brew” of anti-Semitism that includes the far left and “ultra-Islamist” extremists.

The report will also recommend greater security support for the Jewish community, which spends millions of pounds on fencing, CCTV cameras and other measures to safeguard synagogues, schools and other communal institutions. “It is not right for any group of British citizens to dig into their own pocket because they feel there is not adequate protection for their right to express themselves religiously or culturally,” MacShane said.

Jonathan Sacks, the British Chief Rabbi, has said that “anti-Semitism used to be a product of national cultures. Today’s is global, communicated by satellite television, email and the internet.”


Indicative of the anti-Semitic mood among some in Britain, the writer Julie Burchill tells me that at a recent charity bash for Make Poverty History, the pop star Bobby Gillespie of the group Primal Scream, crossed out “Poverty” and wrote “Israel”. (Julie Burchill is a subscriber to this email list.)


The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has reported more anti-Semitic incidents in July than in any other month on record. The July figure was a five-fold increase on the number of incidents in an average month.

Jeremy Jones, the president of the ECAJ, said that the rise in incidents reflected “media coverage of the Middle East Hezbollah conflict in which some red lines were crossed.”

The previous record number of incidents occurred in April 2002, following media reports that the Israeli army had committed a “massacre” in Jenin.

Jewish homes, community centers, and Orthodox and Progressive synagogues in Australia have been attacked in recent weeks, and at least one visibly Jewish man assaulted. Many Jews received threats by phone.

(Jones warned that the statistics could portray a false picture as “each incident has been given equal weight” regardless of its severity. A spate of synagogue fire-bombings in early 1991, although statistically fewer in number, was worse in its impact on the community, he said.)


Police in Montreal, Canada, have recovered surveillance video that shows a masked man throwing a lighted Molotov cocktail at the door of a Jewish School in Outremont last Saturday, reports CBC television.

The bomb started a fire but caused minimal damage. Jewish groups have criticized the police’s unwillingness to declare the attack a hate crime. In the absence of graffiti or other evidence, it is being treated as an unexplained case of arson.

The perpetrator of a firebomb attack on a Jewish library in Montreal in 2004 later said he was motivated by television reports showing Israel in a bad light. He was sentenced to two years in prison for the attack.


Benjamin Rawitz, 60, an Israeli concert pianist, was found battered to death last week in his apartment building in Brussels.

Rawitz appeared to have been attacked during an attempted robbery but Belgian police investigating the death said all options were open, and it may have been a racially motivated attack.

Rawitz regularly performed in Europe, Asia and the United States. He started his career at age 15 with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra.


Two Israeli citizens, Jariv Avram, 27, and Bojana Petkovic, 23, were attacked last weekend by several men wearing Nazi symbols during a rock music festival in a Belgrade park.

Avram, who suffered serious head injuries, told news agencies that the attackers chanted “Auschwitz, Auschwitz” and “Go to Germany.”

“This is not the first such anti-Jewish and racist attack by skinheads and other such groups” in Serbia, the Serbian Jewish Community said in a statement. It called for police to arrest the perpetrators.


A small explosive device was found outside a synagogue on the island of Corsica last Friday. Police on the Mediterranean island said the wick had burned out and the device failed to explode.

Corsican officials said the device contained weak explosives and would have only caused minor damage to the door of the Beth Meir synagogue in Bastia, if it had not been found by passers-by.


The Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities was opened in Oslo on August 24 in a gala ceremony attended by Norway’s Queen Sonja. The museum is located in the Villa Frande, which was the wartime residence of Vidkun Quisling, Norway’s prime minister from February 1942 until the end of the war.

Quisling was responsible for Norway’s surrender to the Nazis in the spring of 1940. He was executed in 1945 after being convicted as a traitor. The museum is devoted to the study of the Holocaust and of religious minorities. Some analysts believe that the decision to house the museum in Quisling’s former home is an open admission by the Norwegian government of its responsibility for past events. It is the 58th museum in the world dedicated at least in part to the Holocaust. Ha’aretz reports that there was a great deal of tension between Norway’s Jewish community and those who sought a more multicultural approach to the museum, including those who wish to focus on Palestinian suffering.


Yossi Sarid, the former prominent leftist member of the Israeli parliament, who is now a journalist at Ha’aretz, has rejected an official offer from the Norwegian government to grant him citizenship so that he could attend an international conference. Sarid was due to attend an international conference on freedom of expression and tolerance in Bali, Indonesia but his invitation was rescinded because he is Israeli.

Sarid was asked by the Norwegian foreign ministry to attend the Global Inter-Media Dialog in Bali, as one of 60 journalists invited to take part in the conference. The stated goal of the conference is “bridging gaps between different religions, cultures and peoples.” But no Israelis will be admitted.


Following the decision by UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, to again insist that Israeli soccer teams play their home European matches outside Israel, Ophir Pines-Paz, the Israeli sports minister, has accused UEFA officials of anti-Semitism.

Pines-Paz claimed that the decision to uphold the ban on Israeli teams “home” matches was made by “two anti-Semitic Swedish functionaries who hate Israel. These two Swedes who are working against us are the ones that take the decisions and they hate us.” The minister was thought to be referring to UEFA president Lennart Johansson and its chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson.

Israel hosted Andorra last night in Nijmegen, Holland, instead of in Tel Aviv. (Israel won 4-1.) England, Croatia and Russia are in the same qualifying group as Israel for the 2008 European Championships.

Yossi Benayoun, the Israeli captain who plays his club football for the English club West Ham, said after the game that the Andorra coach, David Rodrigo threatened him during the game, saying “You are a country of murderers. We’ll break your legs.”

Maccabi Haifa were forced to host Liverpool in Kiev two weeks ago in the final qualifying round of the Champions League, Europe’s premier club competition. Many football commentators thought after the two games (which Haifa lost on aggregate 3-2) that Haifa may have won had they been allowed to play in Israel.

Can anyone imagine Arsenal and Real Madrid being forced to play matches outside of the UK and Spain following bomb attacks there, asked one subscriber to this email list? UEFA is due to reconsider the ban on matches played in Israel on September 14.

FIBA, the governing body for basketball in Europe, has also demanded Israeli teams host their European qualifying matches outside Israel. The chairman of the Israeli basketball association, Yermi Olmert, cited the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey, and asked: “Did anyone at FIBA suggest Turkey move its games to an alternative venue or question whether Turkey can hold the World Championship in 2010?”

For more on international bias against Israel by Soccer governing bodies, please see Football killing fields.


The second piece below is from The Economist magazine, which asks “Why has Europe become so reflexively anti-Israel, just when America has become so reflexively pro-Israel?”

The Economist notes that “liberal papers such as The Guardian… and the BBC, a bastion of the soft left establishment, have been criticized for bias against Israel, not least during the latest war.”

The Economist, under its new editorship, has become less hostile to Israel than previously. Senior editors at The Economist are subscribers to this list.

-- Tom Gross



Pinocchio and friends converted to Islam
By Malcolm Moore
The Daily Telegraph
August 31, 2006

Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer and other characters have been converted to Islam in new versions of 100 classic stories on the Turkish school curriculum.

“Give me some bread, for Allah’s sake,” Pinocchio says to Geppetto, his maker, in a book stamped with the crest of the ministry of education.

“Thanks be to Allah,” the puppet says later.

In The Three Musketeers, D’Artagnan is told that he cannot visit Aramis. The reason would surprise the author, Alexandre Dumas.

An old woman explains: “He is surrounded by men of religion. He converted to Islam after his illness.”

Tom Sawyer may always have shirked his homework, but he is more conscientious in learning his Islamic prayers. He is given a “special treat” for learning the Arabic words.

Pollyanna, seen by some as the embodiment of Christian forgiveness, says that she believes in the end of the world as predicted in the Koran.

Heidi, the Swiss orphan girl in the tale by Johanna Spyri, is told that praying to Allah will help her to relax.

Several more books have been altered, including La Fontaine’s fables and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

The clumsy insertions by Islamic publishing houses have caused controversy in Turkey, which has been a strongly secular state since the 1920s.

Other books contain insults, slang and rude rhymes which mock the president and the prime minister.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is Turkey’s first Islamic premier, has called for swift action to be taken against the publishers.

The education ministry has threatened to take legal action against any publisher which continues to issue such books.

Huseyin Celik, the education minister, said: “If there are slang and swear words, we will sue them for using the ministry logo.”



To Israel with hate-and guilt
The Economist
August 17, 2006

Why Europe, unlike America, finds it so hard to love Israel

The ugly little mid-summer war that has just ended in Lebanon spilled over into the parliaments, streets, television studios and dinner parties of Europe. By and large, Israel got the worst of it.

The Council of Europe said that Israel’s response to Hizbullah’s cross-border attacks was “disproportionate” and accused Israel of “indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets”. Romano Prodi, Italy’s prime minister, called Israel’s reaction “excessive”.

In Norway, Jostein Gaarder, the author of “Sophie’s World”, accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and murdering children, and said that the Jewish state had forfeited its right to exist. In many capitals, anti-war protesters marched under Hizbullah flags. When Britain’s Tony Blair tried to explain things from Israel’s point of view – and failed to call for an immediate ceasefire – his political stock took another tumble.

Mr Gaarder was prodded into a half-hearted apology. But the truth is that, far from being extreme, these criticisms of Israel convey the mood of millions of Europeans, rooted in what polls suggest is a hardening attitude.

A YouGov poll in Britain, taken in the first two weeks of the conflict, found 63% of respondents saying that the Israeli response to Hizbullah’s attack was “disproportionate”; a similar German poll had 75% saying so.

Such reactions reflect a wider European view of Israel that contrasts sharply with America’s. In a Pew Global Attitudes survey earlier this year, far more Europeans sympathised with the Palestinians than with Israel (see chart). These findings come on top of a European Union poll in 2003 that had 59% of Europeans considering Israel as a greater menace to world peace than Iran, North Korea and Pakistan.

Why has Europe become so reflexively anti-Israel, just when America has become so reflexively pro-Israel? Europe has no equivalent of America’s powerful AIPAC Israeli lobby, and it also has a disgruntled (and growing) Muslim population. But neither is enough to explain all the difference in attitude. Indeed, many Muslims in Europe now feel beleaguered and can only dream of wielding AIPAC’s clout.

Some Americans blame rising anti-Semitism in Europe, which they also attribute in part to its growing Muslim population. But there is a difference between being anti-Semitic and being anti-Israel. And in any case, it is not obvious that anti-Semitism is a big factor.

In central Europe, for example, there seems to be both greater anti-Semitism and more support for Israel. And some polls suggest that more Americans think Jews have “too much influence” in their country than do Europeans.

It is also often the right in Europe, linked with anti-Semitism in the past, that is most supportive of Israel today. Britain’s Conservative Party, for instance, not always known for its admiration of Jews or Israel, is now the most pro-Israel party. In Italy, which invented fascism, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Gianfranco Fini’s formerly neo-fascist National Alliance, are more pro-Israel than the government. In Spain, the centre-right opposition was highly critical of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Socialist prime minister, when he donned an Arab headscarf to show solidarity during the Lebanon war.

Countries that were most culpable in the Holocaust tend to be stauncher supporters of Israel – especially Germany. What was then West Germany became the main financial backer of the new Jewish state six decades ago, with a first payment of $865m in 1952. Aid continued throughout the 1960s, long before America became Israel’s main source of outside support. This week’s decision to commit German troops to the peacekeeping force in Lebanon also reflects past guilt.

If the right (and the Germans) are doing penance, the left, which now controls many of Europe’s chanceries, and certainly much of its media, feels a sense of betrayal – which is why many now attack Israel with all the zeal of the convert. Until the 1960s European socialists championed the cause of the Jews and Israel. Mid-century socialists saw anti-Semitism and fascism as products of the right, so they became instinctively pro-Israel. In the 1950s it was left-wing French governments that provided Israel with nuclear power and a modern air force.

This changed with the six-day war in 1967, when Israel launched a pre-emptive strike to defeat the Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian forces that seemed about to invade. It was a stunning victory, but it led to the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Sinai. To European socialists, who had rallied to the underdog Israel in 1967, the Palestinians were now the oppressed and displaced. Israel came to be seen as a neo-colonial regional superpower, not the plucky survivor of the Holocaust keeping powerful neighbours at bay.

In the decades after 1967 Israeli politics also changed. The Labour Party, which had largely ruled Israel since 1948, began to lose ground to right-wing parties, notably Likud. European left-wingers, who had idealised Golda Meir’s Israel as a pioneering socialist collective of happy kibbutzniks, were shocked by what they saw as the militarisation and racism of Menachem Begin’s Israel – and they began a romance with the Palestinians instead.

This change can be chronicled over nearly a century in such liberal papers as Britain’s Guardian. Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, played a vital role in fostering the Guardian’s early advocacy of Zionism and Israel, but the paper is now one of Israel’s harshest critics. The BBC, a bastion of the soft left establishment, has also been criticised for its bias against Israel, not least during the latest war.

Attitudes to America have also clouded European views, especially on the left. As Israel has drawn closer to America in the past few decades, the left’s antipathy towards the behemoth of capitalism has spilled into dislike of Israel. Public opinion in Turkey, the one Muslim country that was once pro-Israel, has turned against it in parallel with its turn against America, especially over the war in Iraq.

Emanuele Ottolenghi, an expert on Israel and Europe at Oxford University, argues that “Europeans see Israel as the embodiment of the demons of their own past.” The European Union is supposed to have traded in war, nationalism and conflict for love, peace and federalism. But Israel now reminds Europeans of darker forces and darker days.

Could attitudes change? It seems unlikely, not least because Israel is now so stridently critical of the Europeans, especially of their media. In this area, at least, the transatlantic gap is widening.

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