Belgian MEP says she feels like “strangling” Israeli Ambassador

May 03, 2007

* Reuters: Muslim women in France regain virginity in clinics
* Italian university criticized for holding conference on Holocaust denial
* European parliament member: When Israel’s ambassador raises Israel’s security, I want to strangle him

This dispatch concerns various European Union countries, New Zealand and Canada.




Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah today for the first time praised Israeli democracy. “It is worthy of respect that an investigative commission appointed by the Zionist Prime Minister Ehud Olmert condemns him,” he said. “The political forces and the Israeli public study their defeat in order to learn from it,” unlike Arab states that “do not probe, do not ask, do not form inquiry commissions, as if nothing has happened.”



1. Belgian MEP says she feels like “strangling” Israeli Ambassador
2. Controversial Italian seminar analyzes Holocaust denial
3. Reuters: Muslim women in France regain virginity in clinics
4. Jihadis aspire to “conquer France”
5. French dislike themselves even more than the Americans dislike them
6. French aid worker thanks her Taliban kidnappers
7. More violent attacks on French Jews in recent days
8. Swastikas painted on Berlin memorial to Holocaust victims
9. Neo-Nazis vandalize Czech city of Brno
10. Hitler concert angers New Zealand’s Jews
11. Canada’s top court rules against Holocaust denier Zundel
12. “Muslim women in France regain virginity in clinics” (Reuters, April 29, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


Belgian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Véronique De Keyser has told other MEPs that she wants to “strangle” Israeli diplomats who discuss Israel’s security.

Whilst addressing parliamentarians on the situation of Palestinian security prisoners (i.e. convicted terrorists), De Keyser castigated the European Parliament for its “passivity” on the issue of pressing for their release, and hailed the “moderation and maturity” of the Palestinian Authority.

“If the Israeli ambassador comes in the future to speak of Israel’s security, I feel like I want to strangle him,” the Socialist politician said.

The event, held at the parliament last week, is part of a campaign calling for the release of Marwan Barghouti, one of the leaders of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. Barghouti is serving five life sentences in Israel for his role in the murder of four Israeli civilians and of a Greek monk who was shot dead in Jerusalem after being mistaken for a Jew. (Barghouti is responsible for dozens of other murders too, including those of many Israeli children, and for the so-called Bat Mitzvah massacre, but was not tried for those offences.)

Barghouti’s wife joined De Keyser at the meeting. De Keyser also urged the German EU presidency to “differentiate between the Holocaust against the Jews and the current policy of the State of Israel” and urged the European Union to be much harsher against Israel than it already is.


A three-day academic seminar discussing the legitimacy of denying the Holocaust has been harshly criticized by Italian Jewish groups.

The seminar, held at the University of Teramo in central Italy on April 17-19, was attended by historians, journalists, lawyers and writers.

Those speaking at the event included Holocaust deniers, extremists of both left and right wing, and people describing themselves as “anti-Zionists”. Among them was leading French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, who spoke via video link as he has been denied entry into Italy under race hatred laws.

Professor Claudio Moffa, one of the speakers at the seminar, criticized the Italian media for not giving more space to the views of Holocaust revisionists. He claimed “the Jewish lobby in Italy” was preventing the questioning of the Holocaust.

The seminar was strongly criticized by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. Its President Renzo Gattegna said, “We believe that academic institutions in our country cannot ignore such an event, which should not have been granted legitimacy by being held in a university and, which, once again, invites us to keep an eye on rising anti-Semitism and racism in Italy.”

For more on Faurisson, see the dispatch from 2005 titled Tehran Times today: The phenomenal lie of the “Holocaust” (& Ha’aretz’s dangerous misreporting).

The seminar in Italy bore some resemblance to the recent Holocaust denial conference in Iran. For more on that, see: “Polite society helped pave the way for Iran’s Holocaust conference” (Dec. 18, 2006).


The Washington Post reports, via Reuters (article below), that a number of Muslim women in France are having their hymens re-sewn, to make them virgins again. “This 30-minute outpatient procedure, called ‘hymenoplasty’ and costing between 1,500 and 3,000 euros ($2,000-$4,000), is increasingly popular among young women of North African descent in France,” it says, adding that demand for the operation is growing.

Dr. Marc Abecassis, whose office is near the Champs Elysees, sees the rise in religion among France’s six million Muslims as the main reason for fuelling this trend. His patients are between 18 and 45 years old Muslims, he said.

“Many of my patients are caught between two worlds,” Abecassis says. They have had sex already but are expected to be virgins at marriage according to a custom that he called “cultural and traditional, with enormous family pressure.”


Members of an al-Qaeda online forum last week exchanged messages discussing their aspiration to “reinvade France (and convert it into) an Islamic country.”

The al-Firdaws Jihadi forum, for example, contained a lengthy historical account of “the second stop of the Islamic conquest of Europe, France, after Andalusia, Spain.”

The forum referred to the battle of Tours in 732, in which Muslim forces, commanded by Rahman al-Ghafiqi, invaded a portion of France, but were beaten back by a Frankish general known as “the hammer”, thus stemming the medieval Islamic conquest of Europe, a conquest al-Qaeda say it is ripe to revive.

“We ask Allah to finish what he started in Europe, and conquer the Vatican as promised in our beautiful Islamic verses,” it said.

In recent weeks Spanish security forces have warned that both Spain and France were high on al-Qaeda’s target list.

Even more concerning, a document is circulating on a number of al-Qaeda websites containing a guide on how to survive a future nuclear war.


And here is what the French people think of themselves:

PARIS (Reuters, April 27, 2007) - The French dislike themselves even more than the Americans dislike them, according to an opinion poll published on Friday.

The survey of six nations, carried out for the International Herald Tribune daily and France 24 TV station, said 44 percent of French people thought badly of themselves against 38 percent of U.S. respondents who had a negative view of the French.


A French aid worker released by the Taliban in Afghanistan has thanked her captors for granting her freedom. The woman, known only as “Celine”, was kidnapped along with another French citizen and three Afghan colleagues.

In a tearful statement made just hours after her release, Celine told reporters: “I want to thank those who helped me in France and in Afghanistan. I thank the Taliban for keeping their promise and delivering me.”

The five hostages were employees of the children’s non-governmental organization Terre d’Enfance (A World For Our Children). They went missing in Nimroz province, in the southwest of Afghanistan on April 3.

The Taliban had demanded that French NATO troops withdraw from the country in exchange for freeing the captives.

Unsurprisingly the French caved in. A short time after French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy announced that France will withdraw its 1000 troops who were part of the NATO-led force battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, Celine was released.


Regional officials in Afghanistan said yesterday that 51 villagers, including women and children, had been killed in fighting in western Afghanistan. The coalition says two military operations conducted between Friday and Sunday by U.S., British, Danish and Afghan forces killed 136 suspected Taliban.

This has been barely reported in the mainstream western press, and one can only imagine the uproar in the press and on the streets if Israel had killed a similar number of Palestinians in three days.


In the latest in a long line of violent attacks against Jews in France, a 45-year-old Jewish man, who had been wearing a skull-cap, was stabbed in front of a kosher restaurant in the eastern French city of Villeurbanne two days ago.

Last week a 22-year-old French woman, who was wearing a Star of David necklace, was viciously assaulted by a gang at an underground train station in Marseille. The youths, who the woman said were of Middle Eastern origin, pinned her down, beat her, lifted her shirt and carved a swastika on her stomach before fleeing the scene.

The Jewish Agency has severely criticized the reluctance of the French police to classify the attacks as likely motivated by anti-Semitism.

It is thought the French authorities are cautious about labeling these attacks anti-Semitic for fear of political ramifications in the run-up to the upcoming final round of the presidential elections on Sunday.

The Paris correspondent for the Times of London noted yesterday that some commentators believed the character attacks on front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy “carried a whiff of France’s old anti-Semitism.” Sarkozy is one quarter Jewish.


Vandals painted a meter-high red swastika on a Berlin memorial to the Nazis’ Jewish victims. The swastika appeared during the night at the Levetzowstrasse memorial, which lies on the site of a former synagogue where Jews were brought to by the Nazis for deportation to concentration camps. Another swastika was found on a nearby memorial plaque, police said. Both were removed.


On the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday, vandals sprayed Nazi and racist symbols throughout Brno, the Czech Republic’s second biggest city.

Swastikas, SS guard symbols, and the German phrase “Juden raus,” (meaning “Jews out”) were found on April 23 on roads, garages, storefront windows, railways and on a memorial to victims of World War II, according to Czech Television.


A rock concert commemorating Hitler’s birthday held in New Zealand’s capital has been criticized by the country’s small Jewish community and by anti-racist groups. The concert took place on April 20, and was organized by the international Hammerskins gang and by the neo-Nazi organization Blood and Honor – a group banned in several European countries.


Ernst Zundel, a Holocaust denier who was deported from Canada to face trial in Germany for spreading racist propaganda over the Internet, has had his appeal turned down by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Zundel had argued that he was unlawfully detained and deported from Canada in 2005, after being ruled a threat to national security because of his links to neo-Nazi groups.

Zundel had sought 10 million Canadian dollars in damages. He is currently serving a five-year sentence in Germany for denying the Holocaust. He previously authored a book titled “The Hitler We Loved and Why.”

-- Tom Gross



Muslim women in France regain virginity in clinics
By Alexandra Steigrad
Reuters / The Washington Post
April 29, 2007

Sitting in a cafe near the Champs Elysees, the 26-year-old French-born woman of Algerian descent looks like any other Parisian. But two months ago, she did something none of her friends have done.

She had her hymen re-sewn, technically making her a virgin again.

“I’m glad I had it done,” said the woman, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity. “I wanted to reconstruct part of my life, to reconstruct myself so that I could feel better about myself.”

This 30-minute outpatient procedure, called “hymenoplasty” and costing between 1,500 and 3,000 euros ($2,000-$4,000), is increasingly popular among young women of North African descent in France.

No exact figures exist to say how many such operations are done, but the woman’s surgeon says he gets three to five queries and performs one to three hymenoplasties each week. Demand has been rising for the past three or four years.

Doctor Marc Abecassis, whose office is near the chic Champs Elysees, sees the rise in religion among France’s five million Muslims fuelling this trend. His patients are between 18 and 45 years old, Muslim, born both in France and in North Africa.

“Many of my patients are caught between two worlds,” said Abecassis. They have had sex already but are expected to be virgins at marriage according to a custom that he called “cultural and traditional, with enormous family pressure.”

For this woman, the decision to have the surgery came after she broke up with a boyfriend who had pressured her into having sex. Unable to cope with breaking family tradition, she felt a hymenoplasty would help put her life back together again.

Another of Abecassis’ patients, a 22-year-old Algerian immigrant who asked to be called Karima, said most young women had the operation to respect their culture or family tradition, not for religious reasons.

In fact, neither woman is a practicing Muslim. They dress, speak and act like other young Parisians, but are also part of a growing silent group of women who juggle traditional Muslim and modern French values.

All the women who spoke to Reuters did so condition that their identities not be revealed.


Karima also lost her virginity to an ex-boyfriend. She plans to marry soon and her fiance expects her to be a virgin. So last month, she commuted in from an eastern suburb of Paris, where she lives with her parents, and had the surgery.

The next day she was back at work. “I don’t want to disappoint my fiance,” she said, adjusting her glasses and brushing her highlighted brown hair from her face. “I wouldn’t have had the surgery if I hadn’t met him.”

A leading Muslim spokesman said Islam says bride and groom should be virgins before marriage, but did not take a clear stand for or against hymenoplasties.

“If someone committed a sin, the essential thing is to repent,” said Lhaj Thami Breze, head of the Union of French Islamic Organizations.

For many doctors, resewing the hymen goes against their ideals of sexual freedom and personal liberty.

“The surgery is an attack on women’s dignity,” said Professor Jacques Lansac, president of The National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of France. “We will not take part in a market that places value on the quality of a woman – if she’s good or not. It is an attack on women’s liberty.”

He also argued that any doctor who performed these operations at state hospitals violated France’s legal separation of church and state.

The church-state issue flared up in 2004 when France passed a law banning religious garb, notably headscarves, from state primary and secondary schools.

Since then, Abecassis said, some Muslims in France have been putting much more emphasis on certain customs as a way of expressing their identity. “Today it’s the two ‘V’s’ – veil and virginity,” he said. “It’s a social phenomenon.”

Surprisingly, French social security reimburses some of the cost of the operation in cases of rape or trauma. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, the claim is a fraud,” he added.

Still, Abecassis defended the operations and said he helped patients who could not pay his 2,500 euro fee. “This surgery gives them another chance,” he said. “It’s a rehabilitation. For many, it’s the only solution.”


Sitting in the same cafe, a 19-year-old Moroccan studying in Paris who asked to be called Amel spoke just before her first consultation with Abecassis.

“I dated a boy when I was 15 and I didn’t even realize what had happened,” she said, referring to her first and only sexual experience. “I didn’t understand what I did.”

Her parents introduced her to a young man earlier this year, and they plan to wed when she returns to Morocco in June. But he would not accept a non-virgin, so she needs the operation soon.

Amel is scraping together the monthly allowance sent by her parents and emptying her savings account to pay for it. Two friends back home will lend her the remaining 1,000 euros.

“If my mother ever found out about this, she would have a mental breakdown,” Amel said. “I don’t want to have this surgery, but I don’t have any choice.”

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