Muslim contractor waives fee to build synagogue (& MSNBC says I’m the world’s worst person)

October 24, 2007

* See the video attached to item 4 below, in which Keith Olbermann, host of the top-rated left-wing cable news program, “Countdown,” on MSNBC, skewers remarks I made about the Iranian nuclear threat, and then awards me the “World’s Worst Person” award.

* Even more troubling news comes in the form of reports from Iran that the country’s new nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, is tied to the same messianic apocalyptic 12th Imam cult that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad adheres to. Iran’s previous chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, resigned last weekend.

* Iran’s semi-official news agency today claims Jalili was going to become foreign minister, but “was made nuclear negotiator because of some other considerations.”

* In an effort to stop intellectuals gathering, Iran announced today that all Teheran bookstores with coffee shops attached are to be closed in 48 hours.



This is a follow-up to last week’s dispatch titled Outrage after Holocaust denier David Irving invited to Oxford Union.

The Oxford Union has canceled its debate “This House believes that one state is the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict,” after protests by prominent people in Britain, including several who subscribe to this email list.

The principal “debaters” were due to be the anti-Zionist Israelis Prof. Avi Shlaim and Dr. Ilan Pappe, and the controversial American writer Norman Finkelstein. The only Jewish Zionist invited, who is the co-chairman of Peace Now’s British branch, pulled out because of the participation of Finkelstein, who has been accused of Holocaust revisionism.

In a separate move, the Oxford Union has also been forced to withdraw its invitation for later next month to David Irving, who has been convicted of Holocaust denial offenses in Austria. The university had been threatened with legal action under Britain’s prevention of racial hatred laws, were Irving to speak.



1. Man of peace
2. Palestinian Authority television shows its true aim: No more Israel
3. Cheney: U.S. will not let Iran go nuclear
4. Worse than Ahmadinejad?
5. New chairman of the Joint Chiefs: U.S. is capable of striking Iran
6. Peugeot, France, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions
7. Israel switching to lasers to defend civilian jets
8. Israeli Arab farmer has 8 wives and 67 children – with more on the way

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are some of the recent entries I have written and posted on the National Review’s Media Blog. These are the ones relating to developments in the Middle East. By separate dispatch, I am sending the items I wrote connected to the media itself, and to politics and society.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


If only Fadil Bayyari were Palestinian president…

Muslim contractor waives fee to build synagogue
The Associated Press

A Jewish synagogue is rising in the hills of Arkansas, in large part because of the generosity of the project contractor: a Muslim immigrant from the West Bank.

Since 1981, members of Temple Shalom have practiced their faith where they could. The congregation bought a home to convert into a temple, but members abandoned their plans after residents complained that the synagogue would bring traffic to their neighborhood.

The Reform congregation then bought new land – and Fadil Bayyari got involved. The Springdale, Ark., general contractor agreed to waive his regular fee, saving Temple Shalom at least $250,000.

“Abraham is our forefather,” Bayyari said. “We’re first cousins. How we got to hate each other is beyond me.”

Bayyari, who built the mosque in Fayetteville, said his kinship with the Jewish congregation also stems from the fact that his faith community, too, lacked its own building until the mosque was completed.

Jeremy Hess, a founding member of Temple Shalom and the building project coordinator, said the synagogue will be open to all. He said working with Bayyari taught him that “you can’t judge anyone except by the character of who they are.”


Thursday, October 18, 2007


As Condoleezza Rice (who is presently in the Middle East) continues to pressure Israel to accept Palestinian Authority demands in the run up to next month’s big planned Mideast conference in Maryland, the official Fatah-run P.A. Television shows the P.A.’s true long-term aim: A world without Israel.

To see the TV image, click here.


Monday, October 22, 2007


They are super-mean about them now, but maybe, just maybe, one day peaceniks in America and Europe will recognize George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as the men who prevented World War Three. Surely then they would be deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize?

History will no doubt be kinder to Bush and Cheney than newspapers like The New York Times are today.

Cheney: U.S. Will Not Let Iran Go Nuclear,
The Associated Press, Oct 21, 5:17 pm

LEESBURG, Va. (AP) - The United States and other nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday. “Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions,” Cheney said.

He said Iran’s efforts to pursue technology that would allow them to build a nuclear weapon are obvious and that “the regime continues to practice delay and deceit in an obvious effort to buy time.”

… While he was critical of that government and President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, he offered praise and words of solidarity to the Iranian people. Iran “is a place of unlimited potential and it has the right to be free of tyranny,” Cheney said.

Cheney’s words followed President Bush’s warning last week that a nuclear Iran could lead to “World War III.” At a news conference, Bush had suggested that if Iran obtained nuclear weapons, it could lead to a new world war.

“I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” Bush said.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Apparently, I’m the worst person in the world, according to MSNBC.

(See here and here.)

Of course, unlike what Keith Olbermann suggests, I was talking about the future, not now. And why, just why, my suggestion in the item above might be appropriate.

It’s very simple. Either the Islamic Republic of Iran acquires nuclear weapons – and no informed commentator has any doubt that it is trying to do so as fast as it can – thereby increasing dramatically the prospect of the world later being involved in a nuclear war in which countless millions would die. Or the Islamic Republic of Iran is stopped from getting nuclear weapons. (If Iran was not a fundamentalist Islamic republic it might be a different matter.)

The hatred for Bush and Cheney today is very reminiscent of the hatred for Churchill in the 1930s. Lets just hope we don’t have to have a world war before people realize that at least on this issue, Bush and Cheney were right.


Friday, October 19, 2007


This report from today’s Washington Times will come as a relief to those who think that keeping all options on the table is the best way of persuading the Islamic Republic of Iran not to go nuclear:

Mullen: U.S. can strike Iran
By Bill Gertz, October 19, 2007

U.S. military forces are capable of conducting operations against Iran if called on to bomb nuclear facilities or other targets, the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday.

From a military standpoint, there is more than enough reserve to respond if that, in fact, is what the national leadership wanted to do, and so I don’t think we’re too stretched in that regard,” Adm. Michael Mullen told reporters when asked if current operations had worn out U.S. forces.

Adm. Mullen said he has been concerned over the past year and a half with Iranian leaders’ statements of intentions, Tehran’s support for bombers in Iraq and Iran’s covert drive for nuclear weapons.

“All of which has potentially a very destabilizing impact on a part of the world, a region of the world which is struggling in many ways already,” he said in his first press conference since becoming chairman Oct. 1. “So they’re not being helpful.”

Defense and military officials have been preparing U.S. forces within striking distance of Iran. The forces would be dominated by Navy and Air Force weapons and forces since Army and Marine Corps forces are focused on Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are two main targets of any Iranian military action, according to the officials. First, U.S. forces are set to attack Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps facilities because of the paramilitary’s support and provision of armor-piercing roadside bombs.

A U.S. official said the location of a factory where Iranian bomb materials are being produced has been identified. A second target would be Iranian nuclear facilities, which are in numerous underground facilities across the country.

Adm. Mullen said Iran’s support for terrorism “adds up to a huge and growing concern about Iran and where it’s headed.”

“There is a significant amount of activity right now to try to influence them diplomatically,” he said. The use of military force would be an option “of the last resort,” Adm. Mullen said.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Agence France Presse reports:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that France and Israel share “identical” views on the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program following talks in Paris with President Nicolas Sarkozy. French presidential spokesman David Martinon said, “Israel and France share the view that the Iranian nuclear program must be implemented with the greatest transparency and for peaceful ends.” “A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable for France and for Israel,” he said.

So what is France doing to persuade Iran to curtail its program? It certainly has much to do on the economic front, it would seem.

One example is provided by Iran’s Press News agency, which reports:

“Latest figures show Iran is the fourth largest producer of France’s Peugeot automobiles worldwide after France, Malaysia and Spain. Iran manufactured 245,808 units of Peugeots, which consists of eight percent of the company’s total output.”

On another note, the French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) and the Islamic Republic News Agency (which is a government propaganda operation) have announced that they will expand bilateral cooperation.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


A future addition for America’s airlines too, perhaps?

Reuters reports from Jerusalem:

Israel will replace the flare-firing systems it has installed on some of its passenger planes to defend against missile attacks with non-pyrotechnic lasers deemed safer abroad, officials said.

An Israeli airliner narrowly escaped being shot down by al-Qaeda over Kenya in 2003, prompting state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to develop Flight Guard, a device that detects heat-seeking missiles and diverts them with flares. Flight Guard has been placed aboard a number of Israel El Al Airlines jets.

Officials said the new Israeli system, developed by El-Op, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd., will use a laser to “blind” the heat-seekers in shoulder-fired missiles.

“Work on the system began three years ago, specifically for helicopters. Adapting it for bigger aircraft, for planes, will, to all appearances, take another two years,” El-Op deputy director Yisrael Anschel told Israel’s Army Radio.

A security source said the El-Op system is provisionally called MUSIC (Multi-Spectral Counter MANPADS System) and that its broad-array laser can “take on 1,000 threats at once.”

“It knocks the missile out of the sky, which carries none of the risks of a pyrotechnic system,” the source said.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


According to opinion polls, many Israelis are increasingly concerned about the so-called “threat from within,” i.e. the very high birthrate among Israeli Arabs coupled with the increasing numbers of Israelis Arabs who say they identify with extremist groups dedicated to Israel’s destruction, such as Hizbullah and Hamas.

So this chap with 67 children (and two more on the way) won’t make everyone happy.

Israeli Arab farmer has 8 wives and 67 children
By Matthew Kalman, New York Daily News

He has eight wives, 67 children and two more on the way. And Shehadeh Abu Arar says he couldn’t be happier.

The Israeli Arab farmer and camel breeder boasts of knowing all his little ones by name and brushes off questions about his unusual lifestyle. “I am happy I have kids, this is what God gave us,” said Abu Arar, 58. “This is what He wants, and I do what He tells me.”

Abu Arar has more children than any man in Israel, where Arab population growth causes some to fear that Jews will someday be a minority.

He first married in 1967 and had 31 children from his first two wives. His eldest son is 37 and his youngest child is less than 1. So far, he has 20 grandchildren.

All of them live with him in an extended family compound in the village of Burgata, where he shuttles from one lovely to another. “Every night I decide which wife to go to,” Abu Arar recently told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.

His youngest wife is only 23, a Palestinian from the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

Abu Arar is not stopping there – eight wives, apparently, is not enough. “Now I am thinking about a new wife, No. 9, and I am already preparing for the marriage,” he said. “There are many women who wish to marry me.”

The family grows flowers and vegetables near its home. It also raises cows, sheep and goats that provide food for the extended clan.

Every morning, a bus comes and takes 30 of the children to the local school.

It’s not all milk and honey for the wives. “Each one has to take care of her own children, and I have my own chores,” Abu Arar told Yediot Ahronot. “It’s very difficult. But, thank God, my children help out, and we make a good living.”

Under Israeli law, Bedouins like Abu Arar may take as many wives as they like without being considered a polygamist.

In a quirk of law, only 53 of the children are Israeli citizens – the other 14 are considered Palestinians because their mothers came from the West Bank.

Some Israeli nationalists fret that higher birthrates may one day make Arabs, who represent about 20% of the Israeli population, a majority in the Jewish state.

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