French Fries are back in fashion (& Larry King and Jerry Seinfeld: Two egos clash)

November 07, 2007

* Hamas plans to build $200m. Hollywood-style media city
* World Bank aiding the Iranian regime
* Fearful of Fatah or Hamas rule, East Jerusalem Palestinians scramble to obtain Israeli passports




1. French Fries are back in fashion
2. Eight 9/11 hijackers were registered to vote
3. “The 100 most influential U.S. conservatives and liberals”


4. Larry King and Jerry Seinfeld: Two egos clash
5. London and Islamabad, only 7 hours 45 minutes away (if you fly non-stop, that is)
6. U.K. Times editor “to be appointed WSJ publisher”


7. Hamas plans to build $200m. Hollywood-style media city
8. Palestinians choose Israel
9. Israeli ambassador to UN: Human Rights Council’s activity “abhorrent”
10. World Bank aiding the Iranian regime
11. A hostage situation with a positive outcome

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are some of the items I have written for the National Review’s Media Blog in recent days. For once, in order to start off with something “lighter,” I am placing the non-Middle East items before those specifically concerning the Middle East.



Tuesday, November 6, 2007


French President Nicholas Sarkozy is likely to be feted today when he arrives in a Washington appreciative of his pro-American views.

The Financial Times comments that it will “probably be the warmest American welcome granted a Frenchman since Lafayette landed in 1777 to join forces with George Washington against the British.”

How times have changed, as this front page I found from the (London) Sun newspaper from 2003 shows: scroll down here to see the front page.


Sunday, November 4, 2007


This information has been out there for some time, but only right-of-center journalists such as Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe and John Fund at the Wall Street Journal have mentioned it.

There has been remarkably little reference to it in the so-called mainstream media.

“Now, in the context of the current debate over the granting of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, will there be renewed focus on this chilling reality?” asks Mark Finkelstein of


Friday, November 2, 2007


The (London) Daily Telegraph – Britain’s highest circulation quality daily – today publishes its top 100 lists of people of influence in American political life.

On the most influential conservatives list, the president only makes number 21 slot, but Dick Cheney is in 6th place. Rudy leads the pack.

And on the 100 most influential U.S. liberals, would-be First Gentleman Bill Clinton occupies top spot, followed by Al Gore.

Might not the Daily Telegraph be a little out of date on that one?

Joe Lieberman makes both lists!

And Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican, comes in number 8th on the liberal list.



Monday, November 5, 2007


Jerry Seinfeld pulled the plug on his television sitcom in 1998. His most substantial project since then, the new film Bee Movie, opens this week. But Jerry finds the promotion tough going, as The King of Comedy comes face to face with The King of Talk.


Monday, November 5, 2007


Jane Perlez is a busy lady.

At the top of Page 1 of my International Herald Tribune this morning, I read:

“Pakistan rounds up opposition, By Jane Perlez, Islamabad

And then I turn to Page 3, and at the top the headline reads:

“London mosque plans mired in controversy: Britons fight to save a Christian skyline, By Jane Perlez, London

The Herald Tribune is now wholly owned by The New York Times and is largely based on Times copy. Is the Times so short of foreign correspondents these days?


Monday, November 5, 2007


Rupert Murdoch plans to install Times of London editor Robert Thomson as publisher of The Wall Street Journal early next year, according to The Guardian, which cites an unnamed “senior US media executive” in a story posted on its website this morning.

Thomson has edited The Times, which Murdoch also owns, for five years. Thomson is credited with doing a good job at the paper. The Times recently announced that it is set to move into profit next year for the first time in its modern history.

Before his appointment as Times editor in 2002, Thomson ran the Financial Times office in the U.S. for four years, increasing its circulation from 32,000 to more than 123,000.

The Guardian also reports that The Wall Street Journal Europe is likely to transfer from its Brussels headquarters, founded when the paper was established in 1983, to London in the next three years.

Murdoch has also announced that he plans to add “major coverage of the arts, fashion and culture” in order to take on The New York Times and other mainstream papers.

When asked at a conference in San Francisco recently whether he was aiming to kill The New York Times, Murdoch replied simply: “That would be nice.”



Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Scarcely a day goes by without Hamas’s American and European apologists claiming that there is now no money in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Not only are tens of millions of dollars being taken into Gaza every month, as Ha’aretz revealed yesterday, but now the Associated Press reports today that:

Hamas plans to build $200m. Hollywood-style media city

(AP, Nov. 7, 2007)

It’s a tale worthy of its own movie script: The Gaza Strip’s isolated and cash-strapped Hamas rulers plan to build a $200 million media city and movie production house that will be part tourist attraction and part effort to cement control of the territory it seized by force in June.

… Hamas envisions a glittering facility with production and graphics studios, satellite technology, gardens, water ponds, a children’s entertainment area and an array of cafes and restaurants, said the Felasteen daily, a Hamas paper.

… Hamas launched a satellite channel last year, offering bearded young men reading the news, and Islamic music layered over footage of masked militants firing rockets into Israel. Hamas loyalists also run at least five news Web sites, two newspapers and a radio station.

Some previous Hamas productions have generated unflattering headlines. In one show last year, a high-pitched Mickey Mouse lookalike called Farfour preached Islamic domination to children.

… Talal Okal, a Palestinian political writer close to Hamas, said the announcement was an important first step toward obtaining full control over the media. “Hamas realizes the importance of the media,” Okal said.

Under Hamas, press freedom is limited in Gaza. On Tuesday, Hamas police stormed the house of reporter Hisham Sakallah, an editor of a local news Web site [which does not follow the Hamas line], and confiscated his computer and archives.


Tom Gross adds:

Of course the Palestinian authorities have long had production facilities in Gaza for fooling gullible western journalists. Watch here.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Reports that the division of Jerusalem may be announced later this month at the big Middle East conference being organized by Condoleezza Rice in Annapolis, Maryland, have prompted Palestinian residents of the city to make a move once considered the ultimate treason.

There has been a staggering growth in Israeli citizenship requests in recent weeks as thousands of east Jerusalem Palestinians scramble to obtain Israeli passports, fearful that Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem will be handed over to Palestinian Authority rule, Ynet reports today.

Some 250,000 Palestinians currently reside in Jerusalem. Only 12,000 of them have sought to obtain an Israeli passport since 1967, an average of about 300 new citizens a year.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


About time.

Ynet reports:

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, today slammed the UN Human Rights Council, saying that its “ritualistic and virulent campaign against Israel is abhorrent and intolerable.”

“Countless others suffering around the globe, living under tyrannical rule and oppression and violated by human rights abusers, do not gain this Council’s attention,” he said.

“According to Freedom House, more than half of the Council’s 47 members are considered ‘not-free’ or only ‘partially free’ countries. More importantly and most flagrantly, many of these same countries share a political agenda that precludes the State of Israel, and utterly dismiss our inherent right to live in peace and security in our homeland.”

* Tom Gross adds:

But Gillerman’s speech at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York was cut short, after the building’s emergency alarm sounded. All those present in the Assembly hall were ordered to vacate the premises immediately. The cause of the alarm has yet to be determined, but it is suspected that opponents of Israel deliberately sounded the alarm.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Barely a day goes by without a major publication running a comment piece arguing that non-military measures are (in the words of the Financial Times’s main op-ed yesterday) “the only hope on Iran.” These op-ed writers then invariably go on to blame the Bush administration for not doing much more on this front.

In fact, the Bush administration are virtually the only ones presently exerting serious non-military pressure to try and persuade the Iranian regime to give up its quest for nuclear weapons and thereby avoid the need to later use military means to achieve the same result.

Why, one wonders, don’t these editorial writers criticize countries like Germany and Italy, who are continuing to increase their already substantial business dealings with Iran, or write about the unhelpful role of the World Bank?

World Bank Vows a Big Loan to Iran
$900 Million for Mullahs, as Zoellick Snubs Inquiry
By Eli Lake
The New York Sun
November 5, 2007

WASHINGTON – The World Bank is defying requests from an influential congressman to stall nearly $900 million in loans to Iran.

Earlier this year, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, who before taking that office served in a top Bush administration foreign policy post, declined a privately made request from Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, to suspend the loans. World Bank spokesmen told The New York Sun that the bank will go ahead with the loans.

Mr. Kirk, who serves on the subcommittee that approves America’s share of the World Bank’s funds, is warning that the loans will undermine recent American and Western moves to exert pressure on Iran. American sanctions on Iran’s largest banks and largest branch of its military are designed to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons and to punish Tehran for its support for terrorism and attacks on American soldiers in Iraq.

Mr. Kirk said that senior National Security Council staff told him that they did not think the World Bank loans were helpful to the American strategy of applying economic pressure to Iran to persuade the mullahs to end their enrichment of uranium in Natanz…


Sunday, November 4, 2007


Tom Gross writes (based partially on exclusive information):

A reporter for the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Iraq has today been released after a brutal 10 day kidnapping ordeal in Baghdad which, for security reasons, was kept out of the media.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was personally involved in the process that led to her release, as well as officials from the Iraqi government and armed forces.

Jumana Al-Obaidi, age 29, had been kidnapped by a criminal gang that initially said it was a Shia militia and then switched to call itself the “Sunni fighters for freedom.” Their real identity is not yet known.

Al-Obaidi, a non-practicing Sunni, was severely beaten during her kidnapping sustaining among other injuries two black eyes, and is presently on her way to see a medical team. Her driver was executed by her abductors at the time of her kidnapping.

Radio Free Iraq is part of the Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which despite its name, today focuses on doing very important work broadcasting in Arabic, Persian, Pashto and 25 other languages to the peoples of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere. (The network has also branched out from radio into television and internet.)

Two other RFE/RL correspondents in Baghdad (mother-of-three Khamail Khalaf, and a young man, Nazar Al-Radh) have already been murdered this year.

The remaining seven Baghdad bureau staff have been offered relocation but all have refused saying they are determined not to give in to the terrorists and to continue reporting fully and frankly what is happening in Iraq to other Iraqis. The station has a wide audience in Iraq.

A correspondent on the Uzbek language service of RFE/RL was murdered last week, almost certainly by the Uzbek security services. And last year, a 58-year-old female correspondent for the RFE/RL Turkmen service, Ogulsapar Muradova, was found dead in prison.

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