Palestinian oligarch to the rescue? (& Launching rockets from U.N. schools)

November 19, 2007

* al-Dura case update
* Saudi Cleric on TV explains wife-beating in Islam to young Muslims: “He must beat her where it will not leave marks”
* Auschwitz survivor teaches a young Palestinian boy how to dance ballet at an Israeli kibbutz
* Bush to host Nobel Prize winner Gore at the White House

 

CONTENTS

ON THE MIDEAST

1. Muhammad al-Dura court case continues
2. U.N. Sec.-Gen. orders probe of rocket launching from U.N.-run school in Gaza
3. Palestinian oligarch to the rescue?
4. Saudi cleric explains wife-beating in Islam to young Muslims
5. Iran police unveil “vice list”
6. Ballet a leap of faith for a Palestinian Billy Elliot

ON U.S. (& U.K.) POLITICS

7. Inconvenient Truth: Gore won a Nobel, and Bush will host the winners
8. Lou Dobbs for President? Don’t laugh
9. The New Republic: Hillary’s strategy for “crushing the media”
10. “Yes, the vegetables will have beef too”


[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are some of the recent items I have written for the National Review’s Media Blog. For space reasons, I have split the dispatch into two.

These are the items relating to the Middle East, and to U.S. and U.K. politics. By separate dispatch, I am sending items connected to media and society in general.

I would like to draw your attention to the Sderot video linked to at the end of the second item below. I think it is worth watching as you are unlikely to fully understand the situation there from regular news reports.

 


ITEMS ON THE MIDEAST:

MUHAMMAD AL-DURA COURT CASE CONTINUES

To see an update to the previous dispatches and pieces on this list concerning the Muhammad al-Dura controversy, you can listen to my comments here and read them here.

 

Friday, November 9, 2007

UN SEC.-GEN. ORDERS PROBE OF ROCKET LAUNCHING FROM UN-RUN SCHOOL IN GAZA

Palestinian terrorists launched rockets aiming to kill Israeli civilians over the border, from a school in Gaza run by the U.N. And yet you have to scroll down this page (relevant part copied below) to find an admission:

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

* In response to questions at briefings over the past two days about reports that Palestinian militants last week launched rockets at Israel from a school run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the UNRWA Commissioner-General spoke about this yesterday, and the Secretary-General has asked that UNRWA fully investigate this incident.

* According to their inquiry, the school had been evacuated at the time of the incident to ensure the safety of the staff and children during an Israeli military incursion. While the school was empty, militants entered the compound and fired rockets at Israel.

* The Secretary-General condemns this abuse of UN facilities, which is a serious violation of the UN’s privileges and immunities.

* He calls on all involved in this conflict to avoid actions that endanger the lives of civilians, especially children, and that put at risk UNRWA’s ability to carry out its humanitarian mission.

Tom Gross adds:

Reuters picked up the news here although many newspapers haven’t bothered to run the Reuters story.

And despite attacks from its facilities, this UN agency responsible today requested more funds.

If you want to see what happens when those Palestinian rockets hit Israel you should spend 7 minutes of your time to watch this video from the Israeli working class town of Sderot. It will remind you that each time an American or European journalist dismiss the “harmless home made Kassam rockets from Gaza” they are misleading the public.

 

Sunday, November 18, 2007

PALESTINIAN OLIGARCH TO THE RESCUE?

The Associated Press reports that billionaire Palestinian businessman Munib al-Masri, 73, has launched a new political movement called the “Palestine Forum”. The Forum, which held meetings in Ramallah and Gaza on Thursday linked by video conference, reflects the growing disillusionment with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.

Hundreds of Palestinian business people and professionals, fed up with the endemic corruption and wastefulness in Fatah, have pledged support for the new movement.

Supporters said that the U.S.-educated al-Masri would convert the new group into a political party and may field candidates in the next Palestinian election.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Ahmad Subuh has announced that EU donations to the PA this year have now surpassed $1 billion, and total $1,080 million thus far. Last year the EU gave $980 million and in 2005, $880 million. (Details here.)

At the same time, unreported by virtually the entire world media, Palestinian Kassam rockets continue to be fired daily from Gaza at homes in Israel. Yesterday, for example, three rockets disrupted the tranquil Jewish Sabbath atmosphere in the working class town of Sderot, setting five cars on fire and resulting in one woman being treated by paramedics.

 

Thursday, November 8, 2007

SAUDI CLERIC EXPLAINS WIFE-BEATING IN ISLAM TO YOUNG MUSLIMS

Extracts from a special Ramadan TV show, as translated yesterday by MEMRI:

Sheikh Muhammad Al-’Arifi: “If neither [admonishing nor refusing to share your bed] works with her, what is the third option?”

Guest: “Beat them.”

Al-’Arifi: “That’s right. How is this beating performed? What do you think?”

Guest: “Light beatings.”

Al-’Arifi: “Light beatings in what way?”

Guest:” For example, I wouldn’t beat her in the face...”

Al-’Arifi: “…If you beat her with a toothpick, or if you beat her lightly with your hand, and so on, it is meant to convey: ‘Woman, it has gone too far. I can’t bear it anymore.’ If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly. He must beat her where it will not leave marks...”

You can view this clip here, and others views on wife beating in the Middle East here.

 

Monday, November 12, 2007

IRAN POLICE UNVEIL “VICE LIST”

The latest from AFP’s Tehran bureau:

Iranian police have unveiled a list of “vices” – including makeup, un-Islamic dress and decadent movies – being targeted in an ongoing moral crackdown, a conservative newspaper reported today.

The list was published in the Jomhuri Eslami newspaper as part of a police drive launched in April which has seen the arrest of “thugs”, raids on underground parties, seizures of satellite dishes, and street checks of improperly dressed individuals.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week urged police to keep up its crackdown on social vices, saying they must “fulfill their duties regardless of some opposition and propaganda.”

… Thousands of women have been warned for wearing tight, short coats and skimpy head scarves and for flouting the Islamic dress code, which requires every post-pubescent woman to cover their hair and body contours.

 

Monday, November 19, 2007

BALLET A LEAP OF FAITH FOR A PALESTINIAN BILLY ELLIOT

An unusual story from today’s Globe and Mail in Canada. An 81-year-old Auschwitz survivor teaches a young Palestinian boy how to dance ballet at an Israeli kibbutz:

KIBBUTZ GAATON, ISRAEL — The story could have been drawn straight from the Billy Elliot movie script: A young boy who was first transfixed by ballet on television, and would dance secretly in his room at night, practicing what he learned from films and Internet videos.

But Ayman Saffah is a young Palestinian-Israeli – as he prefers to be known – from a small village in the Galilee, and young men in traditional Arab Muslim villages don’t dance ballet, at least not publicly. And so Mr. Saffah’s path to a remote ballet school at Kibbutz Gaaton, the preparatory school for Israel’s prestigious Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, has been riddled with stops and starts.

“I always wanted to dance,” says the young-looking 17-year-old, wearing jeans and sneakers, a pair of sunglasses dangling at his neck. “[But] when I saw it on the TV or Internet, I saw many, many girls dance, but I never saw boys. So I thought I couldn’t do it.”

… At 14, he mustered the courage to ask his mother for money to buy his first pair of simple black ballet shoes.

… “As far as this thing does no harm to him or to others he can do what he likes,” says his father, Khaled Hashem Saffah. “He loves what he’s doing, I cannot stop him from doing it.”

The younger Mr. Saffah’s friends were not so forgiving. Tortured by classmates who said ballet was for girls and sissies, he lasted just four months in the class.

… He was recruited by the kibbutz school a short time later and here, after a year of study, he has found acceptance.

… “With hard work, he can succeed,” says Yehudit Arnon, the 81-year-old founder of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and its preparatory school, who has taken him on as her protégé and is bemused by growing references to Mr. Saffah as an Arab Billy Elliot.

Ms. Arnon, who swore she would devote her life to dance after nearly perishing at Auschwitz for refusing to dance for Nazi officers at a Christmas party, founded her company in 1970 after years of developing dance in Israel.

… Ayman Saffah dreams of performing on stages across Israel and around the world. But more than that, he dreams of returning to his village a success.

“I would like to be famous. I would like to be the first Palestinian Arab ballet dancer,” he says…

 


ITEMS ON U.S. (& U.K.) POLITICS:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

INCONVENIENT TRUTH: GORE WON A NOBEL, AND BUSH WILL HOST THE WINNERS

Former vice president Al Gore plans to return to the White House after Thanksgiving, apparently for the first time since leaving office, to be honored by the man who beat him seven years ago, reports today’s Washington Post.

President Bush regularly invites Nobel laureates for a handshake and photograph and decided this year would be no different.

Bush will host the five American winners of this year’s Nobel Prizes in the Oval Office on Nov. 26, including the winner of the Peace Prize, who fell 538 votes short of hosting the event himself. No word on whether the Supreme Court will be on hand to mediate in case of trouble.

 

Thursday, November 15, 2007

LOU DOBBS FOR PRESIDENT? DON’T LAUGH

CNN host Lou Dobbs posted a commentary on his website last week predicting a surprise new presidential candidate in 2008. The mystery candidate is an “independent populist ... who understands the genius of this country lies in the hearts and minds of its people and not in the prerogatives and power of its elites.”

Friends say Dobbs is seriously contemplating a race for the first time, although it’s still unlikely, reports The Wall Street Journal.

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

THE NEW REPUBLIC: HILLARY’S STRATEGY FOR “CRUSHING THE MEDIA”

Michael Crowley, a senior editor at The New Republic, reports the following:

The Clinton machine, say reporters and pro-Hillary Democrats, is emulating nothing less than the model of the Bush White House, which has treated the press with thinly veiled contempt and minimal cooperation. “The Bush administration changed the rules,” as one scribe puts it – and the Clintonites like the way they look.

 

Saturday, November 10, 2007

“YES, THE VEGETABLES WILL HAVE BEEF TOO.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan explains why she believes “Mrs. Clinton will be no Iron Lady,” has an amusing account of the former, outstanding British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher:

The story as I was told it is that in the early years of her prime ministership, Margaret Thatcher held a meeting with her aides and staff, all of whom were dominated by her, even awed. When it was over she invited her cabinet chiefs to join her at dinner in a nearby restaurant. They went, arrayed themselves around the table, jockeyed for her attention. A young waiter came and asked if they’d like to hear the specials. Mrs. Thatcher said, “I will have beef.”

Yes, said the waiter. “And the vegetables?”

“They will have beef too.”

Too good to check, as they say. It is certainly apocryphal, but I don’t want it to be. It captured her singular leadership style, which might be characterized as “unafraid.”

She was a leader.

(Peggy Noonan is a subscriber to this email list.)


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