Norman Finkelstein “votes against his own motion”; Gandhi forced to resign; Anne Frank abused again

January 28, 2008

* Oxford students told that murdering Israeli civilians is a “moral” act
* Dutch Jewish group slams image of Anne Frank wearing kaffiyeh
* El Pais: al-Qaeda planned subway suicide attacks across Europe



1. Professor Honderich: Murdering Israelis is a “moral” act
2. Norman Finkelstein “votes against his own side”
3. Dutch Jewish group slams image of Anne Frank wearing kaffiyeh
4. Gandhi’s grandson resigns after “anti-Semitic” Washington Post piece
5. It was “shameful that a peace institute would be headed by a bigot”
6. “Moderate” Fatah strikes again
7. Habash dead at 81; responsible for Entebbe and other attacks
8. El Pais: al-Qaeda planned subway suicide attacks across Europe
9. In Arabic: there was a Holocaust
10. So much for separation of mosque and state
11. Egyptian soccer player warned over Gaza slogan
12. Israel’s first tennis grand-slam title; and an Oscar nomination

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


* This is a follow-up to the dispatch of January 21, 2008 titled: Does Oxford think it ok to honor a man who calls Anne Frank a “Holo-porn” star?

Several people have asked me about the outcome of this “debate” at Oxford University’s world famous Oxford Union society.

Oxford students voted by a narrow margin that Israel does have a right to exist. (Of course, a prestigious Israeli institution, such as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, could now hold a debate on whether Oxford has a right to exist. But they appear to have better manners than some of the students and academics at Oxford and have no plans to do so.)

The criticism of the Oxford debate stemmed as much from the Oxford Union’s choice of speakers as to the subject of the debate. As predicted in the previous dispatch, the academics who Oxford chose to speak on behalf of Israel were almost as vicious about the Jewish state as those who argued Israel should be destroyed.

In fact there was little to choose between the two sets of speakers. During the debate, Ted Honderich, professor of philosophy at University College London, who was supposed to be defending Israel, said Palestinian terrorists had a “moral right” to murder Israeli civilians.


And his co-speaker “defending Israel’s right to exist,” Norman Finkelstein, actually voted against himself, according to The Jerusalem Post. Finkelstein was speaking for the motion “This House Believes That The State of Israel has a Right to Exist,” and yet at the end he crossed sides and voted against Israel’s right to exist.

Olga Belogolova, a Jewish student from Boston University studying at Oxford for the semester, said: “I was shocked to hear Honderich actually say that, ‘Palestinians have a moral right to terrorism.’ And I was disappointed to see how many students applauded the speakers, who were at times dishonest during the debate. It was disappointing to see students who agreed with the justification of terrorism.”

Past presidents of the Oxford Union have gone on to become prime ministers of the United Kingdom and of other countries such as Pakistan.

Finkelstein now continues his well-funded tour of leading British universities. The posters advertising his tour show a map depicting a one-state solution for Palestine, with Israel eliminated, and Palestine represented in red with dripping blood.

Since I first wrote about the Oxford debate, several journalists and bloggers who subscribe to this email list have written about it. For example, you can read this account by Jonny Paul, the Jerusalem Post’s London correspondent (and a longtime subscriber to this email list).



As I mentioned in the previous dispatch, Norman Finkelstein this month reprinted on his website an article from the Israeli paper Ha’aretz about worrying signs of failures in Holocaust education among German youth, and added the mock headline: “To reverse declining German interest in Holocaust, Britney Spears to play Anne Frank in new Holo-porn video.”

Now Anne Frank’s memory is being further trampled upon. A Dutch Jewish organization has condemned the distribution of a postcard showing a manipulated image of her wearing a blood-red Palestinian kaffiyeh, calling it “a tasteless falsification of history.” The company that published the postcard had described it as “an idyllic image of peace.”

In a press release, the Hague-based Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) called on cinemas, cafes and other businesses to ban the postcard, which has been distributed for the past two weeks free of charge across the Netherlands by T-shirt and postcard maker Boomerang.

“In Holland, Anne Frank is a distinct symbol of the Holocaust and persecution,” CIDI said. “Linking her to the Palestinian cause is offensive, false and unacceptable.”

In this op-ed I wrote for the Jerusalem Post in 2006, I strongly criticized another group for producing pictures of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler, with Hitler saying “Write this one in your diary, Anne.” The repulsive image is reproduced in the article.



* This is a follow-up to the dispatch of January 20, 2008 titled: A rare apology from The Washington Post (& Mohammed cartoons editor jailed for three years).

Several days after The Washington Post apologized to readers for an article written by Arun Gandhi, grandson of India’s legendary leader “Mahatma” Gandhi, Gandhi has been forced to resign from the peace institute named after his grandfather. This follows a wave of criticism over his article, which was widely denounced as anti-Semitic. The article, titled “Jewish Identity Can’t Depend on Violence,” and in which Gandhi suggested Jews were following in the footsteps of the Nazis, was prominently highlighted on the home page of The Washington Post earlier this month.

The Washington Post has already apologized for the article, which also appeared on the Newsweek website.

Gandhi wrote that Jews “overplay” the Holocaust and that “Israel and the Jews are the biggest players” in a “culture of violence that is eventually going to destroy humanity.”

“My intention was to generate a healthy discussion on the proliferation of violence,” Gandhi said on Friday, a day after the board of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester in New York accepted his resignation. “Instead, unintentionally, my words have resulted in pain, anger, confusion and embarrassment. I deeply regret these consequences,” Gandhi claimed.


University of Rochester president Joel Seligman said resigning had been the right thing for Gandhi to do. But at the same time Seligman said Gandhi would be allowed to discuss the issues he had raised at a symposium with Jewish community leaders and other speakers later this year.

The Anti-Defamation League said it was “shameful that a peace institute would be headed up by a bigot. One would hope that the grandson of such an illustrious human being would be more sensitive to Jewish history.”

Holocaust experts speculated that given the fact there has been an almost total absence of anti-Semitism historically in India, Gandhi had picked up his sentiments among the far left social circles he frequented while living in New York.

As I reported four years ago, when Arun Gandhi visited Israel in 2004, he gave a particularly warm hug to Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and Gandhi then called on tens of thousands of Palestinians in Jordan to march across the Jordan River and enter Israel.



Fatah terrorists murdered a 20-year-old Jew in northern Jerusalem, and wounded four others during an infiltration at a school in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, in simultaneous attacks north and south of Jerusalem on Thursday evening.

Yesterday it emerged that the two terrorists who attacked the high school in Kfar Etzion had both been released from an Israeli jail last week as part of “goodwill” gestures towards the Palestinian Authority forced upon Israel by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In a separate development, nine tons of potassium nitrate-based fertilizer, one of the ingredients used to manufacture explosives, and an ingredient banned for use in Fatah-controlled areas, was discovered during an Israeli counter-terrorism operation in Jericho.



George Habash, the founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and one of the most radical Palestinian terrorists, died in Jordan on Saturday, aged 81. Several western media have spoken of Habash in almost statesmanlike terms and failed to mention that his legacy includes pioneering the hijacking of passenger airplanes in the late 60s and early 70s.

For example, the PFLP bombing of Swissair flight SR330 in 1970 left 47 passengers and crew dead. Habash also helped plot the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv, which was then diverted to Entebbe, Uganda where Israeli commandos dramatically freed most of the hostages.

Among the most infamous attacks he organized was at Tel Aviv airport in 1972 when 27 tourists were gunned down.

After the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, Habash and the PFLP broke with Yasser Arafat, accusing him of “selling out the Palestinian revolution.”

Habash came from an upper-middle-class family and he studied medicine at the American University in Beirut before going on to a career of killing people.

The “moderate” Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has called for three days of national mourning for Habash, and ordered Palestinian flags to fly at half-mast throughout the West Bank.



The Spanish daily El Pais reports that the 14 al-Qaeda terror suspects arrested in Barcelona last week have told security officials that they planned to launch multiple suicide bomb attacks across Europe. They said they plotted to simultaneously target the subway transport systems in Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin, Paris, Lisbon and London. Most of those arrested were from Pakistan.



I reported last year that Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial planned to launch a new website about the Holocaust in Arabic.

That site was launched on Thursday in time for this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day yesterday, and can be viewed here.

A Farsi site was already launched last year. Both sites include the historical narrative of the Holocaust, artifacts, maps, photos, archival documents and an online video testimony resource center translated into Arabic and Farsi.

They also include the stories of Muslims from Turkey and Albania who helped shelter Jews during the war.

As I reported some years ago, when working on journalistic assignment in Albania, the country has the best record of any in Europe for saving Jews during World War II.

Albania is the only country occupied by the Nazis that ended World War II with a larger Jewish population than before the war. Not only did the Albanians protect their own small Jewish population, but they provided refuge for Jews from Yugoslavia and Austria. Albanians provided Jewish families with forged documents and helped them hide within the general Albanian population. (Most Albanian Jews left for Israel within days of the collapse of Communism there in 1990.)

One hopes that the Yad Vashem Arabic site will help counter these kind of cartoons.



Iraqi parliament endorses law on new flag
Official transcripts: Al-Iraqiyah TV, Baghdad, in Arabic 15.00 GMT, 22 Jan 08

The Council of Representatives today endorsed the law on changing the Iraqi flag by removing its three stars and writing the phrase God is Greatest in Kufi script in green color.



Egypt’s Mohamed Aboutrika has been reprimanded by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after displaying a slogan in support of Gaza at the African Nations Cup finals in Ghana. (For those in America or elsewhere who don’t follow soccer, the African Nations Cup is presently being watched by hundreds of millions of television viewers throughout the world.)

Aboutrika lifted his shirt to reveal a T-shirt with an anti-Israeli slogan as he celebrated scoring in the 3-0 win over Sudan in Friday’s Group C match in Kumasi.

The midfielder was booked for breaching regulations against displaying political slogans, and warned not to do it again.



It has been a bad past few days for those who are campaigning to have Israelis banned from international academia, sport and entertainment.

Israeli tennis had its best ever weekend, when the doubles team of Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich became the first Israelis to win a grand slam event at the Australian Open. Their victory came over the French Wimbledon champions. And in the women’s event, another Israeli, Shahar Peer, reached the doubles final with her partner before losing to the Bondarenko sisters of the Ukraine.

Considering the small size of Israel, for three players to be among the ten grand slam finalists is a remarkable accomplishment, which even countries like the U.S. and Britain have failed to do recently.

Meanwhile, an Israeli film, “Beaufort,” has been nominated for best foreign film at next month’s Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles. “Beaufort” is a largely sympathetic account about the life and fear experienced by Israeli soldiers serving in Lebanon before Israel’s withdrawal in 2000. It is the first Israeli film to be one of the five nominated movies since 1984.

[All above notes by Tom Gross]

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