Sarkozy denounces vicious beating of Jewish teenager (& BBC promotes anti-Semitism)

June 24, 2008

* See the last item for some interesting music



1. Sarkozy denounces vicious beating of Jewish teenager
2. Tajikistan’s last synagogue demolished for another presidential palace
3. In The Independent: “Israel is an insult to Jews”
4. More anti-Semitism at the BBC
5. “London 7/7 bombers were ‘innocent patsies’ of the Israeli secret service”
6. “I know sixteen ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back”
7. “On BBC’s “Start the Week”: 9/11 was directly related to the formation of Israel”
8. The attacks on Avram Grant continue
9. Poll: 77% of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than any other country
10. Tourism to Israel breaks all-time record in May
11. Updates
12. Something different: a little light music

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has denounced the brutal beating of a French Jewish teenager on Saturday in Paris. The victim, 17, who was wearing a yarmulke, was severely beaten by a gang with metal bars in Paris’s multi-ethnic 19th district. Hospital officials said the teenager was in a coma and in critical condition in intensive care. If he survives, doctors said, there was a chance his brain would be permanently damaged.

The attack took place in full public view on a busy street during an annual music celebration.

Sarkozy said he was determined that the French authorities “combat all forms of racism and anti-Semitism.” Sarkozy is presently on a visit to Israel, the first by a French president for 12 years.

France has faced a surge in anti-Semitic crime in the last decade, resulting in the deaths of several Jews. Among the most prominent of those murdered was Ilan Halimi.

Anti-racism watchdogs in Europe say that the number of major anti-Semitic attacks tripled in 2007, a steeper rise than that suffered by any other minority group in Europe.



Tajikistan’s ancient Jewish community lost its only remaining synagogue in downtown Dushanbe, as authorities decided to tear down old buildings in the synagogue’s neighborhood so that yet another presidential palace can be built, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Farangis Najibullah reported yesterday.

The 100-year-old, one-story synagogue, located in the city center, serves the several hundred Jews who remain in the city, both as a place for religious services and as a community center. Many of the Jews are elderly and poor, and the synagogue was a place where they found food and shelter.

The government has offered no compensation to the Jewish community for the destruction of their building. The ritual bath, kosher butcher shop, and religious classrooms have already been bulldozed. Jews have lived in Tajikistan for more than 2,000 years.



As a result of the global dominance of the English language and other factors, the British media has a greater worldwide audience and impact than media elsewhere in Europe.

Together with The Guardian, the paper of choice for many journalists and educators is The Independent. A few weeks ago a new editor was appointed, raising hopes that the paper might shed itself of some of the anti-Israel invective that is its stock-in-trade. The new editor, Roger Alton, was formerly editor of The Observer, and during the latter part of his tenure there he moved the paper away from the more extreme anti-American and anti-Israel positions of The Observer’s sister paper, The Guardian.

It seems that if things are to change, Alton will have his work cut out. Here, for example, is a line from The Independent’s review of the “Book of the week” this month, written by Mark Steel:

“By creating a notion that someone can only be properly Jewish if they align themselves to a nation that acts with such contempt for humanity, and that depends for its existence on the American establishment responsible for the bombing of Vietnam, Fallujah, and a variety of similar adventures, Israel is also an insult to Jews.”

There are many rabid Israel-haters at The Independent, the most well known of whom is the paper’s longtime chief Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk. But Steel may be competing for second position against The Independent’s award-winning columnist, Johann Hari, who likes using the word “shit”: see Journalist of the year calls Israel “shit,” as Israel marks Holocaust Memorial Day (May 1, 2008).



The BBC is increasingly shifting away from hiding behind the lies it tells about Israel into outright anti-Semitism. The following are three examples from recent days.


On the dispatch of May 1, in an item headed “London University rejects Holocaust denier,” I wrote that University College, London had withdrawn the fellowship of Dr. Nicholas Kollerstrom, 61, after he published an article titled “The Auschwitz ‘Gas Chamber’ Illusion,” on the website of the revisionist “Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust.”

Dr. Kollerstrom wrote: “The only intentional mass extermination program in the concentration camps of WW2 was targeted at Germans.”

He continued: “Let us hope the schoolchildren visitors are properly taught about the elegant swimming-pool at Auschwitz, built by the inmates, who would sunbathe there on Saturday and Sunday afternoons while watching the water-polo matches; and shown the paintings from its art class, which still exist; and told about the camp library which had some 45,000 volumes for inmates to choose from, plus a range of periodicals; and the six camp orchestras at Auschwitz/Birkenau, its theatrical performances, including a children’s opera, the weekly camp cinema, and even the special brothel established there.”

One might have thought that this would be the last we would hear of Dr. Kollerstrom in Britain, which once had a reputation for moderation. But step forward the BBC, who are about to make a program in which Dr. Kollerstrom will be allowed to air his views. The BBC also confirmed they will use tax payers’ money to pay his expenses connected to the making of the program.

A BBC spokesman said his views about the Holocaust would be “balanced” by those of other historians. The BBC will broadcast the program later this year.

Kollerstrom has also said that the four Islamic suicide bombers who murdered 52 passengers in a series of bombings on London’s transport network in July 2005 were “innocent patsies” of the American and Israeli secret services. He even told The Daily Telegraph that he had contacted the family of one victim of the No. 30 bus bomb and questioned whether their daughter was actually still living at home.



BBC Radio Four’s program, Political Animal, supposedly a comedy, had the following lines in last week’s broadcast:

“I’m quite interested in the Middle East, I’m actually studying that Israeli Army martial arts. And I know sixteen ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back. It’s a difficult situation to understand. I’ve got an analogy which explains the whole thing quite well: If you imagine that Palestine is a cake. Well, that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.”

These weren’t some impromptu lines on a live show, but a pre-recorded scripted program on the most prestigious of the BBC’s domestic radio networks. Britain has many minority and ethnic groups. It is doubtful that the BBC would dare run a similar script about any other one.



A reader writes yesterday morning:

“On Andrew Marr’s popular “Start the Week” program on BBC Radio 4 at 9 am today (Monday) one of the guests was Eva Figes who spewed her malignant hatred of Israel. I turned it off at the point where she was saying that Israel was as bad as the Nazis and would have had gas chambers if it could.

“Before that Figes, a self-loathing Jew, asserted that 9/11 was a direct result of the formation of Israel in 1948. The real question is why the BBC keep on asking people like this to appear on its most prominent programs. It can hardly be an accident they choose them.

“Of course, she (and the BBC presenter) used her own Jewish background to suggest there was some extra credibility to her outrageous claims.”

TG adds: The BBC had invited Figes on because she has a written a book, also said to be littered with inaccuracies and hateful comments about Israel. The book is published this month by Granta Books, which also publishes Granta magazine, which was until recently edited by Ian Jack, who in his new job now writes hateful pieces about Israel for The Guardian.



I have written before about the vicious British press campaign against Israeli-born soccer manger Avram Grant, who was sacked as coach of Chelsea Football club last month, despite having arguably the second most impressive managerial record in Europe this year.

Both Grant’s wife and father have said that the club’s owner bowed to “an anti-Semitic atmosphere among fans and some sections of the British media” in dismissing Grant despite his outstanding record.

Now, in an ultimate outrage, an email has been circulating among Chelsea fans about Grant’s dismissal with the subject line “Final Solution”. Grant’s father is a Holocaust survivor and many of Grant’s family were murdered in the Holocaust.

The Ukrainian champions, Shakhtar Donetsk, are among the other soccer clubs that have offered the sacked Grant a new job.



An opinion poll conducted by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government has found that 77 percent of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world. The Kennedy School said in a statement that they were surprised by the results.



Ha’aretz reports that nearly 300,000 tourists visited Israel in May, 5% more than in May 2000, Israel’s record year for tourism, and a 40% increase over last year. The largest number of visitors came from the U.S., France, Russia and Britain.

Tourism to the West Bank is also up so far this year after Israeli security forces’ crackdown on militant activity has ensured a greater degree of calm there than in recent years.



* In April, it was revealed exclusively on this list that “Bahrain is set to appoint Jewish woman as its ambassador to the U.S.” Some weeks later, the Bahrainis confirmed the appointment, and many other media have now written about this surprising choice, the first of its kind.

* Last week on this list there was a dispatch titled “Top Nazi war criminal spotted mingling with Croatian soccer fans in Austria.” In it I encouraged other journalists to report this story, and the Associated Press and other media have now done so.

* One correction to that dispatch: the number of civilians murdered at Croatia’s Jasenovac death camp was about 100,000 (mainly Jews and Serbs), and not the higher number stated. The previous estimate of Serb civilian dead, which the Communists gave, is thought to be too high, Holocaust experts who subscribe to this list in Israel and France tell me. They also add that it is particularly disgraceful that Austria is shielding Asner because Austria holds the chair of the European Holocaust Task Force this year.



Because these dispatches often contain depressing news, here is a little music to lighten your mood.

* Andre Rieu’s rendition of Hava Nagila on YouTube has now been viewed over one million times.
* And here is a more modern version of Hava Nagila for younger people on this list.
* And here is an Indian version from a Bollywood film.
* And finally, Hava Nagila on ice!

-- Tom Gross

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