Colombia hostage rescue: Israeli help revealed (& King of Jordan ridicules Israel boycott)

July 07, 2008

* King Abdullah of Jordan on those who would boycott Israel: “Does that mean we should throw our computers away?”

* Sderot resident: “Why should I have another baby, so he’ll sing about air raids in kindergarten?”

* Dubai to build a skyscraper that spins



1. King of Jordan ridicules boycott of Israel
2. Dramatic Colombia hostage rescue: the Israeli assistance
3. Mother of Kuntar victim pleads with Peres not to let him free
4. Sderot’s first playground with bomb shelters to open soon
5. More proof of Sderot’s exodus: Fewer births and fewer kids in school
6. German prof.: Israeli athletes willfully sacrificed themselves in Munich massacre
7. Berlin forum calls for Israel’s destruction
8. In spite of German talk, trade with Iran is growing
9. Intel inaugurates massive new Israeli chip-making plant
10. Dubai will build “spinning skyscraper”

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


King Abdullah of Jordan, interviewed in The Jordan Times on July 2, 2008:

“... In fact, I cannot think of a major company that does not do business with Israel. If all these companies are off limits then we are in deep trouble.

“For example, Intel whose chips power 80 percent of computers around the world has billions of dollars of investments in Israel; its closest competitor AMD also has large investments in Israel.

“Does that mean we should throw our computers away? This is nonsense. If we follow this line of thought, then we will be doing the best service to Israel. All it has to do is use the best technology and best talent in the world and automatically it would be off limits to us.”


The item above is a follow-up to several previous dispatches on this website concerning attempts by academics in the U.K., Presbyterian church members in the U.S., and others elsewhere, to enforce a boycott of Israel.

For King Abdullah’s full interview, see here.



The Israeli assistance in last Wednesday’s dramatic rescue of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages, including three Americans, has now been made public.

While the daring and elaborately-planned mission was Colombian-lead, Israelis made substantial contributions behind the scenes.

Eighteen months ago the Colombian government asked Israel for help in its struggle against the FARC Marxist rebels, who had become specialists in kidnapping both civilians and military figures.

At the suggestion of the Israeli Defense Ministry, Global CST, a private firm run by the former operations chief of the Israeli army general staff, Brigadier General Israel Ziv, and Brigadier Yossi Kuperwasser, was awarded a $10 million contract to work with the Colombian government.

Ziv and Kuperwasser, together with over a dozen Israeli security experts, all former employees of the Mossad, the Shin Bet or the IDF, provided important logistical help. In addition, Israel has in recent years sold Colombia planes, drones, weapons and intelligence systems.

On their return to Israel from Colombia after Betancourt’s release last week, Ziv and Kuperwasser made clear that Israelis, complying with a request from the Israeli Defense Ministry, did not take part in the actual rescue. But it is believed that they trained the Colombian special forces involved.


Betancourt had been held captive in the jungle for six years. She is now in France. Speaking at the Elysée Palace in Paris together with members of Betancourt’s family, French president Nicolas Sarkozy praised the Colombian rescue operation and also vowed that Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and held hostage in Gaza, would not be forgotten.

“In closing, I would like to address these words to Gilad Shalit and his parents: We have not forgotten. France will always come forward to help whenever a person is unjustly detained,” Sarkozy said. Both Betancourt and Shalit hold French citizenship.



[* This is a follow-up to item 9, titled “Fury as Olmert set to release child killer to Hizbullah” in last week’s dispatch, which can be read here.]

The mother of a man killed 29 years ago by Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar has written to Israeli President Shimon Peres regarding the imminent prisoner swap with Hizbullah.

82-year-old Nina Keren’s son Danny Haran and 4-year-old granddaughter Einat were two of Kuntar’s four victims. He broke into their home in Nahariya in northern Israel and shot Danny. He smashed Einat’s skull with a rock and a rifle butt after making her watch the execution of her father. He also killed two other Israelis.

Keren’s other granddaughter, Yael, 2, also died during the attack. Only Smadar Haran, Keren’s daughter-in-law, survived.

In her letter to Peres, Keren appealed to Peres to block plans for Kuntar’s release.

“When I close my eyes at night, I see Einati’s black eyes, wide open in fear as she was about to die... For more than 29 years, I have sentenced myself to silence. But today, just before you cut the sentence of this despicable murderer, I can no longer smother my screams.

“Five life sentences were given to this beastly person. In a few days, he will be freed, before even one life sentence has run out. How will I bear the moment when he crosses the borders and turns from a despicable monster to the new hero of Lebanon,” she wrote.



Even though there is supposed to be a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, missiles continue to be fired at southern Israel. No town has suffered more from rocket attacks than little Sderot, which has been rocketed twice as many times as London was in the blitz.

Now finally, the town’s children are to have somewhere which is relatively safe to play. Sderot will open its first bomb shelter-equipped playground next month.

“The playground will have special alarms notifying children who can run quickly to safety in the tunnels and shelters,” said construction manager Boaz Etzion.



Statistics from the Israeli health and interior ministries reveal a 15-percent decline in Sderot’s birth rate in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year. The decline was not felt dramatically after the Qassams started falling in 2001, but only when the firing escalated in May 2007.

Education ministry statistics show a 9-percent decline from last year in registration for schools. Kindergarten attendees are down 25 percent from last year.

Doctors also report several women in Sderot having miscarriages in the immediate aftermath of Qassam rocket attacks.

One resident told the Israeli daily Ha’aretz: “Why should I have another baby, so he’ll sing about air raids in kindergarten?”


Among previous dispatches on Sderot, please see: Code Red in Sderot: Living in the most heavily bombed place in the world (March 2, 2008).



Israel has demanded that action be taken against a German academic who claims that the 11 Israeli athletes massacred by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics knew of the attack in advance and willingly sacrificed themselves.

The hateful comments made by Prof. Arnd Kruger of the Institute for Sport Studies at the University of Gottingen, were picked up by the German newsweekly Der Spiegel.

Der Spiegel quoted Kruger as saying that “the athletes sacrificed themselves in Israel’s service.”

When asked to expand on his remarks by the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, Kruger said that he was a journalist in Munich in 1972 and that he remembered Israelis telling him they think security at the Olympic Village was not tight enough. The possibility that the Israeli team chose not to leave despite being well aware of the risk proved his point, he said.

Unbelievably, Kruger then sought to bolster his claims by saying Israelis have a “different perception of the body” and “the abortion rate in Israel is relatively high.”

Ilan Mor of the Israeli embassy in Berlin told Der Spiegel that these remarks were part of an ongoing attempt to de-humanize Israel in Germany, and called on the university administration to take disciplinary action against Kruger, who is a former dean of the social science department.

Mor said Kruger’s remarks are a symptom of the “rampant anti-Semitism in Germany, often veiled under criticism of Israel.”

The German Sports Sciences Association dubbed Kruger’s remarks “unfortunate,” and said the disciplinary board will convene later this week to discuss the case.

Elke Wittich, a sports journalist for the online magazine “” told The Jerusalem Post that this was not the first time Krüger disseminated his theory about the 1972 Munich massacre. She said that the academic had previously published an article in the Gottingen university magazine blaming the Israeli athletes for their own murders. The free college publication has a circulation of 12,500.

In case readers need reminding, the Israeli athletes were massacred not only because of the PLO’s orders, but because of German police incompetence; and also, German professors played an important part in the electoral base and propaganda machine for Adolf Hitler.

For example, as late as the 1970s, the former Nazi military psychologist Prof. Peter R. Hofstaetter was still arguing that the Jews had declared war on Germany and not the other way round.


Among previous dispatches on the Munich massacre, please see:
* Abu Mazen (now PA President Mahmoud Abbas) and the Munich Olympics massacre.
* BBC set to name woman agent who killed Olympics massacre mastermind.



Also regarding Germany, Jewish groups have called on Germany’s foreign and economic ministries to never again sponsor a conference, as they did last week in Berlin, that served as a mouthpiece for anti-Semitic Iranian propaganda and included calls for the destruction of Israel.

Iran’s former deputy minister of foreign affairs, Dr. Muhammad Javad Ardashir Larijani, told the Third Transatlantic Conference – whose stated purpose was to address “common solutions” in the Middle East – that Israel should be destroyed. (Dr. Larijani’s brother Ali was Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator and is currently the speaker of the Iranian parliament.)

Representatives from Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia also attended the conference and delivered anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic statements.

As The Wall Street Journal Europe writes in an editorial today, “Iranian calls for the destruction of Israel are almost routine these days. But for a former official of the Islamic Republic to call for the destruction of the Jewish state in the city where the Holocaust was planned adds a repugnant twist – especially as the German government sponsored the event that gave the man from Tehran a Western stage.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose ministry served as one of the conference’s sponsors, is said to have been embarrassed by the various anti-Semitic statements made at the conference.

The conference was also co-sponsored by the “Peace Research Institute” in Frankfurt, by the German Protestant Church (EKD), and by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) – a think tank with close ties to the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, said that “anti-Israel statements and the renewed denial of the Holocaust at a conference supported by German tax money, by the FES, the Foreign Ministry, the SPD and EKD, and held in Berlin on the 70th anniversary of the Reich Pogrom Night, call into question the official government expression of solidarity with Israel.” (Kramer is a long-time subscriber to this email list.)



Trade between Germany and Iran is expanding despite Berlin’s declarations that it is curtailing its economic activity with the Islamic regime. In the first four months of this year, German exports to Iran increased by 18 percent from the same period last year.

Over 1,700 German companies operate in Iran, including giants such as Siemens and chemical group BASF.

Germany, Iran’s biggest trade partner in the European Union, is under American and Israeli pressure to reduce its economic ties with Iran, after Tehran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and its threats to wipe Israel off the map.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the German people in a German television interview: “You have a deep moral obligation to yourselves and your history.”


The (London) Daily Telegraph today cites new western intelligence reports that reveal that Iran is proceeding with establishing equipment which is used to produce nuclear weapons.



Intel Corp. has inaugurated a new chip manufacturing plant in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Gat. The $3.5 billion plant, which will be fully operational in September, is one of the biggest Intel plants in the world.

According to Reuters, it is expected to boost Israel’s gross domestic product by 2 percent.

Intel has been operating in Israel for more than 30 years and is the largest foreign company in the Jewish state, with a number of plants and research and development centers.

The new technology to be made in Israel will allow for the production of computer chips for use worldwide that are far more energy efficient. These ultra-low-powered processors will be used for mobile Internet, consumer electronic devices and low-cost personal computers.


For more on the increasing foreign investment in Israel, please see my article “These business visionaries know when to back a winner,” which is item 12 here.



Dubai has begun construction of an 80-story building that moves. Called “The Dynamic Tower,” the building will have 80 apartments, each of which spins independently of the one above or below it. The building is being designed by Italian architect David Fisher.

In a press conference last week, Fisher claimed that the building would never look the same twice: “Not once in a lifetime.” Each apartment will be able to spin a full 360 degrees upon voice command, he said. The moving floors will be powered by 79 giant wind turbines located between each story.

-- Tom Gross

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