Italy admits it shielded Palestinian terrorists; & al-Jazeera apologizes to Israel

August 26, 2008

* Saudi Olympic team: no women allowed. Where are the western human rights groups?
* Al-Jazeera TV apologizes to Israel for celebrating Samir Kuntar’s release
* Gilad Shalit becomes sick punchline for jokes by Palestinians



1. Italy’s ex-president admits Italy made deal with Palestinian terrorists
2. Bologna train bombing in 1980 that killed 85 was a “PLO work accident”
3. Saudi Arabia’s Olympic team: no women allowed
4. One lane empty as Israeli swims at Beijing Olympics
5. Gilad Shalit becomes punchline for jokes in the Gaza Strip
6. Shin Bet and others upset over prisoner release; Mofaz: “a big mistake”
7. Four Jordanians who killed Israelis released from Jordanian jail
8. Palestinian ceasefire breaches become routine
9. Paul McCartney to finally play in Israel
10. Al-Jazeera apologizes for celebrating murderer of Israeli children
11. Militants burn down Gaza beach resort
12. Europe “ignoring French role in genocide”


[All notes below by Tom Gross]


In an astonishing admission, Italy’s former president has revealed that Italy provided Palestinian terror groups with a safe haven and hideouts on Italian soil in a secret pact in which the terrorists pledged not to target Italian interests.

In a letter published on Aug. 15 in the leading Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga confirmed claims of such a deal. The deal was revealed a few days earlier in an interview in Corriere della Sera with Bassam Abu Sharif, the former head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). (It has long been rumored that British and French governments also made similar deals in the 1970s with the PLO.)

Cossiga described it as “secret non-belligerence pact between the Italian state and Palestinian resistance organizations, including terrorist groups” including the PLO and the PFLP. The deal, he said, had been devised by Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, who in 1978 was kidnapped and assassinated by the Italian terror group the Red Brigades. At the time of the agreement, Cossiga was serving as Italy’s interior minister.


Cossiga wrote last week: “The terms of the agreement were that the Palestinian organizations could even maintain armed bases of operation in the country, and they had freedom of entry and exit without being subject to normal police controls, because they were ‘handled’ by the secret services.”

In spite of this, there were several major Palestinian terror attacks in Italy or on Italian targets in the 1980s. These included attacks on the El Al ticket counter at Rome’s airport, an attack on Rome’s main synagogue, and the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship. Israelis, Americans, Italians and others were killed in those attacks.

Cossiga also accused the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (a part of the PLO) of being behind the terrorist attack at the Bologna train station in 1980 that killed 85 people. He said he believes it was a “work accident” by Palestinians transporting explosives into Italy. At the time Italian neo-fascists were accused of being behind the attack, and two leaders of a neo-fascist group were sentenced to life for their role in it. The two convicted men are now expected to attempt to have their sentences overturned.



“The practice of sport is a human right... Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit.” So says the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Principle 4 of the “Fundamental Principles of the Olympics.”

Furthermore Principle 5 makes explicit that discrimination based on gender “is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

And yet Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world to officially refuse permission to any women to compete in its teams in this month’s Beijing Olympics.

As usual, the feminist organizations and “human rights” groups in Europe and North America who so regularly bash Israel have been silent about this.

Other Arab states have behaved in a manner befitting of the Olympics. Algeria, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates had women on their teams. And Bahrain and the UAE even allowed women to carry their national flags.

Is anyone calling for the IOC to ban Saudi Arabia from the 2012 London Olympics unless it puts women on its team?



Lane 7 was empty for the 100-meter breast-stroke heat at the Beijing Olympics in which Israeli swimmer Tom Be’eri was swimming in lane 1. Lane 7 was assigned to Iranian swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei – but he had pulled out at the last minute on the orders of Iranian National Olympic Committee secretary Ali Kafashian. Be’eri finished fourth, setting a personal best and an Israeli record.

The Iranian decision was contrary to the Olympic spirit and to the IOC rules. Is anyone calling for the IOC to ban Iran from the 2012 London Olympics unless it agrees to compete with all athletes, regardless of their nationality?


Israel won one bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics, for windsurfing.

The small Palestinian contingent to Beijing came away with no medals, but expressed satisfaction at having the opportunity to compete under their own flag. Other stateless peoples, such as the Kurds or Basques, were refused this opportunity.



Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped in Israel in the middle of the night in June 2006 at age 19, and has been held hostage in a dungeon in Gaza ever since, has become the butt of cruel jokes among Palestinians in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Video clips and e-mails have been making the rounds in “impoverished” Gaza. One clip has a recording of a mock phone call from Shalit’s mother to her son, which thousands of Gazans have downloaded onto their cellphones. Another image circulating online depicts Shalit dressed as a Hamas fighter and mocks him for supposedly marrying a member of the clan implicated in his abduction.

In violation of all humanitarian norms Hamas has refused visits to the young Shalit by anyone, even by the Red Cross. Despite this, Jimmy Carter and others (including some prominent “human rights” activists and academics in western Europe) continue to express sympathy and support for Hamas.



Israel released 198 Palestinian prisoners yesterday as “a goodwill gesture” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Many in Israel are particularly upset that the group included two terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis, thus further weakening an Israeli redline regarding the criteria for releasing prisoners. A court challenge to the release by Israeli “victims of terror” groups failed.

A gala welcome for the released prisoners was held in Ramallah at the Muqata – the Palestinian government complex – in the presence of Abbas and other government leaders, and paid for with international aid money, including money from American and European taxpayers.

Israel’s security services are also outraged. “We work day and night to stop terrorism and apprehend terrorists,” one source told me, “and yet the government keeps releasing them.”

“In addition to endangering Israeli civilians, this hurts the motivation of our brave men and women in the Shin Bet,” he added.

Reserve Brig.-Gen. Shalom Harari, a senior research scholar with the Institute for Counter-Terrorism, said that according to past studies, around 20 percent of security prisoners engage in terrorism after being released.

There is also anger and disappointment in Israel that Israel keeps on releasing convicted Palestinians while the Palestinians continue to hold the innocent Gilad Shalit.



Israeli Transport minister (and ex-Defense minister) Shaul Mofaz, who is competing to replace Ehud Olmert as Israeli Prime Minister in next month’s elections for the leadership of the ruling Kadima party, called yesterday’s prisoner release “a bad mistake,” and criticized his opponent for the Kadima leadership Tzipi Livni for pushing for it.

The ostensible aim behind the release ordered by Olmert, Livni, and Labor leader Ehud Barak, was to strengthen “moderate” Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. Yet The Jerusalem Post’s Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh (a subscriber to this email list and an expert on Palestinian society), said that there is virtually no one in the Palestinian Authority who believes that Israel will be strengthening pro-peace forces in Palestinian society by releasing Fatah terrorists from jail. Those terrorists will merely strengthen the more radical elements in Palestinian society that are generally allied with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he said.

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu also slammed the prisoner release as a victory for terrorists.



Four Jordanian nationals who killed two Israelis 18 years ago have been released from a Jordanian prison 13 months after being transferred to serve their sentences in Jordan as part of a deal between Israel and Jordan.

There is much anger in Israel at their early release by Jordan.



Another two Qassam rockets landed inside Israel yesterday, fired from Gaza and aimed at killing Israeli civilians. There were no injuries. Over 20 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect on June 19.

These rockets have gone virtually unreported in the international media.



Finally, 43 years after the cancellation of the Beatles’ Israel performance, former Beatle Paul McCartney will play a concert in Tel Aviv on September 25.

In 1965, a planned Beatles concert in Israel was cancelled when some members of Israel’s parliament complained that allowing the concert might “corrupt” the nation’s youth. Subsequently, the Beatles never included Israel in any concert tour.

Ringo Starr broke the ice when he attended Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations earlier this year, and efforts to convince McCartney to play a mass concert began. More than 100,000 are expected to attend. McCartney is to be paid one of highest ever sums to an artist performing in Israel. Israel has also now apologized to McCartney, Starr and the relatives of John Lennon and George Harrison for the 1965 snub.


The next three items were written by myself and published on the National Review Online on August 6 and 7. I sent them to some people then, but include them again below for my full email list.



[By Tom Gross, published NRO, August 7, 2008]

(This is a follow-up to this dispatch.)

The al-Jazeera television network yesterday admitted that its coverage of Israel’s release of convicted Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar last month violated the station’s own “code of ethics.” The admission came in response to a threat by Israel’s Government Press Office to boycott the satellite channel unless it apologized.

Israel had said that it would no longer assist al-Jazeera after it hosted a televised party, complete with soft drinks and cake, for convicted child killer Samir Kuntar, freed by Israel last month in a controversial prisoner swap with Hizbullah.

Danny Seaman, the director of Israel’s Government Press Office, tells me that yesterday he received an official letter from al-Jazeera’s general director, Khanfar Wadah. Wadah wrote that “elements of the program” broadcast in Kuntar’s honor on the night of Saturday, July 19, “violated [the station’s] Code of Ethics,” and he “regards these violations as very serious.”

Wadah also said he had ordered the channel’s programming director to take steps to ensure that such an incident does not occur again.

Israeli officials have long accused the influential pan-Arab al-Jazeera network of biased reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a charge it has denied. Other networks whose coverage over the years have been even more inflammatory to Israel than al-Jazeera’s, such as the BBC, have yet to apologize.



[By Tom Gross, published NRO, August 6, 2008]

It is almost exactly three years since Israel left Gaza and life has become worse and worse for the Palestinian inhabitants now they are ruled by Hamas thugs.

The latest incident from this morning, reports Ha’aretz, is as follows:

“Unknown militants stormed a Gaza Strip beach resort early Wednesday and burned it down after handcuffing three security guards, witnesses and security sources said.

“The militants seized three computers from the Ebad al-Rahman resort and fled, the sources added.

“In recent years, shadowy groups have firebombed internet cafes, music stores and Christian institutions.”

I guess the new rulers of Gaza frown upon sunbathing when women should be all covered up and men should be studying Koran.



[By Tom Gross, published NRO, August 7, 2008]

European leaders are ignoring French involvement in the Rwandan genocide 14 years ago, reports today’s (London) Daily Telegraph:

“A damning report has accused France of knowing that a genocide was being planned as early as 1990. It also claims that French soldiers took part in rape, sexual harassment and torture during the period in 1994 when 800,000 people were killed in ethnic violence.

“In 100 days in 1994, hundreds of thousands of Rwanda’s minority Tutsi community were murdered by Hutus. The Interahamwe militiamen, who were responsible for much of the slaughter, were trained in five military barracks where the French army were present, said Rwandan Foreign Minister Rosemary Museminali yesterday. She said that the people responsible for the murders, including French nationals, still need to be brought to justice.

“The Rwandan government has accused 33 French military and political leaders of complicity, including Francois Mitterrand, the late former president, and Dominique de Villepin, the former prime minister.”

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