First permanent foreign military force takes up positions in Israel (& a warm welcome on the Upper West Side)

September 29, 2008

* Defense News: new system hurried to Israel in recent days allows Israel to engage a nuclear- or conventionally-armed Iranian missile about halfway through what would be an 11-minute flight time from Iran.

* Please read the important information below on B’Tselem and keep this in mind next time The New York Times, CNN or BBC use them as a source.

* For light relief, there are links to satirical videos at the end of this dispatch.



1. Gaza baby born in Israel to mother left brain dead by stroke
2. Egyptian slams Egyptian Health Ministry for barring Israeli drug his son needs
3. “U.S. delivers advanced high-powered radar system to Israel”
4. German FM finally blasts Ahmadinejad’s “blatant anti-Semitism”
5. Doubts about British Conservative party leadership
6. Left-wing rights group B’Tselem to establish U.S. office
7. Calling the bat mitzvah terrorist a “civilian”
8. Phony stats in B’Tselem press releases
9. Egypt, where one in six is homeless
10. New survey: American Jews favor Obama over McCain, but not by too much
11. New York’s Upper West Side shows its famous open-mindedness
12. Bill Clinton “endorses” John McCain

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


A Gazan baby has been born in Israel to a mother left brain dead by a stroke. Last Tuesday, a Caesarian section was performed at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon on a woman from Gaza who had spent the last three months of her pregnancy in a vegetative state, brain dead after a stroke. She was transferred to Israel when Gazan doctors said they feared they would be unable to care for her at one of the local Gazan clinics.

The father, whom Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper and Channel 10 news gave only the first name of (Mohammed), said the baby will be named Daniel after one of the Jewish doctors who made his birth possible. Mohammed and his comatose wife Vania (who was born in Bulgaria) have two other sons.

Barzilai Medical Center in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon was one of the buildings targeted by Hamas rockets fired from Gaza earlier this year, even though Palestinians from Gaza are regularly treated there. (* For more, see the item “Palestinian twins born in Ashkelon as Hamas tries to kill them” in the dispatch “Saving Baby Mohammed,” March 16, 2008 )



The father of an Egyptian boy suffering from cystic fibrosis has criticized the Egyptian Ministry of Health in the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper for preventing him from getting the Israeli drug Creon 1000.

“A little boy is suffering every day, and everyone is evading responsibility,” he wrote in a letter to the newspaper published last Saturday. “Israel is the only country in the world that produces a drug called Creon 1000, which serves as a substitute for one of the enzymes missing in those suffering from cystic fibrosis.”

But even though doctors recommended he obtain the medicine for his son, he was turned away by the Health Ministry on the grounds that the drug cannot be imported from Israel. Israel is willing to give the drug to Egypt, but the authorities in Cairo, who are supposed to have made peace with Israel three decades ago (the thirtieth anniversary of the Camp David accords was yesterday), are refusing.

In a rare challenge to the government which owns the paper, Al-Ahram published an article supporting the father’s position. The Muslim Brotherhood has slammed Al-Ahram for siding with the father.

Citizens of Arab Gulf states with no diplomatic relations with Israel regularly order Israeli drugs and ask for treatment from world-renowned experts from Israeli hospitals.



The United States has transferred to Israel a new high-powered radar system that will improve Israel’s reaction time to an Iranian missile strike, the well-informed Defense News magazine reported over the weekend.

According to the report, the U.S. European Command transported the system to Israel in a convoy of more than a dozen planes which carried the X-band radar and support crew. The planes and crew landed at Nevatim Air Force Base in southern Israel on September 21.

The Raytheon Co.-built system can track an object the size of a baseball from 4,700 kilometers away.

If it works, it would allow Israel’s Arrow missile to engage a nuclear- or conventionally-armed Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missile about halfway through what would be an 11-minute flight from Iran, or up to three times sooner than Israel’s “Green Pine” radar can.

The 120-man American military support staff capable of using the system will remain in Israel, marking the first permanent U.S. military presence on Israeli soil.

The U.S. has previously deployed troops and Patriot air defense batteries for joint exercises and Iraq-related wartime contingencies, but has never before permanently deployed troops in Israel.

An IDF request yesterday to permit Israeli soldiers to control the new high-powered radar has been declined by the U.S.


I previously discussed the possibility of the U.S. supplying Israel with the X-band radar in this dispatch last May: Parting gift?: “Bush to offer Israel crucial new radar system” (& Iranian shell kills Israeli)


Tom Gross adds: Of course, there is no guarantee the system would work. The Patriot air defense batteries failed to protect Israel from being hit by scuds in the first Gulf War. And Israel is concerned at least as much by an enriched uranium “briefcase or knapsack” bomb supplied by Iran being detonated by a Hamas or Hizbullah suicide bomber in central Tel Aviv, potentially killing hundreds of thousands, as it is by a nuclear bomb delivered by missile.

Israel also has other existential concerns related to nuclear material in Iranian or militant Arab hands but not related to their being fired by missile, which I won’t divulge here.



In Friday morning’s dispatch (Peres at UN: Ahmadinejad is a “disgrace to Islam” (& still no word on missing American in Iran)) I mentioned how slow non-American politicians had been to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hateful speech at the United Nations General Assembly last Tuesday.

On Friday, Germany Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier finally blasted the Iranian president’s speech as “ intolerable and blatant anti-Semitism” and urged the 192 UN member states to join his condemnation of it. Few have done so.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also said on Friday “we will all have seen and must deplore the egregiously offensive comments of President Ahmadinejad.”



The British government’s position on Israel’s security and the Iranian nuclear threat are not as strong as those of the governments of the U.S., Canada and Australia.

However, I know from speaking to senior politicians of all parties in Britain (many of whom subscribe to this email list) that the positions and sentiments of the current Labour party Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and his Foreign Secretary David Miliband, are considerably better than those of the Conservative opposition leader David Cameron and his shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague, both of whom have distanced themselves from any real sympathy with America and Israel and appear to be dangerously naïve about the threat of nuclear proliferation in countries where Islamist militants are liable to infiltrate the military.

The Conservative party is far ahead in British opinion polls and is likely to soon come to power. As a close ally of the U.S and as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Britain remains an important power.



The Jewish left is further bolstering its position in the U.S. After the introduction of the new J Street lobby, aimed at countering AIPAC, B’Tselem, the left-wing human rights organization based in Israel, has sent two official staffers to Washington and New York for the first time. Jewish left-wing activists are said to be buoyed by what they believe will be an impending Obama presidency’s willingness to put significant pressure on Israel.

The well-funded self-described human rights organization B’Tselem has sent out invitations welcoming journalists and politicians to a Capitol Hill reception.

According to their press release, the B’Tselem staffers “intend to inform the policy makers, American public and the American Jewish community about human rights conditions in the Palestinian territories.”

The B’Tselem board consists of nine far-left Israeli academics, some of who believe in the so-called one state solution which would see Jews live as a minority in a future Palestinian state.


Writing last week on the website of Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s biggest selling daily, Tamar Sternthal pointed out:

“Human rights group B’Tselem’s statistics are far from being trustworthy.

“On Jan. 17, 2002, Abdul Salaam Sadek Hassouneh of Nablus burst into a bat mitzvah celebration at a Hadera reception hall, shooting dead six Jews [including children] and injuring 35 before Israeli security forces ended the bloodbath by killing him.

“But Hassouneh has another, lesser known claim to notoriety. He was the first of several Palestinian terrorists killed while attacking Israelis to appear that year in B’Tselem’s list of ‘Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli security forces.’ He was followed by numerous other so-called Palestinian ‘civilians’ in 2002, including Omar Mahmoud Abu Rub and Yusef Muhammad Abu Rub, killed by border police gunfire after they murdered six Israeli civilians in Beit She’an. Both attacks were claimed by Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.”

B’Tselem’s unreliable statistics are already regularly used by prominent American media such as The New York Times to try and make it look like Israel has killed more Palestinian civilians than it has.

If you search The New York Times’s online archive, you can see the Times has relied on information from B’Tselem in as many as 1,180 articles in recent years.

Now B’Tselem is likely to have even more impact in Washington and New York, even though their information is unreliable.


Here are a few more of the many examples of B’Tselem misleading journalists and the public alike, as related by Sternthal in Yediot Ahronot:

* Take for instance, the case of 11-year-old Muhammad Ali Abu al-Wafa, killed on Dec. 31, 2007 in Khan Younis. B’Tselem lists him as one of those killed by Israeli security forces, although he actually died in Hamas-Fatah clashes, a fact undisputed by Palestinian sources such as the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Ma’an News Agency.

* B’Tselem reports that Muhammad Zaki Jum’ah al-Najar, killed on Nov. 20, 2007 in Khan Younis, “did not participate in hostilities when killed.” Yet, Hamas’ English website boasts that “today, al-Qassam Brigades mourn the death of the mujahim (fighter): Mohammed Zaki al Najjar. The mujahid was martyred during a clash with the Zionist occupation forces.”

* B’Tselem carries an unusually brief listing for Fahmi Abd al-Jawad Hussein a-Darduk, 15, of Nablus, killed on May 19, 2008 “by gunfire.” B’Tselem does not specify that he was “killed while participating in hostilities” even though he was carrying explosives and ignored soldiers orders to stop and raise his hands at a checkpoint when he was killed.

* From B’Tselem’s literature, one would have no idea that Bilal Hamuda Muhammad Saleh, supposedly “killed while sleeping in a car” on April 17, 2008 was the head of Islamic Jihad in Qabatiya, or that Muhammad Shhadeh Abed Shhadeh (a-Ta’amari), killed on March 12, 2008 in the Tulkarm district, headed Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem.


David Kretzmer, Professor of Law, Hebrew University
Anat Biletzki, Professor of Philosophy, Tel-Aviv University
Orna Ben-Naftaly, Head of the Law School, College of Management Academic Studies.
Tamar Hermann, Dean of Academic Studies, the Open University of Israel
Menachem Klein, Lecturer in Political Science, Bar Ilan University
Alla Shainskaya, Senior Staff Scientist, Weizmann Institute of Science
Oren Yiftachel, professor of political geography and urban planning, Ben-Gurion Univ.
Menachem Fisch, Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, Tel Aviv University and Senior Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute
Rayef Zreik. Co-founder of Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel; lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University



We will probably never know how many people were killed in the rockslide earlier this month in a slum neighborhood on the outskirts of Cairo because the Egyptian government refuses to make statistics available, and the international media and phony western “human rights” groups don’t seem very interested in investigating. Locals say the death toll probably reached 500.

Although the media, UN and NGOs relentlessly focus on what they regularly call the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, in fact life in Gaza is much better than life for millions in neighboring Egypt.

According to Manal Tibi, the director of the Egyptian Center for Housing Rights, one in six Egyptians (i.e. between 12 and 15 million people) is homeless, and in Cairo alone two million people live in the streets and even in cemeteries.



The annual survey published by the American Jewish Committee on Thursday revealed that American Jewish voters favor Barack Obama over John McCain for U.S. president by a margin of 57-30 percent, with 13 percent saying they are still undecided.

While Obama leads McCain by 27 points, his numbers are considerably lower than those of Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry, each of whom received over 75 percent of the Jewish vote.

Apart from African-Americans, Jews are traditionally the most left-wing voting block in the U.S. A higher percentage of gays, Hispanics and Arab-Americans vote Republican than Jews do.

While Jews make up just 2 percent of the American population, 4 percent of votes in elections are cast by American Jews since Jewish turnout is much higher than other groups. And a whopping 20 percent of all campaign contributions are made by American Jews. In the crucial swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Jewish vote is considered particularly important.

Many American Jews say they are very concerned about the positions of Obama and his foreign policy advisors on Israel and Iran, but as with other voters, the economy and domestic issues top their list of priorities, according to polls.



Certainly on New York’s Upper West Side, it doesn’t seem that John McCain will have much support, if we judge by the altogether illiberal reaction local residents gave a group of McCain supporters last week, as seen here.

You might think al-Qaeda itself was marching down upper Broadway – or perhaps Islamist militants would have received a warmer welcome?



Bill Clinton “endorses” John McCain.

Highlights of Friday’s Obama-McCain presidential debate.

-- Tom Gross

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