Shimon Peres to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II; Malaysia: women mustn’t wear trousers; & other items

October 25, 2008

* Israel allows Palestinian security forces to take control of most of Hebron today
* Sarah Palin wig very popular in Brooklyn
* “Hizbullah chief poisoned; Iranian doctors saved his life”



1. “Sir Shimon Peres”
2. Livni: “Tomorrow marks last chance to form a new government”
3. “Hizbullah chief poisoned; Iranian doctors saved his life”
4. Israel praises UN call for Hizbullah to be disbanded
5. Egyptian navy launches largest exercise in history – celebrating attack on Israel
6. Palestinian attacks continue...
7. ...But IDF redeploys in Hebron today
8. Up to 3,500 Palestinians to lose jobs after Mul-T-Lock leaves West Bank
9. “Moderate” Abbas dismisses commanders who cracked down on Hamas
10. Malaysia issues fatwa against lesbianism and men’s clothes for women
11. Slaughtering the dogs
12. Sarah Palin wig a hit in Brooklyn

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Israeli president Shimon Peres is expected to be knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II when he visits the UK next month. It is rare for Britain to bestow this honor of non-British nationals. Past recipients have included former American president “Sir Ronald Regan,” U2’s lead singer “Sir Bono,” and Microsoft founder “Sir Bill Gates.”

As noted on a dispatch on this website in 2006, the Nobel laureate, human rights campaigner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was also knighted. Foreign citizens who receive honorary knighthoods do not in fact have the right to call themselves “Sir”.

The other highlight of Peres’ visit, which begins on November 18, will be a speech before both houses of the British Parliament (the House of Lords and the House of Commons). Peres will also deliver an address at Oxford University, where he is expected to urge the leading lights of British academia to lift the unofficial academic boycott placed on Israeli institutions.



Israel’s prime minister-designate, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, says if there is no agreement on a new working coalition by tomorrow (Sunday) she will ask President Shimon Peres to call a general election instead. Livni has been unable to persuade the religious Shas party to enter a new coalition government. She has rejected demands by Shas to pump tens of millions of dollars into the religious education budget. Shas is the fourth largest party in the Knesset and part of the departing government.

Livni is trying to replace outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as head of the government midway through its term without the need to call a general election. Polls indicate that if an election were held now, the opposition Likud would likely emerge as the biggest party. (For more, see Netanyahu: “Joining a coalition under Livni is like joining Lehman brothers”.)

For the time being, Olmert remains as Israel’s caretaker prime minister.



[This item of mine was originally published on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 22, on National Review Online -- TG]

In a report posted this morning on the Iraqi news website Almalaf, diplomatic sources in Beirut are quoted as saying that Hizbullah supreme leader Hassan Nasrallah was poisoned with a deadly chemical last week and that his life was saved by Iranian doctors who were rushed to Lebanon to treat him.

Nasrallah’s medical condition was apparently critical for a number of days, according to the report, but he is now stable.

Almalaf claimed that the sources believed it was “highly likely that the poisoning was an Israeli assassination attempt.” In fact Hizbullah is more hated in Lebanon than in Israel, and any assassination attempt could have stemmed from the many enemies Nasrallah has in Lebanon.

Hizbullah, a Lebanese Shia militia which is under the de facto control of the Iranian regime, has denied the report. But that would not explain why on Monday, the Iranian newspaper Khoursid suddenly reported that Nasrallah’s cousin, Safi al-Din, had been elected to take over Hizbullah in the event that “the Zionists succeed in assassinating Hassan Nasrallah.”

Nasrallah’s second-in-command Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated in February in a bomb blast in Damascus, shortly after he had left Syrian intelligence headquarters. (See: He’s not quite Osama Bin Laden... But he almost is; and Robert Fisk compares master terrorist Mughniyeh with President Bush.)



Israel has welcomed a fresh call from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for Hizbullah to be disbanded.

“If Lebanon is a sovereign state with an army, it must have a monopoly over power and the situation where Lebanese political parties have armies is totally unacceptable,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry official told The Jerusalem Post.

Ban said he was encouraged by the recent establishment of diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Syria, but called on the two countries to take further steps to improve security along the border. He said that Lebanon would not be a fully sovereign state until Hizbullah and other armed groups were disbanded. UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Hizbullah-Israel war, called for the dismantling of all militias in Lebanon.

The foreign ministers of Syria and Lebanon signed a document last week formalizing diplomatic ties between the two countries for the first time in their turbulent history. Syrian nationalists claim that Lebanon is really part of Syria.



The Egyptian navy yesterday carried out the largest exercise in its history, calling it “Victory 41” to mark the sinking of the Israeli navy vessel “Eilat” 41 years ago. 47 Israeli sailors died and 91 were wounded in that attack.

Egypt is meant to be at peace with Israel, not celebrating the killing of Israelis.

Egypt’s navy is much larger and better equipped than Israel’s small navy, which comprises of only a few boats.

In an interview in the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram earlier this week, Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian navy, noted that the Egyptian navy has advanced world class frigates, destroyers, fast missile boats, and submarines outfitted with advanced missiles and that the navy has supply contracts with Germany, Russia and the U.S.



An elderly Israeli was stabbed to death in the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo on Thursday.

86-year-old Abraham Ozeri died of his wounds shortly after the attack. A 30-year-old Israeli policeman who tried to disarm the attacker was badly wounded and remains in hospital where his condition is listed as serious. The 20-year-old Palestinian attacker was then shot and wounded as he tried to kill more Israelis. He later admitted he had been sent by Hamas “to kill Jews.”

The BBC and several other media, relying on a misleading Reuters report, wrongly called Ozeri, who lived and died in Jerusalem, a “settler” in their headlines. By contrast, Agence France Presse (AFP) headlined their story “Israeli killed in Jerusalem knife attack.”

There have been a number of terror attacks in Jerusalem recently. In September, a Palestinian plowed his car into a group of soldiers at a busy intersection, injuring 13 before he was shot dead. In two incidents in July, Palestinians carried out attacks using bulldozers, killing three Israelis and wounding dozens of others.


On Tuesday, a Qassam rocket launched from Gaza landed in the Hof Ashkelon area of southern Israel. No injuries were reported.


On Wednesday, a 17-year old Palestinian was arrested when soldiers at Hawara checkpoint near Nablus found a Molotov cocktail, a pipe bomb and other explosives on his person.



Meanwhile, because of the generally improved security situation, Israel has announced it will continue to hand over more control of security in West Bank towns to Palestinian forces.

In Hebron this morning (Saturday), the IDF scaled back its presence, lifted roadblocks, and permitted the deployment of 550 U.S.-trained Palestinian forces in the city. Israel has already made similar moves in Jenin. Now it plans to do the same in Nablus, Tulkarem and Qalqilya.

The new Palestinian forces in Hebron, some of whom were trained in Jordan under the supervision of the U.S. security coordinator in the region, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, will not be responsible for guarding the Jewish neighborhoods in the city, which will remain under the guard of the Israeli army.

The move has been criticized by many in Israel, who claim that the country is in danger of repeating the mistakes of the much-discredited “Oslo peace process” of the 1990s. Then Israel also handed over security to Fatah forces (some of whom were American-trained) only to have those forces turn their guns on Israeli civilians. Many Israeli civilians, including dozens of children, were murdered by the supposedly moderate and disciplined Palestinian security forces.



There is outrage in Fatah, and profound disappointment in Israel, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday fired Gen. Tawfik Tirawi, commander of the PA’s General Intelligence Service, after Hamas requested Abbas to do.

Fatah officials criticized the dismissal, noting that the timing was particularly “problematic.”

Tirawi had led a crackdown on Hamas members and institutions in the West Bank, in order to prevent Hamas from extending its control to the West Bank.

A senior Fatah official in Ramallah said: “It appears as if President Abbas took the decision to appease Hamas. Many people in Fatah believe that Abbas made a huge mistake.”



Following pressure from Swedish and Israeli left-wing pressure groups, the Swedish locksmith firm Mul-T-Lock has relocated from the West Bank’s Barkan Industrial Park to within Israel’s Green Line for political reasons.

A Swedish company bought Mul-T-Lock, originally an Israeli company, in 2000, and also purchased a subsidiary plant at that time in the Barkan Industrial Park, which is located a few miles over the Green Line, near the city of Ariel.

Other businesses, such as Barkan wines, have also relocated recently. The industrial park is an important source of employment for both Israelis and Palestinians in the area, and as a result as many as 3,500 Palestinians are expected to lose their jobs

“In this park,” a local businessman said, “Jews are Arabs are working together, and this is the true meaning of coexistence.” He blamed the European Union for the move and said, “It is unfortunate that the policy of the European Union is forcing successful factories out of the Barkan area.”



Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council has issued a fatwa banning men’s clothes for women, and also lesbian relationships amongst women.

Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the National Fatwa Council, said women wearing men’s clothes and behaving like men was “unacceptable,” as was lesbianism, which he said was “highly unacceptable.”

Male homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and punishable by up to 20 years in jail. However, Malaysia’s civil code does not make any mention about banning lesbianism.



The local municipality in Mashhad last week killed 4,000 stray dogs in the city. (In Persian here.)

Mashhad is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia world.

Islam regards dogs as unclean and the Koran has several edicts aimed at discouraging dog ownership.



The Associated Press reports from New York that a new Sarah Palin wig has become a best-seller in ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhoods like Brooklyn’s Borough Park. Many ultra-orthodox women traditionally wear wigs for reasons of modesty.

“It’s a very conservative yet fashion-forward look,” said Shlomo Klein, Vice President of Georgie Wigs. “It can be worn down, it can be worn up. There are a lot of styling options. The bun higher, the bun lower.”

“She’s pro-Israel,” he noted of Palin. Klein said Georgie Wigs has carried Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jennifer Anniston wigs in the past. Its catalog currently includes a Posh Spice wig.

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