* Prominent Saudi cleric who called for worldwide attacks on Israeli civilians arrested by the Saudi authorities
* Regional U.S. editorials side with Israel; say it “should finish the job”
This is a further dispatch concerning the ongoing Israel-Hamas confrontation. This dispatch contains some of the international reaction you are unlikely to hear on the BBC and other hopelessly biased media.
1. “Nuke, nuke Israel… the Jews need a big oven”
2. Iran shuts newspaper for blaming Hamas for the conflict
3. Italian fashion store Benetton attacked by protesters in Iran
4. Danish police arrest man in shooting of Israelis
5. British telecom firm severs ties with Israeli counterparts
6. A reader writes
7. Czechs take over EU presidency, defend Israeli strikes
8. Merkel blasts Hamas for Middle East violence
9. Russia: Hamas must recognize Abbas’s rule
10. Saudi cleric arrested for calling for attacks on Israelis
11. Regional U.S. editorials side with Israel; say it “should finish the job”
12. Light item: Happy New Year!
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
“NUKE, NUKE ISRAEL… THE JEWS NEED A BIG OVEN”
Even in Fort Lauderdale, Florida…
“The Jews need a big oven” and “nuke, nuke Israel” scream pro-Hamas demonstrators.
There have been many protests elsewhere, including outside the White House. For example, on New Year’s Eve, a pro-Hamas mob marched on the Jewish neighborhood in the Belgium city of Antwerp, clashing with police. Cars, trams and buses were attacked. The Jewish neighborhood of the city remains under round the clock police guard.
Celebrity Roseanne Barr offers her perspectives re Israel/Gaza.
IRAN SHUTS NEWSPAPER FOR BLAMING HAMAS FOR THE CONFLICT
The Iranian government on Wednesday closed a leading reformist daily, Kargozaran, for publishing a statement by a student group that blamed Hamas for provoking the current conflict with Israel.
The paper said Hamas were “terrorists who cause the deaths of children and civilians by taking up position in kindergartens and hospitals.”
(This is a truth that would never be mentioned by certain Western journalists, like the BBC’s Senior Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen and CNN’s “Senior Correspondent in Jerusalem” Ben Wedeman. Both men are more anti-Israel than the liberal Iranian media.)
Kargozaran’s publisher Morteza Sajadian confirmed the paper’s closure and said the piece in question was a statement by a pro-reform student group, the “Office to Consolidate Unity.”
Sajadian apologized to the Iranian government for printing the statement and said he hoped the ban would be only temporary. Kargozaran editor Mehran Karami said he will try to convince the authorities that his newspaper remains anti-Zionist.
More in Persian here.
ITALIAN FASHION STORE BENETTON ATTACKED BY PROTESTERS IN IRAN
A branch of the Italian clothing chain Benetton was set on fire in Iran on Wednesday amid angry anti-Israel protests. The government-controlled Iranian daily Jomhuri Eslami said the shop, in Dowlat Street in the north of the capital, Tehran, was “linked with the Zionist network.”
Several Benetton stores have opened in the past two years in Iran, where global brands have largely been absent since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Last year a group of prominent Iranian MPs protested against Benetton’s presence in the country, alleging that it was owned by a “Zionist millionaire” (the owner is not Jewish) and that its fashions were a bad influence on female consumers.
In Tehran protestors attempted to storm the Jordanian embassy yesterday, but were prevented from doing so by Iranian riot police. The Egyptian consulate in Aden, Yemen, was also attacked. Demonstrators say Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are all aiding Israel against Hamas.
Here is American University Professor-turned Ahmadinejad advisor Hamid Mowlana stepping on the American flag yesterday.
DANISH POLICE ARREST MAN IN SHOOTING OF ISRAELIS
Danish police say they have arrested a Lebanese-born man on suspicion of shooting and wounding two Israelis at a shopping mall. A court yesterday ordered the suspect held for up to four weeks while police investigate.
On Wednesday, a gunman shot and wounded two young Israelis at a mall in the central Danish city of Odense. They were working at a Dead Sea Products stand in the mall when they were fired upon. A Danish daily reported that the gunman fled in a car after another Israeli emerged from a nearby barber shop and threw a chair in his direction.
One Israeli was shot in the arm and another in the leg. Both remain in hospital in stable condition.
Unsurprisingly in their countless hours of Gaza coverage, the BBC has avoided mentioning this or almost any other news that might engender sympathy for Israel.
BRITISH TELECOM FIRM SEVERS TIES WITH ISRAELI COUNTERPARTS
British telecommunications firm FreedomCall has terminated its cooperation with Israel’s MobileMax, citing the IDF’s operation in Gaza as the reason.
“We received an email from the British company informing us that it is severing all ties with us and any other Israeli company following Israel’s strike in Gaza,” said CEO Raanan Cohen.
Cohen called the British lack of understanding of Israel’s position “hopeless”. “I don’t intend to appeal to them or answer the letter,” he said.
MobileMax, established in 2004, produces a program providing cellular phones with inexpensive international service.
A READER WRITES
This email is from a subscriber to this list:
Am I the only one who has noticed that hundreds of Israeli tanks and thousands of Israeli soldiers are on Gaza’s border, but the Palestinians aren’t shooting at them? Instead they are only shooting at civilian areas in Israel. The media don’t seem to have noticed or commented on this strange fact.
That leads me to the question: Why should the Israeli air force be careful to avoid hitting civilian targets? The U.S was never so delicate. It flattened Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg and dozens of other cities in WWII, North Korean cities during that war, Hanoi during the Vietnam war, and parts of Baghdad at the start of the present war.
If Israeli civilians are attacked, why should enemy civilians not suffer? Above all, why are the media silent about this strange situation?
CZECHS TAKE OVER EU PRESIDENCY, DEFEND ISRAELI STRIKES
The Czech Republic, which took over the European Union’s presidency yesterday, is likely to try and shift the EU away from its pro-Palestinian bias.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg distanced himself from some of his EU colleagues who have criticized Israel and have called for an immediate ceasefire before Israel has had an opportunity to succeed in its operation against Hamas. He said Israel had the right to defend itself.
“Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel? It is because I enjoy the luxury of telling the truth,” Schwarzenberg told the leading Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes in an interview, noting that the Czech Republic doesn’t have a large Muslim minority and is not infused with phony political correctness as are West European states.
France, which handed over the EU’s rotating presidency to Prague, has condemned Israel’s strikes.
Karel Schwarzenberg is a longtime subscriber to this email list.
MERKEL BLASTS HAMAS FOR MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE
The leading German news magazine Der Spiegel reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the blame for renewed violence in the Middle East can be pinned on Hamas. She said responsibility for the Israeli air offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip lies “clearly and exclusively” with Hamas, according to government spokesman Thomas Steg. A statement on the Chancellery website refers to Israel’s “legitimate right” to defend its people and territory.
Merkel has differed from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who said “I am deeply concerned by Israel’s response,” and from French President Nicolas Sarkozy who condemned Israel for using what he called “disproportionate force.” Javier Solana, chief of foreign policy for the European Union, said “the current Israeli strikes are inflicting an unacceptable toll on Palestinian civilians.”
Meanwhile moderate Arab leaders continue to blame Hamas, not Israel.
RUSSIA: HAMAS MUST RECOGNIZE ABBAS’S RULE
Using stronger language than usual, Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov told a Russian television network on Monday that Hamas must “realize responsibility before the Palestinian people for its acts, restore reconciliation and recognize Mahmoud Abbas’ legitimate powers.”
Lavrov added Russia was “convinced that there was no alternative to direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis,” and called for Lebanon and Syria to be part of those talks.
SAUDI CLERIC ARRESTED FOR CALLING FOR ATTACKS ON ISRAELIS
A prominent Saudi Arabian Muslim cleric who called for worldwide attacks on Israeli civilians in retaliation for the ongoing airstrikes on Hamas has been arrested by the Saudi authorities, Saudi media reported on Wednesday.
Sheikh Awad al-Qarni issued a fatwa on Monday for the “spilling of (Israeli) blood wherever they are.”
In the past few days al-Qarni’s fatwa has been widely discussed on Islamist internet sites, the al-Rasad newspaper reports.
REGIONAL U.S. EDITORIALS SIDE WITH ISRAEL; SAY IT “SHOULD FINISH THE JOB”
While some in the European media (and in major North American papers) continue to severely mislead their readers and viewers about what is actually happening in Gaza and southern Israel, many regional American editors appear to be more clear-sighted.
Among the headlines of editorials in the last couple of days:
* The Blood on Hamas’ Hands – Editorial (Dallas Morning News)
* Daily Rocket Attacks by Hamas Invited Israeli Military Response – Editorial (Miami Herald)
The paper writes: Israel is fulfilling the most elementary obligation of any government: to protect the lives of its people. This was the reason for the founding of the Jewish state in the first place. Hamas was founded not to win independence for the Palestinian people but to destroy Israel. Palestinians have a legitimate right to pursue the creation of an independent state, but not to seek the destruction of another country. Any outcome that is perceived as a victory for Hamas would be a victory for terrorism.
* Hamas Has Invited Its Own Destruction – Editorial (Detroit News)
The paper writes: Calls on Israel to immediately cease its pounding of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip are misdirected. Hamas’ rockets are growing in range and sophistication, and soon will be able to strike targets deep inside Israel. That’s intolerable.
* Israel Finally Says: Enough – Editorial (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
The paper writes: Hamas and other Islamist groups deliberately target Israeli civilians and celebrate when Jewish children die. Israel, responding in self-defense, seeks to minimize civilian casualties and grieves when Arab children get caught in the crossfire. There is no mystery to this asymmetry. Israel is a Western-style liberal democracy; Hamas is a fundamentalist, Iranian-backed Islamist group. We are in this mess because the national priority of Hamas, as always, is to hurt Jews rather than help Palestinians.
* Self-Defense – Editorial (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
The paper writes: Israel is acting in self-defense, as any country in its position would. If Gaza had not served as a launching pad for terrorism, then Israel would not have struck at the source.
* Poor Hamas? No! – Editorial (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
The paper writes: Hamas brought its woes upon itself. Now it’s paying the price.
* U.S. Should Support Israelis in Campaign Against Hamas – Editorial (The Oklahoman)
The paper writes: As Israel continues to respond to rocket attacks launched from Hamas-controlled Gaza, we offer some unsolicited advice to a fellow democracy and ally: Go all in. Finish the job.
LIGHT ITEM: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I occasionally include lighter items to provide some respite for the often depressing items in these dispatches.
Here, “Uncle Jay” explains the news.