* U.S. President Barack Obama will celebrate the second night of Passover Thursday with staff and friends in what is believed to be the first White House Seder attended by an American president. Key Jewish donors to Obama’s presidential campaign have also been invited. At the same time press reports in Israel today claim Obama is preparing for a major clash with the Israeli government about policy towards Iran and the Palestinians
* Obama to visit Israel and Palestinian areas in June
* U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden on CNN yesterday: “Netanyahu would be ill-advised to hit Iranian nuclear sites”
* Indians now more sympathetic to Israel than Americans are
* Israeli female politicians ranked among world’s most beautiful
* Two of Avigdor Lieberman’s 14 Knesset members make world’s most beautiful female politicians list
* New York Times/Washington Post’s “anti-Semitic” cartoon becomes Hizbullah propaganda
1. Indians now more sympathetic to Israel than Americans are
2. Israeli female politicians ranked among world’s most beautiful
3. Supermarket Intifada
4. Obama to visit Israel, Palestinian areas in June
5. Mubarak invites Netanyahu to Egypt
6. Norwegian poll: Palestinian majority opposes two-state solution
7. Abbas becomes first Palestinian leader to visit post-Saddam Iraq
8. New York Times’s “anti-Semitic” cartoon now used by Hizbullah
9. Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution hails Hugo Chavez
10. Tel Aviv celebrates its 100th birthday
11. Rare film footage of Tel Aviv in 1913
12. “Telling lies about Israel”: a short film
13. A Happy Passover with Fred Astaire
14. Other items
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
INDIANS NOW MORE SYMPATHETIC TO ISRAEL THAN AMERICANS ARE
A new study has found that Israel is liked more in India than in any other major country. By a margin of 58 to 56 percent, Indians edged out Americans as being “most sympathetic to Israel.” The survey of thousands of people, commissioned by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, tested 13 of the world’s most important nations. Russia (52 percent favorable), Mexico (52 percent) and China (50 percent) responded with positive readings.
Israel was the least popular in Spain (23 percent), France (27 percent) and the U.K. (34 percent), all countries where there has also been a sharp increase in anti-Semitism recently.
A 2007 Gallup poll of Americans found that 58 percent sympathized with Israel over the Palestinian Authority.
ISRAELI FEMALE POLITICIANS RANKED AMONG WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL
In the first international survey of its kind, 54 politicians were chosen by a Spanish newspaper as “the world’s most beautiful women in public office,” and Israel was proportionately represented more than any other country, with four Israelis making the “most beautiful list.”
Two are members of the Knesset from Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party: former Moroccan-Israeli model Orli Levy, and Russian-born Israeli former model Anastasia Michaeli. Both entered the Knesset in February’s elections. (The other two Israeli politicians on the list are Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham and Pnina Rosenblum. Former foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik did not make the list.)
The list, voted on by tens of thousands of Spaniards and based on a selection of thousands of online photos of female politicians, was topped by 30-year-old Member of the Peruvian Parliament, Luciana Leon.
SARAH PALIN, HILLARY CLINTON
Other prominent politicians who made the list are Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko in 8th place and Alaskan governor and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at 24th place. Also representing the United States, Hillary Clinton was ranked at 34th place. At 61, she is the oldest woman on the list.
Just two slots after Clinton is Segolene Royal, who ran for the French presidency in 2007 against Nicolas Sarkozy. Sealing off the list in 54th place is Afghan politician, Malalai Joya.
Among those absent from the list are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
A taste of things to come... appearing soon at a supermarket near you?
Recently several French supermarkets have been invaded and any produce suspected of originating from Israel has been destroyed.
Here is one example at Carrefour:
Where are the police?
A journalist in Paris who subscribes to this email list tells me that the organization of boycotts is illegal in France, that the destruction of Israeli products deprived some Orthodox Jews of the opportunity to buy kosher products and they subsequently went hungry (almost all processed kosher foods sold in France come from Israel), and that the prime organizer behind the organized destruction of Israeli food in France was an extreme leftist French Jewish woman.
OBAMA TO VISIT ISRAEL, PALESTINIAN AREAS IN JUNE
U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that he will make a quick visit to Israel and the Palestinian-run territories after his visit to France in June. The trip is designed to drive home Obama’s commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a White House spokesperson said.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been invited to visit Obama in Washington sometime prior to Obama’s Middle East trip.
There is some concern in Israel after the White House said President Obama expressed support for the Arab peace initiative when he met Saudi King Abdullah at the G20 summit in London last week. That plan demands, among other things, a “right of return” for the descendants of Arabs who left Israel when it became an independent state in 1948.
Israeli governments far to the left of the new Netanyahu coalition, that were willing to address the Arab initiative, nevertheless said the so-called right of return issue was an unacceptable demand that would signify the end of Israel.
Meanwhile, The Guardian (in competition with its fellow British daily The Independent to see who can defame Israel more) yesterday had a top-of-the-page headline on its world news page reading: “Israel created ‘terror without mercy’ in Gaza.”
U.S. GIVING PALESTINIAN SECURITY FORCES TOP-LEVEL TRAINING
Ha’aretz reveals today that the United States has been training senior Palestinian security officials in an advanced officers’ course in Ramallah. These include commanders from the Palestinian National Security force, which has 15,000 members, tasked with policing borders, providing military intelligence and military police services. Let us hope their intentions are peaceful. The last time the U.S. trained Palestinian forces, in the 1990s, they ended up turning their guns on Israelis.
Jews were this week portrayed as blood drinkers in an anti-Semitic drama aired on Hamas TV. “Impoverished” Hamas receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in diverted Western aid.
MUBARAK INVITES NETANYAHU TO EGYPT
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has invited new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Egypt. The two leaders spoke by phone this week and both committed to continue and strengthen bilateral relations. The relationship between the two countries, although generally a “cold peace,” remains a crucial one. Egypt feels as threatened by the rise of the Islamic fundamentalist movement Hamas as Israel does.
NORWEGIAN POLL: PALESTINIAN MAJORITY OPPOSES TWO-STATE SOLUTION
A new poll by Norway’s Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies, which sponsored the initial 1993 Oslo Framework Accords, has found that a majority of Palestinians (53 percent) oppose a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
33 percent of those polled said they wanted to see Israel annihilated, and 20 percent said they favor a united Israeli-Palestinian state where Jews can live as an eventual minority.
This is not particularly welcome news for those of us, including myself, who would like to see a two-state solution.
ABBAS BECOMES FIRST PALESTINIAN LEADER TO VISIT POST-SADDAM IRAQ
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has become the first Palestinian leader to visit Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. Iraq’s Palestinians were among the closest supporters of Saddam and his brutal dictatorship, and as a result are now despised in Iraq.
Following the fall of Saddam, many of Iraq’s Palestinians were attacked, and others have been protected by American forces in a special neighborhood of Baghdad. After his meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Monday, Abbas said that he had received assurances that Palestinians living in Iraq would be protected after the eventual withdrawal of American troops.
NEW YORK TIMES’S “ANTI-SEMITIC” CARTOON NOW USED BY HIZBULLAH
The much criticized “anti-Semitic” syndicated Pat Oliphant cartoon that appeared on The New York Times and The Washington Post websites last month, has since been reproduced on neo-Nazi websites worldwide.
Jewish groups and others criticized the March 25 cartoon as “hideously anti-Semitic” and slammed mainstream American papers for running it. Oliphant depicted a woman carrying a baby being pushed off a cliff by a goose-stepping headless figure holding a Star of David with sharp fangs.
It has also now been reproduced, with the caption “Zionist Nazism,” on the website of the Lebanese terrorist group, Hizbullah. It is the second-from-top cartoon here.
SUPREME LEADER OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION HAILS HUGO CHAVEZ
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, lavished praise on visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Tehran last weekend.
Photos and English text here from the official Iranian government Fars news agency.
Khamenei congratulated Chavez for cutting off relations with Israel. The Iranian and Venezuelan regimes also decided to solidify their alliance in opposition to the United States.
TEL AVIV CELEBRATES ITS 100TH BIRTHDAY
Hundreds of thousands of people jammed into Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary. Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic started the festivities. They were followed by dozens of other performers playing rock and other kinds of music. Disco music went on well into the night. The mass-celebration was the first of many events commemorating the founding of Israel’s largest city.
RARE FILM FOOTAGE OF TEL AVIV IN 1913
On a more historical note, here is some vintage footage of what Tel Aviv looked like in 1913.
“TELLING LIES ABOUT ISRAEL”: A SHORT FILM
Usually I don’t draw attention to these kinds of videos but this one, produced by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), is better than most. (It also draws on some of the material included on this list/website earlier in the year about the Gaza conflict and uses examples I researched for my 2002 article “Jeningrad”.)
A HAPPY PASSOVER WITH FRED ASTAIRE
As many as a quarter of subscribers to this email list may be Jewish. Tonight is the Passover seder, and this song is kind of fun.
It is sung to the tune of Irving Berlin’s “cheek to cheek,” which was first beautifully performed by Fred Astaire in the 1935 movie “Top Hat”. In case you haven’t seen it, here is a clip.
For other items of mine, not connected to the Middle East, please see here.
• Weeks after attack, Russian media owner comes out of coma
• CNN in third place in prime time for first time
• U.S. reporters detained in North Korea face up to 10 years forced labor
• New study: Growing up with a sister makes people more balanced
And finally, here are some Passover tips from Japan.