* Mubarak invites Avigdor Lieberman to Cairo: “This is the start of a beautiful friendship”
* Egyptian paper: Hizbullah leader Nasrallah is “an Iranian agent and a Dracula”
* EU freezes upgrade of relations with Israel
* Israel improves relations with India and Russia as U.S. and EU begin to scale back Israel ties
* Obama bundles further $200m. Palestinian aid into emergency Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental, while he is set to reduce military help for Israel
* Elections reveal that Gaza’s UNRWA branch is dominated by Hamas
* After giving his speech in Geneva, Ahmadinejad moved on to his lavish hotel up the road, to attend a dinner for some 500 guests, including his entourage, for whom the Swiss government requisitioned some 40 hotel rooms
* Elie Wiesel abused by Ahmadinejad’s official delegation (video below)
* UN today expels Jewish student groups for wearing clown outfits
(Several of the items below are follow-ups to previous dispatches on this list; in order to understand the full context of them, please refer to past dispatches here.)
1. Robert Fisk: How can you trust the cowardly BBC?
2. Confrontation at “Durban II”: Libyan chair silences torture victim
3. More on the UN’s anti-anti-racism conference
4. Buenos Aires Jewish cemetery defaced
5. Letter by Shlomo Avineri to The New York Times
6. Elections reveal that Gaza’s UNRWA branch dominated by Hamas
7. IDF releases new video on Gaza op
8. Hamas PM, senior commanders hid in hospital during Gaza operation
9. IDF: no war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza
10. Human Rights Watch finally acknowledges that Hamas killed Palestinians in Gaza
11. Olmert, Livni may face war crimes charges in Norway
12. Netanyahu meets Egyptian Intelligence chief
13. Omar Suleiman meets Avigdor Lieberman
14. Egypt state daily: Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah tried to overthrow Mubarak
15. Jordanian court sentences three Hamas spies to five years in prison
16. Hamas bomb factory found in West Bank mosque
17. Masked Palestinian Gunmen burn Palestinian child and family care center in Khan Yunis
18. Obama bundles $200m. Palestinian aid into emergency Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental
19. Palestinian anger as Abbas’s son revealed to have made millions
20. Independent Palestinian group reports rampant corruption among PA
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
ROBERT FISK: HOW CAN YOU TRUST THE COWARDLY BBC?
This weblist has long provided examples of anti-Israeli bias by various BBC correspondents, including the BBC’s veteran reporter and current Chief Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen. (See, for example: Revealed: UNRWA spokesman who lied about Israel’s shelling of a school previously worked at the BBC with Jeremy Bowen.)
Last week, the independent BBC Trust (which oversees complaints to the British state broadcaster) agreed that Bowen had been biased against Israel. After a lengthy legal battle waged by a London lawyer, it ruled that Bowen had breached BBC guidelines as to accuracy in an online article in June 2007 about the Six-Day War, and in a radio broadcast about an Israeli settlement made by Bowen in January 2008. In both cases, the BBC Trust found Bowen had skewered information so as to portray Israel in an unfair light.
Amazingly, various British newspapers actually reported the decision. For example:
The Times (Page 9): BBC’s Jeremy Bowen breached editorial guidelines, says BBC Trust
Daily Mail (Page 11): BBC’s Jeremy Bowen breached editorial guidelines, says BBC Trust
The Daily Telegraph: BBC’s Jeremy Bowen breached guidelines on accuracy in Israel reports
And this is how The Independent’s award-winning chief Middle East “news reporter” Robert Fisk dealt with the story:
First the headline:
How can you trust the cowardly BBC? The BBC Trust is now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby which abused Bowen, reports Robert Fisk
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Fisk’s piece starts:
The BBC Trust’s report on Jeremy Bowen’s dispatches from the Middle East is pusillanimous, cowardly, outrageous, factually wrong and ethically dishonest.
But I am mincing my words.
The trust – how I love that word which so dishonours everything about the BBC – has collapsed, in the most shameful way, against the usual Israeli lobbyists who have claimed – against all the facts – that Bowen was wrong to tell the truth…
Tom Gross adds: The BBC Trust report is only the tip of the iceberg. Both Bowen, and to a much greater extent various other BBC News reporters, have a long track record of anti-Israel bias. Several years ago, after sustained criticism, the BBC conducted its own investigation into whether the network held an anti-Israel bias. The resulting report by senior BBC news editor Malcolm Balen has been suppressed by the BBC despite many legal efforts by the Taxpayers’ Alliance and other groups to make it public. Balen is believed to have concluded that the BBC has a systematic bias against the state of Israel despite being under a legal obligation as a publicly-funded corporation to attempt to be balanced.
As for Robert Fisk, he is one of the few journalists who can lay claim to repeatedly saying things as idiotic as New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.
CONFRONTATION AT “DURBAN II”: LIBYAN CHAIR SILENCES TORTURE VICTIM
[This item was first published on NRO on Monday, April 20, 2009]
By Tom Gross
Representatives of a host of European countries and Jordan walked out of the UN’s “anti-racism” conference (known as Durban II) in Geneva, Switzerland, today after the world’s most prominent racist – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – predictably launched an anti-Semitic tirade.
“It is hard to find an explanation as to why exactly the Swiss, hosting the ‘Durban II’ anti-racism convention in Geneva, opted to make its guest of honor Iran’s strong man Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” wondered a producer for the British-based satellite broadcaster Sky News.
Earlier, Swiss federal agents escorted Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz away from the Geneva hotel where Iranian dictator Ahmadinejad and Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz were meeting, after he announced plans to challenge the Iranian leader over his views on the Holocaust.
This farce of a conference – organized by the UN, a farce of an organization – is being chaired by one of the world’s worst perpetrators of racism, discrimination, and human rights abuses: Libya.
In the clip below, a representative of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi – Mrs. Najjat al-Hajjaji, who chaired the Durban II Preparatory Committee for the past two years, and was elected chair of the Durban II Main Committee – silences the Palestinian medical intern who (together with five Bulgarian nurses) was tortured by Libya in order to confess to trumped up charges of spreading the AIDS virus in Libya.
The video clip was recorded by UN Watch.
MORE NOTES ON THE UN’S ANTI-ANTI-RACISM CONFERENCE
Whereas Jordan joined European countries in walking out during Ahmadinejad’s tirade against Israel and the Jews at Durban II on Monday, by contrast, Syrian Foreign Minister Dr. Faysal Mekdad, addressing the conference on Tuesday, launched various slanders against Israel.
Former gulag prisoner Natan Sharansky said the spectacle of an anti-racism conference run by some of the world’s worst human-rights violators was an absurdity that reminded him of Soviet show trials.
And Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel said “What does Ahmadinejad know about Jewish suffering? He wants to enter the history of Islam as the first and only Islamic leader who succeeds in annihilating the Jews, and who outdoes Hitler.”
After giving his speech in Geneva, Ahmadinejad held a press conference at the UN. He then moved on to his lavish hotel up the road, to attend a dinner for some 500 guests, including his entourage, for whom the Swiss government requisitioned some 40 hotel rooms.
Here are members of the official Iranian government delegation barracking and harassing elderly Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace prize winner Elie Wiesel in the corridor outside the Durban II conference center in Geneva.
UN spokesman Rupert Colville today announced that two Jewish groups (the French Union of Jewish Students, and Coexist) were being expelled from the remainder of the Durban II conference for disrupting the speech of Iranian President Ahmadinejad by wearing clown outfits.
On the day after Ahmadinejad gave his speech, the official Iranian news agency IRNA ran a long piece explicitly denying the Holocaust.
It stated: “Many linguists believe that the word holocaust, which is a Greek word – holo means all and caust meaning ‘to burn to ashes’, was originally coined to refer to a criminal incident in ancient Yemen committed by Jews who burnt alive a large group of chained and handcuffed men, women and children for their adherence to teachings the Jesus Christ.
“The bitter historical irony is that the word was later exploited by Zionists to establish a regime by building on the false claim that over six million Jews had been killed. The world-famous historian Professor Robert Faurisson has exposed these Zionist lies…”
BUENOS AIRES JEWISH CEMETERY DEFACED
Three feet-high red swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were painted on the walls of the oldest Buenos Aires Jewish cemetery in Argentina on Holocaust Remembrance Day, early on Tuesday morning, a few hours after President Ahmadinejad addressed the UN “anti-racism” conference.
LETTER BY SHLOMO AVINERI TO THE NEW YORK TIMES
The following is the text of a letter sent by the distinguished Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri to The New York Times:
Hamas and the Jews
April 15, 2009
In his article “The changing face of Hamas” (New York Times, April 13) Paul McGeough mentions that for all the changes he saw in Hamas, its leader Khalid Mishal answered “No chance” when asked if his organization would consider changing its charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction.
What McGeough did not mention is that Hamas views all Jews, and not just Israel or Zionism, as its enemies. Its charter goes to some length (Article 22) to state its views on this. According to Hamas, the Jews (together with the Masons) were responsible for the French and Communist revolutions; they instigated World War I in order to destroy the Ottoman Caliphate; they instigated World War II in order to make money out of trade in war materials; they control world finance and the media; and they have established numerous secret organizations (like Rotary and B’nai B’rith) in order to achieve world domination.
Some of this is straight out of the anti-Semitic literature of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and some of it – especially the references to the two World Wars – is the original contribution of Hamas ideologues. Compared to this, Austria’s Jörg Haider and France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen, or even the Ku Klux Klan, are moderates. If any organization in Europe or the U.S. used such language in its founding document, it would be viewed universally as beyond the pale.
Such views cannot be part of any political discourse, and these are the issues which have to be raised with Hamas leaders by anyone who cares for peace in the Middle East. It is regrettable that McGeough chose not to do it.
Shlomo Avineri, Jerusalem
ELECTIONS REVEAL THAT GAZA’S UNRWA BRANCH DOMINATED BY HAMAS
Hamas has won control of nearly two thirds of the Gaza branch of the UNRWA’s employees union, in elections:
This raises further doubts about the validity of UNRWA’s reports during Operation Cast Lead and in other circumstances.
As I have stated before, the UN agency UNRWA has become a “closed shop” dominated by Hamas, from which moderate Palestinians are forced out. The U.S. and other Western governments should proceed with care before they give billions of extra dollars to UNRWA this year, if they don’t want to see their aid money go to buying arms and to indoctrinating Palestinian children to become anti-western Jihadists.
IDF RELEASES NEW VIDEO ON GAZA OPERATION
The IDF released this video yesterday. While it clearly looks at things from the Israeli point of view, Hamas admits to much of what is contained in the video, including the smuggling of long-range rockets into Gaza and firing of them at civilians in Israel.
I am not including any pro-Palestinian videos because one can watch these on a regular basis masked as news reports on channels such as the BBC and France 2.
Following pressure on Israel, partially generated by fake media reports about “massacres” of Palestinians in schools and hospitals, Israel aborted its Gaza operation before it had accomplished it goals. Yesterday, Israeli military intelligence said that Hamas is still operating about 160 smuggling tunnels beneath the Sinai-Gaza border and has smuggled in longer range rockets, anti-tank missiles and perhaps even anti-aircraft missiles.
HAMAS PM HID IN HOSPITAL DURING GAZA OPERATION
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other senior Hamas commanders took over a ward of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and operated a command and control center there throughout the Gaza operation in January, the IDF said yesterday. Senior Hamas commanders also set up a command center in a Red Crescent clinic in Khan Yunis and used it as a detention center where political opponents were held and some were tortured.
An IDF investigation discovered that out of seven medical personnel claimed to have been killed by the IDF, five were Hamas operatives, including a nephew of a Hamas government minister.
IDF: NO WAR CRIMES COMMITTED BY ISRAEL IN GAZA
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also announced yesterday that a thorough internal investigation has determined that no civilians were deliberately harmed by IDF troops during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
The inquiries were performed by five IDF colonels who were not involved in the fighting. They carefully examined reports by journalists and human rights groups of alleged attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, medical personnel and facilities, and UN facilities. Not one allegation of civilians being deliberately harmed was found to be substantiated. There were a few isolated cases of civilians killed by mistake, according to the IDF.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that the army’s willingness to probe itself (unlike almost any other army in the world) “once again proves that the IDF is one of the most moral armies in the world.”
Various “human rights” groups, who have a long track record of singling out Israel for attack, criticized the army’s investigation as flawed.
The UN has said it still intends to launch an investigation into supposed Israeli “war crimes”. Israel has indicated it will not cooperate with any such investigation since past UN investigations had been “utterly biased against Israel”.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGES HAMAS KILLED PALESTINIANS DURING AND AFTER GAZA OP
This week, over three months after this news was reported on this website, The International Herald Tribune, The Guardian and other newspapers finally reported that Hamas murdered Palestinian civilians during and after Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in December and January.
The figures given, based on a Human Rights Watch report released on Monday, were that 32 Palestinians had been summarily executed by Hamas, and about a hundred others had had their legs and arms broken after they were heard criticizing Hamas. As previously indicated on this website, various intelligence sources indicate that the true number of Palestinians murdered by Hamas during Israel’s three week operation was over 100.
“Of particular concern,” the Human Rights Watch report said, “is the widespread practice of maiming people by shooting them in the legs, which Hamas first used in June 2007, when it seized control of the Gaza Strip.”
OLMERT, LIVNI MAY FACE WAR CRIMES CHARGES IN NORWAY
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni may face war crimes charges in Norway over their role in Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza, AFP reported on Wednesday.
The news agency said that six Norwegian lawyers announced plans to formally accuse the pair, and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, of the “crimes.”
Under the Norwegian penal code, courts may hear cases involving war crimes and other major violations of human rights. The lawyers released a statement quoted by AFP accusing Israel of “massive terrorist attacks” in Gaza.
NETANYAHU MEETS EGYPTIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday for two hours with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. Mossad Director Meir Dagan and National Security Council Director Uzi Arad attended much of the meeting; the rest was held in private, with only Netanyahu and Suleiman in the room. Suleiman is Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s most trusted confidant on security matters.
The Egyptians are understood to be as concerned as Israel is about what they consider to be the high degree of naivety of the Obama administration with regard to Iran.
OMAR SULEIMAN MEETS AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman also met Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem last night. This contradicts Western press reports that the Egyptian government intended to boycott Lieberman.
Both sides said the meeting was constructive and held in “a warm and friendly atmosphere.” Lieberman expressed his respect and appreciation for “Egypt’s leading role in the region” and his “personal respect for President Mubarak.” Suleiman invited Lieberman to visit Cairo.
Last week, Lieberman met with Russian Deputy FM Alexander Saltanov. Israel and Russia discussed strengthening bilateral relations. Israel and India are also improving ties. The Indians are particularly fearful of the Obama administration’s growing “understandings” with the governments of Iran and Pakistan.
EGYPT STATE DAILY: IRAN, HAMAS, HIZBULLAH TRIED TO OVERTHROW MUBARAK
A lengthy piece published on Saturday in Egypt’s Al-Ahram – the official mouthpiece of the Egyptian government – attacked Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah, accusing them of attempting to overthrow the government of President Hosni Mubarak.
The most recent evidence of this, said the paper, was the uncovering of a Hizbullah espionage ring in the Sinai. Last week Egyptian police also discovered 900 kilograms of TNT hidden in 18 sacks near the border with Gaza.
Meanwhile an editorial published in the Egyptian daily El Gomhoria on Friday, signed by the paper’s editor-in-chief, called Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah an “Iranian agent, a funeral profiteer, and a Dracula.”
“Nasrallah is worse than Israel since he is trying to undermine the same Egyptians who supported him during the 2006 Lebanon War,” the paper said.
JORDANIAN COURT SENTENCES THREE HAMAS SPIES TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON
A Jordanian court has sentenced three Jordanians to five years in prison for conducting espionage on behalf of Hamas. They were accused of collecting information about Jordanian military and government installations, as well as spying on military posts along the Israeli border and on the Israeli embassy in Amman.
HAMAS BOMB FACTORY FOUND IN WEST BANK MOSQUE
AFP reports that Palestinian security officials have found a Hamas bomb-making factory underneath a mosque in the West Bank town of Qalqiliya near the Israeli border.
MASKED PALESTINIAN GUNMEN BURN PALESTINIAN CHILD AND FAMILY CARE CENTER IN KHAN YUNIS
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has reported that “the Child and Family Care Center in Khan Yunis in Gaza has been set alight by unknown persons.”
The Center was established by the Canaan Institute of New Pedagogy in cooperation with the al-Fukhari Association for Rural Development.
There is an ongoing pattern of attacks in Gaza on institutions that don’t submit to Hamas control.
OBAMA BUNDLES $200 MILLION PALESTINIAN AID INTO EMERGENCY IRAQ/AFGHANISTAN SUPPLEMENTAL
U.S. President Barack Obama has released his FY 2009 supplemental request to fund ongoing military, diplomatic and foreign assistance activities, and quietly bundled an additional $200 million for the Palestinians into it. The relevant paragraph reads:
* $600 million to purchase four new F-22 fighter jets;
* $400 million for a new Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund;
* $3.6 billion to train and equip Afghanistan Security Forces;
* $806.2 million to upgrade the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Pakistan; and
* $200 million for budget support to the Palestinian Authority.
At the same time, Obama looks set to reduce help for Israel. Israel’s Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile may be one of the first victims of Obama’s defense spending cuts, informed sources told the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot on Monday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Arrow-3 program was vital to protect Israeli population centers from missile attack.
PALESTINIAN ANGER AS ABBAS’S SON REVEALED TO HAVE MADE MILLIONS
It was revealed in a financial magazine in Dubai last week that Yasser Abbas, the 46-year-old son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has recently become a millionaire.
The report raised eyebrows in Ramallah, where one PA official described it as “scandalous and harmful.”
Yasser Abbas, who is a Canadian national, strongly denies he had gained money through corrupt activities or through using his father’s position to his advantage.
Reuters reports today that construction and public relations firms run by Tarek Abbas and Yasser Abbas, sons of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, have received over $2 million worth of U.S. government aid contracts to repair roads in the Palestinian territories since 2005.
INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN GROUP REPORTS RAMPANT CORRUPTION AMONG PA
Meanwhile a report released yesterday by Aman (the Palestinian Coalition for Accountability and Integrity) found that “corruption is still rampant in Palestinian society.”
“Despite some positive reforms in the area of public fund management, there is still a general weakness in the system of combating corruption,” it said.
In the West Bank, “many forms of favoritism, nepotism, misappropriation of public money and abuse of public position continues to impact on many sectors of Palestinian society,” the report said, adding that the level of corruption was also bad in Gaza.
Aman commissioner Azmi Shueibi said the Palestinian public in general believes that corruption increased in 2008.