King of Morocco acknowledges truth of Holocaust (while more Israeli Arabs deny it)

June 01, 2009

* The more concessions Israel makes, the higher the percentage of Israeli Arabs who say Israel has no right to exist
* Arafat’s former office manager: “The Palestinian people is the Jesus Christ of this world, it is crucified forever”
* Scottish church places replica of Israel’s security barrier in entrance to make congregants walk round it before entering
* Racist remarks about Jews and Lehman Brothers made by London university lecturer before the British academic vote to boycott Israelis last week
* Rival Tel Aviv, Gaza beaches established on the banks of the Danube in Vienna



1. King of Morocco acknowledges truth of the Holocaust
2. Over 40% of Israeli Arabs: Holocaust never happened
3. Dramatic decline among Israeli Arabs saying Israel has right to exist
4. Sir Nicholas Winton, the English Schindler, turns 100
5. CAIR questions FBI over NY synagogue plot
6. Arafat’s former office manager: Israel is a cancer and should be destroyed any way possible
7. Edinburgh film festival bows to pressure from Ken Loach’s Israeli boycott
8. York University (Canada) criticized for holding conference questioning Israel’s right to exist
9. Britain’s main academic union again votes to boycott Israelis
10. World Council of Churches declares “Palestine, Israel peace week”
11. Canadian minister: much anti-Zionism is simply anti-Semitism
12. “Next” recalls underwear after complaints over Hitler image
13. Rival Tel Aviv, Gaza beaches established on the Danube
14. Dry Bones cartoon: Obama’s consistency

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


In a largely unreported speech at the Royal Palace in Fez, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has called the Holocaust “one of the blots, one of the most tragic chapters in modern history.”

“Amnesia has no bearing on my perception of the Holocaust, or on that of my people,” the king is reported as saying.

Holocaust denial, distortion, revisionism and inversion are rife throughout the Arab world and beyond, spurred on by Iranian despot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and by various Arab newspaper editors, and it is extremely rare for an Arab or Muslim head of state to admit the truth about the world’s worst genocide.

Ahmadinejad has called the systematic murder of six million Jews a “myth,” and his government has sponsored a conference of Holocaust deniers. Meanwhile, Arabic translations of revisionist literature continue to appear on websites throughout the Arab world and some find their way into the state-sponsored Arab press. There has also been a notable increase in Holocaust distortion broadcast in English on media such as the BBC, often in the guise of “program guests” and “experts”.


Only a few Muslim majority countries openly acknowledge the Holocaust. Last year, the predominantly Muslim European nation of Albania held its first Holocaust Remembrance Day. (I have previous written extensively about the Albanian efforts, almost alone among the peoples of Europe, to shield its Jewish population from the Nazis, although some Albanian Jews were eventually deported to Bergen-Belsen.)

For writings on how some individual Arabs helped rescue Jews, please see the dispatch of Oct. 11, 2006 titled “The Holocaust’s Arab heroes”.

In denying the Holocaust and forgetting these brave Arabs, today’s Arab leaders are denying their own history. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has said that “Jews invented the legend of the Holocaust.” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told an interviewer that he doesn’t have “any clue how Jews were killed or how many were killed.” And Hamas’s official website calls the Nazi genocide “an alleged and invented story with no basis.”

King Mohammed’s grandfather, Mohammed V, managed to lessen application of the Vichy government’s racist laws toward Moroccan-born Jews. But thousands of European Jewish refugees who reached Morocco were placed in French-controlled slave-labor camps there, as they were in Algeria and Tunisia. Many of these Jews, as well as some Arabs and Berbers, were forced to work in horrific conditions, with insufficient food and in unbearable heat.



Only 53% of Israeli Arabs recognize Israel’s right to exist, while 40.5% believe the Holocaust never happened, a new poll conducted by Haifa University reveals. The results, which were prominently reported in the Israeli press, have dismayed and shocked Israeli Jews as well as moderate Israeli Arabs. The survey was supervised by Professor Sami Smooha, who has been monitoring Arab-Jewish relations in Israel for 35 years.

As Israel has made concessions and withdrawn from more territory since the Oslo accords began to be implemented in the mid-1990s, increasing numbers of Israeli Arabs, perhaps sensing Israeli weakness and retreat, have adopted more militant views. In 1995, only 7% of Arab-Israelis said the State of Israel had no right to exist, compared to 47% now.


In a similar poll in 2003, before Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Israel’s perceived loss at the hands of Hizbullah in 2006, and the wave of “successful” Hamas rocket attacks on Israel in 2007-8, 81% of Israeli Arabs said Israel had a right to exist.

Israeli Arabs are also being influenced by the rise in Holocaust denial throughout the Arab world. Whereas, 40.5% now claim that the Holocaust never happened, in 2006 28% denied the Holocaust.

In the new poll, 47% of Israeli Arabs object to having a Jewish neighbor, while in 2003 the figure stood at 27.2%.

The poll was based on face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 700 male and female Arab, Druze and Bedouin citizens of Israel.



Sir Nicholas Winton celebrated his hundredth birthday on May 19. In the last months of peace in 1939, when there were already clear signs that Jews would be targeted for death, Winton, then a 29-year-old stockbroker’s clerk, traveled to Prague, set up an office there, and organized eight trains that brought 669 Czech Jewish children to London.

Winton, who was not someone of special means or influence, arranged for sponsors, papers, and funding. The ninth train, which was due to leave on September 3, the day war was declared, was cancelled and the 250 children who would have been on that train were murdered.

Following a campaign by Holocaust survivors living in Britain, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Winton in 2003, and the Czechs proposed him for the Nobel Peace Prize. A Jewish organization in London is holding a special concert for him this month to mark his 100th birthday. I met him a few years ago when he revisited Prague to receive an award from Vaclav Havel and he remained in exceptionally good heath and cheer for his age. He told me that he rejects the comparison with Schindler. “My life was never in risk, unlike Schindler’s. I was back in London by the time the war started. Anybody could and should have done what I did,” he said.

A commemorative sculpture of Winton by Venezuelan-born artist Flor Kent (who is a subscriber to this email list) will be unveiled at Prague’s main train station this fall. Although he comes from a German-Jewish background (his original family name is Wertheim) Winton does not regard himself as Jewish.



It didn’t take long for the revisionism to begin. The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) initially applauded the FBI and the other law enforcement agencies that took part in the investigation that uncovered a plot by four New York converts to Islam to attack worshippers at two Jewish synagogues in the Bronx last month.

Now CAIR, a prominent American Islamic advocacy group, have started to criticize the FBI and cast doubts on the veracity of their claims. In their press release they even placed the word “plot” in italics:

“This entire scheme seems to be the product of sending yet another FBI agent provocateur into an American mosque to instigate a ‘plot’ that would likely never have been hatched but for the rhetorical and financial inducements of the government informant,” CAIR claimed.

The authorities said the suspects had planned to detonate cars with plastic explosives at the synagogues. They were particularly furious that one of the synagogues has a woman rabbi.


Brazilian police, who thwarted an attempt to bomb two synagogues in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre on May 22, 2009, said they are investigating whether the neo-Nazi group behind the attempted terror attack has international ties. “I have no doubt that we have aborted a major tragedy,” police commander Paulo Cesar Jardim said.



Yasser Arafat’s former office manager, known as “Umm Nasser,” has given an interview to Mihwar TV in which she called for the destruction of Israel, referring to the world’s only Jewish-majority state as a “cancer”. “One day Allah will give us a cure to rid ourselves of the cancer called Israel once and for all,” she said.

She also said that Arafat’s widow Suha had “only” received $10 million, out of a total of $900 million that Arafat had placed in European bank accounts (almost all of it foreign aid money, including American and European taxpayers’ funds donated to Arafat’s Palestinian Authority).

“What I also know for sure,” she added, “ is that she receives a monthly stipend from brother Abu Mazen [the nom de guerre of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also continues to be given money by the U.S. and other governments], as a pension to which she is entitled as the widow of Abu Ammar [Arafat’s nom de guerre]. She gets a stipend for her monthly expenses, which she spends on herself, her daughters, and their life in exile. She receives a monthly allowance of $25,000. I know this for a fact.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars disappeared following Arafat’s death. It is thought that it was divided up between senior PLO officials.

Arafat’s aide also said in the interview that “The Palestinian people is the Jesus Christ of this world, it is crucified forever.”

(Translations courtesy of MEMRI, the senior staff of which subscribe to this email list.)



The prestigious Edinburgh International Film Festival has returned a grant from the Israeli embassy in London, after bowing to pressure from film director Ken Loach. Loach had threatened the festival organizers with a widespread boycott if they accepted the Israeli embassy grant to help an Israeli film due to be shown at the festival. In March Loach called Israel’s action in Gaza in January “one of the great crimes the world has known” and justified the rise in anti-Semitism that he said was a direct consequence of Israel’s “crimes”.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor said: “Rather than encourage an open dialogue through cultural exchange, the festival is promoting bigotry by denying the British public the opportunity to hear all points of view. It is regrettable that the organizers would choose to boycott Israel and compromise their artistic integrity.”

The £300 grant was to enable Tel Aviv University graduate Tali Shalom Ezer to fly to Scotland for a screening of her film “Surrogate”. Ezer’s film is a romance set in a sex-therapy clinic, and makes no reference to war or politics. It recently won an award for Best Film at Israel’s International Women’s Film Festival.

In a statement, Festival representatives said that Loach spoke “on behalf of the film community, therefore we will be returning the funding issued by the Israeli embassy.” (It is not clear what evidence they have that Loach speaks “on behalf of the film community.”)


This contradicted an earlier statement, reprinted on a number of websites, in which the EIFF said: “Not accepting support from one particular country would set a dangerous precedent by politicizing what is a wholly cultural and artistic mission. We are firm believers in free cultural exchange, and do not feel that ghettoizing filmmakers or restricting their ability to communicate artistically on the basis that they come from a troubled territory is of any benefit.

“Nor do we see that filmmakers are voices of their government. It is particularly important in situations of strife and conflict that artists be supported in having their voices heard.”

Sir Jeremy Isaacs, a leading figure in the world of British film and television, told The Times (of London) that the festival’s organizers made “an appalling decision” and urged them to reconsider.

Isaacs said Loach’s act of censorship was particularly hypocritical as Loach has always been critical of censorship of his own work.

Meanwhile, the Edinburgh festival includes the world premiere of “Nakba,” (the Arabic for “catastrophe”) a Belgian documentary which “tells the story of the Palestinian exodus”.



Canadian Jewish human rights have strongly criticized a conference due to be held this month at York University in Toronto, which will question Israel’s right to exist. Of additional concern is a statement by York University President Mamdouh Shoukri that the conference will form part of the university’s publicly advertised 50th anniversary celebrations.

“This sham of a conference, which questions the Jewish state’s very right to exist, promises to be a veritable ‘who’s who’ of anti-Israel propagandists,” said Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada’s Executive Vice President. “This is not an issue of academic freedom, despite the great lengths the university is going to try to paint it in that light. It is purely and simply about delegitimizing the Jewish state and promoting hatred of its supporters.”

“We call on York University professors, students, benefactors, alumni to demand that York cease becoming a breeding ground for encouraging anti-Jewish hatred and instead, use the opportunity of its 50th anniversary to return to its roots and celebrate tolerance and respect for all.”



Members of Britain’s University and College Union (UCU) defied a warning from their leadership at their annual congress last week, and passed a motion to boycott all Jewish Israeli academics.

The union’s executive had warned that the resolution would be declared null and void following legal advice that it would contravene British race discrimination laws.

Israeli universities are some of the most diverse in the Middle East and include a substantial number of Arab students.

Ha’aretz reports today that lecturers made racist remarks at a meeting held beforehand. Among them, Sean Wallis, secretary for the Union’s branch at University College London, reportedly told 80 people before the vote at a “fringe meeting” for the British Committee for Universities for Palestine that the position that a boycott was illegal was attributable to lawyers backed by people with “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down.” (A widespread anti-Semitic conspiracy theory in the Arab world, which Wallis may know about, holds that before Lehman Brothers collapsed last year, “Jews at Lehman Brothers sent $400 billion to Israel.”)



The World Council of Churches will mark “World Week for Peace in Palestine, Israel” from June 4-10. But while the goal of the week is to “pray, educate and advocate for peace,” virtually all of the efforts center on criticism of Israeli policies.

The council’s website “calls participants to seek justice for Palestinians so that both Israelis and Palestinians can finally live in peace,” wording critics say omits half of the conflict.

A participating church in Edinburgh, Scotland, will require attendees to walk around a replica of Israel’s security barrier before entering the church. Efforts in Israel and the Palestinian areas will center on protests at checkpoints, refugee camps and Jewish communities in post-1967 territories. At least 20 nations will be represented in the World Council activities.

Meanwhile the churches are ignoring the other 130 conflicts around the world, many of which are far bloodier than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, has publicly identified the “new anti-Semitism” emanating from an alliance of Western far leftists and Islamic extremists, for what it is.

He said last week: “Israel is not perfect, obviously. Israelis should be the first to admit that. But we acknowledge that so much of the criticism Israel faces is motivated by a dangerous form of anti-Semitism that tries to hide behind anti-Zionism and is represented by a coalition of the far left in the West with extreme currents of jihadi Islam that seek the destruction of the Jewish nation. They seem to believe that the Jewish people are the only people in the world that don’t have a right to a homeland.”

Why won’t other Western politicians admit that?



The British retailing giant “Next” has recalled men’s underwear after two customers complained that the image on the underwear resembled the Nazi leader saluting as planes passed overhead.

The image was among a series of cartoons on the underwear. A spokesman for “Next” told The Sun newspaper it was withdrawing all remaining 5,200 pairs of the underwear.



A “Tel Aviv-style” beach has been set up on the right bank of the river running through the Austrian capital Vienna. The public relations operation, of Israel origin, is meant to promote Israeli leisure activity. Pro-Palestinian groups have put up a “Gaza Beach” on the opposite river bank complete with negative images of Israel.

(There is some more information on the Tel Aviv Danube beach here and here.)



The cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen, aka “Dry Bones,” whose work I have long admired, has parted company with The Jerusalem Post after decades with the paper. With the permission of Yaakov Kirschen, who is a subscriber to this email list, some “Dry Bones” cartoons will now be carried on my website (as well as on his own). The first is below.

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