* Hamas: Idea of demilitarized Palestine is “pathetic”
* Fatah boasts about lynch murder of Israelis
* Relations between Obama administration and Israel hit new low
* Some European governments now more supportive of Israel than U.S. is
* Jimmy Carter and James Baker call on Obama to “talk to Hamas without delay”
* Human Rights Watch finally speaks up for Gilad Shalit (while Amnesty, Oxfam remain silent)
* Will Michael Jackson’s kids be raised by their Jewish mother?
1. Fatah TV shows Hamas torturing Palestinians in Gaza
2. Fatah boasts about lynch murder of Israelis
3. U.S. government to fund Palestinian center named after Fatah terrorist and child-killer
4. Fatah delegate to Arab League: “Wailing Wall is an integral part of Al-Aqsa mosque”
5. Palestinian prosecutors seek death penalty for woman charged with collaborating with Israel
6. Egyptian cleric calls for boycott of Pepsi: name stands for “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel”
7. Middle East Quartet envoy Blair puts onus on Israel
8. Some European governments now more supportive of Israel than U.S. government is
9. U.S., EU seek to include Hamas in peace process
10. Livni: agreement with Hamas will “gravely harm Israel”
11. Jerusalem Post laments the “busloads of terrorists” who will be released for Gilad Shalit
12. Three years on, HRW finally firmly condemns kidnap of Shalit (while Amnesty Intl., Oxfam still silent)
13. The BBC’s Alan Johnston also refuses to condemn holding of Shalit
14. Hamas leader Meshaal rejects idea of demilitarized Palestine as “pathetic”
15. Cartoons: Palestinians discuss statehood
16. Will Michael Jackson’s kids be raised by their Jewish mother?
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
I attach various items relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For space reasons, this dispatch is divided into two. The second part will be posted on Wednesday.
Even if you don’t have time to read the full dispatch, please do watch the four videos below. The videos are very short (most are under a minute) and are integral to understanding why it has been so difficult to achieve Mideast peace, and why Western governments continue to do so much damage by financing a Palestinian leadership without making their funding conditional on putting an end to the kind of incitement to murder which the second video below illustrates.
FATAH TV SHOWS HAMAS TORTURING PALESTINIANS IN GAZA
Palestinian Authority Television, which is controlled by Fatah and part-funded by the EU and U.S., marked the second anniversary of the Hamas takeover of Gaza by broadcasting an event that focused on vilifying Hamas. One part of the event featured graphic video of Hamas beating and torturing Palestinians in Gaza. You can watch a one minute segment here. (Warning: this video is violent.)
(Please also try to see videos which I included earlier this year on this list. For example, this 44-second film shows Hamas operatives throwing political opponents, with their hands bound and in some cases blindfolded, off Gaza rooftops.)
FATAH BOASTS ABOUT LYNCH MURDER OF ISRAELIS
Another segment of the Palestinian Authority TV program last week criticized and mocked Hamas for carrying out fewer acts of terrorism against Israel recently. (Hamas have been trying, but increased security at Gaza checkpoints by both Egypt and Israel have made it difficult for terrorists to get through.) At the same time PA TV glorified acts of terrorism by Fatah. (The BBC, CNN, New York Times and others constantly and wrongly refer to Fatah as a moderate organization.)
The Fatah TV program contains a scene with actors playing student supporters of Fatah and Hamas, debating which movement has been more “successful” in its attacks on Israel.
At the end, a Fatah student wins the debate when he outdoes Hamas’s boast of having kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by saying that Fatah knows how to kill Israelis and not just hold them hostage.
The incident referred to, which I reported on at the time as a journalist, is the gruesome lynching of two Israeli reservist soldiers who accidentally entered Palestinian Authority-controlled Ramallah in October 2000. The picture of a Palestinian celebrating the killing by waving his bloody hands out of the Ramallah police headquarters shocked the world, but the murder remains a source of pride for Fatah, and is often praised in mainstream Palestinian newspapers.
You can watch the short Fatah-Hamas “terror debate” here:
Please note that the video shows Fatah leaders seated in the front row of last week’s event. They are seen applauding. They include former head of PA security Muhammad Dahlan, the head of the PA Prisoners’ Association Kadura Faras; former PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Al-Qidwa; senior Fatah official Samir Al-Mashharawi, and other Palestinian leaders that are described as moderates by major British and French and American newspapers.
Are Barack Obama and his advisors watching videos like these? They are, after all, helping to fund them.
(Above videos courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch, the senior staff of which subscribe to this email list.)
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO FUND PALESTINIAN CENTER NAMED AFTER FATAH TERRORIST AND CHILD-KILLER
The U.S. government has announced it will finance the construction of a Palestinian computer center named in honor of arch Fatah terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led the 1978 bus bombing on Israel’s coastal highway in which 37 Israeli civilians, including 12 children and U.S. citizen Gail Rubin, were murdered.
Besides being morally reprehensible, the Obama administration is contravening the 2008 U.S. Foreign Operations Bill that bars U.S. assistance to the Palestinians from being used “for the purpose of recognizing or otherwise honoring individuals who commit or have committed acts of terrorism.”
FATAH DELEGATE TO ARAB LEAGUE: “WAILING WALL IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF AL-AQSA MOSQUE”
WAFA (the official news agency of the PLO, of which Fatah is the main constituent) reports that the chief Palestinian delegate to the Arab League, Ambassador Mohamed Sobeih, told reporters in Cairo last week (on June 26) that the Western Wall, which he called the “Jews’ Wailing Wall” is “an integral part of the Al-Aqsa mosque” and there would be no peace unless the wall “fell under Palestinian Muslim sovereignty.”
The Western Wall, which (together with the Temple Mount) is the holiest site in Judaism, lies in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s old city. It is sometimes still referred to in a politically incorrect way as “The Wailing Wall”.
PALESTINIAN PROSECUTORS SEEK DEATH PENALTY FOR WOMAN CHARGED WITH COLLABORATING WITH ISRAEL
A 22-year-old Palestinian woman has been charged with “collaborating with Israel” and the Palestinian Authority prosecutor in the West Bank city of Jenin said he will seek the death sentence. Following interrogation (involving the threat of torture) the woman confessed to passing “low level” information to Israel. She was refused legal counsel. The PA has sentenced at least 30 Palestinians to death, but in general has not carried out the sentences. In Gaza, Hamas has executed a number of people, sometimes summarily shooting them in the street.
EGYPTIAN CLERIC CALLS FOR BOYCOTT OF PEPSI: NAME STANDS FOR “PAY EVERY PENNY TO SAVE ISRAEL”
Egyptian cleric Hazem Abu Ismail said in a religious address on Al-Nas TV:
“Do you know what the word ‘Pepsi’ means? Pepsi as in P-E-P-S-I. The first P stands for ‘Pay.’ E stands for ‘Every.’ The third letter stands for ‘Penny.’ A penny means any small coin you receive and don’t know what to do with. Pay it to ‘Saving’ I – ‘Israel.’ In other words, pay every small coin you receive in order to save Israel. They don’t want money from you – they want your small change, your pennies.”
The full video segment can be seen in Arabic here. (It was broadcast in February but only posted with English subtitles in recent days.)
(Translation courtesy of MEMRI, the senior staff of which subscribe to this email list.)
Alternatively, here is another broadcast where Hazem Abu Ismail makes similar points:
MIDDLE EAST QUARTET ENVOY BLAIR PUTS ONUS ON ISRAEL
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be within reach if only Israel would make more compromises. In an interview with Reuters, Blair, who represents the Quartet of Middle East mediators (which includes the UN, the U.S., Russia and the EU), put the focus of demands on Israel, not the Palestinians.
Ignoring the case of Gaza, where the removal of all Jewish settlements and soldiers merely led to an increase of attacks on Israel from territory Israel had left, Blair (reiterating the misguided position of the Obama administration) said that removing settlements would somehow in and of itself deliver peace. (The removal of many or most settlements might well be part of an agreement that would help lead to Israeli-Palestinian co-existence but to suggest that it alone will provide such an outcome is the height of naivety.) Blair added: “The advent of the Obama administration has given a new sense of energy and commitment and to a certain extent hope.”
SOME EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS NOW MORE SUPPORTIVE OF ISRAEL THAN U.S. GOVERNMENT IS
Relations between Israel and the U.S. government are now at their lowest point in years. In the latest polls only 5% of Israelis say Barack Obama is sympathetic to Israel. These are, to my knowledge, the least favorable ratings Obama gets in any country in the world.
This is not surprising as he continues to ratchet up pressure on the Jewish state while being quite friendly when he meets dictators like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or the Saudi crown prince. Even an American journalist like Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl – who in the past has been a harsh critic of Israel – says in an editorial today that Obama has gone too far in the pressure and demands he is now putting on Israel. Diehl’s article will be included in the second part of this dispatch.
In a complete reversal of the Bush era, Israel now enjoys better relations with several European governments, and also with Canada, than it does with the U.S. administration.
One such government is Italy, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a warm welcome last week from Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, while Netanyahu postponed a potentially much less comfortable meeting with Obama’s Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, in Paris.
Berlusconi endorsed Netanyahu’s plan for a future demilitarized Palestinian state and said peace wouldn’t be possible unless the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” with a right to exist. (Leading French government officials also expressed support for Israel’s positions last week, in contrast to those in America. Netanyahu has moved sharply to the left and Israel’s centrist Kadima party and left-center Labor party are now finding it difficult to differentiate its policy statements from Netanyahu’s.)
Whereas the U.S. says emphatically that Israel must call an immediate halt to all forms of Jewish settlement activity, including the building of children’s playgrounds and medical centers in the suburbs of Jerusalem, Berlusconi was more gentle, speaking only of the need for Israel “to send signals” on stopping settlement activity in the West Bank.
However, although Italy is one of Israel’s closest allies in Europe, it also remains Iran’s No. 1 European trading partner, accounting for about 26 percent of total import-export trade between EU countries and Tehran. Last year, Italian imports from Iran amounted to 4.1 billion euro ($5.73 billion).
U.S., EU SEEK TO INCLUDE HAMAS IN PEACE PROCESS
The American government and the European Union are making efforts to include Hamas in a broader diplomatic effort that would aim at a long-term cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, and reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
A deal is reportedly being formulated for the transfer of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to Egypt, in return for which Israel would release Palestinian prisoners, including convicted murderers. A European diplomatic source has confirmed that such talks were continuing in secret, and only four persons were privy to the details of the talks. Israel was not a party to this initiative.
Israel has downplayed reports of a pending breakthrough in the Shalit case, and Israeli officials noted that Shalit’s release has been undermined in the past by too many public statements.
Meanwhile, four senior American Republican and Democratic figures, including former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James Baker, called on President Barack Obama to initiate a dialogue with Hamas without delay. Speaking during a conference organized by the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Baker said that just as the U.S. spoke to Yasser Arafat, so it must do with Hamas.
Last month at least 7 Palestinians were killed in a series of fierce gun battles between Fatah and Hamas operatives in the West Bank.
According to a new poll released today by the Palestinian Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC), support for Hamas among Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza is waning. 18.8 percent of the Palestinian population backs the Islamist group, compared to 27% when the last JMCC survey was conducted in January. The survey of 1,199 people also showed that 35% of Palestinians support Fatah, a nine percent rise compared with the previous survey.
LIVNI: AGREEMENT WITH HAMAS WILL “GRAVELY HARM ISRAEL”
Israeli Opposition leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, of the center-left Kadima party, said yesterday that any “agreements with Hamas would clearly, and gravely, harm the interests of the state of Israel.”
Speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv, Livni criticized not only Western governments for trying to include Hamas but also Prime Minister Netanyahu’s possible involvement in the deal. She said that “just as halting the negotiations with the moderates in the Palestinian Authority harms Israel, so does formulating direct or indirect deals with Hamas, which could legitimize the organization in exchange for a mere few days of quiet [i.e. Hamas not firing rockets at Israel]. It is a strategic mistake that will harm Israel.”
JERUSALEM POST LAMENTS THE “BUSLOADS OF TERRORISTS” WHO WILL BE RELEASED FOR GILAD SHALIT
In an editorial, The Jerusalem Post discusses the three years that have passed since the abduction of Gilad Shalit, and hopes for his imminent release. However, the editors oppose the wholesale release of violent terrorists in exchange for Shalit, and write that “Once the wrenching Shalit affair is ended, we urge an efficient commission of inquiry into why there was no attempt to rescue the soldier over three years. Israelis have the right to know why the risks to the civilian population in releasing busloads of terrorists were deemed to trump those of a rescue mission.”
By contrast, the left-wing Israeli paper Ha’aretz calls for Netanyahu to release the extra 100 or so Palestinians convicted of serious crimes that Hamas is demanding (in addition to some 900 Palestinians convicted of lesser crimes that Israel has already agreed to) to secure Shalit’s release.
In order to torment his family further, Hamas has refused to confirm whether or not Shalit is alive. Osama al-Muzaini, a Hamas official authorized to speak about the case, again said on Monday that maybe Shalit was dead. Hizbullah also didn’t confirm whether the Israeli soldiers they kidnapped inside Israel in 2006, were alive or dead until a prisoner swap was under way last year. While Israel delivered live terrorists in good health, on that occasion Hizbullah delivered dead soldiers in return.
THREE YEARS ON, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FINALLY FIRMLY CONDEMNS KIDNAP OF SHALIT (WHILE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, OXFAM STILL SILENT)
Last week, on the third anniversary of Shalit’s kidnapping, the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) – which has continually been outspoken against Israel – finally issued a firm statement (rather than the tepid ones it has previously issued) condemning the kidnapping of Shalit and the manner in which he was being held, calling it “cruel and inhumane”.
Shalit has been denied even one visit by the International Red Cross, a grave violation of international humanitarian law. HRW makes clear that Hamas has “no excuse” for the way it has treated Shalit.
By contrast, other major international human rights NGOs, including the British-based Amnesty International and Oxfam, have failed to unreservedly condemn Shalit’s detention, thereby further damaging their unconvincing claims to impartiality.
THE BBC’S ALAN JOHNSTON ALSO REFUSES TO CONDEMN HOLDING OF SHALIT
The BBC’s former Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston, who was held by Palestinian terrorists for 114 days (barely a tenth of the time that Shalit has been in captivity) again refused to express sympathy for Shalit when asked by Ha’aretz newspaper last weekend. Johnson has been repeatedly criticized for his strong anti-Israel views. He now presents BBC radio news programs from London.
The day after his release in 2007, at an hour-long press conference at the British consulate in Jerusalem, Johnston went out of his way to thank almost everyone – including Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian people, the BBC, the British Foreign Office, international journalists, the European Union and the UN – but noticeably avoided thanking the government of Israel, who had been aiding the British in all kinds of ways behind the scenes to secure his release.
During that press conference he also refused to express sympathy for the young Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, despite being asked to do so by Israeli journalists. After the press conference, Johnston paid a courtesy visit to Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Later that day, Johnston called Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus to thank him in person.
HAMAS LEADER MESHAAL REJECTS IDEA OF DEMILITARIZED PALESTINE AS “PATHETIC”
The exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has responded to the recent speeches by U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a speech last Thursday in Damascus, Meshaal said that Netanyahu’s suggestion that a Palestinian state be demilitarized was “pathetic”. Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state “would erase the right of return to lands taken in 1948,” he added.
Rather than saying it might be the starting point for negotiations, the Fatah leadership in Ramallah also dismissed Netanyahu’s offer out of hand.
(For a full transcript of Netanyahu’s speech, not the misleading extracts that some Western media printed, please see here.)
Regarding Obama’s recent speech in Cairo, Meshaal said it was “good, but not enough.” Meshaal addressed Obama directly, saying he appreciated the new administration’s attitude towards Hamas, calling it “a step in the right direction.”
He added “The times have changed. Israel can no longer defeat our people and the Muslim nations. It has failed in its Nazi war on Gaza just as it failed in Lebanon. This is the result of the resistance [terror and rocket attacks], not negotiations that only mask the face of the occupation.”
CARTOONS: PALESTINIANS DISCUSS STATEHOOD
Here is the take by cartoonist Dry Bones on the Palestinian reaction to Netanyahu’s speech.
And here was his take in 1994 after the Israeli Labor government offered the Palestinians “land for peace”:
WILL MICHAEL JACKSON’S KIDS BE RAISED BY THEIR JEWISH MOTHER?
Lawyers are debating whether Michael Jackson’s two oldest children will be returned to the custody of Deborah Rowe, their Jewish mother.
The children Rowe had with the “King of Pop,” who died Friday of unspecified causes, are Prince Michael I, who is 12, and Paris Michael Katherine, 11. By virtue of having a Jewish mother, they are considered Jewish. A third child, Prince Michael II, was born to a surrogate mother, whose identity has not been revealed.
After divorcing Lisa Marie Presley, Jackson married Rowe, his former dermatologist nurse, in 1996. The couple divorced in 1999 and Rowe signed a contract waiving her parental rights. She later contested the contract, arguing among other things that she feared her children were being exposed to the teachings of the extremist group, the Nation of Islam.
Her fears were based on the fact that Jackson’s security was being handled by the Nation of Islam, headed by Louis Farrakhan, and that Jermaine Jackson, Michael’s brother, as well as the children’s nanny, were both Nation of Islam members.
Rowe’s attorney, Iris Finsilver, told the Associated Press yesterday that Rowe would be seeking custody of the two children.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]