Iran: “Einstein secretly converted to Shi’a Islam” (& Reuters “terrorist” journalist)

September 06, 2009

* Missing pirate ship carried Russian S-300 missiles for Iran
* Russia raids ship off coast of Africa based on Mossad information
* Former Abbas ally calls him “a third world tyrant”
* Swedish FM cancels trip to Israel, while Spanish FM apologizes for David Irving WW2 piece

* “Had the S-300 missiles been delivered, Iran would have significantly strengthened its air defenses. An Israeli air force source said that in the event of an attack on Iranian nuclear installations, such missiles could increase Israeli casualties by 50%.”

This dispatch is split into two for space reasons. The other part is: Associated Press: thousands of Arabs moving into Jewish areas of Jerusalem.

(I will be away on a lecture tour over the next two weeks and there won’t be any more dispatches until later in the month.)



1. Iranian cleric: “Albert Einstein secretly converted to Shi’a Islam”
2. Another biased story from a Reuters’ contributor with a terrorist past
3. “Mossad supplied information, Russian commandos raided”
4. Former Abbas ally calls him “a third world tyrant”
5. Swedish Foreign Minister cancels this week’s trip to Israel, while Spanish FM apologizes
6. Spanish FM doesn’t have a problem with denouncing media anti-Semitism
7. UNRWA says it denounces Holocaust denial, but won’t teach Palestinians Holocaust
8. Encrypted video link installed between White House and Netanyahu’s office
9. Iran replacing envoys who backed “rioters”
10. Jane Fonda, Naomi Klein protest as Toronto Film Festival shows positive films about Tel Aviv

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


If you want to understand the delusional beliefs of much of the leadership (and media) in Iran and the Arab world, this story from the Iranian media last week is a good example:

“According to an unnamed cleric delivering a sermon at a mosque in Tehran, the nuclear physicist Albert Einstein allegedly converted to Shi’a Islam through the efforts of Grand Ayatollah Boroujerdi, who also had urged Einstein to keep his conversion secret in order not to be assassinated.”

(In Persian here.)



On September 2, 2009, a Reuters stringer wrote a lengthy piece on the Reuters website about Palestinian smuggling tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The piece completely failed to mention the weapons that Hamas and other groups smuggle daily in large quantities through these tunnels, and that have in the past been used to murder Israeli civilians. Instead there were a number of photos with the article designed to engender sympathy for the smugglers.

The Reuters stringer responsible for the story and photos is none other than Suhaib Salem, arrested on suspicion of terrorism by Israel in 2002 (for having a hand grenade in his car), as I noted in this dispatch in 2002.

He is also brother to Salah Salem who was one of the men involved in the kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldier Nachson Waxman in 1994.


Much of the world media uses information, photos and film footage supplied by the British-based company Reuters for its international reporting, and in particular its Middle East reporting.

The Reuters Trust Principles state: “Thomson Reuters is dedicated to uphold the Reuters Trust Principles and to preserve its independence, integrity and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of information and news.”

(For more background on Reuters, please see here. See also: Reuters Middle East Watch.)



Last week there were various headlines in the Israeli press such as “Mossad supplied information, Russian commandos raided: Thus the attempt to smuggle missiles to Iran aboard a pirated ship was foiled” (Yisrael Hayom).

And “The Pirates of the Mossad: Pirates raided Russian ship at the behest of the Israeli intelligence service” (Yediot Ahronot).

Now some foreign media have reported on this too. The (London) Sunday Times runs a story today headlined “Missing channel pirate ship carried Russian arms for Iran”.

The paper notes that “A cargo ship that vanished in the Channel was carrying arms to Iran and was being tracked by Mossad, the Israeli security service, according to sources in both Russia and Israel.

“The Arctic Sea, officially carrying a cargo of timber worth GBP 1.3m, disappeared en route from Finland to Algeria on July 24. It was recovered off west Africa on August 17 when eight alleged hijackers were arrested… sources in Tel Aviv and Moscow who claimed the ship had been loaded with S-300 missiles, Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, while undergoing repairs in the Russian port of Kaliningrad.

“Mossad, which closely monitors arms supplies to Iran, is said to have tipped off the Russian government that the shipment had been sold by former military officers linked to the underworld.

“The Kremlin then ordered a naval rescue mission which involved destroyers and submarines. Any evidence that the Kremlin had let advanced weaponry fall into the hands of criminals or be sold to Iran would be highly embarrassing, so military officials believe a ‘cover story’ was concocted. ‘The official version is ridiculous and was given to allow the Kremlin to save face,’ said a Russian military source. ‘I’ve spoken to people close to the investigation and they’ve pretty much confirmed Mossad’s involvement. It’s laughable to believe all this fuss was over a load of timber [as Russia now officially claims]. I’m not alone in believing that it was carrying weapons to Iran.’

“… Had the S-300 missiles been delivered, Iran would have significantly strengthened its air defenses. An Israeli air force source said that in the event of an attack on Iranian nuclear installations, such missiles could increase Israeli casualties by 50%.”

“Since the Arctic Sea was retaken, Russia has imposed a security blackout. The hijackers, the crew and two investigative teams were flown back to Moscow in three Il-76 air freight planes. For more than a week after being freed the crew were not allowed to talk to their families.”



Nabil Amr, a long-time political ally of Mahmoud Abbas (and before that a close confidante of Yasser Arafat), has described the Palestinian Authority president as a “third-world tyrant.”

Amr, who until recently served as Palestinian Minister of Information, also joined a long list of senior Fatah officials who have accused Abbas of “forging the results” of the recent elections for Fatah’s Central Committee and Revolutionary Council.

Amr’s attack is the latest sign of the continued bitter dissensions within Fatah.

As I wrote in a previous dispatch, former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), last month said “the fraud in the recent Iranian presidential election was nothing compared to what happened in Bethlehem in Fatah’s election.”

For more on the Fatah elections, please see The truth about Fatah – revealed by Fatah itself (Aug. 11, 2009).



Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has cancelled a planned trip to Israel on September 11, against the background of Israeli anger at the Swedish government’s refusal to condemn an article in Sweden’s bestselling newspaper which accused IDF soldiers of murdering innocent Palestinians and harvesting their organs. (Please see previous dispatches on this list for background on this affair.) Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had let it be known he was considering not meeting Bildt unless he condemned the article in Aftonbladet, something the Swedish government has adamantly refused to do. Netanyahu said it was reasonable to expect the Swedish government to speak out against the type of defamation, which had in living memory led to the mass murder of Jews.

Sweden had no trouble condemning cartoons of Mohammed three years ago that Muslims found offensive (See here, for example.) By contrast Bildt reprimanded Sweden’s ambassador to Israel, who had called the article about Jews – which the newspaper now admits it made up – “shocking and appalling.”

In any case there is no comparison between depicting a long-dead religious figure as aggressive in a cartoon and falsely accusing contemporary Jews of murdering Palestinians based on a blood libel that played a key part in paving the way for a Holocaust that Sweden did little to stop.

It would also be difficult to imagine the Swedish government standing by an invented front-page article in the country’s most read newspaper that said black people are secretly murdering white people to cut them up and sell their organs.



Ironically, while the Swedes continued to refuse to condemn the article, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos chose the Swedish capital Stockholm (where he was attending an EU meeting yesterday) to denounce the Spanish newspaper El Mundo’s decision to run an interview this weekend with convicted Holocaust denier David Irving as part of its “experts” retrospective on the start of World War II 70 years ago.

“The foreign minister, while maintaining the most absolute respect for freedom of expression, regrets that space was given to a historian who denies one of the biggest tragedies for humanity in modern history,” Moratinos’s spokesman said. “These types of statements deeply hurt the Jewish people.”

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman welcomed Moratinos for his statement, saying “he understood the heart of the matter in this case, and did the right thing.”

Irving, who spent 13 months in jail in Austria for Holocaust denial, consistently argues that time is on his side. He wrote again on his website last month: “All that interests me now is the question, whose books will scholars be using in a hundred years’ time – mine, or those of the conformist historians like Ian Kershaw and Martin Gilbert?”



This is a follow-up to the note “Hamas accuses UN of plan to teach Gaza kids Holocaust ‘lies’” in the dispatch titled Obama’s approval rating in Israel falls to new low (& No male teachers allowed) (Sept. 1, 2009)

UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) has in the last two days issued two forceful press statements out of its New York office denouncing Holocaust denial.

But while UNRWA says it “condemns Holocaust denial in all its forms” it says it will not, as had been suggested, teach Palestinian children about the Holocaust. This follows threats to senior UNRWA staff by Hamas if it did.

In Gaza, Karen Abu Zayd, the commissioner-general of UNRWA, reiterated to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that the curriculum at UN schools in Gaza would not refer to the Jewish Holocaust. “Anyone can have a look at the school books. Really we focus on human rights in the curriculum. We don’t mention any Jewish Holocaust,” she said.

UNRWA, which runs schools for hundreds of thousands of Arab children in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, is largely funded by America and European governments.

An increasing number of European, American and Canadian politicians subscribe to this email list and I would urge them to look into UNRWA’s policy of denying these children the chance to learn about the Holocaust.



The Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported this weekend that an encrypted video link has been installed between the White House and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office so that it is possible to hold secure video conferences. It is not known whether the White House has established such a link with any other country.

Could Iran possibly be on the agenda?



Iran is replacing 40 of its ambassadors, including some who voiced support for what the regime called “rioters” during the unrest that followed June’s disputed presidential election, the semi-official Fars news agency reports.

This is part of an increased hardening of Iranian government personnel, including the appointment of a terrorist wanted by Interpol (for mass murder in Argentina) as the regime’s new defense minister, at a time when it is proceeding at rapid speed with its uranium enrichment program.

Meanwhile Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi today repeated the claim that three Persian Gulf islands were “an indispensible part of Iranian territory,” and Arab statements that they belonged to the UAE were “groundless, especially since the UAE was only born in 1971.” The islands may lead to a future clash between Shia Iran and the Sunni Arab world.



* A lawyer representing Tehran Bus Company union chief Mansour Osanlou said last week that his client’s heart condition had worsened following a raid on his prison cell by guards who beat up his fellow inmates and destroyed Osanlou’s personal belongings. The lawyer added that Osanlou is being held with drug addicts, thieves and murderers as a form of special punishment. He was arrested for demanding workers’ rights.

* Iranian reformist websites report that dozens of victims of post-election violence were secretly buried in Tehran’s Behesht-i Zahra Cemetery.

* Mohammad Maleki, the former chancellor of Tehran University, has also now been arrested as the crackdown in Iran continues, largely unreported in the Western media.



The New York Post reports (September 4, 2009):

HOLLYWOOD studios love to use the Toronto Film Festival as a launching pad for Oscar contenders, but this year there’s a different buzz. In an online letter to event chiefs, an array of notables -- Jane Fonda, Naomi Klein, Danny Glover and David Byrne among them -- have protested the festival’s choice to spotlight the city of Tel Aviv and 10 Israeli moviemakers.

“Intentionally or not,” the letter says, “the festival has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.” A week earlier, a Canadian filmmaker pulled his short from the event in protest. But the festival, which opens Thursday, refused to back down, insisting it would continue to show “the best films we can find.”


Tom Gross adds: Since that item appeared Jane Fonda has announced she will boycott this year’s Toronto Film Festival. Another “artist” saying she will boycott the event is Eve Ensler (the American-Jewish playwright and left-wing activist, who wrote The Vagina Monologues) who says she “would not stand by while the festival showed a film celebrating Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary.”

So much for tolerance and artistic freedom of expression.

Rewriting history (but then when did anti-Semites ever care about facts?), Fonda, Ensler and Klein said in a statement that Tel Aviv was built on the “suffering of thousands of former residents” of the city.

A Canadian Jewish leader said: “By calling into question the legitimacy of Tel Aviv, they are supporting a one-state solution, which means the destruction of the State of Israel. I applaud the organizers of the festival for celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv. If every city in the Middle East would be as culturally diverse, as open to freedom of expression as Tel Aviv is, then peace would long have come to the Middle East long ago.”

(For more on Naomi Klein, please see The Brides wore Black: Hamas widows re-marry (& The idiocies of Naomi Klein) (July 13, 2009)

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

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