Israeli businessman seeks to buy Al-Jazeera (& The Guardian’s KGB-style Israel cleansing)

October 11, 2009

* “Up next: President Obama’s stunning victory in this year’s Miss World contest. Dec. 12, Johannesburg. You read it here first” (quips Mark Steyn, a subscriber to this list)
* Britain’s Guardian newspaper tries to airbrush Israelis out of the Nobel Prize map
* Jerry Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen and Natalie Portman criticize Israel film boycotters
* “If valuable new drugs are developed as a result of her work, perhaps there will be a campaign to boycott them. Or perhaps only a third of them will be boycotted, or they will only be boycotted a third of the time!”



1. KGB-style, The Guardian removes Israelis from Nobel Prize winners list
2. Most people have to wait a year…
3. Condemn Israel by boycotting protein
4. On the same day…
5. Israeli businessman looks to buy Al-Jazeera
6. Saban joined Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen and Natalie Portman in standing up for Israel
7. Vanessa Redgrave condemns fellow pro-Palestinian activists
8. Jon Voight accuses Jane Fonda of “aiding those who seek the destruction of Israel”
9. More misreporting on Sky News
10. Two papers in one!
11. “An alternative Nobel. Three Iranian dissidents are sentenced to death” (Editorial, WSJ)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


[This item was first published on the websites of The National Post (Canada) and The National Review (America) on Saturday morning. It has since been picked up all over the world, and someone even translated it into French.)]


KGB-style, The Guardian removes Israelis from Nobel Prize winners list
By Tom Gross
National Review Online / The National Post
October 10, 2009

The British paper The Guardian – which one would be tempted to dismiss as an irrelevant left-wing rag, except that it is the overwhelming paper of choice for British teachers and for news staff at the BBC, the world’s largest broadcasting network, who are “inspired” by Guardian stories on a daily basis in their broadcasts – is no friend of Israel and the Jews, as I have noted before.

But now it has wiped Israel off the Nobel Prize map, much as Iranian despot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like to wipe Israel off the real map.

To accompany their story about Barack Obama winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, The Guardian posted on their website what they claimed was “every peace prize winner ever,” stating that the information came from the website But guess whose names The Guardian took off the list, KGB-style, hoping no-one would notice? All three Israelis who have won the peace prize: Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

Following outrage in Britain, including online articles on the websites of the conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph and Spectator (why are most anti-Semites on the Left these days?), The Guardian slipped the Israeli names back on to their list.

The Guardian had no trouble keeping FW De Klerk, the last president of Apartheid South Africa, on their original list. It is only the Jews – and their achievements – which they tried to wipe off the map.

And this from a paper whose motto is “Facts are sacred”. Of course The Guardian – like several other prominent European papers – misleads readers about Israel on a regular basis by omitting crucial information that portrays Israelis in a positive light.

This time it was caught red-handed, as the (London) Jewish Chronicle and the Harry’s Place blog managed to upload The Guardian’s Israel-free Nobel list before The Guardian slipped the names back in.

Below, The Guardian omitted Israeli political leaders Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, who won the peace prize jointly with Yasser Arafat in 1994. (Incidentally The Guardian forgot to remove the word “Israel” when removing the names of the Israeli winners):

Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat were jointly awarded the 1978 peace prize for signing an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Only Sadat was listed by The Guardian:



[This item was first published on National Review Online on Friday within an hour of the announcement that Barack Obama had won the 2009 Nobel Peace prize.]

A Little Premature, Perhaps?
By Tom Gross
National Review Online
October 9, 2009

So we wake up to the news this morning that Barack Obama joins past illustrious winners of the Nobel Peace prize, such as Yasser Arafat (father of modern terrorism, including airline hijacking and suicide bombing) and Jimmy Carter (who ushered in Iran’s Islamic revolution, the effects of which the poor people of Iran and the rest of us are still living with).

Now Obama may yet go on to do great things for peace, but so far he has done absolutely nothing as far as I can see, apart from distancing the U.S. from peace campaigners and pro-peace dissidents such as the Dalai Lama, whom Obama refused to meet in Washington earlier this week. By contrast, every other president during the last 20 years has met the Dalai Lama and George W. Bush even bestowed the Congressional Gold medal on him at the Capitol in 2007.

But then the Norwegian mafia that run the Nobel peace prize wouldn’t dream of awarding it to a Republican. Heaven forbid that they thought to award it to Ronald Reagan whom even Russian liberals admit did more than any other person to end the Cold War and liberate half of Europe. Reagan should have made a movie that pleased the Norwegians like Al Gore did.



Israel has won more Nobel Prizes per capita in science – by far – than any other country. This year was no exception as the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry (for a discovery which sounds as though it has major medical implications) is shared between three winners, one in the U.S., one at Cambridge, England and the third – a woman – an Israeli, at the Weizmann Institute.

It ought to be a big story, not least because the question of how much women achieve at the highest levels in science is still a controversial one. (One recalls the Larry Summers row at Harvard.) But, perhaps because it tells one something important and positive about Israel, the media have virtually ignored this story.

Israeli Professor Ada Yonath is the first woman to win a chemistry Nobel since 1964. She won the award for her research on ribosome, a key component of the cellular machinery that translates DNA sequences into protein chains – the exact sort of protein chains that form the basis of life in all humans, including both Israelis and Palestinians of course.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said her work had been fundamental to the scientific understanding of life and has helped researchers develop antibiotic cures for various diseases.

If valuable new drugs are developed as a result of her work, perhaps there will be a campaign to boycott them. Or perhaps only a third of them will be boycotted, or they will only be boycotted a third of the time!



… that yet another Israeli female scientist was winning a major award, Hamas further cracked down on the rights of Palestinian women, this time by banning females from riding motorcycles in the Gaza Strip.

The decree was issued by the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the movement’s security forces in Gaza. They said the ban was in keeping with “Arab traditions.”

This follows Hamas’s recent reported ban on women laughing in public. Public female laughing, they said, was “unIslamic”.



Egyptian-born, California-based Israeli billionaire Haim Saban is negotiating with the emir of Qatar to purchase 50 percent of the Al-Jazeera television network, the independent Egyptian newspaper Al-Mesryoon reports.

This is the second time Saban has shown an interest in buying the network, and (according to the newspaper) the offer “was prompted by the network’s growing financial troubles, despite its immense global and particularly Middle Eastern popularity.”

Saban, who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, was born in Egypt and moved to Israel in 1956 before later settling in the United States, where he made a fortune by holding the franchise for merchandizing Power Rangers.

Although the Egyptian news report is supposedly reliable, I have my doubts that Al-Jazeera needs to raise more capital, as the network is supported by the Qatari ruling family and is not dependent on income from advertising. The Qatari economy is based on natural gas, not oil, and has been more resilient to the effects of the global financial downturn than that of its oil-producing neighbors.

Saban has for years been one of Bill Clinton’s major backers in Hollywood. He was first reported to be negotiating the purchase of half the Doha-based Al-Jazeera network in 2004, after visiting the emirate with Clinton. In Israel, Saban owns a controlling stake in the Bezeq telephone company.



Last month Saban blasted calls to boycott Israeli films at the Toronto film festival after the festival’s decision to showcase Tel Aviv. He called the boycotters “anti-Semites” and “Jew haters.”

“The world always had anti-Semites,” the Hollywood financier told The Los Angeles Times. “It has now and always will, but the people of Israel always have, and always will live and prosper. Sorry Jew haters. You lose.”

Among the 50 artists and filmmakers who signed the petition calling for a boycott of the festival’s “Tel Aviv Week” were Ken Loach, Julie Christie, Danny Glover, David Byrne, Naomi Klein and Eve Ensler. (For background on this, please see the last item in this dispatch.)

Meanwhile, a number of Hollywood’s Jewish stars, including Jerry Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen, Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander and Lisa Kudrow (who plays Phoebe in “Friends’) issued a counter-statement attacking those who called for a boycott of Israeli film.

“Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy,” they wrote.



British actress Vanessa Redgrave, long known for being a pro-Palestinian activist, has also now condemned the call to boycott Israeli films. In a letter to The New York Review of Books, she wrote, “We oppose the current Israeli government, but it was freely elected, and is not a dictatorship. Words are important.”

At the center of the recent controversy about the participation of Israeli artists at the Toronto Film Festival was the fact that the event highlighted the city of Tel Aviv’s centennial. To the signatories calling for a boycott, it was the notion of celebrating Tel Aviv that was the real problem. It seems that Tel Aviv is, to them, the biggest “Jewish settlement” of them all, and thus should be dismantled.

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. 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 have come to the Middle East long ago.”



Jane Fonda has withdrawn her name from the list of film and TV personalities calling for a boycott of Israeli films, after swingeing criticism of her by Jon Voight, her co-star in the Oscar-winning anti-Vietnam war film Coming Home.

Voight, 71, who most recently starred in Season 7 of “24”, is one of Hollywood’s most vocal non-Jewish supporters of Israel. He accused Fonda of “aiding and abetting those who seek the destruction of Israel.”

“I signed the letter without reading it carefully enough, without asking myself if some of the wording wouldn’t exacerbate the situation rather than bring about constructive dialogue,” Fonda wrote on the Huffington Post website.



Dominic Waghorn, the lead Israel correspondent for the British-based international satellite broadcaster Sky News, has joined the breathless band of foreign reporters hailing bogus “exclusives” slamming Israel.

His claim (in an item broadcast repeatedly as lead world news by Sky) to be the first foreign correspondent inside the Jerusalem Jewish district of Maale Hazeitim for seven years will be news to the 30 reporters from Israel and abroad, including for example, the correspondent of Time magazine, who accompanied Mike Huckabee there two months ago, prompting another round of anti-Israel reports at the time.

“We were the first foreign journalists allowed into the controversial settlement of Maale Zeitim in Ras El Amud for seven years,” claims Waghorn in his on-air and online report, making Israel sound as if it restricts journalists’ freedom of movement in Jerusalem, which is ridiculous.

This is the kind of misreporting that characterizes so much Western news coverage of Israel. If these were genuine mistakes one would expect about half of them to work in Israel’s favor. Instead, the “mistakes” are made almost exclusively to the detriment of Israel.



• “There is a lot of good news in the latest intelligence assessment about Iran. Tehran, we are now told, halted its secret nuclear weapons program in 2003, which means that President Bush has absolutely no excuse for going to war against Iran. We are also relieved that the intelligence community is now willing to question its own assumptions and challenge the White House’s fevered rhetoric.” – editorial, New York Times, Dec. 5, 2007.

• “Iran has a long history of lying and cheating about its nuclear program, so the news that it has been secretly building another plant to manufacture nuclear fuel is hardly a shock. But it provides one more compelling reason (are any more needed?) why the United States and other major powers must be ready to quickly adopt – and enforce – tough new sanctions if negotiations fail to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.” – editorial, New York Times, Sept. 26, 2009.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]



An Alternative Nobel
Three Iranian dissidents are sentenced to death.
Editorial, The Wall Street Journal
October 12, 2009

Suppose this year’s Nobel Peace Prize had gone to the scores of Iranians now on trial for having protested the fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June. For the three defendants who were sentenced to death over the weekend, a Nobel might have made all the difference in the nick of time. At a minimum, it could have validated their struggle.

Our friends in Oslo had a different idea, which means that the fate of the three defendants – known officially by their initials M.Z., A.P. and N.A. – are at the mercy of Iran’s appellate and supreme courts. It’s a slender hope in a country that is the leading executioner of juveniles, and whose leaders have only become more truculent toward dissenters since the election.

Hope is also slender because the Obama Administration has downplayed human rights in Iran as it pursues a negotiated nuclear settlement with the Ahmadinejad government. Without explanation, the State Department this month pulled funding for the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, a New Haven, Connecticut outfit that has been investigating the plight of those Iranians now in the dock, including Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari.

In his Rose Garden remarks about the Nobel, President Obama spoke about “the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets.” The elliptical reference is almost certainly to 27-year old Neda Agha-Sultan, whose murder last June by one of Ahmadinejad’s goon squads was captured on a video seen around the world. We hope the President keeps in mind that the same people whose good faith he now seeks in negotiations were her killers.

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