Holocaust denier appointed as Iran’s media boss (& Saudi F-15s bomb Yemen)

November 06, 2009

* UN General Assembly adopts Goldstone report: 17 countries vote with Israel, but Britain and France are not among them
* Fort Hood killer wouldn’t be the first doctor to commit mass murder
* Saudis bomb Yemen yesterday; hundreds of casualties reported; world doesn’t care
* AP reports that Saudi F-15s bomb a crowded market, but major media that subscribe to the AP don’t mention this



1. Israel: UN “detached from reality” for adopting Goldstone report
2. Holocaust denier appointed as Iran’s media boss
3. Biggest ever seizure of weapons destined to be used against Israelis
4. The New York Times neglects to tell its readers the arms were from Iran
5. Saudis bomb Yemen: almost no international condemnation
6. Far more deaths in Yemen than in Gaza
7. Saudis not responding to thousands of Qassam rocket attacks, like Israel was
8. Saudi beheading and crucifixion upheld on appeal
9. Fort Hood killer wouldn’t be the first doctor to commit mass murder
10. “Palestine’s missing critics” (editorial, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 2, 2009)
11. World’s first Arabic speaking robot constructed in UAE
12. “Obama on Tehran’s democrats: ‘We do not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs’” (WSJ)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Israel today rejected yesterday’s United Nations General Assembly resolution adopting the Goldstone report accusing Israel of war crimes, as “completely detached from reality”.

In a statement after the vote, the Israeli government said Israel “would maintain the right to self-defense and would continue to act to protect the lives of its citizens from the threat of international terrorism,” whatever the UN might say.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel had “demonstrated higher military and moral standards than each and every one of this resolution’s instigators”.

The 192-member General Assembly adopted the resolution by a vote of 114-18, with 44 countries absent or abstaining.

Those voting with Israel and against the resolution were the United States, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, Macedonia and the Czech Republic, together with (the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama).

To Israel’s great consternation, Britain and France once again did not vote with Israel, but abstained.



(The item below was published on Wednesday on the websites of The National Review (America) and of The National Post (Canada). I sent it to some subscribers to this list then.)

Ahmadinejad appoints leading Holocaust denier as new official in charge of the press
By Tom Gross
National Review / National Post
November 4, 2009

Not only did Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, today say that negotiating with the United States would be a “naive and perverted” thing to do (Khamenei revealed President Obama has approached him several times through oral and written messages which he has not replied to).

Not only did Israeli commandos today intercept a ship carrying hundreds of tons of Iranian weapons intended for Hizbullah in Lebanon – the biggest ever seizure of arms on their way from Iran to its client terrorist militia, Hizbullah, which Iran plans to use as one element in its attempt to wipe the Jewish state off the map (BBC story and video here).

Not only did Iran brutalize pro-democracy demonstrators once again on the streets of major Iranian cities today (there are several videos if you scroll down here from France 24, and a report here by BBC Persian).

But in addition Iran has appointed as its new deputy culture minister, in charge of media and communications, Mohammad-Ali Ramin, who previously served as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s top advisor on Holocaust matters and is known as “the brain” behind the president’s strategy of Holocaust denial.

Ramin hasn’t just repeatedly said that Jews invented the Holocaust, he has also said (sounding quite like Hitler) that “everyone knows Jews are filthy people who have spread lethal disease throughout history.”

In his new post as official in charge of communications and the press, Ramin will be able to influence Iran’s media agenda, as his boss continues the rush to acquire nuclear weapons despite a phony deal that Barack Obama and other western powers seem to have been suckered into by the Iranian regime.



Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is believed to be behind the arms ship that was intercepted by Israeli commandos on high seas in the Mediterranean on Tuesday night. This was the largest arms cache Israel has ever intercepted. The cargo seized was far greater than the quantity of weapons and ammunition captured aboard the Karine-A seven years ago. The vessel, named the Francop, was loaded with the equivalent of 20 cargo planes of weaponery.

The German vessel flying the flag of Antigua contained hundreds of crates filled with a variety of weapons, including thousands of rockets that were manufactured in Iran, China and Spain.

The ship was also loaded with 20,000 fragmentary grenades, 9,000 mortar shells, 3,000 106 millimeter artillery shells and 600,000 rounds for AK47 assault rifles.

While Israeli defense analysts hailed the “outstanding achievement” of the Mossad and Israeli military intelligence in identifying and apprehending the ship, there are fears that other arms ships have successfully made their way to Hizbullah and Hamas.

There are reports that the U.S. Navy initially tracked the ship from its departure at Bandar Abbas, Iran, following a tip off by Israeli intelligence. A special Israeli commando unit boarded the ship on Tuesday night, in stormy weather, after Israeli intelligence had tracked it for a number of days once it entered the Mediterranean.

The weapons uncovered constitute a violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1747 and 1701 that strictly forbid Iran from exporting or trading any form of weapons.



While The New York Times went out of its way to try and convince its readers that the arms were not Iranian (I wonder whether The New York Times editors think it was the Antiguan government arming Hizbullah – or maybe it was Costa Rica, Greenland or Swaziland), the Associated Press detailed that evidence:

“Open crates from a cargo ship seized by Israel revealed dark green missiles inside. Containers from the vessel bore writing in English that said ‘I.R. Iranian Shipping Lines Group.’

“Some of the weapons were hidden in the Francop’s containers behind stacked bags of polyethylene labeled in English ‘NPC National Petrochemical Company,’ and the flame logo used by both the company and the Iranian Petroleum Ministry.

“The Francop’s containers were carefully unloaded on army forklifts to avoid accidental detonation. Some of the containers had the initials ‘I.R.I.S.L.’ printed on one side and the fuller title, ‘I.R. (Islamic Republic of) Iran Shipping Lines Group’ on the other.”



Saudi Arabia yesterday launched waves of air strikes and fired hundreds of shells across the border into Yemen, killing and wounding hundreds of Shia civilians and rebels, according to Arab media reports.

Yet there has been no international condemnation, no demands to launch a “Goldstone report” finding Saudi Arabia guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, barely any Western media coverage and scarcely a peep of protest from the international human rights groups that spend so much of their time criticizing Israel.


As I have pointed out previously in my writings, far more civilians have died this year in Yemen alone, as the fighting there that has cost many thousands of lives since 2004 intensifies, than have died in the West Bank and Gaza in recent years. But Yemen is only an Arab country and the fighting there doesn’t involve Jews, so the world media, the UN, and international human rights groups don’t have anyone to condemn.

Those Western media that did bother to report on the Saudi airstrikes yesterday, made no reference at all to casualties – in stark contrast to the way they have reported on any Israeli defensive action in Gaza.

They could easily have reported such details if they wished. For example, the Associated Press reported yesterday (but other Western media which subscribe to the AP didn’t report) that “Saudi jets dropped bombs on crowded areas including a local market in the northern province of Saada.”


Of course, Saudi civilians haven’t faced waves of rocket attacks and suicide bombings from Yemen in the way that Israelis have from Gaza. But the Saudis do have one of the most sophisticated air forces in the world, including a fleet of F-15s, some of which were used in yesterday’s attacks on Yemen.

Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite channel, reported that at least six towns and villages in Yemen were hit, part of a “sustained campaign” to “break” the rebels, according to a Saudi official.

The rebellion in Yemen has been ongoing since 2004, in a conflict fuelled by grievances about a lack of resources in the region and a sense of discrimination by the Shia population.



The sentence of beheading and crucifixion handed down to a man convicted of child rape was upheld on appeal by a court in Saudi Arabia yesterday. The 22-year old defendant was convicted of raping five children.

He was sentenced to be beheaded and his headless body to be tied to wooden beams and left on public display. At least 40 legally-sanctioned public executions and beheadings have taken place so far this year in Saudi Arabia.



(The item below was published yesterday evening on the website of The National Review.)

He wouldn’t be the first doctor to commit mass murder
By Tom Gross
National Review
November 5, 2009

Some commentators on television are expressing amazement that the army major, Nidal Malik Hasan, suspected of murdering 13 and wounding 31 at Fort Hood in Texas today was a doctor of many years standing. It is too early to tell whether this is an act of domestic terrorism but if it is we should not be surprised that the killer was a doctor.

As I happened to write earlier this week, doctors have a long history of playing keys roles in terrorist movements. Notable examples include Al-Qaeda’s number 2 and (terror) operations chief, Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is a qualified surgeon; Dr. Abd al-Aziz Rantissi the mastermind behind Hamas suicide bombings; and Dr. George Habash, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the instigator of many airline hijackings in the late 1960s and 1970s, and responsible for the deaths of dozens of passengers. Scroll down to items 4 (and 3) here for more details of these cases.

There have been many other instances too, including several Palestinian suicide bombers and the British Muslim doctors who carried out an attempted suicide attack at Glasgow airport in Scotland two years ago.

And then, of course, there is Dr Mengele...



(The following editorial was inspired by my dispatch of last Sunday, Wall Street Journal staff tell me. Many Journal editorial staff and several senior columnists at the paper subscribe to this list.)

Palestine’s Missing Critics
Where’s the outrage for Ramallah’s atrocities?
The Wall Street Journal
November 2, 2009


Israel’s harshest critics claim to champion the rights of Palestinians. So we’re curious about the fallout, or lack thereof, from revelations that the Palestinian Authority regularly brutalizes its own in the West Bank while enjoying a steady flow of dollars and euros.

Senior PA official Haitham Arar was quoted in the Daily Mail more than a week ago openly discussing the abuses. That follows a Mail On Sunday report in January that detailed the Authority’s regular use of beatings, whippings, attacks with electrical drills, and other methods of torture doled out to anyone seen threatening the authority of Fatah, the party of President Mahmoud Abbas. Murder and rape are also commonplace.

As Middle East analyst Tom Gross points out, the only news here is that a Western newspaper has bothered to write about it. At least some ink is spilled documenting Hamas’s blunt methods, but much less has been made of Fatah’s abuses since Yasser Arafat took over most of the territory in 1993. What’s more, Western governments support the internecine violence with ever-increasing aid. As of Sept. 15, the European Union had delivered €268 million to the Authority this year, and in July the U.S. extended an additional $200 million.

The money will not stop now that Ramallah is no longer trying to hide the mistreatment. Westminster’s one response has been to quietly send officers to the West Bank to train Authority forces on how not to torture prisoners.

So here’s the state-of-play in the department of moral outrage. When Britain is accused of abetting U.S. interrogations, lawsuits, investigations, and threats to try Tony Blair for war crimes quickly follow. When Israel attacks Hamas in order to end rocket launches on its soil, it risks a session before the International Criminal Court. But when the West funnels billions to a Palestinian government whose abuses are brazen and ongoing, there is mainly silence.



The world’s first Arabic-speaking robot has come to “life” in the Gulf. Named Ibn Sina in honor of an 11th century Muslim philosopher, the robot was designed by a team of Greek, Pakistani, Iranian and Arab scientists at the Interactive Robots and Media Laboratory at the United Arab Emirates University.

Dr. Nikolaos Mavridis, the director of the laboratory, said “Ibn Sina is the first humanoid robot which can perform Arabic dialogue.”

Mavridis claimed that Ibn Sina represented to the Arab world what Leonardo Da Vinci is to Europeans. Ibn Sina’s writings were translated from Arabic into Latin and used “throughout the world” for 200 years after his death, he said.

The UAE-based laboratory is now working to make the robot more intelligent “by giving him more sensor ability and more complicated dialog abilities,” Mavridis said.

The Ibn Sina robot’s voice was designed by a French company, Acapela, and took nine years to develop. You can see the robot here:


I attach one article below. Iran’s democrats had a new chant in the streets this week: “Obama, Obama – either you’re with them or with us.” Which is it?

[All notes above by Tom Gross]



Obama on Tehran’s democrats: “We do not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs”
Editorial, Wall Street Journal
November 5, 2009

Tens of thousands of protestors yesterday braved police batons and tear gas canisters in the streets of Iranian cities to denounce their theocratic rulers and call for a change of regime. In spite of repression by the Basiji thugs and the West’s short attention span, the Green Revolution lives on.

On this, the 30th anniversary of the hostage taking at the U.S. Embassy, their message was to a large degree intended for America and President Obama. The opposition hijacked the day, usually an occasion to denounce the Great Satan, to declare their desire to break with that past and build a free Iran. They marched alongside state-sanctioned rallies, before their protests were broken up violently.

For this broad coalition of democrats, America is a beacon of hope and the Iran of the street arguably the most pro-American place in the world. Earlier this year, before the huge demonstrations in the wake of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s brazen theft of the June presidential election, one popular opposition chant was, “O ba ma!” – in Farsi a play on the new American President’s last name that translates as, “He with us!”

But the opposition’s dreams of American support, moral as much as anything, have been dashed. Mr. Obama was slow and reluctant to speak out on their behalf and eager to engage the Iranian regime in nuclear talks as soon as the summer of protest tapered off. Iran’s democrats are now letting their disappointment show. The new chant passed around in Internet chat rooms and heard in the streets yesterday was, “Obama, Obama – either you’re with them or with us.”

Knowing the opposition was planning to march, Mr. Obama issued his own statement the night before that instead chose to reach out to the regime. America, he said, “seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. We do not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs.” He went on to list the Administration’s various efforts to appease the regime. So far and on all counts, the mullahs have rebuffed these entreaties.

The President made no mention of democracy or reference to the opposition directly, though in the last paragraph he did allow that “the world continues to bear witness to [Iranian peoples’] powerful calls for justice.” Is this what he meant when he talked, at the start of his Presidency, about “restoring U.S. moral leadership”?

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