* Al-Qaeda leader attacks Hizbullah for “protecting” Israel: “Hizbullah is nothing more than protectors of the Jews”
* Israel outraged after Ramallah street reportedly named after chief Palestinian bomb maker
* A debate on the social networking website Facebook turns ugly when Palestinian students at an-Najah University in Nablus clash with one another, leaving dozens injured as students took out iron chains and rods and started fighting one another
* Palestinian prisoners slam anti-Israel Turkish TV series: Israelis have never raped a Palestinian in prison, they say
1. There’s no pleasing some terrorists
2. Outrage after Ramallah street reportedly named after arch-terrorist Yehiye Ayash
3. Yemen upholds death sentence for contact with Israel
4. Facebook debate leads to violent clash among Palestinian students
5. Netanyahu: Israel will not be pushed into a phony peace agreement
6. Anti-Israel TV show angers Palestinians
7. Where is Goldstone?
8. Kuwaiti Muslims protest singer’s Hebrew song
9. What is Karzai smoking?
10. U.S. generals, admirals warn of dangers to U.S. if it downgrades ties with Israel
11. British diplomat calls for free Palestinian state by next Olympics
12. Reports: Palestinian groups to halt rocket fire into Israel
13. Mortar shells aimed at Israel fail to clear Gaza; six Palestinian civilians injured
14. Israel’s world class wines
15. 3,000 international opera buffs to ascend Masada
16. “Why do Israel’s Arabs like eating matzoh?” (Associated Press, April 3, 2010)
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
THERE’S NO PLEASING SOME TERRORISTS
A leading Al-Qaeda operative has accused Hizbullah of “protecting” Israel. This is believed to mark the first time a high-ranking figure in the (Sunni-dominated) global terror network has openly condemned the Lebanese Shia terror group.
In an interview with Al-Akhbar Al-Fajr, a website Al-Qaeda uses to promote its jihadist ideology, Salah Al-Karawi said Hizbullah and the Lebanese Army have become “bodyguards” for Israel. “They don’t allow us to act, but they don’t strike Israel themselves,” he said, describing Hizbullah as “nothing more than protectors of the Jews. It is the biggest hurdle delaying our activity on the ground against Israel.”
Al-Karawi – who is 35th on the list of Saudi Arabia’s 85 most wanted men – is an expert in document forgery, and is thought to be responsible for establishing new Al-Qaeda terror cells worldwide.
OUTRAGE AFTER RAMALLAH STREET REPORTEDLY NAMED AFTER ARCH-TERRORIST YEHIYE AYASH
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the reported renaming of a street in Fatah-run Ramallah after a Hamas master bomb maker “is an outrageous glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority.”
“Right next to a Presidential compound in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority has named a street after a terrorist who murdered hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children. The world must forcefully condemn this official Palestinian incitement for terrorism and against peace,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement yesterday evening.
Ayash, who was Hamas’ chief bomb maker and was nicknamed “The Engineer”, was assassinated by Israel in January 1996. He joined Hamas in 1992, while studying electrical engineering at Birzeit University in the West Bank. He was responsible for a series of car and bus bombs, and other terror attacks.
In January 1995, several months after he masterminded a deadly terror attack on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street which killed 20 Israeli civilians and injured dozens of others, Ayash escaped to the Gaza Strip for fear of being killed. A year later, he was assassinated when his cell phone exploded as he answered a call.
Israel’s Channel 10 news showed a picture of the street sign honoring Ayash. It seems that Fatah are trying to show they are as tough as Hamas by glorifying this Hamas master terrorist. Even though Ayash was a member of Hamas he worked closely with the late Fatah leader Yasser Arafat.
Last month, as reported on this website, the “moderate” Palestinian Authority leadership postponed naming a square in Ramallah after a female terrorist who killed 38 Israeli civilians in a single attack in 1978, until U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had left.
Perhaps they have now run out of Fatah killers to honor?
YEMEN UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE FOR CONTACT WITH ISRAEL
A Yemeni appeals court has upheld the death sentence against Bassam al-Haidari who was found guilty of “contacting former Israeli premier Ehud Olmert on the Internet,” reports Agence France Presse (AFP). The court in Sanaa also confirmed a three-year jail term which a lower court slapped on his supposed accomplice, Abdullah al-Mahfal.
The men, whose trial opened on January 10 and who pleaded not guilty to charges of making “contact with an enemy state,” said they would appeal to Yemen’s highest court.
Israel has dismissed the case as “totally ridiculous.”
FACEBOOK DEBATE LEADS TO VIOLENT CLASH AMONG PALESTINIAN STUDENTS
A debate on social networking website Facebook turned ugly on April 5 when Palestinian students at an-Najah University in Nablus in the West Bank clashed with one another, leaving dozens injured.
After quarrelling on the website, students took out iron chains and rods and started fighting one another. Palestine’s Ma’an news agency quoted police officials as saying that many were hospitalized. University security guards were called in and the campus was then evacuated.
The clashes were initially sparked by “heated arguments” between students last week, which were quickly subdued. However, arguments renewed and escalated into fighting on Sunday. Student senate leader Makram Daraghma said that several students sustained injuries in the incident.
NETANYAHU: ISRAEL WILL NOT BE PUSHED INTO A PHONY PEACE AGREEMENT
Israel will not accept a Middle East peace agreement that is forced upon it by external elements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in private meetings in recent days.
Netanyahu reportedly told close aides that “it won’t work and it won’t be acceptable if a settlement is forced on us,” stressing the need to ensure proper security arrangements as part of any future peace deal.
To that end, the Prime Minister reportedly said, Israel would have to retain a military presence along its eastern border with Jordan, adding that any agreement that doesn’t allow for this measure will not be accepted by Israel.
Netanyahu’s comments came as The Washington Post quoted senior U.S. officials as saying on Wednesday that President Barack Obama was weighing the possibility of submitting a new American Middle East peace plan by this fall which would impose a “peace solution” on Israel.
ANTI-ISRAEL TV SHOW ANGERS PALESTINIANS
Even Hamas and Fatah prisoners are enraged by a new anti-Israel Turkish television series that is being aired this week on two popular Arab satellite networks, one of them the Saudi-owned MBC network.
The 13-episode series, called “Separation: Palestinian in Love and in War (Cry of Stones),” first broadcast on Turkey’s state television last October, depicts IDF soldiers as cold-blooded murderers and rapists.
The Turkish drama, which has strained relations between Turkey and Israel, has also enraged many Palestinians, especially female prisoners held in Israeli jails. The inmates are particularly outraged over scenes showing IDF soldiers raping a Palestinian woman.
“This film defames the female prisoners and their struggles in occupation prisons,” the prisoners said in a statement. “We call on the producer of this Turkish drama to apologize to the Palestinian people for the scene which shows Israeli soldiers raping a Palestinian female prisoner called Miriam.”
“Palestinian families have always embraced their daughters when they are released from prison,” the statement said. “We see this drama as an attempt to defame the image of Palestinian female prisoners and as a public insult to the Palestinian people. This film serves only the occupation.”
“Those who think that a Palestinian female prisoner is raped when she’s arrested are living in an illusion and are mistaken,” the female prisoners said. “There has never been such a case. Nor have we heard of a Palestinian family that killed their daughter after her release.”
Palestinian Authority officials have also expressed outrage over the drama, dubbing it “offensive” and “detached from reality.”
WHERE IS GOLDSTONE?
While the BBC and CNN and much of the American and Western media continue to obsess over Israel (in one of its latest World News headlines, the BBC even criticized Israel for giving jobs to Thai farm laborers), the video below is what Russia Today is showing. (Russia Today is Russia’s English language 24 hour TV news station. This report was broadcast on Tuesday.)
Can you imagine the outcry if Israel had ever behaved this way?
The New York Times, which has covered this story (albeit in a relatively brief and unsensational way), reports that a senior American military official has confirmed that the video is authentic.
The whole video consists of 38 minutes of black-and-white aerial footage and conversations between pilots in two Apache helicopters as they open fire on people on the street below. The attack killed 12 people, including Reuters photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40. The pilots believe them to be insurgents, and mistake Noor-Eldeen’s camera for a weapon. They aim and fire at the group, then revel in their kills. “Look at those dead bastards,” one pilot says. “Nice,” the other responds. A short time later a van arrives to pick up the wounded and the pilots open fire on it, wounding two children inside.
WikiLeaks acquired the video from whistle-blowers in the U.S. military and viewed it after breaking the encryption code. WikiLeaks then edited the video to 17 minutes.
In a statement this week, the United States Central Command said that the Reuters employees “made no effort to visibly display their status as press or media representatives … and their furtive attempts to photograph the coalition ground forces made them appear as hostile combatants to the Apaches that engaged them.”
One shouldn’t forget, of course, that the vast majority of persons killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, were killed by insurgents and terrorists, not by the U.S. military. Nor do we know the full details surrounding the incident and there are those that suggest that WikiLeaks are only telling the side of the story that suits them and may have omitted other pertinent information. In any case, had this video involved Israelis, I think we can safely assume that the BBC and others would be making rather more fuss about it.
KUWAITI MUSLIMS PROTEST SINGER’S HEBREW SONG
Kuwaiti Muslims are in an uproar over a popular songstress who sang the widely-known “Hava Nagila” Hebrew song in Kuwait City’s Alumni Club. The performance was part of her “anthropology repertoire.”
The 28-year-old singer, whose stage name is Emma, has been accused by leading Muslim clerics of promoting Zionist ideas and diplomatic ties with Israel, according to the UAE-based English newspaper Gulf News. She denies that she had any political or ‘Zionist’ motives.
“The same song had been performed by [the Egyptian-Italian diva] Dalida in French and in Hebrew,” she told Kuwaiti media. “I just followed her example, and in fact, I knew the exact meaning of the words only after the negative reaction.”
The song’s lyrics in Hebrew simply mean “Come… Let us rejoice, let us be happy.”
“I have performed in French and English too. Does that make me a spy for France or Britain?”
(To see Hava Nagila performed by Dalida, and also renditions from Iran, Texas, and the Russian army, please see here.)
(Above: the Iranian-Kuwaiti singer Emma Shah)
WHAT IS KARZAI SMOKING?
[I sent this item to some people on Monday]
It sounds like some pretty good Afghan opium...
Headline from the Associated Press: Afghan leader threatens to join Taliban
This is no belated April Fool’s Joke. Karzai’s behavior may be in danger of becoming almost Arafat-like.
Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal wrote in an editorial:
President Obama isn’t faring too well at converting enemies to friends, but he does seem to have a talent for turning friends into enemies. The latest spectacle is the all-too-public and counterproductive war of words between the White House and our putative ally, Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The only winner so far in this spat is the Taliban.
The Obama Administration seems to have had it out for Mr. Karzai from the day it took office, amid multiple reports based on obvious U.S. leaks that Vice President Joe Biden or some other official had told the Afghan leader to shape up. The tension escalated after Mr. Karzai’s tainted but ultimately recognized re-election victory last year, and it reached the name-calling stage late last month when President Obama met Mr. Karzai on a trip to Kabul and the White House let the world know that the American had lectured the Afghan about his governing obligations.
The public rebuke was a major loss of face for Mr. Karzai, who later returned fire at the U.S., reportedly even saying at a private meeting that if the Americans kept it up, he might join the Taliban.
… Coming on the heels of the U.S. public chastisement of Israel’s government, the larger concern over the Karzai episode is what it reveals about Mr. Obama’s diplomatic frame of mind. With adversaries, he is willing to show inordinate patience, to the point of muffling his objections when opposition blood ran in the streets of Tehran. With allies, on the other hand, the President is unforgiving and insists they follow his lead or face his public wrath. The result will be that our foes fear us less, and that we have fewer friends.
The Washington Post writes in an editorial:
Hamid Karzai is proving, at least, that public acrimony between the U.S. and Afghan presidents will not be a one-way street. During a visit to Kabul last week and a subsequent television interview, President Obama made it clear – and not for the first time – that he was displeased with Mr. Karzai’s performance. In the past few days the Afghan leader has more than returned the favor, denouncing alleged Western interference in last year’s elections and declaring that he will not be an American puppet – even if that means “I’ll join the Taliban.”
… The question remains whether airing these differences in public helps or hurts the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. As in the case of the very public spat he initiated with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Mr. Obama’s treatment of Mr. Karzai doesn’t seem to flow from a careful strategy…
U.S. GENERALS, ADMIRALS WARN OF DANGERS TO U.S. IF IT DOWNGRADES TIES WITH ISRAEL
Scores of senior retired U.S. officers have warned that a decline in American strategic cooperation with Israel could damage U.S. security interests.
About 50 generals and admirals signed a letter to the Obama administration emphasizing that Israel was a key element in U.S. global strategy and expressing “grave concern” that “political differences between Jerusalem and Washington may be allowed to outweigh our larger mutual interests.”
“We brought with us our decades of military experience and, following unrestricted access to Israel’s civilian and military leaders, came away with the unswerving belief that the security of the State of Israel is a matter of great importance to the United States and its policy in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean,” the letter, released on April 2, read. The letter cited training, law enforcement, counter-insurgency as well as research and development.
Some Obama administration officials have been quoted as telling Israeli leaders that their policies, including Jewish construction in Jerusalem, were “endangering U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq,” and the generals and admirals who signed this letter said they absolutely rejected this world view.
The letter continued: “In the Middle East, a volatile region so vital to U.S. interests, it would be foolish to disengage – or denigrate – an ally such as Israel.”
BRITISH DIPLOMAT CALLS FOR FREE PALESTINIAN STATE BY NEXT OLYMPICS
A British diplomat attending a ceremony at the end of a British-funded project to train Palestinian athletes for the 2012 Olympic Games, took advantage of the situation to send out a political message, and declared that Britain hopes by the upcoming Olympic Games, Palestine will be a free nation within the 1967 borders and with Jerusalem as its shared capital.
The diplomat in question, Karen McLuskie, who works at the British Consulate in Jerusalem, is well-known around town for promoting Palestinian viewpoints to British and other journalists stationed in Israel, in contravention of what diplomats are supposed to do.
A report in the Palestinian Ma’an news agency said the British Consulate General in Jerusalem funded the project that trained fifty young Jerusalemites over a five month period.
REPORTS: PALESTINIAN GROUPS TO HALT ROCKET FIRE INTO ISRAEL
Reports from Gaza that four Palestinian factions have decided to end the firing of rockets into Israel are being disputed by some Islamic Jihad members according to the Palestine News Agency.
But it is nevertheless believed that as the result of pressure from the Arab world and out of fear of a new Israeli ground assault on the Gaza Strip, Hamas leaders have decided to halt the rocket fire and have convinced Islamic Jihad and two other groups to go along.
Egypt is actively working with Hamas and Israel in an effort to prevent escalation in Gaza tension. Last month dozens of rockets were fired at civilians in southern Israel (most of which were not reported by the international media). Two Israelis soldiers and one Thai civilian died as a result of these attacks.
MORTAR SHELLS AIMED AT ISRAEL FAIL TO CLEAR GAZA; SIX PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS INJURED
Updating the item above, at least two mortar rounds aimed at Israel in the last few hours fell short of their target and caused damage and injuries when they fell inside Palestinian territory.
According to Palestinian medical emergency workers, six Palestinians were injured when shells fell on a house in Beit Hanoun in the northern section of Gaza.
The attempted attack against Israel follows reports that Hamas had convinced other factions to hold back from launching rockets and mortar rounds so as not to give Israel reason to strike Hamas arms factories.
ISRAEL’S WORLD CLASS WINES
Israel’s 400 boutique wineries continue to make remarkable progress for a country not previously well-regarded for its wines. Four Israeli wineries won gold awards and three won silver awards at the prestigious Bacchus International Wine Competition where 80 professional expert tasters from around the world judged international wines.
3,000 INTERNATIONAL OPERA BUFFS TO ASCEND MASADA
More than 3,000 tourists from 14 countries including France, the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Africa and Brazil are scheduled to visit Israel in June in order to see Verdi’s opera “Nabucco” produced by the Israel Opera at the ancient site of Masada.
It is believed that most of these opera buffs will be visiting Israel for the first time.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]
WHY DO ISRAEL’S ARABS LIKE EATING MATZOH?
Why do Israel’s Arabs like eating matzoh?
The Associated Press
April 3, 2010
UMM EL-FAHM: Many Jewish Israelis can’t stand the stuff, so there’s something mind-boggling about their Arab compatriots: Why in the world do they choose to eat matzoh?
Despite decades of uneasiness in their coexistence with the Jewish majority, Israel’s Arabs have developed a love affair with matzoh, the dry, crunchy wafers that observant Jews eat as a substitute for leavened bread during the weeklong Passover holiday.
Weeks in advance, Arab-owned stores across Israel stock up on matzoh, knowing their customers will clean it out.
The matzoh craving among Israel’s Arab citizens – about 20 percent of the population – reflects their ambiguous place in the Jewish state. While they speak Hebrew, carry Israeli passports and wear Israeli brands, many say they suffer discrimination and identify themselves as Palestinians.
Still, they love matzoh.
“We eat it from the start of the holiday to the end, and when we run out we buy more,” said Umaima Igbaria, a 35-year-old Muslim woman who lugged a carton of matzoh out of a supermarket in the Arab town of Umm el-Fahm in northern Israel.
She said she, her husband and their three sons all eat matzoh, usually with tea and slathered with chocolate sauce. She said they didn’t care if it was “Jewish food.”
Inside the store, a 5-foot-tall (1.5-meter-tall) stack of matzoh boxes stood in the entryway, all that remained of the more than 4 tons that owner Tariq Ifin ordered for the holiday, which began Monday night. He had no doubts the rest would sell.
In the Passover tradition, matzoh commemorates the biblical story of the Jews fleeing Egypt so quickly they had no time to let their bread rise. Jews also consider matzoh poor man’s bread, eaten to remind them of their ancestors’ hardships. Few consider it a culinary delight.
“I don’t like it much, but it’s part of the holiday,” said Simon Mizrahi, 44, an observant Jew from Jerusalem who eats his matzoh with soup, cheese or butter.
Mizrahi said matzoh doesn’t fill him up like bread, and he worries its carbs will make him fat. Many other Jews share his ambivalence, recognizing its traditional role while saying they get tired of it.
To prevent matzoh burnout, many have developed alternative recipes. Some stir crushed matzoh into warm milk or coffee to make porridge. Others add an Italian twist, topping it with tomato sauce and cheese to make matzoh-pizza or substituting it for noodles to make matzoh lasagna, or “matzagna.”
Outside of the holiday, few eat it and few stores stock it. Many say they wouldn’t eat it if they had other options.
Thus their surprise when informed that Israel’s Muslim and Christian Arabs – who don’t observe Passover and can eat any bread they like – choose matzoh.
The answer to the mystery is simple, said Arabs in several mainly Arab towns in Israel. They just like the taste.
“The kids love it. They eat it like cookies,” said Wisad Jamil, a 43-year-old woman lugging a carton of matzoh and tub of chocolate spread to her car for her husband and five kids at the Umm el-Fahm store.
“Don’t the Jews eat our bread? Fine, we eat their matzoh,” she said.
Indeed, the mixing goes both ways, with Arab dishes like hummus and felafel now favorites of Jewish Israelis. And during Passover, nonobservant Jews often turn to Arab shops for leavened bread, which disappears from most Jewish-owned stores in the season.
Ifin, the supermarket owner, said some of his Arab customers once refused matzoh on ideological grounds, though fewer do now because of years of mixing.
“You can’t say Arabs and Jews are one people, but we share the same land, so why not share the same food?” Ifin said.
While Israel’s 1.5 million Arabs hold citizenship and vote in elections, they strongly identify with their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Most still call themselves Palestinians.
Palestinians in the territories and east Jerusalem largely don’t share the matzoh craze, and shops there don’t sell it. Israel captured the predominantly Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, and Palestinians claim it as the capital of their future state.
“We don’t like anything that comes from them,” said Jerusalem taxi driver Firas Salem, 27, when asked if he ate matzoh.
“And besides,” he said – expressing a sentiment shared by many Jews – “bread tastes better.”