Saudi employer hammers nails into Sri Lankan maid (& Booth converts to Islam)

October 29, 2010

* 24 nails hammered into her hands, legs and forehead leave Sri Lankan women with permanent injuries. Video below from Al-Jazeera English (but why don’t the BBC and CNN cover this?)

* Moderate Israeli MK cancels trip to Spain where he was invited to attend a peace summit with Palestinians this weekend, after the government in Madrid tells him they would not offer him immunity from arrest for “war crimes”.

* Is Roger Cohen “the Walter Duranty of his day”?



1. Saudi employer hammers nails into Sri Lankan maid
2. One Saudi prince finds he’s no longer above the law
3. Moderate Israeli parliamentarian unable to travel to Spain for peace conference
4. Israeli opposition leader still unable to visit Britain for fear of arrest
5. Pro-Palestinian propagandists given a warm welcome in the British House of Commons
6. Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth converts to Islam
7. Iranian news agency reports chocolate thief to lose hand
8. New York Times’ quote of the week

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


To its credit, Al-Jazeera English has run another report on the incredible mistreatment of many of the millions of foreigners employed as domestic laborers (and in many cases as slaves) in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Gulf. (As I have pointed out before, Al-Jazeera English is in many ways not only more balanced in its Mideast coverage than Al-Jazeera Arabic, but also when compared to the English-language BBC and CNN.)

It is well worth watching this short video from Al-Jazeera of a Sri Lankan woman working as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia who, after complaining about being overworked, had 24 nails hammered into her hands, legs and forehead, which later had to be surgically removed.

A number of senior producers and correspondents, as well as management at both the BBC and CNN, subscribe to this email list, and I am asking them publically: Why aren’t you covering this?

As reported recently in these dispatches, the Obama administration has just agreed on a world record $60 billion arms sale to the Saudi regime. (For details, see note 2 here.)



Last week, a Saudi prince was found guilty in London of abusing and then strangling to death a servant at London’s prestigious Landmark Hotel last February.

The court was told that Prince Al Saud “carried out frequent and ferocious attacks on his aide for his own personal gratification.”

Jurors were also told that the servant “was left so worn down and injured with a ‘cauliflower’ ear and a swollen eye in previous attacks (about which the authorities in Saudi Arabia and Britain did nothing), that he let Al Saud kill him in the final attack without a fight.”

Al Saud’s father is a nephew of the Saudi king and his mother is a daughter of the monarch.



Israeli MK Avi Dichter has canceled a trip to Spain for fear of arrest, after the government in Madrid told Dichter, who used to head the Israeli Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency, that they would not offer him immunity and that he might be arrested and possibly imprisoned for “war crimes”.

Dichter, a political moderate from Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party, was invited to Spain by a Spanish organization called The Madrid Coalition, to take part in a peace summit this weekend focusing on the Saudi initiative. Senior officials from the Palestinian Authority, including Mohammed Dahlan – notorious for overseeing the torture of Hamas members and other Palestinian opponents of Hamas – will be attending without fear of arrest.

The Madrid Coalition works in cooperation with the former Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos.

“It’s absurd that representatives from the Palestinian Authority, who worked within the Palestinian security mechanism with God knows what kind of record, will experience no difficulties when they arrive in Spain,” said Dichter.

Tom Gross adds: Spanish troops have killed civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere and Spain continues to occupy part of Morocco, and (some would say) the Basque country, but Spanish politicians can attend peace conferences in other countries without fear of arrest.



This is not the first time that senior Israel politicians have been forced to cancel trips to European Union countries. For example, an arrest warrant was taken out last year in Britain against Tzipi Livni, the leader of Israel’s center-left Kadima opposition party, over claims she committed “war crimes” when she served as Israeli Foreign Minister. Until this day Livni says she has been unable to visit Britain for fear of arrest. Ironically Livni’s parents, Eitan Livni and Sara Rosenberg, were both arrested and imprisoned by the British government in Jerusalem in the 1940s.

When Livni traveled to Poland to attend a Holocaust memorial event in Auschwitz earlier this year, advertising billboards greeted her as she arrived in nearby Krakow. They read “Livni, wanted for war crimes: 10,000 euro reward for information leading to her arrest.”

Livni is strongly supportive of the peace process and a two state solution, not that this seems to impress anti-Israel agitators in Britain, Poland and elsewhere.

The new British Ambassador to Tel Aviv, Matthew Gould, who is a subscriber to this email list, said that the British government planned to change the law so political leaders like Livni couldn’t be arrested for “war crimes” if they visited the U.K.



In the past, pro-Israel Jews have been barred from meetings such as the one below. One subscriber to this email list tells me “It is a disgrace that these Israel hate anti-Semitic meetings are permitted take place in the British Parliament.”

The following was sent out on a mass email list:

Eyewitness reports from the Viva Palestina convoy, MP’s and architects about the situations in Gaza
Tuesday 2nd November, 7pm, House of Commons, London, SW1A
Speakers include:

* Jeremy Corbyn MP
* Lord Andrew Phillips
* Andy Slaughter MP
* Kevin Ovenden, Viva Palestina
* Richard Allday, Unite the Union
* Amena Saleem, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
* Yara Sharif and Nasser Golzai, Palestine Regeneration Team

Chair: Sarah Colborne, on the Mavi Marmara and PSC’s Director of Campaigns and Operations

Israel’s attack on the Gaza flotilla - coupled with its war on Gaza and the findings of the Goldstone report - has led to a seismic shift in public opinion in Britain about Israel, with more and more people understanding the daily reality of living under siege and occupation, and wanting to campaign to end injustice and oppression.

This meeting will bring together eye witness accounts from Viva Palestina’s latest convoy, Parliamentary delegations and those involved in building projects in Gaza, together with members of both the House of Commons and Lords, to hear first hand about the situation there and look at what the new government can do.

RSVP essential - please email: to register.


Tom Gross adds:

Will they be hearing from Turkish journalist Sefik Dinc, who was on the Mavi Marmara ferry when the violent clashes of May 31 took place, and who in a TV interview last week confirmed the Israeli version of events?

Dinc, who also recently published a book in Turkey on the incident, contradicted the claim by anti-Israel activists that Israeli forces fired at the ship even before boarding. “I saw with my own eyes that when the soldiers came on helicopters and started landing on the ship, they did not fire,” he said.

“It wasn’t until the soldiers were met with resistance and realized that some of their friends’ lives were in danger that they began using live ammunition.” Naval commandos participating in the operation claimed that until the first team of soldiers landed on deck and were attacked, they had used only paint guns. Only when three members of the team were overpowered by the activists and dragged below deck, did they begin using “selective” live-fire.

Dinc also corroborates Israeli claims that the activists used metal truncheons to attack the soldiers and said that he and others who had not participated in the violence were treated humanely by the Israeli soldiers.



Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth, who writes for The Mail on Sunday, is a frequent guest commentator on the BBC, and is an employee of the Iranian regime’s English language propaganda arm Press TV, has converted to Islam after “a holy experience” while on a visit to Iran.

Booth said she made the decision after visiting the Fatima al-Masumeh Shrine in Qom, the second most holy city in Iran, leading her to convert immediately on returning to Britain, she told The Mail on Sunday and IslamOnline.

The 43-year-old journalist and anti-Israeli activist has previously been given a Palestinian diplomatic status by the Hamas regime in Gaza. She says she will now cover her head with a hijab when she leaves the house and pray five times daily. She also refused to rule out wearing a burka.

As first reported in this email list / website, a few days before saying that the situation in Gaza was just like a “concentration camp,” and that the “humanitarian crisis in Gaza is on the scale of Darfur,” she was photographed shopping in a well-stocked grocery store in Gaza.

In August, Britain’s media regulator ruled Booth’s Press TV program on the May 31 Gaza flotilla raid was so extreme that it breached broadcasting code rules on impartiality.

In 2003, another prominent British journalist, Yvonne Ridley of The Daily Express, converted to Islam following her kidnapping by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.

Ridley, 51, who is also now a presenter on Press TV, declared that the Respect Party (a British political party of which she is a member) is “Zionist free” and if they spotted any “Zionist” in the party they would be “hunted down and kicked out”.


Here is a video of Booth announcing her conversion:


British writer Julie Burchill, a subscriber to this email list, writes: “It’s hard to know where to start when describing the sheer ickiness of Booth. That she works as a paid stooge for the murderous Iranian regime’s television channel has to come pretty near the top. A woman, choosing to act a front for a gang of thugs who uphold the punishment of death by stoning for adulteresses! This is surely Stockholm Syndrome gone gaga.”



An Iranian man convicted of stealing chocolate from a Tehran pastry shop will have his hand chopped off.

The official Iranian FARS news agency said that the unnamed man will also serve a year in jail for disobeying police and for damaging the shop from which he stole the chocolate.



“Turkey has its Iran policy about right”

-- Roger Cohen, the former New York Times foreign editor and now columnist for the Times’ “global edition” The International Herald Tribune, approves of “democratic” key NATO member Turkey coddling up to President Ahmadinejad in his latest column.

An increasing number of people are calling Cohen “the Walter Duranty of his day”.

For those who don’t know, Walter Duranty was, like Roger Cohen, a British-born foreign correspondent for The New York Times. Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for a set of stories written in 1931 on the Soviet Union, during which he covered up Stalin’s starving to death of millions of people, mainly Ukrainians, and apologized for the Soviet regime.)

For example, in a New York Times article dated August 23, 1933, Duranty wrote, “Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.”

And on March 31, 1933, Duranty denounced the reports of mass starvation in other newspapers, in a piece titled “Russians Hungry, But Not Starving.” Malcolm Muggeridge, a correspondent for The Guardian (which was at that time a much more respected and respectable newspaper), called Duranty a “liar.”

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

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