Assad emails leaked, tips for misleading Western media revealed; & other items

February 08, 2012

* Leaked email from Assad’s media advisor: “American psyche can be easily manipulated”
* Iranian news agency publishes maps of civilian targets to be hit in Israel
* EU denies money to Greece, but pours more money into the West Bank
* Not a story from The Onion: A cardboard cutout Khomeini comes home
* Netanyahu chats with hundreds of Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqis and Palestinians on Facebook

Iranians commemorate the 33rd anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s triumphant return to Iran in 1979 with a cardboard cutout

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1. Assad emails leaked, tips for misleading Western media revealed
2. International media finally reporting properly on Syria
3. Iranian news agency: “Israeli people must be annihilated”
4. Cardboard Khomeini returns to Iran from exile
5. Yet more no-strings-attached European money to PA while Greece denied funds
6. Correction from The Daily Beast
7. Netanyahu’s Arab Facebook fans
8. Netanyahu condemns latest anti-Semitic incitement by the Mufti of Jerusalem
9. Where is the follow-up on Libya by Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama?
10. More ill will from Egypt

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Hundreds of emails from Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s office have been leaked after a cyber attack by the hacker group “Anonymous”. One of the emails contains a document preparing Assad for his interview with ABC TV’s Barbara Walters last December.

In his interview with Walters, Assad denied that Syrian citizens were being killed. “We don’t kill our people. No government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person,” Assad told Walters.

A week before the interview, Sheherazad Jaafari, who works as a press attaché at the Syrian mission to the United Nations in New York, sent a long email to former Al Jazeera journalist Luna Chebel, who now works in Assad’s bureau. Jaafari, who helped set up the interview with Walters, is also the daughter of the Syrian ambassador to the UN, Dr. Bashar Jaafari.

The younger Jaafari wrote: “It is hugely important and worth mentioning that ‘mistakes’ have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized ‘police force.’ American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are ‘mistakes’ done and now we are ‘fixing it.’ It’s worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by policemen, police dogs and beatings.”

Jaafari also recommended that Assad say: “Syria doesn’t have a policy to torture people, unlike the USA, where there are courses and schools that specialize in teaching policemen and officers how to torture.”

She continued: “It would be worth mentioning how your personality has been attacked and praised in the last decade according to the media. At one point H.E. was viewed as a hero and in other times H.E. was the ‘bad guy’. Americans love these kinds of things get convinced by it.”

Jaafari also stressed that Facebook and YouTube are important to “the American mindset”.

Bashar Assad and Barbara Walters



I have previously criticized the BBC and other prominent international news media for failing to report properly on the Syrian uprising, even though some periods last year were as bloody as what we have witnessed this week, if not worse. I am glad to see they are now doing so.

It is worth reading this BBC report and watching the embedded videos (including one by the excellent Paul Wood).

It is also slightly strange to hear other Western news networks report that this week was the first time that Syrians burned Russian, Chinese, and Iranian flags.

I have reported on this several times, and posted videos such as these in May 2011:

Video Dispatch 8: Syrians burn Iranian and Russian Flags (Not Israeli and U.S. ones)


Please also see:

Freedom, Freedom!” How some foreign media are reporting the truth about Syria: This is the kind of reporting you won’t see from the BBC or New York Times -- or from ABC’s Barbara Walters (Dec. 9, 2011):



A report on Monday by Iran’s Alef News Agency website included detailed maps of military and civilian targets in what it called the “Zionist entity” (i.e. Israel). The report was headlined: “Israeli People Must be Annihilated.”

You can scroll down here to see the maps.



In February 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution – returned triumphantly to Tehran on an Air France flight from Paris after 14 years in exile.

To mark the 33rd anniversary of the “glorious occasion,” that return has been re-enacted in a ceremony. Republican guards carried a life-size cardboard cutout of Khomeini down the steps of a passenger plane while a waiting crowd cheered and a marching band played music in the background.

Among those welcoming the cardboard Khomeini was Education Minister Hamid Reza Haj Babayi.

(No, this story is not from The Onion.)



The Palestinian news agency WAFA reported yesterday that:

“The European Union and Sweden Tuesday contributed €24.7 million to the payment of the January salaries and pensions of around 84,300 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to an EU press release. The European Commission made €22.5 million contribution and Sweden made €2.2 million.

“The European Commission’s contribution comes from the €155 million package of financial assistance to the recurrent expenditures of the Palestinian Authority committed for 2012, said the release.

“Most of the European Union’s assistance to the Palestinian Authority is channeled through PEGASE… Since February 2008, €1.23 billion have been disbursed through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support programs.”

Above: One of Ramallah’s many nice cafes

Tom Gross adds: Besides the disturbing fact that in the past large amounts of European taxpayers’ money has been siphoned off into the bank accounts of corrupt Palestinian officials, or used to buy arms, what is startling is that the decision was made on the same day that the EU leadership announced that it can’t give Greece previously promised funds to pay its debts until it takes additional austerity measures, including the dismissal of thousands of superfluous civil servants and a cut in health expenditures.

And yet the EU prefers not to notice how many Palestinian civil servants are superfluous and, as reader Elliot Green notes, some of them are involved in creating and spreading hate propaganda against Jews.

As noted in a dispatch on this website last summer, “the billions that pour into the West Bank mean the Palestinian Authority does not need to try very hard to deliver the services expected by voters, it also stifles the private sector, inflates wages and causes an internal ‘brain drain’. No Palestinian business can compete with European and American-funded NGOs which routinely triple what a local firm would pay. Many NGOs fork out ‘danger money’ and even ‘hardship payments’ to both local and international staff (who then dine daily at the many expensive West Bank and Gaza restaurants) which further undermines the ability of local private businesses to hire.”

The Greeks are held to standards and demands are made of them. But (as Green points out) there are no ultimatums made to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who continues to hold rallies honoring terrorists, name public institutions after suicide bombers, and teach hatred and incitement to Palestinian children.


Fatah’s official Facebook page last week put up pictures of 8 terrorists who carried out the terror attack on the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv in 1975, calling them heroes.

Fatah’s Facebook page also includes a map of “Palestine” which includes all of Israel.



This correction appeared at the bottom of an American election in The Daily Beast/Newsweek:

“Correction: The original version of this story included an embedded link in the text to a blog called the ‘Neocon Zionist Threat’. The author did not use this site in the reporting of the piece, and does not support the views expressed.”

As one reader notes: “The website ‘Neocon Zionist Threat’ argues that a cabal of Jews is trying to drive the U.S. into a war with Iran. The Daily Beast article, on the other hand, argues that a cabal of Jews is trying to drive the U.S. into a war with Iran.”



For the first time, in what looks as though it will become a regular occurrence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu answered questions on Facebook last week from web surfers in the Arab world

Hundreds of readers from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, the Gulf states, North Africa and the Palestinian Authority responded to a call on Facebook by Netanyahu to ask him questions in Arabic.

The questions covered a broad range of issues including the Arab Spring, the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, Iran, and relations between Israel and Arab countries. Readers expressed interest in learning more about Israel and its policies in a range of areas. Ofir Gendelman, Netanyahu’s Arabic Media Adviser, translated the questions and answers for Netanyahu and the web surfers.

In response to a question about the diplomatic process, Netanyahu said that, “I am ready at this moment to go to Ramallah and begin talks with Abu Mazen (Abbas) without preconditions. To my regret, Abu Mazen is not prepared to come to my office. I think that this is a mistake.”

Asked about the Arab Spring Netanyahu said that, “Increasing freedom within these countries will aid their prosperity. Increasing freedom of information could aid peace because at the moment, the Arab world still has stigmas and stereotypes about the State of Israel that have no bearing on reality.”

Regarding Saudi Arabia, Netanyahu said: “We have many common interests that we could advance regarding the economy and regional policy. I believe that, like us, Saudi Arabia sees that there is a great danger in the spread of terrorism by extremist elements.”



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked why “more governments around the world have not condemned calls by the Palestinian mufti to kill Jews simply because they are Jews.”

He said: “What is most chilling is the fact that there is here a legacy of hatred and annihilation because this mufti is following in the footsteps of that previous mufti. Haj Amin al-Husseini was one of the architects of the Final Solution. He traveled to Berlin. He lobbied and implored Hitler, as was stated by Adolf Eichmann’s deputy at the Nuremberg trials, and is documented in other sources, and persuaded him more than anyone else to carry out the Final Solution.

“Not to allow the Jews to leave lest they come here but to annihilate them, to incinerate them. He established Balkan Muslim Waffen-SS units. He broadcast and preached the annihilation of Jews and, more than anyone else, poisoned Arab leaders against Zionism and against the Jewish People. And here is his successor, today, instead of calling for peace and reconciliation, calling for the annihilation of Jews simply because they are Jews.

“I hear condemnations if there is a house in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo or a balcony in Ramot, I hear this from everyone. Where are condemnations of the mufti? Not the previous mufti but the current one?”



Several Libyans have died after being tortured by militias in Libyan detention centers, Amnesty International has said.

It said its representatives had seen detainees in Tripoli, Misrata and Gheryan with open wounds to their head, limbs and back.

Meanwhile, French charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has suspended operations in Misrata after treating 115 patients with torture-related wounds.

“Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions,” said Medecins Sans Frontieres director Christopher Stokes.

More than 8,500 Libyans have been taken into custody by the British, American and French-backed militia groups in Libya, according to the UN.


Caroline Hawley reports on the BBC News website:

“In a detention facility in Misrata, I met a man with deep scars all over his back. He had been whipped with electric cables shortly after his capture, on simple suspicion of supporting Muammar al-Gaddafi. In another prison, in Tripoli, a former pilot showed me the results of electric shocks on his arm… This is not the new page for human rights that many had hoped for in Libya.”



Egypt’s Committee of Foreign Relations of the People’s Assembly decided on Monday that it would boycott any parliamentary events and activities if Israelis were present, describing Egypt’s neighbor as a “Zionist entity.”

Essam el-Erian, chairman of the committee and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said “normalization with the Zionist entity” is rejected unequivocally and this “is the decision of the Egyptian People”. He said that the committee “refuses to participate in any parliamentary or political events that include the Israeli participation.”

A few Egyptian parliamentarians have condemned the decision. MP Emad Gad said that “there are international conferences that have to be attended even if Israelis are participating,” adding that “sometimes boycotting is not the right step to take.”

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

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