Miriam Monsonego, aged 7, pulled by the hair and then shot through the head in Toulouse because she was Jewish
* French foreign minister speaks in Hebrew at the end of his remarks at this morning’s funerals.
* Some leading French Muslim leaders have condemned the murder of Jewish children.
* “Let us be clear. There has not been one single instance, ever, of the Israeli military deliberately targeting Palestinian children in a school in Gaza.”
* Update (Wednesday afternoon March 21, 2012): The Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad has condemned the attack on the Jewish school: “It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life.”
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1. Media reporting lies about Gaza children deaths in relation to Toulouse murders
2. French foreign minister speaks in Hebrew at end of his remarks at this morning’s funerals
3. EU chief Ashton apologizes, after calls for her to resign over her Toulouse shooting remarks
4. UN cancels appearance by Hamas leader in Geneva
5. Palestinian prisoners prevented from going on hunger strike (but not by Israel)
6. Is this the beginning of the end of Egypt’s tourist trade?
7. “Iranian military advisers operating in Palestinian Gaza and Egyptian Sinai”
8. BBC says Iranian government behind coordinated cyber attack
9. Iranian government refuses to allow ceremony for Iranian Oscar winner
10. “The extreme dangers of demonizing the Jewish state” (Editorial, The Commentator, March 21, 2012)
11. “The bogus Iran intelligence debate” (By Bret Stephens, Wall St. Journal, March 20, 2012)
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
MEDIA REPORTING LIES ABOUT GAZA CHILDREN DEATHS IN RELATION TO TOULOUSE MURDERS
I was criticized by several commentators for saying over the last two days that my instincts led me to think that the perpetrator of the French Jewish school shootings was more likely an extreme Islamist anti-Semite than a neo-Nazi. (I was also criticized by various people when I said in the initial aftermath after the Norwegian massacres last summer that this sounded like the work of a far-right madman and not that of an Islamist extremist.)
It seemed that the Toulouse murderer had killed French Muslim soldiers precisely as a warning to other Muslims not to “betray” their people and serve in the French armed forces in Afghanistan.
The three part-nature of his attacks over the last week, the cold blooded way in which the young Jewish children were murdered (pulling 7-year-old Miriam Monsonego by the hair around the school yard before then calmly taking out a second gun and executing her) and the fact the murderer filmed the attack – all these pointed to the way al-Qaeda and other extremist internet videos encourage Islamist terrorists to kill Jewish and other infidels, especially Muslim “collaborators”.
French intelligence should be congratulated on pursuing the possibility of an Islamist link and their apprehension this morning of a suspect of Algerian origin in relation to the Toulouse murders (although questions must be asked why, since they have been tracking him since last Thursday’s shooting of the French Muslim soldiers, they didn’t do more to stop him killing Jewish children on Monday).
The suspect, who is currently in a stand-off with police, has admitted having been trained by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. French intelligence has confirmed he was previously arrested in Afghanistan in 2010.
Many international media have this morning been claiming that the suspect was motivated by “Israel’s killing of children in Gaza earlier this month”.
However, Israel didn’t kill any children in Gaza this month. Israel only hit armed Islamic Jihad adult operatives, most of whom were launching missiles into Israel at the time Israel identified and hit them.
But the same irresponsible Western media reported – wrongly – that Israel had killed Palestinian children in Gaza this month, when it hadn’t. Not for the first time, Western journalists were taken in by Palestinian propagandists in Gaza.
Please see this link for the way the media was duped: www.idfblog.com/2012/03/12/photos-gaza-aerial-strikes-proven-false/
A further Palestinian claim that another Palestinian child (Adham Abu Selmiya) had been killed by an Israeli air strike at a Gaza funeral of an Islamic Jihad leader this month was subsequently acknowledged by his own parents, and other eye witnesses as false; the death was a result of gunfire unleashed at the funeral.
Agence France Presse (AFP) has now admitted that it was misinformed by its Palestinian sources about the reasons for Adham Abu Selmiya’s death and Israel had nothing to do with it. Other Western news outlets have not admitted that – yet again – they unfairly accused Israel of doing something it didn’t do.
In my opinion, highly irresponsible and inflammatory reporting about Jews and Israel in the Western media is one of the causes of recent increased anti-Semitism among many western Muslims and others.
For more, see:
Only last month The Guardian in Britain ran a very nasty news report attacking the British government’s decision to help the British Jewish community pay for increased security guards at Jewish schools in Britain.
Further down this dispatch, I attach an editorial from this morning by the online British publication The Commentator, which says:
“It is now clear that the killer was motivated by the same kind of lies about Israeli actions in Gaza that have been peddled and therefore legitimized for years by Muslim leaders in France and across Europe.
“Let us be clear. There has not been one single instance, ever, of the Israeli military deliberately targeting Palestinian children in a school in Gaza. Palestinian children have died in the overall conflict of course. But even that indirect responsibility lies with the people who have started all the wars, namely Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas.”
FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER SPEAKS IN HEBREW AT THE END OF HIS REMARKS AT THIS MORNING’S FUNERALS
The funerals of the four Jewish victims are taking place in Jerusalem as I write. Thousands of Israelis have attended, filing past three small shrouded bodies and one adult-sized one. All four victims were dual French-Israeli citizens. The children were aged 3, 6 and 7 (although some media in the West have avoided giving the ages of the victims).
The mother of Miriam Monsonego, aged 7, has collapsed and is now receiving medical attention.
The widow of the adult victim, Jonathan Sandler, having already lost her husband and two small children, and who is currently pregnant with her third, has said she has decided not to return to France and will stay in Israel.
A closed-door memorial ceremony attended by French President Nicolas Sarkozy was held at Charles de Gaulle Airport before the flight departed Paris.
Among those speaking at this morning’s funerals in Jerusalem is French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who accompanied the coffins from France. He told the mourners that “anti-Semitism negates the values of France” and was “intolerable.”
“Attacks on French Jews are not just attacks on the Jewish community, but on millions of French citizens who cannot tolerate such behavior.”
“Your children are being laid to rest in Israel,” he said, “but their memories will be cherished in the land where they were born, in France.”
“May their souls be bound to the souls of the living,” Juppe said, in Hebrew, at the end of his eulogy.
EU CHIEF ASHTON APOLOGIZES, AFTER CALLS FOR HER TO RESIGN OVER HER TOULOUSE SHOOTING REMARKS
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Baroness Catherine Ashton yesterday said she “unreservedly” condemned the murders at a French Jewish school on Monday and insisted she drew “no parallel” between the shooting in Toulouse and “the situation in Gaza.”
At an event in Brussels on Monday organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Ashton compared the murders of the children at a French Jewish school earlier that day to the deaths of teenagers in a fatal coach crash in Switzerland the week before, and “what is happening in Gaza.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had said Ashton’s comments were “not appropriate and I hope that she will re-examine and reverse them.”
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposition Kadima leader Tzipi Livni also criticized Ashton for her remarks.
Other Israeli and French political leaders went further calling on Ashton to resign if she refused to “unreservedly condemn” the murders of young French Jewish children.
Yesterday she issued a statement saying: “I condemn unreservedly the terrible murders in Toulouse. I extend my sympathies to the families and friends of the victims, to the people of France and to the Jewish community.”
She is also reported to have called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later to personally apologize for her earlier remarks.
Ashton has long been criticized for her role in the “Middle East Quartet” for painting the Palestinians only as victims and the Israelis exclusively as oppressors, rather than taking a balanced approach.
UN CANCELS APPEARANCE BY HAMAS LEADER IN GENEVA
The United Nations canceled an appearance by a Hamas leader at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
Ismail al-Ashqar, a senior Hamas commander who has on several occasions made remarks sympathetic to Osama bin Laden, was barred from entering the Human Rights Council meeting and was asked to leave the UN compound in Geneva, after reports of intensive pressure by some Western governments not to allow “a terrorist leader” to enter.
The Human Rights Council on Monday considered five resolutions criticizing only one country (Israel), including four resolutions submitted by Palestine though no such state exists.
For more on the UN Human Rights Council, please see my article of last week.
PALESTINIAN PRISONERS PREVENTED FROM GOING ON HUNGER STRIKE (BUT NOT BY ISRAEL)
Palestinian militants being held by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, who sought to emulate an Islamic Jihad leader held by Israel who recently succeeded in winning his early release by staging a 66-day hunger strike (which won him much sympathy by far Left Israeli groups who then persuaded Western NGOs to turn him into an international cause célèbre) have found that their Palestinian jailers are not as accommodating as the Israelis were.
Palestinian media have reported that four Palestinian Islamist prisoners who tried to go on hunger strike in recent days were severely beaten by their Palestinian jailers and had their beards shaved, before being force-fed.
IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF EGYPT’S TOURIST TRADE?
In the latest of a series of such incidents, gunmen kidnapped two Brazilian female tourists travelling through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Sunday.
The gunmen, who are believed to be Bedouin, stopped a bus carrying a group of tourists on their way to St. Catherine’s Monastery and apprehended the two Brazilian women.
Last month, two American women were kidnapped (Egyptian authorities then negotiated their release). And a group of 20 Chinese cement factory workers were also kidnapped last month and later released.
“IRANIAN MILITARY ADVISERS OPERATING IN PALESTINIAN GAZA AND EGYPTIAN SINAI”
The Israeli liberal daily Ha’aretz reports that Iranian military advisers are operating in the Gaza Strip and in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, helping to assemble rocket-launching systems used to attack Israeli towns and villages.
The paper reports that the Iranians are helping train and arm the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad group, which has continued to fire rockets over the border even after a ceasefire with Israel was announced last week following four days of fighting.
In recent months Hamas has distanced itself slightly from Iran. It refused to back Iran’s call to support the Syrian government suppress a largely Sunni uprising in Syria and instead has sought to build closer ties with the Turkish government and with several Sunni Gulf states, while Iran increases its links with Islamic Jihad.
BBC SAYS IRANIAN GOVERNMENT BEHIND COORDINATED CYBER ATTACK
The outgoing BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said in a speech at Britain’s Royal Television Society that the government of Iran appears to be behind last week’s massive cyber assault on the BBC. Hackers penetrated BBC Persian TV while the BBC’s London office was inundated with automatic phone calls and the company’s satellite feeds into Iran were also jammed.
The BBC says that its Persian TV service is now viewed by six million people in Iran.
IRANIAN GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO ALLOW CEREMONY FOR IRANIAN OSCAR WINNER
The Iranian authorities refused to allow a ceremony honoring Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi upon his return home from America. His film, “A Separation,” won the Oscar for best foreign film last month, beating the two other favorites, an Israeli film and a Polish film about the Holocaust (the brilliant “In Darkness”, based on “In the sewers of Lvov”. For more on Lvov and this book, please see here.)
The Iranian authorities are said to be unhappy that “A Separation” included scenes discussing gender inequality and the desire by many Iranians to leave the country.
I attach two articles below, both of which were written by subscribers to this list.
-- Tom Gross
THE EXTREME DANGERS OF DEMONIZING THE JEWISH STATE
The school killings in Toulouse were motivated by anti-Zionism showing the extreme dangers of demonising the Jewish state
The Commentator (London)
March 21, 2012
Barely had the news broken that the appalling killings at a Jewish school in Toulouse earlier this week had been perpetrated by a French Muslim motivated by anti-Zionism than the head of the Grand Mosque in Paris was out in the media calling for the revelation not to lead to the stigmatisation of French Muslims in general. He’s right of course. It shouldn’t.
Our gripe here is not with what he said, or with him personally, it is with what most Muslim leaders don’t say in such circumstances. For it is now clear that the killer was motivated by the same kind of lies about Israeli actions in Gaza that have been peddled and therefore legitimised for years by Muslim leaders in France and across Europe.
Let us be clear. There has not been one single instance, ever, of the Israeli military deliberately targeting Palestinian children in a school in Gaza. Palestinian children have died in the overall conflict of course. But even that indirect responsibility lies with the people who have started all the wars, namely Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas.
That is the incontrovertible truth of the matter. Yet you’d never know it if you listened to Europe’s Muslim leaders who have whipped up the kind of hysteria against Israel in which the sort of attack that took place on Monday was always likely to take place.
The Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF) in 2008, for example, spoke of Israel’s actions in Gaza in terms of “starving an entire population”. That’s not far short of an accusation of attempted genocide. In 2003, to quote one of many such instances from the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain openly described Israeli policy towards the Palestinians as “genocide” and made a thinly veiled comparison with the Holocaust.
It’s not just the Muslim organisations of course. Mainstream media outlets across the continent have added a further layer of legitimacy to this lethal ideology with papers and magazines such as the Guardian and the New Statesman engaged in what is little better than a hate campaign against the Jewish state.
Still another layer of legitimacy has been added by senior politicians. Only this week, EU foreign policy supremo (and national disgrace) Catherine Ashton approvingly referred to a Palestinian child’s description of Gaza as a “prison”. Rather than contribute to the edifice of dishonesty, why didn’t she tell the Palestinian group she was addressing that peace will only come when their parents stop lying to them and inciting hatred of Jews? (She was misquoted on Toulouse, but that’s another matter)
Parliamentarians across Europe have far too often joined in the hate fest. Last week it was the turn of Sigmar Gabriel, leader of Germany’s Social Democrats, who slammed Israel for “apartheid”, one of the anti-Zionist movement’s most common and most dishonest epithets.
No-one will ever know whether the tragedy in Toulouse would not have taken place if the atmosphere were different. But we can say that history teaches that mass demonisation can all too easily lead to the dehumanisation of the group or people or nation that is being demonised. From there it is only one single step to the belief that murder itself can be justified.
Muslim leaders, politicians, and journalists who have participated in the agenda of lies and hatred against Israel should today hang their heads in shame.
THE BOGUS IRAN INTELLIGENCE DEBATE
The Bogus Iran Intelligence Debate
Ignore the media leaks. Tehran’s nuke program is hiding in plain sight
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
March 20, 2012
To better understand the debate over the state of Iran’s nuclear bomb building capabilities, it helps to talk to someone who has built a nuclear bomb. Tom Reed served as Secretary of the Air Force and head of the National Reconnaissance Office in the 1970s, but in an earlier life he designed thermonuclear devices at Lawrence Livermore and watched two of them detonate off Christmas Island in 1962.
How hard is it, I asked Mr. Reed when he visited the Journal last week, to build a crude nuclear weapon on the model of the bomb that leveled Hiroshima? “Anyone can build it,” he said flatly, provided they have about 141 lbs. of uranium enriched to an 80% grade. After that, he says, it’s not especially hard to master the technologies of weaponization, provided you’re not doing something fancy like implosion or miniaturization.
Bear that in mind as the New York Times reports that U.S. intelligence agencies are sure, or pretty sure, that Iran “still has not decided to pursue a weapon” – a view the paper says is shared by Israel’s Mossad. The report echoes the conclusion of a 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that Iran put its nuclear-weapons program on the shelf back in 2003.
All this sounds like it matters a whole lot. It doesn’t. You may not be able to divine whether a drinker, holding a bottle of Johnnie Walker in one hand and a glass tinkling with ice in the other, actually intends to pour himself a drink. And perhaps he doesn’t. But the important thing, at least when it comes to intervention, is not to present him with the opportunity in the first place.
That’s what was so misleading about the 2007 NIE, which relegated to a footnote the observation that “by ‘nuclear weapons program’ we mean Iran’s nuclear weapons design and weaponization work. . . . [W]e do not mean Iran’s declared civil work related to uranium conversion and enrichment.” What the NIE called “civil work” is, in fact, the central piece in assembling a nuclear device. To have sufficient quantities of enriched uranium is, so to speak, the whiskey of a nuclear-weapons program. By contrast, “weaponization” – the vessel into which you pour and through which you can deliver the enriched uranium cocktail – is merely the glass.
It’s for this reason that Iran has spent the better part of the last several years building a redundant enrichment facility deep underground near the city of Qom. And thanks in part to the regular reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world doesn’t need to rely on spies or shady sources to figure out just how much uranium the Iranians have enriched: At last count, more than five tons to a 5% grade, and more than 100 kilos to 20%.
In other words, having a debate about the quality of our Iran intelligence is mostly an irrelevance: Iran’s real nuclear-weapons program is hiding in plain sight. The serious question policy makers must answer isn’t whether Iran will go for a bomb once it is within a half-step of getting one. It’s whether Iran should be allowed to get within that half-step.
That is the essence of the debate the Obama administration is now having with Israel. The president has stated flatly that he won’t allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Good. But Israelis worry that Mr. Obama will allow them to come too close for comfort (or pre-emption). Israel cannot be reassured by the administration’s apparent decision to make its case through a series of media leaks, all calculated to head off a possible Israeli strike.
On Monday, the Times published the (leaked) results of a “classified war game” in which an Israeli strike on Iran leaves “hundreds of American dead,” perhaps through an attack on a Navy warship. That isn’t exactly the subtlest way of warning Israel that, should they strike Iran, they will do so forewarned that American blood will be on their hands, never mind that it’s the Iranians who would be doing the killing.
Is this outcome likely? Maybe, though it assumes a level of Iranian irrationality – responding to an Israeli attack by bringing the U.S. into the conflict – that top U.S. officials don’t otherwise attribute to Iran’s leaders. But the deeper problem with this leak is that an intelligence product is being used as a political tool. It was the same story with the 2007 NIE, whose purpose was to foreclose the possibility that the Bush administration would attack Iran.
It should come as no surprise that an intelligence community meant to provide decision makers with disinterested analysis has, in practice, policy goals and ideological axes of its own. But that doesn’t mean it is any less dangerous. The real lesson of the Iraq WMD debacle wasn’t that the intelligence was “overhyped,” since the CIA is equally notorious for erring in the opposite direction. It was that intelligence products were treated as authoritative guides to decision making. Spooks, like English children, should be seen, not heard. The problem is that the spooks (like the children) want it the other way around.
How, then, should people think about the Iran state of play? By avoiding the misdirections of “intelligence.” For real intelligence, merely consider that a regime that can take a rock in its right hand to stone a woman to death should not have a nuclear bomb within reach of its left. Even a spook can grasp that.