The latest threat to Iran?
* Iran bans dolls of cartoon characters from The Simpsons. But Superman and Spiderman dolls will still be allowed, because they help the “oppressed,” claims the Iranian government
* Saudis ban use of the English language in state bureaus and hotels, and orders the use of the Islamic calendar
* Palestine Airways takes to the skies again
* 63% of Americans now favor military action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran if sanctions fail. In a major international poll of 26,210 people in 21 countries, a slim majority of Germans, British and French also now agree military action may be necessary
There is another dispatch today here: Leading Palestinian writer: Syrian detention facilities are “human slaughterhouses”
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1. Relatives outraged over film about Hamas chief – but not because he is portrayed as a terrorist
2. Palestine Airways takes to the skies again
3. Romney “plans to visit Israel soon”
4. Saudi Arabia bans the use of English language and the Gregorian calendar
5. Iran bans Simpsons dolls to add to Barbie ban (but Superman is still allowed)
6. Ahmadinejad says he wants to attend London Olympics, despite its “Zionist” logo
7. 63% of Americans now favor military action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
RELATIVES OUTRAGED OVER FILM ABOUT HAMAS CHIEF – BUT NOT BECAUSE HE IS PORTRAYED AS A TERRORIST
This is a follow-up to the penultimate item in the dispatch:
Omar Sharif Jr. comes out -- twice: “I’m gay and I’m Jewish” (& Mossad role for Bar Refaeli)
The family of a leading Hamas terrorist allegedly killed by an Israeli hit squad, say they will try and block the release of a planned Israeli-French feature film based on his death – not because it portrays him as a terrorist responsible for helping kill hundreds of Israelis, but because it shows him drinking in the hotel bar.
The film, which parodies the killing of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his five-star hotel room in Dubai in January 2010, stars Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli, French actor Tomer Sisley and Israel’s Shlomo Bar-Abba, star of the Oscar-nominated film “Footnote”.
“The film undermines the image of our brother, showing him drinking alcohol and meeting in a bar with an Israeli model who seduces him and sets the trap for his assassination,” Fayaq al-Mabhouh told the Gaza bureau of Agence France Presse (AFP) in Gaza.
He said his family was planning to sue the producers in the Israeli courts on grounds that the film “soils the image of the martyr Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.”
Filming is currently under way in the Red Sea resort of Eilat with the movie due for release next year.
Dubai’s police chief claimed Israel’s Mossad spy agency was behind the killing and said there were 33 suspects in total, who used 45 false passports from Britain, Ireland, France, Germany and Australia.
Israel has denied involvement, but has nevertheless been criticized by the countries whose passports were allegedly used in the operation.
No one has ever been apprehended for the assassination despite Dubai’s release of supposed photos of those involved.
Among past dispatches on this, please see:
PALESTINE AIRWAYS TAKES TO THE SKIES AGAIN
Palestine Airways has announced that it plans to resume flights between Amman (Jordan), El-Arish (Egypt) and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).
The tiny airline used to fly regularly, but its last flight was in 2009, carrying Haj pilgrims from Gaza to Saudi Arabia. It is now resuming flights between El-Arish, which is in the northern Sinai, and Amman. The airline only has three aircraft and a staff of about 100, almost all of whom are Palestinian. It was established in 1995, and was based in Gaza until Israel damaged the Gaza airfield, following a wave of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and threats by Hamas to launch aerial terrorism on Israeli towns from the Gaza airfield.
ROMNEY “PLANS TO VISIT ISRAEL SOON”
There are unconfirmed Israeli press reports that Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican nominee for U.S. president, is planning a short visit to Israel in the near future.
Press commentators speculated that one of Romney’s motives for visiting was to upstage President Barack Obama, who is the first American president in decades not to have visited America’s close ally, Israel, since taking office.
By contrast, since assuming the presidency, Obama has visited Arab dictatorships including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where he was warmly welcomed by the regimes there.
SAUDI ARABIA BANS USE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND GREGORIAN CALENDAR
Saudi Arabia has banned the use of the Gregorian calendar in all official state and business dealings, the Arabic daily Al Watan reported last weekend.
Riyadh’s decree also bars government and private agencies and businesses from using the English language to answer phone calls or to communicate in general.
According to the report, all ministries and agencies must use only the Islamic calendar and the Arabic language.
Al Watan said the Saudi Interior Ministry believes that some ministries and agencies could “sometimes” use the Gregorian calendar when, for example, coordinating flight schedules with foreign airlines, but only on the condition that it is associated with the corresponding Hijri (Islamic) date.
Here is a useful calendar conversion chart for those of you planning to visit Saudi Arabia soon:
Below are some of the many past dispatches on this list with items about Saudi Arabia – a country which the BBC, New York Times and other major international media rarely report on properly, despite being a key Western ally and major world power.
Please scroll down here to see them:
* Mossad thwarts Iranian attempt to kill Barak in Singapore (& Saudi Valentine’s arrests) (Feb. 2012)
* “If you want a good laugh, read the holiday card sent out by the Saudi Ambassador” (Jan. 2012)
* “We wouldn’t want to be seen as ‘Bibiwashing’” (& Saudi woman beheaded, another raped, lashed) (Dec. 2011)
* Saudis open world’s largest female university (& UAE hires private army) (May 2011)
* Saudi employer hammers nails into Sri Lankan maid (& Booth converts to Islam) (Oct. 2010)
* Senior Saudi: kill those who oppose gender segregation (& Paul Martin’s plight) (March 2010)
* Holocaust denier appointed as Iran’s media boss (& Saudi F-15s bomb Yemen) (Nov. 2009)
* Israel criticizes Human Rights Watch for its fundraising from Saudi regime (Aug. 2009)
* Poll of Saudis: Don’t like Jews or Christians, want nuclear weapons and Israel destroyed (Jan. 2008)
* Saudi gang-rape victim gets 90 lashes for International Women’s Day (March 2007)
IRAN BANS SIMPSONS DOLLS, TO ADD TO BARBIE BAN (BUT SUPERMAN IS STILL ALLOWED)
The Associated Press reports that an Iranian government-affiliated agency has banned dolls of cartoon characters from the television show The Simpsons. Barbie and other dolls are already banned.
“We do not want to promote this cartoon by importing the toys,” Mohammad Hossein Farjoo, secretary of policymaking at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, told the Shargh daily newspaper.
He did not elaborate on what was wrong with The Simpsons specifically. But he noted that any doll or toy with speakers that blare out the voices of Western singers, or toy kitchen sets that include glasses that could in theory be used by the dolls for drinking alcoholic beverages, were banned.
However, Farjoo said that dolls of Spiderman and Superman were authorized for sale. “They help oppressed people and they have a positive stance,” he claimed.
In January, Iranian police closed down dozens of toy shops for selling Barbie dolls.
Despite bans on many books, movies, songs, satellite TV channels, haircuts and clothes from the West, many young Iranians keenly follow Western culture and obtain illegal products on the black market.
One-quarter of Iran’s population of 75 million is under 15 years old.
Iran threatened last year to boycott the 2012 London Olympics over the event logo’s supposed resemblance to the word ‘Zion’
AHMADINEJAD SAYS HE WANTS TO ATTEND LONDON OLYMPICS, DESPITE ITS “ZIONIST” LOGO
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he would like to attend the 2012 London Olympics after all, to support Iran’s 50 or so athletes who will compete there, but that the British authorities had “problems” with him coming.
Iran said last year it might boycott the London Olympics because it believed the event’s logo, which depicts the year 2012 with four jagged figures, resembled the word Zion. Zion is a term that refers to the city of Jerusalem and Iran does not recognize Israel.
But Ahmadinejad appears to have changed his mind. “I would like to be among Iranian athletes in the 2012 London Olympics to support them but the host country has problems with that,” the official Iranian IRNA news agency reported him saying.
Relations between Iran and Britain remain frosty. Last November, the regime’s plain clothes special units attacked and ransacked the British embassy in Tehran, destroying paintings of Queen Elizabeth II, among other things.
63% OF AMERICANS NOW FAVOR MILITARY ACTION TO PREVENT A NUCLEAR-ARMED IRAN
In a wide-ranging survey by the leading international polling agency, the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of Americans said they would now be in favor of taking military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
A slim majority of Germans, British and French said they would also be in favor of taking military action, should sanctions fail.
The Pew Research Center asked 26,210 people in 21 different countries to give their views on Iran’s alleged plans to build nuclear weapons, and found widespread opposition to Iran’s aims in all 21 countries, including Russia, China, and Lebanon.
The Iranian regime says all of its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes, but no one inside or outside Iran believes them -- apart from a few apologists for the regime in western academia.
For more, see here:
[All notes above by Tom Gross]