Below are a few notes on the aftermath of the suicide attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria on Wednesday. Six people were killed and 36 injured, some very badly.
It was the worst suicide bomb attack in the European Union since the London transport bombings of July 2005.
But the way in which it has been covered in some leading Western media, along with reactions from certain Western officials and politicians, have demonstrated a markedly different attitude towards Israeli victims of terror than European victims. Many were even hesitant to describe it as an act of terror.
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The suspected Hizbullah terrorist and his fake American driving license
1. FT European edition: Not that important, it’s only Europe
2. BBC: an “awful accident”
3. Taking a lead from The New York Times?
4. AFP: Was this even an attack, let alone terrorism?
5. The New York Times’ strange moral equivalence
6. Video of bomber
7. Her final call: “I just found out I’m pregnant at last”
8. Israel excluded from the U.S.-sponsored Global Counterterrorism Forum
9. Senior American official confirms Hizbullah was behind the attack
10. “70 years after the brave people of Bulgaria stopped the trains for Treblinka” (By Giulio Meotti)
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
FT EUROPEAN EDITION: NOT THAT IMPORTANT, IT’S ONLY EUROPE
The Financial Times omitted news of the attack from their daily round-up of “European news headlines” which were emailed to thousands of their subscribers the day after. (But the FT did find space to run another, different, negative story about Israel in its emailed headline list that day.)
If citizens of some other Western country had been blown up and burned alive within an EU member state one wonders if a leading paper such as the FT would have done omitted this from their European news headlines.
BBC: AN “AWFUL ACCIDENT”
If the bombing had not targeted Israelis, one wonders if a BBC news anchor would have described it as an “awful accident” rather than a terrorist attack during an interview with Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador to London.
The BBC TV 24 news anchor referred to it as an “accident” over three hours after other media reported that it was a bomb attack. From the beginning there was no question that it was a bomb attack, not an accident – and other media described it as such.
This broadcast occurred at 8:24 PM, UK time, on Wednesday night. (Video below, courtesy of CifWatch and Oy Va Goy blog, both of whose senior writers are longtime subscribers to this email list, as is Daniel Taub.)
On the BBC news ticker at the foot of another of the BBC networks, BBC World TV, the attack was for many hours referred to as “an explosion on a bus” rather than as a bomb or terror attack.
TAKING A LEAD FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES?
This is a little like when, in 2008, The New York Times characterized Samir Kuntar’s terrorist attack in which he butchered Israeli children as a “raid gone horribly wrong”:
Samir Kuntar, perhaps Israel’s most reviled prisoner, will return to a hero’s welcome when he crosses into Lebanon this week, 29 years after he left its shores in a rubber dinghy to kidnap Israelis from the coastal town of Nahariya.
That raid went horribly wrong, leaving five people dead, a community terrorized and a nation traumatized. Two of the people killed were Israeli children.
AFP: WAS THIS EVEN AN ATTACK, LET ALONE TERRORISM?
The leading French news agency Agence France Presse also questioned whether it was an attack, by placing the word attack in quotes in its headline:
Three Dead in ‘attack’ on Israelis at Bulgaria Airport
THE NEW YORK TIMES’ STRANGE MORAL EQUIVALENCE
The New York Times reported this week in its story headlined “5 Israelis Killed in Bulgaria; Netanyahu Blames Iranians”
“… Bellicose adversaries, Israel and Iran have a long history of accusing each other of terrorist attacks.”
Only The New York Times could regard as equivalent the deliberate murder of as many Israeli holidaymakers as possible, with a legitimate act of self-defense: the assassination of a scientist working to make a nuclear bomb for a regime that has threatened to wipe Israel off the map, while denying the Holocaust – an assassination that it is far from clear Israel had anything to do with. It’s also not absolutely clear that the Bulgaria attack was ordered by Iran, although it seems the most likely explanation.
HER FINAL CALL: “I JUST FOUND OUT I’M PREGNANT AT LAST”
Four of the Israeli victims were in their twenties. One was the father of a four month old baby. Another was the father of a ten month old baby.
One victim was older. She was 42, and had been having fertility treatment for some time to try and get pregnant. Her final incoming call was the hospital calling her with the good news: she was pregnant.
Her final outgoing call was to her sister, to tell her the good news and how happy she was.
Her body was flown back to Israel last night and she was buried today.
The bus driver who was killed in the attack, Mustafa Kyosov, was a Bulgarian Muslim. He leaves behind a ten-year-old daughter.
Some of the injuries were particularly horrific and body parts were thrown as far as 80 meters away from the scene of the attack. Among the injured Israelis are teenagers.
Tourists from Slovakia, Italy and America who were standing near the bus at the airport were also among those injured, according to press reports.
VIDEO OF BOMBER
The Bulgarian authorities released this security video showing the suspect wandering into the arrivals hall at the airport, appearing to be just another European tourist in his plaid shorts, Adidas T-shirt and baseball hat.
But it is his bulky, oversized backpack that contained his bomb that stands out the most.
Israeli intelligence say he is believed to have had short hair and to be wearing a wig.
The Bulgaria suicide bomber was, of course, no lone wolf. Such a suicide operation needs money, intelligence, logistics, training, bomb making equipment and a safe house. And someone helped prepare his forged U.S. passport and driving license that the Bulgarian authorities found and led the Bulgarian Prime Minister to initially say the terrorist might have been American.
United States Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick attended a memorial service at the Central Synagogue in Sofia, home to most of the 5,000 Bulgarian Jews, and expressed his “outrage and horror at the terrorist incident that happened yesterday in Burgas.”
ISRAEL EXCLUDED FROM THE U.S.-SPONSORED GLOBAL COUNTERTERRORISM FORUM
This latest terrorist murders of Israelis comes only days after the Obama administration persisted in excluding Israel from its “Global Counterterrorism Forum” (GCTF) and “High Level Conference on Victims of Terrorism,” and just two days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Israel telling PM Netanyahu to release convicted terrorists from prison as a “goodwill gesture”. (The U.S. State Department described the GCTF as a “major initiative” to build “an international counterterrorism network as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries.”)
Prime Minister Netanyahu said in relation to the attack in Bulgaria: “All signs point to Iran.”
This is the latest in a series of attempted bomb attacks in recent months against Israeli civilians ordered by Iran in Thailand, India, Kenya, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Georgia and elsewhere. (Please see previous dispatches, including one from last Sunday about the attempted Cyprus attack, for more detail.)
It also falls (perhaps not uncoincidentally) on the same day 18 years ago as Iran and its proxy, Hizbullah, bombed the Argentine Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people (including Holocaust survivors) and injuring over 500 others. No one has been charged in connection with that attack.
SENIOR AMERICAN OFFICIAL CONFIRMS HIZBULLAH WAS BEHIND THE ATTACK
A senior American official confirmed Israel’s assertions on Thursday that the suicide bomber was a member of a Hizbullah cell operating in Bulgaria.
Hizbullah is in effect a division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and gets it guidance, money and training from the regime in Iran.
Bulgarian and Israeli intelligence are believed to have now recovered body parts and intercepted communications leading them to the conclusion that the perpetrator belonged to Hizbullah.
Bulgaria has been co-operating closely in the aftermath of the attack.
I attach one article below – it is in a slightly edited and shortened form because I don’t agree with the tone of one or two of the sentences in it. It provides a useful reminder of the close relations between the Bulgarian and the Jewish peoples, and how Bulgaria (with Denmark) was one of the only countries where a significant proportion of the population helped try to protect Jews during the Holocaust.
-- Tom Gross
70 YEARS AFTER THE BRAVE PEOPLE OF BULGARIA STOPPED THE TRAINS FOR TREBLINKA
70 years after the brave people of Bulgaria stopped the trains for Treblinka, 5 Israelis are massacred there just because they are Jews.
By Giulio Meotti
Israel National news
July 19, 2012
After Toulouse, where three Jewish children and a rabbi were gunned down last March by a French Islamist, Europe witnesses another massacre of Jews.
At least 7 people were killed, 5 of them Israelis, and over 30 others were injured in a terror attack on a bus carrying Israelis in Burgas, east of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.
We are waiting to know which Islamic hand is behind the new bloodbath of Israelis. “Exactly 18 years after the terror attack at the Jewish community building in Argentina, the murderous Iranian terror continues to harm innocent people. This was an Iranian terror attack,” PM Benjamin Netanyahu stated.
On July 18, 1994, Buenos Aires witnessed the most lethal anti-Semitic attack outside Israel since the Holocaust.
On March 9, 1942, an order arrived from Berlin to deport the 50,000 Bulgarian Jews. Adolf Eichmann’s office was ready to “operate”.
In the morning, Czar Boris II flew to Berchtesgaden to ask Adolf Hitler why he needed the Jews. Reluctant to admit the fact of the gas chambers, Hitler answered that the Jews must build roads. “Roads are also needed in Bulgaria,” answered the king.
According to rumor, the Germans poisoned Boris II: the royal plane returned to Sofia with a dead king. His brother, Prince Cyril, a Germanophile, became regent, but Bulgaria arose, and the Parliament, the intellectuals, the ordinary people, everybody protested against the Jews’ deportation.
In some Bulgarian towns, the Jews were assembled to be put on trains. But the trains couldn’t be loaded until Czar Boris signed a proclamation authorizing the deportation.
In Plovdiv, the capital of South Bulgaria, the military governor was a sadistic anti-Semite. He assembled all the Jews and locked them up in the Jewish school. But not a single Jew could be deported.
There are stories of human kindness, such as Christians who wore the yellow Star of David in solidarity with their Jewish friends. There are stories of courage, like that of the vice president of the Bulgarian parliament, who mobilized members of parliament to oppose the plan to deport Jews.
The salvation of the Bulgarian Jews was due to the refusal of Christian and Muslim Bulgarians to acquiesce in the killing of their Jewish brethren. It also raises the question of how many other Jews died because their fellow citizens stood silent.
At the end of World War II, the Jewish population of Bulgaria was larger than it had been in 1940. And 90 per cent of Bulgarian Jewry left for Israel in the early 1950s.
The Bulgarian people were the only people in Europe (apart from the Danes) who went out of their way to save the Jews.
Just as Toulouse’s recent slaughter is connected with Vichy’s France, which surrendered native Jews to the Nazis, using their own police force to organize and execute the task, the attack in Burgas has a historic meaning too.
Seventy years after the brave people of Bulgaria stopped the trains for Treblinka, 5 Israelis have been massacred there just because they are Jews.