Some of the Israeli soldiers’ Facebook photos that have caused controversy
* Facebook photographs of young female Israeli soldiers posing in only lingerie and guns have been republished around the world. The British tabloid The Sun ran the photos under the headlines “Gaza strip!” and “Phwoar games”. For more details see item 5 below.
* New study finds that across all language versions of Wikipedia, “Israel,” “God,” “Hitler” and “Holocaust,” are among the most fought over entries by Wikipedia writers.
* Syrian foreign ministry: “Erdogan’s repression of peaceful protest shows how detached he is from reality.”
* Just in case you were wondering... Hamas: “Abducting Israelis is at the heart of Palestinian culture.”
* You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. Please also press “Like” on that page.
1. Syria issues advisory against travel to Turkey
2. Media obscures issues in Turkey; neglects to mention Erdogan’s plans to build huge mosque
3. Jewish kidney donation saves Palestinian boy
4. “Israel” and “God” are subjects causing most debate on Wikipedia
5. “Gaza strip”: Female soldiers disciplined for posing for sexy photos
6. Hamas: “Abducting soldiers is at the heart of our Palestinian culture”
7. U.S. aid worker in Egypt sentenced to two years in prison for promoting democracy
8. Alicia Keys says she will defy boycott calls and happily perform in Israel
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
SYRIA ISSUES ADVISORY AGAINST TRAVEL TO TURKEY
It seems that some officials in Bashar Assad’s regime still have a sense of humor.
The Syrian government yesterday issued a travel advisory to Syrian citizens, warning them against traveling to Turkey, “for their own safety, due to the security conditions in some Turkish cities that have deteriorated over the past days.”
The Syrian foreign ministry added that “Erdogan’s repression of peaceful protest shows how detached he is from reality.”
Syria also called on Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to “stop the violent repression of the protesters, and if he can’t, then to resign.”
The advisory is similar to the one that Turkey issued against travel to Syria two years ago.
In recent days, Syrian state television has broadcast many hours of live footage from Istanbul, where thousands of protesters have clashed for the last three days with riot police who fired teargas and water cannons.
The UN claims the Syrian civil war has left at least 80,000 people dead, although informed observers say the true figure exceeds 120,000, the vast majority of whom have been killed by the regime.
MEDIA OBSCURES ISSUES IN TURKEY; NEGLECTS TO MENTION ERDOGAN’S MOSQUE PLANS
Much of the Western media has reported that the disturbances in Turkey in the last few days were caused by the government tearing down trees at a park in Istanbul’s main Taksim Square, in order to build a new shopping mall.
What media such as the BBC and others have not made explicit is that the largely secular crowds were protesting not plans to build a shopping mall but the announcement that Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party was planning to construct a new mosque in the square.
Those media that have mentioned this, such as the Reuters news agency, have buried the information deep in their reports. For example, Reuters mentions Erdogan’s plan to build a new mosque in the square only in the sixth paragraph of its report on Sunday.
Erdogan has increased Islamism through various measures in recent years and tried to curtail secular habits, such as drinking alcohol, in Turkey.
JEWISH KIDNEY DONATION SAVES PALESTINIAN BOY
Sarit and Avi Naor, an Israeli couple, on Sunday donated their dead son Noam’s kidney to a 10-year-old Palestinian boy, thereby saving his life. Noam died in an accident last week. The Naor family, who are orthodox Jews, consulted with rabbis, who encouraged them to donate his kidney to save the Palestinian boy. (The second kidney could not be used.)
Israeli President Shimon Peres called the couple to say he was “proud of your contribution to peace”.
“According to Jewish tradition, every person is created in God’s image, and whoever saves a human being serves the essence of Judaism. You have made all of us proud,” Peres told them.
“I hope this case will lead only to peace,” Sarit replied to the president.
The transplant was performed by Israeli doctors at the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in the town of Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv. The Palestinian recipient, who comes from the West Bank town of Bethlehem, was previously being treated at another Israeli hospital, Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek.
After the surgery, the recipient’s Palestinian father said he was extremely grateful for the donation, but – such is the hatred for Jews in Palestinian society – his name is being withheld from press reports for his own safety.
“ISRAEL” AND “GOD” ARE SUBJECTS CAUSING MOST DEBATE ON WIKIPEDIA
A new study has found that “Israel” and “God,” along with “Adolf Hitler” and “Holocaust,” are among the most fought over entries by users of Wikipedia.
Wired magazine reports that the findings are to be published in a new book coming out next year titled, “Global Wikipedia: International and cross-cultural issues in online collaboration.”
The findings are contained in a chapter titled “The most controversial topics in Wikipedia: A multilingual and geographical analysis.”
The book has gathered data on the number and nature of edits articles are subjected to on the user-written online encyclopedia.
The study has incorporated all the different language versions of the site. The study found, for example, that “Hitler” is a subject of a very large number of edits in the German version of Wikipedia.
“GAZA STRIP”: FEMALE SOLDIERS DISCIPLINED FOR POSING FOR SEXY PHOTOS
The Israeli army said on Sunday that it has disciplined a group of female Israeli soldiers who posed for some sexy photos in underwear on their base, and then posted the images on Facebook.
The women were new recruits stationed on a base in southern Israel. The pictures show the soldiers without their uniforms, wearing only lingerie and holding their guns.
The story was yesterday reported around the world. The British tabloid The Sun ran the photos under the headline “Gaza strip!”
The story has also been reported in several Arab media, but many parts of the soldiers’ bodies were censored in the accompanying photographs.
Last year, another group of five female Israeli soldiers were disciplined after they posed for photographs in a barracks room, dressed only in helmets and combat vests.
HAMAS: “ABDUCTING SOLDIERS IS AT THE HEART OF OUR PALESTINIAN CULTURE”
Hamas have told Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas that “Kidnapping Israelis is a source of pride, not shame.”
The kidnapping of IDF soldiers “is at the heart of Palestinian culture,” Abu-Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas’s Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades said, responding to a speech last week in which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called such abductions alien to Palestinian norms.
“Operations to capture enemy soldiers and trade them for our heroic prisoners are at the heart of our people’s culture, and are a source of pride for them and their resistance,” Abu-Ubaida said.
At the “Breaking the Impasse” session of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa in Jordan last month, Abbas pleaded with Israel to release all Palestinian prisoners (including convicted murderers) and thus spare Fatah the need to abduct Israeli soldiers and swap them for Palestinian prisoners, as Hamas did with Gilad Shalit.
“Do you want us to abduct other Shalits?” Abbas asked. “This is not part of our culture.”
Hamas was responding to these remarks.
Tom Gross adds: The terrorist (26-year-old Bahar Sa’ad) who was arrested by security forces in Ramallah last week while in the final stages of a deadly Hamas plot, was one of the prisoners Israel released in the Gilad Shalit exchange in 2011 and then deported to Jordan, the Israel Security Agency announced yesterday.
U.S. AID WORKER IN EGYPT SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON FOR PROMOTING DEMOCRACY
Robert Becker, 44, from Washington, D.C., was sentenced to two years in prison in Egypt today after being found guilty of illegally promoting democracy.
Becker, together with 43 other NGO workers, was arrested at gunpoint by Egyptian police in December 2011 following a high-profile raid on foreign nonprofit organizations in Egypt.
The other Americans fled to the U.S. embassy and escaped Egypt with the help of the State Department in March 2012.
However, Becker refused to go, saying he would not abandon his Egyptian NGO colleagues.
The other U.S. citizens, including the son of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, were also found guilty and sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.
Becker posted an internet message before his sentencing today saying he had no help from the U.S. government or embassy, and had been abandoned by the U.S. government.
ALICIA KEYS SAYS SHE WILL DEFY BOYCOTT CALLS AND HAPPILY PERFORM IN ISRAEL
Pop star Alicia Keys says she will defy a flurry of calls from anti-Israeli activists in America and Europe and that she is looking forward her performance in Tel Aviv on July 4.
In a statement to The New York Times, Keys said on Friday: “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”
Last week, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and anti-Israeli activist Alice Walker, asked Keys to cancel her upcoming Tel Aviv concert appearance.
In an open letter posted online, Walker wrote that Keys was putting herself in “soul danger” by performing in “an apartheid country.”
Walker last year refused to authorize a new Hebrew translation of her acclaimed novel “The Color Purple.”
(For my article on that episode, please see here.)
Pink Floyd star Roger Waters also urged Keys to cancel her appearance.
In March, Waters convinced another pop star, Stevie Wonder, to cancel an appearance at an Israeli fundraising event in Los Angeles.
Keys, 32, is one of the most successful soul singers of the past decade. Her albums have sold over 35 million copies and she has won 14 Grammy Awards.
Other stars to defy boycott calls, and perform in Israel in recent years include Madonna, Paul McCartney, Elton John and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]