The photo being widely circulated on Arab social media allegedly showing Israeli potatoes on sale in Kuwait
* Khaled Abu Toameh: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas deserves congratulations. He has just entered his tenth year of his four-year term in office… How exactly does Abbas plan to enforce a peace agreement in the Gaza Strip when he cannot even visit his private residence there?”
* Conrad Black: “Prime Minister Harper’s address to the Israeli Knesset this week was one of the greatest speeches ever delivered by a Canadian leader, ranking (in content if not delivery, though that was quite adequate) with Sir John Macdonald’s defense of his conduct in the Pacific scandal in 1873, Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s parliamentary response to conscription in 1917, and Pierre E. Trudeau’s speech at the end of the Quebec sovereignty referendum campaign in 1980.”
* Canada, breaking with U.S., emerges (with Australia and the Czech Republic) as Israel’s staunchest ally.
* Charles Moore: “The coffin of Sir Cyril Townsend, the former Conservative MP who died at the end of last year, was draped with the Palestinian flag. What abuse would be hurled at a British MP whose coffin was draped in the Israeli flag. Yet Sir Cyril’s strange send-off excites no censure.”
* Tom Gross in The Jerusalem Post: “The Economist is perhaps the most influential news weekly in the world – Bill Clinton, for example, said it was the first magazine he looked at each week when he was president – and people take it seriously. So for it to toy with ugly anti-Semitic stereotypes is very dangerous indeed.”
* You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. Please also press “Like” on that page.
1. Saudi government newspaper praises Israeli democracy, slams Arab tyranny
2. A former Tory MP is buried in a Palestinian flag
3. Surge in executions in Iran, including of political prisoners
4. Kuwait launches investigation into Israeli potatoes
5. Palestinian foreign minister: We will never recognize a Jewish state
6. IDF discovers gun and ammo hidden in child’s backpack
7. Dieudonné and Le Pen: Where left and right-wing anti-Semitism meet
8. Fiery MK Ahmed Tibi becomes media celebrity in Canada
9. “Economist magazine cartoon sparks anti-Semitism row” (By Jonny Paul, Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2014)
10. “Mabrouk to Abbas on tenth year of his four year term” (By Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone, Jan. 24, 2014)
11. “Harper in Israel: A great moment for Canada” (By Conrad Black, National Post, Jan. 25, 2014)
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
SAUDI GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER PRAISES ISRAELI DEMOCRACY, SLAMS ARAB TYRANNY
In what may be a first, the Saudi government daily Okaz has published a column criticizing the tyranny and terrorism of the Arab world, and praising Israeli democracy.
Columnist Khalaf Al-Harbi says:
“As we ponder the news of the death of the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, we find that, despite the horrific acts of massacre he carried out against the Palestinians, the number of his Arab victims is nowhere near that of the number of Arabs who have been murdered by tyrannical Arab [rulers] or killed in suicide bombings carried out by Arab terrorist groups. This is the truth, whose shame will haunt us throughout history.”
He also added, in his praise of Israeli democracy:
“Even though he [Sharon] is a national hero in the eyes of his people, his family had to participate in the costs of his [medical] treatment after Israel capped the sum set aside for this purpose at four million dollars. This, because, in a country that staunchly guards public funds, no one is above the law, not even national heroes.”
The column was published on January 13.
(Translation from Arabic courtesy of MEMRI.)
Please see here for other recent related dispatches:
* “He doesn’t stop at red lights” (& other reaction to Ariel Sharon’s death)
* Video dispatch 21: Al-Jazeera: Why can’t Arab armies be more humane like Israel’s?
* Ariel Sharon: Myths, facts and blood libels
A FORMER TORY MP IS BURIED IN A PALESTINIAN FLAG
Charles Moore writes in the British magazine the Spectator:
The coffin of Sir Cyril Townsend, the former Conservative MP who died at the end of last year, was draped with the Palestinian flag at his funeral service in Tavistock. Sir Cyril was the former Director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, but why would that require a political statement over his dead body, almost like those grisly IRA funerals when men wearing berets stood beside coffins wrapped in the Irish tricolour?
I knew Sir Cyril slightly and found him a pleasant and honourable man, but when the talk turned to Israel-Palestine a crazy glint came into his eye and he started shouting. The subject evokes passions on both sides, of course, but in modern Britain pro-Palestinian extremism is given much more of a free pass than pro-Israeli. What abuse would be hurled at a British MP whose coffin was draped in the Israeli flag. Yet Sir Cyril’s strange send-off excites no censure.
SURGE IN EXECUTIONS IN IRAN, INCLUDING OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
Western human rights groups have finally noted that Iranian President Rouhani is not nearly as “moderate” as certain western journalists and politicians claim he is.
Since coming to power there has been a significant increase in the numbers of Iranians imprisoned and killed.
Amnesty International last week released a statement noting that Iran hanged 40 people in the first two weeks of January, 33 of them in the last week, according to Christof Heyns, the UN’s expert dealing with summary executions.
Iran executed 625 people, including 28 women, and a number of political detainees in 2013, an increase of more than 100 over the number of recorded executions in 2012.
KUWAIT LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO ISRAELI POTATOES
The Kuwaiti publication Al Kuwaitiya reports that Kuwait's commerce ministry has launched an official investigation into reports that Israeli potatoes were being sold in the country.
"The ministry has a zero-tolerance policy towards the import and sale of Israeli products," ministry sources told the Al Kuwaitiya.
More here from The Gulf News.
PALESTINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: WE WILL NEVER RECOGNIZE JEWISH CHARACTER OF ISRAEL
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki tells the leading pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat (interview on January 20, 2014) that the Palestinian Authority will “never” recognize the Jewish identity of the state of Israel “under any circumstances”.
Full interview (including remarks about the peace process) here: http://www.aawsat.net/2014/01/article55327533
IDF DISCOVERS GUN AND AMMO HIDDEN IN CHILD’s BACKPACK
On Tuesday evening, during a routine inspection at a checkpoint near the border into Israel, the Israeli army discovered a large gun and ammunition inside a child’s schoolbag hidden among books in a Palestinian vehicle.
DIEUDONNÉ AND LE PEN: WHERE LEFT AND RIGHT-WING ANTI-SEMITISM MEET
The coverage, particularly in Britain and the U.S., of the ongoing saga of what the media call the “comedian” Dieudonné and “his friend” the footballer Nicolas Anelka, is still far from adequate. In discussing the ongoing disciplinary action against Anelka, many media have doubted that Dieudonné is an anti-Semite, saying he is only “anti-Zionist”.
For example, nowhere in the English-speaking media have I seen mentioned that:
* The French Holocaust revisionist and former National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen is the godfather of Dieudonné’s daughter (the two are great friends).
Report here from the weekly news magazine: L’Express
L’humoriste Dieudonné a choisi comme parrain de sa troisième fille le président du Front national Jean-Marie Le Pen. Révélée par Libération, l’information a été confirmée par Jean-Marie Le Pen sur Le Post et marque l’aboutissement d’une longue dérive vers l’extrême droite de l’ancien partenaire d’Elie Semoun.
* Dieudonné has received substantial funding for his anti-Semitic films from the government of Iran and has visited senior regime figures in Teheran.
* Anelka converted to Islam in 2004, and is said to be influenced by followers of a radical anti-Semitic brand of Islam:
(Report here from Le Monde:
Un autre motif de l’émotion suscitée par le geste d’Anelka, converti à l’islam en 2004.
With thanks to Nidra Poller in Paris for supplying the above information for readers of this list/website.
FIERY MK AHMED TIBI BECOMES MEDIA CELEBRITY IN CANADA
I attach three articles below.
Almost all the writers mentioned in this dispatch – Charles Moore, Nidra Poller, Jonny Paul, Benjamin Weinthal, Khaled Abu Toameh, Conrad Black, the director of Memri – are long-time subscribers to this email list.
Incidentally, the Jerusalem Post points out that Israeli-Arab MK Ahmed Tibi, who is mentioned in Conrad Black’s article, became an overnight celebrity in Canada this week after he heckled Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his address to the Knesset on Monday. Since heckling Harper, Tibi has given 15 interviews to Canadian media outlets and has been invited to speak at universities in cities all over Canada.
ECONOMIST MAGAZINE REMOVES CARTOON DEEMED AS ANTI-SEMITIC
‘Economist’ magazine cartoon sparks anti-Semitism row
By Jonny Paul, Benjamin Weinthal
January 22, 2014
BERLIN/LONDON – Following widespread condemnation on Monday, The Economist has removed a cartoon deemed as anti-Semitic.
However the offending illustration, of US President Barack Obama reaching out to Iran shackled to a congress emblem embossed with Stars of David, is still on a different area of the site.
The cartoon first appeared in the magazine’s January 18 print edition under the headlines Negotiating with Iran, A big gap to close.
Critics blasted the cartoon for suggesting that the US is controlled by Jews and Israel.
The Economist replaced the cartoon, showing Obama and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, with juxtaposed photographs of the two leaders.
The anti-Israel and anti-Jewish aspects of the illustration electrified the blogosphere and twittersphere.
The magazine published an editorial note at the bottom of the article on Monday, “The print edition of this story had a cartoon which inadvertently caused offense to some readers, so we have replaced it with a photograph.”
Middle East media expert Tom Gross told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, “The Economist is perhaps the most influential news weekly in the world – Bill Clinton, for example, said it was the first magazine he looked at each week when he was president – and people take it seriously. So for it to toy with ugly anti-Semitic stereotypes is very dangerous indeed. In some countries, such stereotypes lead directly to physical attacks on Jews, as we saw in Ukraine and elsewhere last week.”
Gross added: “It is not the first time the Economist has employed anti-Semitism as part of what it pretends to be straightforward political commentary. For example, some years ago, it likened Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Charles Dickens’s infamous anti-Semitic stereotype, Fagin.”
Tom Gross adds:: Many journalists have tweeted the above article, including John Reed, the Financial Times correspondent in Israel. The Economist is half-owned by the Financial Times.
Mabrouk to Abbas on tenth year of his four year term
By Khaled Abu Toameh
January 24, 2014
Kerry does not seem to care whether Abbas is a “rightful” president or not. He is so desperate for a diplomatic achievement that he is prepared to ignore fundamental facts. How exactly does Abbas plan to enforce a peace agreement in the Gaza Strip when he cannot even visit his private residence there?
The only way to find out what Palestinians really want is by letting them head to the ballot boxes. Palestinians representing all groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, should be allowed to run.
Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas deserves congratulations (mabrouk in Arabic). He has just entered his tenth year of his four-year term in office.
The next time US Secretary of State John Kerry visits Ramallah, he should not forget to congratulate Abbas on this happy occasion.
The fact that Abbas has is now in his tenth year of his four-year term in office should also serve as a reminder to Kerry that the PA president does not really have a mandate from his people to sign any agreement with Israel.
Abbas, who turns 79 in March, became President of the PA on January 2005. He was elected to serve until January 9, 2009.
But he has since used the conflict between his Fatah faction and Hamas as an excuse to remain in power.
Abbas’s critics maintain that his decision unilaterally to extend his term in office violates Palestinian Basic Law. They have also warned that Abbas’s move paves the way for “constitutional and legislative anarchy” in the Palestinian territories.
By remaining in power beyond his term, Abbas has given Hamas and other Palestinians a good excuse to argue that he is in no way authorized to sign a peace agreement with Israel.
“Mahmoud Abbas’s term in office expired a long time ago,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “He has lost his legitimacy. He does not have a mandate to negotiate or sign an agreement.”
What this basically means is that Hamas and other Palestinian groups are not going to accept any deal between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, even if it includes far-reaching concessions on the part of Israel.
Abbas was recently quoted as saying once again that any deal he signs with Israel would apply not only to the West Bank, which is under his control, but to the Gaza Strip as well.
One can understand why Abbas is speaking on behalf of his constituents in the West Bank. But how exactly does Abbas intend to enforce a peace agreement in the Gaza Strip when he cannot even visit his private residence there?
While some may argue that Abbas has some legitimacy among Palestinians in the West Bank, especially in light of Fatah’s control over the area, it is hard to say that he has much following in the Gaza Strip, which remains under the tight grip of Hamas and its allies.
It would have been better had Abbas called new presidential elections before the resumption of the peace talks with Israel. Such a move would have embarrassed Hamas and probably forced it to comply.
But as of now it seems that neither Abbas nor Hamas is interested in holding new elections for the presidency or the legislative council. The status quo, where each side has full control over a mini-state (Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip) appears to be convenient for both parties.
However, the need for such elections has become imperative in wake of Kerry’s relentless efforts to achieve an “historic” agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
The only way to find out what Palestinians really want is by allowing them to head to the ballot boxes. Palestinians representing all groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, should be allowed to run in such an election.
A victory for the radicals would mean that a majority of Palestinians do not want peace and continue to dream about the destruction of Israel. If Abbas and his political allies win, that would be great news for the peace process and Kerry’s efforts to achieve a two-state solution.
Yet Kerry does not seem to care whether Abbas is a “rightful” president or not. He is so desperate for a diplomatic achievement that he is prepared to ignore fundamental facts.
How can Kerry expect Abbas to sign any document declaring the end of the conflict with Israel when many Palestinians are already pointing out that their president does not even have a mandate to act or speak on their behalf?
“ONE OF THE GREATEST SPEECHES EVER DELIVERED BY A CANADIAN LEADER”
Harper in Israel: A great moment for Canada
By Conrad Black
National Post (Toronto)
January 25, 2014
Prime Minister Harper’s address to the Israeli Knesset this week was one of the greatest speeches ever delivered by a Canadian leader, ranking (in content if not delivery, though that was quite adequate) with Sir John Macdonald’s defense of his conduct in the Pacific scandal in 1873, Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s parliamentary response to conscription in 1917, and Pierre E. Trudeau’s speech at the end of the Quebec sovereignty referendum campaign in 1980.
The content of the Knesset speech was generally accurately reported in Canada, but not widely recognized as a brilliant address, as a great milestone in the rise of Canada as a power in the world, a clarification of the moral basis of this country’s foreign policy, and as an episode that brings distinction on the whole country.
The prime minister emphasized the historic connection between our country and the Jews, who have been in Canada for 250 years. He said that the pride in Israel exhibited by Canada’s 350,000 Jews is perfectly compatible with their Canadian patriotism. This was a worthwhile rebuttal of the hackneyed claim that Jews are compromised by “divided loyalties.” In its most extreme form, this libel became the basis of Hitler’s charge of treasonous betrayal in World War I, and of Stalin’s infamous persecution of Jews as “rootless cosmopolitans.”
Mr. Harper declared: “After generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and the right to live peacefully in that homeland.” It was on this basis exactly that the United Nations created Israel, as opposed to merely admitting it as a member state, as the UN’s five founding members did with Canada and the world’s other nations. In the aftermath of the genocidal murder of half the world’s Jews in the death camps of the Third Reich (along with 6 million non-Jews), it was agreed that the Jews should have a homeland in the land of Israel.
All the efforts to float a pluralistic Palestine or an unlimited right of return to Israel for the Arabs and their descendants who fled Palestine when Israel was founded, would inundate Israel with hostile Arabs and convert the Jewish homeland into another opportunity to persecute a Jewish minority. They are, intentionally or otherwise, just attempts to reduce the Jews, one more time, to the status of a stateless and vulnerable minority. Two generations after the Holocaust, the Jewish homeland, a desert country the Jews have made fabulously successful, would be repealed and the Jews would be left once more at the mercy of their most zealous enemies.
Stephen Harper made the point that “Canada supports Israel because it is right,” and he explained that in its history, Canada often has taken principled positions and made sacrifices, not because it was itself under threat, but because it was correct to do so. This was in fact what Canada did in both World Wars, where, in an act unprecedented in world history, Canada, Australia and New Zealand sent large numbers of volunteers to overseas wars to fight for the cause of freedom, although none of those countries was under any threat (except, more than two years after the outbreak of World War II, when Japan threatened Australia and New Zealand).
Mr. Harper acknowledged that Canada had entered World War II against Nazi Germany despite our nation’s failure to assist the Jews being persecuted in the Third Reich in the 1930s. In this, he accepted the moral failure of Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King, who, like the British leaders in the thirties, did not lift a finger to assist the Jewish victims of the Nazis (in contrast to the United States, where Roosevelt admitted nearly 20% of Germany’s Jews to the United States, and almost 20,000 Austrian Jews in one stroke, after the German takeover of Austria, and without the congressional authorization that the law technically required; and withdrew his ambassador from Berlin after the unspeakable pogroms of Kristallnacht in November 1938).
Though Canada supports Israel because it is the right thing to do morally, Harper made the point that it is also the right thing to do strategically, because Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, and democracy, as he told the Knesset, is the only method of “assuring human rights, political stability, and economic prosperity.” Moreover, “When democracy is threatened anywhere, it is threatened everywhere … by those who scorn modernity, loathe the liberty of others, and hold the cultures of others in contempt. [We must] stand up for a free and democratic Israel or our retreat in the world will begin.” This was essentially the point that brought Canada into the World Wars, and this position is consistent with our history and character.
“The Canadian commitment to what is right applies no less to the Palestinians [and to Canada’s desire for] “a just and secure future for the Palestinian people,” Harper added. He also declared that when the borders of a Palestinian state are agreed to, Israel would be the first country to recognize it, but Canada will be the second.
The prime minister thus recorded that the principal obstacle to a Palestinian state is not Israel, but the Arab powers. Arab leaders have used the tragic fate of the Palestinians, which they have prolonged and exacerbated by keeping them teeming in wretched refugee camps, to distract the Arab masses from the despotism the Arab leaders have inflicted on their peoples while inflaming the pan-Arab world with the red herring of Israel.
Mr. Harper deplored that “the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel” has been compromised by world leaders’ and diplomats’ desire “to go along to get along” with Israel’s enemies, and that this practice is regularly represented as “balanced” or diplomatically “sophisticated.”
“Intellectualized arguments thinly mask underlying realities,” he said. “Some openly call Israel an Apartheid state. Think about the logic and outright malice behind that: a state based on freedom, democracy, and the rule of law that was founded so Jews can flourish as Jews and seek shelter from the worst racist experiment in history” is assimilated to the racist oppressions of South African Apartheid. It is, he fairly stated, “sickening … For too many nations, it is still easier to scapegoat Israel than to emulate your success. It is easier to foster resentment and hatred of Israel’s democracy than it is to provide the same rights and freedoms to their own people.”
As if to illustrate Stephen Harper’s point, two Arab members of the Knesset heckled and shouted at him as the rest of the members of Israel’s parliament applauded the visitor. Exercising democratic freedoms they would not have in ethnically more kindred states, the two legislators stormed out of the chamber, which rose en bloc to give the Canadian prime minister a prolonged standing ovation.
Harper did not discuss the specific issues that are now invoked to prevent progress in peace discussions, particularly the West Bank settlements. Israel demonstrated in Sinai and Gaza that it will concede settlements for real peace, but in the face of Arab claims of predestined demographic victory over Israel, gradually expanding the settlements is the best bargaining pressure Israel can apply, since, as a democracy, it cannot expel, coerce, or ghettoize the Arabs.
Nor can it engage in any more spurious land-for-peace arrangements such as Oslo, where land Israel gained in wars the Arabs started and lost is conceded for cease-fires of brief duration (if any). Yet the settlements issue is frequently invoked by those, including most of the Canadian foreign-policy establishment and the opposition Liberals and New Democrats, in pursuit of the spurious “moral relativism” and “sophistication” that Harper rightly debunked.
The prime minister’s speech concluded: “In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith and principles to drive our national life.” Expressed in this way, Stephen Harper and John Baird’s Israel policy is the first serious occasion in Canadian history when this country has taken a position sharply at variance with the United States and most of Western Europe, without truckling to powers antagonistic to the West, as Pierre Trudeau did with his sophomoric posturing as a neutral arms-control-promoter. Stephen Harper has turned Canada into Israel’s greatest ally; aligned Canada with democracy against despotism, with international law and the better traditions of the United Nations against racism, bigotry, genocidal polemics and Holocaust denial; has called the United States and the European Union back to their former and rightful views; and erased the shame of the appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s by the King government.
We have finally got beyond the self-righteous fairy tales about peace-keeping and “soft power.” (You don’t need peace-keepers in either peace, or war, and soft power works only when there is a hard-power alternative.) All Canadians are ennobled by this espousal of, as the Prime Minister described it, what is morally imperative and strategically wise in the world’s premier crisis area,
“Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you,” he told the Israelis. All Canadians, including those who sympathize with the Palestinians, should support him.
(Tom Gross adds: Some people have wrongly stated Conrad Black is Jewish. He is a Roman Catholic.)