Cemeteries in the sky (& UK paper suggests Jews spread Ebola?)

October 22, 2014

The Sunday Times chose to illustrate its Ebola-scare story by using a years’ old photo of an Orthodox Jew


You can see these and other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.



1. BDS activists suddenly silent as yet another Hamas relative opts for Israeli care
2. Israel delivers further emergency relief to Syrian Kurdish refugees
3. Israeli company may provide cure for Ebola
4. How The Sunday Times chose to illustrate its Ebola story
5. Past controversies
6. Biggest Israeli TV provider drops BBC
7. New World Service director promises “fairness”
8. Israeli-Arab doctor killed fighting for the Islamic State
9. British Airways increases capacity to Israel by 50%
10. Israel raises the dead with skyward cemetery

[Notes below by Tom Gross]


All those activists in the West constantly condemning anyone who doesn’t boycott Israel, have been strangely silent this week after it was revealed that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh sent his daughter for treatment at a Tel Aviv hospital.


Many of the anti-Israel crowd in the West are probably not aware that in the past, Israeli hospitals have treated Haniyeh’s:

* Granddaughter, last November.

* Brother-in-law.

* Mother-in-law, who was treated only this past June, for cancer.


* Or that Haniyeh has three sisters living in Israel as full Israeli citizens.


As this article makes clear, while Israel has in the past also helped build medical centers and hospitals in Gaza, for really specialized medical cases, Israel treats over 1000 Gazans in its own hospitals each year, usually at Israeli taxpayers’ expense.


Among previous related dispatches:

* Disabled Gaza toddler lives at Israeli hospital


Meanwhile, yesterday Hamas openly announced it was rebuilding its Gaza tunnel network. Some of its tunnels have been used to send gunmen into Israel to kill Israelis. Israel destroyed many of the tunnels during this summer’s war. Now it seems international donor money, including from the U.S. government, will be used to rebuild them.



Through its IsraAID agency, Israel has stepped up provisions of desperately needed supplies to tens of thousands of Kurdish and Yazidi refugees from Syria and Iraq. They had fled the brutal Islamic State onslaught.

These include baby milk and blankets. Each winter, some parts of the region experience heavy snowfalls and subzero temperatures.

Some Israeli humanitarian workers are on the ground. In the Kurdish city of Duhok, in northern Iraq, IsraAID has supplied beds, blankets, and food to over 1,000 families. In the heavily crowded refugee camp close by, IsraAID has brought in 2,000 blankets and mattresses, and enough powdered milk for the more than 1000 babies under one year of age.

Many refugees arrived at the camp with little more than the clothes they were wearing, having fled for their lives.

Kurds and Israelis have long standing close relations and the director of IsraAID noted that, unlike some other past of the world, where Israeli aid was given, IsraAID didn’t have to disguise the fact they were Israelis, and were openly welcomed.

IsraAID has provided aid in disaster zones in Haiti, Japan, the Philippines and South Sudan, among other places.


Among previous related dispatches:

* Israel delivers aid to Iraqi refugees (& Lady Gaga: Media is wrong on Israel)

* And his name will be ‘Israel’: Mother of Haitian baby honors IDF rescuers



Israel’s Channel 2 TV has reported that Protalix, an Israeli biopharmaceutical company, says it has the resources to produce ZMapp, which is very short in supply in Ebola-hit regions of Africa. It says it can do so “in large quantities, and in a relatively short period of time.”

ZMapp has been given to about 10 infected health workers, including Americans and Europeans, of whom three recovered. WHO assistant director general Marie-Paule Kieny told reporters earlier this month that “there is not enough experience with ZMapp to conclude whether this treatment works or not, but there do seem to be encouraging signs.”

The Ebola virus has killed thousands of people in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and elsewhere since the latest outbreak started last December.

Israel is a world leader in pharmaceutical breakthroughs.



Last weekend, the (London) Sunday Times used a years’ old photo of an orthodox Jew to illustrate the way the Ebola virus supposedly threatens America.

Many will indeed find the photo (at the top of this dispatch) of the orthodox Jew bizarre. For just a few seconds, as the plane he was in passed over a Jewish cemetery, he wrapped himself in plastic. Some orthodox Jews try to adhere to a halachic ruling that Cohens mustn’t fly over a cemetery because it is disrespectful to the dead, but ruled that covering oneself in plastic made this permissible.

Whatever one thinks of certain practices by a few ultra-orthodox Jews, they certainty shouldn’t be blamed for spreading the Ebola virus, which readers of the Sunday Times, one of Europe’s highest circulation newspapers, might now think.

In the past, Jews were blamed for other viruses, including the Black Death, and were murdered as a result.



I have noted controversial content in the Sunday Times before. For example, last year the Sunday Times used this cartoon on Holocaust Memorial Day:

Rupert Murdoch, the owner of The Sunday Times, who remains a strong friend of Israel, issued an apology for the cartoon, calling it “grotesque”.

There is creeping borderline and not so borderline anti-Semitism elsewhere in the British press. For example, reading the Financial Times’ profile of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature laureate, French writer Patrick Modiano, the Financial Times casually referred to his father as “a shadowy Jewish businessman”. He was in fact a Holocaust survivor.

There is, of course, also quite a lot of philo-Semitism in the British press too, though not too much in the Financial Times.



The Israeli satellite television provider YES, one of the two biggest TV providers in Israel, has said it will drop BBC World News from its package of channels, the Israeli business daily Globes reports. The BBC will be replaced by France 24’s English-language international news channel.

YES said is has received numerous complaints from customers about what many say is the almost non-stop demonization and twisting of the truth about Israel by the BBC, which is the world’s biggest network of TV and radio stations, broadcasting in many languages.

For example, while the Middle East was in turmoil this week (including some very underreported deaths of civilians at the hands of American-led airstrikes, and terrible atrocities in Yemen and Sinai) the BBC’s much heralded Chief Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen was doing yet another long story on how Israel supposedly damages olive trees.

YES said, “The British perspective, which BBC World presents, will continue to be represented by Sky News,” which will keep its spot.

YES will continue carrying other international news stations, including CNN and five other channels in English.



Meanwhile, the BBC has just appointed Fran Unsworth as the new director of the BBC World Service. She currently serves as BBC director of news. She is the first female director in the World Service’s 82-year history.

In a statement Unsworth, who takes up the post on December 8, said:

“I promise to be the guardian of the best of the BBC’s values of independence, impartiality and fairness in our international services, while continuing the successful modernization of the World Service Group to take our journalism to new audiences worldwide.”


Clearly she still needs to do some work to persuade Israelis that the BBC’s proclaimed “impartiality and fairness” will apply to them too.



Barzilai Hospital, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, has confirmed that Alkian Othman, who died fighting for the Islamic State in Syria, had been an intern at the hospital.

Othman, age 26, from the Israeli Bedouin town of Hura, 10 miles north of Beersheba, disappeared at the start of this year. It has now been confirmed he died fighting for the Islamic State (ISIS) in August.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service arrested Othman’s brother last April for helping to recruit Israeli Arabs to join ISIS.

Othman was supposed to begin working in Israel’s Soroka Medical Center in May but didn’t show up.

At least 30 Israeli Arabs, all with Israeli citizenship, have joined ISIS, many after going for a “vacation” in Turkey, according to the Israeli intelligence services.

Some family members have condemned their children. The father of Ahmed Havashi, from northern Israel, who also was killed in Syria earlier this year, told Israeli media. “I told my son this is not our religion; this is not the message of Islam.”



Tourism from Britain and other countries seems to be rising again following this summer’s Hamas-Israel war. Yesterday, for example, British Airways announced it would expand London-Tel Aviv service from next summer.

“Due to the growing demand for our service to London and long-distance flights, we have decided to expand our Israel operation, with a significant increase in seat capacity and frequency,” the airline said in a statement.


As I noted this summer, when under pressure form the U.S. State Department, American airlines (seemingly for political reasons) stopped flying to Israel for a day, many European airlines continued to fly -- and the head of British Airways security noted it was “Safer flying to Tel Aviv than walking down the street in London.”



Israel, partly because it is a very small country, is now at the forefront of a global movement building vertical cemeteries in densely populated nations.

As the Associated Press notes in this article, the reality of relying on finite land resources to cope with the endless stream of the dying has brought about creative solutions. From Brazil to Japan, elevated cemeteries, sometimes stretching high into the sky, will be the final resting place for thousands of people. They are now the default option for the recently departed in the Holy Land.

And after some initial hesitations, and rabbinical rulings that made the practice kosher, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox burial societies have embraced the concept as the most effective Jewish practice in an era when most of the cemeteries in major population centers are full.

The world’s tallest existing cemetery is the 32-story high Memorial Necropole Ecumenica in Santos, Brazil. In Tokyo, the Kouanji is a six-story Buddhist temple where visitors can use a swipe card to have the remains of their loved ones brought to them from vaults on a conveyer belt system.

Other plans for cemetery towers have been presented for Paris and Mumbai. In Mexico City, another big project has been proposed: the Tower for the Dead, which will combine a vertical necropolis and an 820-foot-deep (250-meter-deep) subterranean complex.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.