Jordan bans Halloween for being “Satanic and homosexual” (& Haaretz stands by 9/11 cartoon)

November 03, 2014

(Haaretz's cartoon is similar to ones on 9/11 conspiracy theory websites.)


You can see these and other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page:



1. British-Iranian woman jailed for a year for watching a men’s volleyball game
2. Livni slams Abbas for praising attempted murderer
3. Haaretz stands by “anti-Semitic” 9/11 cartoon
4. Jordan bans Halloween for being “Satanic and homosexual”
5. Syrian shot-put champion becomes leading bomb thrower
6. New video shows “How to be a good Islamic State wife”
7. Disquiet after Metropolitan Museum honors a Qatari prince
8. 15-year-old British army cadet suffers burns in attack after selling poppies
9. Erdogan’s new presidential palace unveiled - in pictures
10. New survey shows Gaza war led 1 in 5 Israelis to shed Facebook friends

[Notes by Tom Gross]


Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, a law graduate from London (pictured below), has been found guilty in the new “moderate” Iran of spreading “propaganda against the regime”. Her “crime” was trying (as a woman) to watch a men’s volleyball game.

She has been sentenced to one year in the regime’s notorious Evin prison, following a secret hearing at Tehran’s revolutionary court.


She had already been held in prison for the last four months, while awaiting trial after being arrested on June 20 at Tehran’s Azadi stadium where Iran’s national volleyball team was playing Italy. Ironically, Azadi means “Freedom” in Farsi.

“Spreading propaganda against the regime” is often used by the regime as a pretext for imprisoning random people. Ghavami has no prior criminal or political record.

British Prime Minister David Cameron had raised her case when he met Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, in September at the UN General Assembly in New York. But the Iranian authorities have ignored Cameron’s pleas.

A petition on has amassed hundreds of thousands of signatures, though I doubt this will do much to change the Iranian regime’s mind:

Britain has no diplomatic presence in Iran but has said it plans to reopen its embassy soon.

Among other dual-nationals being detained by Iran is Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American reporter for the Washington Post, who is being held without charge.

More here from the British paper The Daily Mirror.



After weeks of warnings to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that Abbas’ repeated incendiary rhetoric was encouraging attacks on Jews, Israel’s center-left politicians are now also criticizing Abbas for his incitement to violence.

The latest political figure to do so is Israel’s chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni.

This morning Livni followed other Israeli leaders who earlier strongly criticized Abbas for praising the actions of Mu’taz Hijazi, a member of the Islamic Jihad terror group, who shot Israeli rabbi Yehudah Glick in an attempted assassination last week.

Such praise was “not only risible but also dangerous,” Livni said. “It could lead Abbas to lose control of his own population and the responsibility for that would also fall on Abbas.”

Abbas called Hijazi “a martyr who will go to heaven”.

Abbas’ latest praise “testifies more than anything else to the fact that Abbas is indeed a partner: a partner for terror, a partner to terrorists, a partner of murderers,” Israeli Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman added in a statement on Facebook.

Glick was shot by Hijazi outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in west Jerusalem last week. He remains in a serious condition.


Abbas’ spokesperson also praised the terrorist who two weeks ago murdered a 3-month old baby (an American citizen) in Jerusalem and a 22 year old woman from Ecuador.



Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, which some are accusing of having hit a new low for publishing a cartoon last week which is already being welcomed as “evidence” by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists that “the Jews” were behind the 9/11 attacks, has strongly backed its cartoonist. The cartoon (at the of this page) appears to depict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an al-Qaeda terrorist flying toward New York’s World Trade Center.

Haaretz Editor-in-chief Aluf Benn pointedly refused to apologize or distance himself from the cartoon, despite widespread criticism from both left and right in Israel, as well as several statements of outrage in America from the relatives of 9/11 victims.

Benn claimed the cartoon had nothing to do with 9/11, but was merely another means by which to criticize Netanyahu. But he refused to elaborate on why, in both its Hebrew and English editions, the Haaretz cartoonist used imagery of the terror attack on New York, which has no apparent connection to any diplomatic disagreements between the U.S. and Israel.

The Internet is rife with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks. For an example of how Arab media has suggested that Israel, rather than al-Qaeda, carried out the 9/11 attacks, see the second cartoon here.

Certain Haaretz articles in recent years have been so fierce in their antagonism against the Israeli state, that they have been repeated or praised on extreme right-wing neo-Nazi websites.


Several senior staff at Haaretz are subscribers to this email list, including the foreign editor and the English edition editor. I was interviewed by Haaretz about the media coverage of this summer’s Gaza war, here.



Last weekend, Jordan’s Ministry of Interior abruptly issued an edict banning all public celebrations of the Halloween holiday, on the basis of the extraordinary claim by the Muslim Brotherhood that Halloween was “Satanic and homosexual”.

The U.S. Embassy in Jordan then issued a warning:

“U.S. citizens should expect police reaction, including arrests, at any public Halloween-themed event. The U.S. Embassy advises that U.S. citizens traveling from their home to a Halloween party, or vice versa, cover up their costumes while in public or in a car.”

In 2012, arsonists set fire to the entrance of an Amman cafe that had hosted a Halloween party.

Many Jordanians took to the Internet to denounce the government’s ban. Observers say that Jordanian society has grown more conservative and religious in recent years.



Former Syrian national shot-put champion Abu Al-Kazem has become a rebel commander renowned for his ability to throw large bombs at Assad regime targets from long distances, according to a report on Lebanon’s Al-Jadid TV station.

Al-Kazem leads a brigade in the more moderate Free Syrian Army in the eastern Syrian region of Deir Al-Zour area.


(ISIS’s new video outlines the skills an Islamic State wife will need.)



The Islamic State’s media wing (known as the Zora Foundation) has produced a new video on its YouTube channel aimed at women who want to take part in the “jihad” in Syria and Iraq. The video explains how they can become “good wives” to the IS fighters and terrorists.

Among the “useful skills” listed: how to apply first aid to militants injured in battles, how to sew and how to cook ready-made “fast” meals to eat on the battlefield. Other skills including designing and editing computer programs (to help spread IS’s “vision”), and how to use weapons.

The Zora Foundation’s Twitter account already has several thousand followers, and its Facebook account – which opened on October 22 – has garnered hundreds of “likes.”

Among the “fast and easy recipes” listed is one using just three ingredients – butter, flour, and dates.

“This is a quick recipe that can be served to the mujahedin with coffee or can be eaten at any time with water, especially during breaks in battles. They contain significant calories and will extend the power and strength of the mujahedin, Allah willing,” says the video.

In addition to hundreds of females joining Islamic State, including some from western countries, many of the foreign fighters who have joined IS have brought women and children with them, according to media reports.



Questions are being asked as to why New York’s prestigious Metropolitan Museum last week hosted an exclusive party for Qatari Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani. Qatar is accused of financing terrorism across the Middle East, most notably Isis attacks on westerners and others, and Hamas rockets attacks on Israel.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor (who is a longtime subscriber to this email list), told the New York Times last summer: “Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read ‘Made possible through a kind donation from the emir of Qatar.’”

Al-Thani is a prominent member of the Qatari regime. The black tie party was organized by Lady Elizabeth Anson a first cousin of England’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Al-Thani is sponsoring an exhibit at the Met. Many are suggesting that there should be limits on who the Met takes funds from.



A 15-year-old army cadet has suffered burns to his face after he was attacked just moments after selling poppies for Britain’s Remembrance Day.

The teenager was wearing an army uniform having spent the day in Manchester city centre selling poppies, a traditional way of collecting money in the UK to help injured or retired army veterans.

Greater Manchester Police said the cadet was approached by a man who appeared to be of Asian origin who, without warning or provocation, “produced an aerosol can and a lighter which he used to spray lit fumes in the direction of the unsuspecting teenager,” before running off.

There is speculation that he may have been attacked for wearing an army uniform.


There is considerable anger in Britain over the decision by Greenwich Council in London not to use Lee Rigby’s name on the memorial they are erecting to him, for fear it could lead to more religious-inspired attacks.

Instead Greenwich Council said the memorial to the murdered fusilier will be dedicated to “all servicemen and women in Woolwich”.

Rigby, 25, was hacked to death in broad daylight on a London street last year by two Islamist fanatics.



Former Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has recently switched jobs to become Turkish president (much as Vladimir Putin did in Russia), has unveiled a new presidential palace on the outskirts of Ankara. The mammoth project cost $350m, according to Turkish media reports.

As the British paper The Guardian notes: “The building has been denounced by ecologists as an environmental blight and by the opposition as evidence of Erdogan’s autocratic tendencies. Supporters say the palace is a symbol of what the president touts as his drive towards a ‘new Turkey’.”

Here are some pictures of the “new Turkey”.



Nearly 20 percent of Israeli Facebook users “unfriended” or “unfollowed” their online friends during this summer’s Hamas-Israel war, according to a new study by Nicholas John, a sociology professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Things became very heated during this summer’s conflict with some foreigners even writing outright anti-Semitic Facebook messages to Israelis.

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