Iconic Mideast photo was staged (& Iran targets Adelson’s casinos)

December 14, 2014

Staged coexistence


This is one of an occasional series of dispatches with more “human interest”-type stories, including items connected to the entertainment world.

Another, more sober, dispatch will follow later today or tomorrow.

* Please “like” these dispatches on Facebook here www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia, where you can also find other items that are not in these dispatches.



1. Iconic Mideast photo revealed to be staged
2. “Mankind first learned how to light a fire in Israel 350,000 years ago”
3. The invention of recycling
4. Iranian hackers target Sheldon Adelson’s casinos
5. Did Iran help North Korea in Sony Pictures attack?
6. Mubarak’s former makeup artist reveals all
7. John Henry Patterson, the Anglo-Irish “godfather of the IDF,” reinterred
8. Paris Hilton receives anti-Semitic death threats
9. Comedian Roseanne Barr assails “anti-Semitic” Jews who support BDS
10. Rosie O’Donnell criticized after using Syria photos to attack Israel
11. London’s National Portrait Gallery displays photo of Hassidic girl
12. Ugly echoes of 70 years ago

[Notes below by Tom Gross]


The American-Jewish newspaper The Forward has revealed that Ricki Rosen’s famous photograph (above) of an Israeli and Palestinian boy, with their arms round each other, looking over Jerusalem, was staged.

The photo came to prominence again this summer during the Hamas-Israel war, after pop superstar Rihanna tweeted the photo under the hashtag #FreePalestine. Rihanna’s tweet was retweeted tens of thousands of times.

The photo was taken in 1993, shortly after the signing of the Oslo Accords, and has become one of the most iconic pictures from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The photo has been used many times in the literature of pro-peace groups.

But in reality, it has now been acknowledged, the boys in the photo aren’t an Israeli and a Palestinian, but two Israeli Jews.

However, American photojournalist Ricki Rosen is standing by her photo in the wake of The Forward’s article. “It was a symbolic illustration,” she said. “It was never supposed to be a documentary photo. It is for hopes of peace down the road.”

She added in a “right of reply article” to The Forward: “It’s dismaying that some have chosen to trash me, as if my photo were in the same category of an image of a dead Syrian girl which was published as if it had been taken in Gaza.”

“I am angered by the charge that the photo is ‘faked.’ Your article reveals a lack of understanding of the difference between a faked photo, which misrepresents reality, and a photo illustration, which uses models and props to convey a concept.”

She continued: “An example of a truly fake photo is the infamous image of the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, supposedly a spontaneous protest by Iraqis but in fact stage-managed by American troops.”



This month’s Journal of Human Evolution publishes findings of a study by archaeologists from the University of Haifa which conclude that the first use of heat by prehistoric humans was carried out in the territory now occupied by Israel some 350,000 years ago.

Scientists have uncovered flints and other material from the Tabun cave near Haifa, where there is evidence of half a million years of human habitation. Using modern techniques they have helped pinpoint the date that humans mastered the use of fire, the journal says: “Fire became a regular, even permanent part of their adaptations once hominins had solved the technical challenge of kindling and maintaining it.”

Science Magazine also reports on the discovery here.



Just a week earlier, the New York Times reported on another discovery.

Archaeologists working at the Qesem cave, a prehistoric site near the Tel Aviv suburb of Rosh Haayin, found that those living there 400,000 years ago developed bone and flint tools, and learned to repair and recycle these tools. Some of the technological advances seem to have been spurred by the disappearance of elephants from the region, reports the NY Times.

“Elephants that had served as a main food source apparently disappeared, prompting a change of menu and lifestyle for the inhabitants of Qesem Cave.”



Bloomberg Business Week reveals in its current issue that earlier this year Iranian hackers released malware into Sheldon Adelson’s Sands computer systems in Las Vegas, severely damaging the company’s servers and costing the company $40 million to repair.

Adelson is a major supporter of Israel and has also made threatening remarks about Iran’s nuclear program.

“This was no Ocean’s Eleven,” Bloomberg Business Week says (referring to the Hollywood movie starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney). “The hackers were not trying to empty a vault of cash, nor were they after customer credit card data, as in recent attacks on Target, Neiman Marcus, and Home Depot.”

“This was personal. The perpetrators wanted to punish the company, or, more precisely, its chief executive officer and majority owner, the billionaire Sheldon Adelson.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is aware of the situation and is “addressing it as appropriate,” FBI spokeswoman Bridget Pappas told Bloomberg News.



North Korea has finally denied it carried out the massive hacking attack on Sony Pictures that crippled Sony’s computer systems and revealed extensive data about the company, including confidential emails about some of its film stars.

But some are suggesting that North Korea’s close ally, Iran, may have had a hand in carrying out the attack. Iran has recently greatly increased its cyber warfare activities and many attempts have been made to infiltrate Israeli government and financial and military institutions.

Accusations were initially made against North Korea because the Sony film, “The Interview,” scheduled for release this Christmas, mocks North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

In June, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry released a statement that distribution of this movie would be “the most undisguised terrorism and an act of war,” and “will invite a strong and merciless countermeasure.”

In September, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei met with senior North Korean officials and promised to extend cooperation between the two countries. North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported that a memorandum of understanding between North Korea and Iran on “cooperation in science, technology and education” was signed.

There is more here from the award-winning investigative journalist Claudia Rosett in the current edition of Forbes. (Claudia Rosett is a longtime subscriber to this list.)

Background here from the BBC.




In an interview with Egypt’s Al-Hayat newspaper, makeup artist Mohammed Assub (pictured above) has revealed how he managed to keep the former Egyptian dictator looking relatively young, and healthy enough to fend off challenges.

“Mubarak’s skin was very dark and it was necessary to make it a bit lighter. I would also hide all of his wrinkles,” he told Al-Hayat. “No one could get close to Mubarak and touch him other than me,” said Assub proudly, “it was not easy to get to him.”

According to Assub, Mubarak would take 15 minutes before each public appearance to have his makeup applied and he and Mubarak developed quite a friendly relationship, chatting about family life and other matters.

He added that as part of his role as the resident makeup artist for the Egyptian president’s office, he also applied makeup to Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein when they visited, before official press conferences and photo shoots.



The ashes of the Anglo-Irish adventurer Lt Col John Henry Patterson, said to be one of the British Empire’s most swashbuckling officers (he even wrestled man-eating lions in Kenya) have been reburied near Tel Aviv along with those of his wife, Frances Helena.

In a heartfelt tribute at the ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Patterson, who also became godfather to Netanyahu’s elder brother Yonatan (who was killed while rescuing Israeli hostages at Entebbe in 1976), had commanded the first Jewish fighting force in nearly two millennia.

Netanyahu called him the “godfather of the Israeli army”.

Patterson was born in 1867 in Ireland, to a Protestant father and a Catholic mother. He fought alongside Jewish soldiers in World War I and then became an ardent Zionist, helping to train the Jewish underground in Palestine.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, one of the soldiers commanded by Patterson, said: “In all of Jewish history we have never had a gentile friend as understanding and devoted.”

Later Patterson went to America to campaign for the creation of Israel, he became a close friend of Netanyahu’s father, Benzion.

The re-burial of the ashes of Patterson and his wife Frances followed a three-year process. They were taken from California, where the couple had lived until his death in 1947. Alan Patterson, the soldier’s grandson, who also spoke at the ceremony alongside Netanyahu, said it had been his grandfather’s dying wish that he be buried alongside Jewish Legion fighters he had once commanded.



The American actress and socialite Paris Hilton (who is not Jewish) has been receiving anti-Semitic death threats from a man who believes she is.

Celebrity website TMZ said she had received messages such as “Kill Jews For Fun,” and “I know ur Jew family gives nothing.”

The LAPD has opened a hate crime investigation.



Famously outspoken comedian Roseanne Barr has fiercely attacked Jews who support a boycott of Israel.

In an open letter published last week, she wrote:

“You feel it is moral to express your sympathy for those who occupy all but a sliver of the Middle East, those who stone women to death, execute gays and rape little children, and get away with doing it, because child ‘marriage’ (polygamist pedophile cults) have a priest class which absolves all pedophiles of criminal action against innocents.”

She said her letter was penned for “Jews who hate Israel and collude with anti-Semites.”

She wrote: “You believe that making Judaism illegal in every Arab Country is OK? Really? You ignore the Jewish Nakba – 800,000 expelled Jews in the middle east forced to move to Israel, since 1948 – by violence and hatred, their wealth stolen? You scream and yell that there should be no harbor or rest for any of them inside a Jewish State, or anywhere else on earth? Really?”


At the end of this dispatch, I attach a piece from the Wall Street Journal, by Brendan O’Neill, the editor of the online journal Spiked (and a subscriber to this email list).

He writes:

“The Zionistfrei movement isn’t really about effecting any change in the Middle East. As Leicester Councillor Mohammed Dawood admits, Israel is hardly going to be ‘trembling in its shoes’ over the city’s boycott. Rather, the movement is about making the chattering classes in Europe feel pure and righteous, unsullied by the poisonousness of the state it’s now so fashionable to hate.

“Where yesteryear’s creators of Judenfrei zones saw the Jewish people as a corrupting presence, today’s lobbyists for Zionistfrei territories see the Jewish state as corrupting, as a toxic entity whose fruit and technology and books must be shunned.”



Another American comedian and TV star, Rosie O’Donnell, has been criticized for selling artwork on her website with messages critical of Israel, but using photos from the Syrian civil war.

Two collage-like pieces created by O’Donnell and put up for sale on her website include a photo purportedly taken in Gaza this summer, but actually from Syria.

One of the pieces, titled “Israel Begins Bombing Gaza,” includes a quote from O’Donnell saying, “This man carries a baby about the same age as the one I sit next to, watching Frozen.”

Another piece uses the words “stop and think… Israel and Gaza.”

However, in both cases the photos used are from Syria, and have nothing to do with Israel.

More here from the blog IsraellyCool.

O’Donnell was also criticized in 2010 when she defended the late White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who was accused of anti-Semitism after she said Israelis should leave the Middle East and “go home” to Germany and Poland.




The National Portrait Gallery in London (one of my favorite museums) has taken the unusual step of putting on show a photograph of a young Hassidic Jewish girl.

Titled “Chayla in Shul”, the photo by Laura Pannack is of an 11-year-old redheaded Hasidic girl in synagogue.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews often refuse to be photographed but permission was given in this case.

The photo, which art critics say has an almost timeless feel, and many of the qualities of a painting, is on display until late February 2015.



Rinsing Israel Out of Europe: The Zionistfrei Movement
Brendan O’Neill
Wall Street Journal
Dec. 10, 2014

In Nazi Germany, it was all the rage to make one’s town Judenfrei. Now a new fashion is sweeping Europe: to make one’s town or city what we might call “Zionistfrei” — free of the products and culture of the Jewish state. Across the Continent, cities and towns are declaring themselves “Israel-free zones,” insulating their citizens from Israeli produce and culture. It has ugly echoes of what happened 70 years ago.

Leicester City Council in England last month voted to boycott goods made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. All services run by the council will be free of any product or technology made in any of the settlements. The motion “condemns the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine’s East Jerusalem and the West Bank” and resolves “to boycott any produce originating from illegal Israeli settlements.”

Leicester Mayor Peter Soulsby insists that there’s nothing anti-Semitic about this erection of an Israel-deflecting force field around the city, telling the local Leicester Mercury newspaper that it’s simply about expressing dismay with “the behavior of the Israeli state.”

But Jeffrey Kaufman, former president of Leicester’s Progressive Jewish Congregation, isn’t convinced. He wants to know why, “of all the horrible things going on in the world,” the council singled out Israel for punitive treatment. “It’s blatant anti-Semitism,” he said.

Other communities in Europe have gone further than Leicester. During this summer’s Gaza conflict, the town of Kinvara in western Ireland went completely Zionistfrei. Pro-Palestinian campaigners lobbied the town’s retailers, restaurants and cafes to expunge from their premises anything produced in Israel. All the businesses agreed, meaning Kinvara is now, in the eyes of anti-Israel agitators, morally pure. It is held up as a model town by numerous European backers of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement.

Also during the Gaza conflict, the mayor of Newry in Northern Ireland wrote to all the retailers of his district asking them to provide a list of the Israeli products they stock. He then asked them to remove these products from sale — he was backed by 21 votes to three on the Newry Council.

Numerous Spanish provinces have this year been bombarded with requests to reject the “products, culture and sport” of the state of Israel. When BDS activists can’t get official backing for their desire to live Zionistfrei lives, they take things into their own hands. Three years ago in Montpellier, France, BDS activists spent an hour and a half rampaging through a shopping mall and “de-shelving” all the fruit produced in Israel.

Under pressure from campaigners to break off all links with Israel, the French city of Lille in October ripped up its twinning accord with the Israeli city of Safed. Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, was quoted in the French press saying Lille’s officials had shown a “heinous attitude toward the Israeli people.”

In 2011, the council of West Dunbartonshire in Scotland voted to boycott all Israeli products and instructed all local libraries to stop stocking books printed in the state of Israel. Why not just burn them?

Various towns in Turkey are shunning Coca-Cola over what they see as its support for Israel. Earlier this year, the mayor of Ordu in northern Turkey said “we boycott killer Israel and the global capital supporting it and do not drink its products,” as if anything made by Israel or its friends is some kind of poison liable to sully one’s body and soul.

The Zionistfrei movement isn’t really about effecting any change in the Middle East. As Leicester Councillor Mohammed Dawood admits, Israel is hardly going to be “trembling in its shoes” over the city’s boycott. Rather, the movement is about making the chattering classes in Europe feel pure and righteous, unsullied by the poisonousness of the state it’s now so fashionable to hate.

Where yesteryear’s creators of Judenfrei zones saw the Jewish people as a corrupting presence, today’s lobbyists for Zionistfrei territories see the Jewish state as corrupting, as a toxic entity whose fruit and technology and books must be shunned.

No, Jews aren’t being physically expelled from Europe, but they are being made to feel unwelcome. Given that most Jews feel affinity with the state of Israel, what must they think when they see parts of Europe being cleansed of all things Israeli? They must think: “My culture and my people are not wanted here.” And European Jews are voting with their feet. In the first eight months of this year, 4,566 Jews left France for Israel, more than the total number that left in 2013 (3,228). Last year a European Union survey found that 29% of Europe’s Jews had considered emigrating because they no longer feel safe.

BDS is one of the ugliest political movements of our time. It is shot through with double standards, treating Israel as more wicked than any other state. It is shrill and censorious, too. Its members boo and jeer and seek to expel from apparently civilized Europe not only Israeli military leaders and politicians but even Israeli violinists and actors. Now, the demand for Zionistfrei zones is taking BDS to its terrifying conclusion, that Israel and everyone associated with it (you know who) should be shunned by respectable communities everywhere.

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