Israeli President Rivlin has been voted a person of the year by The Guardian
There is also another dispatch today which can be read here: Israeli NGO files war crimes charges against Palestinian leaders (& “Netanyahu to hang”).
-- Tom Gross
* 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. Wide-ranging poll finds both Jews and Arabs “proud to be Israeli”
2. The Guardian chooses Israeli President Rivlin as a “hero” of 2014
3. Despite Gaza war, tourist numbers to Israel fell only 1% in 2014
4. Egypt Chamber of tourism: Hotel occupancy reached only 12% by New Year
5. Number of suicide bombings around world surged 94% in 2014 but none in Israel
6. U.S. academic group votes against further anti-Israel resolutions
7. Norwegian NGO funds exhibit of children’s maps replacing Israel with Palestine
8. Jews flee France in record numbers to escape anti-Semitism
9. Dieudonne’s supporters turn against him
10. Anti-Semitic acts in UK at 30-year high; BDS activist makes Nazi salute
11. Jewish groups condemn pro-Nazi rallies in Croatia, Ukraine
12. Nazis’ vast, secret “nuclear weapons facility” uncovered in Austria
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
WIDE-RANGING POLL FINDS BOTH JEWS AND ARABS “PROUD TO BE ISRAELI”
The extensive annual poll by the Israel Democracy Institute (a reliable centrist NGO) has found that both Israeli Jews and Arabs are proud to be Israeli. The annual poll is used by both Israel and the international community as a barometer of Israeli public opinion.
This year’s poll found that 86% of Israeli Jews and 65% of Israeli Arabs said they were either “very” or “quite proud” to be Israeli. Only 13% of Jews and 34% of Arabs said they were “not so proud” or “not proud at all” to be Israeli.
When asked which institutions they trusted the most, Israeli Jews said the IDF (88%), the Israeli president (71%) and the Supreme Court (62%).
The least trusted institutions are the Knesset (35%), Chief Rabbinate (29%) and the media (28%).
Among Israeli Arabs, the most trusted institutions are the Supreme Court (60%), the police (57%), the Israeli president (56%) and, perhaps surprisingly, the IDF (51%).
THE GUARDIAN CHOOSES ISRAELI PRESIDENT RIVLIN AS A “HERO” OF 2014
The British daily The Guardian, which (unlike the BBC) has been on somewhat of a charm offensive for the past year to try and water down its previously over-the-top criticism of Israel, has included Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in its annual list of “heroes” of the year for 2014. It called Rivlin (a rightist member of the Likud) “Israel’s conscience.”
The paper applauded Rivlin for “standing up for the civil rights of Palestinians” and condemning what The Guardian called “surging bigotry” in Israel.
“Rivlin’s office may be ceremonial; his stand is anything but,” the paper said.
The Guardian pointed to Rivlin’s 2014 Rosh Hashanah video in which he appeared beside an Arab Israeli boy from Jaffa as part of an anti-bullying campaign.
In the video, filmed in the wake of heightened tensions at the end of last summer’s war with Hamas, Rivlin was seen holding up placards denouncing intolerance in Israeli society.
Other “heroes” in The Guardian’s list include Pope Francis.
DESPITE GAZA WAR, TOURIST NUMBERS TO ISRAEL FELL ONLY 1% IN 2014
A record 14.2 million passengers passed through Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport in 2014.
And the number of foreign visitors to Israel last year declined by just 1% despite the summer war with Hamas and the 24/7 sensational international media coverage of it.
Both before and after the war, tourist traffic was higher than in any previous year, according to the Israel Hotels Association and the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
The largest number of foreign visitors came from the United States, followed by Russia, France, Germany and Britain. Jerusalem was the top destination for visitors, followed by Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea.
Many Russian and other tourists are now avoiding Egypt because of political violence there and have switched their vacations to Israel.
EGYPT CHAMBER OF TOURISM: HOTEL OCCUPANCY REACHED ONLY 12% BY NEW YEAR
The Egypt Independent reports.
“Hotel occupancy rates in the cities of Taba and Nuweiba ranged between 6-12 percent by the New Year, except for one hotel whose occupancy reached around 60 percent, according to the Egyptian Federation of Chamber of Tourism.
“Atef Abdel Latif, a member of the federation, said that such rates indicate a catastrophe for hoteliers, as they do not cover their workforce and other costs.”
Tom Gross adds: Political violence between Islamist groups and the Egyptian military continues to rage in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, largely unreported in the Western media.
NUMBER OF SUICIDE BOMBINGS WORLDWIDE SURGED 94% IN 2014 BUT NONE IN ISRAEL
The number of suicide bombings globally almost doubled last year, according to a comprehensive new report by the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies.
At least 3,400 people were killed in such attacks in 2014, compared with 2,200 in 2013. There were 592 suicide bombings, compared with 305 in 2013.
The figures are likely an under-estimate because the INSS said it had been very conservative in assessing suicide bombs in Syria. “Reports from Syria are often based on reports from the organizations behind the attacks, which often exaggerate. The authors say they have included “only attacks whose details could be verified,” the report said.
Most suicide bombs were carried out by Muslims against other Muslims. “The claim [made on the New York Times op-ed page -- TG] that most suicide bombings are carried out against foreign occupiers has been proved false once again,” the INSS says.
Only 3 percent of all suicide bombings were carried out against foreign armies.
The countries with the most suicide bombings in 2014 were Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Libya. There was also a rise in attacks in African countries such as Somalia and Nigeria.
Fifteen suicide bombings in 2014 were carried out by women, compared with five in 2013.
There were no deadly suicide bombings in Israel or the Palestinian territories last year.
U.S. ACADEMIC GROUP VOTES AGAINST FURTHER ANTI-ISRAEL RESOLUTIONS
Bucking the trend of American academics voting for various (largely symbolic) boycotts of Israel, the American Historical Association has voted 144 to 55 against any further pursuit of resolutions that denounce Israel.
The Jerusalem Post reports: “The American Historical Association, a scholarly group, declined to put two resolutions critical of Israel to a vote at its annual meeting in New York over the weekend, one year after the American Studies Association joined an academic boycott of Israel.”
The Jerusalem Post points out: “There was no mention of incitement on Palestinian campuses in the resolutions. Last year, hundreds of masked protesters marched through Al-Quds University’s campus wearing black ski masks and carrying replicas of rockets, according to photos posted on the website of independent journalist Tom Gross and on the Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc of Al-Quds University student group, which is associated with Hamas.
“A rally in support of Islamic Jihad on the Al-Quds campus in November 2013 led to the suspension of ties between Al-Quds University and Brandeis University.
“A professor at the Palestinian university quit following a campaign of harassment and death threats after he took students to visit the Auschwitz death camp in Poland last year.”
NORWEGIAN NGO FUNDS EXHIBIT OF CHILDREN’S MAPS REPLACING ISRAEL WITH PALESTINE
The Norwegian People’s Aid NGO, which is funded by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the Canadian International Development Agency, has produced maps for Middle East schoolchildren that replace Israel with “Palestine”.
Another map displays the Israeli cities of Beersheba, Acre, Haifa and Safed as being in Palestine.
Last week, a subsidiary of U.S. publisher Harper Collins apologized after omitting Israel from maps in its Middle East Atlas. It said it would withdraw remaining copies from sale and pulp the rest.
JEWS FLEE FRANCE IN RECORD NUMBERS TO ESCAPE ANTI-SEMITISM
For the first time since Israel’s independence in 1948, France topped the list of countries from which immigrants moved to Israel. At least 7,000 French Jews moved to Israel last year, double the number in 2013. The Times of London reported that many cited a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in France as the reason for their move.
DIEUDONNE’S SUPPORTERS TURN AGAINST HIM
Updating previous dispatch notes about the French anti-Semitic “comedian”:
Some black supporters of Dieudonné, the black, anti-Semitic “comedian” who invented a new form of “Nazi” salute to avoid prosecution under laws banning race hate, have turned against him. They are unhappy with his increasingly close connections with white, racist, groups in France. Dieudonné is cozying up to leading white French anti-Semites, such as Alain Soral, who hates black people almost as much as he hates Jews.
When BBC Newsnight interviewed Soral in an item about Dieudonne they simply called Soral a “filmmaker” and failed to mentioned who he really is.
ANTI-SEMITIC ACTS IN UK AT 30-YEAR HIGH; BDS ACTIVIST IN UK MAKES NAZI SALUTE
Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain are at their highest level since comprehensive records began to be collated 30 years ago, reports the (London) Daily Telegraph.
The Community Security Trust reports that there were over 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents in 2014, including 302 in July alone, when in the midst of the Gaza conflict, many anti-Israel protests quickly turned anti-Semitic.
Last month, the director of BBC TV, Danny Cohen said he has never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in Britain as in 2014. For more (including my quote) see here.
Last week, Tristan Woodwards, a leading British activist of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was pictured giving a Nazi salute outside the Israeli-owned Kedem cosmetics store on King Street, in the center of the northern English city of Manchester.
JEWISH GROUPS CONDEMN PRO-NAZI RALLIES IN CROATIA, UKRAINE
Jewish groups have strongly condemned the memorial mass held in the center of Zagreb to commemorate Croatian war criminal Ante Pavelić, the so-called “Hitler of the Balkans”.
Pavelić, the founder of the Ustasha, oversaw the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Roma and Serb civilians in World War Two. Many were subjected to horrific torture before being killed, including Jewish babies who were thrown in the air and shot in front of their parents. At least 100,000 were murdered in Jasenovac, the so-called “Auschwitz of the Balkans.”
Leading Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff, said: “It is hard to believe that in the center of the capital of a member of the European Union, very close to Zagreb’s Jewish community, hundreds of people gathered yesterday to commemorate the memory of one of Europe’s biggest mass murderers. Such a ceremony is an insult to the memory of Pavelić’s hundreds of thousands of innocent victims. It is also a badge of shame for the Catholic Church, which allowed such a ceremony to take place in the Basilica of the Heart of Christ.”
After the war, Pavelic escaped to Argentina with the help of the Austrian bishop Alois Hudal. He was wounded in an assassination attempt in 1957, and died in Madrid two years later while under the protection of the Franco regime.
Jewish groups have also condemned the pro-Fascist marches in Ukraine on January 1.
A new year’s torchlight parade organized by the Fascist Svoboda party honored the Holocaust era-Ukrainian ultra-nationalist leader Stepan Bandera. The rally took place in Khreshchatyk Street, one of Kiev’s main boulevards and the site of some of last year’s EuroMaidan revolution, to celebrate the 106th birthday of Stepan Bandera, whose faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists helped murder tens of thousands of Jews during the Second World War.
Bandera escaped after the war and was assassinated in Munich in 1959.
NAZIS’ VAST, SECRET “NUCLEAR WEAPONS FACILITY” UNCOVERED IN AUSTRIA
A huge, secret, underground Nazi weapons factory, believed to have been built for the development and planned manufacture of nuclear weapons and other WMDs, has been uncovered in Austria, London’s Sunday Times reported two days ago.
The vast weapons facility was uncovered last week near the town of St. Georgen an der Gusen by a team led by Austrian documentary-maker Andreas Sulzer, who said it was “likely the biggest secret weapons production facility of the Third Reich.” The 75-acre industrial complex is located close to a second subterranean factory, the B8 Bergkristall facility where the Messerschmitt Me 262, the world’s first operational jet-powered fighter, was produced toward the end of World War II.
“Declassified intelligence documents as well as testimony from witnesses helped excavators identify the concealed entrance,” the Sunday Times said.
“The facility, like the Bergkristall factory, relied on slave labor from the nearby Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp,” the Sunday Times added. “Up to 320,000 inmates are said to have died because of the brutal conditions in the subterranean labyrinth.”
“Prisoners from concentration camps across Europe were handpicked for their special skills – physicists, chemists or other experts – to work on this monstrous project,” Sulzer told the British newspaper, “and we owe it to the victims to finally open the site and reveal the truth.”
Sulzer, whose work is being partly funded by German state TV network ZDF, is also seeking to establish what became of SS General Hans Kammler, who managed the project and reported to SS chief Heinrich Himmler.
“Rumors persist that he was captured by the Americans and given a new identity after the war [and taken to the U.S. to help work on programs there],” the paper reported.