Over 200 Israelis took time off work this week to attend the funeral of a woman they had never met, 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hilde Nathan, after a friend of hers in the Canary Islands told an Israeli newspaper that there was no one to go to her funeral. German-born Nathan moved to the Canary Islands in order to find peace, and her dying wish was to buried in Israel. She did not have a husband or children. (See the last item below.)
This dispatch contains a variety of news items from recent days that you may have missed.
* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia
1. Saudi police beat two transgender women to death
2. Saudi king will bring 506 tons of luggage, including two limos, on trip to Indonesia
3. Young Iranian chess grandmaster will be “severely” punished for not wearing her hijab
4. Iranian morality police beat and detain 14-year-old girl for wearing ripped jeans
5. Israeli who converted to Islam arrested en route to join Islamic State in Syria
6. Israeli lawsuit against Facebook for providing terrorists a platform proceeds
7. Facebook briefly deletes, then reinstates Fatah Facebook page
8. Hamas bans parents from naming their baby “Mahmoud Abbas”
9. Left-wing journalist arrested for bomb threats against Jews, some media obscure this
10. At peace talks, Syria rebels urge Trump to correct Obama’s “catastrophic mistakes”
11. “She lived alone, but did not leave alone”
[Notes by Tom Gross]
SAUDI POLICE BEAT TWO TRANSGENDER WOMEN TO DEATH
On Tuesday, two transgender women were stuffed into sacks and beaten to death with sticks by police in Saudi Arabia, according to a report in the Pakistani daily Express Tribune, and other media.
The pair, identified as Meeno, 26, and Amna, 35, were arrested as part of a Religious Police raid of a transgender meeting at a Riyadh hostel. They were part of the large community of Pakistani workers employed in Saudi Arabia, some of whom work in slave-like conditions.
Of the 35 people arrested, 22 remain in prison while 11 others were released after paying a hefty fine of 150,000 riyals ($40,000). Amna and Meeno were pronounced dead in police custody.
Pakistani transgender rights activist Qamar Naseem, who called the police brutality “inhumane,” said there were many other transgender persons locked up in Saudi jails without trial, sometimes for years.
In 2009, Human Rights Watch criticized Saudi Arabia after 67 men were publically whipped for cross-dressing.
SAUDI KING WILL BRING 506 TONS OF LUGGAGE, INCLUDING TWO LIMOS, ON TRIP TO INDONESIA
The Washington Post reports:
Saudi king taking 506 tons of luggage, including two limos, on trip to Indonesia
He will also bring two electric elevators for his personal use…
Saudi royals are often known for traveling in grandiose style. King Salman booked the entire Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown when he visited Washington in 2015. The hotel, one of the most luxurious in the area, has 222 rooms.
That same year, the king was criticized by some locals after his 1,000-person entourage forced the closure of a beach on the French Riviera for three days due to privacy and security concerns. The local mayor also complained to the French president that the Saudi group had poured concrete directly onto the sand in an unauthorized attempt to install an elevator.
While the Saudi king’s colossal cargo hold may seem large, it is not necessarily out of scale with those of other world leaders. When President Barack Obama visited sub-Saharan Africa in 2013, he was accompanied by 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines, and hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents tasked with helping secure locations in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.
Even when Obama traveled to less exotic locales, there were reports of a similarly high level of organization: A 2014 visit to Brussels included a 900-person entourage and 45 vehicles, according to the Guardian.”
Tom Gross adds: Maybe King Salman would like to donate a few clothes to Syrian refugees in neighboring Jordan?
YOUNG IRANIAN CHESS GRANDMASTER WILL BE DEALT WITH IN “SEVEREST WAY POSSIBLE” FOR NOT WEARING HER HIJAB
Young Iranian chess player 18-year-old Dorsa Derakhshani (above) has been expelled from the Iranian national team after she took off her hijab, an act forbidden by the Islamic regime (which the New York Times and BBC and CNN have repeatedly described as “moderate” over the last few years).
She took off her hijab while competing as an independent player in last month’s Gibraltar Chess Festival. Her brother Borna, 15, will also be punished after playing a match against young Israeli player Alexander Huzman in the same tournament.
The head of Iran’s Chess Federation, Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, says both siblings will be dealt with in the “severest way possible.”
Iran was the land where chess was reportedly invented, in its much more liberal pre-Islamic days.
Last September, chess players accused the World Chess Federation (FIDE) of failing to stand up for women’s rights after it said competitors must accept local Islamic law and wear hijabs during the world championship in Tehran.
Please see also this dispatch from 2014:
IRANIAN MORALITY POLICE BEAT AND DETAIN 14-YEAR-OLD GIRL FOR WEARING RIPPED JEANS
The British paper The Independent reports that a 14-year-old girl (pictured above) has been beaten and detained for wearing ripped jeans in Iran in the latest incident of police brutality against women and girls.
She was celebrating her birthday with friends in the city of Shiraz last month when a patrol of “morality police” pulled up. The teenager and her friends were beaten and then the 14-year-old driven off in the police car.
“I still have bruises sustained from their beatings on my face,” she told The Independent. “I still feel their pressure on my arm and my ribs still hurt.”
Exiled Iranian campaigners for women’s rights said many others had gone through similar experiences in Iran.
Relationships between non-Muslim men and Muslim women are also illegal in Iran and punishable by whipping (for the women).
Homosexuality, adultery and sex outside marriage can carry the death penalty.
In a separate development, a professor at a Belgian university has been sentenced to death in Iran.
ISRAELI WHO CONVERTED TO ISLAM ARRESTED EN ROUTE TO JOIN ISLAMIC STATE IN SYRIA
A Belarusian-born Israeli Jew who converted to Islam in 2002 after marrying an Israeli Arab woman, and has grown increasingly extreme over the last decade, has been arrested by Israel’s Shin Bet security service as he attempted to join the Islamic State group in Syria.
The suspect, Valentin Vladimir Mazlevski, a 39-year-old father of five, moved to Israel from Belarus in 1996 at age 18 and converted to Islam four years later. He proclaimed “God is great” in Arabic as he was charged in an Israeli court in Nazareth last week.
According to the prosecution, he purchased a one-way ticket to Turkey in January, with the goal of crossing the border into Syria, and had been coordinating his trip on the internet with ISIS operatives in Syria through the Telegram encrypted messaging application.
He lives with his wife and children in the Arab Israeli town of Shibli Umm al-Ghanam.
Police say he has admitted that his intention was to “fulfill the commandment placed on every true Muslim to live under an Islamic State and hold fast to his belief.”
About 50 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have traveled to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS in recent years, but this is the first known case of an Israeli who was born Jewish trying to do so -- although some Americans of Jewish origin who have converted to Islam have gone on to join Al-Qaeda, most notably Adam Gadahn (born Pearlman), who was then killed in an American drone strike. (Gadahn’s grandfather, Carl Pearlman, was a prominent surgeon and served on the Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League.)
ISRAELI LAWSUIT AGAINST FACEBOOK FOR PROVIDING TERRORISTS A PLATFORM PROCEEDS
The son of murdered American-Israeli peace campaigner Richard Lakin, (mentioned here) told The Jerusalem Post that he is “outraged” at Facebook for pretending at a U.S. federal court hearing on Wednesday in New York that it has zero tolerance for terrorism.
He made the comments just after another hearing had been completed in an anti-terrorism lawsuit against Facebook.
Lakin’s son is one of the original plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by a group of about 20,000 Israelis against Facebook for providing a platform for terrorists involved in the “stabbing and vehicle intifada” of 2015 and 2016 and demanding an injunction ordering Facebook to take down pages that encourage terror attacks.
Facebook had filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing that the U.S. Communications Decency Act (1996) prevents legal claims against it for posts by third parties using its platform.
Lawyers for the Israeli victims and their relatives argue that Facebook has powerful algorithms that it could use to catch and take down incitement and terrorist communications if it wanted to, and pointed out that last year it was revealed by employees that Facebook has removed or obscured material it doesn’t like from American conservative websites while promoting stories by liberal publications.
Lakin’s son said: “Facebook’s lawyer started his speech saying it has zero tolerance for terror. But the big dirty secret is that they make a ton of money from it. Facebook is getting lots of traffic and selling ads – the quantity of jihadists’ traffic is big and they get a lot of money out of it.”
FACEBOOK BRIEFLY DELETES, THEN REINSTATES FATAH FACEBOOK PAGE
Possibly in reaction to the New York court case, Palestinian Authority President Abbas’s official Fatah Facebook page, which among other things shows a mound of skulls marked with Jewish stars, and routinely posts material that glorifies and incites the murder of Jews, was taken down last week.
But the page has now been reinstated.
In January, Facebook removed more than 100 pages belonging to the rival Hamas terror group, which had also praised and incited terrorism.
Israel has accused Facebook of facilitating Palestinian incitement against Israelis.
HAMAS BANS PARENT FROM NAMING HIS BABY “MAHMOUD ABBAS”
The Palestinian news site Wattan24 reported on Thursday that the Hamas-controlled interior ministry in Gaza has prevented Fayiz Badran from naming his new baby “Mahmoud Abbas”.
Mahmoud Abbas is, of course, the name of the Palestinian president and the leader of Hamas’s deadly rival Fatah faction.
Wattan24 accused Hamas of hypocrisy, pointing out that last month the authorities in Gaza had allowed children to be named after Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, former Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the West Bank, Palestinians have named their sons “Yasser Arafat” and “Saddam Hussein.”
LEFT-WING JOURNALIST ARRESTED FOR WAVE OF BOMB THREATS AGAINST JEWS, BUT SOME MEDIA OBSCURE THIS
The arrest yesterday by the FBI of a man suspected of being behind at least eight bomb threats against American Jewish centers and schools in recent weeks, has been reported accurately in some media but not in others.
For example, friends of mine in London who read the Financial Times and listen to the BBC several times per day, tell me they had not heard the news. This was 36 hours after it happened.
One suspects that had the FBI arrested a conservative journalist who worked for, for example, The National Review or Weekly Standard or Breitbart, or was a white right-wing extremist, this would have been a lead story on many media today.
But the arrested man is Juan Thompson, 31. He is a leftist who campaigned for Bernie Sanders, an African-American, and a journalist who worked for a publication edited by a former writer for The Guardian. He also reportedly said on his twitter account last year that he converted to Islam. These facts are either not mentioned at all or buried deep in the story in many of the publications that have been strongly insinuating, or even in some cases writing as though it were fact, that Trump supporters, were behind the anti-Semitic threats.
Thompson is accused of making bomb threats against 8 Jewish centers and schools, among them a Jewish school in Michigan, which he threatened to turn into “a Jewish Newtown,” in reference to the massacre in Newton, Connecticut in which 20 children were murdered.
And on February 22, the FBI say he made a phone call to the ADL saying there was C-4 explosives in the ADL’s New York office that would be “detonated within one hour.”
According to the charges, Thompson was also responsible for threats to Jewish centers in Dallas and San Diego, the Jewish History Museum and a Jewish school in Manhattan.
Thompson was until a year ago a journalist for the online publication The Intercept, a publication set up in 2014 by a journalist for the British paper, The Guardian.
The Intercept wrote yesterday: “We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson, a former employee of The Intercept, has been arrested in connection with bomb threats against the ADL and multiple Jewish Community Centers in addition to cyber stalking. These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted.”
REUTERS: AT PEACE TALKS, SYRIA REBELS URGE TRUMP TO CORRECT OBAMA’S “CATASTROPHIC MISTAKES”
At peace talks, Syria rebels urge Trump to correct Obama’s “catastrophic mistakes”
The lead Syrian opposition negotiator at peace talks in Geneva said he hoped U.S. President Donald Trump would correct the “catastrophic” errors of his predecessor Barack Obama to become a reliable partner against “devilish” Iran.
The U.N.-led negotiations edged forwards on Wednesday, for the first time in six days, as both sides saw hope of shaping the agenda to their liking, but with indirect talks wrapping up this weekend there is little prospect of any real breakthrough.
“The people in Syria paid a high price because of the catastrophic mistakes made by the Obama administration,” Nasr al-Hariri told reporters in a briefing after meeting U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura.
“Obama lied and he didn’t keep any of the promises he made for the Syrian people. He drew red lines that he erased himself, he kept silent on crimes committed by Bashar al-Assad.” …
“SHE LIVED ALONE, BUT DID NOT LEAVE ALONE”
Over 200 Israelis took time off work this week to attend the funeral of a woman they had never met, 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hilde Nathan, after a friend of Hilde Nathan told an Israeli newspaper that there was no one to go to her funeral.
German-born Nathan moved to the Canary Islands in order to find peace and quiet after surviving Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp north of Prague, where tens of thousands of Jews were murdered and the rest deported to the Treblinka and Auschwitz death camps. She was barely alive when Theresienstadt was liberated by the Soviet army on May 8, 1945.
She did not have a husband or children, and her dying wish was to buried in Israel. The Jewish community of the Canary Islands, which numbers only 20 people, together paid for her body to be flown to Israel for burial.
Nathan’s sole friend in Israel, also a Holocaust survivor, and the only person at the funeral who knew her, told the website of “Unidos con Israel” (United with Israel), the Spanish branch of the charity that helped arrange the funeral, that “she lived alone, but did not leave alone.”
“During childhood, she was humiliated. She had no name, only a number. Today, thanks to many anonymous people, she had the dignified burial that she deserved.”