First gay Tunisian running for president supports Israel (& Iraq revokes beauty queen’s citizenship)

July 10, 2019

Above: Britain’s Home secretary (interior minister) of the ruling Conservative party, Sajid Javid, became the first British government minister in 19 years to visit Jerusalem’s Western Wall, during his trip to Israel last week.

Javid, who is a secular Muslim, first visited Jerusalem with his Pakistani-born parents for a family holiday when he was a child. He is a lifelong supporter of Israel. On one of his previous trips, he spent his honeymoon in Israel before he entered politics.

Last week, Javid also visited Yad Vashem, held meetings with Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with Palestinian leaders, and prayed at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

 

(Most of this dispatch was prepared several days ago, but was delayed because of health reasons.)

 

CONTENTS

1. In first, Arab-Israeli appointed chairman of Israel’s biggest bank
2. Miss Iraq tells the UN and media to stop attacking Israel: Iraq revokes her citizenship
3. Tunisia bans face veils in all public institutions
4. First gay Tunisian running for president calls for relations with Israel
5. Only 5% of Palestinians and 6% of Lebanese accept gay relationships
6. Islamic Iran killed more gays than Nazis did during Holocaust
7. Second ‘son of Hamas’ leaves terror group, denounces its “racism and corruption”
8. Elizabeth Warren staffer criticized for pro-Hamas remarks
9. Elderly woman latest to die from Hamas rocket strike
10. Tom Gross on BBC Arabic: The Palestinians should engage with the US peace plan

 

[Note by Tom Gross]

IN FIRST, ARAB ISRAELI APPOINTED CHAIRMAN OF ISRAEL’S BIGGEST BANK

Samer Haj-Yehia was last week appointed the chairman of the board of Bank Leumi, the first Israeli-Arab to assume the most senior position at Israel’s largest bank.

Haj-Yehia joined the board of directors of Bank Leumi in 2014. He also serves on the board of the Hadassah Medical Center, the Council for Israeli Higher Education, and of Big Shopping Centers.

He has a Ph.D. in macroeconomics from MIT, an MBA in finance and banking, an MA in economics, a BA in accounting and economics and a law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He did his legal internship at the Tel Aviv firm of Herzog, Fox & Neeman.

He has been involved with Kav Mashveh, a group which works for the advancement of employment opportunities for the Arab community, and the Collective Impact organization on Arab employment.

Arab-Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi said the selection of Haj-Yehia was based on merit alone, not on any affirmative action. “Samer is very talented. He broke the glass ceiling and will serve as a model for young people in Arab society. He is the right person in the right place.”

 

MISS IRAQ TELLS THE UN AND MEDIA TO STOP ATTACKING ISRAEL

This is a follow-up to last year’s dispatch:

Video: Miss Iraq, defying death threats, visits and praises Israel

I recommend watching the video in the above dispatch of Miss Iraq’s visit to Jerusalem. Or also here:

https://youtu.be/q9kaenrM6FI

Now Miss Iraq (who lives in exile following threats) has told the UN in Geneva that the UN and media should stop denouncing Israel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euvNE9KtkpE

UPDATE: IRAQ REVOKES BEAUTY QUEEN’S CITIZENSHIP

Iraq has just revoked the beauty queen’s citizenship over her support for Israel.

Her tweet: https://twitter.com/realsarahidan/status/1148719617923145728?s=21

 

TUNISIA BANS FACE VEILS IN ALL PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has re-imposed the ban on wearing the niqab, the full-face veil, in public institutions.

The decision follows a suicide bombing in Tunis last week by a man who blew himself up while disguised in a niqab, the third such attack within a week. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for all three attacks.

The attacks come as Tunisia prepares for November elections and hopes by the government that this year will be a record summer tourist season in which the relatively peaceful North African country draws record numbers of visitors.

A decades-long ban on women wearing the hijab and niqab in Tunisia under secular presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Habib Bourguiba, who outlawed all forms of Islamic dress, was lifted in 2011 at the beginning of the Arab Spring.

Sri Lanka, Cameroon and Algeria are among other countries to ban full-face veils in recent months following deadly Islamist attacks.

 

FIRST GAY TUNISIAN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT CALLS FOR RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL

Lawyer Mounir Baatour, who heads the Tunisian Liberal Party, has become the first openly gay man to seek to win the presidency of a Muslim-majority Arab country.

Tunisia (which is one of the freest countries in the Arab world) holds elections in November.

After Tunisian MP Ammar Amroussia ripped up an Israeli flag in a parliamentary session and cursed the Jewish state, Baatour attacked Amroussia on Tunisian TV and called for full normalization between Tunisia and Israel.

Baatour said: “How come you are not calling for ties to be cut with Iran, which has been occupying the UAE’s Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa islands since 1971? Why don’t you boycott Turkey, which occupies the Sanjak of Alexandretta? The Sanjak of Alexandretta is larger than Palestine.”

After Amroussia made further unpleasant remarks about ‘the Zionist entity’ and refused to say the word Israel, Baatour retorted: “It’s called ‘Israel,’” Amroussia then asked: “Is this antisemitism?”

Baatour’s replied: “Exactly. It is antisemitism.”

***

TUNISIA CONTINUES TO HARASS GAYS

Tunisian authorities are seeking to use Islamic Sharia law to close down LGBT groups in the country, reports The Jerusalem Post.

Mounir Baatour told Britain’s Guardian newspaper in April that “the judicial harassment against our association has no legal basis, and reflects the homophobia of the Tunisian state and its will to discriminate and stigmatize the LGBT community, which is already marginalized.”

Baatour told The Guardian that his car was vandalized in a homophobic attack, and said he is worried about prison conditions for LGBT people in Tunisia, who were being targeted for attack.

 

ONLY 5% OF PALESTINIANS AND 6% OF LEBANESE ACCEPT GAY RELATIONSHIPS

A survey conducted for BBC News Arabic has revealed high rates of homophobia across the Arab world.

The most intolerant societies from among those polled were West Bank Palestinians, where only 5 percent said they thought same-sex relationships should be tolerated, and Lebanon (six percent).

The study was conducted by the Arab Barometer research network in June, during LGBT Pride month, and the findings were released last week.

The BBC said: “Acceptance of homosexuality varies but is low or extremely low across the region. In Lebanon, despite having a reputation for being more socially liberal than its neighbors, the figure is 6%.”

Algerians showed the most acceptance of gays with 26% of those polled saying they found nothing wrong with them. Morocco followed with 21% and Sudan with 17%. Tunisia and Jordan were less tolerant with only 7% showing tolerance toward gay relations.

The BBC polled more than 25,000 people across 10 countries and the Palestinian territories.

The BBC polled Palestinians only in the West Bank but not in Hamas-run Gaza, where it was deemed too dangerous to ask such questions. Hamas regularly tortures and executes people accused of being gay.

 

ISLAMIC IRAN KILLED MORE GAYS THAN NAZIS DID DURING HOLOCAUST

Richard Grenell, the US government’s best known openly gay official, told the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal that “71 countries criminalize homosexuality and eight will put you to death for being gay. The Trump administration is launching a new push with our European allies to end this human rights outrage.”

Iran has the worst record of any government in the world towards gays. According to a wikileaks cable written by British diplomats, the Islamic Republic of Iran executed 4,000-6,000 gays and lesbians in the years following the country’s 1979 radical Islamic Revolution. This compares with 4,500 people killed for being gay by the Nazis during the whole of World War Two and the Holocaust according to Nazi and concentration camp records.

During a press conference last month with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country executes gay people because of “moral principles.”

 

SECOND ‘SON OF HAMAS’ LEAVES TERROR GROUP, DENOUNCES ITS “RACISM AND CORRUPTION”

Suheib Yousef – the son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, and brother of Mosab Yousef, who became know as the “Green Prince” for his efforts to secretly help Israel thwart Hamas terror attacks – has left his Hamas post in Turkey and flown to an unnamed Southeast Asian country where he asked for political asylum.

Suheib Yousef, 38, denounced the Hamas terror group, of which his father was one of the most senior members, as “corrupt, murderous and racist”.

Among those to whom he has given interviews to denounce Hamas, is Israel’s Channel 12 TV. He follows in the footsteps of his brother Mosab Hassan Yousef who also denounced Hamas as “murderers” and has been granted political asylum in the United States.

Suheib Yousef denounced them not just for their attacks on Israel and other Arabs, but for their treatment of fellow Palestinians.

“Hamas leaders [in Turkey] live in fancy hotels and luxury towers, their kids learn at private schools and they are very well paid by Hamas. They get between four and five thousand dollars a month, they have guards, swimming pools, country clubs,” he said.

 

ELIZABETH WARREN STAFFER CRITICIZED FOR PRO-HAMAS REMARKS

Max Berger, a far-left, Jewish-born, anti-Israel activist, hired by Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren for her 2020 presidential campaign, is bring criticized for a tweet (now deleted) in which he says he “would totally be friends with Hamas,” the group that routinely murders Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

Berger is the co-founder of the radical left group IfNotNow, which has been criticized for exploiting the Holocaust in order to attack Israel.

Pro-peace groups called on Warren to distance herself from Berger and his comments.

 

ELDERLY WOMAN LATEST TO DIE FROM HAMAS ROCKET STRIKE

As I noted in a dispatch earlier this year, Guardian online described the missiles and rockets fired from Gaza to try and kill civilians in Israel as “ projectiles ”.

In fact, the Iranian-supplied Fajr-5 rocket that The Guardian was referring to in its article is not some harmless projectile, but a deadly weapon designed to kill.

The latest Israeli civilian died on Sunday.

89 year-old Rivka Jamil sustained serious injuries during a rocket attack from Gaza in May. On Sunday she died of her wounds after doctors in the Israeli seaside town of Ashkelon, where she lived, had spent the last two months battling to save her life.

I mention this because hardly any international media have bothered to mention her murder.

Her death puts the civilian death toll at five Israelis who lost their lives in the last round of attacks, which saw Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad launch 700 rockets towards Israel in a span of less than 48 hours.

 

TOM GROSS ON BBC ARABIC: THE PALESTINIANS SHOULD ENGAGE WITH THE US PEACE PLAN

I was a lone voice among those interviewed in this BBC Arabic report last Thursday, calling on the Palestinian Authority to give Kushner’s peace plan a chance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP65wv5F0kE

My comments start at 3:43 minutes in the video: “It is strategic mistake of the Palestinian Authority not to engage in Kushner’s peace plan and help build the economic, social and judicial infrastructure for any state they may then aspire to...”

***

See also interview (in English) interview on US peace plan on Turkish state TV:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F66eYPkxr38

***

Some of you may also be interested (also from last Thursday July 4):

Tom Gross on Sky News Arabia on Hong Kong pro-democracy protests

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP8Ma0aD5iE

 

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