Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Rantisi: “The False Holocaust – The Greatest of Lies” (and other items)

August 27, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "Hamas Leader Rantisi: The False Holocaust - The Greatest of Lies Funded by the Zionists" (MEMRI, August 27, 2003)
2. "Dresses with Star of David seized in RAK" (By Nassouh Nazzal, Gulf News, August 16, 2003)
3. "Romanian Jews recall "death trains," demand truth" (Reuters, August 14, 2003)
4. "Right Idea, Wrong Holocaust Museum." (Los Angeles Times, August 18, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach five items related to Holocaust denial, with summaries first.

SUMMARIES

1. Hamas Leader Rantisi: The False Holocaust - The Greatest of Lies Funded by the Zionists (August 27, 2003, MEMRI)

Dr. Al-Rantisi has found time between giving his daily interviews to Western television and radio to write an article for Al-Risala (August 21, 2003) titled "Which is Worse - Zionism or Nazism?" He quotes such western Holocaust revisionists as the "famous French philosopher Roger Garaudy," British "historian" David Irving, and Austrian author Gerd Honsik, who "was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment because he wrote a number of articles denying the existence of the gas chambers in the Nazi detention camps." Rantisi's article is in the same vein as the writings of Palestinian prime minister Abu Mazen, who wrote his PHD thesis and a book ("The Other Face: the Secret Connection Between the Nazis and the Zionist Movement," 1984) denying the truth of the Holocaust.

Dr. Al-Rantisi, one of the BBC's favorite interviewees, writes: "When we compare the Zionists to the Nazis, we insult the Nazis."

Interestingly, Dr. Al-Rantisi, also writes: "They [The Jews] have managed to present themselves to the world as the only victims of the Nazis." This is significant because several mainstream western media outlets have lately begun to significantly exaggerate the numbers of homosexuals and Roma (Gypsies) killed in the Holocaust. The New York Times, for example, has twice stated recently that "600,000" Gypsies died in the Holocaust. In fact the highest figure ever given by a serious historian is that "up to 220,000" Gypsies died in the Holocaust. Some historians put the figure at around 100,000. (It is agreed that a total of 32,000 Gypsies died in concentration camps. What is uncertain is the exact figures of Gypsies killed during World War Two in other massacres. The recent efforts to treble the numbers of gypsies killed, which have now found their way into the New York Times, were begun by neo-Nazi groups in Germany in the 1980s, with the specific aim of showing that Jews had exaggerated their "share" of Nazi suffering - TG)

2. "Dresses with Star of David seized in RAK" (By Nassouh Nazzal, Gulf News, August 16, 2003). "A UAE national complained last week to the Ras Al Khaimah Municipality officials that the dress he bought for his wife had the Jewish Star of David on it. Naji Montasir said that he had bought the dress from a boutique in the Al Muaireed area, and that he did not notice it at the time. The dress was a gift for his wife. Even she did not initially notice it, but when she put it on their eight-year-old son recognised the star and told them about it. Montasir thereupon took the dress to the police and filed a complaint against the owner of the shop. Inspectors searched the shop and confiscated all the dresses bearing the symbol, to be destroyed later.."

3. "Romanian Jews recall "death trains," demand truth" (Reuters, August 14, 2003). [This is an update to two previous dispatches I sent on Romanian Holocaust denial.] "At 79, Leizer Finkelstein drinks his beer cold, likes to tell Jewish jokes and loves his wife of 50 years as much as on his wedding day. But when this tall, jovial man recounts the horrors of his youth, his eyes fill with tears and his voice breaks although about 60 years have passed since he survived fascist Romania's extermination of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

"One of the few living survivors of the death trains that killed thousands of Jews in the northeastern city of Iasi, Finkelstein bears witness to a tragic moment in the ex-communist country's past, one that its leaders seem to prefer to forget. Romania's fascist regime under Marshal Ion Antonescu allied with the Nazis and in a climate of rabid anti-Semitism exterminated over half the country's Jews.

"But as recently as in June Romania denied the Holocaust happened within its borders. A government statement that "no Holocaust took place in Romania" prompted the fury of Israel and condemnations from Jewish groups, pushing the country to at last begin to confront this chapter of its history."

"Iasi's once-flourishing Jewish community, which numbered over 50,000 and boasted 127 synagogues, was nearly wiped out. Today 480, mostly elderly Jews remain in Iasi and community officials say no birth has been recorded for over eight years.

"After the diplomatic incident with Israel, the ex-communist government announced measures, including declaring a Holocaust memorial day and expanding education on the issue."

4. "Right Idea, Wrong Holocaust Museum" (By Walter Reich, LA Times, August 18, 2003). "A visit by Abbas to Jerusalem's Yad Vashem, not D.C. institution, would be strong symbol instead of PR stunt. U.S. officials want Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to visit a Holocaust museum. They have the right idea but the wrong museum. The museum they have in mind is in Washington. The one to which he should go is in Jerusalem.

"Like Anwar Sadat's breakthrough trip to Jerusalem, such a visit would be a great act of statesmanship, courage and imagination. It would be a journey to the heart of the darkness that is central to Israel's nightmares. It would establish Abbas as a leader independent of Palestinian politics and taboos and independent of Arafat, and it would reveal the bravery of a man willing to risk attack at home and to do what few of us are ever willing to do: acknowledge that he was wrong. Most important, it could galvanize and reset the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation."

5. Extra Note -

Not only in the Arab world, but many in Europe remain in a state of complete denial about the Holocaust, not to mention contemporary anti-Semitism. For example, the Greek prime minister has refused to properly denounce the desecration earlier this month of the Synagogue of Ioannina, whose fifty worshippers are the final remnant of a community practically wiped out in Auschwitz in 1944. Swastikas, Greek crosses and antisemitic graffiti were placed on all four walls of the synagogue and several graves destroyed. This follows attacks on Holocaust memorials at Thessaloniki and Molos.

-- Tom Gross

 


FULL ARTICLES

HAMAS LEADER RANTISI: THE FALSE HOLOCAUST - THE GREATEST LIES FUNDED BY THE ZIONISTS

Hamas Leader Rantisi: The False Holocaust - The Greatest of Lies Funded by the Zionists
Special Dispatch - Palestinian/Arab Antisemitism No. 558
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
August 27, 2003

Dr. 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Rantisi, a top Hamas activist in the Gaza Strip, wrote an article titled "Which is Worse - Zionism or Nazism?" [1] for the Hamas weekly Al-Risala. The following are excerpts from the article:

The False Holocaust: The Greatest of Lies

"The Zionists, who excel at false propaganda and misleading media, have had phenomenal success in changing the facts. To do this, they relied on the rule of 'lie and lie until everyone believes you.' They have managed to present themselves to the world as the only victims of the Nazis, excelling at misleading until they turned the greatest of lies into historical truth. I do not mean that they have succeeded in misleading the West and making it believe in the false Holocaust, but that they succeeded in persuading the Western world of the need to market these lies. The West is convinced of this because its interests intersect with those of the Zionist enterprise.

"Many thinkers and historians have exposed the lies of the Zionists, thus becoming a target of Zionist persecution. Some have been assassinated, some arrested, and some are prevented from making a living. For example, Jewish associations and organizations have filed lawsuits against famous French philosopher Roger Garaudy, who in 1995 published his book 'The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics' in which he disproves the myth of the 'gas chambers,' saying, 'This idea is not technically possible. So far, no one has clarified how these false gas chambers worked, and what proof there is of their existence. Anyone with proof of their existence must show it.' British historian David Irving was also sued, while Austrian author Gerd Honsik was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment because he wrote a number of articles denying the existence of the gas chambers in the Nazi detention camps." [2]

The Nazis Received Over $100 Million from the Zionists

"It is no longer a secret that the Zionists were behind the Nazis' murder of many Jews, and agreed to it, with the aim of intimidating them [the Jews] and forcing them to immigrate to Palestine. Every time they failed to persuade a group of Jews to immigrate [to Palestine], they unhesitatingly sentenced [them] to death. Afterwards, they would organize great propaganda campaigns, to cash in on their blood.

"The Nazis received tremendous financial aid from the Zionist banks and monopolies, and this contributed to their rise to power. In 1929, the Nazis received $10 million from Mendelssohn and Company, the Zionist bank in Amsterdam. In 1931, they received $15 million, and after Hitler rose to power in 1933, they received $126 million.

"There is no doubt that this great financial aid helped the Nazis build the military and economic force it needed to destroy Europe and annihilate millions. [Former World Jewish Congress president] Nahum Goldmann wrote these words in his autobiography.

"The German researcher Prof. Frederick Toben [3] believes there was no animosity between the Nazis and the Jews, whether politically, ideologically, or philosophically. He said, 'There is no historical scientific evidence proving such [animosity]. On the contrary - there is proof of collaboration between the Jews and the Nazis.'"

Comparing Zionism and Nazism Insults the Nazis

"While the world has realized that the Zionists, with the support of the West, carried out the most abhorrent massacres against the helpless Palestinian people in order to expel them from their homeland; while the Palestinian people still lives out the tragedy and catastrophe of the Jews' occupation of Palestine in 1948, of the expulsion of our helpless people, and of their being prevented from returning to their cities and towns; and while the Zionists still use against our Palestinian people various methods of terror unknown in history, even in its darkest eras - the Zionists present themselves as victims of the Palestinian 'terror!'

"When we compare the Zionists to the Nazis, we insult the Nazis - despite the abhorrent terror they carried out, which we cannot but condemn. The crimes perpetrated by the Nazis against humanity, with all their atrocities, are no more than a tiny particle compared to the Zionists' terror against the Palestinian people. While disagreement proliferates about the veracity of the Zionist charges regarding the Nazis' deeds, no one denies the abhorrent Zionist crimes, some of which camera lenses have managed to document.

"The entire world witnessed the assassination of the Palestinian boy Muhammad Al-Dura . [but] the cameras that immortalized this sight failed to immortalize similar sights, of some 1,000 Palestinian children murdered in cold blood by the Jews. The world has seen the Zionists pulverizing the bones of Palestinian boys with a stone as they shrieked in pain, to carry out the orders of Rabin and Sharon. and there are thousands whose bones were pulverized, but the cameras ignored them.

"One of the Zionist murderers expressed his feelings by saying, 'I enjoy hearing the cries of the Palestinian children groaning from under the heaps [of rubble] of the houses destroyed over their heads.'

"The Zionists have specialized in torturing the relatives of Shahids and prisoners. How often have they killed a boy before the eyes of his parents.

"It is impossible to conduct a [full] count of the crimes of Zionism in [a single] article. We have mentioned some of their crimes - which, had they been attributed to Nazism - would have greatly insulted the Nazis."

Footnotes:

[1] Al-Risala, August 21, 2003.

[2] Gerd Honsik has numerous convictions in Austria and Germany for his actions and publications, including his 1988 book 'Freispruch far Hitler? 36 ungehoerte Zeugen wider die Gaskammer' [Acquittal for Hitler? 36 Unheard Witnesses Versus the Gas Chamber] and Nationalist Socialist reactivation activity. In 1992 Honsik fled to Spain. www2.ca.nizkor.org/hweb/people/f/funke-hajo/Irving-09.02.shtml For more details see translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://www.idgr.de/lexikon/bio/h/honsik-gerd/honsik.html&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522Gerd%2BHonsik%2522%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26oe%3DUTF-8

[3] German-born Frederick Toben has lived in Australia for most of his life and is an Australian citizen. In 1999, German courts sentenced him to 10 months in prison for distributing leaflets in Germany stating that the Holocaust never happened, and for maintaining a website claiming the same. www.newsfactor.com/perl/story/6063.html. For more details see www.nswscl.org.au/journal/50/Seeto.html.

 

DRESSES WITH STAR OF DAVID SEIZED IN RAK

Dresses with Star of David seized in RAK
Ras Al Khaimah
By Nassouh Nazzal, Staff Reporter
Gulf News
August 16, 2003

A UAE national complained last week to the Ras Al Khaimah Municipality officials that the dress he bought for his wife had the Jewish Star of David on it. Naji Montasir said that he had bought the dress from a boutique in the Al Muaireed area, and that he did not notice it at the time.

The dress was a gift for his wife. Even she did not initially notice it, but when she put it on their eight-year-old son recognised the star and told them about it. Montasir thereupon took the dress to the police and filed a complaint against the owner of the shop. He added that the police directed him to the municipality, which is responsible for inspecting the markets. Montasir filed a case here as well. Inspectors searched the shop and confiscated all the dresses bearing the symbol, to be destroyed later.

Mubarak Ali Al Shamsi, Director General of the municipality, meanwhile pointed out that the UAE has official bodies to monitor the entry points at the ports and airports. They are given clear instructions not to let Israeli goods in the country, he noted. He added these goods do not penetrate the UAE markets from Israel directly, but pass through some other third-party countries. Whenever these products enter the UAE, the authorities here try to seize and destroy them, the official noted. However, he clarified that the owner of the shop selling these dresses will not be punished as he has nothing to do with it.

Al Shamsi also urged the public to report such violations at the municipality to keep the country free of Israeli products.

 

ROMANIAN JEWS RECALL "DEATH TRAINS," DEMAND TRUTH

Romanian Jews recall "death trains," demand truth
By Dina Kyriakidou
Reuters
August 14, 2003

At 79, Leizer Finkelstein drinks his beer cold, likes to tell Jewish jokes and loves his wife of 50 years as much as on his wedding day.

But when this tall, jovial man recounts the horrors of his youth, his eyes fill with tears and his voice breaks although about 60 years have passed since he survived fascist Romania's extermination of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

"When I was 17 I took my first train ride and it was on a death train...to this day, I can see everything in my mind," he said. "Now I am drinking beer but back then I also drank urine."

One of the few living survivors of the death trains that killed thousands of Jews in the northeastern city of Iasi, Finkelstein bears witness to a tragic moment in the ex-communist country's past, one that its leaders seem to prefer to forget.

Romania's fascist regime under Marshal Ion Antonescu allied with the Nazis and in a climate of rabid anti-Semitism exterminated over half the country's Jews, often branding them communists who cooperated with the Soviet Union against Romania.

But as recently as in June Romania denied the Holocaust happened within its borders.

A government statement that "no Holocaust took place in Romania" prompted the fury of Israel and condemnations from Jewish groups, pushing the country to at last begin to confront this chapter of its history.

Finkelstein recalls a Sunday morning in June 1941 when Romanian soldiers raided Iasi's Jewish district, forcing his family at gunpoint out of their home and taking thousands of men to the police station yard where SS soldiers killed many with baseball bats.

The next day the rest were crammed on trains, 120 people to a wagon, the air vents nailed shut.

SURVIVOR REMEMBERS

They rode crushed against each other for most of the hot summer day at a snail's-pace around a 20 km (12 miles) radius, most suffocating from the heat, lack of air and water.

"Who had this idea, to make these gas chambers without fire and smoke, I can't imagine," Finkelstein told Reuters. "When somebody died and fell on your foot, you didn't have the strength to pull it out from under the body."

The 22 or 23 people who survived on his wagon were forced to dig mass graves for the dead in the fields outside the town of Podul Iloaiei, west of Iasi.

"Fathers discovered their sons and sons their fathers among the dead," he said. "We virtually threw the bodies into the graves. It was terrifying. They would bounce when thrown on top of each other as if they were still alive."

About 1,240 dead were accounted by the Jews who buried them at Podul Iloaiei alone. More than 10,000 Iasi Jews were murdered during the pogroms and on the death trains. Many more died in forced labour and concentration camps in the neighbouring Moldova region of Dnestr.

According to the Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust, from Romania's pre-war Jewish community of 750,000 about 420,000 perished, including more than 100,000 Jews of Transylvania -- then under Hungarian rule -- who were deported to Auschwitz.

Iasi's once-flourishing Jewish community, which numbered over 50,000 and boasted 127 synagogues, was nearly wiped out.

It was in this city of stately public buildings and tree-shaded boulevards that "Tevye the Milkman" and "The Witch" were performed by the world's first professional Yiddish theatre, founded in 1876.

COMMUNITY DWINDLES

Today 480, mostly elderly Jews remain in Iasi and community officials say no birth has been recorded for over eight years.

"More than 60 percent are over 60 and we have about 20 deaths a year," said the community's secretary, Boris Resch.

Most of those who survived the war fled during Romania's communist years to Israel and other countries.

"Some say the Jews brought communism to Romania but it was communism that drove Jews out of Romania," Resch told Reuters.

Professor Silviu Sanie, director of Iasi's small Jewish Museum inside the last functioning synagogue, said Romania owes its reluctance to deal with its past to Antonescu, still seen by many Romanians as a hero who fought off the Soviet army.

Antonescu joined Adolf Hitler in June 1941 and immediately unleashed the wrath of his fascist Iron Guard on Romania's Jews. Pogroms in Bucharest, Iasi and other towns left hundreds dead. He was later tried and executed as a war criminal but no other Romanian was ever brought to justice over the Holocaust.

In a bid to clean up its image ahead of winning NATO membership and joining the European Union, Romania has banned all fascist symbols, including statues of Antonescu.

But it has done little to uncover the truth about its role in the Holocaust. After the diplomatic incident with Israel, the ex-communist government announced measures, including declaring a Holocaust memorial day and expanding education on the issue.

For Finkelstein, telling the story of the death trains and labour camps is a noble mission and his one wish is for the government to tell the truth.

"It gives me no pleasure to tell this story but I thank God for giving me these years so I can tell it," he said. "This is what happened. You can't live in a lie. Every lie you tell, you twist the future."

 

RIGHT IDEA, WRONG HOLOCAUST MUSEUM

Right Idea, Wrong Holocaust Museum
By Walter Reich
LA Times
August 18, 2003

A visit by Abbas to Jerusalem's Yad Vashem, not D.C. institution, would be strong symbol instead of PR stunt.

U.S. officials want Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to visit a Holocaust museum. They have the right idea but the wrong museum. The museum they have in mind is in Washington. The one to which he should go is in Jerusalem.

Abbas wrote a book that distorted, denied or minimized core facts of Holocaust history. Were he to visit a Holocaust museum, he would have the opportunity to correct his assault on history and at least quell some of the Holocaust denial that's rampant in the Arab world.

But he would be able to accomplish that with seriousness and credibility not in Washington - where any such act would be seen as having been engineered by the American government to enhance Abbas' image - but at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, where it would truly be a courageous and galvanizing act of humanity and education.

The central argument of Abbas' 1984 book, "The Other Face: the Secret Connection Between the Nazis and the Zionist Movement," was that the Zionist movement was a partner in crime with the Nazis against the Jewish people. After the war, Abbas wrote, the Zionist movement inflated the number of Jews killed by the Germans to 6 million in order to arouse sympathy. The actual number, he suggested, might have been fewer than 1 million.

And regarding the gas chambers - which, Abbas wrote, "were supposedly designed for murdering Jews" - he refers his readers to "a scientific study" by the French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. Faurisson, Abbas points out, believes they were used "only for incinerating bodies, out of concern for the spread of disease and infection in the region."

Last April, after Abbas was designated as the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Tom Lantos, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress, knowing of Abbas' writings on the Holocaust, offered to guide him through the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

According to the congressman, Abbas accepted the offer. But in a letter to Lantos written just before his visit to Washington in July, the Palestinian prime minister said that his schedule would be too tight for a museum visit, adding that he looked forward to seeing it on his next trip to Washington.

Lantos should breathe a sigh of relief that Abbas didn't go through with the museum visit in Washington, which would have been hijacked in the service of political agendas. He should try, instead, to convince Abbas to drive a few miles from his home to Jerusalem's Yad Vashem.

The unsuitability of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for this kind of visit was made evident in 1998, while I was its director, when the State Department initiated an invitation for a visit by Yasser Arafat - a visit I opposed.

At the time, the State Department was encountering bumps in the path of the Oslo peace effort. The hope was that prominent press coverage of Arafat surveying exhibits on the Holocaust would induce American Jews - many of whom opposed the administration's policy of pressuring Israel for concessions because they distrusted Arafat - to see the Palestinian leader as a man who could feel their pain and therefore could be entrusted to protect the security of the Jewish state.

On the day of the planned visit, Arafat himself demonstrated its political essence. He called it off as soon as he learned there would be no press coverage. The Monica Lewinsky story had just broken, and the Washington press corps had decamped to the White House to cover it.

And now the administration is again focused on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and wants to convince skeptical Jews, in both the United States and Israel, that Abbas is not Arafat.

Were Abbas to visit the Holocaust museum in Washington, many Jews would see the visit as a diplomatic gimmick set up by the administration to manipulate their opinions and as an exploitation of the memory of their dead for political purposes. And Arabs would see it as a humiliating concession extorted from a weak Palestinian leader by a powerful America. The visit's potential to advance Holocaust education would be smothered by the reality and appearance of politics.

On the other hand, a visit by Abbas to Israel's own Holocaust museum would separate the gesture from diplomatic maneuverings by Washington. In the Arab world it would raise doubts about Holocaust denial; in Israel it would be seen as a genuine acknowledgment of the history and fears of Israelis.

Like Anwar Sadat's breakthrough trip to Jerusalem, such a visit would be a great act of statesmanship, courage and imagination. It would be a journey to the heart of the darkness that is central to Israel's nightmares. It would establish Abbas as a leader independent of Palestinian politics and taboos and independent of Arafat, and it would reveal the bravery of a man willing to risk attack at home and to do what few of us are ever willing to do: acknowledge that he was wrong. Most important, it could galvanize and reset the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation.

(Walter Reich, a professor of international affairs, ethics and human behavior at George Washington University, was director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum from 1995 to 1998.)


Arafat, the great con man of modern politics

August 22, 2003

I attach a review I wrote of a new biography of Yasser Arafat. It appears in today's Wall Street Journal -- Tom Gross


THE RELENTLESS CAREER OF A CONFIDENCE MAN

YASIR ARAFAT: A POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY

Book Reviewed:
Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography
By Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin
(Oxford, 354 pages, $27.50)

Reviewer: Tom Gross

The Relentless Career of a Confidence Man
By Tom Gross

The Wall Street Journal
August 22, 2003, Page W10, Weekend Arts Section

For More than four decades, since he founded Fatah in 1959 and then the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1964, Yasir Arafat has enjoyed the flattering glare of the international spotlight. Whole generations of generals and peace envoys, a half-dozen U.S. presidents and entire Arab regimes have come and gone, but Mr. Arafat has kept himself in power -- even as he has failed his people and pursued policies that have added to their distress. Other Arab leaders have long since stopped trusting him, taking it for granted that he will not honor the agreements he has signed. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak once referred to him, in the presence of Secretary of State Warren Christopher, as "a son of a dog." Mr. Arafat is one of the inventors of modern terrorism and continues to instigate it to this day.

Despite this, a multitude of admirers and apologists in the West -- and even in Israel itself -- have been taken in by his pose of moderation, at least until recently. As a result, he has visited nearly every royal palace and presidential residence in Europe and was a guest of honor at the White House several times. He has even won the Nobel Peace Prize.

How did this happen? As Middle East scholar Barry Rubin and his journalist wife, Judith Colp Rubin, show in their admirable, impressively documented "Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography," he is one of the great con men of modern politics. Even those who know what a slippery character Mr. Arafat is may be surprised to learn from the Rubins' account just how deceitful he can be.

He claims to have been born in Jerusalem, for instance, but was in fact born in Cairo. He has told tales of single-handedly stopping an Israeli tank column in the 1948 war, though the evidence places him in Egypt at the time, far from the fighting. He has stated that he was an officer in the Egyptian army defending Port Said during the 1956 Suez war; the truth is that he was in Czechoslovakia, attending a Communist-sponsored student congress.

More broadly, he has alleged that there have been massacres of Palestinians where none have occurred. He has talked of PLO victories when it has suffered heavy losses. Some of his falsehoods in recent years have been utterly fantastic -- that there was never a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, that Ariel Sharon is planning to settle 500,000 Afghan Jews on the West Bank. But that hasn't stopped some journalists from taking them seriously.

Part of Mr. Arafat's success undoubtedly derives from the image he has cultivated. From early on he grasped the importance of public relations and developed personal trademarks that are now world-famous: the stubble beard; the headscarf carefully draped to resemble a map of Palestine (including the whole of Israel); the military uniform, which he has insisted on wearing even at peace-signing ceremonies, as if he had come straight from the battlefield. And Mr. Arafat knows how to turn on the charm. When an American journalist brought his little daughter to meet him last year in Ramallah (shortly after Arafat's Al Aqsa Brigades murdered several Israeli children), the Palestinian leader spent half the interview playing with her.

But beneath the apparent warmth is ruthlessness. Mr. Arafat has never hesitated to order violence or to encourage it, including violence between different Arab groups. He has worked on the assumption -- a correct one, as it turns out -- that while exasperated Arab leaders might wash their hands of him, the Americans whom he has so much reviled will step in to save him. This was as true in Beirut in 1982, when Mr. Arafat was allowed to flee to Tunis, as it was in April of last year, when Secretary of State Colin Powell rushed to Mr. Arafat's Ramallah compound to help pressure the encircling Israelis to back away from expelling him.

In general, experience has taught him that, far from marginalizing him -- as foreign leaders have repeatedly warned him it would -- terrorism pays. Already by November 1974, the PLO's record had included plane hijackings, letter bombs, the assassination of America's ambassador to the Sudan and of Jordan's prime minister, the Olympic Games massacre, the slaughter of 21 Israeli schoolchildren at Maalot and 52 Israelis -- mainly women and children -- in Kiryat Shmona. That was the month in which he was invited (by a vote of 105 countries to four) to address the United Nations General Assembly.

As for political tactics, the Rubins remind us, Mr. Arafat is often astute, positioning himself between competing Islamic, Marxist and nationalist Palestinian groupings. From as early as the 1950s he had contacts with both the KGB and the CIA. One of his closest allies was Saddam Hussein, yet Mr. Arafat was the first foreign leader to visit Tehran after Khomeini seized power in 1979. (He arranged for Khomeini's son to receive training at a PLO camp in Lebanon.) Even today, though the Western media talks of a "new Palestinian prime minister," Chairman Arafat retains control of almost all the key elements of power in the Palestinian political arena and security services.

But what has it all added up to? Misery, strife and murder, among much else, and stalemate. The Rubins, along with documenting his corruption and misrule, make clear how much Palestinians and Israelis alike have suffered from his refusal to entertain, with any sincerity, a two-state solution to the crisis in the Mideast. But then he may fear, with some reason, that ending the Palestine conflict will end the fawning attention of the world's elites and his grip on power.

* Mr. Gross is the former Jerusalem correspondent for the (London) Sunday Telegraph and the (New York) Daily News.

(Copyright (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)


A child goes to his grave

August 21, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "A child goes to his grave, one more victim of conflict" (Daily Telegraph, U.K., August 21, 2003)
2. "Suicide bomber's 'goodbye' to his children" (Daily Telegraph, U.K., August 21, 2003)
3. "DNA Tests Needed to Identify Jerusalem Bomb Dead" (Reuters, August 20, 2003)
4. "Al-Aqsa brigades highlight Palestinians' right to resist occupation" (By Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) August 21, 2003)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach four further articles relating to Tuesday's Jerusalem bus bomb, with summaries first:

1. "A child goes to his grave, one more victim of conflict" (Daily Telegraph, U.K., August 21, 2003). As the tiny bundle bearing the remains of 11-month-old Shmuel Zargari was lowered into the parched earth on a Jerusalem hillside the wails of grief swelled, overwhelming the chanted prayers. There were no parents or grandparents present, no friends and no other children – just two uncles and a brother among little more than 50 mourners who gathered to pay their last respects to the child who had not even seen his first birthday. Shmuel's mother Nava was bearing the child in her arms when he died. As he was laid to rest, she was in a hospital bed on the other side of Jerusalem, unable to pay her last respects. Her husband was still in a critical condition. Four of the five children killed were babies or toddlers.

2. "Suicide bomber's 'goodbye' to his children" (Daily Telegraph, U.K., August 21, 2003). The man who killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 100 when he blew himself up on a bus in Jerusalem was a married 29-year-old with two children. But before he went off to kill, Raed Abdel Misk, a religious scholar from the West Bank town of Hebron, and his Hamas and Islamic Jihad handlers recorded video footage of him holding his son and daughter in his arms. After strapping explosives to his body on Tuesday night, his mission left more than five children dead and injured 40 others.

3. "DNA Tests Needed to Identify Jerusalem Bomb Dead" (Reuters, August 20, 2003). Israeli pathologists used DNA tests and dental X-rays on Wednesday to identify the bodies of 18 people, including five children, killed in the Palestinian suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus. "You can imagine what a bombing like this does to the bodies of children," said Zelig Feiner, a volunteer from the Zaka group which helps collect and identify those killed in bombings. Funerals for the handful of dead already identified were scheduled, including a 22-year-old woman in her final month of pregnancy and an 11-month-old baby. One little girl had lost an eye, doctors said.

4. "Al-Aqsa brigades highlight Palestinians' right to resist occupation" (published by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) August 21, 2003). Al-Aqsa martyrs brigades, the military wing of Hamas, asserted Thursday that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves and resist occupation. (Some of the facts given in this report, should be treated skeptically, given the unreliability of KUNA.)

 


FULL ARTICLES

A CHILD GOES TO HIS GRAVE

A child goes to his grave, one more victim of conflict
Daily Telegraph, U.K.
August 21, 2003

As the tiny bundle bearing the remains of 11-month-old Shmuel Zargari was lowered into the parched earth on a Jerusalem hillside the wails of grief swelled, overwhelming the chanted prayers.

Just a few minutes earlier the baby, wrapped in a prayer shroud, was carried aloft up a steep flight of stone stairs on a piece of plywood, now put to use as an undignified stretcher for the dead toddler.

There were no parents or grandparents present, no friends and no other children - just two uncles and a brother among little more than 50 mourners who gathered to pay their last respects to the child who had not even seen his first birthday.

A small handwritten sign bore testament to the identity of one of the latest and youngest victims of this endless conflict. Shmuel's mother Nava was bearing the child in her arms when he died. She was travelling in the bus with her husband Yakov, a quiet and intense man who is studying in a religious school, when the suicide bomber struck.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox family rarely travel beyond their neighbourhood but on Tuesday night they had gone on a family outing to pray at the Wailing Wall, Judaism's holiest shrine. Five of the six children went along.

Just moments before the bomber struck, seven-year-old Esther had given up her seat for a pregnant woman who was later identified among the dead. The girl was in intensive care yesterday. The other children escaped with minor injuries. As her tiny brother was laid to rest, her mother was in a hospital bed on the other side of Jerusalem, unable to pay her last respects. Her husband was still in a critical condition.

By last night most of the 20 dead had been identified, among them a mother of 13 from New York. Pathologists were using DNA tests and dental records. Four of the five children killed were babies or toddlers.

 

SUICIDE BOMBER'S 'GOODBYE' TO HIS CHILDREN

Suicide bomber's 'goodbye' to his children
Daily Telegraph, U.K.
August 21, 2003

The man who killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 100 when he blew himself up on a bus in Jerusalem was a married 29-year-old with two children, illustrating the scale of the problem facing the Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Most suicide bombers recruited by militant leaders have been much younger, frequently in their late teens, with no dependents.

But before he went off to kill, Raed Abdel Misk, a religious scholar from the West Bank town of Hebron, and his Hamas and Islamic Jihad handlers recorded video footage of him holding his son and daughter in his arms.

After strapping explosives to his body on Tuesday night, his mission left five children dead and injured 40 others.

That such individuals are now prepared to volunteer for suicide attacks shows the power wielded over the Palestinians by the militant leaders that Mr Abbas has promised Israel he will bring under control.

Mr Abbas, whose appointment was supposed to be a catalyst for a renewed drive for peace in the Middle East, is now besieged on both sides.

The Israeli cabinet was last night set to approve a range of military actions against the militants in his territories.

At the same time, leaders of the Islamic radical groups issued thinly-veiled threats of a violent backlash should Mr Abbas take them on.

As he grappled with the biggest crisis since assuming office, and with the militants' ceasefire seemingly in tatters, even his own ranks appeared confused on how to proceed.

Mr Abbas ordered the arrest of the terrorists responsible for Tuesday's bombing but Ghassen Khatieb, the labour minister, told The Daily Telegraph it was "impossible to act" while Israel was still occupying all major West Bank towns except Bethlehem.

In Hebron, which is under Israeli control, 17 members of the bomber's family were arrested.

"I do not know how the Palestinian Authority can crack down on anything," Mr Khatieb said. "Yes, it should be done, but there are no Palestinian security services in Hebron and Israel is occupying the town. Can our forces move, can they use their arms? The answer is no."

The ceasefire, agreed upon between militant groups and the Palestinian Authority, was supposed to help ease the way for Mr Abbas to get the US-sponsored "road map" peace plan off the ground.

But critics said it was fundamentally flawed as it did not get Israel's commitment to stopping its targeted killing of militant leaders.

Blaming Israel for destroying the ceasefire, Khaled al Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank, also condemned Mr Abbas's decision to cut contact with militant Islamic groups, calling it "a crime against the national unity".

He said: "His decision will increase the tension in the Palestinian streets. If he starts fighting us, he will lose his political credibility. He told us he will not push things to the edge of the civil war, that he will not be the claws of the Israeli cat.

"If he decides to pressure us, our attacks will hit the heart of Tel Aviv and other cities. There will be a backlash on Israel."

Prior to the bombing, Palestinian and Israeli officers had been discussing how Palestinian forces would assume responsibility from Israel for policing two West Bank cities, continuing an exchange of control called for by the peace plan.

Israeli officials have expressed frustration toward the peace plan, which some said was endangering their security. Israeli officials noted that Israel had recently softened its own demands on the Palestinian leadership, insisting only that it supervise the people Israel considers terrorists and prevent them from committing new attacks, rather than putting them in jail.

Analysts say the coming days could make or break Mr Abbas.

Mr Khatieb fears that the faltering peace plan cannot move forward unless there is decisive international intervention, including international monitors on the ground to supervise the process.

He said: "Israel was dragged into the 'road map' by American pressure but Hamas has now given them the excuses they need not to fulfil their obligations by reacting to their provocations. At the moment the extremists are reinforcing each other."

 

DNA TESTS NEEDED TO IDENTIFY JERUSALEM BOMB DEAD

DNA Tests Needed to Identify Jerusalem Bomb Dead
Reuters
August 20, 2003

Israeli pathologists used DNA tests and dental X-rays on Wednesday to identify the bodies of 18 people, including five children, killed in the Palestinian suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus.

Four of the five children killed when the bomber blew himself up on a bus crowded with ultra-Orthodox families were babies or toddlers, according to medical officials.

Most of the passengers had been returning from prayers at Jerusalem's Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites. "We are having huge problems identifying them and we are doing DNA tests," said Zelig Feiner, a volunteer from the Zaka group which helps collect and identify those killed in bombings.

"You can imagine what a bombing like this does to the bodies of children," he told Reuters. Dozens of people, most of them ultra-Orthodox Jews, gathered at the Abu Kabir morgue in Tel Aviv to look for their loved ones, fearing the worst after fruitless searches of Jerusalem hospitals.

Funerals for the handful of dead already identified were scheduled for Wednesday, including a 22-year-old woman in her final month of pregnancy and an 11-month-old baby.

"It's one of the worst terrorist attacks both because of the large number of victims and the difficulty of identifying them and because among the victims are children," Professor Yehuda Hiss, Israel's chief pathologist, told Israel radio. Around 15 children hurt in the blast were still in hospital on Wednesday, suffering from wounds including head and lung injuries. One little girl had lost an eye, doctors said.

 

AL-AQSA BRIGADES HIGHLIGHT PALESTINIANS' RIGHT TO RESIST OCCUPATION

Al-Aqsa brigades highlight Palestinians' right to resist occupation
published by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
August 21, 2003

Al-Aqsa martyrs brigades, the military wing of Hamas, asserted Thursday that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves and resist occupation. The brigades said in a statement issued in Gaza that it warned against internal conflicts among Palestinians, based on the Israeli requests, forwarded by the U.S. President, to clamp down on Palestinian militants.

The statement asserted, that the current events show Israeli violations, including the killing of many militants, civilians and children, storming into cities and camps, bombing homes and many other violations all shown to the world, which was not criticised or condemned. It added, "Then we are faced with accusations when defending our land and ourselves".

The brigades called upon the Palestinian Authority to adopt resistance and Mujahideen as ways of protecting national unity.

Meanwhile, the Israeli radio announced the exchange of fire last night between Palestinian militants and occupying troops in a settlement west Khan Yunis. The radio quoted military sources as saying "a mortar shell fell near Israeli military areas in the settlement. The source said that Palestinian militants opened fire towards Israeli bases the settlement of Rafiah-yam southeast Gaza Strip.

Whereas Palestinian eyewitnesses said that occupying forces opened fire randomly towards residential homes in Rafah.

On the other hand, Israeli security bodies issued last night a list of Palestinian citizens wanted by the occupying force, accused of carrying out military mission against it.

Israeli media sources said that Israel transferred those names to the Palestinian security bodies, and requested their arrest. The list includes names of members of Fatah, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.


Hatred in the air: The BBC, Israel and anti-Semitism

August 20, 2003

BBC ASKS HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS WHY THEY HAVE “NOT LEARNT THEIR LESSON”

[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch should be read in conjunction with today's other dispatch, titled Orwell's Warning. The BBC is blind to its bias.

I attach a chapter from a new book published in Britain ("A new anti-Semitism. Debating Judeophobia in 21st-century Britain.")

This chapter, "Hatred In The Air: The BBC, Israel And Anti-Semitism," by Douglas Davis, is an unedited version supplied to me by the author, and differs slightly from that in the book.

As Davis points out: How does the BBC fill the gap during intervals of live broadcasts of the Proms? The problem did not stretch the imagination of the Radio 3 producer on the evenings of August 13 and August 20, 2002. The gap was filled by a recitation of poems that compared the acts of Israelis to those of the Nazis and asked Holocaust survivors why they had "not learnt their lesson."

[Tom Gross adds – The Proms are a jovial annual event at the end of the British summer during which classical favorites and tunes such as "Rule Brittania" and "Land of Hope and Glory" are sung by the audience to great fanfare and flag-waving at the Royal Albert Hall in London.]

Davis continues: It never occurred to me – a journalist – that I would ever apply the label "anti-Semitic" to a mainstream media organization; certainly not in the democratic world; most emphatically not in tolerant, multicultural Britain. But as a voracious consumer of news, that is the inescapable and professional conclusion I have reached after listening to, watching and participating in BBC coverage of the Middle East.

Davis gives many examples in his essay, below. More information on the BBC is available at www.bbcwatch.com. This includes British lawyer Trevor Asserson's report on the BBC coverage of the Israel-Palestine dispute, which I previously sent out on this list when it was released in December 2002. I would recommend reading it again to those journalists on this list, particularly in Britain, who are interested and have time.

-- Tom Gross



HATRED IN THE AIR: THE BBC, ISRAEL AND ANTI-SEMITISM

Hatred in the air: The BBC, Israel and Anti-Semitism
By Douglas Davis

How does the BBC fill the gap during intervals of live broadcasts of the Proms? The problem did not stretch the imagination of the Radio 3 producer on the evenings of August 13 and August 20, 2002. The gap was filled by a recitation of poems that compared the acts of Israelis to those of the Nazis and asked Holocaust survivors why they had "not learnt their lesson."

It never occurred to me – a journalist and an Israeli – that I would ever apply the label "anti-Semitic" to a mainstream media organization; certainly not in the democratic world; most emphatically not in tolerant, multicultural Britain. But as a voracious consumer of news, that is the inescapable and professional conclusion I have reached after listening to, watching and participating in BBC coverage of the Middle East.

My contention is based not only on poetry readings during intervals of the Proms, appalling though they were (on that occasion, the BBC took the rare step of responding to a complaint from the Board of Deputies of British Jews with an apology). [1] Rather, it is based on what I consider to be a systematic and systemic pattern of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist imbalance, bias and inaccuracy by the BBC over a protracted period of time, coupled with a seemingly obsessive focus on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I do not deny the BBC's right – the right of any news organization – to be critical of Israel. Criticism of politicians and political institutions is an integral part of the democratic process and our political discourse would be unthinkable without it. I have never shirked from criticizing a range of Israeli administrations and leaders, from Rabin and Peres to Netanyahu, Barak and Sharon, when I considered such criticism appropriate. Unlike the BBC, however, I have also been critical, when I considered it appropriate, of the Palestinian Authority chairman, Yasser Arafat, whose despotic rule has brought tragedy on Israel and impoverished the Palestinian people.

But the BBC's relentless, one-dimensional portrayal of Israel as a demonic, criminal state and Israelis as brutal oppressors responsible for all the ills of the region bears the hallmarks of a concerted campaign of vilification which, wittingly or not, has the effect of delegitimising Israel as the state of the Jews and pumping oxygen into a dark, old European hatred that dared not speak its name for the past half-century.

Official spokesmen for the Israeli Government, who generally have a sophisticated appreciation of the way the media function, prefer to adopt a policy of quiet diplomacy when they perceive patterns of imbalance and bias. But even the diplomatically savvy former press secretary at the Israeli Embassy in London, D.J. Schneeweiss, found the BBC's coverage too much to stomach. In a rare official letter of complaint, he detailed specific instances of imbalance and bias, while noting in general terms that, "across a range of BBC outlets, we have encountered what appears to be an almost system-wide failure to grasp key and salient aspects of the events on the ground, and a pronounced and clear tendency to presume the culpability of one side while ignoring the other's contribution to the escalation." [2]

A similar conclusion was reached independently by a senior British lawyer, Trevor Asserson, and his assistant, Elisheva Mironi, an Israeli lawyer who was awarded a masters degree in human rights law and media law by University College London. Asserson and Mironi monitored and analysed the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over a period of seven weeks, from November 12 to December 30, 2001, and concluded that "whilst some errors of judgement will inevitably occur, we detected a consistent trend which demands an explanation beyond mere error." [3]

In assessing the BBC's adherence to its own guidelines, particularly its obligations to impartiality and accuracy, they found that the cumulative effect of the breaches highlighted in their report indicate "a marked and consistent pro-Palestinian bias within the BBC".

"Some breaches are minor and would not be worthy of note in isolation," they stated. "Taken together, however, we believe that even these subtler or more minor breaches reveal a clear and significant trend of bias."

However, they added, "some of the breaches are in our view quite glaring. At times, by mere selection or omission of facts, the BBC provides a report which portrays the very opposite of the truth. Frequently, the BBC report is misleading. At times, it appears to invent material to suit its own bias."

I am not suggesting that the BBC is anti-Israel or anti-Zionist as a matter of stated policy. I do contend, however, that a powerful anti-Israel, anti-Zionist bias has become systemic; that it has become woven into the fabric of the BBC, and that it is now an indelible a part of the BBC corporate culture, as reflected in its output. When it comes to coverage of Israel, the BBC's customary pursuit of the impartial ideal is abandoned, exposing a blind hatred. Nor am I suggesting that the BBC is propagating anti-Semitism as a matter of deliberate policy. But anti-Semitism is the inevitable, inescapable byproduct of the relentless anti-Zionist and anti-Israel culture that has become intrinsic to the BBC's output.

With a reach that extends into almost every British home, I believe that the BBC is now the principal agent for injecting of anti-Semitism into the national bloodstream. And with a global reach through the World Service, the burgeoning BBC satellite television channels and the BBC website, it has the potential to become the most potent purveyor of anti-Semitism on an international scale.

Reasoned and reasonable criticism of Israel is perfectly legitimate. I am neither offended by it or equate such criticism with anti-Semitism. But I am profoundly uneasy when I encounter the sort of persistent, obsessive anti-Israel, anti-Zionist sentiment that has become the convenient refuge for many who feel constrained from openly ventilating their antipathy towards Jews. It is, moreover, the critical point of intersection not only for the far-left and the far-right within the conventional political spectrum, but also for radical elements among anti-globalisers, environmentalists, ecologists and animal rights activists, and, not least, Islamic extremists.

The late American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jnr was unequivocal in identifying the link in 1967: "Anti-Zionist is inherently anti-Semitic, and ever will be so... What is anti-Zionist? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the globe. It is discrimination against Jews... because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism." [4] More recently, the Israeli essayist Hillel Halkin declared bluntly: "The new anti-Israelism is nothing but the old anti-Semitism in disguise." He noted that, "one cannot be against Israel or Zionism, as opposed to this or that Israeli policy or Zionist position, without being anti-Semitic. Israel is the state of the Jews. Zionism is the belief that the Jews should have a state. To defame Israel is to defame the Jews. To wish it never existed, or would cease to exist, is to wish to destroy the Jews." [5]

The close correlation between relentless anti-Israel media reportage and manifestations of anti-Semitism in Britain is well documented. The daily demonisation of Israel and Israelis has a direct, quantifiable response in tangible anti-Semitic acts: in verbal and physical assaults, in the desecration of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. [6] And yet, when a deputy director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry suggested that BBC coverage had become "tinged with anti-Semitism," BBC correspondent Fergal Keane dismissed this as "contemptible" and "ludicrous." One British journalist was moved to remark that, "England seems to be a country where to accuse somebody of anti-Semitism is far more impolite than being one." [7]

The reason for the Foreign Ministry official's ire was the broadcast of a tendentious BBC Panorama programme entitled "The Accused," in which the presenter, Fergal Keane, suggested that Ariel Sharon, the democratically elected prime minister of Israel, should face a war crimes trial for the massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila camps by Christian Phalangists during the Lebanese civil war in 1982. [8]

While the programme was ostensibly a piece of investigative journalism, it was in reality the BBC's very own war crimes trial of Ariel Sharon; a trial in which the verdict had been reached even before the evidence had been heard. The BBC programme-makers were not distracted by the fact that the Phalangist militia chief who led the massacre, Eli Hobeika, was in fact a minister in the Lebanese goverment at the time the programme was aired. Nor were they apparently deterred by Ariel Sharon's own protestation of innocence: "Not for a moment did we imagine that they would do what they did." For Fergal Keane, the prime minister of Israel was "potentially... a war criminal."

It is inconceivable that the BBC would commit itself to a critical appraisal of Yasser Arafat, despite abundant evidence that he has been directly implicated in terrorism over recent years, as indeed he has been for more than thirty years. There has been barely a word of the rampant corruption within the Palestinian Authority; of the failure to create transparent political institutions and accountable economic structures; of the failure to halt incitement; of the terrorism that has been permitted to flourish; of the abuse of aid funds that have been used to promote hatred of Israel and Jews via the Palestinian television station and educational materials. The BBC was not moved to mount a serious investigation of Yasser Arafat even after the United States president, George W. Bush, refused to meet him, even after his departure from the political scene was deemed an essential pre-requisite to further negotiations.

This BBC double-standard was also evident in the run-up to the 2002 festive season when Jeremy Bowen, the former BBC's Middle East correspondent no less, presented a major documentary which examined the role of God in the biblical Moses story, no less. While Bowen was able to find scientific and historic corroboration for the event, the possibility of divine intervention was discounted. The biblical account of Moses and the Exodus was a "fanciful tale... the stuff of fairy tales" [9].

But the subtext of the documentary revealed an agenda that transcended pure inquiry into the origin of the Jews: "If the Hebrews never were in Egypt," Bowen intoned, "then perhaps the whole epic was a fiction, made up to give the Jewish people a history and a destiny." And while scientific evidence was found to explain the miracles that presaged the Exodus, the critical "burning bush" encounter of Moses and God – what Bowen described as "the religious justification for the State of Israel" – was airily dismissed as a matter of faith. Clearly not an event to be taken seriously.

I have no problem with a documentary that proposes scientific explanations for seemingly miraculous events, but I do object when I suspect that the purpose of the investigation is to delegitimise the fundamental basis of Judaism and undermine the claim of the Jewish people to national expression in its ancestral home. Once again, it inconceivable that the BBC would devote an hour-long, prime-time documentary to a critical investigation that served to delegitimise the Prophet Muhammed and undermine the basic tenets of Islam.

I have appeared on dozens of BBC news and current affairs programmes as an analyst, commentator and debater on events in the Middle East. I never ceased to wonder at the intensity of the BBC's coverage of the region. Nor have I ceased to be surprised by the robustness of its interviews with those who are invited to provide an "Israeli perspective", compared to the "soft" approach that is invariably adopted with Arab interview subjects. The first "question," for example, to a senior Palestinian official in a recent BBC television interview was (and I paraphrase): "We can't really expect Yasser Arafat to rein in the suicide bombers now that Israel has destroyed his security infrastructure, can we?" It bears mentioning that the BBC-2 "Newsnight" presenter Jeremy Paxman offers a rare and honourable exception to the supine approach of many of his colleagues when interviewing Palestinians.

Although the BBC had always been harshly critical of Israel – at times its coverage made me somewhat queasy – I defended its right to be critical. That was the democratic way. And besides, no one could accuse the Israeli media itself of being timorous. I contended that the Arab-Israeli conflict, anchored in a heady mixture of religious, territorial, political, social, economic and historical issues, presented an eye-crossing challenge to even the well-informed observer, let alone to the neophyte BBC reporter from London intent on establishing a reputation in this media-rich hot spot.

If I had been more candid, I would have agreed that attacking Israel is a cost-free exercise, whether the attack is directed against the prime minister of the state or the legitimacy of Judaism or the right of Jews to a national state. Such an approach in an Arab environment would almost certainly have the most painful personal and professional consequences for both the journalist and the media organization concerned. In Israel, there are no consequences. So while I defended the BBC, it was also a matter of increasing professional concern that I observed the BBC's persistently partial approach to coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Nothing – neither the most callous acts of terrorism nor the most carefully constructed arguments – seemed capable of budging the central "story line".

But for me, the BBC crossed the Rubicon on September 11, 2001, shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Within minutes, the BBC's favourite Arab commentator was being wheeled into the BBC television studios to declare that the event was most likely a Mossad operation because, in his bizarre view, no one had more to gain from such an attack than Israel. But even if Arabs and Muslims were shown to have perpetrated the attacks, he said, was it not obvious that America itself was the real culprit? After all, it was America that was pursuing a pro-Israel foreign policy; it was America that was ignoring the occupation and turning a blind eye to the settlements; it was America that was contemptuous of Arab sensibilities. Was it not the pro-Israel lobby that dominated policy-making in Washington? Was it not the United States that was guilty of double standards in supporting the insupportable Zionist state? Could there be any doubt about why Muslims hate America? Could anyone blame Arabs for wanting to vent their humiliation, frustration and rage at this one-sided American foreign policy?

Forget the apparently inconsequential fact that the then-Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, had only three months earlier offered to disgorge 97 per cent of the West Bank, grant the Palestinians a share in Jerusalem, permit a limited return of the refugees and recognise a sovereign, independent Palestinian state (which no previous ruler in the history of the area had ever done). Forget also that the Palestinian response to the offer was an armed uprising, using territory under exclusive Palestinian Authority control for launching acts of unspeakable terror against Israel's heartland. In the Newspeak of the BBC, a direct, causal link had been established between the attack on America and the occupation of the West Bank.

The inmates, it seemed, had taken over the asylum. Logic had been turned on its head. Disbelief had been suspended at Television Centre. More shocking than the repeated ventilation of the claim that America and Israel were the real culprits for September 11 was the fact that the fantasy went virtually unchallenged by the BBC's interviewers. In retrospect, I should not have been surprised or shocked that such mad conspiracy theories, like so many others from the Arab perspective, were quickly embraced within the BBC environment. It fitted the "story-line."

Did the BBC make a conscious policy decision to allow such arrant nonsense to take root on its airwaves? I doubt it. Rather, I believe such phenomena are a function of the profound anti-Israel, anti-Zionist bias that has become so ingrained in the BBC's culture that almost any calumny, no matter how fantastic, can be heaped unchallenged on the Jewish state.

When the BBC called later in the day to invite me to be interviewed, I declined. And I continued declining its invitations to participate in news and current affairs programmes. It seemed clear to me that the BBC agenda for the Twin Towers had been established, and a juicy package it was. Responsibility for the atrocity would belong to America and Israel, and the price would ultimately be paid in Israeli currency. My participation would not repudiate that objective; it would simply perpetuate it. And by extension, I reasoned, my appearance on any other programmes would simply serve as a cover for the BBC to continue propagating its distorted "story line" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I would no longer provide the excuse for "balance."

The BBC's reaction to September 11 crystallised and clarified the "story line" as no other single event: Israel had been born in sin, supposedly at the expense of the "original Palestinian inhabitants" (even though the emergence of Palestinian nationalism was, in fact, a direct response to Zionism). And Israel's continued existence remains a profound affront to the fine sensibilities of a Sixties generation which now occupies the high table of establishments like the BBC. It is a generation that was nurtured on virulent anti-Americanism, grown fat at the trough of anti-Vietnam demonstrations and wallows in post-colonial guilt.

Never mind that Israel is the only state born after the Second World War to have a thriving democratic and economic system; never mind that no other postwar state has had to contend with the same massive challenges its very existence. In the collective BBC worldview, Israel is the imperial outpost of power-crazed, oil-hungry America; a bastion of white, American hegemony in the Middle East; a proxy to be vilified; an illegitimate, artificial state to be trashed, just as the kids of the Sixties trashed their university campuses in a frenzy of anti-American violence. Could such a mindset have animated the BBC Director-General, Greg Dyke, to declare that the BBC was "hideously white"? Could it have animated the former Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain to advocate, in a previous incarnation, the violent destruction of Israel? "The present Zionist state," he wrote, "is by definition racist and will have to be dismantled." Such a task, he continued, "can be brought about in an orderly way through negotiation... or it will be brought about by force. The choice lies with the Israelis. They can recognise now that the tide of history is against their brand of greedy oppression, or they can dig in and invite a bloodbath." [10] Perhaps it is that the very success of Israel and the Zionist enterprise that gives greatest offence.

Melanie Phillips, in an account of her bruising encounter with a post-September 11 "Question Time" audience on the subject of her alleged "dual loyalties" (as a Briton and a Jew), noted that "the establishment... and in particular the BBC are dominated by the thinking of the New Left, the Marxist revisionism that that replaced the class struggle by the culture war." The New Left, she contended, "is characterised by an abiding hatred of Israel, America and a self-loathing about Western values. The result is that the British intellectual classes are an all-too willing conduit for anti-Jewish and anti-Israel poison and propaganda." [11]

The supposed bastardy of Israel's birth appears to justify the most egregious acts against it, as far as the BBC is concerned. For if Israel bears "original sin", an indelible stain that can never be removed, it must be innately evil, indefensible, entitled to neither sympathy nor understanding. Israel's very existence is an affront to the tolerant, multicultural BBC. In the view of the BBC, as expressed to me in scores of television interviews, Palestinian terrorism is invariably a response to a supposed prior Israeli misdeed, real or imagined. And if Islamic terrorism is ultimately a response to Israeli "provocation", it is Israel that must bear ultimate responsibility for all terrorism – even when the atrocities are perpetrated on Israeli streets against Israeli citizens. The symmetry of moral equivalence is established. The victim becomes the perpetrator. George Orwell would have enjoyed it. Columnist Andrew Sullivan observed presciently: "It is simply routine at this point to see 'balanced' news reports from the BBC... that morally equate the actions of Israeli self-defence with the deliberate murder of civilian Jews by Palestinian terrorists." [12]

Indeed, the very terminology of the BBC reporters has been massaged to suit the BBC agenda (and appease the Palestinians). Suicide bombers who target Israeli civilians for mass murder are no longer terrorists but "militants". Islamic extremists have been translated into "radicals". Killers of Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza are "gunmen". One can only speculate on when (not whether) the BBC will adopt the terminological preference of the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, and describe the headquarters of terrorist organisations in Damascus as Palestinian "press offices." [13]

The absurdity was not lost on the Conservative Party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, who denounced the BBC for offering "platitudes" to terrorists in its coverage of the Middle East and accused broadcasters of using "euphemisms such as 'radical' and 'militant'" to describe Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The BBC loftily and disingenuously denied the claims, insisting that it reported events in the Middle East "neutrally and impartially" [14].

Even more pernicious, however, is the appearance that the BBC itself has become part of the story and is playing a role in the conflict. Once again the press secretary at the Israeli Embassy in London, D.J. Schneeweiss, was moved to formally complain when he perceived the BBC to be "deliberately downplaying Palestinian celebrations" in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks." [15] Noting reports that the Palestinian Authority had threatened the life of an Associated Press photographer if images of Palestinian festivities were broadcast, he asserted that BBC reporters in Israel appear to have either "succumbed to similar intimidation" or to have unilaterally decided to "limit the damage to the Palestinian image abroad."

Schneeweiss asserted that the BBC's Jerusalem correspondent, Orla Guerin, "went to great lengths to put the pictures 'in context', and insisted that the celebratory pictures did not reflect the sentiments of the majority of Palestinians. This effort to guide viewers to a conclusion distinct from the pictures broadcast was repeated almost verbatim later on BBC News 24 by your correspondent Barbara Plett," he wrote.

"My question is whether these blatant and apparently co-ordinated attempts to guide the British audience away from making its own judgements about the pictures on their screens did not derive from the BBC's correspondents bowing to Palestinian pressure. If this is not the case, then it would appear that we have an equally grave situation in which the BBC's correspondents willfully and of their own accord see themselves as champions of the Palestinian cause, mobilising at a time of a [Palestinian public relations] crisis to limit the damage to the Palestinian image abroad."

A more crass example of the BBC's intrusive involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was provided by the Sunday Telegraph's former Middle East correspondent Tom Gross, who reported that "Fayad Abu Shamala, the BBC's Gaza correspondent for the past ten years, told a Hamas rally on May 6 [2001] that 'journalists and media organizations [are] waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people'... The best the BBC could do, in response to Israel's requests that they distance themselves from these remarks," wrote Gross, "was to issue a statement saying: 'Fayad's remarks were made in a private capacity. His reports have always matched the best standards of balance required by the BBC'." [16]

For eight months after Sept. 11, I refused scores of requests to appear on the BBC, and I kept my counsel. But private reluctance to treat with the BBC turned to public protest in May 2002 when I received a call from a researcher on the BBC's Radio Five Live Nicky Campbell programme inviting me to participate in a debate the following morning. The question to be debated, she told me sweetly, was whether Israel was "a morally repugnant society". By the end of the month I had ended my personal protest with a "J'accuse" published in the Spectator. [17]

The reason I refused – and continue to refuse – to appear on BBC news and current affairs programmes is not that I wish to avoid a debate, but rather that I believe the BBC has crossed a dangerous threshold. The volume, intensity and stridency of the unchallenged diatribe have transcended mere criticism of Israel. Hatred is in the air, and I am no longer prepared to play this game (even if, as one BBC researcher assured me, my interview fee far exceeded that of my Arab colleagues – an outrageous piece of racism that I, as an exile from apartheid South Africa, found repugnant).

On a professional level, I have a problem with the BBC's propensity to select, spin, manipulate and massage the news in order to reduce a highly complex conflict to a monochromatic, comic cut-out, whose well-worn script features the brutal, baby-eating Ariel Sharon and the plucky, bumbling, misunderstood Yasser Arafat, benign Father of Palestine in need of a little TLC (plus $50 million a month) from Europe.

But it was not just over the lamentable professional standards of journalism that I chose to part company with the BBC: its advocacy, by commission or omission, of the most extreme and most hysterical Palestinian conspiracy theories and calumnies had become intolerable. It is an advocacy that has, since September 11, transmogrified into a distorting hatred of a "criminal Israel" and contempt for Jews who support it.

It is astonishing that little more than half a century after the Holocaust, the BBC should provide the fertile seedbed for the return of "respectable" anti-Semitism which now finds expression not only in the smart salons of London but across the entire political spectrum. Equally astonishing, though no longer so surprising, is that the Oxford University poet Tom Paulin continues to be an honoured guest on the BBC's culture corner, "Late Review", even after he pierced the fragile anti-Israel/anti-Semitic membrane telling the Egyptian daily al-Ahram that Jewish settlers "should be shot dead. I think they are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them." [18] One can only guess at the BBC's reaction if his sentiments had been directed at Bradford Asians rather than at Israeli Jews.

I am prepared to debate the issues at any time. But I am not prepared to defend Israel's legitimacy and its right to exist, as Nicky Campbell's researcher suggested I do, just as I am not prepared to defend – to the BBC or anyone else – my own right to exist as a Jew and an Israeli. Such a proposition carries chilling echoes of a blood-rich Jewish history in Europe.

Israeli essayist Hillel Halkin, whose critique on anti-Semitism specifically includes the BBC, noted that, "Jewish leaders and friendly Jewish intellectuals have until now hesitated to raise the charge of anti-Semitism against persistently unfair criticism of Israel. They have not wanted to appear alarmist or whining. They have feared muddying the waters by stirring up an issue that seemed quiescent... They have questioned the idea that anti-Semitism is a 'cultural reservoir so powerful that it cannot be emptied [but] lies there irreversibly, latent at best, like a reservoir not of water but of gasoline waiting to burst into flame'. They – I – have been wrong. Israel is only the match. Fighting the flames means knowing where they come from. [19]

(Douglas Davis is the London Correspondent of the Jerusalem Post.)


1. "BBC upholds Board's poetry complaint". Press release of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. 4 October 2002

2. Letter to Greg Dyke, Director-General of the BBC, from D.J. Scheeweiss, 5 October 2000

3. "The BBC and the Middle East: A critical study", by Trevor Asserson and Elisheva Mironi, March 2002

4. "Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend", by Martin Luther King Jr. Saturday Review_XLVII. August 1967

5. "To be against Israel is to be against the Jews", by Hillel Halkin, Wall Street Journal, 5 February 2002

6. "A taste for Israel bashing", by Douglas Davis, The Jerusalem Post, 26 April 2002

7. "New Prejudices for Old: The Euro press and the Intifada", by Tom Gross, National Review, 1 November 2001

8. "The Accused", Panorama documentary presented by Fergal Keane, BBC-1 Television, 17 June 2001

9. "Moses", documentary presented by Jeremy Bowen, BBC-1 Television, 1 December 2002 (8 pm).

10. "Peter Hain: A man of conviction", by Douglas Davis, The Jerusalem Post, 6 August 1999.

11. "British Polite Society Has Found a Not-So-New Target", by Melanie Phillips. The Wall Street Journal (Europe), 15 December 2001

12. "Spreading the greater lie about Israel", by Andrew Sullivan, Sunday Times (London). 23 December 2001

13. "Assad describes Damascus terror HQs as 'press centers'", by Douglas Davis, The Jerusalem Post, 17 December 2002

14. "Tory leader attacks BBC coverage of Middle East", by Ben Russell, Independent, 10 December 2002

15. "Embassy in London blasts BBC reporting", by Douglas Davis, The Jerusalem Post, 20 September 2001

16. "New Prejudices for Old: The Euro press and the Intifada", by Tom Gross, National Review, 1 November 2001

17. "Why I won't talk to the BBC", by Douglas Davis, Spectator, 25 May 2002

18. "Oxford poet 'wants US Jews shot'", by Neil Tweedie, Daily Telegraph, 13 April 2002

19. "To be against Israel is to be against the Jews", by Hillel Halkin, Wall Street Journal, 5 February 2002


“Orwell’s warning: The BBC is blind to its bias”

THE MURDER OF CHILDREN BY A MOSQUE PREACHER

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to yesterday's dispatch "Many dead and maimed" in Jerusalem terror attack. Today's dispatch is divided into two parts for space reasons.

Even though the BBC repeatedly used the word "terror" and "terrorist" in relation to yesterday's Iraq bomb, as they did when reporting on the terror attack last week in Indonesia, only in Israel it seems does the BBC think there are no terrorists or terror.

Thus the BBC was yesterday describing those Jews who wish to pray on the Temple Mount (which is Judaism's holiest site, but not the holiest site of any other religion) as "militants," and those who carried out the bus bombing also as "militants," thus equating the actions and aims of the two groups.

This was despite the fact that yesterday's Jerusalem bus bomb left:

* At least 8 children and infants dead.

* More than 40 children injured.

* The majority of these children were under seven years of age.

* These include babies as young as one month old.

* The bomb was packed with specially sharpened nails in order to produce as much carnage as possible.

* Bodies were so burned and twisted that rescuers had to use blow torches to get some of the wounded out.

* The bodies are so badly damaged that so far only four have been identified. They include Shmuel Zargari, 11 months old, from Jerusalem, and Lilach Kardi, 22, from Netanya, who was 9 months pregnant and a mother of a one-year-old child.

* The bombing was carried out by a mosque preacher from Hebron, Raed Abdel-Hamed Mesk, 29.

* Mesk's wife Arij told reporters and Palestinians who came to pay their respects to the her after the attack. "God gave Raed something he always dreamed of. All of his life he dreamed of being a martyr," she said.

* The couple has two children, ages two and three.

* The last Jerusalem bombing occurred just over two months ago, when 17 people were killed on another city bus.

-- Tom Gross


SUMMARIES

“FAWLTY TOWERS”

I attach two articles on the BBC:

1. "Orwell's Warning. The BBC is blind to its own biases. (By Michael Gonzalez, The Wall Street Journal Europe, August 6, 2003)

Gonzalez, deputy editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, writes: "The BBC has been described as Orwellian, because of its unequaled role in shaping perceptions in Britain... But George Orwell also warned us about the dangers the BBC presents in other important ways... The BBC does many great things. Its non-news documentaries are excellent and its comedies – from "Fawlty Towers" through "Blackadder" to, most recently, "The Office" – are brilliant in a way that few American sitcoms dare to be.

"Still, it is important not to close one's eyes to what else the BBC has become, particularly since the corporation and its journalists are themselves blind to it. The BBC refuses to admit that... it has relentlessly pushed [its own] agenda [in relation to Iraq and Israel]... As Conrad Black, owner of the Telegraph newspapers, wrote in a letter in the July 26 Daily Telegraph: "The BBC is pathologically hostile to the government and official opposition, most British institutions, American policy in almost every field, Israel, moderation in Ireland, all Western religions, and most manifestations of the free market economy."

2. "The Disgrace of the BBC. Unfair, unbalanced, and afraid." (By Josh Chafetz, Weekly Standard, Edition of August 25, 2003). Chafetz, a graduate student in politics at Merton College, Oxford, writes: "Every year, every household in Britain with a color television set has to pay a licensing fee of approximately $187. The resulting $4.3 billion constitutes 90 percent of the annual $4.8 billion domestic broadcasting budget of the British Broadcasting Corporation... it doesn't matter if you think the Beeb hasn't produced anything worth watching since "Fawlty Towers" went off the air in 1979: You still have to pay.

"Of course, BBC spin usually comes in more subtle forms... And, as Christopher Hitchens noted in a perceptive Slate essay, you can no longer depend on BBC journalists even for proper pronunciation. The Beeb's announcers habitually mangle Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz's last name (pronounced exactly as it looks) to make it more Jewish-sounding: Vulfervitz.

"The BBC's current 10-year charter expires at the end of 2006, and a number of MPs are hinting that the terms of the charter will be significantly revised. A few radicals have even raised the idea of full privatization. In April, columnist Barbara Amiel joked in the Telegraph that "About the only thing in Saddam's favor was that you could get the death penalty for listening to the BBC." Ironically, it just might be the BBC's desire to prevent the death of Saddam's regime that results in the mighty Corporation's own downfall."



FULL ARTICLES

ORWELL’S WARNING

Orwell's Warning
The BBC is blind to its own biases.
By Michael Gonzalez
The Wall Street Journal Europe
August 6, 2003

http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110003844

The BBC has been described as Orwellian, because of its unequaled role in shaping perceptions in Britain. This is one reason the government of Tony Blair has taken the broadcaster to task over its biased coverage of the Iraq war and its aftermath. But George Orwell also warned us about the dangers the BBC presents in other important ways.

Orwell recognized that Britain's chattering classes have a suicidal habit of flirting with appeasement. Other great British thinkers have also seen this--not least those who, despite having a healthy mistrust of nationalism, realized that an elite estranged from feelings of patriotism represented a threat.

That the BBC has become the home to this elite today is a tough judgment to pass, and the BBC does many great things. Its non-news documentaries are excellent and its comedies – from "Fawlty Towers" through "Blackadder" to, most recently, "The Office" – are brilliant in a way that few American sitcoms dare to be.

Still, it is important not to close one's eyes to what else the BBC has become, particularly since the corporation and its journalists are themselves blind to it. The BBC refuses to admit that its coverage of the lead-up to war, of the conflict and its aftermath, has been tendentious; that it has relentlessly pushed the agenda that the war was wrong. The last straw was its claim that, against the wishes of the intelligence agencies, the government had inserted into a dossier on Iraq the assertion that Saddam Hussein had the ability to deploy weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes.

The BBC's Andrew Gilligan quoted a source – who turned out to be the scientist David Kelly – as criticizing the government. Kelly later refuted how his comments had been portrayed by Mr. Gilligan to a parliamentary committee. Then Kelly committed suicide. Now the BBC has to either admit that it misquoted a mourned scientist or call him a liar.

That's the scandal in a nutshell. What led to it is the BBC's all-out campaign to validate its world view. Because the mass graves and accounts of torture by Saddam's regime are too real, the BBC has grabbed onto the fact that WMDs have not yet been found to justify its animosity toward the liberation of Iraq. And this animus sprang from the consensus that the West is always wrong.

As Conrad Black, owner of the Telegraph newspapers, wrote in a letter in the July 26 Daily Telegraph: "The BBC is pathologically hostile to the government and official opposition, most British institutions, American policy in almost every field, Israel, moderation in Ireland, all Western religions, and most manifestations of the free market economy."

Lord Black added: "Though its best programming in non-political areas is distinguished, sadly it has become the greatest menace facing the country it was founded to serve and inform."

This is not hyperbole. The BBC can be a formidable foe. It has, in its own words, "the most widely watched national news bulletins in the UK." Thus when the BBC decides to manufacture a story, or ignore another, it forms reality for millions in Britain and world-wide. It gave a demonstration of its muscle July 25, when it ran (and ran) with a scoop that Mr. Blair's director of communications, Alastair Campbell, was about to quit because of the Kelly scandal. That dominated headlines for days.

Mr. Campbell is a powerful man, and his imminent departure would be news. But his resignation (still to be confirmed) also validated the BBC's position. Also news, however, was the fact that the same day as the Campbell scoop the BBC had changed its mind and requested that Parliament not reveal testimony Mr. Gilligan had given on the scandal. In telling contrast, the evening's bulletin did not report these facts.

Quite how the BBC's news department got to this juncture is difficult to parse. Journalists are overwhelmingly left of center to begin with. But there's more to it than that. BBC journalists are part of the self-appointed elite. In London, home of the global avant-garde, they imbibe the latest anti-Western ideologies and platitudes at the dinner parties where they sup.

No man was better than Orwell at diagnosing the ills that have led to the state of affairs that Lord Black so eloquently describes. In "Notes," Orwell wrote: "In societies such as ours, it is unusual for anyone describable as an intellectual to feel a very deep attachment to his own country. Public opinion – that is, the section of public opinion of which he as an intellectual is aware – will not allow him to do so. Most of the people surrounding him are skeptical and disaffected, and he may adopt the same attitude from imitativeness or sheer cowardice."

Through its declarations the BBC reveals itself to be unaware that some people think of it in this manner, let alone that it might be true. It is a testament to Britain's genius that time and again heroes have emerged from unlikely places to slay the nihilism of the intelligentsia. Whether there are any out there to battle with it today remains to be seen.

Mr. Gonzalez is deputy editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe.

 

THE DISGRACE OF THE BBC

The Disgrace of the BBC
Unfair, unbalanced, and afraid.
By Josh Chafetz
Weekly Standard
Edition of August 25, 2003

Oxford, England

Every year, every household in Britain with a color television set has to pay a licensing fee of approximately $187. The resulting $4.3 billion constitutes 90 percent of the annual $4.8 billion domestic broadcasting budget of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Inspectors from the TV Licensing Agency patrol neighborhoods using wireless detectors to attempt to pick up the "local oscillator" signal from a television in use. Anyone caught using a TV without a license is subject to a fine of up to $1,600. It doesn't matter if you watch TV once a month; it doesn't matter if you heartily disapprove of the BBC's editorial direction (or, indeed, its existence); it doesn't matter if you think the Beeb hasn't produced anything worth watching since "Fawlty Towers" went off the air in 1979: You still have to pay.

What do you get for your money? The typical American might think of "Masterpiece Theatre" and high-toned pronunciation. But that's only if you've missed the spectacle of the BBC's institutional meltdown this year, which is theater of a different sort and not nearly as edifying. The plot runs as follows: The BBC has accused Tony Blair's Labour government of dishonesty in making the case for war with Iraq. The government has accused the BBC of dishonesty in making the case against the government. The anonymous source for the key BBC report – a scientist employed by the Defense Ministry – has killed himself. And a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death is now under way in London, at the request of the government – roughly the equivalent of an independent counsel investigation.

The testimony so far has not been flattering to the BBC (or the government). Charges and countercharges of corruption fill the front pages of the papers. (Had TV cameras been allowed into the Royal Courts of Justice, where the witnesses are testifying, the BBC might have unwittingly produced and starred in a hugely popular reality TV show.) It turns out that what a captive audience gets from a media megalith with a government-enforced subsidy is exactly what a beginning student of economics would predict: The BBC may be arrogant, but it's also incompetent, not to mention surly and evasive when criticized.

The War in Iraq has left in its wake a string of embarrassments for the BBC that have many questioning its privileged status. Throughout the war, the BBC was consistently – and correctly – accused of antiwar bias. These accusations began almost as soon as the fighting did, when the BBC described the death of two Royal Air Force crew members, after their jet was accidentally downed by a U.S. Patriot missile, as the "worst possible news for the armed forces." On March 26 (less than a week into the fighting), Paul Adams, the BBC's own defense correspondent in Qatar, fired off a memo to his bosses: "I was gobsmacked to hear, in a set of headlines today, that the coalition was suffering 'significant casualties.' This is simply NOT TRUE." He went on to ask, "Who dreamed up the line that the coalition are achieving 'small victories at a very high price?' The truth is exactly the opposite. The gains are huge and costs still relatively low. This is real warfare, however one-sided, and losses are to be expected." Outside critics were even blunter: They revived the nickname "Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation," a coinage from the first Gulf War, when BBC broadcasts from the Iraqi capital were censored by Saddam's government without viewers' being notified.

"What makes the BBC's behavior particularly heinous," noted Douglas Davis, the London correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, "is the relentless indulgence of its penchant for what might be politely termed 'moral equivalence' at a time when Britain is at war with a brutal enemy and its servicemen are dying on the battlefield." Mark Damazer, the deputy director of BBC News, did nothing to dispel that kind of criticism when he said (in a speech to Media Workers Against the War, no less) that it would be a "mistake" for BBC journalists to use the word "liberate" when referring to areas now under coalition control. Stephen Whittle, the BBC's controller of editorial policy, piled on, telling his journalists to refer to the armed forces as "British troops" and not "our" troops.

While Damazer graciously admitted that the BBC "make[s] mistakes," most of those mistakes were distinctly unfriendly towards the coalition. For example, on April 3, after U.S. troops had taken control of the Baghdad airport, Andrew Gilligan (remember that name) reported on the BBC World Service and on the BBC website, "Within the last 90 minutes I've been at the airport. There is simply no truth in the claims that American troops are surrounding it. We could drive up to it quite easily. The airport is under full Iraqi control." That was Gilligan's story, and the BBC was sticking to it – until another correspondent pointed out that Gilligan was not, in fact, at the airport, but U.S. troops quite clearly were.

Two days later, on April 5, Gilligan reported, "I'm in the center of Baghdad, and I don't see anything. But then the Americans have a history of making these premature announcements." At roughly the same time, CNN was broadcasting pictures of the 3rd Infantry driving through the center of Baghdad. By April 11, even the intrepid Gilligan could no longer maintain that the coalition was not in control of Baghdad. So instead he argued that Baghdadis were experiencing their "first days of freedom in more fear than they have ever known before" – that is, that they felt less safe than they had under Saddam. The prime minister's office shot back, "Try telling that to people put in shredders or getting their tongues cut out."

But it's unfair to single out Gilligan: His colleagues were spinning just as egregiously. For instance, on May 15, John Kampfner filed a story in which he called the April 1 rescue of POW Jessica Lynch "one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived." The U.S. Special Forces troops who rescued her "knew that the Iraqi military had fled a day before they swooped on the hospital." The Pentagon, he claimed, "had been influenced by Hollywood producers of reality TV and action movies" to the extent that the troops had actually gone in firing blanks to make the rescue more dramatic on tape.

This should have struck any professional war correspondent as implausible, to say the least. As a U.S. official deadpanned to the Washington Times, the Navy SEALs who rescued Lynch "are not the type of guys who carry blanks." In fact, an investigation by NBC News found that "the so-called blanks were actually flash-bang grenades used to stun and frighten hospital workers and potential resistance." Hospital workers also told NBC that the Iraqi military had used the basement of the hospital as a headquarters, and that top brass had left only six hours before the raid. And while there was no fighting inside the hospital, there was a firefight between soldiers guarding the hospital perimeter and Iraqi paramilitaries.

Of course, BBC spin usually comes in more subtle forms. The use of scare quotes on the BBC website, for example, often betrays a remarkable contempt for the coalition. When Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed by U.S. troops last month, the website blared, "Saddam sons 'dead'" and "Iraq 'deaths' will have huge effect." The next day, having come to terms with the fact of these deaths, the BBC moved on to questioning their value: "U.S. celebrates 'good' Iraq news." And, as Christopher Hitchens noted in a perceptive Slate essay, you can no longer depend on BBC journalists even for proper pronunciation. The Beeb's announcers habitually mangle Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz's last name (pronounced exactly as it looks) to make it more Jewish-sounding: Vulfervitz.

Hitchens isn't the only one who has noticed something not quite kosher in the BBC's treatment of Jews. The Israeli government, responding to a persistent demonization which it says "verges on the anti-Semitic" – including a documentary which erroneously claimed that the Israeli army uses nerve gas on the Palestinians – recently announced that it would no longer cooperate with the BBC in any way. Israel does not impose similar sanctions on any other news organization.

In the midst of all this controversy, Greg Dyke, the director-general of the BBC, took time to, yes, criticize the American media. "Personally, I was shocked while in the United States by how unquestioning the broadcast news media was during this war," he told a University of London audience. The fragmented American television industry, he said, has made the White House and the Pentagon "all-powerful with no news operation strong enough or brave enough to stand up against it." What a contrast to the bravery of the BBC! But as sometime BBC commentator Janet Daley wrote in the Telegraph, "BBC staff often say proudly that it is their responsibility to oppose whatever government is in power. Well, actually, it isn't... Examination and analysis are the business of tax-funded journalism. Opposition is the business of mandated politicians."

But all of the BBC's chutzpah, all of its spinning, all of its slant are small beer by comparison with the scandal currently engulfing the Corporation. And for that, we come back to Andrew Gilligan. Last September, the Blair government published a 50-page dossier setting out the case for regime change in Iraq. Among the more striking claims was that some Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could be launched within 45 minutes of an order to do so. In the aftermath of the war, it now appears that this claim was mistaken. But the BBC has alleged something more sinister than an innocent mistake.

On May 29 of this year, Andrew Gilligan reported on BBC Radio 4's "Today" program that "a British official who was involved in the preparation of the dossier" told him the 45-minute claim "was included in the dossier against our wishes" at the behest of the prime minister's office, in order to make the dossier "sexier." Gilligan quoted his source as saying that, "Most people in intelligence were unhappy with the dossier because it didn't reflect the considered view they were putting forward." The government was not asked for a comment before the report ran. Three days later, in an article in the Mail on Sunday, Gilligan named Alastair Campbell, Blair's director of communications (and never one of the more popular people in London) as the official who ordered the dossier "sexed-up."

Gilligan's report, unsurprisingly, caused a splash, prompting furious denials from the government and the intelligence agencies, the launch of an investigation by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, and a frenzied hunt for the mole. The accusation was repeated numerous times in the subsequent weeks, with other BBC journalists citing Gilligan's "intelligence source." Gilligan was summoned to testify before the Foreign Affairs Committee on June 19. In that testimony, he gave a few details of his May 22 lunch with his source, whom he described as "one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier." On June 25, Campbell testified before the committee. He denied Gilligan's claims and demanded an apology from the BBC.

On June 30, Dr. David Kelly – a microbiologist, expert in chemical and biological warfare, former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, and adviser to the British Defense Ministry and Foreign Office – read the transcript of Gilligan's testimony. He had lunched with Andrew Gilligan on May 22, and he recognized parts of their conversation in Gilligan's testimony. But other details perplexed him. He wrote a memo to his line manager at the Ministry of Defense, saying that he had met with Gilligan to discuss his experiences in Iraq, not the government's dossier. He "did not even consider" that he could have been Gilligan's source until a colleague pointed out that some of the things Gilligan's source told him sounded like things Kelly regularly said. But, Kelly's memo continued, "the description of that meeting in small part matches my interaction with him, especially my personal evaluation of Iraq's capability, but the overall character is quite different. I can only conclude one of three things. Gilligan has considerably embellished my meeting with him; he has met other individuals who truly were intimately associated with the dossier; or he has assembled comments from both multiple direct and indirect sources for his articles."

Kelly was summoned for meetings with his line manager and the Ministry of Defense's personnel director on July 4 and 7. He gave them his account of what had been discussed at his lunch with Gilligan, and he was told that he had broken Civil Service rules by having an unauthorized meeting with a journalist, but that he would not be formally disciplined. At the second meeting, he was told that a statement would be released announcing that a civil servant had met with Gilligan. Although he would not be named in the statement, Kelly was warned that his name might come out, as there were so few specialists in his field.

Meanwhile, the BBC's Board of Governors released a statement standing behind Gilligan's report. It noted that, although its producers' guidelines "say that the BBC should be reluctant to broadcast stories based on a single source, and warn about the dangers of using anonymous sources, they clearly allow for this to be done in exceptional circumstances. Stories based on senior intelligence sources are a case in point." The statement also defended the BBC's overall coverage of the war, calling it "entirely impartial," and demanding that Campbell withdraw allegations of bias.

On July 7, the same day that Dr. Kelly had his second meeting with his supervisors, the Foreign Affairs Committee cleared Blair spokesman Alastair Campbell of "sexing-up" the dossier, although it found that the 45-minute claim was given undue prominence. The next day, Geoff Hoon, the defense minister, wrote to Gavyn Davies, the BBC chairman, enclosing a copy of the statement that his office would release later in the day, saying that a civil servant had come forward as Gilligan's source. Hoon offered to tell Davies the name on the condition that Davies agree in advance to confirm or deny whether the named civil servant was, indeed, Gilligan's source. Davies refused the offer.

The Defense Ministry released the statement, contradicting the BBC Board's claim that it had relied on "senior intelligence sources" in accusing the government. Gilligan's source, said the ministry statement, was "an expert on WMD who has advised ministers on WMD and whose contribution to the Dossier of September 2002 was to contribute towards drafts of historical accounts of UN inspections. He is not 'one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier.' He is not a member of the Intelligence Services or the Defence Intelligence Staff." The statement also noted that the civil servant in question had explained to Gilligan that "he was not involved in the process of drawing up the intelligence parts of the Dossier."

The BBC then issued a statement claiming that the "description of the individual contained in the [Ministry of Defense] statement does not match Mr. Gilligan's source in some important ways... Mr. Gilligan's source does not work in the Ministry of Defense."

Based on the information in the Defense Ministry's statement, a number of reporters came up with Dr. Kelly's name, and the ministry confirmed that he was the one who had come forward. This was widely reported in the newspapers on July 10. The same day, Davies wrote to Hoon, "The BBC will not be making any more comments about, or responding to any claims concerning the identity of Andrew Gilligan's source."

Both the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee requested that Dr. Kelly testify before them. On July 15, he testified before the Foreign Affairs Committee. He told them that his involvement in the dossier was limited to writing a historical account of U.N. inspections in Iraq and of Iraq's pattern of concealment and deception. Because he had not, to the best of his recollection, said many of the things that Gilligan attributed to his source, Kelly told the committee that he did not believe he was the main source for Gilligan's story. The next day, he testified in a closed session before the Intelligence and Security Committee.

On July 17, Gilligan was recalled to give testimony before a closed session of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Following the testimony, committee chairman Donald Anderson publicly called Gilligan "an unsatisfactory witness." Later, the committee would agree to publish Gilligan's testimony, only to reverse that decision after Gavyn Davies, the BBC chairman, argued that publication might adversely affect Gilligan's health (Gilligan was "stressed," according to Davies). But the truth will out, and the transcript was soon leaked to the Guardian (the committee finally got around to releasing it officially on August 12).

The transcript is not pretty. Gilligan bobs and weaves to evade responsibility, saying things like, "I have never said in respect of the insertion of the 45-minute claim that Mr. Campbell inserted it. I simply quoted the words of my source." The displeasure with Gilligan was bipartisan, with Tory MP John Stanley asking for a "very full and frank apology to this committee for having, in my view, grievously misled this committee," and Labour MP Eric Illsley going even further: "You have misled the whole world, let alone this committee."

Later that same day, David Kelly went for a walk in the woods near his Oxfordshire home and slit his left wrist. He was found dead the following morning.

The next day, the government announced that an investigation into the affair would be conducted by Lord Hutton, one of Britain's most senior and respected judges. The BBC finally acknowledged on July 20 that Dr. Kelly had been Gilligan's source, adding, "The BBC believes we accurately interpreted and reported the factual information obtained by us during interviews with Dr. Kelly."

With the Hutton inquiry now ongoing, there are at least three major questions facing the BBC. First, and most obviously, did Kelly say what Gilligan claims he said? The BBC put out word that Kelly had similar conversations with two other BBC journalists, Gavin Hewitt and Susan Watts. But the reports filed by Hewitt and Watts are much closer to what the Foreign Affairs Committee eventually concluded – that the prime minister's office was guilty, at worst, of overemphasizing certain intelligence – than they are to Gilligan's claim that intelligence was included in the dossier "against [the] wishes" of the intelligence agencies.

In the most dramatic testimony so far, Susan Watts last Wednesday told the Hutton inquiry that Dr. Kelly "certainly did not say [to her] the 45-minutes claim was inserted by Alastair Campbell or by anyone else in government." More disturbingly, she told the inquiry that she had hired her own attorney because she "felt under some considerable pressure from the BBC" to "help corroborate Andrew Gilligan's allegations." She continued, "I felt the BBC was trying to mold my stories so they reached the same conclusions [as Gilligan]... which I felt was misguided and false."

Second, why was Kelly persistently misidentified? Gilligan called him a "British official who was involved in the preparation of the dossier," which was misleading, as Kelly was not involved in the preparation of that part of the dossier that Gilligan went on to discuss. Other BBC journalists then referred to Kelly as an "intelligence source," which he was not, and the BBC Board of Governors called him a "senior intelligence source," which he emphatically was not. The BBC then issued a bald-faced lie when it claimed that the Defense Ministry's description of Kelly did not match Gilligan's source and that Gilligan's source did not work at the Ministry.

Finally, even if Gilligan did correctly report Kelly's claims, why was such an explosive story run based on a single, incorrectly identified, anonymous source, without giving the government a chance to comment? Would a story with such flimsy sourcing have seen the light of day had it not so conveniently buttressed the BBC's ideological biases?

Since Kelly's death, the BBC's approach has been to avoid answering such questions by going on the offensive against its critics. Most disgracefully, John Kampfner – the same BBC reporter who filed the bogus story about Jessica Lynch's rescuers shooting blanks – took to the New Statesman to hint that Kelly may not have committed suicide. (Another article in the same issue of the same magazine speculates on who might have wanted Kelly dead.) Meanwhile, BBC chairman Gavyn Davies penned an op-ed for the Telegraph arguing that "it would have been profoundly wrong for BBC journalists to have suppressed their stories" and lauding his organization for upholding "its traditional attachment to impartiality and the truth under almost intolerable pressures" during and after the war.

Of course, not everyone is certain that the BBC has ever had an "attachment to impartiality and the truth" (the Ministry of Truth in "1984" was partly inspired by George Orwell's wartime experiences working for the BBC). But even many who were previously inclined to show deference to the BBC are now losing that faith: A recent poll found that public confidence in the BBC has fallen by a third in the last nine months, and another poll found that 51 percent of Britons trust TV and radio news less now than they did a year ago. The BBC's current 10-year charter expires at the end of 2006, and a number of MPs are hinting that the terms of the charter will be significantly revised. A few radicals have even raised the idea of full privatization.

In April, columnist Barbara Amiel joked in the Telegraph that "About the only thing in Saddam's favor was that you could get the death penalty for listening to the BBC." Ironically, it just might be the BBC's desire to prevent the death of Saddam's regime that results in the mighty Corporation's own downfall.

(Josh Chafetz is a graduate student in politics at Merton College, Oxford)


“Many dead and maimed” in Jerusalem terror attack

August 19, 2003

[Note by Tom Gross]

As a general rule, I don't send details every time there is a terror attack in Israel, because usually these are carried by the general media.

Because of the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, many media are not covering the massive suicide terror attack on a packed Jerusalem bus today.

An unspecified number of people were killed and dozens were wounded, including many young children, in the explosion on the number 2 Egged bus in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood of downtown Jerusalem. It was carrying several ultra-orthodox Jews on their way to pray at the Western Wall. Many children are among the victims.

Both the international media and UN officials are freely and repeatedly using the terms "terror", "terrorist", and "a criminal act" in relation to the UN bomb, but are NOT using these terms for the Jerusalem bus bomb even though this bomb, unlike the Baghdad one, targeted civilians. Indeed CNN anchors have already called this a "tit-for-tat" attack -- as though Israel or Israelis have ever deliberately targeted a bus full of Palestinian civilians.

As a reminder, there is meant to be a "hudna" (ceasefire) in place, but in fact it has been violated on a daily basis by various Palestinian terror groups, including Abu Mazen's own Fatah faction. During his months as prime minister, Abu Mazen has done nothing to disarm terror groups, as required by the first stage of the Road Map which he signed to great fanfare. The international media (obsessed with things that aren't in the Road Map, like pressuring Israel to release more Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails) has done virtually no reporting on this failure by the Palestinian Authority, and virtually no foreign government has exerted pressure on Abu Mazen, even those governments in Europe and elsewhere that profess to be interested in promoting peace and a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.

I also attach one article about the killing by Yasser Arafat's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade of one of its own today. No doubt the New York Times will add it to their number count of "Palestinians killed by Israel" -- as they have done with such killings in the past.

-- Tom Gross

 


AL-AQSA MARTYRS' BRIGADE MARTYRS ONE OF ITS OWN

Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade martyrs one of its own, seriously injures another
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
August 19, 2003

One Palestinian was killed and another seriously injured in an armed confrontation between rival Fatah gangs in Nablus Tuesday.

Sources in the city said all those involved in the firefight were members of Fatah's armed wing, Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

The sources said the clash erupted in the Nablus Casbah between a local gang and gunmen from the nearby Balata refugee camp. They said a young Fatah activist from Balata, known by his nickname al-Ishi, was shot dead during the clash.

Witnesses said the two sides used pistols, automatic rifles, homemade bombs and hand grenades.

Palestinian journalists in Nablus told The Jerusalem Post that the latest incident is in the frame of a power struggle between warring Fatah militants from Nablus and Balata refugee camp, a stronghold of disgruntled members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

One journalist said Tuesday's clash erupted following an apparent attempt by Fatah gunmen from Balata to kidnap a woman from Nablus. He added that residents of Nablus have been subjected over the past few months to a campaign of intimidation and terror waged by the Balata gang.

A Fatah leader in the city said the situation there was on the verge of explosion. "The situation is very dangerous and we need to put an end to the state of anarchy and lawlessness," he complained. "The city is run by armed gangsters who are terrorizing innocent civilians. We are living in a jungle."

Following the shootout in Nablus, armed gunmen from Balata kidnapped Naser al-Aloul, the brother of Nablus Governor Mahmoud al-Aloul, and where holding him in a secret location. The Balata men also set fire to a restaurant owned by another one of the governor's brothers.

The governor, who has frequently lashed out at the Balata gangsters, has been targeted on several occasions. Last month, two of his cars were set on fire.

Tuesday's incident is the latest in a series of shootings that have claimed the lives of at least 10 Palestinians over the past two and a half years.

On Saturday, masked gunmen shot and killed Shuaib Shakshir, a resident of the Nablus Casbah who worked in a furniture shop. Witnesses said Shakhshir was killed when he tried to prevent the gunmen from kidnapping his employer, Bashar al-Bizreh.

In a similar incident last month, a mother of three from Nablus was shot and killed by masked gunmen during a failed attempt to kidnap a Palestinian suspected of collaborating with Israel in the Rafidiyeh neighborhood.


Up to 1400 Arab journalists rally to defend Zayed Center

CONTENTS

1. “Zayed Centre rejects anti-Semitism charge” (Gulf News, Abu Dhabi, August 19, 2003)
2. “Following US, Jewish criticism: UAE closes Arab League’s prime think tank” (Al Bawaba, August 18, 2003)
3. “America – a pit of darkness with or without electricity” (Khilafah.com, August 19, 2003)


UAE CLOSES ARAB LEAGUE’S PRIME THINK TANK

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s dispatch UAE closes Zayed Center (‘Harvard and the Holocaust’ Follow-up) and should be read in conjunction with it.

I attach three items from the Arab media with summaries first:

1. “Zayed Centre rejects anti-Semitism charge” (Gulf News, Abu Dhabi, August 19, 2003). “The Zayed International Centre for Coordination and Follow-up (ZICCF) has strongly rejected accusations of being anti-American or anti-Semitic as pressure builds up to have its activities frozen. As pressure by Jewish organisations continued to build against the Abu Dhabi-based Centre which commenced operations in 1999, hundreds of Arab journalists expressed their sympathy and solidarity in joint letters sent to ZICCF this week. ZICCF officials said yesterday they had received solidarity signatures from more than 160 Arab journalists this week and expected the number to climb to 1,400 today.” (Please note that Yigal Carmon, who is mentioned in this article, is the head of Memri, as well as being a subscriber to this email list.)

2. “Following US, Jewish criticism: UAE closes Arab League’s prime think tank” (Al Bawaba, August 18, 2003). Unlike the article above, this piece from the moderate Arab publication Al bawaba, does at least cite some of the objectionable anti-Semitic statements by the Zayed Center of the kind I mentioned in my dispatch of yesterday, although Al bawaba still insists in putting the word antisemitism in quotes.

3. “America – a pit of darkness with or without electricity” (Khilafah.com, August 19, 2003). On an entirely separate note, I attach an item today from this Moslem website, for information purposes only. The author writes: “... For a tiny duration there was a minute degree of commonality between the plight of the Iraqis and those of NYC. In real terms their two predicaments were wholly dissimilar. Millions of Iraqis have been deprived of fuel, electricity and water for months. Under occupations there is also little or no prospect of this situation changing. The temperature in Iraq in August soared to 50C (122F). There is no respite or solace to be found in air-conditioning, fans and refrigeration.”



FULL ARTICLES

ZAYED CENTRE REJECTS ANTI-SEMITISM CHARGE

Zayed Centre rejects anti-Semitism charge
Abu Dhabi
By Nadim Kawach, Bureau Chief
Gulf News
August 19, 2003

The Zayed International Centre for Coordination and Follow-up (ZICCF) has strongly rejected accusations of being anti-American or anti-Semitic as pressure builds up to have its activities frozen.

As pressure by Jewish organisations in the United States and other countries continued to build against the Abu Dhabi-based Centre which commenced operations in 1999, hundreds of Arab journalists expressed their sympathy and solidarity in joint letters sent to ZICCF this week.

ZICCF officials said yesterday they had received solidarity signatures from more than 160 Arab journalists this week and expected the number to climb to 1,400 today.

"Pressure is building up against the Centre but support is also building up," said Mohammed Khalifa Al Murar, director general.

The signature letters, obtained by Gulf News yesterday, denounced what they described as a "systematic smear campaign by Zionist circles in the United States and Britain against the Zayed Centre because of its distinct cultural and civilised role."

"Such distinct activities have enabled the Centre through well-known scholars to influence the world in understanding the just cause of our nation, on top of which is the plight of the Palestinian people who have been expelled from their homes and lived in diaspora for more than 50 years," said the letters, sent by journalists from Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the U.S.

"We strongly condemn this unfair campaign and appeal for UAE President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, for Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the ZICCF, and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa to ensure the Centre continues playing this important role in defending our national causes. Resistance is not only by the gun as words are sometimes more effective… as evident in the campaign against ZICCF."

ZICCF was set up under a decree by Sheikh Zayed in line with a proposal by an Arab League symposium to create a regional mechanism to follow up and promote Arab causes abroad, and strengthen inter-Arab relations in political, economic, cultural and social fields.

The project was then endorsed by the Arab League Council which groups the foreign ministers of member states to become an affiliate of the Cairo-based League.

Since it was created, the Centre has hosted hundreds of Arab, Muslim and Western scholars and intellects who covered a wide range of issues, including economy, politics, defence, education, culture, security and other matters. The Centre has also organised scores of seminars and conferences on a variety of topics.

"The Centre is here to stay and it will," Murar said. "You should know that it is an Arab League organisation and it is up to the Arab League to decide on its fate… but I can tell you that it is a permanent issue on the agenda of the Foreign Ministers."

Bold views presented by those scholars who spoke out against injustice and oppression against the Palestinian people and criticised the countries which blindly support Israel have triggered a hostile campaign by Jewish organisations worldwide.

The campaign is spearheaded by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a Jewish organisation that monitors the Middle East and and other regions for any publications and activities it deems as anti-Semitic.

Last year, Colonel Yigal Carmon, the institute's president, went to U.S. Congress to complain about ZICCF and present allegations that it is fomenting anti-Semitic views. The institute, which has branches in Britain, Israel and other countries, has also issued several statements against ZICCF calling for its boycott and closure.

But ZICCF rebuffed such claims and asserted that it is against all terrorism and all forms of racism and hatred directed at any ethnic or religious group.

"First, the Zayed Centre reiterates that it does not condone, nor does it 'sponsor or distribute', anti-Semitic or anti-U.S. literature of any kind. On the contrary, the Zayed Centre unequivocally condemns and opposes all forms of racism and hatred directed at any ethnic, gender, religious, or national group, including anti-Semitism," it said.

"Second, the Zayed Centre does not engage in disseminating anti-American literature. Indeed, since its inception in 1999, the Centre has hosted numerous American speakers who have discussed the special bilateral relationship that binds the UAE and the U.S."

It said Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Vice President Al Gore, Secretary of State James Baker, the President's brother Neal Bush, CIA Director Admiral Stansfield Turner, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State Ed Djerejian and many American academics and diplomats are but a few of the illustrious list of mainstream speakers who have taken part in the lively and constructive dialogue for which the Centre has become widely known.

"The Zayed Centre does not harbour an anti-American attitude as claimed by MEMRI propaganda. On the contrary, American citizens and officials are among the Centre's most frequent visitors.

"Former Ambassador to the UAE Ted Kattouf has spoken twice at the Centre, so has the acting chief of mission who followed him in office. Although she has not yet spoken at ZICCF, current U.S. Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba has paid a courtesy visit to the Centre and met with its Executive Director.

"The Zayed Centre is not in the business of censoring questions raised by independent reporters during lectures nor pre-clearing answers given to these questions by guest speakers.

"As an independent, non-partisan, non-profitable organisation seeking to bridge the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, MEMRI should know that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right protected by many constitutions and international agreements and conventions. Difference of opinion in a free society does not justify censorship."

The statement said that since its founding, the Zayed Centre has hosted literally hundreds of guest speakers, including several heads of state and other prominent political, religious, academic, corporate, and social figures from various parts of the world.

"These speakers were given the opportunity to discuss issues of concern to them and to the world community in an environment characterised by total openness and intellectual freedom, as is the custom at all serious think tanks.

"The Centre's record in this regard speaks for itself. Any objective researcher may examine for himself or herself the substance of the Centre's more than 500 lecturers to ascertain for themselves that the Zayed Centre does not advocate an anti-American agenda, and, more importantly, does not condone any form of anti-Semitism or racism," it said.

"The mission of the Zayed Centre is clear and consistent with the vision of tolerance articulated by His Highness President Sheikh Zayed; and it remains committed to encourage free and open dialogue, without any constraints or restrictions, about serious issues that are vital to the region and to all of mankind."

 

FOLLOWING US, JEWISH CRITICISM: UAE CLOSES ARAB LEAGUE’S PRIME THINK TANK

Following US, Jewish criticism: UAE closes Arab League's prime think tank
Al Bawaba
August 18, 2003

The UAE is closing down a think-tank that Israel and Jewish bodies accused of promoting anti-Americanism and "anti-Semitism."

An official said the future of the Abu Dhabi-based Zayed International Center for Coordination and Follow-Up – named in honor of UAE President Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – will be up to its official sponsor, the Arab League. The UAE has funded and hosted the center since it opened in 1999, The Gulf News reported Monday.

"We are closing down the Zayed Center and ceasing its funding," the official added.

The think-tank was established with the aim of promoting Arab unity and has hosted such speakers as former US vice-president Al Gore and former US secretary of state James Baker.

The Zayed Center was hailed in recent years for its commitment to the environment and awarded cash prizes to renowned international figures, including former US president Carter.

However, the center also published claims that 9/11 attacks was a US plot, hosted a Saudi professor who alleged Jews used human blood to prepare "holiday pastries"; whose executive director said that "The truth is that the Jews are the enemies of all nations" and which released a press statement that declared "The Zionists are the ones who killed the Jews of Europe."

In the past, Mostafa Muhamed, the center's acting deputy director, has said it was neither anti-Semitic nor anti-American, but ready to listen to "any kind of views."

 

AMERICA – A PIT OF DARKNESS WITH OR WITHOUT ELECTRICITY

America – a pit of darkness with or without electricity
Khilafah.com
August 19, 2003

www.khilafah.com/home/category.php?DocumentID=8103&TagID=1

Much of northwest USA and southern Canada lost their bustle last week. 50 million people, of the major cities of New York, Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto, were plunged into darkness during a blackout. Traffic lights failed, lifts stopped dead and commuter trains came to a halt. The automated automobile production lines of the motorcity shuddered and seized, leaving half-finished Chevies suspended in mid-air. Even the Ottawa’s “everlasting centennial flame” that has been burning since 1967 spluttered and blew out.

North Americans rely on heating to make the interiors of their buildings feel like the tropics in the winter, and they rely on their air-conditioning to make them feel like Siberia in the summer. This artificial climate controlled country is only maintained by the reliance on electricity. A constant and steady supply has to feed the beast. This insatiable bubble protects Americans form the harshness of the political climate and the harshness of the actual climate that hangs over the world at the moment. Over consumption is not a word in the vocabulary of most Americans. Their government has many means of ensuring that they don’t feel the heat. Controlling the flow of oil from the various sources throughout the globe is one means by which they ensure that native New Yorkers have a steady supply of electricity. This energy is required in the kitchens of Manhattan apartments to grind Brazilian coffee beans whenever the Colombian housemaid flicks the switch on the wall. The PDAs of executives need to be charged to download sports results. The heated hair rollers of the secretaries, to these executives, need to be ready before the morning power-shower.

Whilst millions of North Americans had to go without these necessities, millions of Iraqis suffered a similar fate. I apologies in advance, to anyone who takes offence at my distasteful attempt at irony. So to spell it out; in a very narrow context (electricity supply) and for a tiny duration there was a minute degree of commonality between the plight of the Iraqis and those of NYC. In real terms their two predicaments were wholly dissimilar. Millions of Iraqis have been deprived of fuel, electricity and water for months. Under occupations there is also little or no prospect of this situation changing. The temperature in Iraq in August soared to 50C (122F). There is no respite or solace to be found in air-conditioning, fans and refrigeration.

One of the key fears of many American last week was that the situation in New York would deteriorate into the looting and crime frenzy of the 1977 blackout. Since the American occupation crime has become part and parcel of life in Iraq. The occupying forces do nothing, and even indirectly encourage it.

Over the last few weeks the British have been complaining incessantly about the heat. The continental Europeans have been setting fire to their own tinder dry forests, and the French have been counting how many patients have died in their hospitals as a result of the heat. The Muslims will not shed a tear for them and their condition. Their own leaders won’t, Tony Blair has just been sunning himself in the Caribbean, why should we. We do however show concern about the heat political and otherwise in Iraq and all the other metaphorical hotspots in the Islamic world.

Salim Fredericks
Khilafah.com Journal
22 Jumaad Al-Thani 1424 Hijri
19 August 2003


UAE closes Zayed Center (“Harvard and the Holocaust” Follow-up)

August 18, 2003

CONTENTS

1. “A troubling gift” (Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2003)
2. “For Harvard, questions on Arab leader’s gift” (Washington Post, July 18, 2003)
3. “Sheik helps School, but there’s a hitch” (Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2003)
4. Press release: “Wiesenthal Center commends UAE decision to close Arab League-Backed anti-Semitic think tank”


“THE ZIONISTS ARE THE ONES WHO KILLED THE JEWS OF EUROPE”

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to the dispatch of June 2, 2003 titled Harvard and the Holocaust.

The United Arab Emirates has decided to close the Zayed Center, the controversial Arab League-backed antisemitic think tank from which Harvard University, colleges at Cambridge University in England, and others have agreed to accept money, and with which prominent figures such as this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter, agreed to associate themselves with.

Among other things, the Zayed Center:

* Published a book titled “Those Who Challenged Israel,” containing the thoughts and theories of Holocaust deniers David Irving and Roger Garoudy.

* Hosted academics such as Mohammed Ahmad Hussain of Cairo University, who said Jews invented the Holocaust as part of a “long term orchestrated campaign aiming at the perpetuation of the ‘persecution of the Jews’ or what they call the Holocaust”.

* In April 2003, the Zayed Center hosted Saudi Professor Umayma Jalahma, who declared that “the Jewish people must obtain human blood so that their clerics can prepare for holiday pastries.”

* The Zayed Center also released a press statement that declared “The Zionists are the ones who killed the Jews of Europe.”

After I sent out details about the Zayed Center in my June 2 dispatch to many journalists who subscribe to this list, several major newspapers commissioned articles on Harvard’s acceptance of money from the Zayed Center. These include the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Several human right organizations – including the David Project of Boston and the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles – have also been asking many probing questions as to why prominent American institutions and figures have continued to associate themselves with the Zayed center.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

A TROUBLING GIFT

A troubling gift
By Rachel Lea Fish
Opinion Main
The Wall Street Journal
June 6, 2003

In July 2000, the Harvard Divinity School accepted $2.5 million from the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, for the creation of an endowed professorship in Islamic religious studies. A professorship in Islamic studies is long overdue at Harvard Divinity School, something I especially appreciate as a student of Islam. But when I learned more about the donor, Sheik Zayed, I became dismayed.

Why? Amnesty International has repeatedly documented the terrible human-rights record of Sheik Zayed’s country: its lack of elections, use of corporal punishment on political prisoners and trafficking in Bangladeshi child slaves. Sheik Zayed has ruled the United Arab Emirates as unelected president since 1971.

That is bad enough. But, perhaps more important, Sheik Zayed also funds the Abu Dhabi-based Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, a prominent think tank of the Arab League, founded in 1999. The Zayed Center, described on its Web site “as the fulfillment of the vision of Sheikh Zayed,” promotes Holocaust denial, anti-American conspiracy theories and hate speech in its lectures, symposiums and publications.

In August 2002, the Los Angeles Times quoted Mohammed Murar, the executive director of the Zayed Center, saying about Jews that “the truth is they are the enemies of all nations.” His comment came on the heels of a Zayed Center report stating that “the Zionists are the people who killed the Jews in Europe.”

The Zayed Center has a history of giving Holocaust deniers like David Irving a forum to promulgate their ideas. In 1998, Sheik Zayed’s wife donated $50,000 to finance the defense of infamous Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy in a French court.

In April 2002, the Zayed Center hosted Thierry Meyssan, the French author of “The Appalling Fraud,” which claims that the U.S. military staged the 9/11 attacks. The center translated Mr. Meyssan’s book into Arabic, hailed its publication and widely advertised the work. A month later, Lyndon LaRouche, the fringe political figure who has made disparaging remarks about Judaism, was an honored guest. Just last month, the center hosted Umayma Jalahma, a professor of Islamic Studies at King Faisal University, who declared: “The Jewish people must obtain human blood so that their clerics can prepare for holiday pastries.”

Despite Sheik Zayed’s track record, Harvard Prof. William Graham, now dean of the Divinity School, hailed his donation. “This endowment,” he told the Harvard Gazette in September 2000, “is a most welcome gift. We are delighted with this encouraging development.”

At the time, Mr. Graham was probably not aware of Sheik Zayed’s links to hate speech and Holocaust deniers. So a group of Divinity School students, including me, went to him this March with a dossier of evidence and a request that Sheik Zayed’s hate money be returned. Mr. Graham told us that he was going to have an “independent” researcher look into the matter and that he would get back to us in four to six weeks. We’re still waiting. It should be noted that Mr. Graham has not been afraid to take a public stand on Harvard’s ties to the Middle East – last year he signed a petition calling for the university to disinvest from Israel – but so far he has not spoken out on Sheik Zayed’s gift.

By accepting the sheik’s money, the Divinity School honors and validates the hate speech he promotes. Harvard would never accept money from a Ku Klux Klan financier. Is the hate funded by Sheikh Zayed’s money any less abhorrent?

When anti-Jewish and anti-American rhetoric is on the rise in Europe and the Arab world, Harvard’s faculty, administration and alumni should not turn a blind eye to veritas: the truth that a prominent donor bankrolls hate speech that all people of conscience should condemn.

Unfortunately, this problem extends beyond Harvard. Sheik Zayed is also a backer of Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. Saudi rulers facing lawsuits for their ties to al Qaeda have funded professorships now under fire at Berkeley.

American students need to learn more about Islam and the Middle East, and the Harvard Divinity School should enhance its Islamic studies program. But there is no place for money from rulers who abuse their own citizens, spread Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism and validate conspiracy theories about 9/11. Harvard Divinity School should put its own ethical and moral teachings into action and return Sheik Zayed’s money.

Ms. Fish is a student at Harvard Divinity School.

 

FOR HARVARD, QUESTIONS ON ARAB LEADER’S GIFT

For Harvard, questions on Arab leader’s gift
Graduate crusades over alleged anti-Semitic links
By Alan Cooperman
The Washington Post
July 19, 2003

(Extracts only)

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13330-2003Jul18.html

When she received a master’s degree in theological studies last month, Rachel Fish accepted her diploma from the dean of Harvard Divinity School and handed him something in return: 130 pages of research and a petition.

The research was on anti-American and anti-Jewish propaganda allegedly emanating from a Middle Eastern think tank, the Zayed International Centre for Coordination and Follow-Up. The petition urged Harvard University to give back a $2.5 million gift from the center’s namesake, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates.

Over the past six months, Fish, 23, has almost single-handedly created a furor over the sheik’s three-year-old donation, which was earmarked for a professorship in Islamic studies at the divinity school and had attracted little notice.

The endowed chair is on hold as the divinity school dean, William A. Graham, and the university president, Lawrence H. Summers, examine the sheik’s links to the think tank and consider whether to reject his money, a university spokeswoman said.

 

SHEIK HELPS SCHOOL, BUT THERE’S A HITCH

Sheik helps School, but there’s a hitch
Anxious O.C. parents laud the $15,000 gift, but a link to controversial speakers is questioned.
By Claire Luna
Los Angeles Times
July 3, 2003

http://www.latimes.com/la-me-sheik3jul03,0,5059530.story

First there were the bingo nights and lemonade stands as fund-raisers to preserve smaller class sizes. Then came the jaw-dropper: $15,000 from the leading sheik in the United Arab Emirates.

Now there’s a hitch: Officials in the Capistrano Unified School District are wondering if it’s proper to take the money.

The strange turn of events began earlier this week with word that the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan had wired $15,000 to help parents at Las Flores Elementary School save teachers’ jobs and maintain the smaller class sizes. Parents throughout south Orange County have been holding fund-raisers to cushion the blow from state budget cuts in schools, and the Las Flores supporters had come up $13,000 short of their goal.

The sheik bestowed the money after hearing of the school’s struggle from the grandmother of one of the students. The woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, had recently traveled through the United Arab Emirates, where she had connections and told government officials of the school’s plight. Word reached the sheik, and the gift arrived this week.

Zayed’s penchant for philanthropy is not without controversy, however. He recently gave $2.5 million to Harvard University’s divinity school to establish a professorship in Islamic studies. The contribution triggered protests by students and faculty there because of the sheik’s ties to an organization, the Zayed Center, that sponsors speeches by some who are labeled anti-Semitics, including those who deny the Holocaust.

Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers will decide in the next two weeks, after a background investigation, whether to accept the gift, a Harvard spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The outcome of that investigation will help determine whether Las Flores can accept the sheik’s donation, district Supt. James A. Fleming said Wednesday.

He said he also has asked Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) for help in gathering more information on the sheik’s background before deciding whether the school can keep his money.

“There is always a concern about accepting money that may be somehow tainted,” Fleming said.

If the decision is made to tell Zayed thanks but no thanks, the district will help the parents make up the difference, Fleming said.

Some parents don’t understand the need for such caution.

“The district is putting us in a position where we have to question the affiliations of everyone giving us money,” complained Jennifer Timm, the Las Flores parents’ fund-raising chief. “We don’t have time for that.”

Another parent said a little bit of controversy shouldn’t chill philanthropy. “It makes me sick that because of some negative publicity, the district isn’t willing to have a backbone and take the money,” said Kristen Beals, who will have a first-grader and a third-grader at Las Flores. “It’s from the Middle East, so they should have known there would be a little controversy attached to it.”

Beals said she was not bothered by the sheik’s connection to the Zayed Center because, she concluded, its emphasis was on promoting free speech even if its opinions were unpopular.

“Just because you’re from the Middle East doesn’t mean you’re a bad guy,” Beals said. “I just think it’s very sad that since our politicians won’t do anything [in addressing the schools’ budget crises], somebody thousands of miles away would be paying for my daughter’s reduced-size classroom.”

Officials at the United Arab Emirates’ embassy in Washington, D.C., declined to comment.

 

WIESENTHAL CENTER COMMENDS UAE DECISION TO CLOSE THINK TANK

Wiesenthal Center commends UAE decision to close Arab league-backed anti-Semitic think tank
Los Angeles
August 18, 2003

The Simon Wiesenthal Center(SWC) hailed the decision of the United Arab Emirates to close the controversial Zayed Center (as first reported in Al Sharq Al Awsat), which SWC earlier condemned for Holocaust denial and for validating the medieval blood libel as well as the infamous conspiratorial anti-Semitic canard, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

“The Wiesenthal Center was among the first to protest the anti-Semitism of The Zayed Center, a well-known institution affiliated with the Arab League which counts among its contributors, Nobel Peace Laureate, Jimmy Carter. We protested when this think tank embraced and validated the denial of the Nazi Holocaust, the blood libel and lurid conspiracy theories that blamed America for September 11th and alleged a Jewish plot to control the world,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Human Rights group. “We therefore want to be among the first to commend the UAE for having the courage to do the right thing and close the doors of the Zayed Center. We can only hope that this move will inspire other Arab and Moslem governments, media and intellectuals to stop the incessant campaign to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” Cooper added.

In recent years, The Zayed Center, the Arab League’s prime think tank, was hailed for its commitment to the environment and awarded cash prizes to renowned international figures, including former US president Carter. However, the Center also hosted Holocaust deniers David Irving and Roger Garuday, published claims that 9/11 was a US plot, hosted a Saudi professor who alleged Jews used human blood to prepare “holiday pastries”; whose executive director said that “The truth is that the Jews are the enemies of all nations” and which released a press statement that declared “The Zionists are the ones who killed the Jews of Europe.”


The death of an Israeli teenager

August 11, 2003

The death of an Israeli teenager

CONTENTS

1. "Israel: Won't Escalate Lebanon Tensions" (August 11, 2003, AP)
2. "Israel Threatens Syria Over Hizbollah Shelling" (Reuters, August 11, 2003)
3. "Israeli warplanes attack Hezbollah positions in Lebanon after attack kills teenager" (Associated Press, August 10, 2003)
4. "Israel Retaliates for Hezbollah Attack," (By Gavin Rabinowitz, Associated Press Writer)
5. "Israel-Lebanese front flares up with more shellings," (Aug, 11, 2003)
6. "Hizballah's Trouble-Making" by Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz, August 11, 2003)
7. "Editorial: Who killed Haviv Dadon?" (The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2003)
8. "Syria renews support for Hezbollah" (Sunday, August 10, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

Even though many media are finally noting the age of victims when Israeli children are murdered, others like the BBC, and the French news agency, Agence France Presse, continue to scrupulously avoid mentioning the age of dead Israelis. This is in marked contrast to when young Palestinians have died (usually accidentally). In those cases, their age is sometimes stressed as many as half a dozen times in the story, headline, picture caption, and pull quote, together with photos of the funeral, grieving relatives and so on.

The BBC report on the murder by Hizbollah yesterday of 16-year-old Haviv Dadon and the injuring of five other Israeli civilians, including a mother and her 9-month-old baby, makes no mention of the fact the victim was young, or a teenager, or a boy - let alone that Haviv had been renovating a nursery school next to where the shells landed.

This omission by the BBC is all the more remarkable since both Reuters and AP - on whom the BBC rely for much of their news - make mention in their openings (although not in their headlines) that the dead Israeli was a teenager. Agence France-Presse, by contrast, manages to avoid making any reference to the Israeli victims' ages despite running a 22 paragraph report on the incident. Their reports are attached below.

Sunday's shelling was the fourth Hizbollah shooting attack across the border since Friday. Meanwhile two other Israeli teenagers - Dana Bennet and Eliezer Klockhoft - remaining missing in northern Israel, feared kidnapped. Since the "hudna" was declared, Palestinian terrorists recently kidnapped two other Israelis. One was murdered, the other rescued from a pit in Ramallah by Israeli commandos.

 

I attach eight stories relating to the killing of Haviv Dadon, with summaries first:

1. "Israel: Won't Escalate Lebanon Tensions" (August 11, 2003, AP). This story by the AP contains all kinds of details omitted by the BBC. ". The Israeli boy, 16-year-old Haviv Dadon, was killed Sunday as he walked home from a summer job in the border town of Shlomi. He was the first Israeli civilian to be killed by Hezbollah shelling since 1999. Five others were hurt, including a mother and her 9-month-old baby. After the teenager's funeral Sunday, the streets of Shlomi, a working-class town of 6,000 people, were deserted, with residents staying in their homes or in bomb shelters. 'We are very afraid,' said resident Lara Elhai, 50. 'Any moment, they (Hezbollah) could shoot at us.'"

2. "Israel Threatens Syria Over Hizbollah Shelling" (Reuters, August 11, 2003). Reuters too mention that an Israeli teen died in their first sentnce, though not in their headline. "Israel threatened Syria on Monday after Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon fired anti-aircraft shells that killed an Israeli teen-ager on Israel's northern border, but said it hoped to defuse tension through diplomacy. Residents in Lebanon said the Israeli warplanes struck the outskirts of Tair Harfa village and the nearby Tellat al-Kharba area. They said troops also fired five shells near Kfar Shouba town. There were no reports of casualties in Lebanon."

3. "Israeli warplanes attack Hezbollah positions in Lebanon after attack kills teenager" (By Peter Enav, Associated Press Writer, Sunday, August 10, 2003). In this separate story by AP, the death of the victim is mentioned in the headline. It is perhaps odd, however, that both AP and Reuters deem Israel's retaliation as the lead in their headlines, even though the retaliation was minimal, aimed at empty weapons' installations, and no one was injured.

4. "Israel Retaliates for Hezbollah Attack," By Gavin Rabinowitz, Associated Press Writer. In this third AP story, both the teenager and infant are mentioned in the opening line: "Israeli warplanes attacked suspected Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon on Sunday, hours after the group shelled northern Israel, killing a 16-year-old and wounding five others, including an infant... One shell exploded near a preschool and another hit near a shopping center. Video footage showed patches of blood left on a concrete staircase. The streets of the town were deserted by nightfall, with residents staying in their homes or in bomb shelters."

5. "Israel-Lebanese front flares up with more shellings," Aug, 11, 2003, Agence France-Presse. This 22 paragraph report by Agence France-Presse manages to avoid making any reference to the Israeli victims' ages. (www.etaiwannews.com/World/2003/08/11/1060566076.htm)

6. "Hizballah's Trouble-Making" by Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz, August 11, 2003). [In summary only] Schiff, the doyen of Israeli defence correspondents, writes:

• Hizballah must be broadly perceived as a terrorist organization supported by two terror-supporting states, Syria and Iran, and both of them have an interest in ending the cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

• The Israeli reaction yesterday was minimalist and focused on hitting one Hizballah anti-aircraft cannon in the western sector of south Lebanon, the 57-millimeter cannon that fired at Shlomi and killed a teenager.

• Hizballah also set the shells fired from the cannon to detonate relatively low and thus increase the chances of casualties and damage. The anti-aircraft fire is not at all aimed at Israeli planes. If they fly over Lebanese territory, they do so at such speeds and high alt! itude that it's doubtful they can be seen from the ground.

• Despite Washington's repeated warnings to Damascus about Syria's negative activity in Iraq and its direct support of terror groups, Syria apparently regards the American warnings as nothing more than words.

• The Iranians' top priority might be to hit the American forces in Iraq but their secondary effort is aimed against Israel. Tehran operates in the territories through the Hizballah or directly.

7. "Editorial: Who killed Haviv Dadon?" (The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2003). "Yesterday's murder of 16-year-old Haviv Dadon was an attack with a clear origin that demands a blunt response... yesterday's attack was waged not by hardware, but by people. And those people, in their turn, who are to be sought south Lebanon, Beirut, Damascus, and Teheran, are also the ones who ought to be called to account and made to pay for Haviv Dadon's life. Throughout its protracted guerrilla war against the IDF in south Lebanon, Hizbullah's line was twofold: that its casus belli was Israel's presence on Lebanese soil, and that its tactics would be limited to targeting soldiers, not civilians. Since then, however, Israel has returned its soldiers home..."

8. "Syria renews support for Hezbollah" (Sunday, August 10, 2003, 20:36, Jihad OnLine
www.jihadonline.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=76) "Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass renewed Saturday his country's support for Hezbollah despite a US demand that Damascus rein in the radical Lebanese movement after it attacked zionist army positions. "Resistance is a legitimate right," Tlass told the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat. "We see the Lebanese national resistance, the Hezbollah and the uprising in Palestine in this perspective." He accused "the zionists, the United States and internal agents" he did not name of exerting pressure on Syria to force it to accept "a settlement dictated by the zionist enemy which harms our legitimate rights."

 



FULL ARTICLES

ISRAEL: WON'T ESCALATE LEBANON TENSIONS

Israel: Won't Escalate Lebanon Tensions
August 11, 2003

SHLOMI, Israel (AP) -- Israel destroyed a Hezbollah cannon with an air strike in southern Lebanon, but indicated Monday that there would be no large-scale response to the killing of an Israeli teen by guerrilla shelling.

Israeli officials said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would largely use diplomacy to try to halt cross-border rocketing by the Lebanese guerrilla group.

Israel blames Syria, the main power in Lebanon, for the weekend flareup, and signaled that it wants Washington to enforce a U.S. demand that Syria rein in Hezbollah, which also has Iranian backing.

The Egyptian, Saudi and Syrian foreign ministers hastily scheduled a meeting in Cairo Monday that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said would focus on Israel and Iraq. Egypt, whose 1979 peace treaty with Israel was the first in the Arab world, has long been seen as a moderate mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

There is concern that an escalation on the Israeli-Lebanese border might re-ignite Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in a lull since Palestinian militant groups declared a cease-fire six weeks ago, and jeopardize further the U.S.-backed ``road map'' peace plan. Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian areas have ties to Hezbollah.

The Israeli boy, 16-year-old Haviv Dadon, was killed Sunday as he walked home from a summer job in the border town of Shlomi. He was the first Israeli civilian to be killed by Hezbollah shelling since 1999. Five others were hurt, including a mother and her 9-month-old baby.

After the teenager's funeral Sunday, the streets of Shlomi, a working-class town of 6,000 people, were deserted, with residents staying in their homes or in bomb shelters. ``We are very afraid,'' said resident Lara Elhai, 50. ``Any moment, they (Hezbollah) could shoot at us.''

Israeli attack helicopters destroyed the cannon that launched the shells, the Israeli military said. Early Monday, an Israeli warplane broke the sound barrier over Beirut, setting off a sonic boom that woke residents, a frequent Israeli tactic when tension rises.

However, Israeli defense officials suggested Monday that there would be no further response. ``There is a combined military and diplomatic reaction here. It's important to remember the diplomatic aspect here,'' Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim told Israel Army Radio.

Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli Defense Ministry official, said he expected Hezbollah to pull back. ``It appears Hezbollah is not interested in a deterioration (of the situation) because it is fully aware of the might of the Israeli Defense Forces,'' Gilad told Israel Radio.

Both officials held Syria responsible, saying that without support from Damascus, the Lebanese guerrillas would be unable to get more supplies, including rockets.

 

ISRAEL THREATENS SYRIA OVER HIZBOLLAH SHELLING

Israel Threatens Syria Over Hizbollah Shelling
August 11, 2003

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel threatened Syria on Monday after Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon fired anti-aircraft shells that killed an Israeli teen-ager on Israel's northern border, but said it hoped to defuse tension through diplomacy.

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim said Israel held Syria, the main powerbroker in Lebanon, responsible for Hizbollah's actions.

``Syria is definitely the umbilical cord from which Hizbollah feeds,'' he told Army Radio. ``If there is escalation from their side, there will be definitely be a clear military response from Israel that could inevitably be against Syrian targets.'' The death of the 16-year-old in the Israeli border town of Shlomi Sunday was the first fatality from Hizbollah shelling since Israel withdrew its forces from south Lebanon in May 2000 after a 22-year occupation, amid daily attacks by the group.

Israeli warplanes bombed an anti-aircraft battery on the edge of a south Lebanon village Sunday in retaliation for the Shlomi shelling. Israeli warplanes later flew over Beirut, breaking the sound barrier.

Israel called the air raids a ``warning signal'' and Boim appeared to signal in his comments that Israel did not for now plan further military action. He said diplomatic pressure ``could be an effective tool as well.''

In the Lebanese capital, Hizbollah threatened renewed anti-aircraft fire if Israeli aircraft entered Lebanese airspace again. Boim said Israeli flights, which he called reconnaissance missions, would continue.

Tension has risen along the border since Hizbollah, which is also sponsored by Iran and controls southern Lebanon, fired salvos of rockets and mortar bombs at an Israeli military post in a disputed border area Friday.

Hizbollah regards the area, known as Shebaa Farms and retained by the Israeli army after its withdrawal from the rest of southern Lebanon, as Lebanese territory. The United Nations says it belongs to Syria.

Israeli military officials said that in Sunday's incident, Hizbollah had not aimed its shells at aircraft but had deliberately fired them at Shlomi.

Residents in Lebanon said the Israeli warplanes struck the outskirts of Tair Harfa village and the nearby Tellat al-Kharba area. They said troops also fired five shells near Kfar Shouba town. There were no reports of casualties in Lebanon.

The recent flare-up along the border, which had been quiet since January, followed a vow by Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to retaliate for the killing of a Hizbollah operative in a car bomb attack in Beirut which he blamed on Israel.

 

ISRAEL WARPLANES ATTACK HEZBOLLAH POSITIONS IN LEBANON AFTER ATTACK KILLS TEENAGER

Israeli warplanes attack Hezbollah positions in Lebanon after attack kills teenager
By Peter Enav Associated Press Writer
August 10, 2003

Israeli warplanes bombed suspected Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon on Sunday, Lebanese security officials said, hours after the militant group shelled northern Israel, killing a teenage boy.

The attacks came amid a surge of border violence following months of calm. Earlier Sunday, Israel's foreign minister demanded that Syria and Lebanon restrain Hezbollah, or "we will have no choice but to defend ourselves."

The Lebanese officials said warplanes fired at least one missile on an area near the village of Teir Harfa, about three miles from the Lebanese-Israeli border.

There was no immediate word on casualties, said the officials, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

The Israeli military did not immediately confirm the attack.

Earlier Sunday, a senior Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hezbollah fired three anti-tank shells at the town of Shlomi, near the Israeli-Lebanese border.

A 16-year-old boy was killed and four adults were lightly wounded by shrapnel, a spokesman for the hospital in nearby Nahariya said.

The Lebanese militant group, backed by Iran and Syria, said it had fired anti-aircraft shells at Israeli fighter jets flying over southern Lebanon, but Israeli security officials denied its aircraft were in the area at the time.

Dore Gold, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said the shelling constituted "unbridled escalatory attacks, ... an intolerable state of affairs."

Hezbollah routinely responds to Israeli air force flights over Lebanon with anti-aircraft fire, but tensions have worsened in recent days.

 

ISRAEL RETALIATES FOR HEZBOLLAH ATTACK

Israel Retaliates for Hezbollah Attack
By Gavin Rabinowitz Associated Press Writer

SHLOMI, Israel - Israeli warplanes attacked suspected Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon on Sunday, hours after the group shelled northern Israel, killing a 16-year-old and wounding five others, including an infant.

The boy was the first civilian killed in an attack by the guerrilla group in the area since Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon in May 2000, officials said.

The attacks came amid an increase in border violence following months of calm, raising fears of wider conflict with Syria and Lebanon. Earlier Sunday, Israel's foreign minister warned those countries to restrain Hezbollah, or "we will have no choice but to defend ourselves."

Aides to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel said, however, that Israel is trying to avoid an escalation and would try to resolve the situation through diplomatic channels.

Also Sunday, Sharon told his Cabinet that the U.S.-backed plan for Palestinian statehood would not move ahead until the Palestinians carry out their pledge to dismantle militant groups. The military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, said later that Palestinian security forces weren't doing enough to stop attacks.

Early Monday, an Israeli warplane broke the sound barrier over Beirut, triggering a sonic boom that woke sleeping people, police and residents said, a frequent Israeli tactic when tension rises.

Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat said it was Israel, rather than the Palestinians, which was failing to live up to its commitments.

The cross-border fighting began this month. On Friday, Hezbollah, a militant Lebanese group backed by Syria and Iran, fired artillery toward Israeli border posts, drawing return fire. It was the first such exchange in eight months.

The military said the Israeli aircraft hit Hezbollah artillery positions from which the tank shells had been fired at Shlomi, a working-class town of about 6,000 people close to the border.

Hezbollah said the shelling was in retaliation for the Aug. 2 killing of Hezbollah security official Ali Hussein Saleh by a bomb in his car south of Beirut. Israel refused to comment on the claim that it was behind the killing.

The guerrilla group also fired anti-aircraft shells Saturday on Kiryat Shemona, but no injuries were reported.

On Sunday, 16-year-old Haviv Dadon was walking home from a summer job when he was hit by the anti-tank shell fired on the northern town of Shlomi. Five bystanders, including a woman and her 9-month-old son, were lightly injured, hospital officials said. At the teen's funeral, mourners said they felt abandoned by the government.

One shell exploded near a preschool and another hit near a shopping center, said the mayor, Gavriel Naaman. Video footage showed patches of blood left on a concrete staircase.

The streets of the town were deserted by nightfall, with residents staying in their homes or in bomb shelters. "We are very afraid," said resident Lara Elhai, 50. "Any moment, they could shoot at us. It's the summer holidays, and we can't even send our children to the pool."

The last civilian death in such an attack along the northern Israeli border happened June 24, 1999, when a Hezbollah rocket struck the city hall of Kiryat Shemona, killing two men.

In response to the latest death, Israeli warplanes fired at least one missile near the village of Teir Harfa, about two miles from the Lebanese-Israeli border. No casualties were reported.

A senior Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the warplanes hit the Hezbollah artillery positions that fired at Shlomi.

Hezbollah said it had fired anti-aircraft shells at Israeli fighter jets flying over southern Lebanon, but Israeli security officials denied aircraft were in the area at the time.

A senior military source said Israel's inner security Cabinet would meet to discuss a further military response and that more strikes could be expected. However, Raanan Gissin, a Sharon aide, said that while Israel would not tolerate Hezbollah attacks, it has "no intention of escalation."

Hezbollah, which is on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations, led a guerrilla war against Israel's 18-year occupation of a border zone in southern Lebanon that ended in May 2000.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom held Lebanon and Syria - which dominates Lebanese policy-making - responsible for Hezbollah's actions.

"We say to Syria and Lebanon as responsible parties ... that if Hezbollah activities continue and constitute an undermining of security of the citizens of Israel, we will have no choice but to defend ourselves," Shalom said Sunday.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan holding the Syrian and Lebanese governments responsible for Hezbollah's "acts of terror," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yonatan Peled said.

Annan issued a statement condemning the shelling and urging "all governments that have influence on Hezbollah" to deter it from further actions that could increase tension. He also urged Israel to exercise "utmost restraint."

American diplomats also told Lebanon and Syria that the administration was concerned about the "calculated and provocative escalation" by Hezbollah, State Department deputy spokesman Philip T. Reeker said.

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheik Naim Kassem said Sunday that Hezbollah "is fully prepared and ready to respond in the proper manner to any Israel aggression or threat."

"This anti-aircraft fire is fired as a reaction to warplanes that regularly violate Lebanese airspace," he said in an interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite station.

Syria's state-run Tishrin newspaper charged in an editorial that Israel was trying "to expand the circle of its aggression and deliberately provoke and threaten more than one Arab country," in hopes of slowing progress on the "road map" peace plan with the Palestinians.

 

ISRAEL-LEBANESE FRONT FLARES UP WITH MORE SHELLINGS

Israel-Lebanese front flares up with more shellings
Aug, 11, 2003
Agence France-Presse

www.etaiwannews.com/World/2003/08/11/1060566076.htm

One Israeli was killed and five wounded yesterday in what Israel said was the second border attack in three days by Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia after a seven-month lull, fueling fears in the Jewish state of the reopening of a northern front.

The radical Shiite group said it only fired anti-aircraft guns at Israeli planes overflying Lebanon, but Israeli military sources said Hezbollah had fired shells across the border in a deliberate attack and warned it would not sit idly by.

The incident came as Israel was already stepping up pressure on Syria and Lebanon to end their support for the Hezbollah, and was considering seeking a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the situation.

According to Israeli medical sources, one of the five Israelis wounded in the north-western Israeli town of Shlomi was in serious condition.

Two Israelis had been wounded by falling anti-aircraft fire in July, but military sources stressed that Hezbollah had fired 57mm artillery rounds yesterday in a deliberate attack on Israeli territory.

"This is a clear provocation by Hezbollah and Israel will not sit idly by," Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner told AFP.

"We consider Hezbollah and those who support it as entirely responsible for the situation," he added, in a reference to Syria and Iran.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom had warned before the attack yesterday that any casualties in one of Hezbollah's border attacks would trigger a tough response.

"If our citizens are hit we will have to defend them, and Syria and Lebanon would be well advised not to put us to the challenge," he told public radio.

The first deadly border incident in almost a year came against the tense backdrop created by Hezbollah's first rocket attack in seven months on Friday.

The fundamentalist group, which controls southern Lebanon, fired rockets and mortar bombs on the disputed border area of the Shebaa Farms on Friday, causing no casualties but prompting a swift military response by Israel.

Israel also upped the diplomatic ante following Friday's attack, lodging a complaint Saturday with the U.N. against Syria's support for Hezbollah.

Because Damascus holds the rotating chairmanship of the Security Council, Syrian ambassador Mikhail Wehbe is not allowed to answer the protest.

The United Nations has not been Israel's favourite turf to challenge its enemies but following U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's unequivocal condemnation of Friday's attack, the foreign ministry was mulling demanding an emergency meeting of the Security Council be convened.

"We are considering filing a request for an emergency meeting of the Security Council," said David Granit, an Israeli foreign ministry official in charge of relations with the U.N.

"For the first time, Annan has mentioned a provocation against Israel emanating from an Arab country, and we are assessing the impact of this new stance on U.N. member countries," Granit told AFP.

The official was referring to a statement Friday in which Annan said he was "very concerned at the exchanges of fire across the Blue Line in Southern Lebanon, initiated from Lebanese territory."

Speaking on Israeli public radio Sunday, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Gillerman, said "Syria should understand it cannot chair the meetings of the security council whilst at the same time be supporting terrorism."

Israel feels discriminated within the U.N., where scores of resolutions condemning its policies are passed thanks to the number of votes gathered by Arab countries.

The new crisis on Israel's northern front came as the calm which has prevailed on the Palestinian front since militant groups proclaimed a truce looked as fragile as ever.

Four Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed during an army raid into a Nablus refugee camp in the northern West Bank on Friday, in the deadliest incident yet to have rocked the truce.

Israeli security services were on high alert along the Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank Sunday after the hardline Hamas group vowed to avenge the deaths.

 

EDITORIAL: WHO KILLED HAVIV DADON?

Editorial: Who killed Haviv Dadon?
Aug. 11, 2003

Yesterday's murder of 16-year-old Haviv Dadon was an attack with a clear origin that demands a blunt response.

What emerged as unclear in the immediate aftermath of this brazen attack on innocent passersby in the Galilean town of Shlomi, which also wounded three pedestrians, including a mother and her eight-year-old child, was just who should be held accountable for waging it, and how.

Israel's initial response, a pinpoint air attack on the cannon that had fired that lethal salvo, was technologically impressive, but strategically insufficient.

It is good to know that Israel has got the equipment with which to detect the weaponry that is used to harass its citizens, and that it has the aircraft, avionics, and pilots with whom to so quickly and accurately decommission such hardware.

But yesterday's attack was waged not by hardware, but by people. And those people, in their turn, who are to be sought south Lebanon, Beirut, Damascus, and Teheran, are also the ones who ought to be called to account and made to pay for Haviv Dadon's life.

Throughout its protracted guerrilla war against the IDF in south Lebanon, Hizbullah's line was twofold: that its casus belli was Israel's presence on Lebanese soil, and that its tactics would be limited to targeting soldiers, not civilians.

Since then, however, Israel has returned its soldiers home, and for the subsequent three years the jury was out on whether Hizbullah would realize the forecasts of some pundits and transform into a political group whose main aims are social and whose tools are political.

In all fairness to Hizbullah's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, his unambiguous reply to these pundits had already been made long before he caused yesterday's fatality, the first of its kind since the June 2000 IDF pullout. By having his troops habitually shoot anti-aircraft shells into Israeli towns since shortly after the withdrawal, and by assuming the cause of the Shaba farms, which is disputed not between Israel and Lebanon, but between Israel and Syria, Nasrallah has made it plain that his goals exceed the narrow Lebanese context and that his compunctions are about as limited as those of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or al-Qaida.

Still, Hizbullah cannot alone be held responsible for Haviv Dadon's death.

In line with the post-9/11 Bush Doctrine, the war on terror must mean be waged against the governments that allow it to flourish.

The government of post-civil war Lebanon, whose 13-year-old effort to portray theirs as a peace-seeking country has long been forgotten, as Beirut emerged, yet again, as a Syrian pawn and a geopolitical farce. Lebanon should not be allowed to treat Hizbullah as an honored members of society and stay off the State Department's terrorist list.

Syria, considering its military presence in Lebanon and political grip on Beirut, bears even greater culpability for this murder. So long as it occupies Lebanon, Syria must be held responsible for Hizbullah's actions much the way it should be held responsible for Beirut's inactions.

Finally, there is Iran, Hizbullah's main financial, logistical, and ideological sponsor.

Coupled with its record of killing hundreds of innocent civilians in two terror attacks last decade in Argentina, and its rapid progress on a nuclear program that by now even its original sponsor, Moscow, realizes is a menace to peace, Iran's current regime must be perceived as a an enemy of the entire free world and a major cause of the global disease called terror. It must be treated accordingly.

Destroying the cannon that killed Haviv Dadon was an effective display of military capabilities. But our objective should not be to surgically deliver a proportionate response. A proportionate response in this case is effectively an admission by Israel that attacks are acceptable and will be tolerated, particularly if they happen not to cause casualties. Only a disproportionate response that imposes costs on one or more of Hizbullah's three state sponsors will signal that attacks of any kind are unacceptable.

 

SYRIA RENEWS SUPPORT FOR HEZBOLLAH

Syria renews support for Hezbollah
August 10, 2003
Jihad OnLine

www.jihadonline.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=76

Syrian Defense Minister accuses US, the zionists, internal agents of exerting pressure on Syria to accept zionist settlement.

CAIRO - Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass renewed Saturday his country's support for Hezbollah despite a US demand that Damascus rein in the radical Lebanese movement after it attacked zionist army positions.

"Resistance is a legitimate right," Tlass told the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat. "We see the Lebanese national resistance, the Hezbollah and the uprising in Palestine in this perspective."

He accused "the zionists, the United States and internal agents" he did not name of exerting pressure on Syria to force it to accept "a settlement dictated by the zionist enemy which harms our legitimate rights."

Tlass did not comment on Hezbollah's shelling Friday of zionist positions in the disputed Shebaa Farms area, but his remarks came after the US administration put both Beirut and Syria on notice to prevent further attacks.

"The time has come for them to end support for Hezbollah," deputy State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said Friday.

The Hezbollah said it had carried out the offensive, the first in seven months, in retaliation for the death of one of its member in a Beirut car bomb last week that it blamed on zionist agents.

The Shebaa Farms region was formerly part of Syria. It was occupied by the zionists in 1967 and is claimed by Beirut with Damascus's accord.

The zionists lodged a complaint against Lebanon and Syria with the UN Security Council, zionist public radio reported Saturday, warning the two countries it would take action if they failed to hold back Hezbollah.

Tlass also blasted the US occupation of Iraq. "US forces are foreign forces that are threatening not only Iraq but neighbouring countries," he said.


Diet watermelons and memorial asteroids

CONTENTS

1. Israeli scientists invent low calorie watermelon
2. Asteroid named for Israel's first astronaut - Col. Ilan Ramon
3. Israeli police to move against Eilat floating casinos



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach three stories from Israel unrelated to political violence, with summaries first:

1. "Israeli scientists unveil low calorie watermelon" (Ha'aretz, August 6, 2003). Even though Israel is a society under siege, it manages to be at the forefront of innovation. "Summertime dieters, rejoice. Israeli scientists said yesterday they had developed a low-calorie watermelon, with all the sweetness but significantly less sugar than common varieties of the juicy summer fruit. 'The problem with watermelon is that unlike other fruit, one tends to eat a lot and the calories accumulate,' said Shmuel Wolf, chief researcher of the team from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The average watermelon contains 54 calories per 112 grams. The new variety had 20-40 percent less calories, Wolf said."

2. "Asteroid named for Israel's first astronaut - Col. Ilan Ramon" (By The Associated Press, Aug. 7, 2003). "Seven asteroids circling the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter are being named for the astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia accident, officials announced... 'Asteroids have been around for billions of years and will remain for billions more,' Raymond Bambery, head of the JPL Near-Earth Asteroid Tracing Project, said in a statement. 'I like to think that in the years, decades and millennia ahead people will look to the heavens, locate these seven celestial sentinels and remember the sacrifice made by the Columbia astronauts.'" Asteroids are thought to be rocky fragments left over from the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.

3. "Attorney General tells police to move against Eilat floating casinos" (Globes [The Israeli Financial Times] August 10, 2003. Israeli "Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein has authorized the Israel Police to move against the casino ships operating out of Eilat. The police will use the Prohibition on Money Laundering Law to prosecute offenders and seize the casinos' money... In addition to the campaign against illegal casinos, Rubinstein opposes establishing legal casinos in Israel in any form: flying, floating, or fixed. Rubinstein says an Israeli casino would, "promote a criminal subculture and drive families into poverty and destitution."

 



FULL ARTICLES

ISRAELI SCIENTISTS UNVEIL LOW CALORIE WATERMELON

Israeli scientists unveil low calorie watermelon
Ha'aretz
By The Associated Press
August 6, 2003

Summertime dieters, rejoice. Israeli scientists said yesterday they had developed a low-calorie watermelon, with all the sweetness but significantly less sugar than common varieties of the juicy summer fruit.

"The problem with watermelon is that unlike other fruit, one tends to eat a lot and the calories accumulate," said Shmuel Wolf, chief researcher of the team from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The average watermelon contains 54 calories per 112 grams. The new variety had 20-40 percent less calories, Wolf said. The calories in a watermelon come from the sugar content, with each melon containing three separate types of sugars - sucrose, glucose and fructose. To create the diet melon, researchers isolated a variety whose sugar content is composed mostly of fructose.

Wolf said that his team had found natural varieties of wild melons growing in the Sinai desert and North Africa with the high fructose percentage.

"Fructose is the sweetest kind of sugar and so you need less sugar to make the melon sweet, hence less calories," he said.

"The problem with the natural melons is that they are very bitter. Our challenge was to make them sweet," Wolf said.

Wolf could not say when the diet melons would reach the markets.

 

ASTEROID NAMED FOR ISRAEL'S FIRST ASTRONAUT - COLONEL ILAN RAMON

Asteroid named for Israel's first astronaut - Col. Ilan Ramon
By The Associated Press
August 7, 2003

Seven asteroids circling the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter are being named for the astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia accident, officials announced Wednesday.

Astronauts Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown and Laurel Clark of NASA and Ilan Ramon of Israel died on Feb. 1 when Columbia broke up while returning to Earth from a 16-day orbital mission.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. proposed naming the asteroids for the astronauts. The plan was approved by the International Astronomical Union and announced on Wednesday by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Minor Planet Center, the officials clearinghouse for asteroid data.

The named asteroids were discovered by former JPL astronomer Eleanor F. Helin in 2001 using the Palomar Observatory near San Diego. The objects range in size from 3.1 to 4.3 miles in diameter.

"Asteroids have been around for billions of years and will remain for billions more," Raymond Bambery, head of the JPL Near-Earth Asteroid Tracing Project, said in a statement. "I like to think that in the years, decades and millennia ahead people will look to the heavens, locate these seven celestial sentinels and remember the sacrifice made by the Columbia astronauts."

There are more than 100,000 known asteroids, most of them orbiting the sun in a belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The largest, Ceres, is about 580 miles in diameter. Astronomers believe there may be millions of other asteroids, ranging from a half mile to many miles across.

Asteroids are thought to be rocky fragments left over from the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.

The Columbia astronauts died when their spacecraft disintegrated during re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere. An investigation suggests that a hole was smashed through the heat shield on the craft's left wing when it was hit by foam insulation during launch. The extent of the damage was not discovered during the shuttle's mission. When the craft made its high-speed return to the atmosphere, the 3,000 degrees of heat from re-entry melted metal supports inside the wing and the whole craft broke apart, scattered debris over East Texas and western Louisiana.

The three remaining space shuttles were grounded while the Columbia Accident Investigation Board studied the incident and prepared a report. That report is expected late this month. NASA officials have said after safety changes are made in the space shuttle system, the craft may start flying again in March or April.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL TELLS POLICE TO MOVE AGAINST EILAT FLOATING CASINOS

Attorney General tells police to move against Eilat floating casinos
Published by Globes [The Israeli Financial Times]
August 10, 2003
by Hadas Magen

Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein opposes a legal casino: It will promote a criminal subculture and drive families into poverty and destitution.

Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein has authorized the Israel Police to move against the casino ships operating out of Eilat. The police will use the Prohibition on Money Laundering Law (5760-2000) to prosecute offenders and seize the casinos' money.

Rubinstein's decision followed last week's report by Deputy State Prosecutor Nava Ben-Or on the floating casinos. The report discussed legal ways to deal with the problem.

Last week, Rubinstein held a meeting on the casino ships, at which it was decided to act energetically against them, giving the green light to the police.

Several weeks ago, the police raided a casino ship in Eilat, seizing money and launching a broad investigation against the ship's owners. The raid was part of a specific campaign. The police are now considering a general campaign against the casino ships.

In addition to the campaign against illegal casinos, Rubinstein opposes establishing legal casinos in Israel in any form: flying, floating, or fixed. Rubinstein says an Israeli casino would, "promote a criminal subculture and drive families into poverty and destitution."

Rubinstein says casinos were the focus for a variety of illegal acts, such as money laundering. He claims that law enforcement and security officials all agreed in the brainstorming session that a legal casino was morally undesirable. Rubinstein believes that a casino would lead to an increase in crime and a decline in morals.


Arnie opponent “has consistently defended terror groups”

August 08, 2003

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to my dispatch of yesterday Arnie and the Jews.

I attach 2 articles, with summarized extracts first for those who don't have time to read them in full:

“WHY WON’T HE REPUDIATE KURT WALDHEIM?”

"Arnold's Nazi Problem. Why won't he repudiate Kurt Waldheim?" By Timothy Noah (Thursday, August 7, 2003, Slate and MSNBC.com). This article was posted before I sent out my dispatch of yesterday. I attach it not because I have any opinion about whether Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a good governor of California, but as a matter of interest to show the attacks on him.)

After Waldheim's Nazi war criminal revelations had come out, "Schwarzenegger offered a tribute to Kurt Waldheim at his wedding that stunned the assemblage into shocked silence: 'My friends don't want me to mention Kurt's name, because of all the recent Nazi stuff and the U.N. controversy, but I love him and Maria does too, and so thank you, Kurt.'

"According to the New York Post's "Page Six" gossip column, Schwarzenegger was seen sitting beside Waldheim as recently as 1998, when the two attended the second inauguration of Waldheim's successor as president, Thomas Klestil."

"In 1988, Schwarzenegger was asked in a Playboy interview what he thought of Waldheim. He replied: 'I hate to talk about it, because it's a no-win situation. Without going into details, I can say that being half-Austrian and half-American, I don't like the idea that these two countries that mean so much to me are in such a disagreement.'"

(TG adds: Please note also that Esquire, the glossy magazine, has apologized to Schwarzenegger for the contrived photomontage showing Schwarzenegger giving a straight-arm salute under a spoof film title "Saturday Night Führer" that accompanied its December 1996 story headlined "Springtime for Arnold".)

ISSA: HIZBULLAH IS A “HUMANITARIAN” ORGANIZATION

"Terrorism Link in Davis Recall," by Debbie Schlussel, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. In this recent article, Schlussel warns that Rep. Darrell Issa - the main Republican party funder of the recall effort against California Gov. Gray Davis and the leading Republican candidate other than Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him, has allies has "consistently defended terrorists, terrorist groups and terrorist sponsor states."

"Less than a month after Sept. 11, Issa visited Syrian President Bashar Assad, praising the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah and lauding Assad's policies...

The Tehran Times and IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency, the official Iranian news agency) quoted Issa's as calling Hezbollah a "humanitarian" organization.

"On May 9, 2001, during a House subcommittee discussion of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Extension Act of 2001, Issa praised Hezbollah, "in all candor, for the good things they do, too, the humanitarian, the hospitals, the schools they pay."

"In November 2001, Issa told the Financial Times of London, "Hezbollah does in fact have a limited scope. You must differentiate ... from other organizations that might have a global reach." Global reach? Hezbollah murdered 86 Jews and wounded hundreds of people in Buenos Aires in July 1994, in addition to murdering Israelis and U.S. Marines and civilians in Lebanon and Iran."

(Last night, Hizbullah again fired rockets into Israel.)

"In April 2003, Issa spoke of Arafat's "charm".

-- Tom Gross

 



FULL ARTICLES

ARNOLD'S NAZI PROBLEM

Arnold's Nazi Problem
Why won't he repudiate Kurt Waldheim?
By Timothy Noah
August 7, 2003

California voters can address their question directly to Schwarzenegger, if he will 'renounce' the Nazi Waldheim or not.

www.schwarzenegger.com/en/help/feedback/index.asp?subj=ask
www.msnbc.com/news/949666.asp?0cv=CB20
slate.msn.com/id/2086742/

Here's a question Jay Leno forgot to ask Arnold Schwarzenegger when he announced his candidacy for governor of California on last night's Tonight Show: "Will you renounce your support for Kurt Waldheim?"

A little refresher course may be in order. Kurt Waldheim, a widely esteemed former secretary general of the United Nations, was running for president of Austria in March 1986 when it came to light that he had participated in Nazi atrocities during World War II. Waldheim had always maintained that he had served in the Wehrmacht only briefly and that after being wounded early in the war, he had returned to Vienna to attend law school. In fact, Waldheim had resumed military service after recuperating from his injury and had been an intelligence officer in Germany's Army Group E when it committed mass murder in the Kozara region of western Bosnia. (Waldheim's name appears on the Wehrmacht's "honor list" of those responsible for the atrocity.) In 1944, Waldheim had reviewed and approved a packet of anti-Semitic propaganda leaflets to be dropped behind Russian lines, one of which ended, "enough of the Jewish war, kill the Jews, come over." After the war, Waldheim was wanted for war crimes by the War Crimes Commission of the United Nations, the very organization he would later head. None of these revelations prevented Waldheim from winning the Austrian election, but after he became president, the U.S. Justice Department put Waldheim on its watch list denying entry to "any foreign national who assisted or otherwise participated in activities amounting to persecution during World War II." The international community largely shunned Waldheim, and he didn't run for re-election. (This information comes from the1992 book Betrayal: The Untold Story of the Kurt Waldheim Investigation and Cover-Up, by Eli M. Rosenbaum and William Hoffer.)

One month after these revelations began to splash across the front pages of newspapers worldwide, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver exchanged wedding vows at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass. Schwarzenegger, a native of Austria, had invited Waldheim to the wedding, which of course can't be held against him because the invitations surely went out well before the war crimes story broke. (Schwarzenegger, who held dual citizenship in Austria and the United States, had also endorsed Waldheim.) Waldheim didn't attend, but he sent a gift-a statue of Arnold, in lederhosen, bearing off Maria, who wore a dirndl. Admiring it, Schwarzenegger offered a tribute that stunned the assemblage into shocked silence (this is reported in Arnold: An Unauthorized Biography, by Wendy Leigh):

My friends don't want me to mention Kurt's name, because of all the recent Nazi stuff and the U.N. controversy, but I love him and Maria does too, and so thank you, Kurt.

Schwarzenegger's name remained on Waldheim's campaign posters. After Waldheim was elected, Schwarzenegger paid him a visit and was photographed with him. According to the New York Post's "Page Six" gossip column, Schwarzenegger was seen sitting beside Waldheim as recently as 1998, when the two attended the second inauguration of Waldheim's successor as president, Thomas Klestil.

In 1988, Schwarzenegger was asked in a Playboy interview what he thought of Waldheim. He replied:

I hate to talk about it, because it's a no-win situation. Without going into details, I can say that being half-Austrian and half-American, I don't like the idea that these two countries that mean so much to me are in such a disagreement. Austria is a very important place for Americans, because it is a neutral country. With a little bit of good will, the problem will be straightened out. I think it's well on the way.

Why on Earth didn't Schwarzenegger take this opportunity to speak out against Waldheim? It surely isn't because Schwarzenegger himself had any Nazi sympathies (though during the filming of the documentary Pumping Iron, he reportedly once made a foolish comment praising Hitler). Rather, Schwarzenegger was likely playing politics-to be more specific, Austrian politics and family politics. For years it was rumored that if Schwarzenegger didn't run for governor of California, he would run for president of Austria. Because Austrians have long resented what they see as Waldheim's pointless scapegoating, any firm denunciation would have ruled the latter possibility out. In addition, Schwarzenegger's mother had for many years lived with Alfred Gerstl, a prominent Austrian politician who rose to the top post in the upper house of Austria's parliament. Schwarzenegger reportedly addressed him as "Uncle." (Schwarzenegger's father, who died three decades ago, was a police official who had belonged to the Nazi party.)

Rather than confront his Waldheim problem head-on, Schwarzenegger has proclaimed his disgust for Nazism, raised money for education about the Holocaust, traveled to Israel (where he met with then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin), and given generously to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, which in 1997 bestowed on him its National Leadership Award. "He wants no truck with . Waldheim," the Wiesenthal Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier told the Jerusalem Post. "He probably did not have any clue as to the seriousness of the allegations against Waldheim at that time [i.e., 1986]. To suggest that Arnold's an anti-Semite is preposterous. He's done more to further the cause of Holocaust awareness than almost any other Hollywood star."

Clearly, though, that won't be enough. If Schwarzenegger doesn't renounce Waldheim in a highly public way, he can forget about ever becoming governor of California.

Timothy Noah writes "Chatterbox" for Slate.

 

TERRORISM LINK IN DAVIS RECALL

Terrorism Link in Davis Recall
by Debbie Schlussel
Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles

www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=10852

I'm a proud conservative Republican from Michigan, but I'm appealing to Californians of all political stripes not to support the recall of Gov. Gray Davis.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) - funder of the recall effort and the only announced candidate to replace Davis - might be the contemporary, real-life version of Frank Sinatra's "Manchurian Candidate." Instead of communists, Issa's allies are radical Islamists and supporters of terrorism against Americans, Israelis, Christians and Jews.

In a short political career, Issa's statements and actions consistently defend terrorists, terrorist groups and terrorist sponsor states.

Saudi Arabia's longtime lobbyist, James Gallagher, contributed to Issa's campaign in November 2002, and Issa tried to overturn key classified evidence portions of President Bill Clinton's 1995 counterterrorism bill. Issa is also credited with "declawing" the Patriot Act.

Then, there's Issa's dance with Hezbollah, an organization that is on the State Department's terrorist list and one of the largest components of Al Qaeda. In the 1980s, Hezbollah - which means "Party of Allah" - murdered more than 260 U.S. Marines while they slept in Beirut and tortured to death Col. Richard Higgins (in 1990) and CIA attache William Buckley.

Hezbollah endorses "the use of hostages," "suicide in jihad operations" and "the duty of all Muslims to engage in Islamic jihad if it ensures the ultimate goal [of] inflicting losses on the enemy."

Less than a month after Sept. 11, Issa visited Syrian President Bashar Assad, praising Hezbollah and lauding Assad's policies (Syria is on the State Department's terrorist list).

The Tehran Times and IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency, the official Iranian news agency) quoted Issa's statements to Assad in Damascus: "Hezbollah acts legitimately and has never been involved in terrorist activities.... Hezbollah and any other Lebanese group has the right to resist the occupation of its territory.... Hezbollah's humanitarian and governmental actions were legal.... Such behavior would be customary in any country."

Issa denies the statements, but as a recent Los Angeles Times cover story demonstrates he has a record of stretching the truth - about his military record, his criminal history, his business affairs and his political positions.

In November 2001, for instance, Issa told syndicated columnist Debra Saunders he was vehemently against Arabs suing the airlines and government over profiling. At the same time, he told the rest of the press of his plans to introduce legislation to make it easier for Arabs to collect monetary damages for airline and government profiling.

And Issa's other statements and actions corroborate their veracity:

Less than a month after Sept. 11, in an Oct. 9, 2001, interview with the Beirut Daily Star's Ibrahim, during a trip to Lebanon, Issa said, "It is Lebanon which will determine whether the party's [Hezbollah's] activities constitute terrorism or resistance ... If [Hezbollah] wants the world to understand that its activities are legitimate, they should say it.... Resistance is a legitimate right recognized [by the U.N.].... I have a great deal of sympathy for the work that Hezbollah tries to do." He expressed hope that Hezbollah would "reform" and become a "government" like the P.L.O.

Assad's state-run SANA (official Syrian news agency) covered Issa's November 2001 meeting with Assad, quoting Issa as saying: "Hezbollah or any other party has the right to resist occupation."

Occupation? Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon at least a year before, and the U.S. withdrew over a decade earlier.

Issa's January 2003 actions regarding Israelis captured by Hezbollah asserted the terrorist group's moral equivalence with Israel. According to The Guardian of London, per Hezbollah's demand, Issa asked Israel to allow the Red Cross to see captured Hezbollah terrorists in exchange for interceding with Hezbollah to allow the Red Cross to see four Israeli prisoners held by the group.

On Oct. 31, 2001, the London Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat, reported, "U.S. Congressman of Lebanese origin Darrell Issa, during his recent visit to Beirut in the mid of October," conveyed a proposal to Hezbollah leadership to remove Hezbollah from the State Department's terrorist list and "normalize U.S. relations with" the group. Hezbollah refused the offer.

On May 31, 2003, Issa publicly made a similar proposal to legitimize Hezbollah by giving Lebanon $500 million of taxpayer money to disarm the group and turn it into a political party.

On May 9, 2001, during a House subcommittee discussion of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Extension Act of 2001, Issa praised Hezbollah, "in all candor, for the good things they do, too, the humanitarian, the hospitals, the schools they pay."

On April 14, 2002, Issa told Fox News Channel's Rita Cosby that Hezbollah has done "some good things" (and he also praised Yasser Arafat).

In November 2001, Issa told the Financial Times of London, "Hezbollah does in fact have a limited scope. You must differentiate ... from other organizations that might have a global reach."

Global? Hezbollah murdered 86 Jews and wounded hundreds of people in Buenos Aires in July 1994, in addition to murdering Israelis and U.S. Marines and civilians in Lebanon and Iran.

In a Sacramento radio interview, Issa said, "They do supply little old ladies with heating oil in the winter and all kinds of other activities," characterizing terrorist Hezbollah as a mere "political party" and "farmers," and adding, "I'd like to see a lot of them just go back to their farms, go back to some honest living."

Then there's Issa's strange respect for Arafat and Palestinian terrorists.

Days after Sept. 11, Issa, during his House International Relations Committee's discussion of fighting terrorism, tried to draw a distinction between "Palestinian groups that are resisting Israeli occupation" and Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

During his November 2001 trip to the Middle East, Issa told his hometown newspaper, the North County Times, that he was "particularly impressed with Arafat."

"He is quite a charismatic individual, despite being a very small man and very old," the congressman said. "He has a wry sense of humor. He gives you food off his plate if you sit next to him."

Arafat's personal food taster as your next governor?

In April 2003, Issa spoke of Arafat's "charm" (also in the North County Times).

Issa's softness on Syrian-sponsored terrorism is legendary, too. Syria is home to several fugitives, including Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, Hamas political director Moussa Abu Marzook, Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Abdullah Shallah and Jamil Al-Gashey, the only surviving perpetrator of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre - all wanted and/or indicted in the United States. However, Assad refuses their extradition.

Issa vehemently opposes the Syrian Accountability Act, which imposes sanctions on Syria until it stops sponsoring Hezbollah and other terrorists. Issa said Syria is "cooperative."

The Reform Party of Syria said Issa "helps Syria with [its] propaganda campaign" and "objects to Mr. Issa's presence in Syria. The Baath Party of Syria is duping Rep. Issa and using him as a propaganda tool."

In June 2003, Issa attended the Beirut signing of a major oil deal between Syria and two U.S. firms. The contract states the companies will spend $29 million in Syria and train the state-run Syrian oil company.

Issa hosted a pro-Syrian Capitol Hill event with a pro-Syrian Arab business group. The event was organized by former staffers to Reps. David Bonior and John Dingell, who now lobby for a "change" to U.S. Middle East policy.

After the Iraq War, during one of several frequent Syrian trips, Issa praised Assad, saying, "His word seems to be good."

Darrell Issa wants to be governor of California and ultimately president. With a record like this, do you want to help him?


Arnie and the Jews

August 07, 2003

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach a feature article I wrote in December 1996 for the Jerusalem Post arts and entertainment section, titled "Arnie and the Jews."

As recipients of this list no doubt know by now, Arnold Schwarzenegger is running for the position of what the New York Post is calling "Governator" of California.

It is quite likely that his father's background is going to attract some press if not negative ads. (His father was a Nazi Party member.)

But as the article makes clear, and as I believe to be the case, any suggestion that Arnold Schwarzenegger has ties to anti-Semites is unjustified. Quite the contrary. Schwarzenegger has for years donated money to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, he has helped raised millions of dollars for the Holocaust Memorial Trust in Los Angeles, he has visited Israel, and he has been presented by then mayor Roni Milo (who is soon to become Israel's ambassador to London) with a "golden key" to Tel Aviv.

In 1989, Schwarzenegger successfully sued a British newspaper which had suggested he was an anti-Semite.


ARNIE AND THE JEWS

Arnie and the Jews
By Tom Gross
The Jerusalem Post
December 16, 1996

www.jpost.com/com/Archive/05.Jan.1997/Features/Article-13.html

In Hollywood and here in Israel, opinions are divided over Arnold Schwarzenegger's suitability to portray a 'good' Nazi. Tom Gross reports.

There is controversy in Hollywood over the reported intention of Arnold Schwarzenegger to portray a "nice Nazi" in a new film.

According to reports, Joel Schumacher (who is presently directing the latest Batman film, for which Schwarzenegger is receiving $20 million to star as Mr. Freeze), offered the Austrian-born muscleman a curt four letters of advice on making the film: "Don't."

Several leading film directors have turned down offers to make the film, tentatively titled "With Wings of Eagles," after initially expressing interest in it, according to sources in Los Angeles. Some of these directors, who don't want to go on the record, are said to have admitted in private that they are concerned the film might "offend Hollywood's powerful Jewish lobby."

A few weeks ago, Alan Ladd, the producer behind Blade Runner and Braveheart, said he was "fully confident" that filming would start in January. But now Ladd's employers, Paramount Pictures, are declining to discuss the project.

Much of the controversy stems from Schwarzenegger's own background. In the past, the superstar actor has strongly denounced the Nazis, including his own father, Gustav. Yet Schwarzenegger, 49, continues to be plagued by rumors that he is a Nazi sympathizer, partly due to his friendship with Kurt Waldheim, whom he invited to his wedding in Massachusetts in 1986. At the time, Waldheim, a former United Nations secretary-general, was running a successful campaign that would see him elected to the Austrian presidency, while conveniently "forgetting" his own central role in Nazi atrocities. A year later Waldheim was banned from entering America.

Schwarzenegger's supporters point to the fact that he has donated money to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and raised millions of dollars for the Holocaust Memorial Trust in Los Angeles. He also visited Israel last year, to promote the opening of the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Tel Aviv, of which he is part-owner. Among others, he met prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Tel Aviv Mayor Ronni Milo presented him with a golden key to the city.

In 1989, he successfully sued a British newspaper which had suggested he was an antisemite. Yet the rumors continued after Schwarzenegger was photographed last year with Jorg Haider, leader of Austria's extreme right-wing Freedom Party. Haider has praised Hitler's "sensible policies" and also been filmed at a secret SS reunion.

But Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, who has known Schwarzenegger for many years, came to a vigorous defense of the actor. "Arnold has every right to make the film," Hier told The Jerusalem Post. "The attacks on him are grossly unfair. This is guilt by association of the worst kind.

"Plenty of people, including many leading Jews, were happy to meet former German president Richard von Weizsäcker, even though his father Ernst von Weizsäcker was a leading Nazi criminal sentenced at Nuremberg. Arnold's father, on the other hand, while a Nazi Party member, was never accused of any crimes, and worked as a postal inspector.

"Being a major movie star, Arnold is photographed with many thousands of people. He doesn't even know who 99 percent of them are. Haider contacted him in order to try and have his photo removed from our rogues' gallery [of contemporary extreme-Right figures, at the Simon Wiesenthal Center museum]. Arnold then called me to find out why Haider was included, and after hearing the explanation told Haider 'You're up there because you deserve to be.'

"He wants no truck with Haider or Waldheim. His brief contact with them was an oversight which he strongly regrets," said Hier. "He probably did not have any clue as to the seriousness of the allegations against Waldheim at that time [in 1986]. To suggest that Arnold's an antisemite is preposterous. He's done more to further the cause of Holocaust awareness than almost any other Hollywood star.

"Not only does he regularly make substantial donations to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which he began helping in 1984, before the Waldheim accusations had even come to light, he has also hosted functions for us, including some in his private home. These allegations stick like glue. Anyway Arnold never said for sure he is going to do the film," said Hier.

Since emigrating to the US in 1968, the superstar has established himself in the very fabric of American popular culture, albeit with an Austrian accent. His status as an American icon was secured by his 1986 marriage to Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan, and by his appointment in 1990 as head of the President's Council of Physical Fitness and Sports.

THE plot of "With Wings of Eagles" is based around the true story of a Wehrmacht captain called Ostermann, who refused to shoot a group of British POWs. But it has become highly fictionalized.

"In the draft script, Schwarzenegger bursts into Gestapo HQ in Berlin and shoots half the Gestapo and SS," said Hier, who was asked by writer Randall Wallace (who wrote the screenplay for this year's Oscar-winning movie, Braveheart), to read the script. "The film clearly shows who are the bad guys."

Schwarzenegger is reported to have told friends that the German officer he wants to portray "is no friend to Hitler's government and a real challenge to play."

Esquire, which started the ruckus with a story in its December issue (under the headline "Springtime for Arnold") and also published a contrived photomontage showing Schwarzenegger giving a straight-arm salute under a spoof film title "Saturday Night Führer," has agreed to apologize to Schwarzenegger in its January edition, according to Hier.

But even those who dismiss the allegations over Schwarzenegger's political opinions, question whether he is the right sort of actor for this film.

Although he has done a few comedies - his latest, Jingle All The Way, opened here this week - "The Austrian Oak," who started out as a body-builder and has won the Mr. Universe title a record 13 times, is best-known for playing violent, trigger-happy characters such as secret agents, barbarians, and killer robots in a series of highly successful commercial blockbusters. Terminator 2 alone earned more than $506 million worldwide.

The reaction here to the controversy has been mixed. One Jerusalem-based Holocaust researcher, who did not wish to be named, said: "If one tries to tell the history of World War II from a perspective of resisters and likable action heroes, this is in fact a form of revisionism. That wasn't the way things were. Even if Schwarzenegger has been supportive of the Wiesenthal Center, that he should even conceive of making a film about the war and do it from the perspective of the extremely rare good Nazi is curious.

"Spielberg also told the story of one of the very few good Germans, but he gave a very clear background picture of what was happening and clearly showed Schindler was a very ambiguous hero, if a hero at all. It's doubtful that Schwarzenegger with his particular style of movie-making and use of vocabulary could convey such a historically important background."

Harry Wall, director of the Anti-Defamation League office in Jerusalem, took a different view. "If handled correctly and sensitively, we would welcome such a film," he said. "Big-budget and television docudramas have a tendency to sanitize the Holocaust, yet there is an educational value that can supersede the lack of reality.

"Schindler's List, for all its faults, made countless more people aware of the Holocaust than much more authentic books and films. If Hollywood can lend itself to Holocaust education, we would welcome it."


Iraq 22: Iraqi shepherd takes Rumsfeld, Franks to court

August 01, 2003

Iraq update 22: Iraqi shepherd takes Rumsfeld, Franks to court

CONTENTS

1. "Iraqi shepherd takes Rumsfeld, Franks to court over family deaths," (AFP, July 20)
2. "Billionaire's ads challenge US case for Iraq war" (Reuters, July 25, 2003,)
3. "Iraqi police close newspaper for anti-US article" (Reuters, July 22)
4. "U.S. Shutters Newspaper In Baghdad. 'Inciteful' Article Brings Raid And Detention of Editor" (Washington Post, July 23, 2003)
5. "US applied double standards" (BBC news 24, July 28, 2003).
6. Iraq-Al-Jazeera (AP, July 28, 2003)
7. "Saddam's Daughters arrive in Jordan" (AP, August 1, 2003)
8. "'Saddam' urges Iraqis to fight on" (BBC, 1 August, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach 8 articles, most of which generally support those opposed to President Bush's Iraq policy. As usual, there are summaries first:

1. "Iraqi shepherd takes Rumsfeld, Franks to court over family deaths," July 20 (AFP). "An Iraqi shepherd launched a court case against top US military leaders after a US plane shelled his desert camp during the war to oust Saddam Hussein, killing 17 family members and 200 sheep. Abud Sarhan, 71, issued lawsuits against US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks, the retired general who led US and British forces into Iraq, over the fatal April 4 bombing... Judge Sami Kamel Idan set the next hearing for August 10 "to allow the coalition coordinator to inform representatives of those accused so they could be present". "We hope the Americans will be present next time. The law is above everyone and they stress that their country defends and respects human rights and that their war was clean," defence lawyer Aref Mukhaiber al-Dulaimi said.

2. "Billionaire's ads challenge US case for Iraq war" (July 25, 2003, Reuters). "Billionaire philanthropist George Soros is running full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers on Sunday challenging the honesty of the Bush administration's case for waging war in Iraq. The ads in The New York Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the Houston Chronicle, are titled, "When the nation goes to war, the people deserve the truth."

(I attach this article as yet one more piece of evidence to counter the continuing hints and suggestions among anti-Semites in Europe and the US, that Jews are behind the Iraq war policy. As anyone who follows politics knows, there are at least as many, if not more, vociferous Jews in the anti-Iraq war camp. - TG)

3. "Iraqi police close newspaper for anti-US article" (July 22, Reuters). "U.S.-backed Iraqi police have shut a Baghdad newspaper and detained its office manager because of an article inciting action against the United States, the U.S.-led administration said on Tuesday. The closure was made because of Al Mustaqila's story on July 13 entitled: "Death to All Spies and Those who Cooperate with the U.S.; Killing Them is Religious Duty," a statement by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) said... The move came as a press watchdog called on U.S. and British authorities to ease media restrictions and draw up liberal media laws to replace the straitjacket imposed by ousted leader Saddam Hussein. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders criticized rules imposed last month by the U.S.-led authority in Iraq that make it illegal to incite violence."

(TG adds - I attach this to show the contrasts with the lack of a clampdown by either Israel or the Palestinian Authority on the continuing and far more widespread immflamtory press incitement in the Palestinian media.)

4. "U.S. Shutters Newspaper In Baghdad. 'Inciteful' Article Brings Raid And Detention of Editor" (By Pamela Constable, Washington Post, July 23, 2003). "A local newspaper has been shut down and its manager arrested because of an article that U.S. occupation authorities and Iraqi officials considered an incitement to violence and a threat to human rights in Iraq. Iraqi police accompanied by U.S. troops raided the offices of Al-Mustaqila newspaper, which means The Independent in Arabic. Neighbors said troops broke down the front door, ransacked the office and detained the newspaper's manager, Abdul Sattar Shalan."

5. "US applied double standards" (July 28, 2003, BBC news 24). "An Egyptian government newspaper on Sunday accused Washington of double standards by releasing photographs of Saddam Hussein's dead sons after denouncing the Iraqis for showing pictures of dead US soldiers... The newspaper said such actions were a "violation of the Geneva Convention, but the United States did the same thing, but in a worse way, by publishing the photographs of the corpses of Uday and Qusay", the daily said."

6. Iraq-Al-Jazeera (July 28, 2003, AP). "Two of the most high-profile Arab TV networks reacted angrily to U.S. claims of biased news coverage about the Iraq war. Adnan al-Sharif, the manager of Al-Jazeera, said poor translation of their reports was behind the accusations... Al-Arabiya's Editor in Chief Salah Negm said the network is private. "Al-Arabiya's coverage reflects the truth even if that angered some people," he said.

7. 'Saddam's Daughters arrive in Jordan" (August 1, 2003, AP). "Two of Saddam Hussein's daughters and their nine children received sanctuary Thursday in Jordan on humanitarian grounds, granted by King Abdullah II. Raghad Saddam Hussein and Rana Saddam Hussein - who had reportedly been living in humble circumstances in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, since their father's ouster - arrived in the capital Amman Thursday, Information Minister Nabil al-Sharif told The Associated Press. He refused to say if they traveled through a third country."

"The whereabouts of Saddam's wife Sajida Khairallah Telfah and his fifth and youngest child, daughter Hala, are unknown...

"Saddam had a very public affair with Samira Shahbandar, daughter of a prominent Iraqi family, who has been described as his second wife. The two are rumored to have had a son..."

8. "'Saddam' urges Iraqis to fight on" (BBC, 1 August, 2003) A new audio tape purported to be of Saddam Hussein has been aired by the Arabic al-Jazeera satellite channel. In the recording, the speaker urges Iraqis to fight US forces in Iraq and evict them from the country... In the message, the speaker urges Iraqis to retain state property to use in the "glorious resistance".

 



FULL ARTICLES

IRAQI SHEPHERD TAKES RUMSFELD, FRANKS TO COURT OVER FAMILY DEATHS

Iraqi shepherd takes Rumsfeld, Franks to court over family deaths

RAMADI, Iraq, July 20 (AFP) - An Iraqi shepherd launched a court case Sunday against top US military leaders after a US plane shelled his desert camp during the war to oust Saddam Hussein, killing 17 family members and 200 sheep.

Abud Sarhan, 71, issued lawsuits against US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks, the retired general who led US and British forces into Iraq, over the fatal April 4 bombing.

The shepherd expressed hope that "the law runs its course and that the pilot who bombed the tent is (also) brought to justice and punished," adding that he expected compensation for his damages.

"I would have liked to die with them," said the tearful shepherd, surrounded by a large number of friends dressed in traditional head-to-toe dishdashas.

Sarhan told the court he had left his house in Al-Altach, a village in the Ramadi district, 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Baghdad, and relocated to a desert camp on the advice of pamphlets dropped by US planes recommending them to leave the area, the site of heavy bombing because of a nearby military camp.

Judge Sami Kamel Idan set the next hearing for August 10 "to allow the coalition coordinator to inform representatives of those accused so they could be present".

"We hope the Americans will be present next time. The law is above everyone and they stress that their country defends and respects human rights and that their war was clean," defence lawyer Aref Mukhaiber al-Dulaimi said.

"The Iraqis paid dearly for this war during which the United States used excessive force against the Iraqi people. And those who are responsible for that will have to take responsibility for their actions," he said.

Rabah Mahdi al-Aluani, a second defence lawyer, expressed his surprise at the absence of representatives of Rumsfeld and Franks, saying that if it was repeated, it would "put them in an embarassing position in front of the Iraqi people."

 

BILLIONAIRE'S ADS CHALLENGE US CASE FOR IRAQ WAR

Billionaire's ads challenge US case for Iraq war

NEW YORK, July 25 (Reuters) - Billionaire philanthropist George Soros is running full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers on Sunday challenging the honesty of the Bush administration's case for waging war in Iraq. The ads in The New York Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the Houston Chronicle, are titled, "When the nation goes to war, the people deserve the truth."

A dozen statements made by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld making the case for war are reprinted and described as either exaggerated or false. The statements center on claims about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and large quantities of poison gasses.

The Hungarian-born Soros, 72, emigrated to the United States from Britain in 1956 and built a fortune as a financier. He is founder of a network of philanthropic organizations active in more than 50 countries that focus on education, public health, human rights and economic reform. The ads, estimated to cost about $185,000, were co-sponsored by U.S. philanthropists Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman.

"Both George Soros and Lewis Cullman have been deeply concerned about the deception used to justify the war in Iraq," said Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros. "They believe their fellow citizens should also be concerned and took out these ads to move them to action."

Bush has defended the case for war, saying he is confident that weapons of mass destruction will eventually be found in Iraq and that criticism of intelligence about Iraq's military capabilities amounts to quibbling.

Public opinion on the issue is closely divided, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released this week. It showed U.S. voters believed the administration did not intentionally exaggerate evidence that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons by 50 to 44 percent with a 3 percent margin of error.

 

IRAQI POLICE CLOSE NEWSPAPER FOR ANTI-US ARTICLE

Iraqi police close newspaper for anti-US article

BAGHDAD, July 22 (Reuters) - U.S.-backed Iraqi police have shut a Baghdad newspaper and detained its office manager because of an article inciting action against the United States, the U.S.-led administration said on Tuesday.

The closure was made because of Al Mustaqila's story on July 13 entitled: "Death to All Spies and Those who Cooperate with the U.S.; Killing Them is Religious Duty," a statement by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) said.

The move came as a press watchdog called on U.S. and British authorities to ease media restrictions and draw up liberal media laws to replace the straitjacket imposed by ousted leader Saddam Hussein.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders criticised rules imposed last month by the U.S.-led authority in Iraq that make it illegal to incite violence.

More than 20 newspapers are operating in post-war Iraq, running stories and editorials that would have been unthinkable under Saddam's iron-fisted rule.

The CPA said it supports the development of a free and responsible press. But it said Al Mustaqila "has chosen to threaten the basic human rights of Iraqi citizens, especially the right to life and the right to live without fear or threat."

"The CPA and the Iraqi Police Service therefore judged that al Mustaqila poses a significant security threat to Iraqi citizens," the CPA said.

 

US SHUTTERS NEWSPAPER IN BAGHDAD

U.S. Shutters Newspaper In Baghdad
'Inciteful' Article Brings Raid And Detention of Editor
By Pamela Constable
Washington Post Foreign Service
July 23, 2003

BAGHDAD -- A local newspaper has been shut down and its manager arrested because of an article that U.S. occupation authorities and Iraqi officials considered an incitement to violence and a threat to human rights in Iraq.

Iraqi police accompanied by U.S. troops raided the offices of Al-Mustaqila newspaper, which means The Independent in Arabic. Neighbors said troops broke down the front door, ransacked the office and detained the newspaper's manager, Abdul Sattar Shalan.

According to U.S. occupation authorities, the paper published an article 10 days ago titled, "Death to all spies and those who cooperate with the U.S.; killing them is religious duty." The headline closely echoed recent threats made by clandestine armed groups against U.S. forces and their Iraqi collaborators.

"The Coalitional Provisional Authority supports and encourages the development of a free and responsible Iraqi press," the occupation agency said in a statement today. But it said Al-Mustaqila "has chosen to threaten the basic human rights of Iraqi citizens" and published a "clearly inciteful article," putting it in violation of occupation press rules.

The U.S. authority has banned all Iraqi media from publishing or airing material it views as inciting political, religious or ethnic violence or promoting attacks on U.S. forces here. It has already shut down one Baghdad radio station and one Shiite Muslim newspaper in Najaf on these grounds.

In a report today, the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders criticized the occupation press rules, saying U.S. authorities should ease their restrictions on the Iraqi media and develop more "liberal and democratic" regulations.

The Iraqi Governing Council, appointed earlier this month by U.S. officials, issued a statement today supporting the shutdown of Al-Mustaqila. It said the article in question was "inconsistent with all laws, religious principles and human rights," and that the right to press dissent should not extend to "calling for the shedding of others' blood."

Today, the two-story yellow building that housed Al-Mustaqila was locked and empty, and no copies of the newspaper could be found at any newsstand in downtown Baghdad. But several neighbors described Monday's armed raid in detail and said they were surprised because nothing about the newspaper or its staff had appeared out of the ordinary.

"Everything seemed normal. There was nothing suspicious. They reported on what was happening, including the attacks [on U.S. troops] in Fallujah," said Abdul Mohsin, 40, who manages a printing plant across the street. He said the police and U.S. troops turned the newspaper's office upside down and took some equipment.

Occupation authorities could not be reached for comment tonight. It was not immediately clear whether the article in question had been a news story or an editorial, and there was no information on the whereabouts of Al-Mustaqila's manager or whether any charges would be filed against him.

Several Iraqi newspaper journalists said they knew little about Al-Mustaqila but that they did not feel the U.S. authorities were interfering unduly in their own reporting. More than 50 newspapers and magazines have opened in the capital since the government of president Saddam Hussein was deposed.

"Every day the Americans send a representative with their news, and we are free to publish it or not," said Nadah Shauqat, an editor at Az-Zaman, the best-known Baghdad daily. "We are independent. We publish news and interviews about political groups, but we do not publish propaganda."

 

'US APPLIED DOUBLE STANDARDS'

'US applied double standards'
July 28, 2003

Cairo - An Egyptian government newspaper on Sunday accused Washington of double standards by releasing photographs of Saddam Hussein's dead sons after denouncing the Iraqis for showing pictures of dead US soldiers.

"The United States and the Western media moved heaven and earth when Iraqi television broadcast (images) of the dead bodies and of US prisoners, in the first days of the US-British aggression against Iraq," Al-Ahram daily said.

The newspaper said such actions were a "violation of the Geneva Convention, but the United States did the same thing, but in a worse way, by publishing the photographs of the corpses of Uday and Qusay", the daily said.

"The official American and Western position on the publication of the photos of the American dead (in Iraq), then the publication of the photos of the bodies of Uday and and Qusay is an example of double standards," it said.

The United States had denounced the broadcast of images of dead Americans and captured soldiers on Iraqi and Arab television during the first few days of the war in Iraq in March.

On Friday, the White House defended its decision to release pictures showing the corpses of Saddam Hussein's two sons, rejecting comparisons with Iraq's wartime photos of slain US soldiers and prisoners of war.

"I think there is a big difference. It is consistent with the Geneva Convention," spokesman Scott McClellan said.

US officials have said that they released the gory pictures, which claim to show the corpses of Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay, to prove to the Iraqi people that the two men really were killed in a firefight in northern Iraq.

 

IRAQ-AL-JAZEERA

Iraq-Al-Jazeera
July 28, 2003

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Two of the most high-profile Arab TV networks reacted angrily Sunday to U.S. claims of biased news coverage about the Iraq war.

Adnan al-Sharif, the manager of Al-Jazeera, said poor translation of their reports was behind the accusations.

"Our news is being poorly translated for the Americans," al-Sharif said.

Earlier, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz accused Al-Jazeera, based in Qatar, and Dubai-based Al-Arabiya of bias in their reporting.

Wolfowitz told Fox News that the networks incite violence against American forces with slanted reports that he asserted are funded by Middle East governments.

"These governments should stop and realize that this is not a game, that they're endangering the lives of American troops," he said.

Al-Arabiya's Editor in Chief Salah Negm said the network is private. "Al-Arabiya's coverage reflects the truth even if that angered some people," he said.

Al-Jazeera was launched with a Qatari government subsidy, but al-Sharif said the station is now "an independent institution."

 

SADDAM'S DAUGHTERS

Saddam's Daughters
August 1, 2003

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- Two of Saddam Hussein's daughters and their nine children received sanctuary Thursday in Jordan on humanitarian grounds, granted by King Abdullah II.

Raghad Saddam Hussein and Rana Saddam Hussein -- who had reportedly been living in humble circumstances in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, since their father's ouster -- arrived in the capital Amman Thursday, Information Minister Nabil al-Sharif told The Associated Press. He refused to say if they traveled through a third country.

U.S. officials say they are closing in on Saddam, but it was not clear if his daughters' departure from Iraq indicated the hunt for their father was nearing an end. Word of the arrival in Jordan of two of Saddam's five children came after his elder sons, Odai and Qusai, were killed in a July 22 firefight with U.S. troops.

Some U.S. military officers in Iraq said the daughters' flight to Jordan was another sign that intensified sweeps are squeezing Saddam and other members of the defeated regime.

"It's good news. Even if it's estranged or extended family, it shows they're on the move," said Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who commands soldiers patrolling Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.

It was not clear whether the Americans had sought the daughters for questioning about their father.

The two daughters had lived private lives and -- unlike their brothers -- were not believed to be wanted for crimes linked to their father's brutal regime. Instead, the women were seen by some as victims of Saddam, who ordered their husbands killed in 1996.

Al-Sharif said Saddam's daughters were allowed to come to the kingdom because they had "run out of all options."

The daughters had been estranged from their father for a time but were believed to have reconciled with Saddam in recent years.

A brother of their late husbands, Jamal Kamel, told The Associated Press that the women "don't know anything about where their father could be. They're not interested in politics."

He said the women were in one of Jordan's palaces under the king's protection but refused to elaborate.

The whereabouts of Saddam's wife Sajida Khairallah Telfah and his fifth and youngest child, daughter Hala, are unknown.

Hala Saddam Hussein's husband, Gen. Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al-Tikriti, was No. 10 on the list of 55 most-wanted former officials of the regime. He surrendered to U.S. forces on May 17, the U.S. Central Command said.

Saddam had a very public affair with Samira Shahbandar, daughter of a prominent Iraqi family, who has been described as his second wife. The two are rumored to have had a son.

Last month, a cousin of Saddam, Izzi-Din Mohammed Hassan al-Majid, had said he would try to help Raghad and Rana apply for asylum in Britain, where he lives. That prompted a statement from Prime Minister Tony Blair that Britain would not consider asylum applications from members of Saddam's family who may have committed human rights abuses.

Long accustomed to extravagance, the women had been living with their nine children in a modest Baghdad home without electricity since their father's ouster, the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported June 1.

Their husbands -- brothers Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel and Saddam Kamel, who were also Saddam's cousins -- defected to Jordan in 1995 and announced plans to work to overthrow Saddam. The two were lured back to Iraq in February 1996 and killed.

In the 1999 book "Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein," authors Andrew and Patrick Cockburn wrote that the sisters were "once Saddam's favorite children, (but they) never forgave him for the killings" of their husbands.

"They assumed he had orchestrated the attack .... They continued to live with their ... children in a family house in Tikrit, never going out, always wearing black, and refusing to see any member of their family apart from their mother," the Cockburns wrote.

But in July, London's Sunday Times quoted Raghad as saying that Saddam "is my father and I am his daughter. He was a very good father."

 

'SADDAM' URGES IRAQIS TO FIGHT ON

'Saddam' urges Iraqis to fight on
BBC
August 1, 2003

The tape is the latest in a series supposedly from Saddam Hussein

A new audio tape purported to be of Saddam Hussein has been aired by the Arabic al-Jazeera satellite channel.
In the recording, the speaker urges Iraqis to fight US forces in Iraq and evict them from the country.

The voice calls on Iraqis to keep their nerve and says the military balance has shifted against the Americans since the end of the war.

Reports from Iraq, meanwhile, say a US convoy has come under attack in the town of Falluja, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Baghdad. Witnesses said at least one attacker was killed in a gun battle, which lasted 90 minutes.

'Glorious resistance'

In the latest tape, the speaker accuses some Iraqis of losing "their sense of balance during the war... and afterwards".

He says "only the actions of the faithful who struggled and fought can evict the invaders".

In the message, the speaker urges Iraqis to retain state property to use in the "glorious resistance".

He expressed confidence that "one day the occupation army will falter and that victory is possible at any moment".

The speaker said the tape was made on Sunday.

The broadcast comes three days after the last message attributed to Saddam Hussein, which acknowledged the deaths of his sons in a fight with US forces.

The CIA said that recording was almost certainly authentic.

US forces have recently intensified the search for Saddam Hussein, who has not been positively sighted since March.