Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

We’re all Israelis now, says Australian politician

October 31, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "We're all Israelis now, says Abbott" (Herald Sun (Australia), Oct. 30, 2003)
2. "Seven suicide bombings thwarted in past week" (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2003)
3. "Two Israelis injured in West Bank shooting" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003)
4. "Jewish settlers weigh merits of sniffer pigs" (London Times, Oct. 29, 2003)
5. "Israel asks for help to trace 'British bombers'" (London Times, Oct. 27, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach five pieces concerning Israel, with summaries first:

1. "We're all Israelis now, says Abbott" (The Herald Sun (Australia), October 30, 2003). [Australian Health Minister] "Tony Abbott has accused the Sydney Peace Prize winner, Palestinian Hanan Ashrawi, of justifying terrorism against civilians, and declared that the Bali bombing has made all Australians "Israelis now". Continuing an assertive defense of Western values and Judeo-Christian beliefs against terrorism, he said instead of "spawning phobias" about Israel, the September 11 and Bali terror attacks should generate a shared suffering between Israel and Western democracies... His comments came as [Australian Prime Minister] John Howard also waded into the debate over the prize, to be awarded in Sydney next week, joining Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer in naming former Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen as a better choice. Mr Howard's spokesman said. "Hanan Ashrawi has not been active in promoting the road map." ... While Mr Howard and Mr Downer back Mr Mazen as a more suitable alternative, the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council refers to his "long history of Holocaust denial" on its official website.

...The Australian's columnist Phillip Adams, said it was not "anti-Semitic to criticise the Israeli Government when it's wrong". "But what is it, then," he asked "to proclaim moral equivalence between an Israeli leadership striving to preserve a liberal, pluralist democracy and Palestinian leadership running a one-party statelet dedicated to destroying its neighbour?"

2. "Seven suicide bombings thwarted in past week" (The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2003). "In the past ten days, the Shin Bet and IDF forces succeeded in thwarting seven potential suicide bomb attacks in Israel, including a double suicide bomb attack that was to have taken place in Beit She'an, and a car bomb attack in Israel. The security establishment registered 41 warnings of plans by terrorists to perpetrate attacks on Wednesday, a security official said, noting that the majority of the warnings received related to potential suicide bomb attacks." [Details of some of the thwarted attacks are given in the full article below.]

3. "Two Israelis injured in West Bank shooting" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003). "Palestinian gunmen opened fire on an Israeli car near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on Wednesday, wounding two passengers, military sources said. It was the latest violence in tit-for-tat bloodshed."

[TG adds: I include this article as an example of how Reuters news service fails to give any details of the two Israeli victims - they were both doctors - and continues to use the term "tit-for-tat" in full knowledge that it provides a highly misleading impression of what is going on in the Middle East. Most of the world's news media take much of their information on the Middle East from Reuters. Not included in Reuters' report was that Dr Valeri Weissbrott was seriously wounded and his wife Nelly suffered from shrapnel wounds and shock. Yasser Arafat's Fatah Al Aqsa Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack.]

4. "Jewish settlers weigh merits of sniffer pigs" (London Times, Oct. 29, 2003). "Israelis are considering using pigs instead of sniffer dogs to help to protect Jewish settlements. Overturning millennia of religious stigma, Gdud Haivri, which provides guard dogs for settlers, has sought rabbinical permission to teach the animals, known for their superior sense of smell, to patrol settlements, locate concealed gunmen and identify weapons and explosives.

... Scientists at the Institute of Animal Science and Research in Lahav Kibbutz have been studying specially bred miniature pigs for the past year... Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov, concedes that many Jews are opposed to the idea "but if Jews are upset, then Muslims will also be and the pigs may be a very important deterrent."

5. "Israel asks for help to trace 'British bombers'" (London Times, Oct. 27, 2003). "Israeli army officials have asked British security agencies for help in tracking down British Muslims whom they fear may be plotting suicide attacks from Syria. Several young British Muslim militants have gone missing after travelling to Syria in recent months, the Israeli officials claim. They say that at least three men travelling on genuine British passports are being sheltered in the Gaza Strip by terrorist groups. The requests being made to British security agencies come after two British citizens - Asif Mohammed Hanif, 21, and Omar Khan Sharif, 27 - staged a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv café on April 30, killing three and wounding 40. The men had told their families that they were going to study in Damascus. Security sources believe that up to 50 other British passport-holders have moved to Syria in the past few months, and some of them cannot be traced.

... Al-Muhajiroun's founder, Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, who gave religious instruction to the two suicide bombers, described how they "died on the battlefield and will now go to paradise". He said: "I knew Sharif very well and I'm very proud of him and any Muslim who will do the same as he did. He died for my sake and the sake of his brothers."

[TG adds: Al-Muhajiroun is an extremist British Moslem organization. Most British Moslems, of course, do not support such extreme views.]

 



FULL ARTICLES

WE'RE ALL ISRAELIS NOW, SAYS ABBOTT

We're all Israelis now, says Abbott
By Dennis Shanahan and Megan Saunders
The Herald Sun (Australia)
October 30, 2003

Tony Abbott has accused the Sydney Peace Prize winner, Palestinian Hanan Ashrawi, of justifying terrorism against civilians, and declared that the Bali bombing has made all Australians "Israelis now".

Continuing an assertive defense of Western values and Judeo-Christian beliefs against terrorism, the Federal Health Minister said instead of "spawning phobias" about Israel, the September 11 and Bali terror attacks should generate a shared suffering between Israel and Western democracies.

His comments came as John Howard also waded into the debate over the prize, to be awarded in Sydney next week, joining Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer in naming former Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen as a better choice.

"Amongst Palestinians over the past year or so a more appropriate choice for the peace prize would be Abu Mazen (also known as Mahmoud Abbas) who made an enormous effort to support the road map for peace in the Middle East and to oppose terrorism," Mr Howard's spokesman said. "Hanan Ashrawi has not been active in promoting the road map."

While Mr Howard and Mr Downer back Mr Mazen as a more suitable alternative, the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council refers to his "long history of Holocaust denial" on its official website.

Multicultural Affairs Minister Gary Hardgrave told The Australian he believed selectors from the Sydney Peace Foundation should have chosen two winners - one from each side of the conflict.

Mr Abbott, responding to criticism of Israel by The Australian's columnist Phillip Adams, said it was not "anti-Semitic to criticise the Israeli Government when it's wrong".

"But what is it, then," he asked "to proclaim moral equivalence between an Israeli leadership striving to preserve a liberal, pluralist democracy and Palestinian leadership running a one-party statelet dedicated to destroying its neighbour?"

Mr Abbott told the Zionist Council of Victoria on Tuesday night it was anti-Semitism that made many Western citizens "habitual critics of Israel even though it's the only functioning liberal democracy anywhere in the Middle East."

"September 11 demonstrated that Israel and the West not only have common values but also share vulnerability to similar enemies," he said in Melbourne.

 

SEVEN SUICIDE BOMBINGS THWARTED IN PAST WEEK

Seven suicide bombings thwarted in past week
By Margot Dudkevich
The Jerusalem Post
October 29, 2003

In the past ten days, the Shin Bet and IDF forces succeeded in thwarting seven potential suicide bomb attacks in Israel, including a double suicide bomb attack that was to have taken place in Beit She'an, and a car bomb attack in Israel.

The security establishment registered 41 warnings of plans by terrorists to perpetrate attacks on Wednesday, a security official told The Jerusalem Post, noting that the majority of the warnings received related to potential suicide bomb attacks.

"People should not be misguided by the supposed calm," the official said, noting that the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank continues in its efforts to launch attacks against Israeli citizens.

On October 19, security forces arrested two senior terrorist commanders affiliated with the Islamic Jihad and Tanzim who were described by officials as 'ticking bombs'. The two, Said Zid and Yakub Jawadra were planning to perpetrate an imminent suicide bomb attack in Beit She'an and later disclosed to security officials the whereabouts of the two explosive belts, each weighing ten kilos they planned to use in the attack.

On October 20, Fares Abu Hamda, a Palestinian teenager affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and described by security officials as a " potential attacker" was arrested in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus.

A day later near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, IDF forces shot a number of terrorists attempting to infiltrate members of their cell into Israel to perpetrate attacks.

In Hebron, On October 22, IDF forces arrested Imad Natsche and Wajah Abu Shama, members of the Islamic Jihad who they spotted hiding in a car parked next to Natsche's home. Troops shot and killed Tanzim fugitive A-Khadi Natsche spotted fleeing from Imad's house.

Basem Natsura an Islamic Jihad fugitive was arrested in Kalkilya by security forces and revealed plans to smuggle a car rigged with explosives into Israel.

Sami Jeradat, an Islamic Jihad commander was arrested in Silat A Hartiyah and was involved in the plotting of suicide bomb attacks including the attack at the Maxim restaurant earlier this month in which 22 Israelis were killed and scores wounded.

Officials said Jeradat was also involved in the planning of additional attacks against Israelis. In the same village security forces also arrested Iman Jeradat who assisted Sami in the planning.

Ahmed Hamis a senior PFLP commander was shot and killed while evading arrest by security forces in Kalkilya. Officials said Hamis was involved in plotting and planning shooting and bomb attacks against Israeli vehicles traveling on roads in the area and was also involved in attempts to launch suicide and shooting attacks against Israelis on the seam line border.

In the village of Rai' security forces arrested Mohammed Melahem a member of the Islamic Jihad who was involved in tracking down and recruiting two potential suicide bombers willing to perpetrate attacks on behalf of the Islamic Jihad.

In Ramallah, security forces arrested Osama Braham, an Islamic Jihad commander and bomb expert, who operates in the Tulkarm area and was visiting in the city.

During his investigation it was revealed that he prepared a number of bombs and smuggled potential suicide bombers on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine into Ramallah.

 

TWO ISRAELIS INJURED IN WEST BANK SHOOTING

Two Israelis injured in West Bank shooting
Reuters
October 29, 2003

Palestinian gunmen opened fire on an Israeli car near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on Wednesday, wounding two passengers, military sources said.

Israel Radio said one Israeli was seriously wounded in the attack near the Palestinian city of Jenin.

It was the latest violence in tit-for-tat bloodshed that has sidelined a U.S.-backed peace "road map" that set out steps leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005.

 

JEWISH SETTLERS WEIGH MERITS OF SNIFFER PIGS

Jewish settlers weigh merits of sniffer pigs
From Stephen Farrell in Jerusalem
London Times
October 29, 2003

Israelis are considering using pigs instead of sniffer dogs to help to protect Jewish settlements.

Overturning millennia of religious stigma, Gdud Haivri, which provides guard dogs for settlers, has sought rabbinical permission to teach the animals, known for their superior sense of smell, to patrol settlements, locate concealed gunmen and identify weapons and explosives.

Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov, a spokesman for the group, said that settler rabbis had granted approval after deciding that saving lives overrode all other considerations. The former New Yorker, who left America for the ultra-nationalist Jewish settlement of Kfar Tappuah, on the West Bank, said: "As a Jew I certainly want to have nothing to do with pigs, but I would get my hands dirty if they are going to save lives.

"We also know that Muslims, according to Islam, are not allowed to touch pigs, especially before they blow themselves up, because they believe they have a place in Heaven afterwards.

"If they know there may be pigs in the area it might deter them."

Scientists at the Institute of Animal Science and Research in Lahav Kibbutz have been studying specially bred miniature pigs for the past year.

Dan Ratner, the institute's founder, said: "The pigs can learn quite fast, find out objects and mark them by sitting near by. Usually their smell is much better than dogs, they are cheaper to keep and they can be taught very easily."

Gdud Haivri usually uses Malinois shepherd dogs, which cost up to £7,000 to breed, train and transport from Belgium.

Rabbi Daniel Shilo of Kedumim, chairman of the rabbinical committee of Judea and Samaria, told The Times: "If it is a matter of saving lives, my judgment is that it should be permissible to breed them in Israel, but the final decision should be given by the chief rabbinical authorities."

Mr Ben-Yaakov concedes that many Jews are opposed to the idea. "We would lose some of the financial support we receive from religious Jews in Israel and abroad," he said, "but if Jews are upset, then Muslims will also be and the pigs may be a very important deterrent."

 

ISRAEL ASKS FOR HELP TO TRACE 'BRITISH BOMBERS'

Israel asks for help to trace 'British bombers'
By Daniel McGrory
London Times
October 27, 2003

Israeli army officials have asked British security agencies for help in tracking down British Muslims whom they fear may be plotting suicide attacks from Syria.

Several young British Muslim militants have gone missing after travelling to Syria in recent months, the Israeli officials claim.

They say that at least three men travelling on genuine British passports are being sheltered in the Gaza Strip by terrorist groups.

There are suspicions that a handful of young militants from Britain may have also slipped into Iraq to join in attacks against American and British troops.

While officials accept that the vast majority of young men going to Damascus are genuine students, the concern is that militants can easily slip across Syria's borders into Israel or Iraq.

The requests being made to British security agencies come after two British citizens - Asif Mohammed Hanif, 21, and Omar Khan Sharif, 27 - staged a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv café on April 30, killing three and wounding 40.

The men had told their families that they were going to study in Damascus.

Security sources believe that up to 50 other British passport-holders have moved to Syria in the past few months, and some of them cannot be traced.

A key question is whether men such as Hanif and Sharif were recruited for their mission in Britain or when they reached Damascus. A senior Israeli army officer told The Times that the bombing at Mike's Bar was not an operation run by local Palestinians but had been planned abroad.

He said that Hanif, who had been in Syria for five months before crossing into Israel, had met leading figures from Hamas in Damascus.

The officer claimed to have evidence that Sharif was "activated" for the suicide mission before he left Britain.

"We certainly believe there are other British citizens who plan to do the same," he said.

Three times in as many months he said that the Israeli Army had been ordered to track down British passport-holders who, he claims, came into the country posing as peace demonstrators, just as Hanif and Sharif did.

He refused to say whether any of the three men had been found.

"Having a genuine British passport, as these two had, certainly made it easier for them to cross into Israel and move around the country," he said.

Israeli diplomats have made their concerns known to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Officials also handed over documents that were printed in Britain by an extremist group based in the Midlands, urging others to become suicide bombers.

There is no suggestion that the Syrian authorities had any knowledge of the men's mission, or that other militants have definitely followed their route.

A Syrian official said that there had been an increase in the number of applications from young British men to visit the country in the past 12 months, though all have given the addresses of colleges and other institutions where they intend to pursue their studies.

Their own investigation is continuing into the activities of Hanif and Sharif.

The younger of the two, Hanif, was killed in the popular sea-front café after detonating explosives strapped around his body. Sharif ran away after his belt failed to detonate and his body was found 12 days later in the sea close to where the attack had been carried out.

His family in Britain have not been given any official explanation as to how he ended up in the sea and whether his death was murder or suicide.

Some of his supporters claim that he was interrogated and later murdered by the Israeli security services.

Neither man had any criminal record, though intelligence agencies had monitored them attending meetings staged by the extremist al-Muhajiroun group, which has praised Osama bin Laden and the hijackers who carried out the September 11 attacks.

Al-Muhajiroun's founder, Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, who gave religious instruction to the two suicide bombers, described how they "died on the battlefield and will now go to paradise".

He said: "I knew Sharif very well and I'm very proud of him and any Muslim who will do the same as he did. He died for my sake and the sake of his brothers."

Earlier this month Israeli forces launched an air strike on the Ein Saheb camp inside Syria which they claim was a training base for terrorists.

Syria denied the claim and complained to the United Nations Security Council that the Israelis had attacked a refugee camp. Military commentators said it was the first time that Israel had struck so far inside Syrian territory since the 1973 Middle East war.


Pan-European poll calls Israel the biggest threat to world peace

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach two pieces concerning Israel, with summaries first:

1. "European Poll Calls Israel a Big Threat to World Peace" (The International Herald Tribune, October 31, 2003). "Almost 60 percent of Europeans say that Israel is a larger threat to world peace than North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan, according to a poll scheduled to be made public on Monday by the European Commission. The result is from a survey of about 7,500 people across the European Union...

Pollsters presented a list of 15 countries and asked: "Tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world." Fifty-nine percent of Europeans chose Israel. El Pais, the Spanish daily newspaper, said in an article Thursday that the Dutch, Austrians and Luxembourgers were most likely to see Israel as a "threat in the world". The full results, with breakdowns from each country, will be included in the report to be released on Monday..."

[TG adds: This article ran very prominently with a large headline running across the top of page 10 of today's New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune. Also, running across the top of page 4 of today's International Herald Tribune (the editorial page) there was another article and large headline, stating "The road to a new West goes through Jerusalem."]

2. [This is a follow-up to the previous responses I sent earlier this week to Professor Tony Judt's article in the New York Review of Books advocating that Israel cease to exist as a Jewish state.]

"A response to Tony Judt, by Rabbi Danny Gordis" (based on Judt's article and a follow-up letter Judt wrote saying more of the same). "Though I'm sure you weren't wondering, I'll begin by telling you that we had a pretty nice Shabbat here in Jerusalem. The weather was beautiful, we had a house full of guests, there was a wedding across the street that went way into the night. And nothing blew up. Kind of an idyllic day here in Jerusalem. For the most part.

But not entirely. You see, I made the mistake of re-reading your recent piece in the New York Review of Books (Israel: The Alternative) before heading off to shul in the morning. Big mistake. You can imagine how distressing it must be for someone living here in Jerusalem to read an article in a journal as respectable as the New York Review of Books that declares the State of Israel an "insecure, defensive microstate born of imperial collapse," that the idea of a Jewish State is a "late-nineteenth century separatist project" and that Israel, an "anachronism," should be replaced.

... Why did your piece bother me so much? Some of it, of course, was the parts that were plain silly. You note that Ehud Olmert, Israel's deputy Prime Minister, has insisted that Israel still has the option of killing Arafat, which, "you say," reveals Zionism's "fascist" elements.

... I agree with you that Sharon is an unsavory fellow, that we could be doing more to promote some possibility of peace. So what's anti-Semitic about your article, you want to know? It's the fact that not so deep down, you just wish the Jews would disappear. No, of course you don't say it that clearly. That's no longer politically correct in the academic circles you inhabit. So you just hint at it. "In a world where nations and people increasingly intermingle and intermarry at will . where more and more of us have multiple elective identities and would feel falsely constrained if we had to answer to just one of them; in such a world, Israel is an anachronism."

... The real problem, you see, isn't that Israel is an anachronism. It's that Judaism, or Jews, is an anachronism. We are so very annoying in our insistence that we don't want to completely blend in. Now, when you compare us to Islam today, I think we've done a pretty admirable job of blending in. If Islam were to embrace modernity and western culture the way that we have, the world would be a much better place. The World Trade Center would still be standing.

... But, of course, it's not surprising that you focus on Jews, for example, and not Muslims. The world has a history of having a problem with the Jews' identities. It would be hard to imagine a Jewish community more blended into its surrounding culture than German Jewry in the early 1930's. Yet they can't tell you much about their lives, you see, because their history didn't end particularly well. They went up smokestacks.

Oh, no. I've slipped again. I know you don't want to hear about the Holocaust. You've told us to drop it. "The circumstances of [Israel's] birth have thus bound Israel's identity inextricably to the Shoah, the German project to exterminate the Jews of Europe. As a result, all criticism of Israel is drawn ineluctably back to the memory of that project, something that Israel's American apologists are shamefully quick to exploit." ("Project"? My God. That's what you call the genocidal attempt to wipe out the Jews? A "project"? How clinical can someone possibly get?)

... I'm sorry that you find us so bothersome. I'm sorry that the only way you can see ending this conflict is to do away with us. But we're home, Professor Judt, and your transparent objections notwithstanding, we're here to stay.

 



FULL ARTICLES

EUROPEAN POLL CALLS ISRAEL A BIG THREAT TO WORLD PEACE

European Poll Calls Israel a Big Threat to World Peace
International Herald Tribune
October 31, 2003

Almost 60 percent of Europeans say that Israel is a larger threat to world peace than North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan, according to a poll scheduled to be made public Monday by the European Commission.

The result from a survey of about 7,500 people across the European Union was confirmed Thursday by an official at the commission.

Although Europeans have been consistently critical of Israel in recent surveys, the poll appears to show a severe souring of attitudes toward the Jewish state.

Full details of the survey were not available Thursday but an official at the commission confirmed that Israel was rated first when pollsters presented a list of 15 countries and asked: "Tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world." Fifty-nine percent of Europeans chose Israel, according to the official at the commission, who said the data were still being processed and could change, but only by "a matter of decimals." The poll was limited to Europe so there is no way to directly compare the results to U.S. attitudes. Americans tend to be sympathetic toward Israel in surveys.

El Pais, the Spanish daily newspaper, said in an article Thursday that the Dutch, Austrians and Luxembourgers were most likely to see Israel as a "threat in the world" whereas the French were less likely. The full results, with breakdowns from each country, will be included in the report Monday.

El Pais said that the survey - which included many questions about Iraq and the U.S. presence there - was due out earlier but that the European Commission waited until after the Iraq donors' conference in Madrid finished last week and then released only partial results on Monday.

Five of the questions, including the one about which countries were seen as a threat, were held back and will be released Monday.

A spokesman for the commission, Gerassimos Thomas, said the delay was due to "technical" reasons. He refused to comment on the substance of the survey or whether it represented the commission's views.

"This is nothing more than providing a service," he said of the survey, which is known as the Eurobarometer.

The commission regularly makes opinion polls public but this was the first time that the question about threatening countries was included.

The survey was coordinated by the commission but carried out by a contractor in October.

The same number of people - about 500 - were polled in each of the EU's 15 countries, giving much more weight to the views of people in small countries like Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland.

In the parts of the survey made public Monday, 80 percent said they wanted Europe to be more involved in the Middle East peace process.

Some 58 percent of those polled said the United Nations should manage the reconstruction of Iraq, compared with 44 percent who said the Iraqi provisional government should and 18 percent who said it was a job for the United States.

But 65 percent said they thought the United States should pay for the rebuilding of Iraq.

A majority of Europeans surveyed (54 percent) said they were not favorable to sending European peacekeepers to Iraq. And more than two-thirds said that the war in Iraq was not justified.

In a survey conducted last year for the Pew Research Center for the People the Press and the International Herald Tribune, British, Italian, French and German respondents said they sympathized more with the Palestinians than Israelis.

By contrast, 41 percent of Americans said they sympathized with Israelis and only 13 percent with the Palestinians.

 

RABBI DANNY GORDIS' RESPONSE TO TONY JUDT

Rabbi Danny Gordis' response to Tony Judt

Dear Professor Judt,

Though I'm sure you weren't wondering, I'll begin by telling you that we had a pretty nice Shabbat here in Jerusalem. The weather was beautiful, we had a house full of guests, there was a wedding across the street that went way into the night. And nothing blew up. Kind of an idyllic day here in Jerusalem. For the most part.

But not entirely. You see, I made the mistake of re-reading your recent piece in the New York Review of Books (Israel: The Alternative) before heading off to shul in the morning. Big mistake. You can imagine how distressing it must be for someone living here in Jerusalem to read an article in a journal as respectable as the New York Review of Books that declares the State of Israel an "insecure, defensive microstate born of imperial collapse," that the idea of a Jewish State is a "late-nineteenth century separatist project" and that Israel, an "anachronism," should be replaced by a bi-national State of Jews and Arabs, bringing the Zionist project to an end.

Wow. That is one annoying piece of writing. Admittedly, you're not the only intellectual suggesting that it's time to declare the experiment called Israel a failure. A recent issue of The Nation has an article by Daniel Lazare saying more or less the same thing, and even Israelis like Meron Benvenisti have declared Zionism dead, agreeing with you that it's time for Jews and Arabs to share one state before the river and the sea.

So if others have said this already, why did your piece bother me so much? Some of it, of course, was the parts that were plain silly. You note that Ehud Omert, Israel's deputy Prime Minister, has insisted that Israel still has the option of killing Arafat, which, "you say," reveals Zionism's "fascist" elements. "Political murder is what fascists do," you write. I'll be sure to point that out to the American troops hunting for Saddam and Osama bin Ladin. Or your suggestion that the real reason for the war on Iraq was to improve Israel's strategic position in the Middle East. You really expect us to believe that the United States would demolish an entire country for Israel's sake, at the expense of billions of dollars, and then quibble with us about where to put the security fence? To say that that's counter-intuitive would be to put things mildly.

But I can deal with the silly parts of your article. What is much harder for me is the not so subtle anti-Semitic underpinning of the whole argument. Now, I know how you'll respond. You'll say, "There they go again. Any time anyone says anything negative about Israel, they reply, in some knee-jerk fashion, that it's just anti-Semitism." But you'll be wrong if you say that. I agree with you that Sharon is an unsavory fellow, that we could be doing more to promote some possibility of peace. I wouldn't compare him to the inventor of modern terrorism and the butcher of the Middle East, Yassir Arafat, as you do, but I disagree with a lot of what he does. I'm uncomfortable with many of Israel's policies. And I don't believe one has to be Jewish to point out those failures. No, you have a right to critique.

So what's anti-Semitic about your article, you want to know? It's the fact that not so deep down, you just wish the Jews would disappear. No, of course you don't say it that clearly. That's no longer politically correct in the academic circles you inhabit. So you just hint at it. "In a world where nations and people increasingly intermingle and intermarry at will . where more and more of us have multiple elective identities and would feel falsely constrained if we had to answer to just one of them; in such a world, Israel is an anachronism." But here's the rub, Professor Judt. Many Jews (most, I suspect) don't want to intermingle and intermarry at will. Of course, we have multiple identities, but we answer to one before the others. We take pride in the fact that Jews have survived for thousands of years. We believe that Jews have something to contribute (as do other cultures, obviously) to the world, and frankly, we don't think of our Jewishness as an "elective identity." To many of us it's a gift, and a responsibility. We're not around today because our ancestors walked away from their Jewish obligations, and we don't plan to start walking away now.

The real problem, you see, isn't that Israel is an anachronism. It's that Judaism, or Jews, is an anachronism. We are so very annoying in our insistence that we don't want to completely blend in. Now, when you compare us to Islam today, I think we've done a pretty admirable job of blending in. If Islam were to embrace modernity and western culture the way that we have, the world would be a much better place. The World Trade Center would still be standing, the United States would not be in Iraq, there would be no American troops in Afghanistan, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be over, because rejectionist Palestinian leaders would have accepted the State that they were offered in both 1947 (by the United Nations) and in 2000 (by Ehud Barak's government). If there's any group you should be annoyed with for refusing to have "multiple identities," it's Islam, not Judaism.

But, of course, it's not surprising that you focus on Jews, for example, and not Muslims. The world has a history of having a problem with the Jews' identities. It would be hard to imagine a Jewish community more blended into its surrounding culture than German Jewry in the early 1930's. Yet they can't tell you much about their lives, you see, because their history didn't end particularly well. They went up smokestacks.

Oh, no. I've slipped again. I know you don't want to hear about the Holocaust. You've told us to drop it. "The circumstances of [Israel's] birth have thus bound Israel's identity inextricably to the Shoah, the German project to exterminate the Jews of Europe. As a result, all criticism of Israel is drawn ineluctably back to the memory of that project, something that Israel's American apologists are shamefully quick to exploit."

Well, if mentioning the Shoah is shameful or exploitative, I'm guilty as charged. Since you're a historian, though, I suggest that what's shameful is not our mentioning the Shoah, but your subtle minimizing of its scope. Because you, more than almost anyone else, know much better. The Shoah wasn't just Germany's project. If I remember my European history correctly (but correct me if I'm wrong, because you're the Professor of European History), there were quite a few other countries who joined in this "project." ("Project"? My God. That's what you call the genocidal attempt to wipe out the Jews? A "project"? How clinical can someone possibly get?)

Nor was the target just "European Jewry." Those are the Jews who were, indeed, destroyed. But Hitler had a grander plan. Surely, he didn't plan for a "Museum of a Vanished Race" because he planned to leave non-European Jewry alive. When he was done, there were going to be no Jews left anywhere. It wasn't about European Jewry, which would have been bad enough. It was about Jews everywhere. It was about eradicating Judaism, a "project" I suspect you'd like to see completed, but we'll come back to that.

Even those who fought the Axis powers weren't exactly wild about the Jews. Roosevelt closed the borders of the United States, Canada didn't let the Jews in, and the British also sealed the shores of Palestine. In that regard, you're in good company when you express your distaste for the Jews, and I suspect you'll have good company for a long time to come. This month, you've got the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahatir Mohamad, who is annoyed with the Jews for ruling the world. But others will follow.

The problem for Mahatir Mohamad, and for you, is that the Shoah and its tactics are no longer politically correct. The world frowns on ethnic cleansing these days (which is why you accuse Israel of being willing to do that, even though you know it's absurd; we've long had the power and have never done anything of the sort, and anyone who knows anything about Israeli public opinion knows that it's unthinkable to the vast majority of Israelis), so one has to subtly come up with other ways to end not just Zionism, but the Jewish people. And that's where your article comes in. Let's just end the Jewish State and put an end to the fighting. Sounds reasonable. But you know what many others, Jews included, haven't yet figured out. The end of the Jewish State is the end of Judaism as we know it.

Would there be some Jews left who would practice a several thousand year old religious tradition? Of course there would, you're right. But the thriving, flourishing Judaism that the world knows today is a Judaism that can exist only with a Jewish State. How many novels are written in Hebrew outside of Israel? I'm not aware of a single one, but there are certainly very, very few. How significant is the production of Jewish art, or high culture, outside of Israel? Relatively speaking, there's almost none. How many people would speak Hebrew -- the language that allows access to Judaism's critical and formative texts -- if not for Israel? Very few, indeed.

But Israel has the Jewish cultural productivity that it does because it is only in Israel that Jews make up the majority of the population, it is only in Israel where a Jewish consciousness is part of the rhythm of the society, its media, its artists, its women and men of letters. Where else, as Israelis debate whether or not to follow through on a prisoner exchange that would free Elchanan Tenenbaum in exchange for hundreds of terrorists, even though Tenenbaum now appears to have been captured when he traveled to Abu Dhabi for some illegal purpose, would even secular citizens offer their opinion about a possible prisoner of war trade by citing the case of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, the great Talmudic sage of the 13th century? The Maharam of Rothenburg, as he's known, was also kidnapped, but when he heard that the Jewish community had raised the money for his ransom, he realized that if he were freed, other Jews would be similarly kidnapped, and he refused to allow the deal. He rotted in prison until his death. Many of us take pride in conversations like that, in dialogue in which the richness of Jewish history, law and expression is often the foundation of our contemporary discourse. But only in a country that's Jewish at its core will the radio waves be filled with the discussion of a 13th century Talmudist as people opine on a current affairs topic. It's that sort of cultural richness which is unique to post-War Judaism; it's that sort of cultural richness that only a Jewish culture in a Jewish state can provide. And it's that cultural richness that you want to see eradicated.

No, I understand. You'll say that you have no objection to that cultural richness surviving. You just want the political and military battles to cease. Enough bloodshed. Let's share the land, and then Jews can flourish without having to die in a never-ending conflict. But there are solutions to this conflict, though you deny them, that do not require dismantling our country. They'll be hard to implement, true, but they're not impossible. So why advocate doing away with us? Because, Professor Judt, you know in a bi-national state, Jews would almost immediately become a minority. And with time, a rather small minority. How well would we fare there? Well, let's ask ourselves. How many westerners do you see running to Egypt, to Saudi Arabia, to Jordan, to Syria, to Iraq, to Iran or to Lebanon (for starters) so that they can live in an environment in which they'll have complete and unfettered access to cultural expression and flourishing? (Even Israeli Arabs overwhelming say that they wouldn't move to Palestine when the State is created; they'd rather live in the Jewish State.) Those are the kinds of places that you suggest we re-create in order to permit the Jews to thrive? Surely you jest.

And one final question, if you don't mind. Why is it that when Ceausescu turns Romania into a living hell, no one suggests doing away with Romania? Or when Iraq menaces the world, the United States invades Iraq, not to destroy it, but to save it and return it to her people (with minimal success, I agree). When North Korea announces its arms proliferation program, the discussion is about how to contain North Korea; no one says that North Korea has no right to exist. Why do we hear claims that a country has no right to exist only when it comes to Israel? Doesn't that strike you as odd?

Sadly, though, it's not that odd. Throughout your article, you keep reminding us that the world has changed. But your brave new world doesn't seem all that brave to me, or all that new. The French still have a country of their own, and a place to root their culture. And the same with the Germans, and the Swiss, and the English and so on. No, the only culture that you think doesn't need or deserve a place to have roots is Jewish culture. The only people threatened by your view of the world are the Jews. No one's talking about doing away with France. Alas, the world hasn't changed almost at all. That's the real problem.

Happily, though, reading your piece wasn't the last thing that I did on Shabbat. When we got home from shul, the whole discussion of Elechanan Tenenbaum started again. Books flew off shelves, Jewish history suddenly came alive, and our kids avidly participated in the kind of discussion they could have only in a country where they have a right to believe that Jews should make distinctly Jewish decisions about the fates of other Jews. Not bad given where the Jewish people was half a century ago. Then, at night, my wife and I went to the movies. We saw Costra-Gavras' film, AMEN. I know. More Holocaust. I apologize.

As we waited for the movie to begin, we couldn't help but notice the makeup of the crowd. Four native Israeli thirty-somethings in the row in front of us, some American retirees in the row behind us, and to our left, two elderly men speaking French. The movie, as you know, isn't an easy one to watch. But as powerful as it was, perhaps the most moving thing was what we heard during the very few scenes that take place in the concentration camps. It was, obviously, silent in the theatre, except for the sound of the film, and except for the sound of one of the French men weeping as he saw the place in which he had undoubtedly been. You watch that movie and the world's refusal to care, you hear the sounds of this man sobbing, remembering God only knows what, and I must tell you, Professor Judt, that with all the problems that Israel has, and they are many, I walked out of the theatre with renewed gratitude that we have this place, and like my fellow Israelis, I suspect, determined that we'll never give it up. Never.

Virtually every other major culture in the world has a home, Professor Judt. Almost everyone. Jews have learned what happens when we don't have one. We've been there, and we're not going back. Everything about this place reminds us that we are home, and everything about our history reminds that we need this home.

I'm sorry that you find us so bothersome. I'm sorry that the only way you can see ending this conflict is to do away with us. But we're home, Professor Judt, and your transparent objections notwithstanding, we're here to stay.


Iraq 23: “Another Vietnam? No,” says military expert

October 30, 2003

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is part of an occasional series of updates about the situation in Iraq.

I attach 12 articles, with summaries first.

CONTENTS

1. "Ramadan seen month of virtue and violence in Mideast" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003)
2. "U.S. postwar death toll in Iraq hits new milestone" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003)
3. "FACTBOX - Table of military casualties in Iraq" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003)
4. "Recent bombings in Iraq since August" (AP, Oct. 27, 2003)
5. "Holy month of Ramadan begins for Muslims" (UPI news agency, Oct. 26, 2003)
6. "Syria slams ICRC attack as harming Iraqi interests" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003)
7. "Iraq - The Unanswered Question" (AP, Oct. 29, 2003)
8. "2 Al Jazeera Staffers Are Held in Iraq" (AP, Oct. 29, 2003)
9. "Another Vietnam? No" (New York Post, Oct. 29, 2003)
10. "American Soldiers Kill Six Iraqi Civilians After a Bomb Explosion Near a U.S. Convoy" (New York Times, Oct. 29, 2003)
11. "Air Raid Kills 22 Taliban, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan" (Reuters, Oct. 28, 2003)
12. "Ten Taliban Killed in Fighting With Allies" (AP, Oct. 27, 2003)



SUMMARIES

1. "Ramadan seen month of virtue and violence in Mideast" (Reuters, Dubai bureau, Oct. 29, 2003). "From a holy month of piety and sacrifice, Islam's Ramadan has evolved into a prime time for attacks by Muslim militants seeking a fast track to Paradise, and this year it appears to be no different. Ramadan, which began in most of the Middle East on Monday, got off to a violent start in Iraq, where synchronised suicide bombings killed 35 people. A day later, Washington warned Americans not to travel to Saudi Arabia because of information on possible attacks on aviation and Western targets. Egyptian militant Yasser al-Sirry who runs the London-based Islamic Observation Centre, said: "Ramadan is a blessed time when good deeds are rewarded 10-fold. If you are martyred in Ramadan, that's even better." Islam strictly forbids the killing of non-combatants during conflict and many clerics frown upon suicide attacks. But analysts and Islamists say the heightened religious fervour of Ramadan appears to encourage extremism. In Algeria, where an estimated 150,000 people were killed during an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, residents greeted Ramadan with fear as it is traditionally a time for attacks. In ancient and modern Islamic history, Ramadan has also been a time of great victories for Muslim armies. "Shedding blood during Ramadan brings them (militants) greater martyrdom and closer to God," said Mounir Boudjema, an expert on Algerian Islamist rebel groups."

2. "U.S. postwar death toll in Iraq hits new milestone" (Reuters, Baghdad bureau, Oct. 29, 2003). Two U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack north of Baghdad late on Tuesday, the U.S. military said, taking the combat death toll among U.S. troops in Iraq since the war higher than the wartime total.

3. "FACTBOX - Table of military casualties in Iraq" (Reuters World Report, Oct. 29, 2003). Reuters provides a table of casualties suffered by U.S., British and other forces, as well as Iraqis, since the U.S.-led assault on Iraq began on March 20. The figures for Iraqi civilian dead are estimated at between 7,776 and 9,587, according to the web site www.iraqbodycount.net, run by academics and "peace activists".

4. "Recent bombings in Iraq since August" (AP, October 27, 2003). Here, the Associated Press, lists recent bombings in Iraq.

5. "Holy month of Ramadan begins for Muslims" (UPI news agency, Bahrain, Oct. 26, 2003). "Cannon fire signaled the start of Ramadan on the island of Bahrain early Monday. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a month of fasting and reflection for more than a billion Muslims worldwide. For the entire month, starting at dawn until immediately after sunset, Muslims refrain from drinking, eating, smoking and sexual relations. Muslims believe prayers on that night will be answered and God will reward the faithful who stay up late praying for the atonement of sins and a place in paradise after resurrection."

6. "Syria slams ICRC attack as harming Iraqi interests" (Reuters, Damascus bureau, Oct. 29, 2003). Syria condemned as "terrorism" on Wednesday a deadly suicide attack on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baghdad this week, saying such attacks harmed the Iraqi people's interests... A U.S. general has said one attacker captured alive in an attempted suicide bombing on a police station on that day was carrying a Syrian passport.

7. "Iraq - The Unanswered Question" (By Charles J. Hanley, AP Special Correspondent, Oct. 29, 2003). "Twelve bombings and three months later, U.S. occupation authorities appear no closer to halting the Iraq terror offensive than on the August morning when the first exploding vehicle ripped through Jordan's embassy in Baghdad. Some American officials were quick to blame diehard Saddam Hussein loyalists for the latest Baghdad suicide bombings. Others pointed to "foreign fighters." But in Baghdad itself, the U.S.-led occupation made clear it's still too early to answer the urgent questions of who's behind the attacks and how to stop them."

8. "2 Al Jazeera Staffers Are Held in Iraq" (Associated Press, October 29, 2003) Coalition forces in Iraq have detained two Al Jazeera staffers on allegations that they had prior knowledge of a car bombing in Baghdad, the editor of the Arab satellite television station said Tuesday... The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists has criticized U.S. military forces for what it called an increased harassment of reporters since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

9. "Another Vietnam? No" (By Ralph Peters, New York Post, October 29, 2003). "Every lost service member matters, but at the present casualty rate it would take 15 years for our dead in Iraq to surpass the number of Americans butchered on 9/11. Better to fight like lions than to die like sheep... Iraq another Vietnam? Hell, even Vietnam wasn't the Vietnam of left-wing baby-talk politics and campus political astrology. Our Vietnamese enemies represented a mass movement. The Iraqi terrorists represent a small, bloodthirsty movement to oppress the masses... Did Operation Iraqi Freedom create terrorists? No. It terrorized the terrorists. Now it's flushing them out of their hiding places. We'll be killing and capturing them for years. But that's the only approach that works..."

[TG adds: I attach these final three articles to illustrate how in general the Western media does not give nearly as much prominence to the deaths of civilians and "militants" in Iraq and Afghanistan as it does in "Palestine."]

10. "American Soldiers Kill Six Iraqi Civilians After a Bomb Explosion Near a U.S. Convoy" (New York Times, October 29, 2003). "FALLUJA, Iraq - American soldiers killed six civilians just west of this city on Monday after a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy, according to town officials and witnesses. The soldiers, who were on the main road to Falluja when the bomb exploded, fired on a minivan heading in the opposite direction on a different road more than 100 yards away, witnesses said. A spokesman for the American military in Baghdad offered only a general response to questions about the incident, saying he had no details about what had happened but he believed the use of force was justified. Four people in the minivan died, and two were severely wounded, Mr. Saleh said. He showed what he said were photographs of the shattered van that he had taken immediately after the incident. The photographs show a gruesome scene. Pieces of bodies cover the van's seats, sharing space with a set of brown prayer beads. A headless, legless torso lies on the ground beside the van... Since early September, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division have killed more than 20 civilians and Iraqi police officers in and around Falluja in incidents where the victims have put up little or no resistance, according to accounts from witnesses."

11. "Air Raid Kills 22 Taliban, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan" (Reuters, October 28, 2003) At least 22 guerrillas from the ousted Taliban regime and al Qaeda network were killed in an aerial attack by U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan's southeastern Paktika province, the region's governor said on Tuesday.

12. "Ten Taliban Killed in Fighting With Allies" (AP, Oct. 27, 2003) U.S. and Afghan troops patrolling the rugged border with Pakistan killed at least 10 suspected Taliban who ambushed them with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, Afghan officials said Monday.

 


FULL ARTICLES

RAMADAN SEEN MONTH OF VIRTUE AND VIOLENCE IN MIDEAST

Ramadan seen month of virtue and violence in Mideast
By Miral Fahmy
Reuters, Dubai office
October 29, 2003

From a holy month of piety and sacrifice, Islam's Ramadan has evolved into a prime time for attacks by Muslim militants seeking a fast track to Paradise, and this year it appears to be no different.

Ramadan, which began in most of the Middle East on Monday, got off to a violent start in Iraq, where synchronised suicide bombings killed 35 people -- the worst since U.S. troops ousted Saddam Hussein in April. [TG adds: This isn't correct: The attack on the Shiite mosque in the south of Iraq killed over 100].

A day later, Washington warned Americans not to travel to Saudi Arabia because of information on possible attacks on aviation and Western targets in the kingdom, which is battling a surge in violence believed to be linked to Osama bin Laden.

"The youth (militants) believe that fasting and jihad go hand in hand," said Egyptian militant Yasser al-Sirry who runs the London-based Islamic Observation Centre.

"Ramadan is a blessed time when good deeds are rewarded 10-fold. If you are martyred in Ramadan, that's even better."

Islam strictly forbids the killing of non-combatants during conflict and many clerics frown upon suicide attacks.

Like many other moderates, Eid Abdel-Hamid Youssef, a preacher at Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar Mosque, said there was no linkage between armed resistance and Ramadan.

"Whoever links the month of Ramadan with war and fighting, they are responsible for their actions. But Islam makes no linkage like that at all," he said.

But analysts and Islamists say the heightened religious fervour of Ramadan appears to encourage extremism.

In Algeria, where an estimated 150,000 people were killed during an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, residents greeted Ramadan with fear as it is traditionally a time for attacks.

Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, when practicing Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn to dusk -- a discipline aimed at bettering Muslims' souls.

But in ancient and modern Islamic history, Ramadan has also been a time of great victories for Muslim armies.

Muslims believe that the dead are guaranteed access to heaven during the holy month as the gates of hell are shut.

"Shedding blood during Ramadan brings them (militants) greater martyrdom and closer to God," said Mounir Boudjema, an expert on Algerian Islamist rebel groups.

RIPE RECRUITING TIME

In the Middle East, Ramadan comes this year at a time of despair and bitterness for Muslims who witnessed the fall of Iraq, a Muslim country into "infidel" U.S. hands.

Islamists said that in addition to the spiritual incentive Ramadan provides, the large mosque gatherings are ideal for finding new recurits particularly at a time of growing anti-Western sentiment among many Arabs.

"For terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to find more recruits and whip up the drive of existing members," said Saudi columnist Mansour al-Nogaidan, who was jailed on militancy-related charges in the 1990s.

While it is impossible to predict whether the Middle East will see a surge in violence during Ramadan, analysts said the U.S. presence in Iraq and Israel's bloody confrontation with the Palestinians did not bode well for a peaceful month.

This month, Al Jazeera television broadcast tapes it said were from bin Laden in which he urged Iraqis to wage holy war against Americans and vowed more suicide attacks inside and outside the United States.

Sirry, a member of Egypt's Gamaa al-Islamiya, said bin Laden's calls had fuelled the ambitions of many militants.

"Such tapes, even though they are not related to Ramadan, lift the moral of the brothers in the region," he said. "The situation in Iraq too is encouraging. The more Americans killed there increases the possibility of Americans dying elsewhere."

(Additional reporting by Paul de Bendern in Algiers, Mohammed Abdellah in Cairo)

 

US POSTWAR DEATH TOLL IN IRAQ HITS NEW MILESTONE

U.S. postwar death toll in Iraq hits new milestone
Reuters
October 29, 2003

Two U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack north of Baghdad late on Tuesday, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, taking the combat death toll among U.S. troops in Iraq since the war higher than the wartime total.

A spokesman for the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division said the two soldiers were killed and another was wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.

The deaths brought to 116 the number of U.S. troops killed in hostile action since Washington declared major combat operations over on May 1, compared to 115 U.S. combat deaths during the U.S.-led war, according to official figures.

The attack happened after dark on Tuesday around 120 km (75 miles) north of Baghdad.

Iraqi guerrillas opposed to the U.S.-led occupation attack U.S. forces daily, especially in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" north and west of Baghdad where deposed dictator Saddam Hussein has strong tribal ties.

The mounting death toll in Iraq has put pressure on U.S. President George W. Bush, seeking re-election next year.

Bush on Tuesday blamed the violence in postwar Iraq on members of Saddam Hussein's ousted Baath party and "foreign terrorists."

 

FACTBOX - TABLE OF MILITARY CASUALTIES IN IRAQ

FACTBOX-Table of military casualties in Iraq
Reuters World Report
October 29, 2003

Two U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack north of Baghdad late on Tuesday, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, taking the combat death toll among U.S. troops in Iraq since the war higher than the wartime total.

Following is a table of casualties suffered by U.S., British and other forces, as well as Iraqis, since the U.S.-led assault on Iraq began on March 20. Sources for Iraqi casualties are unofficial.

The figures in brackets refer to casualties since May 1, when U.S. President George W. Bush declared major combat over.

U.S., BRITISH AND OTHER TROOPS KILLED:

COMBAT/ATTACKS

United States 231 (116)

Britain 19 (11)

Other nations

NON-COMBAT

United States 125 (102)

Britain 32 (7)

Other nations 2 (2)

IRAQIS KILLED:

MILITARY 4,895 to 6370

CIVILIANS Between 7,776 and 9,587+

- Unofficial think tank estimates. No official figures available.

+ - Figure compiled on Web site www.iraqbodycount.net, run by academics and peace activists, based on incidents reported by at least two media sources.

NOTE: NON-COMBAT is defined as accidents, U.S. or British fire killing or wounding their own troops, and other incidents unrelated to fighting.

 

RECENT BOMBINGS IN IRAQ SINCE AUGUST

Recent bombings in Iraq since August
The Associated Press
October 27, 2003

A list of recent bombings in Iraq:

Oct. 27: Car bombers strike the international Red Cross headquarters and four police stations across Baghdad, killing about 40 people on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Oct. 26: Iraqi insurgents fire a barrage of rockets at the heavily guarded Al Rasheed Hotel, killing an American colonel and wounding 18 others. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the hotel, but was unhurt.

Oct. 14: A suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle outside the Turkish Embassy, killing the driver and a bystander, and wounding at least 13.

Oct. 12: A suicide car bombing near the Baghdad Hotel leaves eight people dead and at least 32 wounded.

Oct. 9: A suicide bomber drove his Oldsmobile into a police station in Baghdad's Sadr City district, killing himself and nine other people.

Sept. 25: A planted bomb damaged a hotel housing the offices of NBC News, killing a Somali guard and slightly injuring an NBC sound technician.

Sept. 22: A suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint outside U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing himself and an Iraqi policeman who stopped him and wounding 19 people.

Sept. 9: A suicide bomber targeted a U.S. intelligence compound in northern Iraq, killing three people and seriously wounding four American intelligence officers.

Aug. 29: A car bomb explodes outside a mosque in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf, killing more than 85 people including Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.

Aug. 19: A truck bomber struck at the headquarters of the United Nations at the Canal Hotel, killing 23 people, including the top U.N. envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Aug. 7: A car bomb shattered a street outside the walled Jordanian Embassy, killing at 19 people including two children.

 

HOLY MONTH OF RAMADAN BEGINS FOR MUSLIMS

Holy month of Ramadan begins for Muslims
UPI
October 26, 2003

Cannon fire signaled the start of Ramadan on the island of Bahrain early Monday.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a month of fasting and reflection for more than a billion Muslims worldwide.

For the entire month, starting at dawn until immediately after sunset, Muslims refrain from drinking, eating, smoking and sexual relations, the Gulf Daily reported.

In Bahrain, the Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry issued an order forbidding restaurants and coffee shops to open during daylight in Ramadan.

Non-Muslims may eat during the day, but not in public. Anyone seen eating, drinking or smoking during the banned hours will be arrested, the newspaper said.

The holiest night of Ramadan is Lailat Al Qadir, which falls in the last 10 days, Gulf News said.

Muslims believe prayers on that night will be answered and God will reward the faithful who stay up late praying for the atonement of sins and a place in paradise after resurrection.

 

SYRIA SLAMS ICRC ATTACK AS HARMING IRAQI INTERESTS

Syria slams ICRC attack as harming Iraqi interests
Reuters
October 29, 2003

Syria condemned as "terrorism" on Wednesday a deadly suicide attack on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baghdad this week, saying such attacks harmed the Iraqi people's interests.

"Syria strongly condemns the destructive attack on the ICRC offices in Baghdad," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Bushra Kanafani said in remarks run by the official SANA news agency.

"Such operations that target innocent life and humanitarian and international organisations, severely harm the interests of the Iraqi people. They are terrorist acts," she said.

The attack on the ICRC was one of four suicide missions that killed 35 people and wounded 230 on Monday in Baghdad's bloodiest day since Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

A U.S. general has said one attacker captured alive in an attempted suicide bombing on a police station on that day was carrying a Syrian passport.

U.S. President George W. Bush has blamed violence in Iraq on members of Saddam's ousted Baath party and foreign "terrorists," and has said he expects Syria and Iran to enforce border controls to stop infiltrators.

Washington has accused the Damascus government of turning a blind eye to militants crossing into Iraq. Syria has also long been on the U.S. State Department's list of states that support terrorism.

 

IRAQ - THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

Iraq-The Unanswered Question
By Charles J. Hanley
The Associated Press
October 29, 2003

Twelve bombings and three months later, U.S. occupation authorities appear no closer to halting the Iraq terror offensive than on the August morning when the first exploding vehicle ripped through Jordan's embassy in Baghdad.

Some American officials were quick to blame diehard Saddam Hussein loyalists for the latest Baghdad suicide bombings, 45 minutes of coordinated strikes that stunned Iraqis. Others pointed to "foreign fighters." On Tuesday, President Bush blamed both for the siege of Baghdad violence.

But in Baghdad itself, the U.S.-led occupation made clear it's still too early to answer the urgent questions of who's behind the attacks and how to stop them.

The four bombings Monday, killing some three dozen people and wounding more than 200, were the latest in a string stretching back to Aug. 7 and the Jordanian Embassy. Since then, truck and car bombs have devastated the U.N. headquarters, killed an Iraqi religious leader and scores of followers, and struck Turkey's embassy, a hotel and other targets, killing more than 100 more people.

No credible claims of responsibility were made in the major attacks. Though seemingly aimed at discouraging cooperation with the U.S. occupation, the bombings weren't accompanied by any manifesto of goals or demands. And despite physical evidence left behind, investigations seem stalled. "We do not have a case," a top Pentagon officer, Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, admitted last week.

The U.S. command here, reflecting the attitude in Washington, strives to maintain an upbeat tone.

Even after a rocket barrage forced the occupation authority to abandon its main Baghdad hotel on Sunday, the general responsible for security in Baghdad stayed on message. "Absolutely," Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey said when asked whether he still believed that security had improved.

After Monday's quadruple bombings, it was no longer Dempsey but a deputy who appeared before reporters. In the face of massive casualties, Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling still looked for the positive, saying the victims could have been more numerous still if not for "the heroic work of Iraqi police," who aborted a fifth attempt.

Many Iraqis don't see such silver linings. The U.S. occupation "has not been a success," a grim Dr. Jalal F. Massa said after his clinic was wrecked, an incidental victim, in one of Monday's bombings.

The aborted fifth bombing supplied authorities with a live subject for interrogation: a failed would-be suicide driver who was said to carry a Syrian passport.

"I think that's a reasonable supposition," Hertling said later Monday, when asked whether he believed foreign terrorists were carrying out the attacks. "That's something we'll look closely at in the next few days."

Within one day, however, the occupation's Coalition Provisional Authority was cautioning against accepting the "Syrian" theory just yet, or the entire "foreign terrorist" link. "We are not able to make that firm conclusion just now," said a senior official of the U.S.-led coalition, speaking on condition he not be named.

In fact, Dempsey, 1st Armored Division commander, had been more emphatic on Sunday. He said that in Baghdad "we have not seen any infusion of foreign fighters."

The next day, the commander of the military zone north of the capital, Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, echoed Dempsey's assessment for his operations area. "We have not seen them yet," he said of the much-discussed "foreign fighters." Added the general, "We continue to look for that every day."

The uncertainty in Baghdad was underlined by the U.S. command on Tuesday, when a well-placed officer said the need for intelligence information about the mysterious attackers remains acute. "It's needed in a much more robust fashion than we have," he said.

 

2 AL JAZEERA STAFFERS ARE HELD IN IRAQ

2 Al Jazeera Staffers Are Held in Iraq
The Associated Press
October 29, 2003

Coalition forces in Iraq have detained two Al Jazeera staffers on allegations that they had prior knowledge of a car bombing in Baghdad, the editor of the Arab satellite television station said Tuesday.

Coalition military officials said they had no details about the detentions.

U.S. soldiers detained Iraqi cameraman Samer Hamza and a driver while they were covering an explosion at a police station in western Baghdad, Al Jazeera editor Ibrahim Hilal said.

The blast was one of a series of car bombings Monday that killed dozens of people and injured more than 200.

Hilal said the Al Jazeera staffers were held on allegations they had known of the attack before it took place - charges he denied.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera has repeatedly been accused by U.S. officials of biased reporting, accusations the station also denies. Journalists from Al Jazeera and other news organizations occasionally have been held for short periods by coalition troops.

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists has criticized U.S. military forces for what it called an increased harassment of reporters since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

 

ANOTHER VIETNAM? NO

Another Vietnam? No
By Ralph Peters
New York Post
October 29, 2003

Let's leave the phony pieties and hand-wringing to the presidential aspirants and celebrity journalists. Here's the truth:

* Thirty-six dead in a series of suicide bombings in Baghdad? The chump change of strategy. Cold-blooded, but true.

* Another American soldier killed in a roadside bombing? Every lost service member matters, but at the present casualty rate it would take 15 years for our dead in Iraq to surpass the number of Americans butchered on 9/11. Better to fight like lions than to die like sheep.

* Iraq another Vietnam? Hell, even Vietnam wasn't the Vietnam of left-wing baby-talk politics and campus political astrology. Our Vietnamese enemies represented a mass movement. The Iraqi terrorists represent a small, bloodthirsty movement to oppress the masses.

* Did Operation Iraqi Freedom create terrorists? No. It terrorized the terrorists. Now it's flushing them out of their hiding places. We'll be killing and capturing them for years. But that's the only approach that works.

* Has the War on Terror made Americans less safe? Despite the dishonest claims of Democratic presidential hopefuls, the answer is an unequivocal "No!" Where is the evidence that we're in greater danger now? Where are the terrorist attacks on our cities?

In this war, the only measurement that matters is the absence of attacks. Since 9/11, our government has taken the war to the terrorists and kept us remarkably safe.

* They'll attack America again and prove the War on Terror was a failure. Bull. Oh, we'll eventually be hit again. No counter-terror effort will ever be 100 percent effective. But if Terrorist No. 500 gets through, it doesn't mean there was no value in stopping the first 499. The proof of our success in this war is the undisturbed routine of our daily lives.

* Isn't there some way to stop the attacks in Iraq? Not in the short term. We face those who wish to turn back the clock, in some cases to the days of Saddam's rule, in others to a primitive theocracy. Our enemies are fanatics in the truest sense of the word. Every one we kill is a service to humanity.

* Doesn't the continuation of the attacks mean our approach is flawed? No. There's no magic bullet. This isn't a movie. It's a deadly, long-term struggle for incalculably high stakes.

And there is no rational, responsible alternative to persevering. The only disastrous choice we could make would be to give up.

* How long can the Iraqi terrorists maintain this pace of attacks? We don't know. The Iraqi terrorists themselves don't know. But we should be encouraged, not discouraged, that the best they can do is to ram a few suicide wagons into public buildings. They're not overrunning our troops. They're desperately scraping up all the suicide drivers they can. It's only surprising that they've been able to find so few.

* Do the Iraqi people support the terrorists? No. The Iraqi people just want to live in peace - without Saddam. They don't want our troops to stay forever, but few want us to leave tomorrow. The terror attacks will keep reminding them why they don't want the old regime back. What should we expect in Iraq? Imperfect results. It's an imperfect world. But even a partial success in establishing basic human rights, the rule of law and some form of democracy would be an unprecedented triumph in the region.

* Why are so few nations willing to help us? Because many political leaders want us to fail. Because the United States has returned to its original ideals, supporting freedom, self-determination, the rights of the individual and simple human decency.

Our example terrifies every one of Iraq's neighboring governments and infuriates the Europeans - who long profited from their political love affairs with dictators, even as they damned America for similar behavior.

We have taken a stand for freedom. And freedom still has few friends in this world.

There is only one way in which the situation in Iraq resembles Vietnam: Our enemies realize that they can't win militarily. This is a contest of wills much more than a contest of weapons. The terrorists intend to wear us down.

Our enemies are employing media-genic bombings to leap over our soldiers and influence our political leaders and our elections - just as the Vietnamese did. The suicide bombers themselves are deluded madmen, but the men behind the terror campaign calculate that, if they can just maintain a sufficient level of camera-friendly attacks, our military successes and all the progress of our reconstruction efforts will be eclipsed by a mood of dejection in Washington.

If the terrorists turn out to be right, the butcher's bill in the coming years and decades will be vastly higher than the casualty count in Iraq.

 

AMERICAN SOLDIERS KILL SIX IRAQI CIVILIANS AFTER A BOMB EXPLOSION NEAR A U.S. CONVOY

American Soldiers Kill Six Iraqi Civilians After a Bomb Explosion Near a U.S. Convoy
By Alex Berenson
New York Times
October 29, 2003

American soldiers killed six civilians just west of this city on Monday after a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy, according to town officials and witnesses.

The soldiers, who were on the main road to Falluja when the bomb exploded, fired on a minivan heading in the opposite direction on a different road more than 100 yards away, witnesses said. Their accounts were corroborated by Taha Badewi, the mayor of Falluja, and Jalal Sabri Khamis, the chief of police.

A spokesman for the American military in Baghdad offered only a general response to questions about the incident, saying he had no details about what had happened but he believed the use of force was justified. The spokesman, who insisted on anonymity, said no one from the 82nd Airborne Division, which patrols Falluja, was available for comment.

The base in Falluja where the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne live was under mortar attack at dusk on Tuesday when a reporter and photographer approached seeking comment on the incident. Guards at the base's gate said no one was immediately available for comment.

In the past, commenting on incidents in which Iraqi police or civilians were killed, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of allied forces in Iraq, has said the rules governing American troops here allow them to use overwhelming force on any entity considered hostile, even if it does not represent an immediate threat and is near civilians.

Falluja, in central Iraq, is a center of resistance to the American occupation and has been the scene of repeated violence over the past several months, including a car bomb Tuesday that killed four people.

The shooting on Monday in Falluja occurred about 7:30 a.m. near the intersection of two roads just west of a bridge over the Euphrates River, witnesses and the two town officials said.

An American convoy of about eight vehicles was traveling east toward Falluja, on a road where United States patrols are often attacked. Two bombs planted in the center median exploded, damaging one of the vehicles but not stopping the convoy's progress, witnesses said.

Still heading east, the convoy began to fire, shooting at several vehicles heading southwest, away from the patrol, on a nearby road, said Amir Ahmed Saleh, a passenger in a vehicle on that road.

The convoy's targets included a minivan carrying employees of Iraq's state oil company, Mr. Saleh said. He was a passenger in a second minivan being used by the oil company.

The minivan in which Mr Saleh was riding was ahead of the minivan that was shot, and Mr. Saleh was unhurt.

The American fire devastated the minivan, which crashed into a lamppost by the side of the road, Mr Saleh said.

Four people in the minivan died, and two were severely wounded, Mr. Saleh said. He showed what he said were photographs of the shattered van that he had taken immediately after the incident. The photographs show a gruesome scene. Pieces of bodies cover the van's seats, sharing space with a set of brown prayer beads. A headless, legless torso lies on the ground beside the van. There was no independent means of confirming that the van pictured was the one involved in the incident.

Hassan Hussein, who lives across the road from the spot where the minivan crashed into the lamppost, corroborated Mr. Saleh's account, as did Abbas Hussein, one of Mr. Hussein's neighbors. At least two other cars were also hit, killing two more people, the men said.

"There was an explosion," said Mr. Badewi, the mayor. Referring to the American troops, he added, "They accused some people in their cars of shooting at them, and they opened fire on them."

Colonel Khamis, the police chief, said of the American forces: "When they're subjected to attack, they start shooting indiscriminately. The minibus was heading to Ramadi - they didn't have any link with the issue."

Mr. Badewi said that he had pleaded with American commanders to restrain their troops, but that they had refused. "We've talked about this reaction, and so many people and clerics have talked to them," he said.

"They say, `This is our way.' "

The political allegiance of the two Iraqi officials was not clear, but they seemed generally moderate in their view of the American occupation.

Three American soldiers from the 82nd Airborne have been killed around Falluja since mid-September, according to casualty reports from the United States military. The city is in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, an area west and north of Baghdad that is a stronghold of support for the ousted former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.

Guerrillas in the area regularly fire mortars at a base the 82nd maintains just east of Falluja and attack American patrols with roadside bombs and grenades.

Mr. Hussein said he blamed the United States for the violence that has plagued Falluja, including the car bomb on Tuesday that killed four people and wounded four more.

"First they said they want to protect the Iraqi people, but then they destroy us," he said. "The only one who is hurting us is the Americans themselves."

Since early September, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division have killed more than 20 civilians and Iraqi police officers in and around Falluja in incidents where the victims have put up little or no resistance, according to accounts from witnesses. American military officers have said the shootings were justified under American rules of engagement, but have provided scant details.

 

AIR RAID KILLS 22 TALIBAN, AL QAEDA IN AFGHANISTAN

Air Raid Kills 22 Taliban, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan
Reuters
October 28, 2003

At least 22 guerrillas from the ousted Taliban regime and al Qaeda network were killed in an aerial attack by U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan's southeastern Paktika province, the region's governor said on Tuesday.

Air support was called in after a group of Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives fired rockets and heavy machine-guns on a base used by U.S.-led troops and their Afghan allies in Shkin, near the Pakistan border, on Saturday, said Mohammad Ali Jalali.

Jalali told Reuters that he had heard unconfirmed reports that two U.S. soldiers may also have died, but the U.S. military in Afghanistan was not immediately available for comment.

"The 22 bodies for sure were Taliban and al Qaeda who got killed in the bombing," Jalali said.

The clash was separate from fighting in the Gomal district of Paktika on Friday in which 20 suspected al Qaeda and Taliban militants, including Arabs and Chechens, died, according to Paktika police chief Dawlat Khan.

More than 350 people, including civilians, foreign and government soldiers, aid workers and many rebels have been killed since August across Afghanistan.

The south and southeast have been worst affected by a wave of attacks blamed on remnants of the hardline Islamic Taliban regime which has declared a jihad, or holy war, against foreign troops in Afghanistan and the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

The violence is the worst since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban from power late in 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.

The U.S. military leads some 11,500 troops in the hunt for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters. The fate of bin Laden and Taliban supreme commander Mullah Omar remains unknown.

 

10 TALIBAN KILLED IN FIGHTING WITH ALLIES

10 Taliban Killed in Fighting With Allies
The Associated Press
October 27, 2003

U.S. and Afghan troops patrolling the rugged border with Pakistan killed at least 10 suspected Taliban who ambushed them with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, Afghan officials said Monday.

The officials gave contradicting accounts of the clash, with a provincial governor saying 22 Taliban were killed after airstrikes were called in by the American and Afghan soldiers.

However, Gen. Atiqullah Luddin, a regional military commander based in nearby Logar province, said his men were involved in the Sunday patrol and only 10 Taliban were killed and no airstrikes were involved. Two other suspected Taliban fighters were arrested, he said.

Both officials said two Afghan soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

Mohammed Ali Jalali, governor of Paktika province, said the Americans and Afghans were in Barmal district, about a mile from the Pakistan border, when they were attacked by rebels using rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and Kalashnikov rifles.

The troops called in airstrikes, he said, and a wave of heavy bombardment hit the unpopulated area near the village of Shkin, 135 miles south of Kabul.

Taliban and al-Qaida rebels have been launching increasingly bold assaults in recent months, raiding police stations, killing aid workers and confronting U.S. troops.


A world divided over “Mahathir’s charming message”

October 27, 2003

[Note by Tom Gross]

This analysis is based on 55 newspaper reports from 20 countries, published between October 16-23, 2003. These editorial excerpts were not compiled by myself. They may be too detailed for many of you, but the Mideast specialists on this list may wish to glance through them. They include "Message That The West Distorted" (the English-language "Malaysian Star"), to "Anti-Semitic Scandal" (the reformist Russian paper, "Izvestiya"), "Suicidal Rhetoric" (the liberal Polish paper, "Gazeta Wyborcza" - whose editorial staff are subscribers to this email list), and "Anti-Semitic Speech" (the Brazilian paper "Folha de S. Paulo").

-- Tom Gross


OIC SUMMIT THE ISLAMIC WORLD NEEDS UNITY, CHANGE
October 24, 2003

NOTE This analysis is based on 55 reports from 20 countries, October 16-23, 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date

KEY FINDINGS

** The Islamic press highlights the "frustration and despair" in the Islamic world.

** Mahathir's speech provokes a "hue and cry" but Muslims say its message was "distorted."

** Islamic dailies say Muslims must "unite and increase their capabilities."

MAJOR THEMES

'Troubled times for the Muslim ummah'-- The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in Malaysia Oct.16-18 opened with the world's Muslim press expounding on "the atmosphere of despair and despondency in the Arab and Islamic world." The position of the Islamic peoples "has never been so weak as it is now." The "frustrations and anger of Muslims around the world were palpable" among OIC delegates, said Egypt's leading, pro-government Al-Ahram. Bangladesh's English-language Daily Star spoke for many by protesting that in addition to Muslims being afflicted by "poverty, dispossession and oppression," Islam is also "vilified around the world as a religion of terror." Papers in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Bangladesh complained the OIC "has never played its role to the full potential" and said it needs "restructuring and new policies that can answer today's problems."

Mahathir's speech 'distorted' by West-- European, Israeli and Latin dailies said Malaysian PM Mahathir's "absurd" comment that "Jews rule the world" were "dangerous and prejudicial" and the kind of "poisoned language" that "fuels terrorism." Singapore's pro-government Straits Times called it "a pity" that Mahathir's "needlessly provocative rhetoric" distracted attention from the "groundbreaking" elements of his address, which called upon Muslims "to shun violence" in pursuit of their aims. The world's Muslim press held that "most Western media conveniently ignored" that Mahathir had said "Muslims should make peace" without violence in Palestine and that the kernel of his message was that Muslims should emulate the success of the Jewish people by "pulling together, working hard and planning for the future." Some outlets, like Pakistan's centrist national The News, claimed Mahathir's comments on the Jews were "not a desecration, but a statement of historic fact."

Muslim writers see the need for a course correction-- Analysts in the Islamic press pointed to the need for "introspection" to find the path to "modernize and provide economic, political and human rights to the Muslim ummah." Too many OIC countries are "dictatorships or despotisms" as well as "economic backwaters." Providing for the human and political rights of Muslims "is the OIC's historical mission." Many dailies echoed Mahathir's call to "emphasize education and science" to overcome the Muslim world's "backwardness." The Islamic community "must work very hard to grasp again the glory" of its past, declared Jakarta's independent Media Indonesia. "This can only be done with high-quality education, not with violence." Moderate dailies in Saudi Arabia highlighted the need for Muslims to "collectively and individually" fight terrorism, "which has deformed the image of Islam."

MIDDLE EAST

EGYPT

"Summit of Frustration"

Attiyah Isawi commented in leading pro-government Al-Ahram (10/20) If it were not for the tempest resulting from the statements made by Mahatir Muhammad, the Malaysian prime minister that Jews ruled the world by proxy and wanted people to kill and die for them, humanity would have never even heard that the OIC summit was in session. Many are the summits, meetings and conferences held in the third world. They convene and conclude uselessly. Thus, people know in advance their outcome, and deep down wish that the leaders saved the money spent on their participation. No sooner had Mahatir bitterly said, 'how can 1.3 billion Muslims stand helplessly vis-à-vis a few million Jews who rule the world and want others to sacrifice their lives for them,' that America, Israel and the EU hastened to accuse him of anti-Semitism. True to their habit, they pounce on whoever dares to criticize Israel's behavior and that of its allies in Washington and Europe.... It seems that the man wanted to say what he said, which was largely true, not caring for the Zionist reaction, because he will be stepping down voluntarily anyway, after 20 years during which he made his country into one of the economic tigers.

"As expected, the summit hosted by his country ended with a handful of rhetorical decisions, none of which carried a single position that maintained Muslims' dignity, rights or reinforced economic relations between their countries to reduce their reliance on the west, especially the United States and sometimes Israel. Both attack the rights and sovereignty of Islamic states and occupy their territories.... To that extent, Islamic states were unable to do anything to maintain their dignity, rights, and not become the doormat that all nations use to wipe their feet, despite their great numbers is like the scum rejected by the flood. Why would they not try once to withdraw their ambassadors from Israel or America in solidarity with the peoples of Palestine, Iraq or Afghanistan? Why did they not boycott the British, Israeli and U.S. firms, expel the ambassadors of Israel or at least freeze cultural relations? The answer may be that they do not control their decision. Each needs America and perhaps Israel, either to receive economic aid from them and the international financing institutions controlled by Washington, to acquire U.S. weapons or help their rulers stay in power. He, who cannot grow his own food, cannot control his decision. Well said indeed!"

"Turmoil Lies Ahead"

Leading pro-government Al-Ahram weekly remarked (Internet version, 10/16) "The frustrations and anger of Muslims around the world were palpable as delegates at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit meeting in the new Malaysian capital Putrajaya complained that, in Kashmir, Chechnya, Palestine and Iraq, Muslim people and territories are occupied, sanctioned, threatened, and accused of sponsoring terror. This atmosphere of despair and despondency in the Arab and Islamic world should not be permitted to linger long. It will only create more trouble, more tension, and threaten international peace and political stability in the region."

ISRAEL

"Mahathir's Charming Message"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/19) "That anti-Semitism is alive and well is no longer news.... It is also no longer news that the evil that was created by medieval Christianity and perfected by secular Europe now dominates the thinking not just of the Arab world, but the Muslim one.... Fortunately for everyone, Mahathir's nasty reign ends this month, which is about 22 years too late. Whether his legacy of hysterical anti-Semitism and conspiracy-mongering survives him will depend on his hand-picked successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Badawi should be asking himself whether he wants to steer Malaysia in the direction of the Asian world or of the Muslim one--that is, toward democracy, prosperity, and pluralism, or toward fascism, poverty, and intolerance. One and one-third billion Muslims live in relative poverty not because they are shackled by a few million Jews, but because they think they are shackled. The sooner they free their minds from this fantasy, the quicker the progress they'll make."

SAUDI ARABIA

"Who Protects Ideology Of Hate?"

Riyadh's conservative, Al-Riyadh editorialized (10/21) "If the West actually wanted to create an atmosphere of (religious) tolerance it would set an example by fighting statements which instigate terrorism. Comparing what Mahathir Mohammed said with the remarks of an American official [General Boykin], who reflected an irresponsible and barbaric attitude, we must ask how such an official keeps his job in a government which has declared war on terrorism."

"Justifications For Attacking Mahathir"

Jeddah's moderate Al-Bilad argued (10/21) "President Bush went over the limit when he criticized the Malaysian prime minister publicly and personally. [Bush] failed to justify his attack; he could have ignored the remarks or dealt with them diplomatically, rather than in the media. The campaign against Mahathir shows that a storm of anger awaits any Muslim nation that tries to develop even a moderate position."

"Muslims And Coexistence With The World"

Dammam's moderate Al-Yaum opined (10/20) "All of a sudden, Muslims who were well known for their long history of tolerance, kind-heartedness and honesty among human societies, have suddenly turned into killers and terrorists. This would never have happened if it were not for the stupid, reckless and radical actions of those deviant groups.... The doctrine of Islamic nations stresses security, stability and prosperity among all human communities with no exceptions, all Islamic nations are required collectively but not individually to fight this phenomenon."

"Re-Organizing The Islamic House"

Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (10/20) "The Islamic speech, which concentrated on the importance of reorganizing the Islamic house as a necessary step towards its effective participation with the others, is a vital matter to the Kingdom.... The main concern for Muslim countries is fighting terrorism, which has deformed the image of Islam, considering that there are several terrorist groups proclaiming to be Muslims, and speaking on behalf of Islam and that their actions come out of the Islamic perspective. The problem is not Islam, but those who pretend that they are Muslims and taking a path that diverges far from Islam's instructions, because radicalism and exaggerations are not related to Islam. Therefore, Islamic countries have to sort out their religion from deviations that have nothing to do with Islam or its objectives or means."

"The Will And The Price"

Jeddah's moderate, Okaz argued (10/18) "In light of the Crown Prince's statement at the Islamic Conference we have two questions First, do Islamic countries have the will to deal with their citizens with complete transparency and without deception--something that we have come to expect from them in the past? Second, are we ready to pay the price for the remedy? The cure requires hefty concessions that put the public good ahead of both regional and personal interests. If we answer yes to both these questions, then there may be a light at the end of the tunnel."

"Rooting Out Extremism"

Riyadh's English-language, moderate Riyadh Daily editorialized (Internet version, 10/18) "Extremists are today the worst enemies of the Muslim world.... The Kingdom has time and again spoken vociferously and acted promptly against people with extremist ideology. This established fact was brought to fore once again at the OIC summit... when the Crown Prince called for stronger institutions to counter the bane of militancy stemming from extremist thought. Muslim countries have now accepted the reality that the name of Islam--which in truth is the religion of peace--is constantly being linked to international terrorism. The OIC, which yesterday concluded its first ever summit after the September 11 attacks, has addressed the issue with a realistic approach regardless of how fair or how generalized the accusations of terrorism against Muslims might be.... The Crown Prince directly addressed the problem by rooting this terror image to the extremists within the fold.... The fight against extremism, of course, would have to begin at home itself, within the Muslim world. In this context, the Crown Prince has urged the OIC states to strengthen institutions to tackle the growing trend of extremism among the youth. The Kingdom itself has been looking into its educational institutes and theological discourses, to stem out any elements of extremism, if any. The few black sheep within the fold must not be let loose to tarnish the good name of Islam."

MOROCCO

"Look for the Silver Lining and You Will Find It"

Palestinian Press Attaché at the Palestinian Embassy in Rabat, Wassif Mansur, wrote on the front pate of government coalition Al Alam (10/21) "In the end, it is absolutely worth saying that the Palestinian people, throughout its long history, can no longer rely on Arab, Islamic or international organizations' official meetings, because not one clause from any of those organizations' communiques is ever implemented. If the Palestinian people feel a little optimism after the recent OIC summit, it is only because the summit's condemnation of Israel represents a kind of a courage that has been lost in Arab and Islamic countries since the events of September 11. The (OIC'S) courage has given the Palestinian people some optimism, even if only lip service optimism."

SYRIA

"The Islamic Summit And The Challenge Of The Media War"

Ahmad Hamadah opined in government-owned Al-Thawrah (Internet version, 10/16) "The Islamic summit...has to answer many questions, basically this one will the Islamic countries adopt effective resolutions to confront the state of frustration and despair from which the Muslim people are suffering as a result of the Zionist campaign against them, the accusation of terrorism against them, and the launching of wars on them under this pretext, or will the summit serve only as a forum to deliver speeches and establish follow-up and coordination committees that might not be able to follow up anything? It is no secret that the OIC, since its establishment in 1969, has played a positive role in bringing the Islamic countries closer and unifying their positions over many just causes, notably the Palestinian cause.... But it also has been noticed that after the 11 September events in the United States, the priorities of many Muslim countries changed. Differences among the Muslim countries deepened.... The card of Islamic boycott of Israel also eroded.... Some Islamic countries went as far as taking the side of the camp that threatens their independence, sovereignty, security, and culture. They were driven behind that camp's deception campaigns that portrayed resistance as terrorism and terrorism as resistance.... The Zionist trumpets and media machine are releasing their venom, accusing Muslims of terrorism to distorting their image in the West. They have been telling the United States and its alliesSeize the opportunity to strike at the Islamic countries (your new enemy after communism). This is the new threat that wants to undermine your Western civilization. This campaign, which invented the so-called 'Islamic extremism', found responsive people in the West.... This is due to the torrent of lies used and the absence of any Islamic role exposing these lies, which went beyond every imagination and limit.... Will the Islamic summit note the seriousness of these campaigns and lay out an information strategy to counter them?"

TUNISIA

"The Sword of Damocles"

An editorial by senior editor Hajer Jeridi in independent French-language daily newspaper Le Temps stated (10/20) "The Islamic and Arab position has never been so weak as it is now.... Any observation or criticism expressed by this 'Evil Race' is interpreted as an incitement to hatred and as a racist act.... Being unable to defend themselves...Arabs seem to be resigned to consider this fact as a part of their reality. There is no resistance, no policy, no well-planned communication to answer these accusations.... The most recurrent blame, the sword of Damocles, that weighs heavily on Arab-Muslim populations, is the accusation of anti-Semitism.... It is an insidious policy aimed at isolating the Arab-Muslim world and overwhelming it with charges so as to portray it as an area of outlaws."

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

INDONESIA

"Besides Blaming Others, OIC Should Consolidate"

Leading independent Kompas observed (Internet version, 10/19) "This year's summit was the first since the attack on 11 September, 2001, and then the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq--two developments which put the Islamic world on the defensive. As President Megawati Soekarnoputri said in her speech at the summit, these cruel acts of terrorism did not cause casualties and property damage alone, but brought about an erroneous view of the Islamic way of life, which then took the image of a religion smeared with violence and aggression.... In this regard, what [Malaysian Prime Minister] Mahathir pointed out has also played a part in the declining image of Islam. He said the Jews had oppressed and humiliated the Islamic world through their influence in the West. Some of the above points have some truth in them, [but] it is not enough for Muslim nations to blame others. That is why Mahathir also called on Muslim nations to unite and increase their capabilities. He regretted that Islamic nations had made few achievements in economic progress and in mastering technology [and] rejected the view often put forward by fundamentalists that modern education, technology, and progress are anathema to Islam.... Under 22 years of Mahathir's leadership, Indonesia's neighbor has proved itself as a Muslim majority country that has succeeded not only in economic development, but also in advancing political stability.... Malaysia has a lot that OIC nations could copy.... Muslim nations first and foremost need to consolidate, close ranks, and to determine priorities. First, of course, is the effort to advance, at least to the level of the summit host nation. Next, they can forge a compact view, for example, in declaring an attitude regarding Palestine. If Muslim nations can unite, they will not only have a stronger voice, but greater wealth. Therefore, a more appropriate stance is not simply to blame others, but to use some introspection and consolidation to improve themselves first."

"OIC, A Scattered Power"

Independent Media Indonesia asserted (Internet version, 10/18) "It is not surprising that the OIC bargaining position is so weak in so many world affairs. Take only Iraq and Palestine. The OIC seems to have lost its voice. The OIC is powerless to resist the aggression of the United States and Britain, who now control Iraq. The OIC, too, could not hold back the push of Jewish Zionism from swallowing up Palestine. This is because Islam is a scattered force. Thus, Mahathir's call for OIC countries to unite must be welcomed. For the foundation of any organization, wherever it may be, is commonality. When commonality is no longer a cord that binds, there is no longer anything of an organization to defend....

"With the rise in terrorism, the image of violence has covered the Islamic community. And Islam must answer that with intelligence and the high moral ground.... That Islam is cool, tolerant, incorruptible, clean and peace loving, choosing the path of dialogue.... Indonesia, for instance, as the largest Muslim nation, is incapable of setting an example. Our education is increasingly on the ropes, and the morality of our leaders at almost every level is extremely poor.... Thus, what Mahathir says is a call to make profound corrections to our course. The Islamic community must work very hard to grasp again the glory of the seventh and eighth centuries, when Islam was the greatest contributor to world civilization. And this can only be done with high-quality education, not with violence."

MALAYSIA

"Message That The West Distorted"

Bunn Nagara wrote in the English-language Star (10/18) "Malaysia's attempt to rally members of the Organization of Islamic Conference...sought to rouse them from various states of stupor, apathy and semi-paralysis. It had to be a kick-start to push an otherwise disparate array of 57 nations to rise above their rut, torpor and defeatism. Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's opening speech was as usual expansive and provocative. It challenged OIC member states to rise to the occasion, and that occasion was the politically weakened state of their shared faith. The speech covered many areas and topics, among which was the global dominance of Jewish entities. This was enough for much of the Western media and some Western leaders to single out the point with which to denounce the prime minister and his message. It would have been better if all these critics had read the speech in its entirety, rather than just responding to isolated 'statements' or reports of the comment. As it is, their urge to clamp down on Dr. Mahathir's blunt comments sits oddly with their proclaimed adherence to free speech.... The result is not unfamiliarcondemnation of views taken out of context.... These self-righteous critics worry about hurtful words while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the bullets and missiles destroying real lives of multitudes of innocents. If this is not sheer ignorance it must be gross hypocrisy, with vile duplicity to match.... The speech also acknowledged Jewish grit and savvy, without belittling Jewish capabilities in any way. The prime minister similarly pressed Muslims to emulate the ways of Jewish people which have led to such success around the world. Pulling together, working hard and planning for the future were all better than pessimism, destruction and self-destruction."

"The West's Misconception Of Dr. Mahathir's Criticism"

Government-influenced Malay language Berita Harian had this to day (Internet version, 10/18) "The world has tried to distort the essence of Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Sri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's speech at the opening of the 10th Organization of Islamic Conference [OIC] Summit...just because he is sincere in talking about the Jews' trickery. Western countries cannot accept the facts of Dr. Mahathir's statement.... All this time they have been condemning Islam and treating Muslims like they have no dignity. Do the Jews and big powers supporting them feel offended by Dr. Mahathir's statement when what he has said is no longer a 'secret?' Where can we hide the facts about Palestinian land, Iraq, Afghanistan and several other Islamic nations that have been devastated?.... The statement...has sparked a political polemic because it comes from the leader of an Islamic nation that has achieved progress.... Dr. Mahathir's speech focuses on the issues of Islam, Islamic nations and the attitudes of Muslims. He has also openly criticized the attitudes of Muslim leaders that led to Islam being humiliated. Not even one Muslim leader is angry or has responded to the statement in an unsatisfactory manner. Instead, they regard Dr. Mahathir's statement as a factual criticism in order to make Muslims realize the reality. To countries in the bloc that views Islam with contempt, the portrayal of everything negative should be directed at Muslims only. Muslims must be left to suffer and continue to be weak. To them, Dr. Mahathir's efforts to make other Islamic nations realize the need to build up their strength, will pose a threat to their superiority.... Muslims, particularly the leaders of Islamic nations, must be jerked with a bold statement because all this while they have been afraid to say the truth. The invasion of Islamic nations by Western powers, and without the a slightest humanitarian feeling, has made all these nations' leaders bow to them. The Muslims' countries are ravaged, resources monopolized, and leaders blamed by the people. This is the horrifying dream that is faced by Islamic nations when they have the strength but are scared to use it."

"Post OIC Summit In Putrajaya"

Lokman Othman remarked in government-controlled Utusan Malaysia (Internet version, 10/18) "Dr. Mahathir called on Islamic nations to stop being emotional and not to use the old approach in dealing with conflicts. Instead, they must use knowledge to overcome them. The Jews have shown this and by using knowledge for development, they have power now. Although the process has taken a long time, the result is effective. The Jews are strong militarily and economically. But until today the fate of Muslims is not only without improvement, but rather, the situation is getting worse.... Dr. Mahathir wanted Islamic nations to look to the past and emulate Prophet Mohammed's leadership as useful examples. The Muslims were then small in number and weak, but with wisdom and intelligence God endowed them, they finally became successful in all fields. However, the recipe failed to defend the Muslims forever. Political discord caused them to kill each other while other races continued to build their individual strength. Dr. Mahathir tried to make OIC member countries realize the reality that they are faced with now.... Unfortunately, the foreign media viewed Dr. Mahathir's speech from a negative perspective.... The voices of some of the foreign media that are filled with contempt for Dr. Mahathir must be banned. To the foreign media, the truth that Dr. Mahathir said must be concealed so that the Muslims would continue to be in the dark, apart from being saddled with weaknesses and backwardness. If the Muslims feel that they are weak, they must be developed in accordance with the big powers' wishes."

"Strength And Unity Become The Pillars"

Government-influenced Malay language Berita Harian noted (Internet version, 10/17) "Toward the last moments of his leadership as the prime minister of a dynamic Islamic nation, Datuk Sri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, without any fear, has continued to reproach all quarters--leaders, scholars or ulemas--for the mistakes and failures committed by Muslims thus far. It is due to these factors that the 1.3 billion Muslims throughout the world are still backward and not fairly defended. Without putting the blame on others except Muslims themselves, Dr. Mahathir said that our attitudes have allowed us to be divided into numerous groups, sects, and tarikats, each more concerned with claiming to be the true Islam than our oneness as the Islamic Ummah. This has made it easier for our enemies to humiliate and oppress us.... Dr. Mahathir not only made a wise and deep evaluation of the situation hitting the Islamic world now. Rather, he also explained a program of action to overcome the problems. The program, regarded by several leaders as a 'peace plan,' must be adopted by all Islamic nations. By using strength and unity as the pillars, it is hoped that the program of action can be implemented by leaders and Islamic nations in handling issues faced by Muslims throughout the world."

SINGAPORE

"Uproar Drowns Mahathir's Real Message"

Brendan Pereira wrote in the pro-government Straits Times (Internet version, 10/18) "Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's controversial 'Jews rule the world' speech should have gone down as a clarion call to Muslims to shun violence and use their brains, not just brawn, to improve their lot. It was a speech rich with groundbreaking elementsa call for Muslim countries to pause and try to resolve the Palestinian issue through peaceful means, and a plea for Muslims not to antagonize their detractors but to win them over. What a pity that Dr. Mahathir's needlessly provocative rhetoric about the Jews distracted everyone and diluted the meat of his address.... Not surprisingly, the derision was immediate and widespread.... Here is the irony. If anyone should have been angry...it should have been Hamas, Hizbollah and their ilk in the Middle East, or some of the backward regimes that dot the Muslim world. He called for a different approach to tackling the Palestinian issue, arguing that the policy of aggression had not worked for 50 years. A better option was to win the hearts and minds of people who were critical and suspicious of Muslims.... This was the moderate view that the Muslim world so badly needs to hear again and again. This was also the kind of view that the rest of the world has wanted Muslim leaders to articulate. So it was a pity indeed that Dr. Mahathir muddied the waters with his rhetoric."

THAILAND

"Mahathir Leaves A Malay Dilemma"

The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative, English language Bangkok Post read (10/21) "The OIC Summit ended in a dilemma, however. Host and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the patriarch of Southeast Asian politics and two weeks from retirement, committed two giant gaffes. In his speech to the summit, Dr. Mahathir made racist and offensive remarks about Jews around the world. Then, instead of retracting them or even trying to claim he was speaking of the state of Israel, he defended and repeated them. This so overshadowed the actual accomplishments of the OIC that it created an actual dilemma. Dr. Mahathir at the very least appears guilty of grandstanding, although many believe racism and bigotry decided his words. Only he can know for sure. But if he wished to motivate Muslims, as he claims, he had 100 methods to choose from. Fellow political leaders from Islamic countries had no trouble to speak to Muslim problems, and to offer both realistic and idealistic solutions."

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

INDIA

"Myopic OIC"

The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer editorialized (Internet version, 10/21) "The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has always tended to take a one-sided and pro-Pakistan view of the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, broke all its earlier records in partisanship.... Its Secretary-General Abdelouahed Belkeziz's...call for India to allow an OIC delegation to visit J&K and inspect the conditions there, reflects a glaring inability to recognize reality. The same applies to the demand for a 'plebiscite' in J&K and condemnation of 'human rights violations' by India in the organization's communiqué. If this has further undermined its credibility with New Delhi, its unquestioning endorsement of Pakistan's position on Kashmir and failure to condemn the latter's sponsorship of cross-border terrorism which is the basic cause of the troubles in J&K, have severely damaged such image as it has in the world.... Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed...sought to underline the need for change among Islamic countries which he said, had to be stable, well-administered, economically and financially strong, industrially competent and technologically advanced to disprove the perception that Islam was a religion of backwardness and terror. This is doubtless a tall order given the state of most of OIC's member countries, but even a beginning cannot be made unless they recognize their own inadequacies. As the summit has shown, a critical one is their failure to be objective."

"Islamic Countries Favor Pakistan"

Second-largest circulation Hindi daily Dainik Jagran averred (10/20) "Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has said that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's statement in Malaysia demanding a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir was ridiculous.... The OIC is interfering in India's internal affairs by passing the proposal on Jammu and Kashmir, which is objectionable. India has strongly criticized the proposal but that is not enough. It is not an ordinary matter that 57 Islamic countries under the OIC passed the proposal and demanded that the Kashmiris be given the right to have a referendum. Surprisingly, not a word on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was mentioned in the proposal. This is nothing short of favoritism shown toward Pakistan by the Islamic countries.... This is not the first time that the OIC has taken an inimical attitude toward India. It appears that its members are intentionally overlooking the fact that India has the second-largest Muslim population in the world, next to Indonesia. The Muslims here are living in a much better situation than Muslims elsewhere in the world. The OIC's pro-Pakistan policy has made the organization a suspect in the eyes of the Indians.... If the OIC values the goodwill of Indian Muslims, it should avoid becoming a tool of Pakistan. India should not merely express regret over the OIC resolution. The country should make an effort to change the members' attitude if they want cordial relations between India and the Muslim world to continue. Efforts should also be made to counter Pakistan's false allegations against India before the Muslim countries."

"OIC Meeting"

The nationalist Hindustan Times editorialized (10/20) "The OIC would have done well to indulge in a bit of self-introspection. Had it been wise enough to do so, it would have found that the concept it is supposedly looking for in Kashmir is absent in most Islamic countries, including Pakistan whose warped vision it blindly endorsed. Even the 'democracy' prevalent in Pakistan is not regarded as a genuine one by, say, the Commonwealth.... No less fatuous was the demand voiced by the OIC's secretary-general to allow a delegation from the organization to 'inspect conditions in the Indian-controlled part' of Kashmir.... If the OIC wants to help its member-countries, it should focus on ways to break the stranglehold of retrogressive 'mullacracies' prevalent in the Muslim world. A delegation can also visit Kashmir to learn about democracy and pluralism."

"Kashmir Truths"

The centrist Times of India held (Internet version, 10/18) "Quite clearly, the sponsors of terrorism had planned for the new phase of violence to coincide with the sense of betrayal increasingly felt by the average Kashmiri.... Ironically, the outrage happened a day after Washington traced Dawood Ibrahim's whereabouts to a Karachi address, and announced that he in fact held a Pakistani passport. Belated as this American 'discovery' of Dawood is, it nonetheless exposes Pakistan's lie about the D-company [Dawood and his associates] and, by implication, the role of both sponsoring trouble in India. It is a safe bet, of course, that the general will be unfazed by this embarrassing turn of events. One indication of the course he is likely to follow is suggested by his invitation to the OIC [Organization of The Islamic Conference] countries to send their representatives to investigate the reality of 'occupied' Kashmir. Rather than panic at this, India should welcome the team so they can see the truth--including the fidayeen attacks--for themselves. Simultaneously, the Indian side could suggest that the OIC visit Pakistan to ascertain both the general's popularity and the state of his terror camps."

"Look First Within"

Pro-Congress Urdu-language Qaumi Awaz stated (10/18) "The OIC has been claiming to be the representative of Muslims worldwide, but the organization has not paid any attention to solving the social, economic, and political problems of the Muslim countries because it has been functioning under the influence of the United States and the western countries. India, which has millions of Muslim population, is kept out of the OIC membership.... The OIC has no legal or moral right to ask for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the OIC's narrowmindedness encourages the terrorists.... The OIC should rise above its emotional links with Pakistan and consider the situation.... The OIC should have asked Musharraf to respond positively to India's peace initiative last year. The OIC leaders should pay heed to the dangers of the extremists and anti-democracy elements threatening the Islamic world. The organization should consider how the western countries succeeded in linking Islam with terrorism, and why in some Muslim countries, the powers were vested in few hands.... In his inaugural address, the new OIC chairman, Mahathir Muhammad, said that no Islamic country was free in the true sense.... The OIC countries should first look within. Only then they should dare interfere in India's internal affairs."

PAKISTAN

"Mahatir's Remarks Protest By Israeli Patron Crusader Bush"

An editorial in the second largest Urdu daily, Nawa-e-Waqt read (10/22) "U.S. President George W. Bush protested to Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahatir Muhammad over his remarks regarding Jews.... Whatever Prime Minister Mahatir said...was one hundred percent correct. Whatever Jews faced in Europe before the inception of Israel was a result of their misdeeds.... The day President Bush was expressing his love for Jews and Israel and registering his protest with Mahatir Muhammad, Israeli aircraft were launching repeated attacks on Palestinians in Gaza."

"Israel's State Terrorism Response To Dr. Mahatir Mohammad's Statement?"

The Karachi-based pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu daily, Islam remarked (10/22) "U.S. President Bush has yet again provided a proof of his pro-Zionist affiliations by protesting to Dr. Mahatir Mohammad [over his statement] at the APEC summit. Many believe that the recent action by Israel against Palestinians is a direct Israeli reaction to this statement."

"Unmerited Offense"

The center-right national English daily, The Nation held (10/22) "The hue and cry that Dr. Mahatir's observations have provoked among the pro-Jewish circles in the world is totally uncalled for.... Characterizing Jews as having been the victims of 2,000 years of pogrom, which they fought 'not by hitting but by thinking,' he advised Muslims 'to emulate their response'.... Dr. Mahatir called those who 'lash back in anger' by killing themselves and others as 'people acting irrationally.' Plainly he was urging the Muslim world to forsake violence and start thinking about an honorable exit from the tricky situation they find themselves in.... One wonders with what face the U.S. president could tell the Malaysian prime minister that his views were 'wrong and divisive'. Should Jews, insignificant in number compared to the overall global population, not be ruling by proxy, Mr. Bush would not have jumped to their defense."

"What Is Free May Not Be Fair"

The Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily, Dawn noted (10/22) "While one can empathize with what the Malaysian leader has said about what is fair and what is not in the context of free trade, it is not possible to agree with him fully on the matter of poorer countries' right to protect their 'little businesses until they can compete with the giants' or that the developing countries be allowed to take pride in their national industries, even if they are producing match-sticks and cigarettes rather than automobiles and aircraft."

"The Emperor Comes Calling"

Mahir Ali editorialized in the Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily Dawn (10/22) "What caused most alarm was not the veteran Malaysian leader's words but the fact that he received a standing ovation. However, the opportunity for a Washington-led anti-Mahatir tirade was undermined somewhat by reports that a leading U.S. general, William G. Boykin, who is the Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, has in his utterances been alluding to a Christian crusade against Islam."

"Re-Creating The OIC"

An op-ed by Hans B. Bremer in the centrist national English daily, The News judged (10/22) "One need only quote Dr. Mahatir's own reaction to his western critics'They think while it is proper to criticize Muslims and Arabs, it is not proper to criticize Europeans and Jews.' Of course, most western media conveniently ignored the fact that Dr. Mahatir had also said Muslims should make peace as they could not win the Palestinian conflict through violence.... Don't expect any big thank you from Uncle Sam. What was it again that Dr. Mahatir said about the Jews ruling the world by proxy? So where do we go from here? It is imperative that the momentum coming out of Putrajaya be kept up. Time is of the essence. When OIC leaders meet again before the end of next year, they must have some considerable progress to report, and the commission now being set up on the advice of President Musharraf must give them something concrete to work on. In addition, why don't Mahatir Mohammad and Pervez Musharraf embark on a joint PR offensive? Take two or three weeks off and travel together around the globe to lay out in detail the OIC's vision for itself and for its relations with the non-Muslim world."

"Mahatir's Swan Song"

Burhanuddin Hasan commented in the centrist national English daily, The News (10/22) "A storm of protest has arisen predictably against the bold and truthful remarks of Mahatir Mohammad in Israel, U.S. and European Union countries. Israeli foreign ministry has issued a statement saying that Mahatir's reference to the Holocaust was 'desecration of the memory of six million innocent victims of anti-Semitism.' It was not a desecration, but a statement of a historic fact. It is amazing that Israel has ignored the tribute paid by Mahatir to Jews for inventing socialism, communism, human rights and democracy. This swan song of Dr. Mahatir Mohammad was the best that came out of the OIC Summit."

"Foreign Minister's Suggestions"

The second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt observed (10/19) "Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri has said that Mahatir Muhammad's remarks (regarding Jews) were taken out of context, and that 'I myself know lots of broadminded Jews'.... In his inaugural address, Malaysian PM Mahatir Muhammad had said that the Jews are ruling the world by proxy, and other countries are fighting and dying for them. Mr. Kasuri's observation on the Malaysian PM's remarks exceed his status, more so because all Muslim leaders talked about Jewish conspiracies against the Muslim Ummah and considered it to be a valid issue. But our foreign minister came up with a clarification that even Mr. Muhammad would not have found acceptable.... Is this what we have come tothat our foreign minister takes it upon himself to issue clarifications and explanations."

"Muslim Leadership's Responsibility"

Lahore-based independent Urdu daily Din argued (10/18) "By citing the Jews' example, Dr. Mahatir Muhammad has tried to explain that a durable power structure cannot be formed without planning, deliberation and thought. He has explained how Europe eliminated half of the Jewish population, but Jews could not be put down because they do everything after giving it much thought.... No one can disagree with Dr. Mahatir's observation, and will concede that even Muslims--who constitute one-sixth of the world's population--can attain an important place in the world if they adopt this (Jewish) strategy rather than being swept away by emotions."

"Countering Jews Reflection, Unity And Best Defense Capability"

An editorial in the second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt contended (10/18) "As far as Dr. Mahatir Muhammad's views on Jews are concerned, they are hundred percent correct.... At present Muslims face the greatest threat from the U.S.-Indian-Israeli axis of evil. Russia, too, is cooperating with these countries. Therefore, the Islamic world must unite against them and take concrete measures so that Jewish conspiracies can be countered."

"Putrajaya And Enlightened Moderation"

The centrist national English daily, The News wrote (10/21) "Besides rhetoric, the Summit addressed the crucial issues of working together to face the odds. Prime Minister Mahatir of Malaysia did not mince words when he analyzed the causes of Muslims' backwardness and how only through education, science, technology, modernization, putting our own houses in order and closing ranks, could we find a respectable place in the world. His reference to the power of the Jews was well taken although it irked the West."

"The Real Success Of The Islamic Summit"

Centrist Urdu daily Pakistan declared (10/18) "The Islamic world must heed Dr. Mahatir's words (about the Jews) and avoid becoming a toy in the hands of a world minority."

"OIC Disappoints Again"

Mushahid Hussain commented in the center-right national English daily, The Nation (10/21) "[Mahatir's] remarks regarding Jews being a 'world power' whose strength and influence is disproportionate to its numerical size is something that almost all Muslims fervently believe but few say so publicly. And it is now no secret that the Iraq war was largely pushed by the pro-Israeli neo-conservative cabal now dominant in Washington. These remarks, therefore, are certainly not synonymous with 'anti-Semitism'. However, where Dr. Mahatir was wrong both factually and in his historical narrative was to link 'socialism, communism, human rights and democracy' as something 'invented and successfully promoted' by the Jews. That is giving 'credit' where it does not belong and this falls within the realm of conspiracy theories, not any historical fact."

"Leader Of The Islamic World Mahatir Muhammad"

Abdul Karim Abid judged in the center-right Urdu daily Pakistan (10/21) "Although the time has not yet come when someone can be appointed a caliph of the Muslims, but Mahatir Muhammad has certainly become a leader of the Muslims. If nothing else, he can at least be termed as a bold and courageous spokesman of the Muslim world.... However, it would have been better if Dr. Mahatir Muhammad had used the term 'Zionist' or 'Zionism' instead of 'Jews' as not all people belonging to a race or nation are alike. Even among Jews, there are lots of conscientious people who are against Israeli and Zionist ambitions. The ordinary Jew is not a capitalist, he belongs to the poor or middle class, and although his mind might have been poisoned, he does not belong to the Zionist movement."

"Hue And Cry Over Mahatir's Address"

Abbas Athar commented in the second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt (10/18) "Australia, Britain and the U.S. are crying the loudest at Dr. Mahatir's statement. A Protestant Britain laid the foundation of Israel and a Protestant-dominated U.S. turned this pygmy into a giant. Even today, Australia, the U.S. and Britain are most active in promoting this monster. If, by some miracle, the Arab countries attack Israel and subjugate it, all of Europe will remain silent but these three will not waste a moment in attacking these Arab states."

AFGHANISTAN

"Karzai At OIC"

Kabul Radio Afghanistan in Pashto commented (10/21) "The participation of His Excellency Mr. Hamed Karzai in the annual conference of the Islamic countries [Organization of Islamic Conferences] after no representation of Afghanistan in this conference for six years, has made Afghanistan better known internationally. It has also given Afghanistan its Islamic identity among other Islamic countries. The head of state, Mr. Hamed Karzai, stated at the conference that Afghanistan is the center of civilizations and asked the world for further cooperation."

BANGLADESH

"A Call to Action Time For The OIC To Fulfill Its Challenging Mission"

Independent English Daily Star editorialized (10/19) "These are troubled times for the Muslim ummah. In addition to the poverty, dispossession, and oppression that millions of Muslims endure, Islam is today vilified around the world as a religion of terror. The OIC is thus right to take a strong stand rejecting the imputation of any nexus between Islam and terrorism. The OIC is also right to reject selectivity and duplicity in the fight against terrorism and the notion that only Muslims are terrorists. In short, the OIC has done a decent job outlining the grievances of the Muslim world and insisting that the world recognize that Muslims feel aggrieved and under siege. However, the principal crisis that Islam faces is internal, not external. Too many of the OIC member states are dictatorships or despotisms that deny their citizens basic political and human rights and too many are impoverished economic backwaters that deny their citizens basic economic and social rights. Muslim countries need to modernize and provide economic, political and human rights to the Muslim ummah. Helping to provide these rights and opportunities is the OIC's historical mission and it is this mission that must be fulfilled for the OIC to be a relevant and effective body today."

"OIC Summit Muslim Nations Receive New Direction"

Independent Bangla language newspaper Prothom Alo commented (10/19) "The summit of the 57-nation OIC was uniquely significant. The need to strengthen the organization received importance in the summit to meet the challenges of a changed global reality. The adoption of a 12-point plan of action was one of the significant aspects of the summit. We must accept that the time has come to emphasize education and science. We think that the people of the Muslim world will be able to acquire effective strength with the practice of science and knowledge. We can be optimistic that positive results will be found since such thoughts have emerged in the Muslim world. We think that the conference has been able to provide Muslim nations with a positive direction."

"OIC Makes No Headway"

Independent English Bangladesh Observer observed (10/19) "The OIC, the only organization of states based on the primary criterion of religion, has never played its role to the full potential. This time again, it has shown how spineless it is when it came to the important resolution on Iraq. Although it has tried to be as supportive as it could to the Palestinian cause and as critical as possible to Israel, its resolution has been euphemistically worded rather than making concrete suggestions.... It appears that the organization is under the spell of a bogey power out to disrupt the international order. There is hardly any difference between the Bush-Blair doctrine and the one propagated by Hitler on the racial line known as anti-Semitism. Branding Islam as a dangerous threat to security of the U.S. or any other country is simply nonsensical. The OIC needed to say point blank that much of the problems the U.S. has on its hands in the Middle East are of its own making. Islam has nothing to do with this. If the U.S.-UK come to their senses and try to mend their ways, peace can still be the order of the day in that region, if not in the entire world."

IRAN

"OIC Summit"

Abolhassan Sobhani wrote in Keyhan International, English-language daily affiliated with the conservative Keyhan group (10/18) "OIC member states expressed concern about the situation in the Islamic countries with a resolve to make every effort to enhance the OIC role in the international affairs commensurate with the strength, human and natural resources and contribution to international peace and security.... The decision to 'revitalize' an economic boycott of Israel in retaliation for its 'aggressions' against Palestinians and other Arabs is considered as an important one by political analysts.... It is a pity that the OIC communique did not call for an increased UN role and a set timetable for U.S.-led forces to pull out of Iraq.... Let's hope the OIC, a major world body, continues asserting itself and attains the status it deserves at international arena."

EUROPE

ITALY

"The End Of A Taboo"

Elite, classical liberal Il Foglio commented (10/23) "[The UN vote on the Israeli Security fence] reflects the worst European diplomatic tradition, full as it is of moral equivalencies and accomplice silence.... What is new with this resolution is its context. It was approved right after the speech of Malaysian Premier Mohammed Mahatir at the Conference of Islamic countries.... The speech did not receive clear-cut condemnation in Europe.... The Europeans' choice to play down what happened and to instead condemn Israel for the building of the wall, is taken to mean by many observers as the fall of a taboo, a creepy legitimization of the anti-Zionist version of anti-Semitism."

RUSSIA

"Anti-Semitic Scandal"

Reformist Izvestiya editorialized (10/18) "If Mahathir had not said some foul things about Jews at the Islamic summit in Malaysia he would not have been his own self. This man's image does not allow him to restrain his tongue while speaking about the 'worst enemies of the Islamic world,' moreover, in front of such a responsive audience. The audience met Mahathir's words about the 'Jews ruling the world' with a storm of applause. What else could we expect? For us, the most significant aspect of the anti-Semitic scandal during the Malaysian summit is that Vladimir Putin was among the audience during Mahathir's speech.... Putin found himself in an embarrassing situation. He was a guest invited to the Islamic summit for the first time and therefore, could not argue with the host publicly, speaking from the podium. Having said that, he could not ignore Mahathir's escapade either..... Putin found an elegant way to express his attitude to Mahathir's words without provoking a public conflict.... While speaking before journalists, the Russian president stated that 'some speakers at the forum expressed 'extreme views.' Putin did not mention any names, but it was clear anyway whom he referred to.... Putin can speak more sharply and specifically after his return to Moscow, where he should meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Incidentally, the scandalous event in Malaysia gives a new angle to the idea of Russia's entry into OIC recently expressed by the Kremlin. The observer status is fine. However, are we ready to become a full-fledged member of an organization whose leaders meet those kinds of odious speeches with ovations?"

"Playing Games On Thin Ice"

Aleksandr Budberg mused in reformist youth-oriented Moskovskiy Komsomolets (10/20) "As Moscow is trying to act the part of a 'truce envoy,' it needs to be very careful and tough not to slide smoothly into the habitual anti-Western ways that are still popular in the world and among the military. In that sense, the Mahathir-stirred row is useful in reminding Putin of the thin ice he is walking on. Truce envoys are known to have drawn fire from all sides sometimes."

"Do We Need All This?"

Arkadiy Dubnov reported from Putrajaya for reformist Vremya Novostey (10/17) "The enemies of Islam were a high and even scandalous point in the Mahathir statement. Attending the ICO summit, Vladimir Putin learned that the Jews and Europeans rule the world.... It remains to be seen what Putin will do now, after he offered the ICO his services in arranging a dialogue with other faiths. Does the world's Muslim elite need his help and must Russia get involved, seeking the status of an observer with the ICO? With Europeans and Jews in our midst, we may some day be listed among the 'enemies,' too."

"Putting Together The Incompatible"

Vladislav Vorobyov of official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta noted (10/17) "The leaders of Muslim countries yesterday tried to put together incompatible thingspeace talks and a victory over enemies."

POLAND

"Suicidal Rhetoric"

Leopold Unger commented in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (10/21) "You can get quite far with a lie, but it is a road of no return. Malaysian Prime Minster Mohathir Mohamad said to the leaders of more than a billion Muslims [convened at the Organization of Islamic Conference in Malaysia's capital] that 'Europeans killed six out of twelve million Jews, but today the Jews govern the world through their representatives.' Mahathir's rhetoric justifies the worst suicidal policy, which keeps the huge Islamic world in stagnation. This kind of thinking blames the backwardness of the region not on dictatorial, obscurant, and corrupt governance, but on the 'convenient' global Jewish conspiracy. Mahathir claims that he is against violence, and that he proposes peaceful measures in the struggle against Jews. In fact, with his poisoned language he calls for pogroms...and fuels terrorism."

TURKEY

"Significant Messages From Gul"

Sami Kohen wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (Internet version, 10/21) "Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's address at the OIC...sent significant messages... The points Gul underscored at the Forum can be summarized as follows --Islam and modernization are not antithetical concepts.... --Muslim communities have failed to achieve high standards in the areas of democracy, equality, and social rights.... --The problems of Muslim societies can be repaired, their hardships can be overcome, and their institutions can be restructured.... Gul's address in Malaysia was a remanifestation of the candor, courage, and common sense he demonstrated earlier at the conference in Tehran. The Minister's call [in May] on Islamic countries to change their posture on democracy, human rights and freedoms, political participation, and social reforms and to 'put their own houses in order' had generated surprise but also interest and acclaim. His talk in Malaysia which contained similar advice and calls has attracted the attention of the leaders and prominent officials of 57 countries.... Another interesting point is that Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad of the host country claimed at some point in his lengthy opening speech that the Jews control the world. These remarks, considered to be anti-Semitic, have generated controversy and have been condemned by several world leaders including presidents Bush and Putin. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer also said in his address...that the Islamic world is in need of a serious renewal and reform process and that courageous decisions need to be taken in this direction. When Sezer's and Gul's speeches are appraised together with recent statements by Religious Affairs Director Ali Bardakoglu, Turkey's concept and vision of the link between Islam and reform and modernization becomes evident. Turkey's experience in this area sets a genuine example for the Islamic world. It is obvious that the OIC, which represents the large Islamic world, also needs restructuring and new policies that can answer today's problems and requirements. Several speakers articulated this need during the summit. Unfortunately the result that has emerged from this summit cannot be considered very encouraging on this issue."

"Islamic Countries Ignored The Iraq Reality"

Ferai Tinc commented in mass appeal Hurriyet (10/20) "The OIC summit has missed an important chance to shape a policy line on Iraq. Short-sighted assessments and individual ambitions overshadowed the discussion of Iraq. Therefore, the summit failed to design an alternate plan for Iraq's reconstruction or to establish a joint action plan. Turkey and Pakistan worked together for a joint Islamic peacekeeping force, yet failed.... The overall majority of the OIC countries signify a factthe leaderships are preserving their reign under the disguise of 'sacred religion.' And those leaderships have just abandoned Iraq to its destiny."

"Islam and Modernism"

Seyfi Sahin held in nationalist Ortadogu (10/18) "The Islamic countries must engage in introspection. They must ask themselves 'Why do we allow our people to go hungry, poor, without food, and without jobs? Why can we not boost industrialization and production in our countries? Why do we let our earnings go into the Westerners' pockets as part of their interest policy? Why are we poor while they are rich? Why is there bloodshed and slaughter in our countries while their countries live in peace and tranquillity? Why do we like the Westerners but not the Muslims? Why do we fight each other? Why do we give away the natural blessings of our countries? Why have we lost our self-confidence and why are we weighed down by a sense of inferiority?' The leaders of a Islamic countries, including Turkey, must give honest answers to these questions. The discussion of these issues in the OIC is beneficial for the Islamic countries as well as the world public in general. At a minimum these countries are able to hear [Malaysian Prime Minister] Mahathir's warnings and give consideration to [Turkish President] Sezer's call for introspection. Even if a decision is not reached at the end, such discussions produce nice feelings of unity that are imprinted in minds. These feelings may become the beginning of the unity, compassion, and brotherhood Islam preaches."

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

BRAZIL

"Anti-Semitic Speech"

Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (10/20) "Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's statements at the Organization of the Islamic Conference decrying 'the Jewish domination of the world' have left no doubts about his anti-Semitism.... Mahathir's words would be simply absurd if they were not dangerous and prejudicial.... Feeding the notion of expelling the Jews from Israel (as some Muslim militants want) is not the most intelligent way out of the conflict in the Mideast. The situation requires effort from the parties involved and the international community so that a commitment to peace may be made."


Dr. Mohamad’s fantasies, Islam and the Jews

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach two new essays on Islam and the Jews, written specially for this list by Jack Schwartz, a senior and much respected New York newspaper editor.


SUMMARIES

1. "Mr. Mohamad's fantasies," (By Jack Schwartz, October 23, 2003). "Like most second-tier anti-Semites -- let us give the Prime Minister [Mahathir Mohamad] the benefit of the doubt -- he damns the Jews with faint praise. If one reads his entire speech, Mr. Mohamad is chastizing the world's 1.2 billion Muslims for being unable to overcome its 12 million Jews, a people they outnumber roughly 100 to 1 and whose territory is a postage stamp compared to the land mass occupied by the collection of Muslim states on three continents... Mr. Mohamad's fantasies bring to mind the old joke about the Polish Jew in the 30s who said he preferred to read the Nazi press over the Jewish newspapers because while the latter wrote about gloom and doom for the Jews, the anti-Semites demonstrated how they controlled the world. But whatever Mr. Mohamad's perspective owes to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," it springs from attitudes in Muslim experience that are quite valid and that we ignore at our peril. We should not condescend to these modalities because they are central to the belief system of many in the Muslim ummah. And we must examine them in light of the Prime Minister's remarks...

It is a painful fact that in the century or so since the Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901, there have been only a handful of winners from Muslim lands and almost 100 from the Jewish community in virtually every field from Physics to Chemistry to Economics to Literature and, yes, Peace. To cite this is not to flaunt a non-existent Jewish superiority over Muslim thinking. Despite, Mr. Mohamad's racial inferences there is no magical gene or demonic jinni that makes Jews -- admittedly a Western people, in attitude if not origin -- more, or less, intelligent than Arabs or anyone else. But what then accounts for this disparity -- at least by Nobel standards -- in contributing to human progress? ... The possibility that individuals could advance through hard work, personal effort, talent, drive, enterprise -- and that these virtues might be rewarded in a society based on merit rather than clan, may seem incomprehensible in a society where one's first loyalty is to kin and crony...

Traditionalist Islam has become the enemy of modernity, most particularly, the authors suggest, in supporting forces resistant to individual liberty, secular knowledge and women's equality. While the Arab states -- the heart of Islam -- serve as a metaphor for this condition, they are not alone. Half a century after Partition, Hindu-majority India is a democracy that has begun to thrive economically, while a growingly Islamist Pakistan is an economic and political basket case. Afghanistan reverted to a medieval dark age under the Taliban theocracy. Even in modern Iran, the mullahs have done their best to suppress free thought and political opposition, while bringing the nation to the brink of economic ruin... Islam has rejected not only the West, but, more important, the critical approach that inspired its own Golden Age. It has retreated behind the walls of its madrassahs to shake a defiant fist at modernity. Yet unless, Islam is willing to find a way to hear the best voices of its own past, to reconcile tradition with modern life, it will remain mired in its own chaos, blaming the West for a fate that is, ultimately, one of its own choosing."

2. "The Double Standards of the Islamic World" (By Jack Schwartz, October 23, 2003). "It is a commonplace for Western supporters of the Palestinian cause to attribute violence against Israelis to the occupation of the West Bank. Presumably, if the injustices connected to the occupation of the territories ended, the violence would end with it. The Palestinian Authority goes somewhat further and insists that only when all Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to the homes which their forbears lost in the wars with Israel will the urge for retribution be assuaged...

But while these grievances are significant factors in the Palestinian cause, they are not the driving force that has stirred passions throughout the Muslim world. What motivates peasants in Indonesia, politicians in Malaysia, tribesmen in Pakistan, to be so incensed by the cause of a people with whom they have no affinity in language, proximity or culture? Nothing in common, that is, except faith...

It would be understandable, of course, for Muslims worldwide to take up the cause of what they see as their beleaguered co-religionists anywhere on the globe. But how then can we explain the rather abject global response of Islam to far worse persecution of Muslims from Bosnia to India in much greater numbers and often with worse outcomes? In India's Gujarat state, a firebombing of a train carrying Hindu zealots lead to riots in which more than 2,000 Muslims were slaughtered in a single week, many burned and hacked to death. The state did little to protect them or prosecute their killers. During the war in Bosnia, Muslim communities were subjected to a near-genocide -- the men slaughtered, the women raped -- the most infamous, but far from the only one, being the massacre of more than 7,000 in Screbenica. In Kashmir, a Muslim majority has been struggling for independence from India in a violent conflict longer than the Palestinians have been under Israeli control. How is it that Jenin, where less than 50 Arabs are killed (more than half combatants along with 27 Israeli soldiers) is considered a "massacre" that propels Muslim demonstrators into the streets of Indonesia but a real massacre of 2,000 co-religionists in Gujarat gets hardly a shrug?...

The answer lie not in the victims but, as perceived by Islam, in the perpetrators... If the Palestinians were not so obsessed with destroying Israel they could have had their state in 1947 and again in 2000. Ironically, the only Middle East people who approved the creation of a Palestinian State were the Jews. But a Palestinian State was meaningless to its leaders -- at the outset, a Muslim cleric, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem -- if it had to share the Holy Land with a Jewish State. So the Palestinian cause became a nationalism of negation -- prior to the 1948 war and the refugee exodus. But in doing so, it fit in with the cultural assumptions of its Muslim adherents -- that it was unthinkable for Jews to rule anywhere in the Holy Land and for Muslims -- any Muslims -- to be under their suzerainty. This was not about land or statehood. Then and now, it was about culture -- the refusal of a once-dominant culture to accept the ascendancy of a people whom it considered inferior. It still is."

 



FULL ARTICLES

MR MOHAMAD'S FANTASIES

Mr. Mohamad's fantasies
By Jack Schwartz
October 23, 2003

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia caused a stir recently with his warmly received speech before the Organization of the Islamic Conference in which he declared that "Jews rule the world by proxy: They get others to fight and die for them." His words were roundly denounced by Western leaders including the American President, as well they should have been, but in a perverse way, from the viewpoint of speaker and listeners, they made perfect sense. Like most second-tier anti-Semites -- let us give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt -- he damns the Jews with faint praise. If one reads his entire speech, Mr. Mohamad is chastizing the world's 1.2 billion Muslims for being unable to overcome its 12 million Jews, a people they outnumber roughly 100 to 1 and whose territory is a postage stamp compared to the land mass occupied by the collection of Muslim states on three continents. Of course, he may be a little off in charging that Jews get others to fight their battles for them -- Israel has done quite well on its own against an array of Arab armies in the last half-century as Islam knows only too well -- but that is understandably playing to the crowd. What is most bracing about Mr. Mohamad's observations is his belief that Jews rule the world -- whether by proxy or otherwise. And who can blame him for his outlook? From his colored perspective, Jews have projected their influence onto the most powerful countries on earth bending these nations to their will. Their brainpower has led them to invent "socialism, communism, human rights and democracy." To what purpose? "So that they can enjoy equal rights with others." It is, of course flattering to imagine that, notwithstanding Marx (a baptized anti-Semite), Engels and Lenin on the Left and those notorious Israelites, the Founding Fathers, in the democracy department, the Jews are credited with so much by their enemies. Mr. Mohamad's fantasies bring to mind the old joke about the Polish Jew in the 30s who said he preferred to read the Nazi press over the Jewish newspapers because while the latter wrote about gloom and doom for the Jews, the anti-Semites demonstrated how they controlled the world. But whatever Mr. Mohamad's perspective owes to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,"; the forged Czarist blueprint of Jewish world domination that makes such popular reading in the controlled Arab media (and one of the limited number of foreign works privileged to be translated into Arabic in the last 1,000 years), it springs from attitudes in Muslim experience that are quite valid and that we ignore at our peril. We should not condescend to these modalities because they are central to the belief system of many in the Muslim ummah. And we must examine them in light of the Prime Minister's remarks.

Mr. Mohamad raises a sensitive subject in his speech, lamenting that "because we are discouraged from learning of science and mathematics as giving us no merit for the afterlife, we have no capacity to produce our own weapons for our defense" -- or for that matter to produce much of anything else. It is a painful fact that in the century or so since the Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901, there have been only a handful of winners from Muslim lands and almost 100 from the Jewish community in virtually every field from Physics to Chemistry to Economics to Literature and, yes, Peace. To cite this is not to flaunt a non-existent Jewish superiority over Muslim thinking. Despite, Mr. Mohamad's racial inferences there is no magical gene or demonic jinni that makes Jews -- admittedly a Western people, in attitude if not origin -- more, or less, intelligent than Arabs or anyone else. But what then accounts for this disparity -- at least by Nobel standards -- in contributing to human progress? Implicit in Mr. Mohamad's words -- and explicit on the airwaves and in the press of the Muslim world -- is that this is due to a conspiracy of Jews and their agents. To Western eyes this may, hopefully, seem like nonsense. But imagine how it appears to, let us say, someone from the Arab world. In a world where kinship is critical, where one advances through the beneficence of family, clan and tribe, it makes perfect sense that one's rivals -- in this case, the Jews -- would act in the same way. The possibility that individuals could advance through hard work, personal effort, talent, drive, enterprise -- and that these virtues might be rewarded in a society based on merit rather than clan, may seem incomprehensible in a society where one's first loyalty is to kin and crony. Even harder to grasp is that in a pluralistic democratic society, the individual's primary loyalty is to the state; it is not tribal. This assumption may be an unpleasant truth but it certainly reflects the premise of Saddam Hussein's regime as well as that of other Middle East despotisms, and it is a reality that is challenging the United States as it struggles to bring democracy to Iraq.

The recent Arab Human Development Report, put together by Middle East scholars for the United Nations Development Program, is a devastating chronicle of the failure of Arab societies to advance politically, economically or socially. And while pro forma lip service is paid to the virtues of Islam, it is clear from the document's authors that the ascendancy of Islamism in recent years has stifled the growth of progress. Traditionalist Islam has become the enemy of modernity, most particularly, the authors suggest, in supporting forces resistant to individual liberty, secular knowledge and women's equality. While the Arab states -- the heart of Islam -- serve as a metaphor for this condition, they are not alone. Half a century after Partition, Hindu-majority India is a democracy that has begun to thrive economically, while a growingly Islamist Pakistan is an economic and political basket case. Afghanistan reverted to a medieval dark age under the Taliban theocracy. Even in modern Iran, the mullahs have done their best to suppress free thought and political opposition, while bringing the nation to the brink of economic ruin. In the Arab world, two-thirds of its 280 million people are illiterate -- half of them women. Education often consists of the rote learning of the Koran taught by fundamentalist clerics in the ubiquitous Saudi-financed madrassahs . Throughout autocracy reins, intolerance abounds and the best and brightest often flee a smothering patriarchal society for the opportunities of the West. Is it any wonder that a fifth of the region's Arabs live on less than $2 a day and economic growth is stifled? The one growth "industry" has been Islamism. With few exceptions, the connection between Islamism and political, economic and social stagnation is too overwhelming to be dismissed as mere coincidence, or caused primarily by other phenomena. It is the only factor that is consistent in all cases -- and that cannot be trumped by such phenomena as colonialism, which other cultures suffered but overcame. How did this come to be?

We are reminded constantly of Islam's contributions to science and medicine and its role as a conduit of Classical Civilization to the West through its preservation and translation of the works of Plato and Aristotle as well as such Latin writers as the Roman physician Galen. What actually transpired in the Arab world during this period -- roughly between the 9th and 12th centuries -- was a long struggle between the theologians and the philosophers over how this knowledge was to be used -- which the Orthodox ultimately won. In short, the theologians saw philosophy -- that is a natural view of the world -- as subservient to Revelation. The ultimate truth was in the Koran, not in experience. Any thinking that deviated from this literal reading of Scripture constituted a threat. It is during this era, which the Arab world would look back on as a Golden Age, that the Rationalists, although beleaguered, held their own in the courts of such Enlightened rulers as the 9th-century Caliph al-Mamoun (when Aristotle was translated into Arabic) and were the scholarly jewels in the crown of such Christian rulers as Frederick II and his fabled court in Sicily. The early Arab Rationalists, known as Mu'tazilites, were decried by their Orthodox critics as exposing Doctrine to the critique of Reason. Nevertheless, protected by various suzerains in the fractious politics of the Muslim world, they persisted. It was at this time, for instance, that the 11th-century physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna) published his great medical treatises (although his books on philosphy were burned). The most prominent voice against the philosophers was the theologian Al-Ghazali who attacked rationalism as dangerous to the faith and dismissed Reason as a snare to Revelation in his most famous work, "Refutation of the Philosphers." The last, and perhaps greatest, proponent of Rationalism, the 12th-century judge from Seville Ibn Rushd (Averroes) responded in "Refuting of the Refutation" that natural philosophy could offer knowledge parallel to that of Revelation. But the weight of Orthodoxy was too great and Doctrine won out over Reason. (It might be noted that the Jewish philosopher Maimonedes, while agreeing in principle with his Muslim peers on the issues of the Existence, Unity and Incorporeality of God, criticized the methodology whereby "they employed the same assertion as a proof for the identical argument which had led to the assertion." In effect, he accused them of harnessing arguments to fit their doctrine. He argued that "even the most cogent of their proofs . . . has only been obtained by reversing the whole order of things." Maimonides proposed to attain the same end, yet in doing so, "I shall not contradict the laws of nature." The difference is critical.)

By the 13th-century, the forces of rationalism in Muslim thinking had waned, giving way to mysticism on the one hand and orthodoxy on the other. Averroes, who was harried with charges of heresy was a prophet unheard in his own land, but whose natural philosophy had a major influence on the thought of subsequent generations in Europe. Practitioners of natural philosophy soldiered on in various venues in the Muslim world for several centuries -- increasingly peripheral to the Arab center-- but basically the Guardians of Orthodoxy had saved Islam from the empirical method that within two centuries would usher Renaissance humanism into the Christian world. From an Orthodox Muslim point of view this would be saving Islam from the materialism of the West, but the downside is that, over time, it prevented Islam from producing the fruits of that materialism as well.

Critics of Islam have lamented that the Muslim world never had a Luther. More to the point, it never had a Spinoza. The turning point for the West -- visa vis its relations with Islam and the rest of the globe, came in the mid-17th century when social and political conditions allowed the rational criticism of nature to become completely freed from religious doctrine. The philosophical and cultural seeds planted in Europe centuries earlier, nurtured by the Reformation, Religious Toleration and Free Thought lead to the extraordinary harvest of critical thinking and observation yielded by Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Newton and countless others that made possible the ascendancy of the West. The template for the industrial revolution was, in effect, in place. It was no accident that by the end of the century, the Ottoman Empire would make its last great thrust at the heart of Europe and then Islam would implode. At best, it would become a consumer of Western goods, at worst exploited by Western enterprise. Neither side was imbued with any special virtue or vice, but nature abhors a vacum and the West marched in to fill the void that Islam created. By insulating its tradition from any internal critique over centuries, Islam had created the conditions of its own downfall. All that was needed was for a rival society to throw off its own dogmatic blinders and cast an empirical eye on the world around it. Once that happened, there was no contest. Other societies -- the ever-pragmatic Chinese and the adaptable Japanese -- have observed the West, caught up and often surpassed it. But Islam seems to take a perverse pride in refusing to adapt to the 21st century by accepting individual liberty, utilizing its women and introducing modern education. Rather, it insists on teaching its young to accept authority, to insist on its ancient Text to the exclusion of the empirical knowledge that might challenge it. In embracing the Wahhabism of the fundamentalist Saudi preachers, Islam has rejected not only the West, but, more important, the critical approach that inspired its own Golden Age. It has retreated behind the walls of its madrassahs to shake a defiant fist at modernity. Yet unless, Islam is willing to find a way to hear the best voices of its own past, to reconcile tradition with modern life, it will remain mired in its own chaos, blaming the West for a fate that is, ultimately, one of its own choosing.

 


THE DOUBLE STANDARDS OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD

The Double Standards of the Islamic World
By Jack Schwartz
October 23, 2003

It is a commonplace for Western supporters of the Palestinian cause to attribute violence against Israelis to the occupation of the West Bank. Presumably, if the injustices connected to the occupation of the territories ended, the violence would end with it. The Palestinian Authority goes somewhat further and insists that only when all Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to the homes which their forbears lost in the wars with Israel will the urge for retribution be assuaged. Leaving aside for a moment, whether this would permit a viable Jewish state, the logic of both assumptions is that what drives the Palestinian cause is the desire for land and statehood. Give us a country of our own and the property taken from our kin in an unjust war and we will live with you in peace. It is the basic argument that advocates of the Palestinian cause in the West use in rallying support for their position, whether at the U.N., among the European Left or on American campuses. On the face of it, the argument appeals to a sense of justice which -- while debatable -- can at least be understood in Western terms. Many in the West, still haunted by the demons of colonialism, can appreciate the appeals to Restitution and Self-Determination. Would these ostensible grievances offered by Palestinian advocates in the West be the true reasons driving their cause, a settlement, albeit fractious, could be achieved, and might already have been forged.

But while these grievances are significant factors in the Palestinian cause, they are not the driving force that has stirred passions throughout the Muslim world. What motivates peasants in Indonesia, politicians in Malaysia, tribesmen in Pakistan, to be so incensed by the cause of a people with whom they have no affinity in language, proximity or culture? Nothing in common, that is, except faith.

It would be understandable, of course, for Muslims worldwide to take up the cause of what they see as their beleaguered co-religionists anywhere on the globe. But how then can we explain the rather abject global response of Islam to far worse persecution of Muslims from Bosnia to India in much greater numbers and often with worse outcomes? In the current intifada, over more than three years about 1,500 Arabs have been killed, two-thirds of them combatants, the others tragically, because they were in the line of fire. (More than 800 Israelis, most of them noncombatants have also been killed, deliberately, most in suicide bombings, but let us put this aside.) In India's Gujarat state, a firebombing of a train carrying Hindu zealots lead to riots in which more than 2,000 Muslims were slaughtered in a single week, many burned and hacked to death. The state did little to protect them or prosecute their killers. During the war in Bosnia, Muslim communities were subjected to a near-genocide -- the men slaughtered, the women raped -- the most infamous, but far from the only one, being the massacre of more than 7,000 in Screbenica. In Kashmir, a Muslim majority has been struggling for independence from India in a violent conflict longer than the Palestinians have been under Israeli control. How is it that Jenin, where less than 50 Arabs are killed (more than half combatants along with 27 Israeli soldiers) is considered a "massacre" that propels Muslim demonstrators into the streets of Indonesia but a real massacre of 2,000 co-religionists in Gujarat gets hardly a shrug? Why this quiescence to the slaughter of Muslims everywhere that is more excessive, brutal, intense and deliberate than in Palestine? Why this near fatalism to the setbacks of co-religionists with one exception -- the Palestinians? Why does the outrage -- which by any objective standards should be set off by far greater and truer atrocities -- virtually ignore all the rest and focus on one set of enemies -- the Jews? The answer lie not in the victims but, as perceived by Islam, in the perpetrators.

The basic appeal of the Palestinians to their co-religionists worldwide. has little do with Nationalism, Territory or Restitution of Property Rights. It is a matter of Faith and cuts to the heart of the basic beliefs of Islam. An alliance of Islamicists, Leftists and the Politically Correct have set up a Catch-22 whereby any examination of Islam by a Westerner or, for that matter, a Muslim who fails to toe the party line, is decried as "racism," an intellectual bullying tactic perfected by the late Edward Said. This creates a situation in which no one can comment on the relationship between a faith and its zealots without being labeled "a racist." It also conveniently insulates Islam from any rational criticism or self-examination of its historical and cultural antecedents regarding its relationship with other cultures, except on its own narrow terms.

Christianity, after the painful experience of the Holocaust, has re-examined its attitudes toward the Jews and absolved them of the scriptural charge of deicide. Islam has yet to come to terms with its own Revelation regarding the Jews. The simple fact is that the second chapter of the Koran -- the first is, in effect, a preamble -- bristles with polemical lines against the Jews. Historically, this makes perfect sense. Mohammed had to establish his new faith in a world where the two monotheistic religions -- particularly the Jews -- were already established among the local tribes. His failure to convert the Jewish clans was a stinging humiliation. They dismissed his Revelation as a parody of their own. He achieved his retribution by defeating the three Jewish tribes in battle, ultimately slaughtering and despoiling them and driving them from the Hijaz, an early ethnic cleansing celebrated by Islam and enforced to this day.

If we may, for a moment, look at the Koran in human, rather than Divine terms, it makes sense that the first major chapter is rife -- particularly at the outset -- with polemics against the Jews for rejecting Mohammed's mission. We are not talking about a casual reference or a stray passage. This Sura is replete with words condemning the Jews for their rejection of the Prophet's revelation. In an accretion of verses, they are condemned to hell for eternity, cursed by God, pictured as stubborn, wayward and covetous and derided as apes -- the latter being not only derogatory but symbolic of creatures who are avaricious and duplicitous. The Chapter is called "The Cow." It evokes to the Golden Calf which the Israelites worshipped while Moses was away on Mount Sinai. The Koranic version depicts the Jews as maintaining their worship of the Calf which had sunk deep into their hearts, thereby being unworthy of the Revelation offered to them which has to wait until Mohammed's arrival for its true manifestation. Subsequent chapters reinforce this view, depicting the Jews as wretched, base, slanderers, evildoers, corrupters and the most vehement of enemies to the Faithful. Their wickedness is manifest in by their refusal to accept the Prophet's gospel.

Apologists for Islam cite bloodthirsty exhortations from other faiths as well to deflect criticism of these polemics. The Torah, for instance, is replete with such passages. The critical difference, however, is that such imperatives, for the most part, no longer obtain in Judaism and Christianity, but they are literally carried out in Islam. Stoning to death for adultery is a precept that would horrify Jews and Christians, but is still widely ascribed to in Shariah. Slavery has been abolished in the West -- whatever Scriptural injunctions to the contrary -- but it still thrives in Muslim countries where it is justified under the Koran. The Ancient Israelites are enjoined to slaughter Amalekites but 2,000 years of persecution have altered the rabbinic view of such mandates. Centuries of religious warfare and the consequences of the Holocaust have led to Christianity to evolve into a faith of tolerance which has acknowledged and sought forgiveness for some of the bloodier episodes of its past. Whatever the atavistic injunctions of Scripture, Judaism and Christianity have put them in their past. This has yet to happen for Islam which is experiencing a fundamentalist revival that drives the politics of many of states.

Although Islam decided to accept the followers of the two predecessor faiths as "dhimmi" -- people of the book -- they were to be tolerated provided that they acknowledged their subjugated status. Sura 9:29 of the Koran directs that the dhimmi should remain in a "humbled" state. The idea that today, the most reviled of the dhimmi -- the Jews -- should rule over Muslims is, from a religious point of view, anathema. It reflects a cosmic disorder that must be rectified. Tolerance, in Islamic terms, does not mean mutual respect among equals; it means permitting a subjugated people -- providing they are monotheists -- to profess their faith in a humbled manner. They are not expected to challenge Islam in any way on pain of retribution. It might be noted that the vaunted periods of Muslim tolerance were invariably followed by anti-Jewish riots, massacres, ghettoizing in mellas and expulsions, most notably under the Almoravids in Spain in the 11th century, in Morocco in the 13th and 15th centuries, all the way through modern times to the Arabic countries where Jews suffered pogroms and expropriation both prior and subsequent to the founding of the Jewish state.

The essence of the Muslim narrative in the Koran and the Hadith -- the life and sayings of the Prophet -- is the triumph of Mohammed over his enemies, unbelievers and naysayers -- not least the Jews who are seen as duplicitous rivals rather than honorable dissenters defending their beliefs. It is only fitting, in this narrative, for Islam to appropriate the belongings of the Jews -- including their Holy City of which they are unworthy. Thus, Mohammad decamps there on a night journey to Paradise. When the Muslim conqueror Caliph Umar seizes Jerusalem from the Byzantines, he is taken to the site where the Hebrew Temple had been and it is there that he builds the mosque known as the Noble Sanctuary. It is Islam's third holiest shrine, referred to in the Koran simply as the Furthest Mosque. (It is Judaism's holiest shrine, mentioned about 900 times in the Torah.) For devout Muslims, anywhere in the globe, for the sons of apes to rule in Jerusalem and have sway over the Faithful is not simply unjust or unpalatable; it is a sign of heavenly discord. It is this, an atavistic impulse based on fundamentalist literalism and religious zealotry that drives the Muslim faithful throughout the globe, incited to rage and anger by Wahabbi preachers funded with Saudi petrodollars. Imagine the impact of this on an often illiterate audience whose only source of knowledge is the Koran. Palestinian propagandists, well aware of this disparity, play a double game, exploiting a sense of secular justice among Western intellectuals while inciting the Muslim mob to acts of atavistic fury and vengeance not only against Israelis, but all Jews, in a confrontation that they well know, is cultural.

Since the Koran and Hadith predate by centuries the confrontation of an expansionist Islam with enemies such as Hinduism, there is no religious context for condemning such rivals as there is with Judaism, so although violence involving such later -- and current -- opponents may far outweigh anything in Palestine, it remains limited geographically to ethnic conflict. For instance, at the very same time of the first Arab--Israeli War, the Partition of India led to at least a million Muslim and Hindu deaths in a frenzy of mutual massacre and the displacement of 14 million people as refugees from both sides fled the vengeance of ethnic mobs for the safety of Muslim and Hindu enclaves. (Comparatively, about 700,000 Arabs fled or were driven off by the fighting in Palestine -- about an equal number of Jews were driven from Arab lands -- and a relatively low number of Arab civilians were killed.) Yet the slaughter during the Partition of India --as well as subsequent outbreaks of religious carnage -- failed to mobilize the outrage of the Muslim world then or later, and there has been no attempt to restore the millions of refugees to the homes from which they were driven or even compensate them.

When we try to explain genocidal rationales, we speak of Dehumanization -- placing the victim in a subhuman category which permits the perpetrator to traverse moral strictures -- but an equally valid rational is Demonization, which catapults the victim into a superhuman category, a Satanic force that has to be expunged, which permits the perpetrator to vent his fury with moral rectitude. I think this explains the psychology of suicide bombing better than the rationales of despair. There have been many peoples who have suffered occupation or oppression as bad as if not worse than the Palestinians in the last half century in Tibet, East Timor, South Africa, and Kosovo to name only a few -- without resorting to suicide bombings. Terrorists by now have enough facility with car bombs and remote control to set off a bomb without attaching it to a shihad. Despite the disclaimers of some mainstream clerics, there is a religious component to this act which speaks to the Muslim faithful at the deepest level. A "martyr" -- in a clear act of religious passion as evinced by the elaborate videotaped ceremony prior to the sacrifice -- consecrates him-or-herself to God for this blow against the usurpers. From their point of view, it is a Holy Deed in a Holy War. How else can we explain the act of the young woman at the Haifa café who deliberately stopped between two tables of families when she exploded her device. This was not a military act. It had no strategic goal. Its purpose was vengeance fueled by sheer hatred and a belief that the families and children she was slaughtering were all seeds of the Devil; that morally, they were fair game, that it was right, indeed, necessary to kill them, that it was religiously sanctioned -- indeed, required under the rubric of jihad. Her act was, to her, justified by her faith; it was part of its very fabric. When Hamas zealots justify terror bombing in Israel's cafes and restaurants by condemning all Israelis -- including women and children -- as soldiers, they are echoing the Koranic verses that condemn all Jews, without exception, to the fires of hell for eternity. Albeit indirect and refracted, their rationale has scriptural resonance among Muslims which, in a volatile situation, trumps the Koran's more humane injunctions against shedding the blood of innocents.

Any doubts about this can be dispelled by simply reading the praise heaped on the shihads by mullahs after their acts. We are not talking here about a death cult on the periphery of a religion, but rather about a driving force in contemporary Islam that has captured the imagination of a large part of the Muslim world. It doesn't come from nowhere and it derives from more than despair. It is embedded in the origins of the faith. Only the belief in the Satanic powers of the Jews can explain the medieval fury of the mob that lynched the two Israeli reservists who had strayed into a Palestinian enclave; it can best account for the demonic rage of the murderers who crushed the two Israeli teenage hikers to death with stones, or the killer who slaughtered the mother and her two children in their own bedroom. This is not a "defense" of Palestinian rights. Such abominable acts make a mockery of the words "defense" and "rights." It is sheer hatred of another people seen as both inferior but somehow supernaturally endowed by Dark Forces who must be fought with ever means at hand -- and not only subjugated but extirpated. Arafat's repeated references to the Prophet's expulsion of the Jewish tribes from the Hijaz resonates with welcome religious overtones on Muslim ears. Muslim pulpits, media and textbooks bristle with anti-Semitic rhetoric directed not only at Israelis but at Jews everywhere, be they Zionists or not. In the current Muslim world view there is a cosmic struggle occurring between the Realm of Islam and the Realm of Satan. We know where the Jews stand in this and what they can expect. From a fundamentalist Islamic point of view, tolerating these vipers in their midst for over a thousand years only proved what ingrates they are. Islam's contemporary leaders and their apologists, by dismissing its fundamentalism as peripheral, or rationalizing that all faiths have their atavistic sides, have failed to confront its implications. The fact is that faiths evolve but Islam for too long has been mired in its own past glories.

It is sad, and telling, that in the Torah, God refuses to allow Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael but in reality the Arabs have no compunction about sacrificing his seed. Palestinian nationalism is the only nationalism based primarily not on the founding of its own state but on the destruction of another. If the Palestinians were not so obsessed with destroying Israel they could have had their state in 1947 and again in 2000. Ironically, the only Middle East people who approved the creation of a Palestinian State were the Jews. But a Palestinian State was meaningless to its leaders -- at the outset, a Muslim cleric, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem -- if it had to share the Holy Land with a Jewish State. So the Palestinian cause became a nationalism of negation -- prior to the 1948 war and the refugee exodus. But in doing so, it fit in with the cultural assumptions of its Muslim adherents -- that it was unthinkable for Jews to rule anywhere in the Holy Land and for Muslims -- any Muslims -- to be under their suzerainty. This was not about land or statehood. Then and now, it was about culture -- the refusal of a once-dominant culture to accept the ascendancy of a people whom it considered inferior. It still is.


“A visit to Oxford Street, London”

CONTENTS

1. "The opposing view" (By Alan Dershowitz, The Sunday Times of London - Week in Review, October 26, 2003)
2. "Loathsome" (By Melanie Philips October 11, 2003)
3. A visit to Oxford Street, London
4. "Iranian spies roam Britain 'to locate synagogues for attack by al-Qa'eda'" (Sunday Telegraph, October 26, 2003)
5. "Holocaust memorial firm is linked to Zyklon B" (London Times, October 27, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach several articles from the British press. As usual, the headlines from today say it all. The Guardian: "Death of a town." The Independent: "Rafah, a buffer zone of rubble where families have to live on a football field." The Times: "Israel's great divide redraws occupied lands" (accompanying the article was a large photo, with the caption "Israel's security fence - villagers complain they are living in a cage.") And even the headline in the British newspaper which is supposedly most fair to Israel, the Daily Telegraph, today reads "Israel creates 'world's most scenic prison'"

This week's issue of the Spectator, the influential right-leaning British magazine owned by the Daily Telegraph, carries an article by Sholto Byrnes praising Malaysian President Mahathir as "the very model of a moderate Muslim leader" who should be welcomed by the West. "We should cherish the likes of Dr Mahathir," writes Byrnes.

Yesterday, the Sunday Times of London reprinted the recent article from the New York Review of Books by Professor Tony Judt, advocating the end of Israel. (Judt is an English Jew who teaches at New York University.) They also gave a small box to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, to respond. I attach that response below, as well as another article criticizing Judt, "Loathsome," by British commentator Melanie Philips.

On a more positive note for Israel, the Guardian's Israel correspondent, Chris McGreal, admits in today's paper: "The [Israeli] army's claim that tunnels [between Egypt and Gaza] exist is not in doubt. Some of those uncovered are quite sophisticated, with wooden panelling, lighting and even phone lines linking the two ends." Amazingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, many other European journalists have doubted the existence of Arafat's weapons smuggling tunnels.

I attach four items connected to Britain and the US, and one article ("Holocaust memorial firm is linked to Zyklon B") concerning Germany. There are summaries first for those of you who don't have time to read these articles in full.

1. "The opposing view" (By Alan Dershowitz, The Sunday Times of London - Week in Review, October 26, 2003). "One of the greatest barriers to Middle East peace is the increasing rejection - among some Palestinians, a few Israelis and some international academics - of the two-state solution and its replacement by the idea of a single secular bi-national state... The one-state proposal flies in the face of modern history. Lebanon tried to unite Christians and Muslims into one state and the experiment ended in fratricidal bloodshed. The former Yugoslavia was a one-state solution to a region with many ethnicities. It ended in genocide. In the 1930s a leader aspired to a one-state solution for all of Europe: Adolf Hitler... The decades of conflict between Arabs and Jews cannot be papered over by a legal document creating a single government for two distinct peoples with a history of mutual antagonism... This proposal [by Judt and others] is a more subtle way of achieving by law and demography what Hamas seeks to achieve by terrorism: the end of Israel. Moreover, any Palestinian state would end up an Islamic state... It is proposterous to say, as Judt does, that Israel is "an oddity among modern nations" because Jews are "above others". Jordanian law forbids a Jew from becoming a citizen. In no Arab or Muslim country are non-Muslims equal citizens. Israeli Arabs are better off - as measured by longevity, healthcare, legal rights, even religious liberty - than other Arabs in the Middle East."

2. "Loathsome" (By Melanie Philips October 11, 2003). "There is a truly disgusting essay by Professor Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books. He argues for the destruction of Israel. The very idea of a Jewish state, he sneers, is a 19th century anachronism. No mention of the anachronistic situation that led to the creation of a Jewish state -- that medieval hatred of the Jews remained so prevalent across the world, with no country prepared to take them in after World War Two, that a state of their own was the only way of guaranteeing their safety... No mention of the fact that -- far from a state composed of Europeans -- half of Israel's population were refugees from Arab countries which persecuted them. And no mention of the fact that the Arab states are 'Judenrein', as would be the putative state of Palestine -- which for Judt would not qualify, it appears, as an anachronism... He's personally okay, of course, because he inhabits a world 'where more and more of us have multiple elective identities and would feel falsely constrained if we had to answer to just one of them'. Well, that may be just terrific for the senior common room of New York University, but possibly not quite so appealing for those Israeli Jews whose 'multiple identities' didn't work out so well in Cairo or Cracow..."

3. A visit to Oxford Street, London. "I Wish 80 or 90 Jews Would Die" (By Carol Gould, October 22, 2003). [This piece comes from a British Jewish website; the author was a senior drama executive at Anglia TV, the independent local TV network for the East Anglia region of England]. She writes: "On Thursday evening we went to Marks & Spencer department store. On the way, the bus conductor wanted it known to the passengers that he was Moroccan. He went from seat to seat making a point of greeting passengers in Arabic, and animatedly chatting with women in traditional Muslim clothes... as we approached Oxford Street he went to the front of the bus and told those of us seated at that end of the vehicle that "Marks and Spencer sell things and then send the money to the Jewish." ... The bus driver, a white-haired London Buses oldtimer of decades standing, leaned out of his cab and with considerable irritation lectured the conductor on the history of the Holocaust and of the "Jewish." As we were leaving the bus I could hear the driver and conductor arguing, the latter reminding the Englishman that all Marks and Spencer money goes to the "Zionist murderers... We then found ourselves in Oxford Street and outside "M&S" as it is affectionately known, was a contingent of policemen and women who were protecting a small group of young Jewish men who had set up a table with an Israeli flag. The men were further protected by a substantial metal barrier, to separate them from what can only be described as an hysterical crowd of hate-filled people of every shape and size. What was so depressing was that non-Arabs in the noisy crowd outnumbered those from the Middle East... When I asked this otherwise charming English pair where they had learned the word "apartheid" in relation to Israel they said they had read about it in The Independent and had seen "atrocities on the BBC.")... One woman in religious Muslim attire standing next to me -- actually jumping up and down -- screamed at the top of her voice to the Israel supporters, "You Jews destroyed my country, Iraq." Someone asked her what Israel had to do with Iraq and she screeched "You killed sixty of my family in Iraq." She was asked how sixty Iraqis were killed by Israelis and she said "Israel -USA! Same thing! And now you will take over Iran!" She became so agitated that she had to be led away by the police. [The rest of this piece is attached below]

4. "Iranian spies roam Britain 'to locate synagogues for attack by al-Qa'eda'" (By David Bamber, Home Affairs Editor, Sunday Telegraph, October 26, 2003). This article appears almost two weeks after I sent news about this on this email list. "Iranian spies have been photographing synagogues and other Jewish buildings in Britain, seemingly in preparation for terrorist attacks. MI5, British the security service, and Special Branch officers have discovered Iranians photographing such buildings in London and the Home Counties for some time, with an upsurge of activity over the past two months. Up to 20 Iranians, most studying here legally as students at universities, are involved in the surveillance and two men have been asked to leave the country as a result... In August, it was revealed that Hadi Soleimanpour, the former Iranian ambassador to Argentina, had been arrested in Britain on an extradition warrant from Buenos Aires. He is wanted in connection with the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 which killed 85 people..."

5. "Holocaust memorial firm is linked to Zyklon B" (London Times, October 27, 2003). "Work has been halted on Germany's national Holocaust memorial after it emerged that one of the companies supplying materials had links to the production of chemicals used in Nazi gas chambers. Degussa AG, which won the contract to coat the structure with anti-graffiti protection, has been identified as part-owner of the company that produced Zyklon B gas, which was used to kill inmates in concentration camps. Building of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, near the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin, began last month... It is due to be completed in 2005..."

 



FULL ARTICLES

THE OPPOSING VIEW BY ALAN DERSHOWITZ

The opposing view: from leading Jewish American lawyer Alan Dershovitz
The Sunday Times of London - Review
October 26, 2003

One of the greatest barriers to Middle East peace is the increasing rejection - among some Palestinians, a few Israelis and some international academics - of the two-state solution and its replacement by the idea of a single secular bi-national state.

The two-state solution has already been accepted by the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, and it remains the best hope. The one-state proposal flies in the face of modern history. Lebanon tried to unite Christians and Muslims into one state and the experiment ended in fratricidal bloodshed. The former Yugoslavia was a one-state solution to a region with many ethnicities. It ended in genocide. In the 1930s a leader aspired to a one-state solution for all of Europe: Adolf Hitler.

Were a one-state solution to be imposed on Israel and Palestine, there would be a constant struggle for demographic superiority. Every death would be seen as a victory by the other side and every birth as a defeat. The decades of conflict between Arabs and Jews cannot be papered over by a legal document creating a single government for two distinct peoples with a history of mutual antagonism.

Many, though not all, of those who advocate a single-state solution have in mind a state that would eventually be dominated by Palestinian Arabs. This proposal is a more subtle way of achieving by law and demography what Hamas seeks to achieve by terrorism: the end of Israel. Moreover, any Palestinian state would end up an Islamic state. The constitution of the Palestinian Authority establishes Islam as the official religion of Palestine.

In a world with numerous Muslim states, there is surely room for one Jewish state. Moreover, Israel is in fact, if not in theory, already a secular bi-national state. Its people are largely secular and the Orthodox Jewish rabbinate affects primarily the small number of Israelis who are conservative or reform Jews. Israel is more secular than any other Middle East state and any other Muslim state. It is also a bi-national state. Its 1.25m Arabs are full citizens with representation in the Knesset and on the Supreme Court. Arabic is an official Israeli language and Arabs have more rights there than anywhere in the Middle East.

It is proposterous to say, as Judt does, that Israel is "an oddity among modern nations" because Jews are "set above others". Jordanian law forbids a Jew from becoming a citizen. In no Arab or Muslim country are non-Muslims equal citizens. Israeli Arabs are better off - as measured by longevity, healthcare, legal rights, even religious liberty - than other Arabs in the Middle East.

The peace process is not necessarily dead. The road map is still the best approach. Progressive Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals are now advocating a plan, based largely on the Camp David and Taba proposals, that would result in a two-state solution. We should not abort these realistic proposals in the name of an unrealistic theory.

 

LOATHSOME

Loathsome
By Melanie Philips
October 11, 2003

There is a truly disgusting essay by Professor Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books. He argues for the destruction of Israel.

The very idea of a Jewish state, he sneers, is a 19th century anachronism. No mention of the anachronistic situation that led to the creation of a Jewish state -- that medieval hatred of the Jews remained so prevalent across the world, with no country prepared to take them in after World War Two, that a state of their own was the only way of guaranteeing their safety.

In accordance with the left's doctrine that only a multicultural state is legitimate, Judt proposes that Israel becomes a 'binational' Jewish and Arab state. Apart from the fact that this idea was proposed at the end of the 19th century, it ignores the fact that for the Arabs, sharing a state with the Jews means that they must become 'dhimmi', or second class citizens. Islam will tolerate nothing else. No mention of the fact that -- far from a state composed of Europeans -- half of Israel's population were refugees from Arab countries which persecuted them. And no mention of the fact that the Arab states are 'Judenrein', as would be the putative state of Palestine -- which for Judt would not qualify, it appears, as an anachronism.

He's personally okay, of course, because he inhabits a world 'where more and more of us have multiple elective identities and would feel falsely constrained if we had to answer to just one of them'. Well, that may be just terrific for the senior common room of New York University, but possibly not quite so appealing for those Israeli Jews whose 'multiple identities' didn't work out so well in Cairo or Cracow.

Judt's modest proposal rehearses the usual libels and distortions about Israel. Thus: 'With American support, Jerusalem has consistently and blatantly flouted UN resolutions requiring it to withdraw from land seized and occupied in war'. No mention that these resolutions also require as a quid pro quo that the Arabs make peace with Israel.

Thus: 'Washington's unconditional support for Israel...' No mention that Washington has always prevented Israel from taking action that would help prevent its citizens being murdered (as in the otherwise inexplicable non-arrest of Arafat); that as a result of Washington's Oslo process, the Palestinians were given the arms and infrastructure to murder Israelis; or that Washington's road map promises a state as a reward for terror.

Thus: 'Syria is more use to the United States as a friend than an enemy'. No mention of Syria's ongoing role as a major sponsor of terror.

Thus: 'pundits slander our European allies when they dissent, speak glibly and irresponsibly of resurgent anti-Semitism when Israel is criticized...' No mention of the blood libel promulgated by 'our European allies' over the massacre of Jenin that wasn't; no mention of the commonplace assertion by 'our European allies' of the canard that the Jews are a cabal which dictates American foreign policy; no mention of the dehumanisation of Israel by 'our European allies' through their vile daily distortion and moral inversion that represents Israel's attempts at self-defence as unwarranted aggression.

Thus: 'it is a Jewish state in which one community'Jews "is set above others...' No mention that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, one in which Arabs have the vote, can serve in the army and even sit in the supreme court. And if he's taking a shot at the right of return -- well, this was a unique concession for a people unique in the history of the world in having been persecuted in virtually every country, and for whom automatic refuge was therefore a moral act. To represent this as some kind of racist discrimination is obscene.

For what it's worth, I believe the settlements are wrong, they should be dismantled forthwith and Israel should insist on a state for the Palestinians. To rule another people is not only anathema but -- the one point where Judt is correct -- will lead to the demographic destruction of the Jewish state. So call their bluff -- and then fight them, as one state against another, when they attack, which they undoubtedly will in accordance with what they have said consistently down the decades. I believe there is no acceptable alternative. But that's because I want the Jewish state to survive. Judt's call for its annihilation, by contrast, makes that appalling prospect that little bit more likely.

 

A VISIT TO OXFORD STREET LONDON

A visit to Oxford Street, London
The article below appears on www.jewishcomment.com

"I Wish 80 or 90 Jews Would Die"
By Carol Gould
October 22, 2003

On Thursday evening we went to Marks & Spencer department store. On the way, the bus conductor wanted it known to the passengers that he was Moroccan. He went from seat to seat making a point of greeting passengers in Arabic, and animatedly chatting with women in traditional Muslim clothes.

He did make a point of grunting to those of us who were, shall we say, "traditional locals." We did not feel slighted but as we approached Oxford Street he went to the front of the bus and told those of us seated at that end of the vehicle that "Marks and Spencer sell things and then send the money to the Jewish." He then said what one assumes was a similar piece of useful information to a Muslim woman and both became rather agitated. The bus driver, a white-haired London Buses oldtimer of decades standing, leaned out of his cab and with considerable irritation lectured the conductor on the history of the Holocaust and of the "Jewish." As we were leaving the bus I could hear the driver and conductor arguing ; the latter reminding the Englishman that all Marks and Spencer money goes to the "Zionist murderers."

We then found ourselves in Oxford Street and outside "M&S," as it is affectionately known, was a contingent of policemen and women who were protecting a small group of young Jewish men who had set up a table with an Israeli flag. The men were further protected by a substantial metal barrier, to separate them from what can only be described as an hysterical crowd of hate-filled people of every shape and size. What was so depressing was that non-Arabs in the noisy crowd outnumbered those from the Middle East.

(Let me explain the background : for years Palestinian groups have had a stall outside Marks & Spencer to protest the history of the Sieff family and to stop people from shopping at a store that stocks Israeli goods. The Palestinian young people are never attacked, and when Jews approach them the most that happens is a lively discussion. To a lesser extent its neighbour store, Selfridges, has had leafletters outside for years protesting the presence of Israeli wines on its shelves. One day last year I went into Selfridges and accosted the first couple I saw. They said they agreed with the Palestinian leafletters and thought no "Zionist apartheid" goods should be sold anywhere in the UK. When I asked this otherwise charming English pair where they had learned the word "apartheid" in relation to Israel they said they had read about it in The Independent and had seen "atrocities on the BBC.")

Back to Thursday: I began to pick up snippets of shouts from this viscerally angry crowd. One woman in religious Muslim attire standing next to me -- actually jumping up and down -- screamed at the top of her voice to the Israel supporters, "You Jews destroyed my country, Iraq." Someone asked her what Israel had to do with Iraq and she screeched "You killed sixty of my family in Iraq." She was asked how sixty Iraqis were killed by Israelis and she said "Israel -USA! Same hing! And now you will take over Iran!" She became so agitated that she had to be led away by the police.

Then came the chorus of really quite terrifyingly angry English people with their shouted mantras of "You people invented terrorism in Palestine." "Israel is expanding every day and will soon own the whole Middle East!!" (doh???) ; "Israel is slaughtering thousands of Palestinians every day." (Again, doh?)

But the crowning glory was an elegantly-dressed businessman next to me who seemed normal except for the fury in his eyes. He said, "I love and revere the suicide bombers. Every time I hear of a suicide bomb going off I wish it had been eighty or ninety Jews instead of a pitiful handful." He then went on to shout at everyone around him every time someone tried to speak, and had reached a point of hysteria -- "You people have been trying to acquire land across the entire globe and will soon own every nation if you are not stopped!" -- when, thankfully, a policewoman came over. One can think of some poeple who, had they been armed, would be in prison tonight because his suggestion that not enough Jews are killed each time a bomb goes off "made one crazy" as the saying goes, but we were pleased to see that the policewoman was making every effort to book him.

(Imagine how far he would have got had he said such things in New York or Washington about Americans!)

What does this tell us about British society? Pim Fortuyn was assassinated because he expressed what were considered to be extremist views about the rise of Islam across Europe and in his native Holland. We have no objection to ethnic diversity but we are sickened when we see British and Arab people united in such blood-curdling hatred of one very tiny minority. (Lest we forget Jews are now outnumbered ten to one by Muslims in the UK.) What alarms us is the profoundly visceral hatred shown by the crowd on Thursday towards a mild-looking group of young Jewish men and bystanders supporting them.

Does this mean, as Melanie Phillips has said so often in the British press this year, that Britain is no longer a place where Jews may live without fear? Yes, we think it does. Our liberal friends will say that the actions of the Sharon government are making life hell for Diaspora Jews. Well, here is the crucial point: when Yitzhak Rabin was making peace and Israel was booming -- and the Palestinian territories were beginning to flourish -- terror bombs were exploding as often as during the dark days and way back then, one's British hosts were saying the same unspeakable things about "you people invented terrorism in Palestine' and 'hopefully in the next war Israel will be taught a lesson it won't forget...'

Sadly, we believe anti-Semitism is endemic in the world at large. We feel that our own spiritual home is the United States ( we have given up trying to explain to European Jews why we feel as free and proud as Jews in the USA as we do in Israel ), but were we as young as the men on the Israel stall on Thursday we would make aliyah. NOW.

 

IRANIAN SPIES ROAM BRITAIN 'TO LOCATE SYNAGOGUES FOR ATTACK BY AL-QA'EDA'

Iranian spies roam Britain "to locate synagogues for attack by al-Qa'eda"
By David Bamber, Home Affairs Editor
Sunday Telegraph, U.K.
October 26, 2003

Iranian spies have been photographing synagogues and other Jewish buildings in Britain, seemingly in preparation for terrorist attacks.

MI5, the security service, and Special Branch officers have discovered Iranians photographing such buildings in London and the Home Counties for some time, with an upsurge of activity over the past two months.

Up to 20 Iranians, most studying here legally as students at universities, are involved in the surveillance and two men have been asked to leave the country as a result.

Mike Whine, the security spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said that the authorities were taking the threat seriously.

"We have been aware for some time that Iranians are monitoring synagogues and Jewish community buildings," he said. "They have been seen taking photographs and most synagogues are now aware of the threat and keep a look-out.

"We understand from intelligence received that they are photographing them as possible terrorist targets. We don't know for definite but there could be a link with al-Qa'eda."

He said the activities of the Iranians had caused considerable worry to the Jewish community. Among the buildings photographed were synagogues in Finchley, north London, an area that is home to one of Britain's largest Jewish communities.

British security officials are convinced that Iran is sheltering members of al-Qa'eda, including one of Osama bin Laden's sons. Since May 2002, communication interceptions have suggested that al-Qa'eda is using Iranians in Europe to target Jews.

Al-Qa'eda leaders have urged followers repeatedly to seek out synagogues and Jewish institutions for attack. One intercepted message, heard time and time again, informs members: "You must have faith, do not worry, there will be a major strike." It is believed to have originated from a new base for the terror group in Iran, close to the Afghan border.

Abu Qatada, the north London Islamic cleric being held under the Terrorism Act who has been described as bin Laden's "ambassador" in Europe, also has links to Iran.

In August, it was revealed that Hadi Soleimanpour, the former Iranian ambassador to Argentina, had been arrested in Britain on an extradition warrant from Buenos Aires. He is wanted in connection with the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 which killed 85 people. The Metropolitan Police do not think, however, that the Iranians in Britain are planning an imminent terrorist attack, but they remain concerned that some outrage is being planned within the next few months. Their intelligence has been shared with the US State Department and the CIA.

Diplomatic relations between Britain and Iran were restored in 1988, eight years after the infamous six-day siege of its London embassy at Prince's Gate, south Kensington, was ended in dramatic fashion by the SAS.

The Iranian embassy last week refused to comment on the activities of its citizens.

 

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL FIRM IS LINKED TO ZYKLON B

Holocaust memorial firm is linked to Zyklon B
By Philip Pank
London Times
October 27, 2003

Work has been halted on Germany's national Holocaust memorial after it emerged that one of the companies supplying materials had links to the production of chemicals used in Nazi gas chambers.

Degussa AG, which won the contract to coat the 26 million Euro (£18 million) structure with anti-graffiti protection, has been identified as part-owner of the company that produced Zyklon B gas, which was used to kill inmates in concentration camps.

Building of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, near the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin, began last month.

Wolfgang Thierse, the Speaker of the German parliament and chairman of the foundation in charge of building the memorial, said that it was examining whether alternatives to the anti-graffiti chemicals made by Degussa AG were available. "We are investigating the legal, technical and financial possibilities of using another product of similar quality for protecting the Holocaust memorial," he told German television.

Lea Rosh, who in 1988 launched the campaign to build the memorial, said: "We had a lively debate in the foundation about it, but decided we had to make this decision for the survivors. "Some of the monument's 2,700 concrete pillars have already been impregnated with the chemicals and erected.

Its American architect, Peter Eisenman, has likened the pillars, the centrepiece of the memorial, to a cornfield being whipped with wind. It is due to be completed in 2005.

Efinger & Albani GmbH, the company with the contract to protect the monument's pillars from graffiti, said in a statement that the Degussa chemicals were the best on the market. The foundation would face "some difficulties" if it tried to find alternative contractors which in some way did not have connections with the Nazi era, the statement said. The statement noted Degussa had no direct contract with the foundation.


Malaysia apologizes after PM says “Jews rule world”

October 17, 2003

... The prime minister, who has turned his country into the world's 17th-ranked trading nation during his 22 years in power, said Jews "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy" to avoid persecution and gain control of the most powerful countries... Islamic summit told Jews control world, Muslims must unite to achieve 'final victory'. The 57 world leaders gave Mahathir a standing ovation afterward.

CONTENTS

1. "Malaysia apologizes for PM's statement that 'Jews rule world'" (Ha'aretz, October 17, 2003)
2. "Malaysian Urges Muslims to Unite Vs. Jews," (By Rohan Sullivan, AP, October 16, 2003)
3. "Islamic Nations Unite Support For Arafat, Intifada" (Channel News Asia, Oct 16, 2003)
4. "Islamic summit told Jews control world, Muslims must unite to achieve 'final victory'" (AP)



[Note by Tom Gross]

[Please note there will be no dispatches next week, and the series about Iran will continue after that. Since almost no paper outside Israel bothers to mention it, please note that the death toll in the Haifa restaurant attack on the eve of Yom Kippur, has now risen from 19 to 21, as the severely wounded continue to die from their injuries in Haifa hospitals.]

On several previous occasions, I have sent articles on this list concerning Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is, to put it mildly, somewhat obsessed with Jews. Yesterday, he took his anti-Semitism to new levels in front of the leaders of 57 other countries. The speech drew a standing ovation from the assembled leaders, who included Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

I attach four articles, with summaries first:

1. "Malaysia apologizes for PM's statement that 'Jews rule world'" (Ha'aretz, October 17, 2003). "Faced with furious criticism from the United States and Europe over Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's assertion that Jews rule the world, Malaysia apologized Friday for any misunderstanding and claimed that no offense was intended. Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar struggled to contain the damage wrought by his blunt-spoken boss, who told a summit of Islamic leaders Thursday that "Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." ... Mahathir said the world's "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews," but suggested the use of political and economic tactics, not violence, to achieve a "final victory."

... "I don't think they were anti-Semitic at all," said Yemen's foreign minister, Abubakar al-Qirbi. "I think he was basically stating the fact to the Muslim world."

It wasn't seen that way in Washington or Europe. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli called Mahathir's remarks offensive and inflammatory. "We view them with the contempt and derision they deserve," he said... The German Foreign Ministry denounced the comments as "totally unacceptable" and said it called in Malaysia's charge d'affaires in Berlin to protest.

... Malaysia is one of the world's most successful Muslim countries, and its high-tech economic development and religious tolerance have made it admired in the developing world and held up by Washington as a model Islamic country... Mahathir has locked up terror suspects without qualms.

2. "Malaysian Urges Muslims to Unite Vs. Jews," (By Rohan Sullivan, The Associated Press, October 16, 2003) "... Mahathir - known for his outspoken, anti-Western rhetoric - criticized what he described as Jewish domination of the world and Muslim nations' inability to adequately respond to it. "The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy," Mahathir said, opening the meeting of Islamic leaders from 57 nations. "They get others to fight and die for them."

... The prime minister, who has turned his country into the world's 17th-ranked trading nation during his 22 years in power, said Jews "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy" to avoid persecution and gain control of the most powerful countries... The leaders gave Mahathir a standing ovation afterward.

"I think it was a shrewd and very deep assessment of the situation," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher.

3. "Islamic Nations Unite Support For Arafat, Intifada" (Channel News Asia, Oct 16, 2003). "Muslim leaders will back beleaguered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and reassert their support for the uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, according to a draft resolution. The two-day Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit is expected to express its continued support for the Palestinian uprising in a final resolution to be issued at the end of the meeting Friday. Support for the Palestinian cause is a central tenet of the OIC, which was formed in 1969 after the burning of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. The draft resolution approved by OIC foreign ministers and obtained by AFP condemns Israel for its "continuing crimes, slaughters and its repressive acts against the Palestinian people". It applauds the "legitimate leadership commanded by president Yasser Arafat."

4. "Islamic summit told Jews control world, Muslims must unite to achieve 'final victory'" (AP - Summary of this article only.) "The biggest summit of Islamic leaders in three years opened Thursday with calls for the world's 1.3 billion Muslims to unite against "a few million Jews" who allegedly rule the world and get others to fight and die for them.

"We need guns and rockets, bombs and warplanes, tanks and warships for our defense," Mahathir told leaders from 57 nations gathered for a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Malaysia's new capital, Putrajaya. … Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he supported Mahathir's analysis.

 



FULL ARTICLES

MALAYSIA APOLOGIZES FOR PM'S STATEMENT THAT 'JEWS RULE WORLD'

Malaysia apologizes for PM's statement that 'Jews rule world'
By News Agencies
Ha'aretz
October 17, 2003

Faced with furious criticism from the United States and Europe over Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's assertion that Jews rule the world, Malaysia apologized Friday for any misunderstanding and claimed that no offense was intended.

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar struggled to contain the damage wrought by his blunt-spoken boss, who told a summit of Islamic leaders Thursday that "Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."

Repeated assertions of Jewish dominance dotted the speech to buttress Mahathir's analysis that Muslims needed to embrace modern knowledge and technology and overcome divisions over religious dogma that have left them weakened on the world stage.

"Islam has never advocated being anti anybody including the Jews," Syed Hamid told reporters.

"The only problem with the Jews is when the State of Israel was created," Syed Hamid said, adding that Jews worked and were welcomed in Malaysia.

"I'm sorry that they have misunderstood the whole thing," Syed Hamid told The Associated Press. "The intention is not to create controversy. His intention is to show that if you ponder and sit down to think, you can be very powerful."

Syed Hamid said the world's Muslims were in a "quagmire" and feeling "sidelined or marginalized."

The perception is widespread in the Islamic world as the war on terrorism has evolved into U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and increased Israeli repression of the Palestinians.

"The ones who are facing all the problems at present are the Muslims," Syed Hamid said. "There are no feelings against any Jews. Why should we have feelings based on ethnicity?"

On Thursday, Mahathir, a respected leader in the developing world with a long history of making articulate, provocative comments, told leaders from 57 Islamic nations that Muslims had achieved "nothing" in more than 50 years of fighting Israel.

"They survived 2,000 years of pogroms not by hitting back but by thinking," Mahathir said. "They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others."

Mahathir said the world's "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews," but suggested the use of political and economic tactics, not violence, to achieve a "final victory."

"In today's world, we wield a lot of political, economic and financial clout, enough to make up for our weaknesses in military terms," Mahathir said.

The speech drew a standing ovation from the assembled leaders, who included Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were special guests because of their large Muslim minorities.

Many focused more on the aspects of the speech that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher called "a good road map" toward Muslim empowerment.

"This was a pep talk to the Muslim countries for them to work hard and look to the future," Maher said. "But as soon as you have any criticism of Israel, then there are people who are very eager to rush to condemnation, without comprehending what it's all about."

Karzai, asked by The Associated Press whether he thought the speech was anti-Semitic, responded: "No, I don't think so."

"Dr. Mahathir spoke of the inhibitions within the Islamic world and that those inhibitions must go away, and I entirely agree with that," Karzai said.

"I don't think they were anti-Semitic at all," said Yemen's foreign minister, Abubakar al-Qirbi. "I think he was basically stating the fact to the Muslim world."

It wasn't seen that way in Washington or Europe. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli called Mahathir's remarks offensive and inflammatory. "We view them with the contempt and derision they deserve," he said.

The leaders of the European Union, meeting in Brussels, planned to adopt a statement saying the EU "deeply deplores" Mahathir's words, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.

"The prime minister used expressions that were gravely offensive, very strongly anti-Semitic and ... strongly counter to principles of tolerance, dialogue and understanding between the Western world and the Islamic world," Frattini said.

The German Foreign Ministry denounced the comments as "totally unacceptable" and said it called in Malaysia's charge d'affaires in Berlin to protest.

"It was made clear to (him) that repeating such prejudices and combining them with the tragic chapter of European and German history, the Holocaust, is irresponsible," the ministry said in a statement.

Malaysia is one of the world's most successful Muslim countries, and its high-tech economic development and religious tolerance have made it admired in the developing world and held up by Washington as a model Islamic country.

Mahathir has locked up terror suspects without qualms.

The Malay Muslim ethnic majority generally lives peacefully alongside large, non-Muslim ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities. Islam is the official religion, but freedom of worship is part of state policy. But an Islamic fundamentalist opposition party has made gains in recent years against Mahathir's ruling coalition.

 

MALAYSIAN URGES MUSLIMS TO UNITE VS. JEWS

Malaysian Urges Muslims to Unite Vs. Jews
By Rohan Sullivan
The Associated Press
October 16, 2003

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday told a summit of Islamic leaders that "Jews rule the world by proxy" and the world's 1.3 billion Muslims should unite, using nonviolent means for a "final victory."

His speech at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, which he was hosting, drew criticism from Jewish leaders, who warned it could spark more violence against Jews.

Mahathir - known for his outspoken, anti-Western rhetoric - criticized what he described as Jewish domination of the world and Muslim nations' inability to adequately respond to it.

"The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy," Mahathir said, opening the meeting of Islamic leaders from 57 nations. "They get others to fight and die for them."

Malaysia, a democratic nation that has a large non-Muslim population and does not enforce strict Islamic law, has long been a critic of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and of U.S. policy in the Middle East, including the war in Iraq and Washington's strong backing of the Jewish state.

Mahathir, 77, who is retiring Oct. 31, has used almost every international podium to lambaste the West for two decades, winning a reputation as an outspoken champion of Third World causes.

"For well over half a century, we have fought over Palestine. What have we achieved? Nothing. We are worse off than before," he said. "If we had paused to think, then we could have devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory."

The prime minister, who has turned his country into the world's 17th-ranked trading nation during his 22 years in power, said Jews "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy" to avoid persecution and gain control of the most powerful countries.

Mahathir added that "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews," but he suggested using political and economic tactics instead of violence.

He told the audience of sheiks, emirs, kings and presidents that Muslims had the richest civilization in the world during Europe's Dark Ages, but disputes over dogma - instead of embracing technology and science - had left them weak and divided.

"Because we are discouraged from learning of science and mathematics as giving us no merit for the afterlife, today we have no capacity to produce our own weapons for our defense. We have to buy our weapons from our detractors and enemies,'' he said.

The leaders gave Mahathir a standing ovation afterward.

"I think it was a shrewd and very deep assessment of the situation," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, without commenting on the remarks about the Jews. "I think he elaborated a program of action that is wide and very important. I hope the Islamic countries will be able to follow this very important road map."

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled expressed disappointment in the remarks but said he wasn't surprised.

"It is not new that in such forums there is always an attempt to reach the lowest common denominator, which is Israel bashing," he said in Jerusalem. "But obviously we'd like to see more moderate and responsible kind of declarations coming out of such summits."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said Mahathir has used anti-Israel statements in the past to prove he's tough on the West. But, he said, Thursday's speech was still worrisome.

"What is profoundly shocking and worrying is the venue of the speech, the audience and coming in the time we're living in," Cooper said during a visit to Jerusalem. "Mahathir's speech today is an absolute invitation for more hate crimes and terrorism against Jews. That's serious."

U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Marie Huhtala declined to comment on Mahathir's speech. Washington was angered over a speech he made in February, as host of the Non-Aligned Movement of 117 countries, in which he described the looming war against Iraq as racist.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, while not addressing Mahathir's comments on the Jews, said he supported his analysis, which also included steps for how Muslim nations can develop economically and socially.

"It is great to hear Prime Minister Mahathir speak so eloquently on the problems of the ummah (Muslim world) and ways to remedy them," Karzai said. "His speech was an eye-opener to a lot of us and that is what the Islamic world should do."

The summit is the first since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks reshaped global politics and comes at a time when many Muslims - even U.S. allies - feel the war on terrorism has become a war against them.

"It is well known that the Islamic community is being targeted today more than at any other time before in its creed, culture and social and political orientation," said Qatar's ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who hosted the U.S. headquarters in the Iraq war.

The status of Iraq also proved a divisive issue. Malaysia resisted inviting the U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council, describing it as a puppet of American occupation. But Arab countries that have recognized the interim body prevailed and council representatives were attending the summit.

U.N. Secretary-general Kofi Annan, in a statement from U.N. headquarters, urged the leaders to reject suicide bombings against Israel and help transform Iraq into a peaceful democracy.

Annan described the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory as harsh, with "disproportionate military force, destruction of houses and crops, unjust expropriation and closures, illegal settlements, and a fence being built on land that does not belong to the builders."

But he said suicide bombings damaged even the most legitimate cause and "must be condemned, and must be stopped."

Leaders attending the summit included Jordan's King Abullah, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Morocco's King Mohammed VI, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are attending as special observers because of their large Muslim minorities.

 

ISLAMIC NATIONS UNITE SUPPORT FOR ARAFAT, INTIFADA

Islamic Nations Unite Support For Arafat, Intifada
Channel News Asia
October 16, 2003

Muslim leaders will back beleaguered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and reassert their support for the uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, according to a draft resolution.

The two-day Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit is expected to express its continued support for the Palestinian uprising in a final resolution to be issued at the end of the meeting Friday.

Support for the Palestinian cause is a central tenet of the OIC, which was formed in 1969 after the burning of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The draft resolution approved by OIC foreign ministers and obtained by AFP condemns Israel for its "continuing crimes, slaughters and its repressive acts against the Palestinian people".

It applauds the "legitimate leadership commanded by president Yasser Arafat in the face of Israeli aggression" and demands the immediate lifting of restrictions imposed against Arafat and the Palestinian people.

Israel and its ally the United States have been attempting to sideline Arafat in favour of other Palestinian leaders it considers more moderate and Israel has threatened to "remove" Arafat after previously placing him under siege in his Ramallah headquarters.

The draft resolution pays tribute to the "just resistance of the Palestinian people and its heroic intifada to recover its national rights".

The 57-member OIC will ask the European Union, Russia, the UN and the US to continue working towards peace in the Middle East and implementation of the road map for peace.

It demanded Israel stopped "aggression, killing, destruction and violation of holy Islamic and Christian places" and reaffirmed its goal of achieving an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.


Iran 4: “Iran and Israel: best of enemies?”

October 14, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "Iran and Israel: best of enemies?" (By William Samii, Daily Star, Beirut, October 10, 2003)
2. "US and Iran in secret peace talks" (Observer, UK, October 5, 2003)
3. "Iran May Assist With Reconstruction in Iraq" (Los Angeles Times, October 4, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

This is the fourth in a series of dispatches this week about Iran. This one contains three articles (one from the Arab world, one from Europe and one from the US), suggesting there may be signs of behind-the-scenes efforts to promote diplomatic rapprochement between some Iranian officials and Israel and the US.

I attach three articles with summaries first:

SUMMARIES

1. "Iran and Israel: best of enemies?" (By William Samii, Daily Star, Beirut, October 10, 2003). [Note: William Samii is a regional analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and writes the RFE/RL Iran Report]. "The prospective Israel-Hizbullah prisoner swap that has been discussed in recent weeks is perhaps more than a bilateral deal that also happens to involve Iran and Germany. This leads one to reflect on the prospects for an improvement in Iranian-Israeli relations. Iranian interests cannot rule this out even if such an option is highly improbable at present...

The Iranian angle was hinted at in early August in the Tel Aviv Russian-language daily Novosti Nedeli. Citing anonymous Israeli government sources, the daily said that during Iranian-American negotiations over the possible exchange of Al-Qaeda suspects in Iran for members of the Iranian Mujahideen Khalq opposition group in Iraq, an Iranian representative raised the possibility of releasing Tennenbaum and repatriating the dead soldiers' remains...

The role of German mediator Ernst Urlau in the negotiations is not unprecedented. In 1996, for example, Berlin brokered the exchange of two dead Israeli soldiers for 45 prisoners and the remains of 123 Lebanese combatants. In late-1999, five Hizbullah members held by Israel were released following negotiations also involving Iran and Germany.

Less obscure is the current state of Iranian-Israeli relations. It seems unlikely that any deal, whether it involves Iranians or not, will have a positive impact on a very hostile relationship. During a military parade in Tehran on Sept. 22, for example, Iran's new 1,300-kilometer-range Shihab-3 missiles bore the slogan "Israel must be wiped off the map." At an August conference at Tehran University organized by the student committee for the Support for the Palestinian Intifada, a group headed by Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, the final resolution called for "annihilation of the Zionist regime."

Speakers praised Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel, referring to them as "martyrdom operations." Iran also hosted Support for the Palestinian Intifada conferences in April 2001 and June 2002. At the latter event representatives of Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command heard Mohtashami-Pur refer to Israel as a "cancerous tumor."

It is too simplistic to dismiss such statements as rhetoric meant only for internal consumption. Words have an impact on perceptions and can strengthen preconceptions..."

2. "US and Iran in secret peace talks" (The Observer, UK, October 5, 2003). "Secret 'back-door' diplomacy involving some of the Middle East's most influential figures has led to unexpected signals of a rapprochement between America and Iran despite angry public rhetoric on both sides. Tensions between Washington and Tehran remain high, particularly over the question of Iran's nuclear programme and alleged attempts to destabilise the US occupation in Iraq, but a tentative dialogue has been established.

"One go-between has been King Abdullah II of Jordan, who visited Tehran shortly before meeting President Bush at Camp David last month. King Abdullah is understood to have been briefed by Mohammed Khatami, the Iranian president, and Kamal Kharrazi, the foreign minister, and to have transferred their 'analysis of the regional situation' to the Americans. Last week US officials confirmed that they had received 'positive signals' from Iran. 'There is some indication that the Iranians want to talk to us about a range of issues and we are responding appropriately,' one State Department official said.

"However, analysts say that different groups in Iran are reacting to the country's new security situation in different ways, and the seemingly contradictory stances reflect deep divisions within Iranian politics and society... 'As much trouble as we have with them on the nuclear issue, we have a slightly different relationship with them on Iraq,' Richard Armitage, the American deputy secretary of state, said last week. 'They have big interests in stability in Iraq.' Another issue causing tensions is the alleged presence of senior al-Qaeda figures in Iran."

3. "Iran May Assist With Reconstruction in Iraq" (Los Angeles Times, October 4, 2003) "Despite a quarter-century of tension with Iran, the United States has reached out to the Islamic Republic for help in the postwar reconstruction of Iraq - and is getting it, according to U.S. and Iranian officials. Iran will participate in an international donors conference this month in Madrid, and may end up as one of the few aid contributors. It is already offering to provide water, electricity and technical assistance to Iraq, a top Iranian diplomat said Friday. He said his government was prepared to pledge additional aid, although probably not cash...

"The Ayatollah Hossein Khomeini, who left Iran this year and now lives in Baghdad, is calling on the administration to help mobilize opposition to the religious government that his grandfather led to power when the U.S.-backed shah was ousted in 1979. At a meeting at the Pentagon attended by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, Khomeini asked the United States to hold a conference of Iranian opposition figures, U.S. officials said Friday."

[Note by TG: Feith, is treated as a hate figure by some commentators at left-wing European papers, where he is referred to as a "neo-conservative" and it is often pointed out he is Jewish.]

 



FULL ARTICLES

IRAN AND ISRAEL: BEST OF ENEMIES?

Iran and Israel: best of enemies?
Daily Star, Beirut
October 10, 2003

The prospective Israel-Hizbullah prisoner swap that has been discussed in recent weeks is perhaps more than a bilateral deal that also happens to involve Iran and Germany. Given the close relationship between Tehran and Hizbullah, Iranian involvement was not entirely unexpected. This leads one to reflect on the prospects for an improvement in Iranian-Israeli relations Iranian interests cannot rule this out even if such an option is highly improbable at present.

According to press reports, Israel seeks information on the whereabouts of air force navigator Ron Arad, the remains of three Israeli soldiers and the release of Israeli reservist and businessman Elhanan Tennenbaum. In return, Hizbullah wants the release of all Lebanese prisoners, including two officials directly or indirectly affiliated with the party, Abdul Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, as well as that of Palestinian and Arab detainees.

The Iranian angle was hinted at in early August in the Tel Aviv Russian-language daily Novosti Nedeli. Citing anonymous Israeli government sources, the daily said that during Iranian-American negotiations over the possible exchange of Al-Qaeda suspects in Iran for members of the Iranian Mujahideen Khalq opposition group in Iraq, an Iranian representative raised the possibility of releasing Tennenbaum and repatriating the dead soldiers' remains. Washington reportedly rejected the proposal, but according to Novosti Nedeli the Iranian and Israeli sides pursued their talks. Added to the mix was Tehran's demand that four Iranian diplomats who disappeared in Lebanon in 1982 be released. Iran believes Israel is holding them.

Confirmation of an Iranian angle appeared in late September, when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Iranians imprisoned in Europe might be part of a deal with Hizbullah. This appeared to be a reference to Iranian intelligence officer Kazem Darabi, who along with several Lebanese men was convicted by a Berlin court in April 1997 for the 1992 killings of Kurdish dissidents. The role of German mediator Ernst Urlau in the negotiations is not unprecedented. In 1996, for example, Berlin brokered the exchange of two dead Israeli soldiers for 45 prisoners and the remains of 123 Lebanese combatants. In late-1999, five Hizbullah members held by Israel were released following negotiations also involving Iran and Germany.

As of Oct. 9, the status of the Hizbullah-Israeli negotiations remained undetermined, with questions being raised about Tennenbaum's physical state and with Arad's family trying to block Dirani's release through a court injunction. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz asserted on Oct. 3 that Arad was alive and that Iran was responsible for returning him to Israel. Arad's family repeated the charge a few days later. However, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi reaffirmed that Tehran had no information on the airman.

Less obscure is the current state of Iranian-Israeli relations. It seems unlikely that any deal, whether it involves Iranians or not, will have a positive impact on a very hostile relationship.

During a military parade in Tehran on Sept. 22, for example, Iran's new 1,300-kilometer-range Shihab-3 missiles bore the slogan "Israel must be wiped off the map." At an August conference at Tehran University organized by the student committee for the Support for the Palestinian Intifada, a group headed by Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, the final resolution called for "annihilation of the Zionist regime."

Speakers praised Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel, referring to them as "martyrdom operations." Iran also hosted Support for the Palestinian Intifada conferences in April 2001 and June 2002. At the latter event representatives of Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command heard Mohtashami-Pur refer to Israel as a "cancerous tumor."

It is too simplistic to dismiss such statements as rhetoric meant only for internal consumption. Words have an impact on perceptions and can strengthen preconceptions. In an August interview with the French daily Le Figaro, Sharon referred specifically to the Shihab missiles and Tehran's relationship with Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, adding: "In the Middle East, Iran is now (Israel's) greatest threat." During a September trip to India, he tried to dissuade New Delhi from transferring technology to Iran.

Iranian officials are masters of realpolitik. Tehran criticized the US attack on Taleban-led Afghanistan, but cooperated with the US military and with the post-war negotiations in Bonn. Even though it has criticized the US-led war in Iraq and the subsequent occupation, Tehran has tacitly recognized the interim Iraqi Governing Council and will participate in a multilateral donors conference in Madrid later this month. For all the Iranian chanting of "death to America," Iran and the US hold intermittent bilateral discussions on matters of mutual concern.

Can this lead to expectations of a similar trend in Iranian-Israeli relations? Iran's hostility to Israel has religious roots and is also a welcome source of agreement with Iran's predominantly Arab and Sunni neighbors. These factors, plus the negligible direct benefits of relations with Israel, suggest that Iran will see little advantage in changing the status quo. Nor is Israel keen to improve its relations with Tehran. After the bombing in Haifa last Saturday that killed 19 people and wounded 60 others, Sharon's adviser, Dore Gold, described an "axis of terror that begins in Iran."

Such mutual perceptions play strongly against bilateral, government-to-government contacts in the near future. This could change, however, as the current generation of Iranian leaders dies off. Approximately two-thirds of the Iranian population is under the age of 30, and has no memory of such formative experiences as life under the pro-Israel monarchy, activism during the 1978-1979 revolution, or fighting in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. They will undoubtedly sympathize with the Palestinians, but are unlikely to support the activities of groups like Hamas. Until, indeed if, such a change occurs, Iranian-Israeli contacts will continue to take place through intermediaries, even when they are of direct concern to both sides.

 

US AND IRAN IN SECRET PEACE TALKS

US and Iran in secret peace talks
By Jason Burke and Dan de Luce in Tehran
The Observer (UK)
October 5, 2003

Secret 'back-door' diplomacy involving some of the Middle East's most influential figures has led to unexpected signals of a rapprochement between America and Iran despite angry public rhetoric on both sides.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran remain high, particularly over the question of Iran's nuclear programme and alleged attempts to destabilise the US occupation in Iraq, but a tentative dialogue has been established.

One go-between has been King Abdullah II of Jordan, who visited Tehran shortly before meeting President Bush at Camp David last month. King Abdullah is understood to have been briefed by Mohammed Khatami, the Iranian president, and Kamal Kharrazi, the foreign minister, and to have transferred their 'analysis of the regional situation' to the Americans.

Last week US officials confirmed that they had received 'positive signals' from Iran. 'There is some indication that the Iranians want to talk to us about a range of issues and we are responding appropriately,' one State Department official said.

However, analysts say that different groups in Iran are reacting to the country's new security situation in different ways, and the seemingly contradictory stances reflect deep divisions within Iranian politics and society. Religious hardliners, who control many of the key institutions, are taking a firm stance over Iran's nuclear programme and are working to cause problems for the US-led forces in Iraq. However, Iranian reformists, such as Khatami and Kharrazi, are taking a more conciliatory position.

Iran is expected to attend an international donors conference on the post-war reconstruction of Iraq in Madrid later this month, while continuing to take a hard line on the nuclear issue.

'As much trouble as we have with them on the nuclear issue, we have a slightly different relationship with them on Iraq,' Richard Armitage, the American deputy secretary of state, said last week. 'They have big interests in stability in Iraq.'

Another issue causing tensions is the alleged presence of senior al-Qaeda figures in Iran. Here differences in the US administration mirror those in Iran. American hawks, particularly those close to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, claim that Iranian hardliners are harbouring militants and facilitating their terror campaign. Their opponents in Washington say that any Sunni Muslim Islamic militants held by the Iranian regime are in prison and unable to operate.

The most pressing issue for all remains the suspicion that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has asked for prompt access to sensitive nuclear sites, giving Iran one last chance to come clean about the true nature of its nuclear programme.

Inspections last summer found traces of weapons-grade uranium and obstruction of the IAEA's work could lead to UN sanctions. The IAEA has demanded that Iran cease all uranium enrichment activity and prove it has no weapons programme by 31 October.

Senior Iranian conservatives last week dismissed the terms of the 31 October deadline. At the weekly Friday prayers ceremony at Tehran University, the powerful former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, condemned the IAEA resolution.

'The hypocritical policy of the Americans and Westerners has no justification,' Rafsanjani told worshippers amid chants of 'Death to America', though he did indicate that Iran would be willing to meet some international demands in return for guarantees protecting Iran's sovereignty.

Dr Ali Ansari, lecturer in Middle Eastern history at the University of Durham, said that the nuclear issue united many reformists and conservatives. 'Many believe it is their national right to develop a nuclear programme,' he said.

 

IRAN MAY ASSIST WITH RECONSTRUCTION IN IRAQ

Iran May Assist With Reconstruction in Iraq
By Robin Wright
LA Times
October 4, 2003

Despite a quarter-century of tension with Iran, the United States has reached out to the Islamic Republic for help in the postwar reconstruction of Iraq - and is getting it, according to U.S. and Iranian officials.

Iran will participate in an international donors conference this month in Madrid, and may end up as one of the few aid contributors. It is already offering to provide water, electricity and technical assistance to Iraq, a top Iranian diplomat said Friday. He said his government was prepared to pledge additional aid, although probably not cash.

Iran's possible role in Iraq comes as Washington and Tehran try to resume the behind-the-scenes discussions they aborted in May, senior U.S. officials said.

"We've seen some signs and heard from others that the Iranians want to talk," a senior State Department official said Friday. "We're sending some signals back."

Although the countries differ on many issues, the key steps toward resuming talks are working together on Iraq and Iranian cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency on inspections, amid U.S. charges that Tehran is secretly developing a weapon off its new energy program.

Armitage Hopeful

After months of allegations about Iran's nuclear ambitions, the State Department sounded almost conciliatory this week about Tehran.

Iran is supportive of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council, and Washington hopes Tehran will "step up to the plate big-time" in pledging reconstruction funds, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage told a House Appropriations subcommittee this week.

"On the question of Iran, as much trouble as we have on the nuclear question, we have a slightly different relationship with them on the question of Iraq. They have welcomed the Governing Council," Armitage told the panel.

"They will participate in the donor conference," he said. "They have big interests in stability in Iraq."

Washington, which severed ties with Tehran in 1980, has been deeply concerned about an Iranian role in Iraq amid fears that Tehran might meddle in the political situation there.

A senior Iranian official confirmed that Iran recently accepted an invitation to attend the donors conference, at which Spain will be host but which has been orchestrated largely by the United States. So far, Britain, Canada and Japan are the only other countries to have indicated they will provide aid, even though dozens of countries may attend, U.S. officials say.

Some U.S. officials suggest that an agreement by Tehran to sign a new protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency could end the standoff - and facilitate new discussions.

"We also know the Iranians are looking to know that if they sign the protocol and abide by the IAEA that that resolves the question," the senior State Department official said. "They'd have to sign it, answer all the questions and cooperate fully and ensure they don't have a nuclear program, then that could resolve the nuclear matter."

But deep divisions remain within the Bush administration about Iran policy. They were underscored when the same Pentagon officials who urged a war against Iraq met this week for the first time with the grandson of Iran's revolutionary leader, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who advocates U.S. support for regime change in Iran.

The Ayatollah Hossein Khomeini, who left Iran this year and now lives in Baghdad, is calling on the administration to help mobilize opposition to the religious government that his grandfather led to power when the U.S.-backed shah was ousted in 1979.

At a meeting at the Pentagon attended by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, Khomeini asked the United States to hold a conference of Iranian opposition figures, U.S. officials said Friday.

Tehran is ruled by a "ruthless dictatorship," Khomeini said during a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute last month.

New Openness

The Pentagon's interest in Khomeini also contrasted with an Armitage statement that hinted at a new openness in the Iranian government. Armitage told the subcommittee that a top Iranian official had publicly complained that Al Qaeda operatives were plotting from inside Iran to hit targets in other countries - activities the official said were hurting Iranian interests.

"[Kamal] Kharrazi, the foreign minister, said for the first time, I believe, that Al Qaeda has committed crimes against Iran's national security by establishing cells to plot operations elsewhere," Armitage said.

"His comments were the first public admission that members of the network headed by [Osama bin Laden] were more than just fugitives from Afghanistan. So something is going on there," Armitage added, calling the comments "rather fascinating."

Iran insists its interest in attending the donors summit and helping reconstruct Iraq is consistent with long-standing policy, reflected in the fact that it dispatched the first delegation to meet with the Governing Council after it was formed. Iran is predominantly Shiite Muslim, as is Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Shiites were brutally repressed.

"It would be interesting if you listen only to the propaganda coming out of [L. Paul Bremer III, the U.S. civilian administrator in Baghdad], but if you look at Iranian interests, it will be a continuation of our policy to help stabilize Iraq, welcome the Governing Council and strengthen it as the first step for restoring sovereignty for the Iraqi people," the senior Iranian official said.

Tehran has been providing water and other humanitarian supplies to Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition invaded the country in March, he said. And U.S. officials say Iran has offered significant amounts of badly needed electricity, although no arrangement has yet been made.

Washington broke off relations with Tehran after the U.S. Embassy there was seized, and various behind-the-scenes efforts to promote diplomatic rapprochement in the intervening years have failed.

After three meetings this spring, discussions between U.S. and Iranian diplomats were cut off after three suicide bombings against American targets in Saudi Arabia.

Washington charged that suspected Al Qaeda agents had a brief telephone conversation with another agent in Iran, an allegation repeatedly denied by Tehran.

The administration also remains deeply concerned by Iranians and others who have crossed the long and porous border from Iran into Iraq. They include Iranian intelligence agents, U.S. officials say.

More Aid Sought

The United States has hoped that all six of the countries bordering Iraq would provide assistance in Iraq.

Washington has been in talks with Turkey about the potential for providing troops, while Turkey and Syria are possible suppliers of electricity. Jordan has promised to help train Iraq's new police force.

And talks continue with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as other Persian Gulf states.

It is not known what if anything Iran might want in exchange for its help.

But Iran's presence at the donors conference, which Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will attend, is particularly striking as the only one of the six without diplomatic relations with Washington.


Iran 3: Missing Israeli airman “in Tehran cell”

CONTENTS

1. "Missing Israeli airman 'in Tehran cell'" (Daily Star, Beirut, October 11, 2003)
2. "Official denies Iran has Israeli airman" (AP, October 12, 2003)
3. "PM, ministers discuss prisoner swap with Hezbollah" (Ha'aretz)


[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch follows yesterday's ones about Iran, and is part of a series I am sending out. This one concerns the fate of missing Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad. According to new reports, Arad is being held in an Iranian prison, and was operated upon to paralyze his legs in order to prevent him from escaping.

I attach three articles with summaries first:

SUMMARIES

1. "Missing Israeli airman 'in Tehran cell'" (The Daily Star, Beirut, October 11, 2003). "Missing Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad, whose airplane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986, is alive according to reports. Top-selling Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot quoted an Iranian exile as saying that Arad was held by Iranian intelligence in a prison cell near Tehran. The interviewed exile also said that Arad's health was failing and he was hospitalized more than once for heart failure. His knees were presumably operated on, forcing him to use a wheel chair, after he tried to escape while he was still in Lebanon prior to 1994. The newspaper also claimed that Arad was transferred to Syria in 1994, before he was taken to Iran where he is still being held captive. News on Arad came amid reports that mediated Israeli-Hizbullah negotiations were close to a deal in which Israel would release hundreds of Palestinians and 20 Lebanese detainees, in return for Hizbullah's release of reserve Colonel Elhanan Tennenbaum and three other Israeli soldiers whose fate is unknown." [Note: Elhanan Tennenbaum is an Israeli businessman lured to the United Arab Emirates in 2000, where he was kidnapped, but is referred to as a "colonel" by the Lebanese press.]

2. "Official denies Iran has Israeli airman" (The Associated Press, October 12, 2003). "Iran's ambassador to Lebanon on Saturday denied an Israeli newspaper report that missing Israeli airman Ron Arad was being held in Iran. Arad's plane was shot down over southern Lebanon in 1986 and he was captured by pro-Syrian militiamen and later disappeared. His name has surfaced in recent negotiations for a prisoner swap between Israel and the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah... Until 1999, Arad was held in a secret detention facility outside Tehran, the Iranian capital, the report said."

3. "PM, ministers discuss prisoner swap with Hezbollah" (Ha'aretz). "... Air Force navigator Ron Arad is alive and held by the Iranian intelligence in a small, secret jail near Tehran, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Friday, quoting three Iranian exiles. One of the sources is a diplomat and the two others former intelligence officials, all whom are currently in Europe... The paper said that the three have given testimonies in the west on other Iranian issues and that it is reasonable to assume that they have no reason to lie or fabricate the information on Arad. According to the one of sources, Arad was transferred from Lebanon via Syria to Iran in mid 1994. Before the trip he underwent an operation to paralyze his legs in order to prevent him from escaping. The source said Arad had attempted to escape while he was in Lebanon, and was then shot and wounded by his guards. The source said he worked in the prison Arad was taken to, which is near Tehran, not far from a missile factory, and that he had access to Arad's files. He said that he saw Arad several times and even exchanged words with him."

 



FULL ARTICLES

MISSING ISRAELI AIRMAN "IN TEHRAN CELL"

Missing Israeli airman 'in Tehran cell'
Iranian exile claims knowledge of Arad
By Hussain Abdul-Hussain Daily Star staff
The Daily Star, Beirut
October 11, 2003

Missing Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad, whose airplane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986, is alive according to reports on Friday.

The reports were coupled with news of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon heading the ministerial Committee of Five commissioned to finalize the detainees' swap deal with Hizbullah through a German mediator.

Top-selling Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot quoted an Iranian exile as saying that Arad was held by Iranian intelligence in a prison cell near Tehran.

The interviewed exile also said that Arad's health was failing and he was hospitalized more than once for heart failure. His knees were presumably operated on, forcing him to use a wheel chair, after he tried to escape while he was still in Lebanon prior to 1994.

The newspaper also claimed that Arad was transferred to Syria in 1994, before he was taken to Iran where he is still being held captive.

News on Arad came amid reports that mediated Israeli-Hizbullah negotiations were close to a deal in which Israel would release hundreds of Palestinians and 20 Lebanese detainees, in return for Hizbullah's release of reserve Colonel Elhanan Tennenbaum and three other Israeli soldiers whose fate is unknown. The four men have been in Hizbullah hands since October 2000.

The deal was also said to have included a Hizbullah pledge to disseminate information about Arad's fate in return for Israeli information about Iranian diplomats kidnapped in Lebanon during the civil war.

Israel refused to include the name of detained Palestinian official Marwan Barghouti on its list of to-be-released detainees.

Also on Friday, Israel's radio reported that Sharon headed the Committee of Five that is composed of Sharon, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Industry Minister Ehud Olmert and Justice Minister Yosef Lapid.

Israeli national radio said that Sharon was trying to offer a full swap scheme before his Cabinet during its weekly Sunday meeting and that he was hoping to muster enough political support to finalize the deal with Hizbullah.

 

OFFICIAL DENIES IRAN HAS ISRAELI AIRMAN

Official denies Iran has Israeli airman
The Associated Press
October 11, 2003

Iran's ambassador to Lebanon on Saturday denied an Israeli newspaper report that missing Israeli airman Ron Arad was being held in Iran.

Arad's plane was shot down over southern Lebanon in 1986 and he was captured by pro-Syrian militiamen and later disappeared. His name has surfaced in recent negotiations for a prisoner swap between Israel and the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah.

On Friday, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot quoted three Iranian defectors in Europe as saying Arad was crippled by his captors and later taken to Syria and then Iran. Until 1999, Arad was held in a secret detention facility outside Tehran, the Iranian capital, the report said.

"We have repeatedly denied these allegations and announced that we have no information about the fate of Ron Arad," Iranian Ambassador Massoud Idrissi said during a visit to the southern Lebanese city of Sidon.

The Israelis government has refused to comment on Yediot Ahronot's report. The newspaper cautioned readers it was unable to corroborate the defector's claims.

Latest reports about the German-brokered negotiations for a prisoner swap say it will not involve Arad, but Hezbollah will trade Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers for several hundred Arab prisoners held by Israel.

Tannenbaum was kidnapped on a trip to the United Arab Emirates in 2000, and the three soldiers were abducted along the Israeli-Lebanese border the same year.

Hezbollah has said for several years that it has tried in vain to find Arad's whereabouts. The militant group seeks the release of two Lebanese guerrilla leaders, Abdel-Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani. Israel seized Obeid in 1989 and Dirani in 1994, reportedly as bargaining chips to secure the release of Arad.

 

PM, MINISTERS DISCUSS PRISONER SWAP WITH HEZBOLLAH

PM, ministers discuss prisoner swap with Hezbollah
Ha'artez
October 2003

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met Friday with members of his "Committee of Five," a ministerial panel of senior cabinet members, for an update on the state of the prisoner-exchange negotiations with Hezbollah. After the meeting, the Prime Minister's Office announced that the talks would continue, and that the Knesset would be asked to approved any future deal.

The committee is comprised of Sharon, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Industry Minister Ehud Olmert and Justice Minister Yosef Lapid. The government's unofficial chief negotiator, Ilan Biran, also participated.

The meeting is an indication that Sharon is starting to round up the political support he needs for the deal, which will see Israel freeing hundreds of Palestinian and others, along with Lebanese prisoners, in exchange for Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of soldiers Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omer Suweid.

Sharon favors the deal, and has promised to bring it to the full plenum of the government for its approval. Mofaz believes the deal should include some reference to missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad.

Meanwhile, a Tel Aviv District Court yesterday lifted a gag order on what is known about how Tannenbaum was lured into Hezbollah custody; but the Tannenbaum family, which wanted the gag kept in place, has until Monday afternoon to appeal the decision. Only on Tuesday morning can the press publish what is known to it about the circumstances of Tannenbaum's capture.

Nonetheless, the court decision did include the information that police are investigating suspicions that Israeli Arabs might have helped Hezbollah lure the kidnapped businessman into captivity.

The petition to lift the three-year-old gag order was filed by Haaretz and Channel 10, which argued that the public had the right to know the circumstances of Tannenbaum's kidnapping so it could judge the emerging prisoner exchange.

Arad alive, jailed near Tehran Missing Air Force navigator Ron Arad is alive and held by the Iranian intelligence in a small, secret jail near Tehran, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Friday, quoting three Iranian exiles.

One of the sources is a diplomat and the two others former intelligence officials, all whom are currently in Europe.

Arad has been missing since his plane was downed over Lebanon in 1986.

The paper said that it could not establish or refute the testimonies of the three men in Israel, and says that the claims must be treated with caution and suspicion.

The paper said that the three have given testimonies in the west on other Iranian issues and that it is reasonable to assume that they have no reason to lie or fabricate the information on Arad.

According to the one of sources, Arad was transferred from Lebanon via Syria to Iran in mid 1994. Before the trip he underwent an operation to paralyze his legs in order to prevent him from escaping. The source said Arad had attempted to escape while he was in Lebanon, and was then shot and wounded by his guards.

The source said he worked in the prison Arad was taken to, which is near Tehran, not far from a missile factory, and that he had access to Arad's files. He said that he saw Arad several times and even exchanged words with him.


Iran 2: An “Imminent Threat to British Jews”

October 13, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "Exclusive: A Threat to British Jews" (Newsweek, October 20, 2003 issue, advance copy)
2. "Police: Imminent terror attack on British Jews" (Jerusalem Post, October 13, 2003)
3. "Iran-Britain Embassy" (AP, October 10, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

This is one of a series of dispatches I am sending out concerning Iran. This dispatch covers the "exclusive" report announced today by the American magazine Newsweek (which will appear in their forthcoming October 20 issue) stating that Britain's Jewish community is under threat of imminent terrorist attacks directed by hardliners in the Iranian government. (In a later dispatch on Iran, I will send out articles concerning Britain's Aug. 21 arrest of former Iranian ambassador Hade Soleimanpour, who is wanted in connection with the 1994 bombing of Argentina's Jewish center, which resulted in almost 100 deaths.)

I attach three articles with summaries first:

SUMMARIES

1. "Exclusive: A Threat to British Jews" (Newsweek, October 20, 2003 issue, advance copy). "Scotland Yard has warned Britain's Jewish community of the threat of imminent terrorist attacks. British security officers say that while they can't predict specific attacks, urgent measures are needed to protect potential targets such as synagogues and community centers. Some State Department officials are considering issuing an official warning to U.S. travelers to Britain. U.S. officials say that no comparable intelligence has recently surfaced about threats to Jewish targets in America... Security sources tell Newsweek that in recent weeks police questioned a carload of Iranian "tourists" after they were spotted covertly taking video pictures of obscure Jewish-community buildings in London. Sources said that about a year ago, Swiss authorities traced a similar apparent attempt to surveil a Jewish target in Geneva to an Iranian diplomatic mission."

2. "Police: Imminent terror attack on British Jews" (The Jerusalem Post, October 13, 2003). "Scotland Yard has warned Britain's Jewish community that it faces the threat of imminent terrorist attacks, the US-based Newsweek reported."

3. "Iran-Britain Embassy" (The Associated Press, October 4, 2003). "Iranian police have arrested several people linked to last month's shooting near a British Embassy residential compound in the Iranian capital, the Intelligence Ministry said in a statement Friday. The statement, released to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, said "elements" behind the Sept. 14 shooting, which caused no injuries, were taken into custody. The shooting was the third incident in September in which bullets were fired at buildings connected to Britain's diplomatic mission in Tehran."

 



FULL ARTICLES

EXCLUSIVE: A THREAT TO BRITISH JEWS

Exclusive: A Threat to British Jews
By Mark Hosenball
NEWSWEEK
October 20, 2003 issue

Scotland Yard has warned Britain's Jewish community of the threat of imminent terrorist attacks. British security officers say that while they can't predict specific attacks, urgent measures are needed to protect potential targets such as synagogues and community centers. Some State Department officials are considering issuing an official warning to U.S. travelers to Britain. U.S. officials say that no comparable intelligence has recently surfaced about threats to Jewish targets in America.

Some of the terrorism concern in Britain appears to relate to suspicious Iranian activities. Security sources tell NEWSWEEK that in recent weeks police questioned a carload of Iranian "tourists" after they were spotted covertly taking video pictures of obscure Jewish-community buildings in London. Sources said that about a year ago, Swiss authorities traced a similar apparent attempt to surveil a Jewish target in Geneva to an Iranian diplomatic mission.

Some U.S. officials say that recent intelligence indicates backsliding in official Iranian attitudes toward Islamic terrorism and Al Qaeda. Earlier this year Tehran claimed to have arrested significant Qaeda suspects; U.S. officials believed that Qaeda operatives then in Iranian custody were top aides to Osama bin Laden, including his son Saad and Qaeda military chief Saif al-Adil. But recent intelligence suggests these suspects have been released and have returned to hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

POLICE: IMMINENT TERROR ATTACK ON BRITISH JEWS

Police: Imminent terror attack on British Jews
By Douglas Davis
The Jerusalem Post
October 13, 2003

Scotland Yard has warned Britain's Jewish community that it faces the threat of imminent terrorist attacks, the US-based Newsweek reported on Sunday.

The report also said some State Department officials are considering issuing an official travel advisory to US citizens planning to visit Britain.

They say there have been no comparable threats against Jewish targets in America.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said that while the terrorist threat level remains high in Britain, there is currently no intelligence of specific threats.

Newsweek reported that some of the concern about terrorist threats to Britain's Jews appears to relate to suspicious Iranian activities.

It quoted security sources as saying that police had questioned a carload of Iranian "tourists" in recent weeks after they were spotted covertly taking video pictures of obscure Jewish-community buildings in London.

It also quoted sources as saying that about a year ago, Swiss authorities traced a similar surveillance operation involving a Jewish target in Geneva to an Iranian diplomatic mission.

According to Newsweek, some US officials have said that the recent intelligence indicates backsliding in official Iranian attitudes toward Islamic terrorism and al- Qaeda.

It noted that earlier this year Teheran claimed to have arrested significant al-Qaida suspects, whom US officials believed to have been top aides to Osama bin Laden, including his son Saad and the al-Qaida military chief Saif al-Adil.

But recent intelligence, reported the newsweekly, suggests these suspects have been released and have returned to hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

IRAN-BRITAIN EMBASSY

Iran-Britain Embassy
The Associated Press
October 4, 2003

Police have arrested several people linked to last month's shooting near a British Embassy residential compound in the Iranian capital, the Intelligence Ministry said in a statement Friday.

The statement, released to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, said "elements" behind the Sept. 14 shooting, which caused no injuries, were taken into custody.

The statement did not identify the detainees or say how many were arrested. It was also unclear when they were arrested or if they have been charged.

The shooting was the third incident in September in which bullets were fired at buildings connected to Britain's diplomatic mission in Tehran.

On Sept. 3, five bullets were fired at the British Embassy in central Tehran. More shots were fired near the building almost a week later. No one was hurt either time.

Britain's Foreign Office has complained to Iranian authorities over the shootings.

The first shooting came two days after a rowdy protest outside the embassy over Britain's role in the occupation of Iraq.

The incidents also coincide with tensions over Britain's Aug. 21 arrest of former Iranian ambassador Hade Soleimanpour, who is wanted in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina.


Iran 1: Nobel calling

CONTENTS

1. "A Noble Nobel," (By James Taranto, Best of the Web, October 10, 2003)
2. "Iranian Hard-Liners Allege Nobel Meddling" (By Ali Akbar Dareini, AP, October 11, 2003)
3. "Nobel calling: A prize for persistence and against prejudice" (London Times, editorial, October 11, 2003)
4. "Ayatollahs fume at Nobel prize for Iranian woman" (By Michael Theodoulou in Tehran, London Times, October 11, 2003)
5. "Nobel winner demands Islamic punishments cease" (ABC Australia, October 12, 2003)
6. "Iranian Reformers Hail Nobel Prize Winner" (AP, October 10)



[Note by Tom Gross]

This is one of a series of dispatches I am sending out about Iran this week. This dispatch concerns reaction to the awarding of the 2003 Nobel peace prize to Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights activist. Ebadi, 56, was Iran's first female judge and received her law degree from the University of Tehran. She was president of the city court of Tehran from 1975-1979, when she was forced to resign. Since the 1979 revolution she has been an activist for democracy and the rights of refugees, women and children. She is the first Muslim woman to win the award. "This is a happy day in Iranian history," said leading Iranian reformist Saeed Pourazizi. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, a Paris-based group opposing the clerical establishment, called the Nobel award "an act against the religious fascism ruling Iran."

I attach six articles with summaries first:

SUMMARIES

1. "A Noble Nobel," (By James Taranto, Best of the Web, October 10, 2003) "...Sometimes the award goes to dictators or thugs (Le Duc Tho in 1973, Yasser Arafat in 1994) simply for making promises of peace. Sometimes, though, the Nobel Peace Prize goes to someone who deserves it--someone who uses nonviolent means in pursuit of worthy ends. Laureates in this class include the Martin Luther King (1964), Andrei Sakharov (1975), Lech Walesa (1983) and the Dalai Lama (1989). Happily, this year's laureate, Iranian human-rights activist Shirin Ebadi, falls into this category..." [The full version of this article is at the END of this email.]

2. "Iranian Hard-Liners Allege Nobel Meddling" (By Ali Akbar Dareini, The Associated Press, October 11, 2003). "Iran's powerful hard-liners on Saturday accused the Nobel committee of meddling in the country's internal affairs by awarding the annual peace prize to an Iranian dissident. "The Norwegian Nobel Committee, against its original objectives of promoting peace, has turned into a political tool in the hand of foreigners to interfere in the internal affairs of our country," Hamid Reza Taraqi, a member of the hard-line Islamic Coalition Society, said. On Saturday, Ebadi was the top story on the front page in the reformist dailies, but hard-line newspapers ignored the news... At a news conference Friday in Paris, where she appeared without a head scarf, Ebadi said she believes there is no conflict between human rights and the tenets of Islam ... "The prize means you can be a Muslim and at the same time have human rights," she said."

3. "Nobel calling: A prize for persistence and against prejudice" (London Times, editorial, October 11, 2003) "... the award comes at a time when the balance between democracy and totalitarianism in Iran is finely tipped. In its choice the Nobel committee has honoured an extraordinarily courageous human rights campaigner, and has made an important gesture of support for the reformers fighting the clerical hardliners within the Iranian regime... Shirin Ebadi is an inspiration to all those who complacently or even smugly conclude that there is nothing that they can do on their own. Threats and jail sentences have not deterred her from campaigning for human rights for women and children in one of the most repressive and patriarchal regimes in the world."

4. "Ayatollahs fume at Nobel prize for Iranian woman" (By Michael Theodoulou in Tehran, London Times, October 11, 2003). "Petite and softly spoken, Shirin Ebadi appears no match for the hardline ayatollahs who have accused her of trying single-handedly to undermine Iran's Islamic revolution. But the first Iranian and Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize is made of steel. "Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear, but I have overcome my fear," Ms Ebadi, a lawyer and democracy activist, once told me in an interview behind the heavy doors of her book-lined office in central Tehran. On her desk stood a small replica of the Statue of Liberty...

However, the reaction of Tehran's hardline regime was much more muted, with the award relegated to the final item on the state-controlled television news. But it will be a huge source of pride to most Iranians and will be a boost for the country's embattled reformist camp... The award was "very good news for every Iranian," Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a close ally of Mr Khatami, said... Unlike Iranian critics of the system who spoke out against human rights abuses from the safety of exile in America, Mrs Ebadi campaigned bravely from within the country. She is also an expert in Islamic law and is religious. "I'm proud to be Iranian and I'll live in my country as long as I can," she said

... She also investigated a grisly spate of murders of writers and intellectuals in 1998 and 1999.

5. "Nobel winner demands Islamic punishments cease" (ABC Australia, October 12, 2003). "Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has called for an end to Islamic punishments in her country and their replacement by modern penalties "as in all democratic countries". "Stoning, (and) the amputation of limbs must be abolished," she told the French newspaper Le Monde... She is due to return to Tehran, where her award has aroused a mixed reaction, on Tuesday, according to a human rights organisation in Paris... "Let people be able to elect freely their representatives in Parliament," she said."

6. "Iranian Reformers Hail Nobel Prize Winner" (Associated Press, October 10, 2003). "The Nobel Peace Prize award for Iranian lawyer-activist Shirin Ebadi may do more than place her in the rarified company of history-shapers such as Nelson Mandela and Lech Walesa. It could hand Iranian reformers what they've been craving: a leader with the clout to rattle the entrenched theocracy. "This prize doesn't belong to me only. It belongs to all people who work for human rights and democracy in Iran," Ebadi said in Paris, where she was attending a conference. At her news conference in Paris, Ebadi said Iran's most pressing human rights crisis is the lack of free speech, and she urged the government to immediately release prisoners jailed for expressing their opinions."

 



FULL ARTICLES

IRANIAN HARD-LINERS ALLEGE NOBEL MEDDLING

Iranian Hard-Liners Allege Nobel Meddling
By Ali Akbar Dareini
The Associated Press
October 11, 2003

Iran's powerful hard-liners on Saturday accused the Nobel committee of meddling in the country's internal affairs by awarding the annual peace prize to an Iranian dissident.

Shirin Ebadi won the 2003 prize on Friday for her human rights and democracy activism. She is the first Muslim woman to win the award.

"The prize is a support for secular movements and against the ideals of the 1979 Islamic revolution," said Hamid Reza Taraqi, a former lawmaker and member of the hard-line Islamic Coalition Society.

"The Norwegian Nobel Committee, against its original objectives of promoting peace, has turned into a political tool in the hand of foreigners to interfere in the internal affairs of our country," Taraqi said.

On Saturday, Ebadi was the top story on the front page in the reformist dailies, but hard-line newspapers ignored the news.

The hard-line daily Siyasat-e-Rooz gave priority on its front page to the discovery of an Iron Age-cemetery in Spain. Jomhuri-e-Eslami, another hard-line paper, gave the news a small space on page two: "Westerners give Ebadi Nobel peace prize."

Pro-reform figures were more gracious, and the administration of reformist President Mohammad Khatami congratulated Ebadi's win in a statement provided to the AP late Friday.

At a news conference Friday in Paris, where she appeared without a head scarf, Ebadi said she believes there is no conflict between human rights and the tenets of Islam.

"Therefore, the religious ones should also welcome this award," she said. "The prize means you can be a Muslim and at the same time have human rights."

Nobel committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes said the decision was a message to the world.

"This is a message to the Iranian people, to the Muslim world, to the whole world, that human value, the fight for freedom, the fight for rights of women and children should be at the center," he said. "I hope the award of the peace to Ebadi can help strengthen and lend support to the cause of human rights in Iran."

The committee said Ebadi represents reformed Islam, and lauded her for arguing for a new interpretation of Islamic law which is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law.

Ebadi, 56, was Iran's first female judge and received her law degree from the University of Tehran.

She was president of the city court of Tehran from 1975-1979, when she was forced to resign. Since the 1979 revolution she has been an activist for democracy and the rights of refugees, women and children.

As a lawyer, she represented families of writers and intellectuals killed in 1999, and worked to expose conspirators behind an attack by pro-clergy assailants on students at Tehran University in 1999.

Ebadi and another lawyer, Mohsen Rahami, were arrested in July 2000 for alleged links to a videotape that purportedly revealed ties between government officials and hard-line vigilantes. They were released from jail after three weeks, but later given suspended prison sentences and barred from practicing law for five years.

Ebadi's husband, Javad Tavassolian, told AP Saturday that the ban was overruled by the appeals court and never enforced.

 

NOBEL CALLING

Nobel calling
A prize for persistence and against prejudice
London Times, editorial
October 11, 2003

Yesterday's award of the Nobel Peace Prize to an Iranian, Shirin Ebadi, comes at a time when the balance between democracy and totalitarianism in Iran is finely tipped. In its choice the Nobel committee has honoured an extraordinarily courageous human rights campaigner, and has made an important gesture of support for the reformers fighting the clerical hardliners within the Iranian regime.

Today's world can seem desperately short of heroes and heroines. Away from the silver screen, individuals often feel hopelessly overwhelmed by apparently insoluble problems. Shirin Ebadi is an inspiration to all those who complacently or even smugly conclude that there is nothing that they can do on their own. Threats and jail sentences have not deterred her from campaigning for human rights for women and children in one of the most repressive and patriarchal regimes in the world. Mrs Ebadi has said that "any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death". She has learnt to conquer that fear in a way that should humble all those who live in easier places, and yet make excuses for inaction.

Mrs Ebadi has not only written and spoken about the need for change. She has also backed her campaign with action. She has defended dissidents whom few other lawyers dared to represent. She was the lawyer for families of the writers and intellectuals who were victims of Iran's serial murders in 1999 and 2000. She has worked tirelessly and successfully to reveal the names of those who orchestrated an attack on Tehran University in 1999 in which several students died.

Mrs Ebadi uses her legal expertise to argue persuasively for a new interpretation of Islamic law recognising democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech. She and her fellow campaigners have won important reforms to Iranian family law. A husband can no longer automatically obtain a divorce without paying alimony, for example, but there is still much to do. Many women waive their right to alimony in order to keep their children, but they are allowed to keep them for only a few years: boys until the age of 2 and girls until the age of 7. This shocking rule is a dreadful indictment of Iran's conservative-controlled judiciary, the same judiciary that deposed Mrs Ebadi as Iran's first woman judge in 1979 on the ground that women were too irrational and emotional to handle such positions.

Her very persistence and success give some reason to hope that Iran's reformers will eventually break the stranglehold of the mullahs. The country's women are a force for change. They played an important part in the election of the reformist President Khatami in 1997, while 14 out of Iran's 270 MPs are now women, and more women than men are now entering university.

It should not really have taken a prize to bring Mrs Ebadi to public attention. And it is a shame that, until now, she has received so little recognition for her inspirational work. Yet the Nobel committee has used its power to the best possible effect: winning her the acclaim she deserves worldwide, and honouring her achievements, while at the same time sending an explicit message to Iran that no society should regard itself as civilized unless it respects the rights of women and children.

In honouring Mrs Ebadi the committee has demonstrated that reform is not the sole preserve of men or of politicians. Her experience proves that one person really can change lives, if only she has sufficient courage, persistence and skill. Her prize is richly deserved.

 

AYATOLLAHS FUME AT NOBEL PRIZE FOR IRANIAN WOMAN

Ayatollahs fume at Nobel prize for Iranian woman
From Michael Theodoulou in Tehran
London Times
October 11, 2003

Petite and softly spoken, Shirin Ebadi appears no match for the hardline ayatollahs who have accused her of trying single-handedly to undermine Iran's Islamic revolution. But the first Iranian and Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize is made of steel.

"Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear, but I have overcome my fear," Ms Ebadi, a lawyer and democracy activist, once told me in an interview behind the heavy doors of her book-lined office in central Tehran. On her desk stood a small replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Ms Ebadi, 56, was Iran's first female judge, but lost the post after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Since then she has worked relentlessly to defend human rights, particularly those of women and children. She has taken on cases that other lawyers feared to touch and been imprisoned as a result of her work.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee made clear the award was aimed at boosting democratic reform across the Muslim world. "We hope that the prize will be an inspiration for all those who struggle for human rights and democracy in her country, in the Muslim world and in all countries where the fight for human rights needs inspiration and support," it said.

Mrs Ebadi was in Paris when she was told that she had won the £800,000 prize. Appearing without a headscarf at a packed press conference, Mrs Ebadi professed herself stunned. "It's good for human rights in Iran, good for democracy in Iran and especially children's rights in Iran," she said. She lost no time demanding release of Iran's political prisoners. She also criticised the US occupation of Iraq and described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as "an unequal war of stones against weapons".

Human rights activists expressed delight at her achievement. Amnesty International said that the award "pays homage to all who battle against injustice".

However, the reaction of Tehran's hardline regime was much more muted, with the award relegated to the final item on the state-controlled television news. But it will be a huge source of pride to most Iranians and will be a boost for the country's embattled reformist camp, led by President Khatami. The award was "very good news for every Iranian", Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a close ally of Mr Khatami, said.

There was disappointment among Roman Catholics that the judges had passed over the Pope, who is unlikely to live long enough to get another chance. "I've nothing against this lady, but if there is anyone who deserves this year's Nobel Peace Prize it is the Holy Father," Lech Walesa, the former Solidarity leader and a fellow Pole, said.

The award comes at a time when Iran's powerful and unelected hardliners are in the ascendant over the country's embattled reform camp, led by Mr Khatami. Some 90 newspapers have been forced to close in recent years and scores of activists have been arrested and intimidated.

But Mrs Ebadi's sudden international recognition is deeply embarrassing for the hardliners who control the Iranian judiciary, of which she was so critical. They are likely to view her award as outsiders interfering in Iranian politics at a time when the country is under growing international pressure over its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

"This prize carries the message that Europe intends to put further pressure on human rights in Iran as a political move to achieve its particular objectives," Amir Mohebian, an editor of the hardline Resalat newspaper, said.

Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, former head of the judiciary, once preached in a sermon broadcast on national television that people such as Mrs Ebadi had been filling young people's heads with nonsense.

Mrs Ebadi bristles at the hardliners' claims that her work is providing ammunition for what they call the "global arrogance" of America. Unlike Iranian critics of the system who spoke out against human rights abuses from the safety of exile in America, Mrs Ebadi campaigned bravely from within the country. She is also an expert in Islamic law and is religious. "I'm proud to be Iranian and I'll live in my country as long as I can," she said.

The daughter of a famous judge during the Shah's time, Mrs Ebadi served as president of the city court of Tehran from 1975 to 1979. Her husband, Dr Rahim Ebadi, is an engineer who has never been involved in politics. One of their daughters is pursuing a postgraduate electrical engineering course in Canada, the other is a student in Iran.

In 2000, she defended two women prisoners of conscience who had been fighting for women's rights in Iran. She also investigated a grisly spate of murders of writers and intellectuals in 1998 and 1999.

Suspicion fell on extremist hardliners determined to put a stop to the more liberal climate fostered by Mr Khatami, who championed freedom of speech and the rule of law. The tactics backfired. The President ordered a thorough investigation into the killings, putting immense pressure on the hardline Intelligence Ministry, which announced that "rogue agents" were responsible. Qorbanli Dorri Najafabadi, the Intelligence Minister, resigned. "This was a great victory for Khatami and the forces of justice," Mrs Ebadi told me at the time.

But her investigations led to her arrest in June 2000, accused of producing and distributing a video that "disturbed public opinion". She spent three weeks in jail after a closed trial, was given a suspended 18-month sentence and banned from working as a lawyer for five years.

For many, Mrs Ebadi is regarded as an unofficial spokeswoman for Iranian women, who have been striving for a greater role in public life. Already they enjoy far more rights than their sisters in neighbouring US-backed Arab states. They have the vote, are allowed to drive and more women than men have passed university entrance examinations in recent years. Many even wear make-up.

Family law is another area where activists have called for reform. Because of campaigners such as Mrs Ebadi, a husband can no longer automatically obtain a divorce without paying hefty alimony. But women often waive alimony solely to keep their children.

 

NOBEL WINNER DEMANDS ISLAMIC PUNISHMENTS CEASE

Nobel winner demands Islamic punishments cease
ABC Australia
October 12, 2003

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has called for an end to Islamic punishments in her country and their replacement by modern penalties "as in all democratic countries".

"Stoning, (and) the amputation of limbs must be abolished," she told the French newspaper Le Monde in response to a question about what reforms she would like to see introduced in Iran.

Ms Ebadi, 56, a human rights lawyer, is the first Muslim woman to be awarded a Nobel peace prize and the first Iranian to receive any Nobel award.

She is due to return to Tehran, where her award has aroused a mixed reaction, on Tuesday, according to a human rights organisation in Paris, where she is staying at present and giving a round of interviews.

She told Le Monde that the Iranian Islamic Republic could not continue if it did not evolve and called for a change to the electoral law.

"The most important thing now is that the Government proposal for change to the law on elections be adopted. Let people be able to elect freely their representatives in Parliament."

If the proposals were blocked by the (conservative) Revolutionary Guards' Council "the Iranian people will boycott the elections due to take place in March, as they did last year with municipal elections".

Ms Ebadi said she supported the separation of the state and religion.

"The position I take is not against Islam. There are grand ayatollahs who want the separation of the state and religion."

As for the absence of democracy in Islamic countries, she said: "It is not the fault of Islam but of corrupt regimes in all Muslim countries which unfortunately use this pretext to justify their illegitimate government."

But she opposed the use of violence to change the type of government in Iran as well as any outside intervention.

 

IRANIAN REFORMERS HAIL NOBEL PRIZE WINNER

Iranian Reformers Hail Nobel Prize Winner
By Brian Murphy
The Associated Press
October 10, 2003

The Nobel Peace Prize award for Iranian lawyer-activist Shirin Ebadi may do more than place her in the rarified company of history-shapers such as Nelson Mandela and Lech Walesa. It could hand Iranian reformers what they've been craving: a leader with the clout to rattle the entrenched theocracy.

Ebadi - who also is Iran's first female judge - was praised around the world as a courageous champion of political freedom after the Norwegian Nobel Committee honored her Friday for promoting peaceful and democratic solutions in the struggle for human rights.

The prize, announced Friday in Oslo, Norway, gave hope to the dispirited reformers challenging Iran's ruling clerics that the 56-year-old lawyer's newfound prominence may breathe life into their tired ranks.

"This prize doesn't belong to me only. It belongs to all people who work for human rights and democracy in Iran," Ebadi said in Paris, where she was attending a conference.

Ebadi, who was jailed for three weeks in 2000, has been a forceful advocate for women, children and those on the margins of society.

"As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, far beyond its borders," the Nobel committee said in its citation.

Reformers in Iran may now expect even more: a firebrand willing to directly battle the powerful theocracy in the model of other history-shaping Nobel laureates such as Nelson Mandela and Lech Walesa.

"She is an international figure now," said Isa Saharqis, a prominent reformer and editor of the monthly political journal, Aftab, or Sun. "The conservatives cannot close their eyes to this."

Iranian state media waited hours to report the Nobel committee's decision - and then only as the last item on the radio news update.

It was not until late Friday that Iran issued an official statement, with government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh congratulating Ebadi for her prize.

"We hope more attention will be paid to the opinions of Mrs. Ebadi both inside and outside Iran more than before," he said.

"In the name of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I congratulate Mrs. Ebadi and all Iranian Muslim women," Ramezanzadeh told The Associated Press.

"We are happy that a Muslim Iranian woman has behaved, using the capabilities of the country in the fields of defending human rights, especially the rights of children and women, in a way that is appreciated by the peace-loving bodies around the world."

Ramezanzadeh said the government is expected to send a top official to attend Ebadi's welcome ceremony in Tehran on Tuesday.

At Ebadi's home, her family watched updates on international broadcasts via a satellite dish - technically illegal but recently tolerated as conservatives try to soften opposition.

"The reform movement is reborn," said Javad Tavassolian, her husband.

Ebadi's 79-year-old mother, Minu Yamini, said the Nobel announcement was just the third time she cried for her daughter. The first was her university graduation; the second was when she was jailed.

Ebadi, who is often sharply criticized by Iran's hard-liners and conservative clerics, was convicted in a closed trial three years ago of slandering government officials. She was given a suspended sentence following her three weeks in jail.

At her news conference in Paris, Ebadi said Iran's most pressing human rights crisis is the lack of free speech, and she urged the government to immediately release prisoners jailed for expressing their opinions.

"There is no difference between Islam and human rights," said Ebadi, who was not wearing the Islamic head covering required for women in Iran.

"Therefore, the religious ones should also welcome this award," she added. "The prize means you can be a Muslim and at the same time have human rights."

Iran's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, has often said the same in his vision of "Islamic democracy." But Khatami has been discredited in the eyes of many mainstream reformers for his unwillingness to press for rapid change. More radical activists are also disheartened by the failure of street protests, including a violent but short-lived confrontation with authorities in June.

Now, reformers appear ready to look for direction and unity from Ebadi, who is scheduled to return to Iran on Tuesday. One of the first tests could be February parliamentary elections, which many reformers have suggested they would shun as a show of frustration.

"Today is a happy day in Iranian history," said Saeed Pourazizi, a close ally of Khatami. "I don't hide my deep feelings of happiness."

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, a Paris-based group opposing the clerical establishment, called the Nobel award "an act against the religious fascism ruling Iran."

Although Iranian women serve in parliament and have far fewer limits than in other Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia, laws still impose some boundaries. An Iranian woman needs her husband's permission to work or travel abroad, and a man's court testimony is considered twice as important as that of a woman.

"The prize is an outcome of her relentless fight against inequality," said Azam Taleqani, leader of a women's rights group.

Ebadi served as Iran's first female judge in the waning years of the Western-backed monarchy, which was toppled by the Islamic Revolution of 1979, when she was forced to resign.

She turned her law office into a base for rights crusades and assaults on the establishment on issues such a persecution of dissidents and now-rare punishments such as stoning and flogging for social offenses.

She has taken cases dealing with domestic abuse and the rights of street children. Her writings have touched on rights for refugees, women and child laborers.

In 2001, Ebadi wrote in an Iranian magazine about her experience in jail - the loneliness of her confinement and the agony of recurring back pain and other ailments.

"I hate myself for being so weak," she wrote in the Payam Emrooz Monthly Review. "I try not to complain. I would just press my teeth against each other and would flex my fingers hard - my nails have turned blue because of the intensity of the pressure - but never would I groan."

Last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, former President Jimmy Carter, called Ebadi's work "an inspiration to people in Iran and around the world."

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the award underscores "the importance of expanding human rights throughout the world."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan called her "a lifetime champion of the cause of human dignity and democracy."

This year's prize is worth $1.3 million. Speculation on winners this year had centered on former Czech President Vaclav Havel and Pope John Paul II.

Ebadi is the third Muslim to win. Yasser Arafat took the prize in 1994, sharing it with then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In 1978, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat shared the award with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for jointly negotiating peace between the two countries. Rabin and Sadat were assassinated after winning their prizes.

The Nobel Peace Prize will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel's death. The other prizes will be given that day in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

 

A NOBLE NOBEL

A Noble Nobel
By James Taranto
Best of the Web Today
October 10, 2003

The announcement each year of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate provides a reminder that it is a moral error to view peace as an end in itself. Sometimes the award goes to dictators or thugs (Le Duc Tho in 1973, Yasser Arafat in 1994) simply for making promises of peace. Last year, when it went to Jimmy Carter, some members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said they meant it as a rebuke to President Bush's plan for the liberation of Iraq. They found intolerable the prospect of America waging war on Saddam Hussein, even though the alternative was to allow Saddam to continue waging war on his own people and threatening war against his neighbors.

Sometimes, though, the Nobel Peace Prize goes to someone who deserves it--someone who uses nonviolent means in pursuit of worthy ends. Laureates in this class include the Martin Luther King (1964), Andrei Sakharov (1975), Lech Walesa (1983) and the Dalai Lama (1989). Happily, this year's laureate, Iranian human-rights activist Shirin Ebadi, falls into this category.

Ebadi was her country's first female judge, but she was forced to step down after mad mullahs seized power in 1979. "She has since been an activist for democracy and the rights of refugees, women and children," reports the Associated Press. "As an attorney, she represented families of writers and intellectuals killed in 1999 and 2000, and worked to expose conspirators behind an attack by pro-clergy assailants on students at Tehran University in 1999." She spent three weeks behind bars after a 2000 arrest and "was banned from working as lawyer for five years. It was unclear whether the ban was still in effect."

Ebadi's Nobel citation cites her progressive view of Islam:

"Ebadi is a conscious Moslem. She sees no conflict between Islam and fundamental human rights. It is important to her that the dialogue between the different cultures and religions of the world should take as its point of departure their shared values.

It is a pleasure for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize to a woman who is part of the Moslem world, and of whom that world can be proud - along with all who fight for human rights wherever they live."

The citation adds: "During recent decades, democracy and human rights have advanced in various parts of the world. By its awards of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has attempted to speed up this process." By its liberation of Iraq, the U.S. has attempted precisely the same thing. President Bush will never win a Nobel Peace Prize, but it's nice to see the Norwegians joining him on the right side of history.


Arafat reported seriously ill

October 07, 2003

A senior official said: "I don't think it's the flu as some people say." He added it was possible that Arafat, 74, has caught a number of viruses as a result of shaking hands and exchanging kisses on the cheek with thousands of people who came to see him over the past few weeks following Israel's decision to "remove" him.

 



ARAFAT REPORTED SERIOUSLY ILL

Arafat reported seriously ill
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
breaking news
Oct. 7, 2003

Four ambulances that were seen entering Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah on Monday afternoon triggered off rumors that he was seriously ill.

Within minutes, senior officials in the compound were bombarded with phone calls from curious journalists. Arafat's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, dismissed reports that Arafat had been taken to a local hospital. He said Arafat suffered from exhaustion and was recovering.

But another senior official said Arafat's health has rapidly deteriorated over the past two weeks. "I don't think it's the flu as some people say," he said. "The president hasn't been feeling well for some time and his health seems to be worsening."

He said it was possible that Arafat, 74, has caught a number of viruses as a result of shaking hands and exchanging kisses on the cheek with thousands of people who came to see him over the past few weeks following Israel's decision to "remove" him.

On Sunday, a pale and fragile-looking Arafat met in his office with the new PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. Palestinians said they have never before seen Arafat in such a condition.

"You can see that he's very ill," said someone who attended the meeting. "He can hardly speak. Something bad is happening to him."

Some PA officials said Arafat's decision to declare a state of emergency in the West Bank and Gaza Strip could be linked to his illness. "It's possible that he doesn't want to leave a vacuum behind," said one PA official. "He must have discussed the issue with Abu Ala [Qurei]."

Last week, the PA summoned a team of doctors from Jordan to examine Arafat after he complained of severe abdominal pain. They concluded that he had recovered from a mild illness and only needed some rest.

At first, his aides suspected that he had been poisoned. Arafat had been vomiting for several days. Shortly after the Jordanian team returned home, a journalist in Ramallah quoted a senior PA official as saying that "Arafat's days are numbered."

On Monday evening, journalists and visitors were barred from entering Arafat's compound. The decision only added to the growing speculation about Arafat's health.


Haifa 3: The Financial Times & British politicians compare Israel to the Nazis

CONTENTS

1. The editors of the Financial Times
2. The Scotsman
3. "Minister under fire for Middle East-Holocaust comparison" (Independent, October 4, 2003)


[This is one of three dispatches I am sending today]

[Note by Tom Gross]

The UK Government minister responsible for Britain's "Holocaust Memorial Day," at an address to "The Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding," at the annual conference of Tony Blair's ruling British Labour Party, says we "could draw parallels" between the Holocaust and "what Israel is doing to the Palestinians today".

As a follow-up to my other dispatches of this morning on the Haifa attack, I attach three items from the British press from recent days, with summaries first:

1. The editors of the Financial Times -- which on Monday October 6 2003, chose to publish on its front page not a photo of the destroyed Haifa restaurant (there is no Sunday edition of the FT), nor of any of the funerals, nor of the 3 year-old-Israeli boy who remains in critical condition at a Haifa hospital -- printed a letter (attached in full below) titled "Wall of shame" comparing Majdanek concentration camp with Israel's security fence. (Note the word Holocaust is published by the Financial Times without a capital H, contradictory to the generally accepted usage of the term.)

2. The Scotsman, one of Scotland's leading papers, chose the day of the Haifa attack, to print an editorial comment by one of Britain's most senior politicians, Sir David Steel, former head of the Britain's centrist Liberal party. Sir David dubiously cites an unnamed "rabbi from New York" telling him in respect to Israel's security fence: "My God, this is like a Nazi ghetto." Sir David goes on to say, "The wall's construction is a combination of the old South African apartheid policy, together with communist East Germany's Berlin Wall" and in relation to the murder of Dr David Applebaum and his daughter in one of September's Jerusalem terror attacks, he refers to "mutual violence in the Holy Land."

3. "Minister under fire for Middle East-Holocaust comparison" (The Independent, October 4, 2003). "The Government minister responsible for Holocaust memorial day has been accused of making "irresponsible and insensitive" remarks linking the Nazi genocide to the troubles in the Middle East. Comments by Fiona Mactaggart, a junior Home Office minister, at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton earlier this week, have caused outrage in the Jewish community. Speaking at a function of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, Ms Mactaggart said: "The fact Holocaust memorial day is being celebrated in Belfast this year and is focusing on Rwanda is something we should enthusiastically join in and at the same time say we have solidarity with you in remembering this genocide, but that does not mean that we support what Israel is doing to the Palestinians today. Indeed you could draw some parallels." Lord Janner said: "It is [not only] gravely offensive and shows a lack of historical perspective. It is both irresponsible and insensitive to make statements likely to stir up tensions between our Jewish and Muslim communities." Gena Turgel, 80, a holocaust survivor now living in London, told PA News: "I am absolutely shocked ... How could she make such an inappropriate comparison?"

 



FULL ARTICLES

WALL OF SHAME

Wall of shame
By Maggie Foyer
Financial Times
October 6 2003

Sir, In the gallery at Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, two pictures hang side by side. They were painted by a Soviet artist who liberated Majdanek, a concentration camp, and my blood ran cold as I stood before them. They were the two aspects of the wall I had just seen on the West Bank, the electric fence and the 10-metre-high wall with guard towers. These paintings should be moved to the Knesset where they may shame the government into a change of heart.
Maggie Foyer, London SW15 2QN, UK

 

MIDDLE EAST HEADS FOR DISASTER

Middle East heads for disaster
By Sir David Steel
The Scotsman
October 4, 2003

www.thescotsman.co.uk/opinion.cfm?id=1099372003

With so much attention focused on post-war difficulties in Iraq, the international community is in danger of forgetting about the "road map" to peace in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. A visit there last week left me with a deep, foreboding gloom about the stalemate, the continued strife and the failure of the outside world to act.

It is widely assumed that in response to the horrific suicide bomb attacks on innocent Israeli civilians, the government of Israel is justifiably building a security wall along its border - the green line - with the Palestinian territory. Most Israelis believe the same because of their own lack of investigative press reports. Sadly, the truth is different, and deeply disturbing. Only a minority of the wall is on the internationally recognised boundary; most of it encroaches into Palestinian territory. For most of its route it is a high, barbed wire fence accompanied by a new highway. In other places it is a concrete wall. It snakes through confiscated land, dividing fields and, in one place I visited, cutting a university campus in two.

In Qalqilia, the 25ft-wall encircles the town. It has a population of 42,000 but serves as the district centre for a further 90,000. The residents of the city are not allowed out, and the rural dwellers cannot get in to sell their produce or attend hospitals or schools without a long detour through checkpoints. The wall prevents 6,000 from the city and 13,000 from the rural area from reaching previous employment across the green line.

This is economic strangulation to put it mildly. A rabbi from New York on a recent visit exclaimed: "My God, this is like a Nazi ghetto."

To me, the wall's construction is a combination of the old South African apartheid policy, together with communist East Germany's Berlin Wall. Yet the outside world is turning a blind eye to this flagrant breach of international law and human rights. President George Bush has said it is a mistake, but US activity is limited to discussion on the route of future parts not yet built. The European Union grants favourable trade terms to Israel, but appears unable or unwilling to use any muscle leverage on its policies.

But what is most depressing of all is the complete lack of dialogue between the two sides. It is understandable that the Israeli government will not speak to the Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat, nor will they even speak to anybody who speaks to him. The European envoy accepts this humiliation apparently without protest.

Moreover, the Israeli/American policy of publicly ostracising the Palestinian leader has had the effect of reviving both his standing and morale. He looked a lot better physically than when I last met him five years ago. I met many Palestinians highly critical of Arafat as being autocratic and incompetent, or simply too old, but they are now rallying round their threatened leader. So the policy of trying to dictate who among the Palestinians they should negotiate with has backfired.

The problem is not the US: it is the bunch of ideologues who surround the inexperienced Bush and override the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. The veteran leader of the Israeli opposition, Shimon Peres, has said that the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is leading Israel to disaster. Certainly instead of a land of milk and honey, there is a land of barbed wire, concrete and guns. Europe, in spite of the historic involvement in the region of Britain and France, remains impotent, and our own government spineless. The respected former foreign secretary Geoffrey Howe said the other day that Tony Blair "went on to align himself too closely with American policy". He was referring to Iraq, but the same applies to this conflict.

In Jerusalem, I passed the place of the last suicide bombing outrage. Among others, it killed the distinguished Dr David Applebaum and his daughter preparing for her wedding. The same day, I saw in Gaza the place where Mahmoud al-Zahar escaped an Israeli assassination attempt, which killed, among others, his son, a student on holiday from Britain, also just before his wedding. The deaths of these two young people, neither involved in politics, one Israeli one Palestinian, on the eve of their future family life, symbolised for me the futility of mutual violence in the Holy Land, and the wickedness of the inaction by the international community.

 

MINISTER UNDER FIRE FOR MIDDLE EAST HOLOCAUST COMPARISON

Minister under fire for Middle East-Holocaust comparison
By Pippa Crerar
The Independent
October 4, 2003

The Government minister responsible for Holocaust memorial day has been accused of making "irresponsible and insensitive" remarks linking the Nazi genocide to the troubles in the Middle East.

Comments by Fiona Mactaggart, a junior Home Office minister, at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton earlier this week, have caused outrage in the Jewish community.

Lord Janner of Braunstone, a Labour peer and chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, has written to the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, demanding an explanation.

Speaking at a function of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, Ms Mactaggart said: "The fact Holocaust memorial day is being celebrated in Belfast this year and is focusing on Rwanda is something we should enthusiastically join in and at the same time say we have solidarity with you in remembering this genocide, but that does not mean that we support what Israel is doing to the Palestinians today. Indeed you could draw some parallels."

Lord Janner said: "It is especially inappropriate for the Home Office minister in charge of community policy to draw parallels between the Holocaust and any aspect of the situation between Israel and Palestine.

"It is also gravely offensive and shows a lack of historical perspective. It is both irresponsible and insensitive to make statements likely to stir up tensions between our Jewish and Muslim communities."

Gena Turgel, 80, a holocaust survivor now living in London, told PA News: "I am absolutely shocked ... How could she make such an inappropriate comparison?"

But in a statement to totallyjewish.com, the news website, Ms Mactaggart said: "I was not seeking to draw a parallel between the Holocaust and what's happening in the Middle East. I'm saying there are parallels in how a community which feels assaulted by an experience feels, in order to make somebody in my audience understand why he, as someone who strongly opposed the actions of the government of Israel, should strongly support Holocaust memorial day." She stressed that she did not speak for the Government on foreign affairs.


Haifa 2: “Something was missing from the BBC news bulletins”

[This is one of three dispatches I am sending today]

CONTENTS

1. "Beebwatch" (Daily Telegraph, October 7, 2003)
2. "Bombs that kill peace" (Letters page, Guardian, October 7, 2003)
3. "Is it fair to say that Israel is the only and worst violator in the world today?"


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach three items from today and yesterday's British press, critical of the BBC and of Palestinian suicide bombings.

1. "Beebwatch" (The Daily Telegraph, October 7, 2003): "Something was missing from the BBC news bulletins on Saturday night following the atrocious suicide killing in Haifa: any direct reference to terrorism or terrorists. Jeremy Cooke's report from the scene, broadcast on the BBC1 evening news and News 24, followed the corporation's apparent policy of describing such outrages merely as "attacks". Nor did we hear the word "murder". Cooke's first words to camera were that the incident was "certain to provoke an Israeli response", as if Israel's retaliation was the real story.

"There was only a tiny snatch of comment from an onlooker and none from a family member. Footage of an Israeli minister, Danny Naveh, attacking Arafat, was prefaced by a health warning: Naveh "was on hand to point the predictable finger of blame". (BBC correspondents rarely underline the predictability of Palestinians blaming Israel and America.) The nearest Cooke came to mentioning terrorism was in a live exchange on News 24: he said that the deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, wanted to crack down "on what he called the leaders of the terror movement".

"A search of the BBC website reveals that Palestinian "terrorists" are nearly always awarded quotation marks, unlike, say, the perpetrators of September 11. Why? BBC guidelines state: "The word 'terrorist' can appear judgmental in parts of the world where there is no clear consensus about the legitimacy of militant political groups." Another point is worth noting. BBC reports of suicide bombings typically mention the death of the killer before that of his or her victims ("A woman suicide bomber has killed herself and 19 other people"). Likewise, after an Islamic Jihad terrorist murdered two people at a Jewish New Year meal, one of them a seven-month-old baby, the BBC headline read: "Three dead in West Bank attack."

2. "Bombs that kill peace" (Letters page, The Guardian, October 7, 2003). In an unusual move, this Palestinian letter writer to The Guardian criticizes Palestinian society for "creating different categories of people, some of which [Israeli Jews] are less human than others," and speaks out against suicide bombings. (The full letter is attached below.)

3. Leading columnist for the Independent newspaper, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, has in the past used the Holocaust against Israel. For example, she wrote on April 15, 2002: "I would suggest that Ariel Sharon should be tried for crimes against humanity... and be damned for so debasing the profoundly important legacy of the Holocaust, which was meant to stop forever nations turning themselves into ethnic killing machines."

In the aftermath of the Haifa attack, she seems to have modified her position. In yesterday's Independent (October 6, 2003), she writes: "But is it fair to say that Israel is the only and worst violator in the world today? I don't think so. If we want to stay on the moral high ground, surely we should also be holding Russia to account, and Burma's deadly military government, and India (where the Hindu Fundamentalist government is openly anti-Muslim and discriminatory, refusing to bring to justice those who kill to ethnically cleanse their country of Muslims), and Syria and Lebanon where Palestinian refugees are treated like vermin and have been for decades, and Pakistan which is doing nothing to protect Christians against inhumane treatment and attacks. So here I am today, forthright critic of the US and Israeli governments, having to remind people and myself that these aren't the only bad guys on our planet."

 



BOMBS THAT KILL PEACE

Bombs that kill peace
Letters
The Guardian
October 7, 2003

Kudos for your fair and insightful leader (October 6). Indeed, suicide bombings do "grave disservice to the Palestinian cause". As a Palestinian, however, what is even more worrying is the damage that such actions inflict on the Palestinians' perception of the Israelis and of themselves.

The killing of Israeli civilians in Haifa or west Jerusalem is being justified by the same groups that claim to be acting in the name of Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression in Gaza and east Jerusalem. Yet, once a society creates different categories of people, some of which are less human than others, it can never hope that the process will not eventually extend to its own ranks. That Zionism dehumanised the Palestinians as a prelude to expelling them, or to justify placing them under a ruthless military occupation, is not an excuse for the victims to lose sight of the necessary moral dimensions to their struggle.

Palestinians will achieve justice and equality only if they succeed in winning a majority of the Israeli public to their cause. Movements like Hamas and Jihad owe it to their people to explain how the suicide bombings - and their declared general goal of using armed struggle to dismantle the Israeli state - are helping in that regard. There has never been a time when it was so urgent for the Palestinians to have a coherent and rational debate about their aims and methods. At the heart of such debate should be a recognition of, and an appeal to, the humanity of the enemy, even while burying the victims of its cruelty daily.

Dr Ala Khazendar
Cambridge


Haifa 1: Three generations wiped out in “slaughter of the families”: Did CNN notice?

[This is one of three dispatches I am sending today. In this one, I attach various comments, followed by three articles.]

CONTENTS

1. CNN's Rula Amin
2. Suicide bombers are not poor
3. "Three generations wiped out in 'slaughter of families' in Israel" (Khaleej Times Online, of the United Arab Emirates, republishing this report from AFP, October 5, 2003)
4. Bombed restaurant was Jewish-Arab symbol (By Peter Enav, AP, October 4, 2003)
5. "Families devastated by Haifa bombing" (Jerusalem Post, October 5, 2003)


[Note by Tom Gross]

Following the torrent of international media criticism of Israel during the last few days, many people might be left with the impression that Israel had been doing all the killing, when in fact the only victims between Saturday lunchtime and yesterday were Israeli (19 dead, over 50 wounded in Haifa on the eve of Yom Kippur; another Israeli murdered by a Hizbollah sniper in northern Israel yesterday.)

No one was killed or injured in Israel's defensive missile strike against the Ein Tzahab Islamic Jihad training base in Syria, nor in Israel's carefully targeted missile strike at an empty house belonging to a senior Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza following the Haifa bomb.

CNN'S RULA AMIN

This is not the impression that viewers of stations such as "CNN International" will be left with. (American recipients of this email list probably know that "CNN International" is far more strident in its partisan approach to the Jewish state than the American version of CNN). That "CNN International" have given virtual round the clock coverage to the propagandists of the Syrian government while Israeli ministers observed Yom Kippur is one thing; that CNN's notorious correspondent Rula Amin, should be allowed to act as a virtual spokesperson for the Assad regime is another.

This is the same Rula Amin who encouraged some of the worst lies about Israeli "massacres" of Palestinian civilians in her reporting from Jenin in April 2002.

This is the same Rula Amin who used the word "we" when reporting live on CNN from the Palestinian towns.

This is the same Rula Amin who, reporting from Bethlehem, told CNN viewers that Israeli soldiers had killed "Father Jackie" at the St. Mary's Church in Bethlehem when in fact Father Jack Amateis was very much alive.

This is the same Rula Amin whom CNN's own American (not CNN International's) anchors have repeatedly challenged as to her objectivity. (Example: On April 16, 2002, at the height of the media frenzy in Jenin, CNN's U.S.-based anchor Daryn Kagan, told Rula Amin: "Clearly what we are looking at is a different perception here. Rula, I am sure, as we can see from the pictures, a number of homes have been destroyed. But the Israelis would point out that they believe there were gunman and fighters holing out in those houses, and that's why they had to be attacked so fiercely." On April 9, 2002, New York-based anchor, Paula Zahn, interrupted Amin's report: "All right, Rula, by the same token, the Israelis argue there's a very good reason why they went into Jenin in the first place, that they know that men who are very active in the Palestinian Authority's violence against Israel are located there."

This is the same Rula Amin that "CNN International" has been using hour after hour for the past three days to report "objectively" from Damascus.

FAMILIES WIPED OUT: BARELY MENTIONED ON CNN

Viewers of "CNN International" would be hard pressed to know that three entire Israeli families had been wiped out in this weekend's events. Grandparents, children, and grandchildren were buried together just before Yom Kippur. Children as young as 4 years old and 14-months-old were killed in the attack.

SUICIDE BOMBERS ARE NOT POOR

Nor does one hear on "CNN International" that the Haifa bomber from Islamic Jihad, was a 29-year-old lawyer. As usual correspondents have sprouted nonsense about Palestinian "militants" being motivated by, among other things, poverty, when in fact most suicide bombers, have been relatively rich, well educated, and ideologically driven murderers (the same profile that matches many leading Nazis, communists, and Al Qaeda leaders.)

9/11 STYLE ATTACKS ON THEIR WAY?

Nor does "CNN International" make clear to its viewers that Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorists at the Ein Tzahab training camp were not only taught by the Iranian instructors there how to assemble bombs, conduct guerrilla warfare, and use artillery, but were given aviation instruction.

THERE IS ANOTHER OCCUPATION?

And in it hour upon hour of weekend coverage about Syria, CNN forgot to tell its audience that Islamic Jihad leaders like Ramadan Abdallah Shalah continue to enjoy immunity in Damascus. Nor did CNN remind viewers that Syria is in brutal military occupation of neighboring Lebanon.

SHORT OF CAMERAS?

And CNN also seems to have forgotten to send its camera crews to Haifa hospitals where over two dozen Israeli Jews and Arabs remain badly injured.

WASN'T SABRA AND SHATILA THIS WEEKEND'S MAIN NEWS?

It is not only on "CNN International" that one hears the words "Ariel Sharon" coupled with "well known war criminal" from their chosen interviewee virtually every time one tunes in. Papers like the (London) Independent have used the Haifa bomb attack as an opportunity as its main "world news" item (by Robert Fisk, October 6, 2003) to write not about the Haifa victims but as yet another opportunity to write about the 1982 massacres in Sabra and Shatila (Fisk more than doubling the numbers of victims "to 1700" and giving the impression that Israel carried out these massacres, which were carried out by Phalangist Christians). Nor, of course, do European papers ever write about the worse 1985 massacres in Sabra and Shatila, carried out against Palestinians by the Syrian occupiers.

FOOTBALLERS AND JOURNALISTS AS VICTIMS

Among those injured were members of Maccabi Haifa, one of Israel's leading football (soccer) teams. I have not heard much sympathy from international sports organizations in the aftermath of the Haifa attacks. But then most university professors were deafening in their silence following last year's Hebrew University bomb that killed and injured students and faculty members at the Middle East's leading universities.

Among those killed in Haifa were Mark Biano, 29, an Israeli television reporter, and his wife Naomi, 25. Does one hear any expressions of sympathy, or even a mention of their deaths, from fellow journalists, in the manner which journalists' deaths in other countries are reported on?

IS THE UAE MEDIA FAIRER TO ISRAEL THAT BRITISH AND FRENCH PAPERS?

Interestingly, papers such as the Khaleej Times Online, published in the United Arab Emirates, have been more sympathetic in their coverage of Israel than papers in several European countries (Article attached below).

 

I attach the following articles, with summaries first:

SUMMARIES

1. "Three generations wiped out in 'slaughter of families' in Israel" (Khaleej Times Online, of the United Arab Emirates, republishing this report from AFP, October 5, 2003). "Grandparents were due to be buried alongside their children and grandchildren in northern Israel on Sunday - all victims of a suicide attack in Haifa dubbed the 'Slaughter of Families'. A total of 19 people, as well as the bomber, were killed in Saturday's attack in a restaurant in this northern city, which for long has been considered as a model of peaceful co-existence between Jews and Arabs. Among the victims were five members of the Zev Aviv family from the nearby Yagour kibbutz who had travelled to the city for a shopping expedition ahead of the Yom Kippur Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar... Brouria Zev Aviv was expected to be buried Sunday along with her son Betselel, his wife Keren and their two children, four-year-old Liran and 14-month-old Noya.. Other victims included four members of the Almog family. Zeve Almog, 71, died along with his 70-year-old wife Ruth, his son Moshe, 43, and nine-year-old grandson Tomer."

2. Bombed restaurant was Jewish-Arab symbol (By Peter Enav, The Associated Press, October 4, 2003). "The bustling seaside Maxim restaurant is a mirror of one of Israel's few mixed Arab-Jewish cities. Jewish pro soccer players hang out here. Many of the diners are Arabs. For four decades the business has been owned by two families - one Arab, one Jewish. This port city, however, has also been a repeated target for Palestinian suicide bombers, perhaps because the attackers are better able to blend in. And on Saturday, Maxim became the latest site to be hit. In the afternoon, a Palestinian woman got past a guard at the door - by shooting him, according to some reports - and detonated a load of explosives. The blast thundered along the beach and up along the foothills of the seaside Carmel mountains. A woman's severed head, apparently that of the bomber, lay on the floor. Her black hair was tied back in a ponytail... In three years of fighting, six suicide bombers have struck Haifa, killing 74 people. [TG adds: It is beyond me why AP and some other media have started to use the term "bystanders" for victims of suicide bombings, when they were clearly the target, such as the sentence in this AP piece: "Jaradat killed 19 bystanders Saturday, including four Arabs and four children." Will they also call Holocaust victims "bystanders" too in future? MSNBC also reported "A Palestinian woman blew herself up in a crowded beachfront restaurant at lunchtime Saturday, killing herself and 19 bystanders."]

3. "Families devastated by Haifa bombing" (The Jerusalem Post, October 5, 2003). This article gives brief portraits of some of the victims based on information available at press time (before Yom Kippur). Liran Zer-Aviv's 4th birthday would have been celebrated on Sunday.

 


FULL ARTICLES

THREE GENERATIONS WIPED OUT IN "SLAUGHTER OF FAMILIES"

Three generations wiped out in "slaughter of families" in Israel
Khaleej Times Online (The United Arab Emirates) (AFP)
October, 5 2003

www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2003/October/middleeast_October86.xml§ion=middleeast&col=

Grandparents were due to be buried alongside their children and grandchildren in northern Israel on Sunday - all victims of a suicide attack in Haifa dubbbed the "Slaughter of Families".

A total of 19 people, as well as the bomber, were killed in Saturday's attack in a restaurant in this northern city, which for long has been considered as a model of peaceful co-existence between Jews and Arabs.

Among the victims were five members of the Zev Aviv family from the nearby Yagour kibbutz who had travelled to the city for a shopping expedition ahead of the Yom Kippur Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

Brouria Zev Aviv was expected to be buried Sunday along with her son Betselel, his wife Keren and their two children, four-year-old Liran and 14-month-old Noya.

Hillel Leviatan, a member of the kibbutz, said that the community would try and rally around to care for the surviving family members.

"This is a source of deep pain for the kibbutz," he told Israeli radio.

"It's a very hard blow. We will do our utmost for the rest of the family to help them mentally.

"Even if we are not able to correct the consequences of this monstrous act we will do what we can."

Other victims included four members of the Almog family. Zeve Almog, 71, died along with his 70-year-old wife Ruth, his son Moshe, 43, and nine-year-old grandson Tomer.

The bomber from Islamic Jihad, a 29-year-old female lawyer whose brother and cousin were both killed by the Israeli army in June, struck at around 2:15pm on Saturday when the restaurant was packed with families.

The scene of the blast, Maxim restaurant, has been co-owned by Jewish and Arab families for some 40 years in a city, which has a large Arab-Israeli population.

Orli Nir, daughter of one of the founders, said that the restaurant was a regular haunt for many of the victims.

"For years we have been one large family, Arabs and Jews," she told the Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

"When we heard about the terror attack, I ran to the restaurant and my mother, Miri Tayar, hurried to the hospital to see what was happening with those who were wounded, to be with the Matar family (the Arab co-owners).

"I know many of the people who were killed and wounded. We have many regular customers. Everyone knows everyone else."

The coach of the leading Israeli football team Maccabi Haifa, Roni Levy, and two other club members were also slightly injured in the attack.

Levy, club director Itamar Chizik and technical director Arie Borenstein were treated in hospital but later released.

"We were going to our table in the restaurant where the members of the club usually go when the explosion took place," Chizik told Israeli television. "It was a scene that will be difficult to forget."

 

BOMBED RESTAURANT WAS JEWISH-ARAB SYMBOL

Bombed restaurant was Jewish-Arab symbol
By Peter Enav
The Associated Press
October 4, 2003

The bustling seaside Maxim restaurant is a mirror of one of Israel's few mixed Arab-Jewish cities. Jewish pro soccer players hang out here. Many of the diners are Arabs. For four decades the business has been owned by two families - one Arab, one Jewish.

This port city, however, has also been a repeated target for Palestinian suicide bombers, perhaps because the attackers are better able to blend in. And on Saturday, Maxim became the latest site to be hit.

In the afternoon, a Palestinian woman got past a guard at the door - by shooting him, according to some reports - and detonated a load of explosives. The blast thundered along the beach and up along the foothills of the seaside Carmel mountains.

The bomber, 27-year-old Hanadi Jaradat, was sent by the Islamic Jihad group, which has dispatched several other women to bomb Israeli targets. Her brother and a cousin, a member of Islamic Jihad, were killed in an Israeli army raid in June. Jaradat, a graduate from law school, was serving an apprenticeship in a law office.

Jaradat killed 19 bystanders Saturday, including four Arabs and four children.

The blast blew out windows and blackened parts of the restaurant. Light fixtures and electric wires dangled, ripped from the shredded ceiling. Beneath a fog of smoke, blood and bits of broken plates dotted the floor. A woman's severed head, apparently that of the bomber, lay on the floor. Her black hair was tied back in a ponytail.

On the steps outside, the security guard lay face down, his shaved head and white T-shirt streaked with blood. White-suited forensics specialists sifted through debris. It wasn't clear if the bomber shot him. Pock-marked glass doors behind him might have been sprayed with bits of shrapnel from the explosive, or perhaps bullets.

Nir Muli, the grandson of the restaurant's Jewish owner, said his family founded the business together with an Arab family 40 years ago. "This restaurant was a symbol of coexistence," he said. "We never thought that this would happen to us."

About a fifth of Israel's 6.6 million people are Arabs, a minority made up of those Arabs who were not forced out or did not flee the war surrounding Israel's 1948 creation. They have strong family ties with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza but enjoy Israeli citizenship.

With Israelis and Palestinians at battle, Israel's Arab minority is at times awkwardly in the middle. Few Israeli Arabs have taken part in the fight, though views have hardened toward Israel, especially after suffering years of discrimination.

Haifa is home to 223,000 Jews and 47,000 Arabs. They mingle together in shops and crowd into buses together. In a reflection of the city's Arab presence, two mosque minarets rise into the sky, visible on the hillside behind the shattered restaurant.

In three years of fighting, six suicide bombers have struck Haifa, killing 74 people.

At Haifa's Rambam Hospital distraught Arabs and Jews filled a narrow corridor waiting for information about injured relatives and friends who worked at the restaurant.

One of them, an Arab woman named Odet Najar, 28, waited for news about her cousin, Sharbe Matar, 23, a waiter. "Everybody was together there, Jews and Arabs; we went to the restaurant a lot," she said, in fluent Hebrew.

It was where the Maccabi Haifa soccer team hung out before games, and several team officials, including the coach, were wounded.

"The restaurant is like a second home for Maccabi Haifa. It's a very sad day for the city of Haifa," player Alon Harazi said. One of the team's stars is Walid Badir, an Arab.

The attack came on the Jewish Sabbath and just two days before Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Witnesses described a horrible scene. A man driving past, who gave only his first name, Navon, said he ran inside to try to help carry out the wounded, but found that most seemed to be already dead.

"To tell you the truth, there were not many people to take out ... just a lot of people strewn on the ground. There was nothing to do, no way to help them," he said.

 

FAMILIES DEVASTATED BY HAIFA BOMBING

Families devastated by Haifa bombing
The Jerusalem Post
October 5, 2003

The Maxim restaurant bombing in Haifa on Saturday snuffed out 19 lives.

Following are portraits of some of them:

Five members of the Zer-Aviv family, all members of Kibbutz Yagur, were killed. Kibbutz members said they do not remember such a tragedy.

Bruria Zer-Aviv, 59, was spending Saturday afternoon with her son, Bezalel, 30, his wife Keren, 29, and their children, Liran, 4, and Noya, 14 months, at the beach-front Maxim restaurant in Haifa when the suicide bomber detonated her explosives.

Beni Shilo, a neighbor, said relatives tried to reach them by phone and when there was no answer they drove to the restaurant.

Kibbutz member Hillel Livyatan said their car was parked in the restaurant's parking lot, and ambulances had already evacuated all of the wounded.

"They [the relatives] started to search for them in the different hospitals and when they couldn't find them they understood what had happened," he said.

The Zer-Aviv family moved to Kibbutz Yagur in 1985. Dr. Freddy Zer-Aviv, the father of the family, works as an orthopedist at Ben-Zion Hospital in Haifa. His son, Bezalel, was studying cooking in Tiberias and his wife, Keren, worked in the kibbutz's nursery.

Liran's 4th birthday was to be celebrated Sunday.

Ze'ev Almog, former commander of the Acre naval training base and his wife, Ruti, were eating lunch with their family when the bomber struck. They were killed along with their son, Moshe, 43, and their grandson, Tomer, 9.

Daughter, Galit, and daughter-in-law, Orly, and two grandchildren were injured in the blast. Family members ran from hospital to hospital searching for a sign of hope until they realized the terrible news.

Ze'ev, 71, and Ruti met each other during their military service. They married and had three children. One of the first members of the navy, Ze'ev was instrumental in bringing the first submarines to Israel. Ruti had worked as an education advisor until retiring a few years ago. The son, Moshe, also did his mandatory military service in the navy.

Almog was "a great man," nephew Rotem Avrutski told Israel Radio. "When I got my sailing license, the first thing he taught me was rescue. He was a wonderful man, a man who loved other people, with a lovely sense of humor. It is very, very strange to think of them in the past tense."

Mark Biano, 29, a reporter for a local television station, and his wife Naomi, 25, were also killed in the attack. The two were married two years ago and spent a long honeymoon in the United States and the Caribbean Islands.

Co-workers spoke of Mark Biano as "a devoted and ethical worker."

Nir Regev, 25, son of the current commander of the Acre naval training base, was also killed in the attack. A student at Haifa University, Regev was set to complete his degree in several weeks. He was sitting in the restaurant together with a friend, Olga. Nir died upon arrival at the Rambam Hospital, while Olga suffered moderate injuries.

"We heard there was a suicide attack and turned on the television when we saw Nir's car parked near the restaurant, Eli Regev told Israel Radio. "We went to the restaurant and police there confirmed that it was Nir's car. We then traveled to Rambam Hospital where we were told that Nir had died upon arrival."

Eli said that he and his wife had purchased the car for Nir son two months ago, because they didn't want him taking a bus to school due to the security risk.

The following is a list of the victims of Saturday's attack:

• Irena Sofrin, Kiryat Bialik
• Nir Regev, 25, Netanya
• Bruria Zer-Aviv, 59, Kibbutz Yagur
• Bezalel Zer-Aviv, 30, , Kibbutz Yagur
• Keren Zer-Aviv 29, Kibbutz Yagur
• Liran Zer-Aviv, 4, Kibbutz Yagur
• Noya Zer-Aviv, 14 months, Kibbutz Yagur
• Mark Biano, 29, Hafia
• Naomi Biano, 25, Haifa
• Osama Najar, 27, Haifa
• Matan Karkabi, Haifa
• Sherbel Matar, 23, Fassouta
• Hana Francis, 40, Fassouta
• Ze'ev Almog, 71, Haifa
• Ruth Almog, 70, Haifa
• Moshe Almog, 43, Haifa
• Tomer Almog, 9, Haifa
• Zvi Bahat, 35, Haifa
One of the victims has yet to be identified.