Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Sharon and Hitler share space at Anne Frank house in Amsterdam

January 29, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Thousands protest Swedish art exhibit" (AP, January 27, 2004)
2. "Sharon and Hitler share space at Anne Frank house" (Israel Radio Transcripts, January 28, 2004)
3. "MP attacks Israel's travel bans" (BBC, January, 27, 2004)
4. "Ten killed in Jerusalem suicide bombing" (News Agencies, January 29, 2004)


YASSER ARAFAT'S ARMED WING TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach four articles, including a report of today's suicide attack on a crowded Jerusalem bus that left at least 10 dead and 50 wounded.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the "armed wing" of Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization claimed responsibility for the attack. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is under the sole control and funding of Arafat's Fatah (using in part European Union grants which have been constantly been defended by senior European leaders such as External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, who was formerly a senior figure in the British Conservative Party). The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades named the bomber as Ali Yusuf Jaara, a 24-year-old Palestinian policeman, working for Yasser Arafat's police force in Bethlehem.

In its reports today (not included in this email), in its opening sentence the Associated Press chooses to call the victims of today's bus bomb "10 bystanders" ignoring the fact that Israeli Jewish civilians were (at the terrorists' own admission) the deliberate targets of the bomb. Likewise, in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe condemned the bombing as an "indiscriminate act of violence," as if this act of terror was not carefully planned. Many of the dead and injured were Israelis making their way to one of Jerusalem's main hospitals, which was the final stop on the route of the bus that the terrorists chose to bomb.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, paid a "courtesy call" on the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in nearby Ramallah, an hour after the bombing, before visiting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. On Tuesday Dr Williams described Israel's security fence as a " terrible symbol," ignoring the fact that it is being built to keep such bombers out.

Below, I attach four articles, with summaries first.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

"Thousands protest Swedish art exhibit" (AP, January 27, 2004). Sweden's prime minister has been bombarded with about 14,000 e-mails from a U.S.-based Jewish human rights group protesting an art exhibit featuring the image of a Palestinian suicide bomber, the Swedish government said Tuesday... "We are subject to this kind of mail bombardment every now and then, but I can't say that it's very effective as a way of voicing an opinion," Prime Minister Goeran Persson said, describing the letters as "not very threatening." Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said the government does not have the right to censure art.

... On Tuesday, Persson attended a candlelight ceremony for Holocaust victims in downtown's Raoul Wallenberg Square. "The Holocaust wasn't the end of genocide. I just have to mention Rwanda, I just have to mention Srebrenica," Persson said.

 

"Sharon and Hitler share space at Anne Frank house" (Israel Radio Transcripts, January 28, 2004). "A photo of Ariel Sharon alongside one of Adolf Hitler is currently being exhibited at the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, reported Israel Radio. The photos are presented as part of an exhibition on 'borderline cases' aimed at testing the borders between freedom of expression and discrimination, according to the museum's spokesman. Visitors are shown a video, in which demonstrators held a poster of Hitler and Sharon 'in protest over Israel's policies in the Palestinian territories.' They are then asked to vote on whether in the name of fighting racism, freedom of speech may be infringed on." [This is the full story.]

 

"MP attacks Israel's travel bans" (BBC, January, 27, 2004). "Israeli curbs on travel to Palestinian territories were described as "unlawful and immoral" by an MP on Tuesday... British Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell said the Government was "seriously concerned" by the matter. And Labour MP Richard Burdern said: "It is important that British MPs are able to see things for themselves." "These kinds of movement restrictions are not only unlawful, they're immoral." ... Mr Rammell added: "The restrictions could seriously disrupt the supply of essential emergency provisions for the most vulnerable people in the Palestinian territories."

[TG adds: This report may also be seen in the light of today's suicide bombing, and around the 50 – 60 bomb attempts the Israeli police say they have to deal with every day.]

 

"Ten killed in Jerusalem suicide bombing" (News Agencies, January 29, 2004). At least ten people were today killed and another 50 wounded in a suicide attack on a bus outside Ariel Sharon's official residence in Jerusalem. The green bus was charred, with wires dangling everywhere. One side had been blown out and the back half of the roof was blown off. "It's a real nightmare, you can smell the blood," Stephane Ben Shushan, a local shop owner, said. Paramedics were taking away the wounded on stretchers. Others were treated at the scene. People, dazed and crying, wandered around the area.

The Jerusalem police chief, Mickey Levy, said "It was a very serious attack on a bus packed with passengers."

Eli Beer, a paramedic, said victims had been scattered over a wide area. "There were a lot of heavy injuries, a lot of the people who were injured were in bad condition, a lot of people had missing limbs," he said.



FULL ARTICLES

THOUSANDS PROTEST SWEDISH ART EXHIBIT

Thousands protest Swedish art exhibit
By Tommy Grandell
The Associated Press
January 27, 2004

Sweden's prime minister has been bombarded with about 14,000 e-mails from a U.S.-based Jewish human rights group protesting an art exhibit featuring the image of a Palestinian suicide bomber, the government said Tuesday.

The flap threatened to overshadow a three-day international conference in Stockholm on preventing genocide that ends Wednesday.

Israel downgraded its representation at the conference after the Museum of National Antiquities refused to remove a display showing a picture of Islamic Jihad bomber Hanadi Jaradat, who killed herself and 21 bystanders in an Oct. 4 suicide attack in Haifa, Israel.

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said the exhibit glorified a "Palestinian homicide bomber" and Sweden should declare suicide bombings a crime against humanity.

In a letter posted on its Web site last week, the center said Sweden has championed the exhibit under the rubric of artistic freedom.

"But what is Sweden prepared to do for the real victims of terror? No nation has yet had the courage to officially come forward to declare suicide bombing 'a crime against humanity,'" the letter said.

Prime Minister Goeran Persson described the protest e-mails as similar to letter campaigns organized by lobby groups.

"We are subject to this kind of mail bombardment every now and then, but I can't say that it's very effective as a way of voicing an opinion," Persson said, describing the letters as "not very threatening."

Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said the government does not have the right to censure art.

"The government can't influence the museum in its actions, but it's the museum itself that decides what will be shown or not," she said. "We have freedom of expression, and our departments and museums are independent."

Israeli-born artist Dror Feiler, who created "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," said the piece was meant to call attention to how weak, lonely people can be capable of horrible things.

Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel tried Jan. 16 to vandalize the display, which is in a rectangular pool filled with red-colored water.

Museum officials rejected Mazel's calls to remove the exhibit but said they would take down 26 posters with Jaradat's face that were placed in Stockholm subway stations to advertise the exhibition.

But Israel lowered its representation at the genocide conference as a result of the flap, sending a diplomat instead of Israeli President Moshe Katzav.

On Tuesday, Persson attended a candlelight ceremony for Holocaust victims in downtown's Raoul Wallenberg Square.

"This is a possibility to reflect on how cruel people can be to each other," Persson said.

"The Holocaust wasn't the end of genocide. I just have to mention Rwanda, I just have to mention Srebrenica. In our time, we are not exempt from attacks against the values of humanity."

Persson also attended a Holocaust memorial service amid tight security at the Stockholm synagogue.

 

MP ATTACKS ISRAEL'S TRAVEL BANS

MP attacks Israel's travel bans
BBC
January 27, 2004

Israeli curbs on travel to Palestinian territories were described as "unlawful and immoral" by an MP on Tuesday.

The restrictions affect media, aid and human rights groups as well as visiting parliamentarians wanting to travel to the occupied territories.

Junior Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell said the Government was "seriously concerned" by the matter. And Labour MP Richard Burdern said: "It is important that British MPs are able to see things for themselves." "These kinds of movement restrictions are not only unlawful, they're immoral," Mr Burden said.

'Serious consequences'

Labour's Michael Connarty urged the government to step up the pressure on Israel, saying the restrictions were "an attempt by the Israeli state to shatter any authority of the Palestinian Authority".

Mr Rammell agreed the travel ban would have "serious consequences for those who are attempting to work and report from the occupied territories".

And he added: "The restrictions could seriously disrupt the supply of essential emergency provisions for the most vulnerable people in the Palestinian territories."

Mr Rammell promised the Foreign Office would continue to work "vigorously" to resolve the problem.

 

TEN KILLED IN JERUSALEM SUICIDE BOMBING

Ten killed in Jerusalem suicide bombing
News Agencies
January 29, 2004

At least ten people were today killed and another 30 wounded in a suicide attack on a bus outside Ariel Sharon's official residence in Jerusalem.

The green bus was charred, with wires dangling everywhere. One side had been blown out and the back half of the roof was blown off.

"It's a real nightmare, you can smell the blood," Stephane Ben Shushan, a local shop owner, told the Associated Press.

Paramedics were taking away the wounded on stretchers. Others were treated at the scene. People, dazed and crying, wandered around the area.

The Jerusalem police chief, Mickey Levy, said the bomber was in the back of the bus when he detonated the explosives.

"It was a very serious attack on a bus packed with passengers. According to what we know at the moment... we're talking about a suicide bomber."

Mr Sharon was at his farm in southern Israel at the time of the attack. His spokesman, Raanan Gissin, said the attack illustrated why Israel was building its contentious West Bank barrier.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The last attack in Israel was a suicide bombing at a bus stop close to Tel Aviv on December 25 that killed four people. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a radical PLO faction, claimed responsibility.

Palestinian Authority today officials condemned the bombing. "This vicious cycle can only be broken by renewal of a meaningful peace process," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "Otherwise, violence will breed violence, bullets will breed bullets."

The bus was moving slowly in heavy traffic when the explosion went off.

Eli Beer, a paramedic, said victims had been scattered over a wide area. "There were a lot of heavy injuries, a lot of the people who were injured were in bad condition, a lot of people had missing limbs," he said.

Bret Stephens, editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, was near the scene at the time of the blast. "There was glass everywhere, human remains everywhere, shoes, feet, pieces of guts. There were pieces of body everywhere."

The explosion, which coincided with a German-brokered prisoner swap between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbullah, came less than 24 hours after eight Palestinians were killed in an Israeli army raid on a Gaza City suburb.

It is a further setback to international efforts to resume peace talks. Two officials from the US state department were meeting the Israeli defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, at the time of the blast.

The blast was the deadliest since a female suicide bomber killed 21 people at a seaside restaurant in Haifa on October 4.


As edited by... “The International Herald Tribune”

January 28, 2004

CONTENTS

1. BBC Chairman resigns
2. As edited by… the IHT
3. IHT's photo choice
4. New York Times' own bias against Israel
5. "As Edited by... 'The Herald Tribune'" (Jerusalem Post, January 27, 2004)



[Note by Tom Gross]

BBC CHAIRMAN RESIGNS

The Chairman of the Board of Governors of the BBC resigned today after a judicial enquiry in Britain made scathing criticism of the BBC's bias against America and her allies in its coverage of the Iraq war. BBC reporters today said they were "staggered" by the degree to which they had been criticized. Their bias against America, however, pales when compared to the bias of their news reporting against Israel.

"THE IHT OFTEN SUBTLY ALTERS NY TIMES COPY TO MAKE ITS READERS DISLIKE ISRAEL MORE"

I attach an article by Evelyn Gordon, who has worked for both The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz, outlining how, since the International Herald Tribune came under the full control of New York Times last year (after the Times bought out the Washington Post's share), it has begun altering New York Times copy in an effort to make Israel look worse.

"Anyone puzzled by the vast difference between European and American attitudes toward Israel ought to spend some time comparing two newspapers: The New York Times and the Paris-based International Herald Tribune," writes Gordon.

"... IHT articles are credited to the Times and appear under Times reporters' bylines. But it turns out that IHT editors often "improve" the Times copy a bit. The adjustments are minor in terms of the amount of text changed, yet sufficient to give the reader a completely different understanding of events... the IHT often subtly alters Times copy to make its readers dislike Israel more."

(The full article, with examples of edited text by the IHT, is attached below.)

CHOICE OF IHT PHOTOS ALSO GEARED TO STIR PASSIONS AGAINST ISRAEL

Tom Gross adds:

The New York Times-owned IHT, aimed mainly at audiences in Europe and Asia, also regularly runs photos that don't correspond with its accompanying stories – photos designed to paint Israel in a more menacing light.

For example, on January 14, 2004, a Palestinian mother, blackmailed into becoming a suicide bomber rather than face death through honor killing after she was caught cheating on her husband, murdered four Israelis at the checkpoint through which Palestinian workers cross into Israel from Gaza.

The next day, January 15, 2004, instead of showing a photo of the bomb scene, or its victims, or the perpetrator, the IHT ran a huge photo across most of the top of its front page of an Israeli soldier pointing a gun at Palestinian laborers, and another large photo at the top of page 4 showing another Israeli soldier, gun in hand, near unarmed Palestinian civilians. The IHT's story on the bombing made no references to the identity of the victims. The photos, which took up considerably more space than the text of the articles, bore virtually no relevance to the articles, or the previous day's news.

These photos contrast with those used that day by traditionally anti-Israeli newspapers like The Guardian of London and El Pais of Madrid, both of which ran photos of the suicide bomber, gun in hand. The Financial Times ran a photo that day on page one of Israeli medics examining the remnants of the bomber's victims. These photos all came from news agencies to which the IHT subscribes, and could have used.

El Pais also called her a terrorist in its page one headline, a word that the IHT strenuously seeks to avoid using when talking about Palestinian terror, as opposed to other forms of terror (example, headline: "Paris won't release terrorist," IHT page 3, January 17, 2004, in reference to the Lebanese killer of an American military attach้.)

NEW YORK TIMES ITSELF OFTEN UNFAIR TO ISRAEL

Many, particularly outside the U.S., assume that the New York Times is "pro-Israel." In fact, it would be truer to say that the opposite is the case. Those new to this email list may wish to read my own article on this subject from last March:

All The News That's Fit To Print? The New York Times and Israel
www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gross031403.asp

-- Tom Gross


ARTICLE IN FULL

AS EDITED BY... 'THE HERALD TRIBUNE'

As Edited by... 'The Herald Tribune'
By Evelyn Gordon
The Jerusalem Post
January 27, 2004

Anyone puzzled by the vast difference between European and American attitudes toward Israel ought to spend some time comparing two newspapers: The New York Times and the Paris-based International Herald Tribune.

That may seem like an odd statement, since the IHT is owned by the Times and most of its articles are Times reprints – or at least, so the reader would assume, as they are credited to the Times and appear under Times reporters' bylines.

But it turns out that IHT editors often "improve" the Times copy a bit. The adjustments are minor in terms of the amount of text changed, yet sufficient to give the reader a completely different understanding of events.

I discovered this only last month, having never before thought to compare an IHT article to its Times original. What sparked the discovery was a piece in the IHT's December 27-28 edition, entitled "Israeli tactics assure future bombings, Palestinians assert" and credited to the Times. The article's main thrust was that the Israel Defense Forces believes its two-pronged anti-terror campaign – construction of the separation fence and frequent raids aimed at arresting terrorists and destroying bomb-making facilities – has significantly reduced the number of successful attacks.

But the article also claimed that the December 25 bombing at the Geha Junction ended a three-month period that "seemed to be a sort of unofficial cease-fire. In that time, Palestinian radical groups carried out no suicide bombings."

This struck me as outrageous, since a cease-fire implies that no attacks were attempted – whereas, according to IDF statistics, there were no fewer than 22 attempted suicide bombings during that time, all foiled by Israel's security forces. But when I checked the article on the Times Web site in preparation for an angry letter to that paper, I discovered the following:

The Times never referred to this period as a cease-fire.

The Times explicitly mentioned that "numerous terror attempts" had been made during this period and were thwarted by Israel; that entire paragraph was cut from the IHT piece.

The Times did not say that Palestinians "carried out no suicide bombings," giving the false impression that they attempted none; it merely said, correctly, that no bombings took place.

Moreover, the Times article carried a very different – and far more accurate – headline:

"Bombing after lull: Israel still believes the worst is over."

The result is that the average Times reader came away with the following impression: Israel's military activity produced three months in which no Israelis were killed, despite "numerous terror attempts." This activity is thus saving Israeli lives, and therefore potentially justifiable.

But the IHT reader received the opposite impression: Neither the fence nor the raids were justified, since there was an "unofficial cease-fire" and Palestinians were not committing attacks in any case. Moreover, since no attempts took place during this period, Israel's activity did not save a single life.

In short, rather than preventing bombings, Israel is, as the IHT headline asserts, "assuring future bombings" by persecuting the Palestinians for no reason.

The IHT later published a letter from me on this subject, but again with crucial distortions. One sentence was cut altogether: "The version of the article that appeared in The New York Times did mention that 'numerous' attempted attacks were thwarted during this period and did not refer to it as a 'cease-fire.'"

Another sentence – "according to Israeli army statistics, Palestinians attempted to carry out 22 suicide bombings during this time" – was replaced by "according to one count, Palestinians attempted to carry out more than 20 suicide bombings during this time."

Thus the IHT cut both of the sources I cited for my assertion that attacks were attempted – the Times and the IDF - and substituted an unsourced "according to one count." That leaves the reader with the impression that I have no source – I cannot even say according to whose count – and my assertion is therefore not credible.

Since this episode, I have discovered that the IHT often subtly alters Times copy to make its readers dislike Israel more.

On January 2, for instance, the Times ran an article stating that in 1973, the Nixon administration considered invading three Arab countries "if the [oil] embargo, imposed by Arab nations in retaliation for America's support for Israel in the 1973 Middle East war, did not end." The IHT altered this to state that Nixon planned to invade "if tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors continued to escalate after the October 1973 Middle East War or if the oil embargo did not abate."

Moreover, the IHT erased the statement – repeated twice in the Times article – that the embargo was due to America's wartime support for Israel, substituting the statement that it was imposed "to try to pressure the United States and other Western countries to force Israel to withdraw from Arab land."

Thus the Times reader concludes that Nixon was angered by an Arab action, the embargo, which was retaliation for an American action – wartime support for an ally. Israel was clearly involved, but this was primarily an Arab-American dispute.

The IHT reader, in contrast, concludes that Nixon's main concern was not the Arab action, but "tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors"; the embargo gets only second billing. Moreover, the embargo was aimed not at American policy, but at a mysterious Israeli seizure of Arab land whose background – the fact that it was captured in a defensive war – is never explained. In short, the entire crisis was Israel's fault.

Very few people know more about Israel than what they learn from the media. It is therefore not surprising that readers fed on a diet of such subtle distortions view Israel as the villain.

Unfortunately, in Europe the IHT's behavior is the norm rather than the exception.


For and against: the British MP who would be a suicide bomber

January 26, 2004

“HAMAS SICKENED AT BEING LINKED TO LIBERAL DEMOCRATS”

* For and against: Emotive reactions to the British MP for children's issues who says she would consider becoming a suicide bomber

 

CONTENTS

1. "Hamas sickened at being linked to Liberal Democrats"
2. Jews for Justice for Palestinians
3. Her critics shouldn't be so hasty
4. Kilroy and Free Speech
5. The Atkins diet
6. Differing views in South-West London
7. There is no context for "this idiot"
8. Will she crash a plane into her local shopping mall?
9. "Grotesque"
10. It is so "sad" that you have been sacked


FORKED TONGE

[All notes below by Tom Gross]

Fierce debate continues in Britain after Dr Jenny Tonge, a Liberal Democrat Member of the British Parliament, continues to stand by her comments – even after being sacked on Friday as the party's parliamentary spokesman for children's issues – that were she a Palestinian, she would consider becoming a suicide bomber.

Although subscribers to this email list in Britain (making up perhaps 5 per cent of the list) will be familiar with much of this, others may want to read the full range of opinion included in this email to gain an insight into the extraordinary debates in twenty-first century Europe regarding the rights and wrongs of murdering Jews through terrorist acts.

 

“A VETERAN COMMUNITY DOCTOR”

Dr Tonge is described in today's Guardian as "a veteran community doctor" and "a pragmatic liberal." The paper reports that rank-and-file Liberal Democrats are petitioning for Jenny Tonge to be reinstated on the party's front bench in parliament. The Liberal Democrat deputy chairman, Donnachadh McCarthy, told the paper that "The sacking of Jenny Tonge has been greeted with dismay across wide sections of the party."

In contrast, Michael Ancram, the Conservative Party deputy leader, said her comments would "sicken those across the world who have lost loved ones to suicide bombers".

 

SHE WAS “SPEAKING FROM THE HEART”

Richard Burden, chairman of the British parliamentary all-party Palestinian Group said: "She should not have said it in those terms. But she was being straight and honest and speaking from the heart."

Following the controversy, Dr Tonge has defended her comments on the BBC's Newsnight program, saying she could "fully understand where they [the suicide bombers] are coming from," and on Sky News: "I guess if I was in their situation with my children and my grandchildren and I saw no hope for the future at all... I might just think about it myself."

 

GAZA AND THE WARSAW GHETTO

Previously, in June 2003, Dr Tonge compared the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazis' segregation of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto.

Dr Tonge (and those cited, below, who defend her in The Guardian and The Independent) have failed to explain how two of last year's suicide bombers who murdered Israelis at Mike's Place bar on the Tel Aviv beachfront, came from well-off families from Derby in the British Midlands.

 

JORDANIAN FM TODAY: ARAB POLITICIANS MUST CONDEMN PALESTINIAN SUICIDE BOMBERS

Dr Tonge will no doubt be disappointed by today's statement from the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Marwan Muasher, who said Arab states need to explain their peace proposals to Israelis and take a "clear, unequivocal stand against suicide bombs." Muasher declared at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland: "We have not told the average Israeli citizen that suicide bombs are wrong from a moral and political point of view."

Dr Tonge has yet to give an opinion about a massive suicide bombing planned for central Tel Aviv which was thwarted, according to Israel radio today. The would-be bomber, Ahmed Ashkar, 18, of Yasser Arafat's Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, has been arrested by Israel (not, needless to say, by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.)

One wonders, too, what she makes of the murder today of Palestinian "collaborator" Nidal al-Dabbik, 27, by the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

 

SUMMARIES

I attach the following articles and letters, with summaries first:

“HAMAS SICKENED AT BEING LINKED TO LIBERAL DEMOCRATS”

A humorous piece by Daily Telegraph Parliamentary sketchwriter, Frank Johnson: "... Less widely reported was that a Palestinian suicide bomber caused equal outrage by saying that, were she British, she might just become a Liberal Democrat MP. She was immediately called in by the Hamas chief whip and had her bomb withdrawn. A Hamas spokesperson said: "Her comments would have sickened those Conservatives across England who over the years have lost seats to Liberal Democrats." The bomber had said: "I do not condone Liberal Democrat policies, but I do understand, having been to Britain and seen the way that Britons have to live, why people there adopt this most desperate of actions of joining the Liberal Democrats, and in some cases, voting for them..."

 

“JEWS FOR JUSTICE FOR PALESTINIANS”

The Guardian publishes no less than 11 readers' letters on the same day (January 24, 2004) on this subject. First among them, not surprisingly for The Guardian, was the one from Irene Bruegel of "Jews for Justice for Palestinians," who instead of condemning suicide bombs, writes of the "the human rights abuses, daily humiliations and overwhelming frustrations witnessed in the occupied territories" and "Israel's inhumane and illegal operations."

Other letters follow from Betty Hunter, General secretary, Palestine Solidarity Campaign; and from Maggie Hamilton who criticizes the Israeli embassy in London for saying they wouldn't "expect any human being to express an understanding of such atrocities"; and from Dr Brian Robinson who also fails to condemn Palestinian suicide bombs, but writes: "As a secular Jew, I fear that if the Jewish community continues to defend the indefensible and continues to censure anyone who dares to raise legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy, then it's simply in danger of increasing the very anti-semitism it claims to be trying to prevent."

 

HER CRITICS SHOULDNT BE SO HASTY

"A necessary argument," (Leading article, The Guardian, January 24, 2004). "Killing people is wrong. Full stop. But it is clearly also sometimes possible to understand why people do it. On occasion, though without ever condoning the killing, it is even possible to sympathise with what drove them to it... Many people, especially those with experience of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, will agree with her... she was right to stand by her comments yesterday. What she said may have struck many as wrong, but that does not justify her dismissal from her party's frontbench, or the sweeping condemnation in which some of her critics too hastily indulged yesterday."

 

KILROY AND FREE SPEEECH

"Call yourself a liberal, Mr Kennedy?" (Leading article, The Independent, January 24, 2004). The Independent, the only British daily paper edited by a Jew, and one of the most viciously anti-Israel newspapers in the world, writes in its editorial: "Charles Kennedy should be ashamed of himself. The Liberal Democrat leader sought yesterday to distance himself and his party from the comments of Jenny Tonge, the Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park... That Mr Kennedy, the leader of the party perhaps most committed to the ideal of free speech, should discipline Ms Tonge for expressing a personal opinion that should in any case be uncontroversial is a terrible mistake. He should have defended to the last her right to speak her mind."

[Tom Gross adds: These comments are in striking contrast to calls in the Independent and throughout most of the British media for the sacking of BBC talkshow host Robert Kilroy-Silk, for his remarks about Arabs – see the dispatch of January 14, 2004, titled "The BBC's Arab problem."]

 

THE ATKINS DIET

"Atkins diet, Suicide bombs and others" (Letters to the Independent, January 26, 2004). [Tom Gross adds: Even by the Independent's standards the lumping together of letters about the Atkins Diet, suicide bombs, and off-piste skiing accidents, under this single headline may be considered insensitive.]

Rabbi Ian Morris, Chairman of the Reform Rabbis of Great Britain, writes: "Your leader asserts that Charles Kennedy should be ashamed of himself for removing Jenny Tonge from the Liberal Democrat front bench. On the contrary, it is you who should be ashamed... Dr Tonge asserted that she did not regard suicide bombing as being so immoral as to be beyond the boundaries of defensible behaviour. That is what saying "I might just consider it myself" means.

... Suicide bombing is not political discourse. Nor is it ever a moral option. Nor is it a weapon of war or resistance when used against civilians in restaurants or discotheques or skyscrapers. It is a weapon of hate, calculated to punish those who have the temerity to seek peace, be they Arabs or Jews, or the West in general. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians was in sight when the suicide bombers, whom Jenny Tonge so feelingly understands, deliberately and cruelly blew it to bits..."

Michael Lewis writes: "Jenny Tonge has attempted to explain suicide bombing on the basis of the desperation of the Palestinian people... There are many desperate people on this planet and they don't resort to suicide bombing. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela reached their objectives quite differently.

... Jenny Tonge is indulging in rationalisation, not explanation. Every act in the world can be rationalised. Stalin's slaughter of millions of Russians can be rationalised on the basis that he felt the industrialisation of Russia was a priority. Adolf Hitler's Germany was humiliated and desperate too. If a man finds his wife cheating on him does he not have the right to beat her?

... What is wicked about Jenny Tonge's comments is not the rationalisation she has employed but the fact that she has chosen this subject to rationalise. We don't choose to rationalise the gulags, Hitler, domestic violence or any other of the world's unconscionable brutalities against innocent people... Terrorism is defined not by its cause but by its method. Many terrorist organisations have valid grievances. Osama bin Laden is right (and agrees with George W Bush) that Saudi Arabia is a corrupt and despotic regime, yet George Bush's answer is to pressure the Saudis to democratise whereas bin Laden's is to slaughter its innocents. Ms Tonge lacks the insight to understand the difference."

Richard Frost writes: "Jenny Tonge was perfectly justified. I've just spent two months in Nablus... I suspect that I would be likely to do something terrible."

 

DIFFERING VIEWS IN SOUTH-WEST LONDON

E-mail received from Edward Davey, MP for Kingston & Surbiton, the neighboring parliamentary constituency to Dr Tonge's: "I was shocked to hear Jenny's statement... I do not share her views at all, and condemn in the strongest possible terms..."

 

THERE IS NO CONTEXT FOR "THIS IDIOT"

Carole Malone (The Sunday Mirror, January 25, 2004): "Jenny Tonge, who was the Lib Dem's spokeswoman on children's issues until she was sacked for her stupidity, has refused to apologise for saying that if she was a Palestinian she would consider becoming a suicide bomber. So let's get this right. An MP who had responsibility for children's issues says if she was a Palestinian she'd be willing to strap explosives to her body, walk into a crowded restaurant and blow women and children to bits.

The idiotic Tonge – who is also, incredibly, a doctor – insists we must put what she says into context. Well, I'm sorry, but there is no context for these facile, inflammatory remarks. Terrorism solves nothing and it must never be used as an excuse for ANY cause. Miss Tonge's party acknowledges this, as does the Government. If she doesn't understand that, it's time she shoved off out of politics now."

 

WILL SHE CRASH A PLANE INTO HER LOCAL SHOPPING MALL?

Peter Dobbie, Mail on Sunday, (January 25, 2004): "Jenny had a good frontbench job with the Lib Dems which, after her outburst, she has lost. Hopefully she will now have more time to attend to the mundanities of her constituents... In doing so, she might reflect that the skies above her [South-west London] constituency are some of the busiest in the world. Whenever there is a terrorist alert we cast an anxious glance to the heavens and wonder whether one of the aircraft could be a target; whether a suicide bomber might seize control of an incoming or outgoing flight. I wonder then where my MP's sympathies would lie."

 

“GROTESQUE”

Melanie Reid (The Herald, Scotland, January 24, 2004): "We all say extremely stupid things at one time or another... But after pro-Palestinian Lib Dem Ms Tonge declared she could have become a suicide bomber, there was no going back. There is something so utterly crushing, so grotesque, about suicide terrorism that it transcends all hypothesis or metaphor. Discussing it in such terms is repugnant. Sadly, Ms Tonge's rashness will have only harmed the Palestinian cause in Britain."

 

IT IS SO “SAD” THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SACKED

Email from The National Association of British Arabs urging people to write to Dr Tonge in support. The NABA chairman, I K Jalili FRCS FRCO, writes: "I write to extend to you the support of the National Association of British Arabs on the principled stand you have taken and to express our dismay at the action taken against you... It is most unfortunate, and saddening to Arabs everywhere that so few politicians are willing to express the plight of the Palestinians as human beings, perhaps because those who did have suffered a similar fate to yours. We shall however continue in our endeavours to highlight the worsening situation in the Middle East and take heart from comments such as yours."


ARTICLES AND LETTERS IN FULL

HAMAS SICKENED AT BEING LINKED TO LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Hamas sickened at being linked to Liberal Democrats
By Frank Johnson
Daily Telegraph
January 24, 2004

A Palestinian suicide bomber caused outrage by saying she might become a Lib Dem MP

Dr Jenny Tonge, the Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, has been sacked as a frontbench spokesman for saying that, were she a Palestinian, she might just become a suicide bomber herself. Michael Ancram, the Conservative deputy leader, for example, said her comments would "sicken those across the world who have lost loved ones to suicide bombers".

Less widely reported was that a Palestinian suicide bomber caused equal outrage by saying that, were she British, she might just become a Liberal Democrat MP. She was immediately called in by the Hamas chief whip and had her bomb withdrawn. A Hamas spokesperson said: "Her comments would have sickened those Conservatives across England who over the years have lost seats to Liberal Democrats."

The bomber had said: "I do not condone Liberal Democrat policies, but I do understand, having been to Britain and seen the way that Britons have to live, why people there adopt this most desperate of actions of joining the Liberal Democrats, and in some cases, voting for them.

"The British are a people who, in parliamentary elections, have to live without any proportional representation at all. No wonder they sometimes resort to desperate measures. To us in Palestine, someone like Charlie Kennedy may be an extreme moderate, and a fanatical moderate.

But it is his sheer need for publicity which drives him to resort to such extreme acts as going on Have I Got News for You. We may be horrified by such a deed, but for many Britons in camps such as Richmond Park, Newbury and Romsey he represents the only hope."

Gordon Brown, asked to comment on her outburst, urged Britons to have nothing to do with Liberal Democrats, whatever the outside interference from Palestine. He reiterated that he preferred to defeat Tony Blair by peaceful means.

 

BLAME AND PRAISE FOR TONGE

Blame and praise for Tonge
Letters
The Guardian
January 24, 2004

Far from encouraging suicide bombing, Jenny Tonge was looking to the roots of the problem: the human rights abuses, daily humiliations and overwhelming frustrations she witnessed in the occupied territories (Lib Dem MP: Why I would consider being a suicide bomber, January 23). Rather than condemn her, we need to build support for the majority of Palestinians who decry terror and for the increasing numbers of Israelis who recognise that Israel's inhumane and illegal operations are the fundamental threat to their security.

Irene Bruegel
Jews for Justice for Palestinians


Jenny Tonge has attempted to explain suicide bombing on the basis of the desperation of the Palestinian people. She is correct that the Palestinians are desperate, but wrong that this is the cause of suicide bombing. Suicide bombing emanates from the wicked, cynical manipulation by terrorist organisations of ordinary people. There are many desperate people on this planet and they don't resort to suicide bombing. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela reached their objectives quite differently.

Michael Lewis
London


Your report omits the context in which Jenny Tonge's statements were made. At a packed meeting on Wednesday in the House of Commons, called to protest Israel's construction of an apartheid wall, we heard speaker after speaker give first-hand accounts of the suffering being inflicted daily on the Palestinian people. Jenny Tonge prefaced her remarks with a strong statement condemning all forms of violence and terrorism. The real news of the night was a ringing condemnation of the wall from Gerald Kaufman MP, who called for economic sanctions against Israel.

Betty Hunter
General secretary, Palestine Solidarity Campaign


So, Jenny Tonge would be a suicide bomber? Where would she realise her ambition? At a bus stop, like the suicide bomber who killed over 20 people in Tel Aviv in December, or at a restaurant where 21 people were blown up by an Islamic Jihad bomber in Haifa? Or would she get on a school-bound bus like the Hamas bomber who killed 23 in August?

Michael Dickson
London


Jenny Tonge's inflammatory comments not only illustrate the growing sympathy for terrorists, but encourage a greater hatred towards Israel. These suicide bombers only deepen the plight of the Palestinians and create a greater barrier against achieving peace.

Yossi Board
Helsinki, Finland


Jenny Tonge did not say that she sympathised with suicide bombers. She empathised with them, a very different situation altogether. To empathise means to have tried to stand in another's shoes.

Maggie Churchward
Sydney, Australia


When I see the dreadful carnage caused by suicide bombers I can understand why Israelis feel like shelling Palestinian homes to destruction and shooting peace protesters. That does not mean that I am promoting or condoning such barbarities any more than Jenny Tonge is supporting terrorism.

John Birtwistle
Weymouth


What is the difference between killing for wages and killing out of desperation? As far as I can see, the only difference between an RAF pilot dropping cluster bombs on Iraq and a Palestinian suicide bomber is that the former kills people with very little threat to his own life, while the latter kills people in the certain knowledge of their own death.

Malcolm Povey
Bournemouth


It is ironic that in the same week that suicide among the prison population in England causes banner headlines and a call that something must be done, we see the knives out for somebody having the temerity to say what is in their heart concerning other people driven to suicide. The Palestinian youth have been betrayed by everyone from the UN to their own politicians and those who would exploit their anguish.

P Chesters
Wallasey, Wirral


So the Israeli embassy wouldn't "expect any human being to express an understanding of such atrocities". This lack of insight is precisely why the bombings will continue. Israelis must recognise their responsibility in creating the conditions whereby people are driven to such levels of desperation and frustration. And it's time our own politicians understood that they fuel this despair by their refusal to take active measures to stop Israel's land-grab.

Maggie Hamilton
London


As a secular Jew, I fear that if the Jewish community continues to defend the indefensible and continues to censure anyone who dares to raise legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy, then it's simply in danger of increasing the very anti-semitism it claims to be trying to prevent.

One of Jenny Tonge's most important points is being completely ignored - the fact of Israeli illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the repressive measures that accompany it. Tonge has done us all a service – including the Jewish community, which should be thanking her for her insight, not castigating her.

Dr Brian Robinson
Milton Keynes

 

A NECESSARY ARGUMENT

A necessary argument
Leading article
The Guardian
January 24, 2004

Killing people is wrong. Full stop. But it is clearly also sometimes possible to understand why people do it. On occasion, though without ever condoning the killing, it is even possible to sympathise with what drove them to it. As a poll over Christmas by the Today programme showed, a large number of people in this country think they understand why the Norfolk farmer Tony Martin killed the burglar who broke into his house. Many of them – including several MPs – even think he was right to do it. We disagree with them. But that does not mean that Mr Martin's supporters are outside the bounds of civilised debate, or that any MP who speaks up for Mr Martin should be treated like a parliamentary leper.

Exactly the same argument applies to Jenny Tonge, the Liberal Democrat MP, whose comments on Palestinian suicide bombers triggered such a predictable furore yesterday. What she said was this, as reported: "This particular brand of terrorism, the suicide bomber, is truly born out of desperation. Many many people criticise, many many people say it is just another form of terrorism, but I can understand and I am a fairly emotional person and I am a mother and a grandmother. I think if I had to live in that situation, and I say this advisedly, I might just consider becoming one myself. And that is a terrible thing to say."

It is indeed. Dr Tonge does not condone suicide bombings, as she made clear at the time and again yesterday. Her comments were also carefully framed. They were sensitive, up to a point, about the issues involved. Many people, especially those with experience of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, will agree with her, though that is not in itself a justification, just as others are appalled by what she seems to imply. What is beyond doubt is such views are an unavoidable fruit of a bitterly controversial issue. In that sense she was right to stand by her comments yesterday. What she said may have struck many as wrong, but that does not justify her dismissal from her party's frontbench, or the sweeping condemnation in which some of her critics too hastily indulged yesterday.

 

CALL YOURSELF A LIBERAL, MR KENNEDY?

Call yourself a liberal, Mr Kennedy?
Leading article
The Independent
January 24, 2004

Charles Kennedy should be ashamed of himself. The Liberal Democrat leader sought yesterday to distance himself and his party from the comments of Jenny Tonge, the Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park.

Yet what Ms Tonge said on Wednesday was unexceptional. She said the violence and humiliation suffered by Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli state "made me understand how people can become suicide bombers".

The outrage expressed by the Israeli embassy and the Conservative foreign affairs spokesman, and endorsed by Mr Kennedy in sacking her, is misplaced. It speaks of a lack of faith in the struggle against terrorism that any attempt to understand the motives of those engaged in it is automatically condemned as support for them.

Yes, she did personalise her comments by saying that, if she had to live in the Palestinians' situation, she "might just consider" becoming a suicide bomber herself. But it takes a pretty sad kind of literalism to interpret this as support. Ms Tonge was quite clear yesterday: "That doesn't mean to say I condone suicide bombers. I don't. I think it's appalling and loathsome."

Yet, as she also said, "we have to try to understand where they are coming from". If we do not make that basic effort of imagination, we risk the kind of counter-productive repression that has so often failed against terrorist movements in the past. If the Israeli government does not see how the roots of suicide bombing lie in the toxic soil of national humiliation and perverted religiosity, it is less likely to be able to prevent further atrocities."

To make such a point does not remotely mean that Ms Tonge or anyone else who tries to understand suicide bombers believes that everything done by the Israeli state is wrong.

That Mr Kennedy, the leader of the party perhaps most committed to the ideal of free speech, should discipline Ms Tonge for expressing a personal opinion that should in any case be uncontroversial is a terrible mistake. He should have defended to the last her right to speak her mind.

 

ATKINS DIET, SUICIDE BOMBS AND OTHERS

Atkins diet, Suicide bombs and others
Letters to the Independent
January 26, 2004

Sir: Your leader (24 January) asserts that Charles Kennedy should be ashamed of himself for removing Jenny Tonge from the Liberal Democrat front bench. On the contrary, it is you who should be ashamed of your bizarre position and apparent failure to comprehend a simple, fundamental moral argument.

Nobody would argue with the proposition that there is a need to understand people's motivations in all situations. But that is not what is being discussed here. It is that Dr Tonge asserted that she did not regard suicide bombing as being so immoral as to be beyond the boundaries of defensible behaviour. That is what saying "I might just consider it myself" means.

Is it acceptably moral to assert that I may hijack an airliner and fly it into a skyscraper for any reason whatsoever? Is it acceptably moral to consider detonating an explosive belt in an Arab restaurant where Arabs and Jews are socialising together? I do not need to rehash each incident you have reported in these pages.

Suicide bombing is not political discourse. Nor is it ever a moral option. Nor is it a weapon of war or resistance when used against civilians in restaurants or discotheques or skyscrapers. It is a weapon of hate, calculated to punish those who have the temerity to seek peace, be they Arabs or Jews, or the West in general. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians was in sight when the suicide bombers, whom Jenny Tonge so feelingly understands, deliberately and cruelly blew it to bits.

Shame on you for losing sight of so fundamental a reality. Shame on Jenny Tonge for failing to identify suicide bombers as killers of peace as well as people. Respect for Charles Kennedy for asserting the primacy of a morality which, disturbingly, you do not appear to share.

With damaged, but fervent, hopes for a just and respectful peace for all parties in the Middle East.

Rabbi IAN D MORRIS
Chairman, Assembly of Rabbis of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, Leeds

Sir: Jenny Tonge has attempted to explain suicide bombing on the basis of the desperation of the Palestinian people. She is correct that the Palestinian people are desperate but wrong that this is the cause of suicide bombing. Suicide bombing emanates from the wicked manipulation by terrorist organisations of ordinary people (often children). It tends to increase when peace prospects and therefore hope are rising.

There are many desperate people on this planet and they don't resort to suicide bombing. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela reached their objectives quite differently.

Jenny Tonge is indulging in rationalisation, not explanation. Every act in the world can be rationalised. Stalin's slaughter of millions of Russians can be rationalised on the basis that he felt the industrialisation of Russia was a priority. Adolf Hitler's Germany was humiliated and desperate too. If a man finds his wife cheating on him does he not have the right to beat her?

What is wicked about Jenny Tonge's comments is not the rationalisation she has employed but the fact that she has chosen this subject to rationalise. We don't choose to rationalise the gulags, Hitler, domestic violence or any other of the world's unconscionable brutalities against innocent people. By simply raising suicide bombings in this manner she is giving them credibility even though she says she is opposed to them.

Terrorism is defined not by its cause but by its method. Many terrorist organisations have valid grievances. Osama bin Laden is right (and agrees with George W Bush) that Saudi Arabia is a corrupt and despotic regime, yet George Bush's answer is to pressure the Saudis to democratise whereas bin Laden's is to slaughter its innocents. Ms Tonge lacks the insight to understand the difference.

MICHAEL LEWIS
London NW8

Sir: Jenny Tonge was perfectly justified. I've just spent two months in Nablus and the experience of occupation is dreadful: it is like living with filth in the house, the heart and the mind and never feeling free or clean. After ten years of that, I suspect that I would be likely to do something terrible.

RICHARD FROST
Appleby, Cumbria

Sir: A few days ago it was Kilroy and his remarks about Arabs – sacked by the BBC. Now it's Jenny Tonge's turn - sacked by the Liberal Democrats for her comments on Palestinian suicide bombers. Is this the end of free speech as we know it?

Political parties and the media seem to be embarking on an orgy of self censorship. If this goes on the range of permitted expression within political debate will become so narrowed as to be pointless.

Jenny Tonge did not condone or support suicide bombings or terrorism of any kind. The Liberal Democrat leadership seems to have panicked. The sacking of Jenny is a cowardly disgrace and sends a message of despair to all those who hope for some robust honesty in the political life of our country and especially from the Lib Dems.

ALASDAIR GIBSON
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Sir: Sam Green (letter, 24 January) may well be right to suggest that Hamas and Islamic Jihad provide the warped ideological justification for the actions of suicide bombers. However, the actions of the Israeli government serve as a very effective recruiting sergeant.

When Israel builds a "fence" ostensibly for its security, but which in effect annexes many square kilometres of Palestinian territory and treats Palestinians brutally when they protest, it is hardly surprising some misguided individuals resort to such extreme actions. In subjecting the inhabitants of towns and cities to air attack and punishment demolition of the houses of families of bombers, Israel is ensuring that in this atmosphere of hopelessness another generation of young Palestinians will become cannon fodder for the extremist clerics.

Jenny Tonge was absolutely right to raise the issue.

TIM COLE
Ilford, Essex

 

E-mail received from Edward Davey MP as follows:

Dear [name deleted],

I understand exactly why you have sent this message.

I was shocked to hear Jenny's statement, and will be discussing my concerns directly with her.

I would be grateful if you could make clear to anyone you speak to that I do not share her views at all, and condemn in the strongest possible terms all violence, terrorism and suicide bombers. There are no excuses.

Yours,
Edward Davey, MP for Kingston & Surbiton

 

Email from The National Association of British Arabs

Dear Friend

You will today have heard of the comments made by Dr Jenny Tongue, Liberal Democrat MP. It is with great sadness that we learn that she has been sacked from her front-bench position because of those comments.

NABA's Chairman, Dr Ismail Jalili has written the letter below to her and would urge you to please write to both her and the Liberal Democrats expressing support for her.

If you do not wish to write a letter you can email your comments via either the House of Commons website: www.locata.co.uk/commons or via the Liberal Democrats website: www.libdems.org.uk

Or directly to –
Jenny Tonge MP
The Old Station Works
119-123 Sandycombe Road
Richmond
TW9 2ER
tonge@cix.co.uk

From NABA
23 January 2004

Rt Hon Dr Jenny Tongue MP
Liberal Democrat for Richmond
House of Commons
London
SW1A

Dear Dr Tongue

I write to extend to you the support of the National Association of British Arabs on the principled stand you have taken and to express our dismay at the action taken against you.

We fully appreciate that your comments do not in any way support suicide bombers but rather express the utter despair and lack of hope felt by Palestinians of ongoing generations at the worsening situation in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The lack of any progress on the much touted 'Road Map' or any other solution only reinforces the Palestinians belief that they are conveniently forgotten by the outside world.

It is most unfortunate, and saddening to Arabs everywhere that so few politicians are willing to express the plight of the Palestinians as human beings, perhaps because those who did have suffered a similar fate to yours. We shall however continue in our endeavours to highlight the worsening situation in the Middle East and take heart from comments such as yours.

With kind regards

Yours sincerely

I K Jalili FRCS FRCO
Chairman

cc Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP
Rt Hon Menzies Campbell MP
Lord Dholakhia

N A B A, The National Association of British Arabs
Tel/Fax: ++44 (0)1780 765 655
Address: PO Box 77, Stamford PE9 2WQ, UK.
EMAIL: naba@BritishArabs.com

NABA is an independent British organisation working for the interests of the Arab community within Britain.


Sweden 3: Pro-Palestinian suicide bomber posters removed from subway stations

January 22, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Swedish museum to remove suicide bomber posters" (AP, January 20, 2004)
2. "Israel's Participation in the Stockholm Conference on Genocide" (Israel FM Press Release, Jan. 21, 2004)
3. "Holocaust education, Swedish-style" (By Efraim Zuroff, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 20, 2004)
4. "It's inciting murder" (By Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, Jan. 22, 2004)
5. "Swedes, Belgians told not to vote for Israel in Eurovision Song Contest" (Ha'aretz, May 26, 2002)



[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow up to the dispatches of January 19, 2004:

* Sweden 1: The killer as Snow White
* Sweden 2: The ambassador and the artist debate live on Israel radio

I attach five articles, with summaries I prepared first for those who don't have time to read the pieces in full.

 

SUMMARIES

SWEDISH MUSEUM TO REMOVE SUICIDE BOMBER POSTERS

The Associated Press reports (January 20, 2004):

"A Swedish museum official said that he will remove posters showing a Palestinian suicide bomber that were posted in 26 subway stations throughout Stockholm to advertise the exhibit... [But] museum officials said the exhibit itself will continue."

 

ISRAEL'S PARTICIPATION IN THE STOCKHOLM CONFERENCE ON GENOCIDE

Israel Foreign Ministry Press Release, Jerusalem, January 21, 2004:

"Israel has decided to lower the level of its representation at the Conference on the Prevention of Genocide scheduled to take place in Stockholm next week... Israel regrets that the conditions are not favorable to representation on a more senior level... Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivolds called Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom this morning and reiterated the Swedish government's condemnation of all terrorism, especially suicide terror."

 

"HOLOCAUST EDUCATION, SWEDISH-STYLE"

Efraim Zuroff, the world's leading Nazi-hunter, and a longtime subscriber to this email list, writes in The Jerusalem Post (January 20, 2004):

"On the surface, the notion of a European Union member-state condoning the staging of an artistic display glorifying a Palestinian suicide bomber as an event held in conjunction with a conference on preventing genocide seems absurd. In Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, or the Palestinian Authority such a juxtaposition would hardly raise an eyebrow, but how could such a thing take place in Sweden, a country ostensibly committed to human rights and freedoms?

...As it turns out in Sweden's case, however, reputations are one thing, reality quite another, a lesson I learned over almost two decades in my dealings with the Swedish government on several issues relating to the Holocaust... at least 21 suspected Baltic Nazi war criminals were admitted to Sweden toward the end of World War II and have been living there ever since. Among them were several persons who had played a very prominent role in the mass murder of Jews, people such as Oskar Angelus, who established the Estonian Political Police and served as minister of internal affairs in the collaborationist Estonian administration, and Karlis Lobe, who founded the Latvian Security Police battalions and headed the Latvian police in Ventspils.

...In November 1986, we appealed to Swedish prime minister Ingvar Carlsson to launch a full-scale investigation... The Swedish government had no such intention, however. It responded about four months later that although several of the suspects were indeed living in Sweden (the others had already died there), they would not investigate, let alone prosecute, their cases... In fact, a careful reading of the Swedish response reveals the extent of Swedish duplicity... Thus in total contradiction to extensive documentation, scholarship and witness testimony, the Swedes claimed it was impossible to judge from the sources available "how far native collaborators participated in the Germans' genocidal actions."

...[When the Swedish government finally widened their teaching of the Holocaust in 1998] the text prepared by the Swedes almost completely ignored Sweden's role during and after World War II, such as Sweden's refusal to admit Jewish refugees during the 1930s, Sweden's granting permission to Nazi troops to pass through Sweden on their way to occupy Norway, or the fact that Sweden continued to the very end of World War II to supply Germany with the nickel, chrome, and iron necessary to keep the Nazis' war machine functioning... it is perhaps not so surprising that an exhibit lauding a Palestinian suicide bomber would be included as an official event in the framework of a conference on genocide, a direct outgrowth of the original Swedish initiative on Holocaust education."

[A longer version of this article by Dr. Efraim Zuroff can be found in the "Jewish Political Studies Review" [JPSR] (Vol. 14, 3&4, Fall 2002), entitled: "Sweden's Refusal to Prosecute Nazi War Criminals: 1986-2002."]

 

"IT'S INCITING MURDER"

Jonathan Jones reports in The Guardian (January 22, 2004):

"To me, her smile is grotesque. She floats there, the Mona Lisa of mayhem, her photograph forming the sail of a little toy boat on a pool of blood. The pool is half-frozen, and the blood seeps into the pure white snow covering the courtyard garden... Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, has publicly supported his ambassador, with some enthusiasm... Passion is always attractive; reports around the world, especially in the Israeli and American press, have found in Mazel a popular hero, the undiplomatic diplomat.

... But none of these people has gone to Sweden, to look at the installation Snow White and the Madness of Truth... The offending installation - rapidly restored after Mazel's attack - is out of doors, in a courtyard garden. The garden is rather beautiful. [But the exhibit is] horrible, it's sick, but I can't for one moment accept that it is an apology for a suicide bomber. Everyone interprets art differently. That's what makes it art. If this were a propaganda work, the museum would have a case to answer - maybe. But it's not..."

 

SWEDES, BELGIANS TOLD NOT TO VOTE FOR ISRAEL IN [2002] EUROVISION SONG CONTEST

Ha'aretz reports (May 26, 2002):

"The Belgian and Swedish Jewish communities were left fuming by last night's Eurovision song contest, held in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, after their local presenters advised viewers not to vote for Israel's entry, Sarit Hadad. Swedes watching the national TV1 station said that the presenters announced before Hadad appeared that Israel was not even meant to take part in the contest "because of what it is doing to the Palestinians." The Swedish jury did not award any points to Israel."


FULL ARTICLES

SWEDISH MUSEUM TO REMOVE SUICIDE BOMBER POSTERS

Swedish museum to remove suicide bomber posters
The Associated Press
January 20, 2004

A Swedish museum official said Tuesday that he will remove posters for an art exhibition that sparked a diplomatic spat with Israel, but said the display at the root of the controversy will remain.

The man in charge of the exhibition at the Museum of National Antiquities said he will take down posters showing a Palestinian suicide bomber that were posted in 26 subway stations throughout Stockholm to advertise the exhibit.

"This is a personal decision where I as an artistic leader take full responsibility of removing and replacing the posters," Thomas Nordanstad
said.

Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel on Friday vandalized an art installation that featured a portrait of Jihad suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat. She killed herself and 21 bystanders in an October 4 suicide bombing in Haifa.

Mazel said the display, made by Israeli-born artist Dror Feiler, glorified suicide bombers.

Museum officials said the exhibit will go on and the Swedish government declined to interfere, saying it doesn't control the country's museums.

The museum has set up 130 posters advertising the exhibition, but only those carrying the image of Jaradat, will be removed and replaced with another image from the exhibition, Nordanstad said. He didn't say what the replacement image would be.

 

ISRAEL'S PARTICIPATION IN THE STOCKHOLM CONFERENCE ON GENOCIDE

Israel's Participation in the Stockholm Conference on Genocide
(Communciated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
Jerusalem
January 21, 2004

Israel has decided to lower the level of its representation at the Conference on the Prevention of Genocide scheduled to take place in Stockholm next week. Israel will be represented by low-ranking officials only.

Israel regrets that the conditions are not favorable to representation on a more senior level.

Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivolds called Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom this morning. During the conversation, the Swedish minister expressed regret over the incident and reiterated the Swedish government's condemnation of all terrorism, especially suicide terror. She noted the good relations between the two states and the two peoples.

Mr. Shalom made clear to the Swedish foreign minister the deep shock felt by the Israeli people at the inclusion of such a repulsive exhibit at an exhibition connected to a conference on the subject of the prevention of genocide. He called on Sweden to act vigorously to promote relations and understanding between the two states, especially in light of the damage caused by the exhibit to public opinion in both countries.

Considering the importance of the Conference for the Prevention of Genocide, the fourth and final part in a series of conferences initiated by the Swedish prime minister, and the seriousness with which Israel views the fact that the offensive exhibit is still being displayed, it was decided that Israel will be represented at the conference by low-ranking officials, and not on the level that was originally planned.

 

HOLOCAUST EDUCATION, SWEDISH-STYLE

Holocaust education, Swedish-style
By Efraim Zuroff
The Jerusalem Post
January 20, 2004

On the surface, the notion of a European Union member-state condoning the staging of an artistic display glorifying a Palestinian suicide bomber as an event held in conjunction with a conference on preventing genocide seems absurd.

In Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, or the Palestinian Authority such a juxtaposition would hardly raise an eyebrow, but how could such a thing take place in Sweden, a country ostensibly committed to human rights and freedoms?

As it turns out in Sweden's case, however, reputations are one thing, reality quite another, a lesson I learned over almost two decades in my dealings with the Swedish government on several issues relating to the Holocaust.

About 17 years ago the Wiesenthal Center discovered that at least 21 suspected Baltic Nazi war criminals had been admitted to Sweden toward the end of World War II and had been living there ever since. Among them were several persons who had played a very prominent role in the mass murder of Jews, people such as Oskar Angelus, who established the Estonian Political Police and served as minister of internal affairs in the collaborationist Estonian administration, and Karlis Lobe, who founded the Latvian Security Police battalions and headed the Latvian police in Ventspils.

It was already clear then that the names known to us were only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Thus in November 1986, the center appealed to Swedish prime minister Ingvar Carlsson to launch a full-scale investigation - not only of these cases, but also to determine whether any additional Nazi war criminals were living in the country.

Given Sweden's reputation on human rights issues we assumed that the government would understand the severity of the problem and not shirk its responsibility to take action.

The Swedish government had no such intention, however. It responded about four months later that although several of the suspects were indeed living in Sweden (the others had already died there), they would not investigate, let alone prosecute, their cases due to a statute of limitations of 25 years on murder.

Although the prosecution of genocide and/or crimes against humanity should take precedence over local legal obstacles, it was clear that the Swedes preferred to hide behind such arguments in order to evade their responsibility to pursue these cases. In fact, a careful reading of the Swedish response reveals the extent of Swedish duplicity.

Thus in total contradiction to extensive documentation, scholarship and witness testimony, the Swedes claimed it was impossible to judge from the sources available "how far native collaborators participated in the Germans' genocidal actions."

And contrary to the position adopted at the very same time by the US, Britain, Canada, and Australia - all of whom faced the same problem and had launched full-scale investigations to determine its scope - the Swedes claimed that any attempt to study the entry to Sweden of Nazi war criminals would be "hardly meaningful."

Given Sweden's refusal to deal honestly with the issue, it was naturally surprising to learn of their 1998 initiative to promote Holocaust education all over the world. Yet in this respect as well an examination of the material being used showed quite clearly that although the Swedes had no trouble dealing with Nazi crimes, they had no intention of confronting their own complicity in assisting Nazi Germany during World War II, or their failure to deal with the Holocaust perpetrators living in Sweden after the war.

Contrary to all educational logic and methodology the text prepared by the Swedes almost completely ignored Sweden's role during and after World War II, thereby sparing their schoolchildren any meaningful debate or discussion of such important topics as Sweden's refusal to admit Jewish refugees during the 1930s, Sweden's granting permission to Nazi troops to pass through Sweden on their way to occupy Norway, or the fact that Sweden continued to the very end of World War II to supply Germany with the nickel, chrome, and iron necessary to keep the Nazis' war machine functioning.

Under these circumstances, and given Sweden's decades-long political and material support for the Palestinians - often at Israel's expense - it is perhaps not so surprising that an exhibit lauding a Palestinian suicide bomber would be included as an official event in the framework of a conference on genocide, a direct outgrowth of the original Swedish initiative on Holocaust education.

In this age of the new anti-Semitism, those who belittled the fate of Jewish victims of the Holocaust by purposely ignoring the presence of those who killed them in their land, today choose to be utterly oblivious to the Jewish victims of Palestinian suicide bombers by presenting their murderer as a heroine. They do this in the context of efforts to prevent genocide, using the Israeli origin of the artist as incontrovertible proof of their objectivity.

The writer is director of the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. His study of Swedish policy on the prosecution of Nazi war criminals appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of Jewish Political Studies Review.

 

IT'S INCITING MURDER

It's inciting murder
Jonathan Jones
The Guardian
January 22, 2004

To me, her smile is grotesque. She floats there, the Mona Lisa of mayhem, her photograph forming the sail of a little toy boat on a pool of blood. The pool is half-frozen, and the blood seeps into the pure white snow covering the courtyard garden. People gather in quiet, serious groups; TV cameras attend the Swedish minister of culture as she, too, looks quietly, seriously, at the gory pond.

Art vandalism is always a good story. Art vandalism by an ambassador against an artwork in the country with which he is employed to maintain diplomatic relations is something rarer - a new story. And this one just keeps growing. Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, has publicly supported his ambassador, with some enthusiasm. "I think Zvi Mazel behaved in an appropriate way," Sharon announced. "I called ... and thanked him for his stand against the growing wave of anti-semitism.

Passion is always attractive; reports around the world, especially in the Israeli and American press, have found in Mazel a popular hero, the undiplomatic diplomat, the man who decided to do something more committed than have a quiet word behind the scenes over the smorgasbord. The Jerusalem Post added a nuanced art-critical element by arguing that Israel's ambassador to Sweden should be acknowledged as a performance artist, and that his action was a "moral" work of art worth far more than the "banal" installation he damaged.

But none of these people has gone to Sweden, to look at the installation Snow White and the Madness of Truth by Gunilla Sk๖ld Feiler and Dror Feiler, and see what all the fuss is about. So here I was, in the snow, trudging up to Sweden's equivalent of the British Museum ("But a lot smaller", its director admits). It is not some confrontational contemporary art space - in fact it is best known for its display of Viking rune stones. And so the first thing that strikes you is the excitement in the air. The place is embattled, exhilarated, with artists, publicists, directors and government ministers running around, while Swedes in droves have come to see for themselves why the museum has been declared an enemy of Israel.

The offending installation - rapidly restored after Mazel's attack - is out of doors, in a courtyard garden. The garden is rather beautiful. A tree, winter flowers still in bloom and, at the centre of the enclosed retreat, a rectangle full of blood.

The icy air heightens the impact of what might otherwise seem a fragile work at best. Bach's Cantata 199, Mein Herze Schwimmt im Blut (My Heart Swims in Blood), fills the courtyard with its keening. The beauty of the music completes the bizarre nature of the scene - and I don't mean only the installation, but ourselves as participants, wearing appropriate expressions, wondering what is a suitable response to a pool of blood. Someone explains that the de-icer in the liquid hasn't worked properly, but the lumps of red ice add to the effect.

It's horrible, it's sick, but I can't for one moment accept that it is an apology for a suicide bomber. Everyone interprets art differently. That's what makes it art. If this were a propaganda work, the museum would have a case to answer - maybe. But it's not. It's in very poor taste, if you like, but is there a tasteful way to talk about terrorism? About people disintegrating into bits of flesh? Which is what, to me, that chunky pool suggests.

My feeling about the face at the centre of all this, that of the bomber, is one of gross irony: that she is more famous than the people she killed. That photograph was circulated widely after the atrocity in Haifa last October; we've all seen it before. The flimsy cosmetic prettiness of the picture is what jars. That lipstick.

 

SWEDES, BELGIANS TOLD NOT TO VOTE FOR ISRAEL IN EUROVISION

Swedes, Belgians told not to vote for Israel in Eurovision
Ha'aretz
May 26, 2002

The Belgian and Swedish Jewish communities were left fuming by last night's Eurovision song contest, held in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, after their local presenters advised viewers not to vote for Israel's entry, Sarit Hadad.

Swedes watching the national TV1 station said that the presenters announced before Hadad appeared that Israel was not even meant to take part in the contest "because of what it is doing to the Palestinians."

The Swedish jury did not award any points to Israel. Belgian viewers were also advised not to vote for Israel. Its jury however awarded Hadad two points.

Hadad, who sang "Light a Candle," finished 12th with 37 points. The Latvian song "I Wanna" won the song contest.

Due to the Israeli song's ranking, Israel will participate in next year's contest, to be held in Latvia.

Yoav Ginai, who wrote the lyrics for the Israeli song, told Israel Radio that the delegation was very pleased with the result. "This is a great achievement in light of the difficult situation, and the political nature of the vote," Ginai told the radio.

The Israeli delegation, he said, encountered anti-Israel remarks during their week-long stay in Tallin. "We heard very unpleasant remarks at the hotel and during rehearsals," Ginai said.


Sweden 2: The ambassador and the artist debate live on radio

January 19, 2004

This newsletter is divided into two parts for space reasons. The other email should be read first. A third part can be read here. -- Tom Gross

 

CONTENTS

1. The transcript of an "Interview With Zvi Mazel, Israel's Ambassador In Sweden And Dror Feiler, The Artist" on Israeli Radio Reshet Bet, Jan. 18, 2004

2. Israel government press release, Jerusalem, January 18, 2004


INTERVIEW WITH ZVI MAZEL, ISRAEL'S AMBASSADOR IN SWEDEN AND DROR FEILER, THE ARTIST
IBA RESHET BET, JAN. 18, 2004

ANCHOR: Israel's Ambassador Zvi Mazel. Good morning to you.

ZVI MAZEL: Good morning to you.

ANCHOR: So the morning after, how are the Swedish responding to what you did?

ZVI MAZEL: I still do not have all the Swedish media, but as much as I saw on the internet, the headlines in the newspapers are certainly big.

ANCHOR: A harsh criticism of you?

ZVI MAZEL: Not exactly. There is still talk of the fact that there was an attempt to harm the freedom of art, but there is certainly a discussion in the Swedish media on the problem of Israel, with the Palestinian suicide bombers. There are already people for and against. There is a debate on the issue. A debate which did not not exist before.

ANCHOR: Do you regret what you did?

ZVI MAZEL: No. Regret? Certainly not. Certainly not. This is perhaps not traditional classic diplomacy, as people know, but neither is Israel's condition exactly classic. And therefore, it seems that there is room for other options in such situations.

ANCHOR: Was it spontaneous? Describe to me that moment in which you decided to do what you did?

ZVI MAZEL: The moment, in fact was very short. This was after I saw what I saw, and together with my wife, we both trembled a bit and then I turned to the manager of the event and asked him, and explained the issue to him, and requested that he clear out this exhibit. He said - no. And then I answered him calmly - if so, Sir, I will do here something, and I approached and disconnected the electricity.

At that very moment, it angered me a lot, and I asked -- what will I do? And then I turned to the manager, and then I decided that I would do it. At that moment.

ANCHOR: And indeed, as described, you couldn't breath when you saw this picture? Was it a physical reaction per se?

ZVI MAZEL: There was a reaction of trembling. Certainly a reaction of a certain trembling. A person is standing, fever. The appropriate word in Hebrew is fever. My wife looked at me. I looked at her and around us, people from the embassy were standing, and others. We both trembled with fever and froze, and then the brain began to work, and we were stopped.

ANCHOR: And then you told the managers of the museum that this is the second holocaust starting now?

ZVI MAZEL: Perhaps not in those exact words. I just explained what happens in Israel when a male or female suicide bomber arrives, and I said - this is not the place, this is not the time, and this is certainly not connected to the International Conference which will take place -- how to prevent a genocide. For there is an incitement here to a genocide.

Please take it out, and we will end the issue and terminate it. And then he said - no. And at that moment I said, if that the case, I am going to do something. That's it.

ANCHOR: The criticism actually in Sweden and also in Israel, is that in Israel, you have much support - is that there is a sort of a convention, that you do not harm art, you do not harm the freedom of art, the freedom of _expression, even if you do not agree with the things.

ZVI MAZEL: Yes, and on this, by the way, I was interviewed a lot yesterday, in the Swedish press, and this is one of the issues handled today. What is art? If so, I claim, and I think that a lot agree with me that art is determined by the viewers, watchers. We determine if this is a work of art.

An artist never establishes that this is a piece of art, if he did something, or if it has been placed in museum. The fact that something is placed in the museum does not turn it into a work of art.

A work of art, in German and in Swedish, end in the word 'kuntz', meaning something beyond the acceptable. All in all, there was red water here, which represented blood, and a small ship that sailed, and on it the picture of the female terrorist which turned into a white Snow White.

There was clear political support of terror here.

ANCHOR: But in the eyes of Dror Feiler, good morning to you, by the way Dror Feiler, you with us on the line, true?

DROR FEILER: I am with you on the line.

ANCHOR: Yes. In his eyes --

DROR FEILER: -- that the Ambassador is a liar!

ANCHOR: No. no. no.

DROR FEILER: He is a liar since he himself says completely different things to the Swedish media. He says that he decided against the display before he came to the museum. With an ad he saw in the newspaper, which he did not try to check, which is not an ad, and not a picture from our display. It is someone else's display, by the name of Michael Pon Hauswood, who received consent of the person in charge of the entire exhibition. He did not check the things. He hides the fact -

ANCHOR: What didn't he check? He saw a female terrorist --

DROR FEILER: -- hold on a moment, let me talk. Hold on, hold on a moment --

ANCHOR: -- you allow a terrorist, no no just a moment. Just a moment, I am also allowed to intervene. You display a female terrorist as Snow White with the smile of an angel.

DROR FEILER: -- no, I am not --

ANCHOR: -- which sails in a white ship, and you call it art!

DROR FEILER: -- Excuse me! I am not displaying a female terrorist, named Snow White. I am displaying white hatred which floats on rivers of blood, the same way that the terrorist floated on rivers of blood. In the display there is a plaque that says that the terrorist killed 19 innocent people in Haifa. The names of the terrorist's victims are also in the display. For those who come to the display, there is music by Johan Sebastian Bach that is called 'My heart flies and drowns in blood'.

ANCHOR: But to take the blood of 21 dead and make an artistic display out of it?

DROR FEILER: I want to show the cycle of blood that needs to be broken. Only by breaking the cycle of blood can the two nations live without both of them being victims.

ANCHOR: Can you understand what the ambassador did?

DROR FEILER: I can understand that the ambassador misunderstood the message, even though I think that a diplomat should act better. He is acting like the owner of a stand in some market in the Third World, but I can understand that people don't like and don't understand this. Not everyone can have a big enough ability to understand.

But to start to break things and to try and ruin others things - if this is the kind of democracy that he wants to show from Israel, if he wants to be part of the tradition of burning flesh and of banning artwork, then by all means. If this is what he wants to show Israel is like, then it is a shame. I, personally, am not against Israel. I am for the State of Israel.

ANCHOR: Dror Feiler, I hear that you attend a lot of anti-Israel events and give lectures on Israel's character.

DROR FEILER: This is not true. I attend a lot of events that criticize the policy of the Israeli government. I have nothing against the State of Israel. The Israeli government's current policy is the greatest enemy of the Israeli people. It will result in the idea of a Jewish State not being able to exist. This is because of Israel's policy. I am not inciting to murder and I am not inciting suicide bombers. I am against this 100 percent.

(Crosstalk)

This can ruin people and bring them to a situation that they are so desperate and crazy that they blow themselves up, blow up Israelis and cause irreversible harm to their nation.

ANCHOR: Dror Feiler, I would also like to tell you that the artists here in Israel - Yigal Tumarkin, you know him - he is one of the great artists - say that an artist who presents this type of work should be put in a hospital.

DROR FEILER: I say that when diplomats define what art is, and when artists make medical diagnoses - we are in trouble.

ANCHOR: Mr. Ambassador, are you with us?

Would you like to respond to these things that Dror Feiler said?

ZVI MAZEL: I would like to respond to two things. First of all Dror Feiler is the main anti-Israel activist in Sweden. In the past few years before I got here, he was known as someone who stands outside the embassy and passes out flyers against Israel. He appears in lectures here and he writes articles and it is all against Israel.

Every second word of his about Israel are the words 'apartheid' and 'racism'. He is Israel's number one enemy and everything that he does is Anti-Israel. His work comes from an Anti-Israeli soul and heart. This is one thing.

Secondly, this is not a work of art. The viewers determine what art is. I decide what art is. This is not art. This is perverse art at the most and in my opinion, it is not art at all. It is a political cry to glorify the concept of the suicide bomber.

ANCHOR: All right. Maybe one last sentence, Dror Feiler, before we say good-bye.

DROR FEILER: I am saying it again. Everyone who wants to read the things that I say can easily do so. I am saying this again. Since I came to Sweden, I always said that the Israeli people have a right to self-definition and they have a right to a Jewish state next to a Palestinian state. I have nothing against the State of Israel. I have a lot of things against the State of Israel's policy exactly the same way that I have a lot of things against the Swedish government's policy or the way I might have things against the policies of the German government or the American government or the Russian government. It is legitimate to criticize the State of Israel.

ANCHOR: Thank you.

DROR FEILER: It is a fact that the ambassadors are trying to incite in such a way that will increase Anti-Semitism. They cause simple people in Europe and in the world to say - how can people act in this way?

ANCHOR: Thank you Dror Feiler. Mr. Ambassador, maybe one more sentence.

Do you see what is happening.?

ZVI MAZEL: Maybe Dror Feiler gave me an answer now.

ANCHOR: Do you see in what is happening, a peak in the Anti-Semitism that is washing over Sweden?

ZVI MAZEL: At this stage it is not final. There is an Anti-Semitic movement here which comes mainly from Muslim sources. A few weeks ago, a very harsh report was published on this by the Swedish committee against Anti-Semitism, where it said that Sweden is one of the most severe Anti-Semitic places and 131 complaints were filed to the police by Jews in the past year. Teachers stopped teaching about the Holocaust because Palestinian-Arab Muslim students would stand up and react violently to teaching about the Holocaust. The situation is definitely serious and not good.

ANCHOR: Israeli ambassador in Sweden thanks.

END.

 

Israel government press release

Jerusalem, January 18, 2004
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretary)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last night (Saturday), January 17, 2004, telephoned Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazal and thanked him for his stance against the increasing phenomenon of anti-Semitism and said that Israel supports him in this matter. The Prime Minister added that "we are witnesses to increased anti-Semitism in the world and in Europe specifically. The phenomenon is continuing and is becoming more serious. The government has discussed this in the past and will continue to deal with the issue together with other countries in order to increase activity against anti-Semitism. I believe that Ambassador Zvi Mazal acted correctly as what we witnessed there was so serious that it is forbidden for us to remain silent."

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said: "Freedom of expression does not give anyone the right to justify terror attacks against Israeli citizens. It is unreasonable that an exhibition which is supposed to deal with preventing murder will include an exhibit which identifies with a woman responsible for the murder of dozens of Israelis. This is very dangerous."

The Foreign Minister added that the exhibit "reflects increased European identification with and justification of terror against Israel and demonstrates complete insensitivity and thoughtlessness to the suffering of the citizens of an entire state as well as those who have been injured and lost loved ones in terror attacks. It is common in Europe today, for the tables to be turned and for murderers to be labeled as victims, and that Israel is always guilty.

In contrast to this public/media wave against Israel stands the improved relationships that have been cultivated between Israel and many European governments. There will be those who will condemn the actions of the Israeli Ambassador, and will assert that there are other methods through which to express their opposition to such incidents. However, we do protest, and we will bring these issues to the public agenda, and we caution our partners in Europe, in governments, in academia and in the media.

We must view Ambassador Mazal's action as cry for everyone. His actions will raise the issue of the double standards with which Israel is judged and apathy towards the suffering of Israeli civilians in the face of Palestinian terror.

Just as Israel would not provide shelter, artistic or otherwise, and in doing so justify or generate understanding towards the person that murdered the Swedish Foreign Minister, we also expect that Sweden and any other moral country, would not patronize an artistic exhibit justifying the murder of Israelis.

The exhibit is a violation of the agreement with the Swedish government, whereby the Israeli-Palestinian issue would not be included in the convention on the subject of genocide. This despite the attempts of various organizations to include the Palestinian issue in the convention.

The Swedish Ambassador to Israel will be invited to the Foreign Ministry today to explain how this agreement was violated by the Swedish organizers and how they can justify the insensitivity demonstrated by them towards a friendly country such as Israel.


Sweden 1: The killer as Snow White

CONTENTS

1. "Israeli 'art vandal envoy' condemned" (Pakistan Tribune, Jan. 19, 2004)
2. "Swedish envoy: We cannot constitutionally remove exhibit" (Ha'aretz, Jan. 19, 2004)
3. "Freedom of expression for all" (Ha'aretz editorial, Jan. 19, 2004)
4. "PM, FM charge anti-Semitism in Stockholm art flap" (Ha'aretz, Jan. 19, 2004)
5. "Sharon backs art-wrecking ambassador" (Independent, Jan. 19, 2004)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

This newsletter is divided into two parts for space reasons. This email should be read first. The second part can be read here. A third part can be read here.

As this has not been adequately covered in many newspapers internationally, and particularly in America, here are various developments pertaining to the current Israeli-Swedish controversy.

 

THE MURDERER AS SNOW WHITE

On Saturday night, the Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, damaged an "art exhibit" glorifying a Palestinian terrorist at the Stockholm's Historical Museum. The ambassador dismantled the electrical cables connecting the spotlights and threw one of them into some water.

Titled "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," the exhibit consisted of a small ship carrying a picture of Islamic Jihad bomber Hanadi Jaradat (who was a lawyer and mother of two) sailing, "with the smile of an angel," in a rectangular pool filled with red-colored water. Jaradat killed herself and 22 others, including Israeli Arabs and a number of Israeli Jewish children, in a suicide bombing on October 4, 2003, at Maxim's jointly-owned Jewish-Arab restaurant in Haifa, Israel.

As background music to his exhibit, the "artist," Dror Feiler, mixed music from Bach's 199 Cantata "My Heart Swims in Blood." Tel Aviv-born Feiler is well-known as a self-hating Israeli active in radical circles in Sweden where he lives. His Swedish wife Gunilla Skoeld Feiler, helped create the instillation.

 

SWEDISH GOVERNMENT DEFENDS EXHIBIT, SUMMONS AMBASSADOR

The Swedish government has summoned Mazel to be reprimanded at the Swedish Foreign Ministry today.

 

VIOLATION OF GENOCIDE CONFERENCE AGREEMENT

The exhibit forms part of a three-day "International conference on preventing genocide," which opens on January 26. The conference will be hosted by the Swedish government and include representatives from 60 governments.

The work violates a prior agreement with the Israeli government that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would form part of the conference. As a result Israel says it is considering withdrawing from the conference.

 

THE AMBASSADOR EXPLAINS

Zvi Mazel is unrepentant about his actions. "My wife and I stood there and began to tremble," he told the Israeli Ynet Internet site. "There was the terrorist, wearing perfect makeup and sailing placidly along the rivers of blood of my brothers and the families that were murdered. My whole body trembled when I saw a female terrorist like Snow White in the exhibition."

"Today we have almost daily incidents of anti-Semitism in Sweden. The anti-Semitism in Sweden is severe, unprecedented.. It is not a piece of work, it is a political call to kill Jewish people."

Mazel previously served as Israeli ambassador to Romania and Egypt.

 

THE "ARTIST" EXPLAINS

Dror Feiler told Israel Radio on Sunday that Mazel was "an intellectual midget, his actions were similar to those of a stall owner in a third world country."

When Mazel pulled the plugs on the installation on Saturday night, Feiler approached him angrily, shouting in Hebrew, "You're doing exactly what you do in Nablus. This is a free country and I can say what I want to say here, not like you in your apartheid country."

 

PRESS REACTION IN ISRAEL

Ben Caspit, a leading political commentator, for the newspaper Ma'ariv, writes: "Mazel ought not to have done it, but it is hard to be angry with him. His hand, which pulled out the plug, was the hand of all of us."

 

REACTION OF THE TERRORIST'S VICTIMS

Tova Bahat, whose husband was killed and three-year-old son critically wounded in the Maxim suicide bomb, said: "I'm sorry the artist was not sitting in the restaurant when the bomb exploded."

Ora Regev, whose son Nir was killed in the attack said Mazel "did exactly what needed to be done." "There is a limit to freedom of expression," she said, adding that Feiler has "no right to represent himself as an Israeli."

Orly Almog, who lost five family members in the suicide bombing, said Mazel's act was "100 percent justified."

 

POLITICAL REACTION IN ISRAEL

Minister for Diaspora Affairs Nathan Sharansky said the installation "plays into the hands of those that wish to destroy the Jewish people."

Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said that the Israeli ambassador should be awarded a citation for his action. "If there is a situation in which an ambassador should act in an undiplomatic manner, this is it... I am proud of the ambassador."

Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash Communist party) attacked the Israeli Foreign Ministry for defending what he called Mazel's "reprehensible act of bullying."

 

POLITICAL REACTION IN SWEDEN

Pไr Nuder, who is a minister in the office of G๖ran Persson, the Swedish prime minister, and who will chair the genocide conference, said that the Swedish government could not and would not intervene to force the museum to withdraw the exhibit, saying freedom of expression was important for Sweden.

 

REACTION OF THE SWEDISH HISTORICAL MUSEUM

Historical Museum director Kristian Berg said the ambassador's attack "struck a discordant note with the theme of the conference." He confirmed that the museum "would absolutely continue to exhibit the piece."

"You can have your own view of what this piece of art is all about, but using violence is never, ever allowed, and it is never allowed to try to silence the artist," he said.

Berg told Agence France-Presse that he did not consider the exhibit to be offensive.

 

REACTION OF ISRAEL'S SUPPORTERS IN SWEDEN

S. Lejderman, of Gothenburg, Sweden, said: "I find it very interesting that the Swedish media is outraged over Mazel's behavior but seemingly not at all upset at the female suicide/homicide bomber who murdered four Jews before the Sabbath. She was called a "fighter," Mazel is called a crazed vandal and was booed by the hundreds of people at the installation."

 

ISRAELI EMBASSY THREATENED

Israel Radio reports today that Israel would be vacating the building that has housed its embassy in Stockholm for the last 50 years. The building's owners have demanded that Israel leave after bomb threats were made yesterday.

 

BBC MISINFORMATION AS USUAL

As usual, the BBC gets its facts wrong to Israel's detriment. BBC Online today reports that 19 Israelis died in the Maxim attack, when in fact 22 Israelis died.

 

THE OBSERVER NEWSPAPER SUGGESTS MAZEL IS THE KILLER

The websites HonestReporting.com and LGF.com (Little Green Footballs) add:

The (UK) Observer spun the story 180-degrees, presenting Mazel – not the Palestinian – as the killer: Peaceful Swedes were nearly killed when "an ambassador erupted in violent protest... [Mazel] ripped out electrical wires, grabbed a spotlight and hurled it into a fountain, causing it to short circuit and become a potential death trap."

Dutch television has actual film of Mazel, calmly walking around the exhibit, unplugging the spotlights, and pushing one of the (unplugged) lights into the water. Streaming video is available online ― the segment is about 11 minutes into the show (3/4 through).

 

GREEK "ART"

The idea of glorifying suicide bombers "artistically" is not new. As noted on this email list last year, an exhibition was held in Athens last summer glorifying, in pink lace, an Arab woman, Ayat Al Akra, who blew up Israelis in a Jerusalem supermarket in March 2002.

The "artist" in that case was Alexandros Psychoulis, described in the Greek press as "the distinguished Greek artistic creator and assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture at the University of Thessaly." He said his work was a personal tribute to the bomber's "protest" and was not "meant to be political." The piece was titled "Body Milk." The exhibit was hosted at the A. Antonopoulou Art Gallery.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

I attach five news reports from different countries, with summaries first:

1. "Israeli 'art vandal envoy' condemned" (Pakistan Tribune, January 19, 2004). "The Israeli ambassador to Sweden's angry response to an art exhibit touching on the delicate issue of Palestinian suicide bombers has made the headlines over the weekend. It also triggered a wave of condemnation in the Scandinavian country. A security camera on Friday captured Israeli ambassador to Sweden Zvi Mazel throwing a mounted spotlight at the exhibit in Stockholm's Museum of National Antiquities. Mazel was subsequently asked to leave the premises."

 

2. "Swedish envoy: We cannot constitutionally remove exhibit" (By Yossi Melman, Ha'aretz, January 19, 2004). "The Swedish government is considering issuing a conciliatory note to bring to an end the crisis in relations between the two countries resulting form the controversial art exhibit in Stockholm, according to sources in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and hints offered by Swedish Ambassador Robert Rydberg... Rydberg emphasized that his government had no legal recourse to get the installation removed from exhibit, due to stringent freedom of expression laws in Sweden... Rydberg expressed regret about the incident and hope that Israel does not boycott the event, and called the affair a "misunderstanding."

...Despite the blunt statements of support from the prime minister and foreign minister, diplomatic sources in Jerusalem Sunday were not happy with what they called "the festival of support" for Mazel and his action. The sources said they worried Israeli diplomatic efforts to defend the government's policies toward the Palestinians and territories were adopting a strategy of "losing control," with diplomats dropping diplomatic niceties to adopt unusual and unconventional methods of protest that could harm the reputations of Israeli diplomats."

 

3. "Freedom of expression for all" (Ha'aretz editorial, January 19, 2004). "Zvi Mazel, Israel's ambassador to Sweden, exceeded the bounds of diplomatic ceremony when he unplugged the three floodlights around the work of artists Dror and Gunilla Skoeld Feiler, "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," at the Stockholm Historical Museum... What happened in Stockholm should move the government of Israel to reconsider its participation in the conference on genocide that is to take place in Stockholm. A conference initiated by the Swedish prime minister to take stock of the lessons of the Holocaust should not become a stage for anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment of the type presented in the exhibit."

 

4. "PM, FM charge anti-Semitism in Stockholm art flap" (By Gideon Alon, Ha'aretz, January 19, 2004). "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom yesterday expressed "complete support" for Ambassador Zvi Mazel's outburst at a Stockholm Museum art installation, which he believed glorified a woman who blew herself up in a popular Haifa restaurant last fall, killing 22 people. The prime minister said the ambassador had responded appropriately against anti-Semitism.

...Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said, "It is unreasonable that an exhibition meant to deal with preventing genocide would include an installation that identifies with a woman who murdered dozens of Israelis... Ambassador Mazel's actions must be understood as an outcry from all of us. If it enabled the ambassador to draw attention to the issue of double standards held against Israel and the indifference to the suffering of Israeli citizens from Palestinian terror, that is good." Shalom said the exhibit was a "gross violation" of a prior agreement that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be included as part of the conference discussions."

 

5. "Sharon backs art-wrecking ambassador" (The Independent, UK, By Eric Silver in Jerusalem, January 19, 2004). "...Zvi Mazel, a career diplomat, shouted at the artist Dror Feiler: "This is praise of a suicide terrorist and the whole institution of suicide. Shame on you! You are a clear hater of Israel and dedicate your time to a terror attack and bad-mouthing Israel."

He told Israeli reporters later: "I could not breathe when I saw the photograph of the terrorist, who was represented as Snow White with an angelic smile, sailing on the blood of our children, our families that she murdered. I felt I had to do it because it is the continuation of a succession of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli acts that are taking place here almost every day. As far as I am concerned, Feiler is an extremist and not an Israeli."

Mr Feiler, an Israeli who has lived in Sweden for 30 years, insisted that the sculpture was against violence. He said: "The ambassador caused diplomatic and political damage to the state of Israel by being an intellectual dwarf and behaving like a street peddler."


FULL ARTICLES

ISRAELI "ART VANDAL ENVOY" CONDEMNED

Israeli 'art vandal envoy' condemned
Pakistan Tribune
January 19, 2004

The Israeli ambassador to Sweden's angry response to an art exhibit touching on the delicate issue of Palestinian suicide bombers has made the headlines over the weekend. It also triggered a wave of condemnation in the Scandinavian country.

A security camera on Friday captured Israeli ambassador to Sweden Zvi Mazel throwing a mounted spotlight at the exhibit in Stockholm's Museum of National Antiquities. Mazel was subsequently asked to leave the premises.

Titled Snow White and the Madness of Truth, the exhibit consisted of a small ship carrying a picture of Islamic Jihad bomber Hanadi Jaradat sailing in a rectangular pool filled with red-colored water. Jaradat killed herself and 21 bystanders in an October 4 suicide bombing in Haifa, Israel.

Creator outraged

Dror Feiler, the Israeli-born artist who created Snow White and the Madness of Truth, said it was supposed to call attention to how weak, lonely people can be capable of horrible things.

On Sunday, he explained his point of view to a group of Jewish students from various countries.

"I was very outraged and disappointed because these kind of acts, he was trying to hinder freedom of speech and hinder democratic rules in Sweden. He is a guest in our country and if he doesn't like it he can go away, I think this is the most important thing," said Dror.

Call for debate

While most of the students disagreed with the installation, they pointed out that the ambassador's way of dealing with it was way out of line.

Michal Okret, an 18-year-old born in Sweden of Israeli parents, said that starting a debate would have been a better way of drawing attention to the subject.

18-year-old Martin Szydlowski, from Poland, agreed with her. "I think the ambassador could have made his point clear in another way than destroying the art," she said.

Discordant note

However, in Israel, Mazel's vadalic action encountered approval.

The Swedish government wants Israel's ambassador to explain why he vandalized a museum display he claimed glorified Palestinian suicide bombers.

The ambassador will be asked to explain his attack to the Foreign Ministry next week.

The exhibit opened in connection with an international conference on preventing genocide set for later this month in Stockholm.

Museum director Kristian Berg said the ambassador's attack 'struck a discordant note; with the theme of the conference.'

Mazel would be invited to the museum next week for a discussion about different interpretations of art.

A veteran of Israel's Foreign Ministry, Mazel became ambassador to Sweden in 2002. He has previously served as Israel's ambassador to Romania and Egypt.

 

SWEDISH ENVOY: WE CANNOT CONSTITUTIONALLY REMOVE EXHIBIT

Swedish envoy: We cannot constitutionally remove exhibit
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies
Ha'aretz
January 19, 2004

The Swedish government is considering issuing a conciliatory note to bring to an end the crisis in relations between the two countries resulting form the controversial art exhibit in Stockholm, according to sources in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and hints offered by Swedish Ambassador Robert Rydberg. Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel regarded the exhibit as a glorification of suicide bombers - and protested by deliberately vandalizing the installation's presentation.

Rydberg emphasized that his government had no legal recourse to get the installation removed from exhibit, due to stringent freedom of expression laws in Sweden.

The scandal broke out after Mazel turned off the lights aimed at an installation piece made by former Israeli Dror Feiler, now a Swedish citizen, and his Swedish wife Gunnar. The Swedes - and the artists - say the installation was meant to condemn terrorism, but Mazel, backed by the government in Jerusalem, said the Feiler installation, part of an art exhibit accompanying a prestigious international conference on genocide, glorified the bomber - and violated an prior agreement with the Israeli government that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be part of the conference.

Jerusalem, in any case, is as interested as Sweden in seeing the episode closed, and will be satisfied with an appropriately conciliatory statement by Sweden, to enable the Israeli delegation to attend the conference as planned.

Diplomatic sources in Israel and Sweden Sunday emphasized that Mazel, who was backed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, will be told Monday at the Swedish Foreign Ministry that his behavior was "unacceptable," as a Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

During a meeting with Foreign Ministry Director General Yoav Biran and the deputy director general for Western Europe, Ran Kuriel, Rydberg heard an Israeli complaint about the installation and how its inclusion in the exhibit violated the agreement to keep the Middle East conflict out of the conference on genocide, which opens on January 26.

Rydberg expressed regret about the incident and hope that Israel does not boycott the event, and called the affair a "misunderstanding."

"The whole problem is by and large based on a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation of a piece of art which may very well be in bad taste," Rydberg said after meeting the Foreign Ministry officials.

During the meeting dozens of terror victims' relatives demonstrated near the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Israel Radio reported.

When Mazel pulled the plugs on the installation on Saturday night, Dror Feiler approached him angrily, shouting in Hebrew, "You're doing exactly what you do in Nablus. This is a free country and I can say what I want to say here, not like you in your apartheid country."

The diplomats Sunday worked on a formula to bring an end to the scandal. One possibility is a statement issued by the Swedish government rejecting any interpretation that its agreement to show the exhibit and installation was support for terrorists and emphasize its absolute rejection of such deeds, as well as expressing sorrow over the incident.

Despite the blunt statements of support from the prime minister and foreign minister, diplomatic sources in Jerusalem Sunday were not happy with what they called "the festival of support" for Mazel and his action. The sources said they worried Israeli diplomatic efforts to defend the government's policies toward the Palestinians and territories were adopting a strategy of "losing control," with diplomats dropping diplomatic niceties to adopt unusual and unconventional methods of protest that could harm the reputations of Israeli diplomats.

Rydberg: Artwork is example of bad taste "The piece is about a Palestinian woman having murdered innocent civilians. It mentions the names of the tragic Israeli victims in Haifa. It is not a justification of suicide bombings. It is, in my view, an example of bad taste, but I think the whole issue has been blown out of proportion," Rydberg said.

Click for text accompanying artwork

Mazel was unrepentant about damaging the "Snow White and the Madness of Truth" exhibit at Stockholm's Historical Museum. "My wife and I stood there and began to tremble," he told the Ynet site. "There was the terrorist, wearing perfect makeup and sailing placidly along the rivers of blood of my brothers and the families that were murdered."

The envoy told Haaretz that his protest was not spontaneous; he had planned the act after learning about the exhibit in the local press. He said he could not understand how an exhibition devoted to preventing genocide can feature a work that casts the murderer of 22 Israelis as Snow White. "In my eyes, that's not art; it's abominable," he said.

Curator of the Tel Aviv Museum, Doron Luria, said Sunday that he understood Mazel and that the artwork was an inferior piece of provocation. "The piece is simply not worth all of the excitement.I sympathize completely with the ambassador's actions. There is no place for such an idiotic piece in Stockholm," Luria said.

Feiler told Army Radio Sunday morning that his artwork was misunderstood. "The display itself is against violence. It can be summed up by a biblical quote: 'He who spills human blood shall have his own blood spilled by man,' and this is exactly what we need to put an end to. The Israeli ambassador caused diplomatic and political damage to Israel, and since he is an intellectual midget, his actions were similar to those of a stall owner in a third world country," Feiler said.

Historical Museum Director Kristian Berg said that the exhibit will remain on display. "You can have your own view of what this piece of art is all about, but using violence is never, ever allowed, and it is never allowed to try to silence the artist," he said.

Israeli MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash) attacked the Foreign Ministry on Saturday for defending what he called Mazel's "reprehensible act of bullying."

"The government that uses bulldozers in the territories, demolishes houses and uproots trees also relies on bullying in its diplomacy," Tibi said.

Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi on Saturday said that the Israeli ambassador should be awarded a citation for intentionally damaging the artwork.

"If there is a situation in which an ambassador should act in an undiplomatic manner, this is it," the Likud minister said, adding that he was "proud of the ambassador."

Hanegbi said that Israel's ambassador to Sweden behaved as he did in order to shock public opinion and to emphasize the insanity in which a mass murderer is portrayed as a heroine.

"This is the ambassador's duty, and in [Sunday's] government meeting I will call for him to be awarded a special citation for his actions, even if they were extreme," the minister said.

 

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION FOR ALL

Freedom of expression for all
Ha'aretz editorial
January 19, 2004

Zvi Mazel, Israel's ambassador to Sweden, exceeded the bounds of diplomatic ceremony when he unplugged the three floodlights around the work of artists Dror and Gunilla Skoeld Feiler, "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," at the Stockholm Historical Museum. The exhibit showed a picture of the woman suicide bomber who blew herself up at the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa, killing 21 people.

The terrorist is depicted as Snow White, with the smile of an angel, sailing in a boat in a pool of blood. On a nearby wall, two posters were hung in which the artist's wife, Swedish artist, Gunilla Skoeld Feiler, explains the motives of the terrorist, whom she said suffered as a result of the killing of her brother by the IDF, which aroused in her the powerful need to act. As background music, Feiler selected Bach's Cantata 199, "My Heart Swims in Blood."

The Israeli envoy, an experienced diplomat, made clear to Haaretz that he had planned his protest ahead of time, after the director of the event refused his request to remove the exhibit. According to Mazel, "That's not art, it's abominable."

Feiler, on the other hand, pointed out that the text also spoke of the murder of the innocent. He views what happened as an infringement of the freedom of artistic expression. The ambassador's act made headlines out of the exhibit, and the prime minister and foreign minister hastened to back the ambassador, although his behavior was described by the Swedish Foreign Ministry's spokesman as "unacceptable," a definition that cannot be disputed.

The storm is basically a tempest in a teapot. Politically motivated art, which transmits difficult and sometimes infuriating messages, is an inseparable part of the freedom of expression in democratic countries. If Israel's official envoy had not cut the power, the installation would have remained an unimportant episode. And in fact, that is how it should be viewed, in proper measure.

Sweden and Israel are both democracies, in which freedom of artistic expression is part of general freedom of individual expression. It is the artist's right, no matter what the artistic level of his creation may be, to spread his wings and give freedom to his thoughts. This right has been recognized by rulings of the High Court of Justice, when it urged the Knesset to call off the censorship of plays. Freedom of expression also extends to the freedom to commit symbolic acts of protest. In the U.S., under the heading of freedom of expression comes the act of extinguishing the eternal flame at the grave of John F. Kennedy and the burning of the American flag in protest over the U.S. involvement in wars. Zvi Mazel's act, a departure from chilly protocol, is, in principle, the use of freedom of expression - in all its severity and from within his own truth - as an answer to another expression.

Of course, Mazel acted on his own; his act was not an "act of state." The power of his protest may be understood only against the backdrop of the expressions of hostility in Europe toward Israel and the Jewish people. Such an unacceptable act should not be glorified, as the prime minister did. The Stockholm incident does not have to become a significant diplomatic incident, and expressions of anti-Semitism cannot justify Israel's policies.

What happened in Stockholm should move the government of Israel to reconsider its participation in the conference on genocide that is to take place in Stockholm. A conference initiated by the Swedish prime minister to take stock of the lessons of the Holocaust should not become a stage for anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment of the type presented in the exhibit.

 

PM, FM CHARGE ANTI-SEMITISM IN STOCKHOLM ART FLAP

PM, FM charge anti-Semitism in Stockholm art flap
By Gideon Alon
Ha'aretz
January 19, 2004

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom yesterday expressed "complete support" for Ambassador Zvi Mazel's outburst at a Stockholm Museum art installation, which he believed glorified a woman who blew herself up in a popular Haifa restaurant last fall, killing 21 people. The prime minister said the ambassador had responded appropriately against anti-Semitism.

Sharon opened yesterday morning's cabinet meeting with a statement that he had spoken by phone with Mazel, to thank him for standing up to "mounting to anti-Semitism," and telling him that the government was behind his actions.

Mazel approached the art installation and damaged the presentation by turning off and pushing its bright lights away.

"Mazel behaved properly," he said. "The trend is so outrageous that it could not be ignored without a response.

"I hope - and am sure - that everyone joins me in backing up Mazel," he said, adding that "we are witnessing a rise in anti-Semitism throughout the world and especially Europe and it is getting worse. The issue has come up in this government, and with other countries we are intensifying our activity against anti-Semitism."

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said, "It is unreasonable that an exhibition meant to deal with preventing genocide would include an installation that identifies with a woman who murdered dozens of Israelis.

"Ambassador Mazel's actions must be understood as an outcry from all of us. If it enabled the ambassador to draw attention to the issue of double standards held against Israel and the indifference to the suffering of Israeli citizens from Palestinian terror, that is good."

Shalom said the exhibit was a "gross violation" of a prior agreement that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be included as part of the conference discussions.

The three-day conference opens on January 26, with representatives from some 60 governments around the world invited by the Swedish government to attend, including Israel, which is now tghreatening to stay away.

 

SHARON BACKS ART-WRECKING AMBASSADOR

Sharon backs art-wrecking ambassador
By Eric Silver in Jerusalem
The Independent
January 19, 2004

Ariel Sharon, Israel's Prime Minister, has supported his ambassador to Sweden, who vandalised an installation in a Stockholm exhibition that featured a Palestinian woman suicide bomber.

Mr Sharon said yesterday: "The entire government stands behind him. Our ambassador did the right thing. The phenomenon which we saw there is so grave that it was forbidden not to react to it."

Zvi Mazel, a career diplomat, was attending the opening of a government-sponsored show on Friday with his wife when he took offence at an installation featuring a photograph of the bomber, Hanadi Jaradat, a 29-year-old lawyer who killed 21 Israelis in a restaurant in Haifa last year. The image "Snow White and the Madness of Truth" was floating in a toy boat in a rectangular pool of red liquid. Mr Mazel angrily disconnected the spotlights illuminating the display and flung them into the pool.

Mr Mazel shouted at the artist Dror Feiler: "This is praise of a suicide terrorist and the whole institution of suicide. Shame on you! You are a clear hater of Israel and dedicate your time to a terror attack and bad-mouthing Israel."

He told Israeli reporters later: "I could not breathe when I saw the photograph of the terrorist, who was represented as Snow White with an angelic smile, sailing on the blood of our children, our families that she murdered. I felt I had to do it because it is the continuation of a succession of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli acts that are taking place here almost every day. As far as I am concerned, Feiler is an extremist and not an Israeli. He accepted the Palestinian side and deliberately ignored the Israeli side."

Mr Feiler, an Israeli who has lived in Sweden for 30 years, insisted that the sculpture was against violence. He said: "The ambassador caused diplomatic and political damage to the state of Israel by being an intellectual dwarf and behaving like a street peddler."

Mr Mazel has been summoned to the Swedish Foreign Ministry today and is expected to be reprimanded for undiplomatic conduct.

But Robert Rydberg, the Swedish ambassador to Israel, tried to downplay the incident yesterday. He said: "The piece is about a Palestinian woman having murdered innocent civilians. It is not a justification of suicide bombings. It is in my view an example of bad taste, but I think the whole issue has been blown out of proportion."

Mr Mazel's violent reaction, which he admitted was premeditated, drew widespread support back home. Video footage of the incident was relayed on Israeli television.

Ben Caspit, a political commentator, wrote in the newspaper Ma'ariv: "Mazel ought not to have done it, but it is hard to be angry with him. His hand, which pulled out the plug, was the hand of all of us."

Tova Bahat, whose husband was killed and three-year-old son critically wounded in the explosion, said: "I'm sorry the artist was not sitting in the restaurant and copped it."

Mr Feiler responded: "Although I do not justify the suicide attackers, I can definitely understand them. They have nothing to live for, so they look for something to die for. That is twisted logic, it is absolutely dreadful, but that is their reality, which we are also guilty of creating. Israelis have also committed crimes against Palestinians."


The BBC’s Arab problem

January 14, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "We are falling under the imam's spell" (By Mark Steyn, Daily Telegraph, January 13, 2004)
2. "We owe Arabs nothing," (By Robert Kilroy-Silk, Sunday Express, January 4, 2004.)
3. "Kilroy-Silk is right about the Middle East, say Arabs" (By Ibrahim Nawar, Sunday Telegraph, January 11, 2004)
4. "BBC chiefs accused of 'double standards' over TV presenter" (Sunday Telegraph, January 11, 2004).
5. "Kill-Roy!" (The Sun, January 14, 2004)



[Note by Tom Gross]

The row continues in Britain following the decision by the BBC to take off the air its daytime morning talk show hosted by Robert Kilroy-Silk, after Kilroy-Silk made remarks in the Sunday Express newspaper, which many regard as offensive to Arabs.

AMPUTATING LIMBS AND REPRESSING WOMEN

In his newspaper column, Kilroy-Silk, a former member of the British parliament for Tony Blair's ruling Labour Party, described Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb amputators and women repressors". Kilroy-Silk's secretary has said that she accidentally sent a draft version of the column to the Sunday Express, and that Kilroy-Silk had written "Arab governments" not "Arabs". Kilroy-Silk has publicly apologized for the column.

CALLS TO SEND KILROY-SILK TO PRISON

Despite this, there has been an onslaught of criticism directed at Kilroy-Silk from newspaper columnists, the BBC, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain and others. Britain's quasi-governmental Commission for Racial Equality has referred Kilroy-Silk's article to the police and demanded he be prosecuted. If convicted, Kilroy-Silk faces up to 7 years in prison.

Robert Marshall-Andrews, a Labour MP, said: "I think it is the most loathsome and illiterate article I have ever read in a British newspaper... It may well be bordering on criminality."

VICIOUS CARICATURES

Cartoonists for both The Independent and The Guardian newspapers ran vicious caricatures of Kilroy-Silk.

The Guardian columnist Faisal Bodi wrote that Kilroy-Silk was a "hatemonger... suffice it to say that neither Kilroy-Silk nor anybody else would have been allowed to say the same thing about black people or Jews... The attorney general Lord Goldsmith must decided if a prosecution is warranted... [But the problem is Lord Goldsmith] is perceived as pro-Israeli."

The Independent's lead columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown wrote on Kilroy-Silk's "scurrilous attack... do we really want to relocate the Zionist paranoia which silences anyone who disapproves of the actions of the Israeli government."

TELLING THE TRUTH, AND TODAY'S DEADLY SUICIDE BOMB

None of these critics have mentioned that limb amputation and women repression are actually enshrined in the laws of several Arab states, and that suicide bombing of the kind we saw this morning that left four Israelis dead and many injured, has been strongly encouraged by officials of various Arab governments. As have actions like the murder in his car last night of Roi Arbel, 29, an Israeli father of five. (Both suicide bomb and the shooting attack were claimed by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah.)

TOM PAULIN AND THE BBC'S DOUBLE STANDARDS

Many media commentators and politicians (including Trevor Phillips, head of Britain's Commission for Racial Equality) have said that "if anyone had made a rant against black or Jewish people there would be no question of temporary suspension – they would be out straight away."

This is in fact untrue. BBC Newsnight contributor (and Oxford and Columbia University poetry lecturer) Tom Paulin advocated the murder of Jewish settlers, and there was no question of suspending him. Quite the reverse: the BBC was happy for him to appear the following week. About Paulin, the BBC had only this to say: "[Paulin's] polemical, knockabout, style has ruffled feathers in the US, where the Jewish question is notoriously sensitive."

The BBC have also taken no action against Orla Guerin, a BBC reporter in Israel, who has given very hostile interviews about Israel to the London Evening Standard, or Will Self, who is a regular commentator on the BBC, and who has been accused of making anti-Semitic attacks in his newspaper columns.

MICHAEL MOORE SAYS "KILL WHITEY"

Compare also the treatment of Kilroy-Silk with that of Michael Moore, whose book, "Stupid White Men," contains a chapter titled "Kill Whitey", blaming white people for almost every earthly ill. The book has sold millions of copies in dozens of countries, without any outcry about offensive racial stereotyping by Kilroy-Silk's critics.

A GAY JESUS

Or the Catholic groups that complained about Terrence McNally's Broadway play "Corpus Christi" (in which a gay Jesus enjoys anal sex with Judas). Media commentators dismissed the Catholic groups as over-sensitive and told them to be more "progressive".

THE BRITISH PUBLIC HITS BACK IN DEFENSE OF KILROY-SILK

Even The Guardian, which has been at the forefront of attacks on Kilroy-Silk admitted in a news report today ("BBC hits back in Kilroy-Silk row," by Matt Wells, The Guardian, January 14, 2004) that "Opinion polls, phone-in programmes and newspapers yesterday reflected a wide feeling that the corporation had acted wrongly in taking the Kilroy programme off the air... The Daily Express yesterday claimed to have received 50,000 telephone calls, and thousands of letters and emails. The BBC said it had logged 7,000 calls to its viewer comment line, most in support of Kilroy-Silk."

SUMMARIES OF ARTICLES

I attach five articles, with summaries first:

1. "We are falling under the imam's spell" (By Mark Steyn, Daily Telegraph, January 13, 2004). "Let me see if I understand the BBC Rules of Engagement correctly: if you're Robert Kilroy-Silk and you make some robust statements about the Arab penchant for suicide bombing, amputations, repression of women and a generally celebratory attitude to September 11 – none of which is factually in dispute - the BBC will yank you off the air and the Commission for Racial Equality will file a complaint to the police which could result in your serving seven years in gaol. Message: this behaviour is unacceptable in multicultural Britain.

"But, if you're Tom Paulin and you incite murder, in a part of the world where folks need little incitement to murder, as part of a non-factual emotive rant, the BBC will keep you on the air, kibitzing (as the Zionists would say) with the cr่me de la cr่me of London's cultural arbiters each week. Message: this behaviour is completely acceptable.

"... Mr Paulin's style is only metaphorically knockabout. But, a few days after his remarks were published, some doughty Palestinian "activists" rose to his challenge and knocked about some settlers more literally, murdering among others five-year-old Danielle Shefi. In a touch of symbolism the critic in Mr Paulin might have found a wee bit obvious, they left her Mickey Mouse sheets soaked in blood.

"... But it's not really about Kilroy or Paulin or Jews, or the Saudis beheading men for (alleged) homosexuality, or the inability of the "moderate" Jordanian parliament to ban honour killing, or the fact that (as Jonathan Kay of Canada's National Post memorably put it) if Robert Mugabe walked into an Arab League summit he'd be the most democratically legitimate leader in the room. It's not about any of that: it's about the future of your "multicultural" society."

[The rest of this article, which you may well wish to read in full, is attached below.]

2. "We owe Arabs nothing," (By Robert Kilroy-Silk, Sunday Express, January 4, 2004). This is the original article, which sparked this controversy.

3. "Kilroy-Silk is right about the Middle East, say Arabs" (By Ibrahim Nawar, Sunday Telegraph, January 11, 2004). (Ibrahim Nawar, an Egyptian, is the Head of the Board of Management of Arab Press Freedom Watch, a non-profit organisation based in London that works to promote freedom of expression in the Arab world.)

"I fully support Robert Kilroy-Silk and salute him as an advocate of freedom of expression. I would like to voice my solidarity with him and with all those who face the censorship of such a basic human right. "I agree with much of what he says about Arab regimes. There is a very long history of oppression in the Arab world, particularly in the states he mentions: Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, as well as in Sudan and Tunisia... I would also agree with Mr Kilroy-Silk's comments on the oppression of women by totalitarian Arab states. Women in Saudi Arabia even have to struggle for the right to walk unaccompanied in the street or to drive a car."

4. "BBC chiefs accused of 'double standards' over TV presenter" (Sunday Telegraph, By Fiona Govan and Chris Hastings, January 11, 2004). "The BBC was accused last night of operating double standards over its suspension of Robert Kilroy-Silk for his comments about Arabs while it continues to use a contributor who has called for Israelis to be killed... Andrew Dismore, the Labour MP, said he found it hard to understand why the BBC had moved against Mr Kilroy-Silk but had not taken any action against Mr Paulin... Richard Shepherd, a Tory MP, said, "I think the reaction to the column brings into disrepute some major organisations: the BBC, the Commission for Racial Equality, which all felt the need to complain, and the Metropolitan Police, which feels the need to investigate."

... Ann Widdecombe, the former Conservative home office minister, said "I do agree with some of the points he made. It's quite reasonable for him to voice his opinions on the treatment of women and practices such as the severing of limbs. It is quite proper to speak out against such practices. I think that the BBC has crossed the line and engaged in active censorship."

5. "KILL-ROY!" (By Richard Littlejohn, The Sun, January 14, 2004). This is a parody on what a future "politically correct" BBC Kilroy-Silk program might resemble. Littlejohn is a leading columnist for the Sun, one of the two highest-circulation newspapers in Europe.

[Note that Mark Steyn, Richard Littlejohn and Trevor Asserson are all subscribers to this email list. My own article on Tom Paulin can be found at www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gross111202.asp]

A DEBATE

Please note a debate on "The BBC's Role And Function" will take place in Jerusalem on February 9, 2004, at 8 PM, between Trevor Asserson, a London lawyer who produced 3 reports on the "biased reporting of the B.B.C." and Andrew Steele, the senior editor for Middle East News at the BBC's Jerusalem bureau. (Details at britisr@netvision.net.il)



FULL ARTICLES

WE ARE FALLING UNDER THE IMAM'S SPELL

We are falling under the imam's spell
By Mark Steyn
Daily Telegraph
January 13, 2004

Let me see if I understand the BBC Rules of Engagement correctly: if you're Robert Kilroy-Silk and you make some robust statements about the Arab penchant for suicide bombing, amputations, repression of women and a generally celebratory attitude to September 11 – none of which is factually in dispute – the BBC will yank you off the air and the Commission for Racial Equality will file a complaint to the police which could result in your serving seven years in gaol. Message: this behaviour is unacceptable in multicultural Britain.

But, if you're Tom Paulin and you incite murder, in a part of the world where folks need little incitement to murder, as part of a non-factual emotive rant about how "Brooklyn-born" Jewish settlers on the West Bank "should be shot dead" because "they are Nazis" and "I feel nothing but hatred for them", the BBC will keep you on the air, kibitzing (as the Zionists would say) with the cr่me de la cr่me of London's cultural arbiters each week. Message: this behaviour is completely acceptable.

So, while the BBC is "investigating" Kilroy, its only statement on Mr Paulin was an oblique but curiously worded allusion to the non-controversy on the Corporation website: "His polemical, knockabout style has ruffled feathers in the US, where the Jewish question is notoriously sensitive." "The Jewish question"? "Notoriously sensitive"? Is this really how they talk at the BBC?

Mr Paulin's style is only metaphorically knockabout. But, a few days after his remarks were published in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, some doughty Palestinian "activists" rose to his challenge and knocked about some settlers more literally, murdering among others five-year-old Danielle Shefi. In a touch of symbolism the critic in Mr Paulin might have found a wee bit obvious, they left her Mickey Mouse sheets soaked in blood.

Evidently Kilroy's "polemical, knockabout style" is far more problematic. For what it's worth, I accept the BBC's right to axe his show. I haven't seen it in a decade and I thought they should have axed it then. I myself got fired by the BBC a while back and, although I had a couple of rough years sleeping in a rotting boxcar at the back of the freight yards, I crawled my way back to semi-insolvency. There's no doubt in my mind that, when the CRE, the BBC, the Metropolitan Police and the Muslim Council of Britain are through making an example of him, he'll still be able to find gainful employment, if not in TV then certainly in casual construction work or seasonal fruit-picking.

But it's not really about Kilroy or Paulin or Jews, or the Saudis beheading men for (alleged) homosexuality, or the inability of the "moderate" Jordanian parliament to ban honour killing, or the fact that (as Jonathan Kay of Canada's National Post memorably put it) if Robert Mugabe walked into an Arab League summit he'd be the most democratically legitimate leader in the room. It's not about any of that: it's about the future of your "multicultural" society.

One reason why the Arab world is in the state it's in is because one cannot raise certain subjects without it impacting severely on one's wellbeing. And if you can't discuss issues, they don't exist. According to Ibrahim Nawar of Arab Press Freedom Watch, in the last two years seven Saudi editors have been fired for criticising government policies. To fire a British talk-show host for criticising Saudi policies is surely over-reaching even for the notoriously super-sensitive Muslim lobby.

But apparently not. "What Robert could do," suggested the CRE's Trevor Phillips helpfully, "is issue a proper apology, not for the fact that people were offended, but for saying this stuff in the first place. Secondly he could learn something about Muslims and Arabs – they gave us maths and medicine – and thirdly he could use some of his vast earnings to support a Muslim charity. Then I would say he has been properly contrite."

Extravagant public contrition. Re-education camp. "Voluntary" surrender of assets. It's not unknown for officials at government agencies to lean on troublemaking citizens in this way, but not usually in functioning democracies.

When Catholic groups complain about things like Terrence McNally's Broadway play Corpus Christi (in which a gay Jesus enjoys anal sex with Judas), the arts crowd says a healthy society has to have "artists" with the "courage" to "explore" "transgressive" "ideas", etc. But, when Cincinnati Muslims complained about the local theatre's new play about a Palestinian suicide bomber, the production was immediately cancelled: the courageous transgressive arts guys folded like a Bedouin tent. The play was almost laughably pro-Palestinian, but that wasn't the point: the Muslim community leaders didn't care whether the play was pro- or anti-Islam: for them, Islam was beyond discussion. End of subject. And so it was.

Fifteen years ago, when the fatwa against Salman Rushdie was declared and both his defenders and detractors managed to miss what the business was really about, the Times's Clifford Longley nailed it very well. Surveying the threats from British Muslim groups, he wrote that certain Muslim beliefs "are not compatible with a plural society: Islam does not know how to exist as a minority culture. For it is not just a set of private individual principles and beliefs. Islam is a social creed above all, a radically different way of organising society as a whole."

Since then, societal organisation-wise, things seem to be going Islam's way swimmingly – literally in the case of the French municipal pool which bowed to Muslim requests to institute single-sex bathing, but also in more important ways. Thus, I see the French interior minister flew to Egypt to seek the blessing for his new religious legislation of the big-time imam at the al-Azhar theological institute. Rather odd, don't you think? After all, Egypt isn't in the French interior. But, if Egypt doesn't fall within the interior minister's jurisdiction, France apparently falls within the imam's.

And so, when free speech, artistic expression, feminism and other totems of western pluralism clash directly with the Islamic lobby, Islam more often than not wins – and all the noisy types who run around crying "Censorship!" if a Texas radio station refuses to play the Bush-bashing Dixie Chicks suddenly fall silent. I don't know about you, but this "multicultural Britain" business is beginning to feel like an interim phase.

 

WE OWE ARABS NOTHING

We owe Arabs nothing
By Robert Kilroy-Silk
(UK) Sunday Express
January 4, 2004

We are told by some of the more hysterical critics of the war on terror that "it is destroying the Arab world". So? Should we be worried about that? Shouldn't the destruction of the despotic, barbarous and corrupt Arab states and their replacement by democratic governments be a war aim? After all, the Arab countries are not exactly shining examples of civilisation, are they? Few of them make much contribution to the welfare of the rest of the world. Indeed, apart from oil – which was discovered, is produced and is paid for by the West - what do they contribute? Can you think of anything? Anything really useful? Anything really valuable? Something we really need, could not do without? No, nor can I. Indeed, the Arab countries put together export less than Finland.

We're told that the Arabs loathe us. Really? For liberating the Iraqis? For subsidising the lifestyles of people in Egypt and Jordan, to name but two, for giving them vast amounts of aid? For providing them w ith science, medicine, technology and all the other benefits of the West? They should go down on their knees and thank God for the munificence of the United States. What do they think we feel about them? That we adore them for the w ay they murdered more than 3,000 civilians on September 11 and then danced in the hot, dusty streets to celebrate the murders?

That we admire them for the cold-blooded killings in Mombasa, Yemen and elsewhere? That we admire them for being suicide bombers, limb-amputators, womenrepressors? I don't think the Arab states should start a debate about what is really loathsome.

But why, in any case, should we be concerned that they feel angry and loathe us? The Arab world has not exactly earned our respect, has it? Iran is a vile, terrorist-supporting regime – part of the axis of evil. So is the Saddam Hussein-supporting Syria. So is Libya. Indeed, most of them chant support for Saddam.

That is to say they support an evil dictator who has gassed hundreds of thousands of their fellow Arabs and tortured and murdered thousands more. How can they do this and expect our respect?

Why do they imagine that only they can feel anger, call people loathsome? It is the equivalent of all the European nations coming out in support of Hitler the moment he was attacked by the US, because he was European, despite the fact that he was attempting to exterminate the Jews – and Arabs.

Moreover, the people who claim we are loathsome are currently threatening our civilian populations with chemical and biological weapons. They are promising to let suicide bombers loose in Western and American cities. They are trying to terrorise us, disrupt our lives.

And then they expect us to be careful of their sensibilities? We have thousands of asylum seekers from Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries living happily in this country on social security.

This shows what their own people think of the Arab regimes, doesn't it? There is not one single British asylum seeker in any Arab country. That says it all about which country deserves the epithet loathsome. GEORGE GALLOWAY, the member of parliament for Baghdad Central, as his tormentors describe him, called the British and American troops "wolves" and called for the Arab countries to rise up and fight them and to cut off oil from the combatants. Later he called upon British troops to refuse to obey "illegal orders".He has, predictably, been vilified. His comments have been termed a disgrace, disgusting, outrageous and so on.

He has been called a loony, naive, gullible and a traitor. There have been demands that George's constituency party should deselect him, that his constituents should not vote for him at the next general election, and that he should be deported to Iraq. No one, as yet, has demanded that he be put in the stocks or burnt at the stake, though no doubt this will come.

But why all the fuss? Why is everyone getting into such an excitable lather over the predictable remarks of a no-mark?

Who with any sense cares an Iraqi dinar for what dear George thinks? Like Clare Short, George is a licensed court jester. He acts the buffoon while she's the straight part of the act, though she exaggerates her sanctimonious seriousness.

Neither are taken seriously. Both are totally discredited laughing stocks that add to the variety of political life. At least George is open, honest and sincere.

 

KILROY-SILK IS RIGHT ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST, SAY ARABS

Kilroy-Silk is right about the Middle East, say Arabs
By Ibrahim Nawar
Sunday Telegraph
January 11, 2004

Ibrahim Nawar, an Egyptian, is the Head of the Board of Management of Arab Press Freedom Watch, a non-profit organisation based in London that works to promote freedom of expression in the Arab world.

"I fully support Robert Kilroy-Silk and salute him as an advocate of freedom of expression. I would like to voice my solidarity with him and with all those who face the censorship of such a basic human right.

"I agree with much of what he says about Arab regimes. There is a very long history of oppression in the Arab world, particularly in the states he mentions: Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, as well as in Sudan and Tunisia.

"These regimes are not based on democracy and their legitimacy comes from military dicatorships or inherited systems. The basic right of an individual to voice his or her opinion is not granted in any kind of form in the Arab world.

"In Saudi Arabia, for instance, there have been seven Saudi editors sacked from their jobs for criticising the regime since March 2002. In Algeria, we are currently fighting 70 defamation cases against journalists who spoke out against the state.

"I would also agree with Mr Kilroy-Silk's comments on the oppression of women by totalitarian Arab states. Women in Saudi Arabia even have to struggle for the right to walk unaccompanied in the street or to drive a car.

"It is worth remembering, however, that there are individual Arabs who do work hard to defend human rights and one cannot make a blanket generalisation about Arab people. We support Mr Kilroy-Silk's comments specifically in reference to Arab regimes because we are against the oppressive policies supported by rulers in the Arab world.

"I condemn the decision to axe his programme and call for the BBC to reinstate him forthwith. Indeed, the treatment of Mr Kilroy-Silk is very worrying because it indicates that censorship is now taking place in liberal, Western countries like the United Kingdom. These countries should instead be setting an example to the oppressive Arab regimes that violate freedom of expression on a daily basis."

 

BBC CHIEFS ACCUSED OF "DOUBLE STANDARDS" OVER TV PRESENTER

BBC chiefs accused of 'double standards' over TV presenter
Sunday Telegraph
By Fiona Govan and Chris Hastings
January 11, 2004

The BBC was accused last night of operating double standards over its suspension of Robert Kilroy-Silk for his comments about Arabs while it continues to use a contributor who has called for Israelis to be killed.

Tom Paulin, the poet and Oxford don, has continued to be a regular contributor to BBC2's Newsnight Review arts programme, despite being quoted in an Egyptian newspaper as saying that Jews living in the Israeli-occupied territories were "Nazis" who should be "shot dead".

Andrew Dismore, the Labour MP, said he found it hard to understand why the BBC had moved against Mr Kilroy-Silk but had not taken any action against Mr Paulin.

"I am not defending anything Mr Kilroy-Silk has said, but I was greatly upset by what Mr Paulin said, and I think the rules should apply to people equally," said Mr Dismore. "Mr Paulin said awful things about Israel and Jewish people. He should have been kept off BBC screens while his own comments were investigated. I was surprised that that did not happen. It smacks of double standards on the part of the BBC."

Mr Paulin made his comments in the Egyptian weekly newspaper Al-Ahram almost two years ago, saying that US-born settlers in the occupied territories should be shot dead. "I think they are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them," he said, adding: "I never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all."

Within days of the article appearing, a number of academic institutions, including Harvard, cancelled planned readings by the poet. The BBC, however, did not seek to remove him from Newsnight Review. Mr Paulin subsequently denied accusations of anti-Semitism.

By contrast, Mr Kilroy-Silk, a former Labour MP, was suspended by the BBC on Friday, five days after he wrote an article in the Sunday Express. He described Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb amputators and women repressors", and said they contributed nothing useful to the world – comments that outraged race campaigners and some Muslims and for which he later apologised.

The corporation said it was suspending his BBC1 weekday morning chat show, Kilroy, until it had "investigated the matter fully".

A number of MPs criticised the decisions yesterday, accusing the BBC of censorship. Richard Shepherd, a Tory MP who has been a friend of Mr Kilroy-Silk since their student days at the London School of Economics, urged the BBC to draw a line under the affair now that broadcaster had publicly apologised.

"Robert is a decent and honourable person with a passionate belief in the values of free speech," said Mr Shepherd. "He's also a polemicist and he raises issues that matter to him and are well within our national concept of freedom of expression.

"It is important to remember that we are a free society because we have free speech. What is happening to Britain? There was a time when things like this would be shrugged off. I think the reaction to the column brings into disrepute some major organisations: the BBC, the Commission for Racial Equality, which all felt the need to complain, and the Metropolitan Police, which feels the need to investigate."

Ann Widdecombe, the former Conservative home office minister, said Mr Kilroy-Silk had been unfortunate in his use of language, but she insisted that the BBC had no right to censor free speech.

"There is no doubt that some of his phraseology is over the top. You cannot say we owe the Arabs nothing. We owe them a great deal in terms of our prosperity," she said.

"But I do agree with some of the other points he made. It's quite reasonable for him to voice his opinions on the treatment of women and practices such as the severing of limbs. It is quite proper to speak out against such practices. I think that the BBC has crossed the line and engaged in active censorship.

"The key point to remember is that he did not make these comments on a BBC programme and that we have a law in this country that can deal with comments likely to stir up racial hatred. This is not an issue for the BBC."

Gerald Kaufman, the Labour chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said that while he could not support the comments made by Mr Kilroy-Silk, he felt that the ex-MP was being made a scapegoat by a BBC desperate to prove its piety.

He said: "The BBC has been found lacking again in the way it approaches its responsibilities as a public service broadcaster. The action taken has less to do with the column itself and more to do with the fallout from the Hutton inquiry. They are in a rush to demonstrate their own piety. They should have made it clear to people long ago that they can be BBC personalities or journalists - but not both."

Others, however, refused to support the ex-MP. Robert Marshall-Andrews, the Labour MP, said: "I think it is the most loathsome and illiterate article I have ever read in a British newspaper. The only conceivable purpose is to create ignorance and prejudice. I, and people in my section of the Labour Party, hope that Tony Blair will realise that we must not accept any more support from Richard Desmond, the proprietor of the Express. It may well be bordering on criminality."

A BBC official said the corporation was examining Mr Kilroy-Silk's case on its own merits and did not want to be drawn into making comparisons with Mr Paulin. She admitted that it was unclear whether the broadcaster's column in the Sunday Express had been subjected to regular BBC vetting. "That is why we are having an investigation," she said.

 

KILL-ROY!

kill-Roy!
By Richard Littlejohn
The Sun
January 14, 2004

The BBC has agreed to reinstate Robert Kilroy-Silk after suspending him for describing Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb amputators and women repressors".

But he has had to agree to new producer guidelines designed to prevent him causing offence to anyone. This column sat in on his comeback show.

KILROY: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the show. Today we're talking about freedom of speech. My first guest this morning has had a tragic life.

He lost an eye and both hands while on missionary work in Afghanistan and has had to subsist on benefits ever since. Please welcome, from the Finsbury Park mosque, Captain Hook.

(Loud applause).

KILROY: I know this is difficult for you, so take your time. What would you like to say to us?

HOOK: Death to the infidel! Death to the Jews! Death to America! Death to the West!

(Even louder applause.)

KILROY: You're clearly very upset and that's understandable. I know what you must be going through. Did I mention I'm part Irish?

(AUDIENCE: Death to the infidel! Death to the Jews! Death to America! Death to the West!)

KILROY: I feel your pain, I really do. I'll come back to you later in the show. My next guest is from al-Muhajiroun. What would you like to say to the viewers, sir?

AL-MUH: September 11 2001 was a towering day in history – a mighty blow against the Great Satan. It is the duty of the faithful to rise up and join the jihad.

(Riotous cheering).

KILROY: I can tell emotions are running very high on this issue.

AL-MUH: The oppressor must be destroyed. The Jews must be driven into the sea!

(Audience goes berserk).

KILROY: Well, you're certainly entitled to your point of view. I'm sure many, many of the people watching will be able to relate to what you are saying.

AL-MUH: Can I just mention that we're holding a recruiting drive in Tipton on Tuesday?

KILROY: Of course you can. I'm from Birmingham, by the way. (Turns to camera). And don't forget, if you're watching at home, if you'd like to make a donation to Hezbollah In Need just ring the number at the bottom of your screen. Our operators are standing by.

(AUDIENCE: Death to Israel!)

KILROY: Let's welcome our next guest. It's a pleasure and a privilege to have on Kilroy, a leading QC, a champion of human rights, wife of the Prime Minister, the Wicked Witch herself, Cherie Booth QC.

(Polite hissing from audience)

KILROY: Cherie, thanks for coming in. I used to be an MP, too, you know.

Like me, you've got a bit of a reputation for being outspoken on the subject of human rights, haven't you?

WW: Yes, Robert, I have.

KILROY: And I think, also like me, you got yourself in a bit of hot water over something you said to the Saudi ambassador.

WW: All I said, Robert, was that Saudi Arabia had a pretty appalling image in the eyes of the world because of the disgraceful way they treat women.

KILROY: What, exactly, did you mean by that?

WW: Well, for instance, they won't let women drive, deny them the vote, deny them property rights. Women in the Arab world are second-class citizens.

KILROY: Steady on, Cherie. That's a bit harsh. I can fully understand why our audience might easily take exception. I'm surprised an intelligent women like you would rush to judgment without knowing all the facts.

(AUDIENCE: Death to the Wicked Witch!)

WW: What I actually meant to say...

KILROY: That's enough. I won't have such vile, offensive language on this show.

HOOK: I object to appearing alongside infidels and half- naked harlots. This is a deliberate insult to Islam.

KILROY: No offence, Captain. But we do live in a tolerant, multi- racial, multicultural society.

HOOK: Not where I come from, we don't.

KILROY: What, Finsbury Park?

HOOK: Infidel dog! (spits on studio floor).

KILROY: My next guest is a young man, Ali, from Salford. He's just volunteered to go to work in Jerusalem as a suicide bomber. That's an interesting career choice.

ALI: I've always wanted to travel and kill Jews.

(AUDIENCE: Death to Israel! Death to The West!)

KILROY: Good for you, Ali. So many young people are prepared to sit around on their backsides these days. Not like when I was a young, working class lad in the West Midlands, before I became a famous TV personality and newspaper columnist.

AL-MUH: We have thousands of martyrs like Ali waiting to bring death to the unbelievers.

(AUDIENCE: Kill, Kill, Kill!)

KILROY: And they say modern youngsters are only interested in sex, drugs and mobile phones. That's about all we've got time for. I'd like to thank all my guests, Captain Hook – good luck with the deportation appeal; al-Muhajiroun – hope the jihad goes well; Ali – come back and see us when you, er, perhaps not.

(Sound of sirens. Enter boys in blue.)

PLOD: You thought you'd got away with it, chummy, didn't you? Robert Kilroy-Silk, I am arresting you for possession of an offensive suntan. Now stand still while the sergeant chops your arm off.

KILROY: See you in the morning.


Syria and the NY Times: Two Languages, Two Versions

January 07, 2004

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach today's dispatch from MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute), as an example of how dictatorial regimes, including the Palestinian Authority, regularly send one message to the Western media, and another to their own state-controlled media.

For those of us who believe in democracy in the Middle East, it is refreshing that this criticism comes from a Syrian journalist Subhi Hadidi, who lives in Paris (even though he wrote this article for Al-Rai, the website of the Syrian Communist party.)


ASSAD TAMPERS WITH NEW YORK TIMES INTERVIEW

MEMRI
January 7, 2004

Assad Tampers with New York Times Interview: One Message to Americans, Another to Syrians

In an article posted December 5, 2003 on Al-Rai, the website of the Syrian Communist party, Syrian journalist Subhi Hadidi [1] criticized the omission of extensive segments in the official Syrian Arabic version of President Bashar Al-Assad's lengthy November 30, 2003 interview with The New York Times. The interview was conducted in Arabic and translated into English by Assad's office for publication by The New York Times, and an Arabic version was published by the Syrian government news agency Sana and by the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. The following are excerpts from Hadidi's article criticizing Assad in Al-Rai: [2]

Two Languages, Two Versions

"The Syrian president granted a lengthy interview to the American paper The New York Times, which revealed the mentality of Bashar Al-Assad directing all his words, deeds, and ways. This is Al-Assad's most important interview to the American press, as it gives a good example of the philosophy that prevails in the presidential palace.

"Is it conceivable that the president makes statements for quoting to the American press (which is the international press, since the interview was published in English), but that these statements aren't exactly the same as the ones published in the Syrian media? And if so - and this is more than the sick mind imagines - how can this president be young, modern, and a reformist (even in a very remote sense), and how can he possibly be seen as a president who is in charge?

"Let us begin with the numbers: The English version, as published on The New York Times website, had 11,280 words. The Syrian news agency Sana and the official Syrian press published what it called the 'full version' but this had only 5,500 words. The London paper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published the 'full Arabic translation' of the interview, which was 7,667 words long.

"Where did the 2,200 words vanish to, if, as the American press said, it was the president's office that prepared the English translation? What did Al-Assad tell America and the entire world yet at the same time thought not fitting to tell the Syrians?

"The part that was omitted included questions and answers regarding [Syria's] domestic situation, Iraq, Hizbullah, normalization with the Hebrew state, and U.S.-Syrian security cooperation. These are topics that require special advancement, but I will point out in brief a surprising statement made by President Al-Assad, which was showcased in both the Western and Arabic press:

"'During that time [i.e. the 1980s], Saddam Hussein would send large railroad cars loaded with explosives in order to kill hundreds and thousands of Syrians. He killed more than 15,000 over the course of four years.'

"Is this true? Did Saddam Hussein kill 15,000 Syrians over the course of only four years? When did Saddam carry out these terrifying massacres, and where? Why are we hearing about them for the first time [only] now? How did the government keep silent all this time in the face of such a frightening number of victims among its citizens?

"Isn't this statement surprising if it is true, and even more surprising if it is false, [or] if it turns out that it is a slip of the tongue, more embarrassing than stumbling due to inexperience and slip-ups due to lack of skill?"

Assad: Syrian Opposition Loyal to Syria on the Issue of the U.S.

"What the Syrian media omitted from the interview dealt with the domestic situation, and it is divided into two [categories]: embarrassing questions asked by the interviewer, with, it must be admitted, threatening pressure, and the answers to the questions . omitted [by the Syrian news agency].

"One of the President's answers was: '. The Syrian opposition inside and outside Syria does not support the Syrian regime, the constitution, or the Syrian government. However, it opposes what the Americans are saying about bringing democracy to Iraq. I mean that it is against importing democracy by force or by other means. This is its clear opinion and this can be seen on television or in the newspapers.'

"If Al-Assad sees this compliance in the Syrian opposition, and speaks of it to the Americans almost with pride, why does he conceal it from the Syrian people? Is this miserable people so backward that even these facts are hidden from it - although they reach it anyway via television and newspapers, as the president himself says? And if the Syrian people is so backward, how does Al-Assad praise it generously when he speaks of the people's 'love' for the president?."

Assad: Minorities' Demand for Rights Has Nothing to Do with Opposition to the Syrian Regime

"It is the same for the other omitted parts, which could be called 'a dialogue of the deaf'. For example, this exchange between the American journalist and the Syrian president:

"[Question:] 'There is a period where dialogue was open, people were going to forums and there were discussions. It has all stopped. Why is that?'

"Al-Assad: 'No, nothing has stopped. You can go to Al-Atasi Institute and we have many others.'

"Question: 'Just two months ago, they tried to have one in Aleppo and the men were arrested when they showed up.'

"Al-Assad: 'That had to do with speaking about certain ethnicity. They didn't criticize the government; they talked about the rights of the Kurds. The Kurds are Syrians so what rights of the Kurds? It is something related to the national unity if you talk about ethnicities. We have Chechens, Armenians, and you are not allowed in the law of Syria to talk about this. This is our law. I don't know them, but they make demonstrations for things related to this issue, which is not allowed in our law. It is not related to the regime.'

"The truth is that the people understand why the Syrian media refrain from publishing this segment. There is no Al-Atasi Institute; the only thing there is is a club. The Aleppo residents were not demonstrating, but came to a political symposium whose topic was not Kurds' rights - but even if they had been [demonstrating] - what's the crime?

"Does the president know that hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds have no citizenship, to this very day? Does he know that their situation is worse than the situation of the Bedouin in Kuwait?.

"Another example of an omission exposes one of two aspects of the philosophy of President Al-Assad: . [Assad] believes that the state and the citizens are in a healthy democratic [reality], and therefore praises excessively the reforms that are slowly taking place.

"On the other hand, he does not attribute the reforms' slowness to opposition by the 'old guard,' the Ba'ath party, or the corrupt ones at the upper edge of the regime, but boils this down almost into a single cause - that is, a shortage of skilled people [to manage] the reform.

"The following dialogue goes thus:

"Question: 'Two years ago, in Damascus, you could hear any kind of discussion about democracy, law, and economic reform, but it is gone now.'

"Al-Assad: 'No, it is not gone. I will give you the address of Atasi, which is opposition.'

"Question: But this is just one person. There used to be dozens.'

"Al-Assad: Let me ask you a question: What is the ideal number?'

"Question: It is not a question of a number. It is a question that people no longer feel free to have an open discussion.'

"Al-Assad: Why don't you go and see for yourself?'

"Question: I have looked around for them. It is very hard to find.'

"Al-Assad: We can give you the names.??'

"Does Al-Assad want to say that the clubs still exist, as in the past? Is it enough to give the address of the Al-Atasi 'Institute' in order to prove his claim that there is freedom of speech, not to mention full implementation of democracy?"

Assad's Corruption Cover-up

"The second aspect is even more astounding, as it is based on the classic model of evasion, that overflows with modern political language and the art of refinement, deception, and evasion.

"[The interviewer] asks about the corruption of those 'around' the president, and Al-Assad asks: 'Why around me? What do you mean?' [The interviewer] does not hesitate; he mentions the president's cousin, who was entangled in a mobile phone business deal, and says, 'The list is long.' The president answers, 'He is a Syrian like all Syrians, whether he is my cousin, my brother, my friend, or anyone else. There is Syrian law."

"Is this [the same] law that punished Riyadh Seif [3] because he exposed the marvels of the mobile phone deal? Is it due to the spirit of this law that the president hints that Seif is in jail for tax evasion, while others tried to threaten the unity of the state by 'harming the pluralistic Syrian regime?.'

"The art of evasion turns into silence regarding the cousin, as he is a Syrian like all Syrians, and into accusation against Riyadh Seif, who is perhaps not a Syrian and who is harming unity when he deals with ethnic matters.

"Who was it then who edited, amended, or censored the President's interview? Is it the hero of the interview himself? Is it another body, better versed in the doctrine of magic and secrecy? Why wasn't the translation that was given to The New York Times also censored? "Does the [presidential] palace wish to persuade the American press that the regime is being run with integrity and transparency, and [thus] gave the newspaper a full, not abridged, translation - but at the same time denigrated the minds of the Syrians and gave them selected grains?"

 

[1] Hadidi currently lives in Paris, and also writes, inter alia, for the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

[2] Al-Rai (Syria), December 5, 2003. www.arraee.com/artical/nov/artical_05-01.htm .

[3] A former Syrian MP sentenced in July 2002 to five years imprisonment for "attempt to illegally change the constitution."


Israeli army says goodbye to the Uzi; upgrades female combat soldiers

January 06, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Chinese caught trying to bug Israeli embassy" (East-Asia Intel.com, January 4, 2004)
2. "Israeli humanitarian groups still determined to send relief to Iranian quake victims" (Israel21c, January 4, 2004)
3. "A promotion for female [Israeli] soldiers [to combat duty]" (The Washington Times, December 31, 2003)
4. "Israel prepares for international arms scrutiny" (Scotland On Sunday, January 4, 2004)
5. "Israeli forces say goodbye to the Uzi" (Daily Telegraph, U.K., December 27, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach five articles mainly relating to Israeli military and security matters, with summaries first:

1. "Chinese caught trying to bug Israeli embassy" (East-Asia Intel.com, January 4, 2004). "A security officer in the Israeli Embassy in Beijing has caught a group of Chinese technicians last month attempting to plant electronic eavesdropping devices in the embassy's telephone lines."

2. "Israeli humanitarian groups determined to send relief to Iranian quake victims" (ISRAEL21c January 4, 2004). "Israeli humanitarian organizations have said that they are determined to send aid to Iranian victims of the lethal earthquake which rocked the country last week, despite the Iranian government's refusal to receive help from Israel."

3. "A promotion for female soldiers" (The Washington Times, Dec. 31, 2003). "Israeli army units with the first female infantry soldiers in 50 years are being upgraded to battalion status, a milestone in the fight of female soldiers to be accepted into combat roles in the Jewish state... The integration effort follows years of public pressure to allow women into combat..."

4. "Israel prepares for international arms scrutiny" (Scotland On Sunday, January 4, 2004) "Israel is considering for the first time the possibility that it might have to allow some form of international monitoring of its weapons programmes... Senior Israeli Defence and Foreign Affairs officials said they can no longer rule out such a change, now that Libya and Iran have been opened up to world scrutiny."

5. "Israeli forces say goodbye to the Uzi" (Daily Telegraph, U.K., December 27, 2003) "The Uzi sub-machinegun, a symbol of Israeli national identity, has been withdrawn from service by the defence forces after half a century. Compact, simple and resistant to dust and sand, the 9mm Uzi in its machine-pistol form, was designed by a former resistance fighter, Uzi Gal... Still used by the US Secret Service it was once the most widely distributed sub-machinegun in the West."

 



FULL ARTICLES

CHINESE CAUGHT TRYING TO BUG ISRAELI EMBASSY

Chinese caught trying to bug Israeli embassy
Special to World Tribune.com
East-Asia-Intel.Com
January 4, 2004

A security officer in the Israeli Embassy in Beijing caught a group of Chinese technicians last month attempting to plant electronic eavesdropping devices in the embassy's telephone lines.

The officer spotted the technicians near a telephone switch box on the street near the embassy, according to the Ma'ariv newspaper.

The Chinese told the Israeli guard that they were from the Chinese Foreign Ministry information security department. The officer then asked the technicians to undo the work and leave.

The Chinese are known to conduct aggressive electronic eavesdropping operations on all foreign facilities in China.

This was not the first time the Chinese had tried to plant eavesdropping devices on telephone lines, which are used for encrypted communications as well as for open telephone calls.

 

ISRAELI HUMANITARIAN GROUPS DETERMINED TO SEND RELEIF TO IRANIAN QUAKE VICTIMS

Israeli humanitarian groups determined to send relief to Iranian quake victims
By ISRAEL21c staff
January 4, 2004

Israeli humanitarian organizations have said that they are determined to send aid to Iranian victims of the lethal earthquake which rocked the country last week, despite the Iranian government's refusal to receive help from Israel.

Following the major disaster last week, Iran has officially announced that they were willing to receive help from any country except for "the Zionist entity". The 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck on Dec. 26 at 5:30 AM, collapsing buildings in the city of Bam in southeastern Iran, severing power lines and shutting down water service. The quake's death toll is expected to exceed 20,000, and could be as high as 40,000.

Delegates from Israeli humanitarian relief groups met two days after the earthquake in Tel Aviv, and decided to provide assistance to survivors of the earthquake. Speaheaded by IsraAID, a humanitarian forum which coordinates Israeli efforts in providing aid to disaster areas across the globe, the meeting included representatives of the Topaz organization for youth at risk, the kibbutzim humanitarian fund, the First rescue organization, and other humanitarian groups.

"We decided to channel our efforts through an international organization operating in Iran," IsraAID director Shachar Zahavi told ISRAEL21c. They have asked the group to act as a conduit for their donation, apparently equipment such as tents and medicine. Due to the devastating scope of the earthquake damage, the Israeli relief workers believe that their assistance to Iran will continue for at least half a year.

"One result of the meeting is that all the humanitarian organizations that participated including funds, youth movements, and search and rescue teams have all convened under the umbrella of IsraAID," said Zahavi.

The Iranian announcement rejecting assistance of any sort from Israel will require that the groups receiving assistance from Israel keep a low profile, as they work on behalf of the earthquake victims.

"We don't deal with governments, only with people and NGOs," said Zahavi. "No matter where it was in the world, that's how we'd approach the situation. On behalf of the Israeli people, we wish to help the people of Iran, and from the indications we've received, they're willing to accept that help.

"We're not here to engage in provocation," Zahavi added. "The bottom line is to give aid to needy disaster victims."

Eran Weintrob, the general manger of Latet, another group which participated in the meeting, said, "if there are many people that are starving and injured and have no place to sleep, we don't ask and we don't argue and we don't think about political issues. We just act. If we can act, we will."

Iranian expert Menashe Amir, who heads Israel Radioดs Farsi (Persian) language radio service, which broadcasts daily news into Iran, said he had "no doubt" that the Iranian people would themselves accept aid from Israel. During the phone-in section of his program on Sunday, Amir said he received calls from Iranians responding positively to the Israeli offer of help.

"Most of the people who talked in the program thanked [Israel] warmly for offering help and criticized harshly the Iranian [regime for refusing it]," Amir told Cybernet News.

Some of the callers to the radio program, Amir said, told listeners not to send money to Iran because it is a rich country and the money would not make it to the people but could instead be funneled into the Palestinian militant cause.

The Israeli government offered condolences following the devastating earthquake in Iran, saying it had "no conflict" with the Iranian people, despite its enmity with the Islamic regime.

"The Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom, addresses in the name of the Israeli Government and the people of Israel condolences to the Iranian people after the catastrophe," the Foreign Ministry said. "The Government and people of Israel are moved by the human tragedy experienced by the Iranian people and believe that despite all differences a mobilization of the whole international community is needed to come to the help of families of the victims and wounded," it said in a statement.

"The Iranian government said it didn't want help from Israel or the Zionist entity. But there is a huge need and the people don't care where they get the help from," Latet's Weintrob said.

The Umbrella Organization for Iranian Immigrants in Israel has contacted the Iranian Embassy in Britain regarding sending food, clothing, and other necessities. According to spokesman David Motei, the group received the go-ahead for contributions from "the Israeli people," but not the State of Israel, sent through intermediaries such as foreign embassies and the United Nations.

Weintrob listed medicine, stoves, blankets, and food as top priorities.

"We're trying to promote mutual responsibility in Israeli society, and we think if we want to be a strong society, even though we are experiencing a very bad situation economically right now, we should see ourselves as part of the wider world," Weintrob told The Jerusalem Post.

Large-scale Israeli assistance following a massive earthquake in 1999 in northwestern Turkey that killed over 15,000 people, and a huge earthquake in western India in 2001 that killed some 20,000 people, helped strengthen ties between Israel and those two countries.

In 1999 Israel airlifted to Turkey doctors and equipment for a field hospital, as well an emergency rescue team comprising 250 persons, sophisticated rescue equipment, and rescue dogs. And in 2001, Israel dispatched a field hospital and some 150 people to India to assist in rescue and medical efforts following the earthquake in Bhuj. The help Israel provided in these cases is still mentioned often by Turkish and Indian officials when discussing their ties with Israel, according to a report in The Jerusalem Post.

According to IsraAID's Zahavi, the aid that Israel provides has a long-lasting effect far beyond the initial benefit to the victims.

"There really is very little knowledge in the world about what we do. We also want to get our message across in the countries we help. In my experience, people have responded well to us because they view our work as people helping other people, without the political element."

 

A PROMOTION FOR FEMALE SOLDIERS

A promotion for female soldiers
By Joshua Mitnick
The Washington Times
December 31, 2003

Israeli army units with the first female infantry soldiers in 50 years are being upgraded to battalion status, a milestone in the fight of female soldiers to be accepted into combat roles in the Jewish state.

For the past three years, female ground troops from Israel's Carcal company have patrolled the quiet desert borders with Jordan and Egypt, freeing up their male counterparts for duty in more dangerous areas. Now the military is appointing its first female company commander.

The integration effort follows years of public pressure to allow women into combat jobs - prohibited since the 1948 War of Independence - and could help boost the status of women in a society that glorifies the military.

Hoping to relieve units stretched thin by the Palestinian uprising, the army created predominantly female companies three years ago to patrol the border for drug smugglers and the rare terrorist infiltrator. Only men served on the more dangerous Lebanese border and in the Palestinian territories.

"Every combat soldier aspires to reach the most dangerous areas. That is why we enlisted," said 20-year-old Sgt. Shiran, whose full name cannot be published under Israeli military censorship rules.

"I've always known that I wanted to do things in the army that I wouldn't do as a civilian. I didn't think I could get the maximum out of it as a clerk."

Toting an M-16 rifle with a sniper scope, Sgt. Shiran still is an exception for women in the Israeli army. Most work far from the battlefield and serve as little as half the time required of men.

Israeli army doctors recommended in October that women be barred from service in combat units on the basis of medical studies showing that they are less able than men to lift heavy objects and carry out sustained, strenuous activities.

The doctors, however, said there was no objection to women serving in light infantry units along peacetime borders, as the Carcal company does, or as radar operators in intelligence units, where they have proved themselves on numerous occasions.

The United States bans women from ground combat units, which include artillery, infantry and armor. They may, however, serve on combat ships and aircraft. And they serve as military police, a job that in Iraq puts them close to counterinsurgency operations.

Carcal company, whose name is Hebrew for wildcat, has a 2-1 ratio for women to men and requires women to sign on for an extra year of service. The four-month boot camp includes training in urban warfare and 20-mile stretcher marches, a regimen based on other infantry brigades.

Male and female Carcal soldiers train together and share patrols in Humvees. The only place where the army insists on separation is in sleeping quarters on the base.

In recent years, the army also has opened artillery, antiaircraft and the air force pilots' course to women. Still, the idea of a mixed combat unit remains a foreign concept in Israel.

Sgt. Pini, one of the male members of Carcal, said he initially joined the company because he was promised a tour of duty on a tranquil border in a unit with "a lot of girls."

"I thought, 'Great, I'll have a girlfriend,' " he said. "It didn't work out that way. When you spend so much time together, it doesn't make a difference. Everyone becomes one of the guys."

The army has told the coed company that it probably will get transferred next year to a more sensitive site, which could mean the tense border with Lebanon or Israel's hotly contested security barrier in the West Bank.

Still, said army spokesman Capt. Jacob Dallal, the integration of women into the combat forces "is an ongoing process. We're past the beginning, but it's a developing thing. ... Until women reach higher ranks on the field, it's going to take time."

Sgt. Shiran said she sees the talk of a transfer as a vote of confidence. Even so, she acknowledged that it will be difficult to convince skeptics of the unit's abilities.

"There will always be doubts. It's human nature. People will always say a boy is strong and a girl is weak," she said.

Maj. Itai, a Carcal company commander and a former undercover commando, said he considers the unit a success but is waiting for a "moment of truth" that will prove that Carcal is up to the job.

"The army still has difficulty with the idea of women in combat. I hear this all the time from people above me," Maj. Itai said. "They don't think it's serious, that if there is an attack the girls will be afraid, or if one is taken prisoner the entire country will be in shock."

In the 1948 war, none of that mattered because Israel needed every available fighter. In the north, women were in units that detonated bridges to block the advance of the Lebanese army. In Jerusalem, they held out during a prolonged siege.

When the war ended, a separate women's corps was established, ending the utilization of nearly all female combat soldiers. Decades passed before Israelis began reconsidering the status of women in the military.

 

ISRAEL PREPARES FOR INTERNATIONAL ARMS SCRUTINY

Israel prepares for international arms scrutiny
By Ross Dunn in Jerusalem
Scotland On Sunday
January 4, 2004

Israel is considering for the first time the possibility that it might have to allow some form of international monitoring of its weapons programmes.

Senior Israeli Defence and Foreign Affairs officials said they can no longer rule out such a change, now that Libya and Iran have been opened up to world scrutiny.

Israel expects to be asked to show at least some of its cards, after Libya agreed to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and Iran consented to international monitoring of its nuclear facilities.

While observers believe that Israel will never open up its secret nuclear programme to inspection, it may offer to compromise in other areas, in particular the development of chemical weapons.

Israel is believed to have a secret understanding with the United States that it needs to have atomic weapons as long as there are elements in the Middle East hostile to the existence of the Jewish state.

Commentators believe Israel will be called on to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the most ambitious attempt to date to monitor weapons globally.

The treaty seeks to wipe out all weapons with toxic gases by imposing a total ban on their development, manufacture, storage or use.

Israel accepted the treaty in 1993 but has never ratified its signature.

Officials in Israel's Industry and Trade Ministry have lobbied the government to ratify the treaty to avoid international sanctions being placed against the local chemical industry.

But their request was turned down by two previous prime ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak.

One of the factors holding back Israel is the position of two of its neighbours, Egypt and Syria. Both countries are understood to possess chemical weapons and have refused to sign the international convention to eliminate them. Egypt and Syria argue that Israel must first abandon its atomic weapons.

But these two countries are coming under pressure to change their stance because of the actions of Iran and Libya.

Israel's position on atomic weapons is unlikely to change. It has never been a party to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). And even though Libya and Iran are signatories to the pact, Israeli observers have noted that it has not stopped these countries from violating the agreement.

Professor Gerald Steinberg of Tel Aviv's Bar-Ilan University said this shows Israel's need to remain on guard and to avoid pressure from the international community to change its position.

"The recent evidence justifies increased vigilance and continuing deterrence," he said. "In the preliminary inspections, Libya, like Iran, was found to have blatantly violated its commitments under the NPT.

"Un-safeguarded enrichment of uranium, an essential step for manufacturing atomic weapons, is prohibited [under the treaty], but went undiscovered by the International Atomic Energy Agency."

 

ISRAELI FORCES SAY GOODBYE TO THE UZI

Israeli forces say goodbye to the Uzi
By Toby Harnden in Jerusalem
Daily Telegraph, U.K.
December 27, 2003

The Uzi sub-machinegun, a symbol of Israeli national identity, has been withdrawn from service by the defence forces after half a century.

Compact, simple and resistant to dust and sand, the 9mm Uzi in its machine-pistol form, was designed by a former resistance fighter, Uzi Gal.

"It was a great moment for Israel," Lt Col Gal, who died in 2002 aged 79, once said, ". . . a weapon that the Jewish people had made for themselves, and I designed it from the ground up."

Still used by the US Secret Service it was once the most widely distributed sub-machinegun in the West.

It was withdrawn from front-line service by the Israelis some 20 years ago but continued to be used in training. It will still be exported.


Palestinian women protest Chirac’s proposals

CONTENTS

1. "Palestinian children collect pictures of militants [terrorists] like baseball cards" (AP, Dec. 23, 2003)
2. "Israel to give terror money confiscated in Gaza to Palestinian families" (Israel Radio, Jan. 4, 2004)
3. "Palestinian women protest against French headscarf ban" (AP, Jan. 5, 2004)
4. Kidnapped 8-year old brought safely home after being held in PA for a month (Ha'aretz, Jan. 6, 2004)



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach four articles relating to the Palestinians, with summaries first:

1. "Palestinian children collect pictures of militants like baseball cards" (By Ali Daraghmeh, The Associated Press, Dec 23, 2003). "Palestinian children are collecting cards showing gunmen and soldiers the way American kids trade baseball cards, and some educators are concerned that the uprising hobby is helping to breed a new generation of militants... The cards are an enormous hit, according to Majdi Taher, who makes them. He said that 6 million cards have been sold over two years and 32,000 albums this month alone in the two main population centers of the northern West Bank - huge numbers in a territory about 1 million Palestinians live, and he plans to expand his business... In the West Bank, Palestinian militants carry their weapons openly on the streets and gain the adulation of the young. More than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers have carried out attacks against Israelis, becoming folk heroes in their home towns... A child who fills an album with all 129 pictures can win a computer, a bicycle, a watch or a hat."

2. "Israel to give money confiscated in Gaza to Palestinian families." (Israel radio, Jan. 4, 2004). The Sharon government has authorized the transfer of 1.5 million shekels confiscated from terrorists during IDF operations in the Gaza Strip to Palestinian families, for the purchase of food.

3. "Palestinian women protest against French headscarf ban" (The Associated Press, Jan. 5, 2004). "Some 300 female supporters of Islamic Jihad marched Monday through the streets of Gaza City protesting a French proposal to bar Muslim women from wearing headscarves in state schools... The protests come after French President Jacques Chirac asked parliament to ban the wearing of the "hijab," or head scarf, and other conspicuous religious symbols - such as Jewish skullcaps and large crosses - in public schools to protect the country's secular nature."

4. "Kidnapped 8-year old brought safely home after being held in PA for a month" (Ha'aretz, Jan 6, 2004). "Palestinian Kidnappers of a child who was taken from [the Israeli Arab town of] Baka al-Gharbiyeh a month ago yesterday freed him and family friends brought him home safe and sound. Taher Ibrahim al-Touri was kidnapped from outside his home one day before his 8th birthday, on December 8. Dozens of [Israeli] policemen accompanied by a helicopter, border police and mounted troops searched for Taher... "We put everything we had into this investigation, assuming all the time Taher was still alive. All we thought of was saving his life," said police chief Chief Superintendent Yaron Zamir."

 



FULL ARTICLES

ISRAEL TO GIVE MONEY CONFISCATED IN GAZA TO PALESTINIAN FAMILIES

Israel to give money confiscated in Gaza to Palestinian families
Israel radio
January 4, 2004

The government has authorized the transfer of 1.5 million shekels confiscated from terrorists during IDF [Israel Defence Forces] operations in the Gaza Strip to Palestinian families.

Our correspondent was told that the money is earmarked for the purchase of food for Palestinian families and improving living conditions for Palestinians in Rafah.

 

PALESTINIAN WOMEN PROTEST AGAINST FRENCH HEADSCARF BAN

Palestinian women protest against French headscarf ban
The Associated Press
January 5, 2004

Some 300 female supporters of Islamic Jihad marched Monday through the streets of Gaza City protesting a French proposal to bar Muslim women from wearing headscarves in state schools.

Chanting, "Islamic women against the French orders," the women marched to the French cultural center here in a show of solidarity with their Muslim sisters in France.

The protests come after French President Jacques Chirac asked parliament to ban the wearing of the "hijab," or head scarf, and other conspicuous religious symbols - such as Jewish skullcaps and large crosses - in public schools to protect the country's secular nature.

The women in Gaza, all wearing traditional head coverings and carrying Palestinian flags and black Islamic Jihad flags, marched through the streets of downtown Gaza waving signs in Arabic, English and French.

"Where is the religious freedom that the West was championing day and night," read one of the signs.

Arriving at the cultural center, a group of women handed in a petition signed by the "women of Palestine," calling Chirac to "immediately retract the decision and to allow Muslim females to wear the hijab, a symbol of purity, honor and modesty."

The French decision has sparked an outcry in many Muslim countries, where Islamic leaders have said the hijab is a mandatory religious obligation.

But Chirac recently received some backing when a leading Egyptian cleric, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, ruled last week that Muslim women should respect French laws.

The French proposal creates the impression that the West is anti-Islam, said marcher Rawia Ahmed, 32.

"Muslims, faced by such a decision, will lose confidence in the western principles of democracy, justice and human rights," she said

 

KIDNAPPED 8 YEAR OLD BROUGHT SAFELY HOME FROM PA

Kidnapped 8-year old brought safely home after being held in PA for a month
By Eli Ashkenazi
Ha'aretz
January 6, 2004

Kidnappers of a child who was taken from Baka al-Gharbiyeh a month ago yesterday freed him and family friends brought him home safe and sound. The kidnappers released the eight-year-old boy in the Palestinian Authority and fled after notifying police where he was.

Taher Ibrahim al-Touri was kidnapped from outside his home in Baka al-Gharbiyeh one day before his 8th birthday, on December 8. "Someone asked him for water and took him. His brother came home in tears, saying that Taher was gone," recalled his father Ibrahim.

Dozens of policemen accompanied by a helicopter, border police and mounted troops searched for Taher for a week, but in vain.

Ten days later Taher's father received a telephone call demanding a NIS 300,000 ransom. This was when the police realized the child had been kidnapped and began negotiating with them, together with Ibrahim.

"We put everything we had into this investigation, assuming all the time Taher was still alive. All we thought of was saving his life," said Iron police chief Chief Superintendent Yaron Zamir.

Ibrahim al-Touri yesterday sat smiling widely on his balcony in the Shukpan quarter north-east of the town, surrounded by relatives, friends and neighbors.

"Last night Taher appeared in my dream for the first time since his disappearance," he said. "I woke up and said, today Taher is coming back. A few hours later the phone rang and they said they want to give me back my boy."

Taher himself ran in and out of the house and among the guests, who were calling him for a hug or a handshake. Every few minutes he stood up to be photographed. "Taher means pure, look at him, he really is pure," said Ibrahim.

Taher said he had been held by his kidnappers in a small room with an iron cot and no mattress. "They gave him food, he even gained weight," said Ibrahim.

Taher spoke of the first time he heard his father's voice on the telephone, 10 days after his abduction. "When I heard father's voice I was happy. But the people who took me tried to tell me it wasn't my father. I didn't believe them," he said.

The Iron police had negotiated with the kidnappers for three weeks, and as the search dragged on, fears for Taher's safety grew. Police looked into a dispute between the boy's father, Ibrahim, and his two brothers, as a possible reason for the kidnapping.

At the beginning of the investigation the police suspected Ibrahim of being involved in his son's disappearance. "It hurt me that they suspected me, but I was not angry. Today it is clear that I was right. Today I thank the police for a job well done."

The imam of the "old mosque" in Baka al-Garbiyeh, Nasser Nasser, who came to make a blessing, said "I prayed the whole time. Deep in my heart I believed it would end well."

Yesterday morning Ibrahim received a phone call telling him of Taher's whereabouts. "They must have given up. They told me they were taking him to Jordan. I tried to sound unmoved, I told them I'm not worried, I have family there. They realized they weren't going to get any money and caved," he said.

Ibrahim notified the police and after consulting him it was decided to send two close family friends to collect Taher from the PA, where he had been held. "I wasn't afraid to go," said Nimer Ka'adan, who went to pick Taher up. "Anyone who kidnaps a child is not a real man," he said.

 

PALESTINIAN CHILDREN COLLECT PICTURES OF MILITANTS LIKE BASEBALL CARDS

Palestinian children collect pictures of militants like baseball cards
By Ali Daraghmeh
The Associated Press
December 23, 2003

Palestinian children are collecting cards showing gunmen and soldiers the way American kids trade baseball cards, and some educators are concerned that the uprising hobby is helping to breed a new generation of militants.

The cards are an enormous hit, according to Majdi Taher, who makes them. He said that 6 million cards have been sold over two years and 32,000 albums this month alone in the two main population centers of the northern West Bank - huge numbers in a territory about 1 million Palestinians live, and he plans to expand his business.

The card craze reflects reality in the West Bank, where three years of Palestinian-Israeli violence has become the dominant reality for children. Israeli soldiers enforce curfews, confining residents to their homes, and often carry out raids in towns and villages, looking for militants.

Sometimes children throw rocks at Israeli soldiers or are caught up in exchanges of gunfire. At least 319 Palestinian children under the age of 18 have been killed in the conflict.

In the West Bank, Palestinian militants carry their weapons openly on the streets and gain the adulation of the young. More than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers have carried out attacks against Israelis, becoming folk heroes in their home towns.

The collectable cards depict real-life Middle East action figures familiar to the children: An Israeli soldier shooting a large gun, a soldier forcing Palestinians off their land, a small Palestinian child dressed in militant's clothing holding a toy gun and Palestinian boys throwing stones.

The albums are sold in cardboard boxes shaped like Israeli tanks and include a dedication from Nablus governor Mahmoud Alul. A child who fills an album with all 129 pictures can win a computer, a bicycle, a watch or a hat.

Some teachers and parents are concerned about the new fad, trying to forbid their children from buying the pictures, saying they are teaching children violence and forcing them to grow up too quickly.

"I take hundreds of these pictures from children every day and burn them," said Saher Hindi, 28, a teach at a Nablus elementary school. "They turn children into extremists."

The desire to fill the albums has captivated children in Nablus and Ramallah, teachers say, keeping them from their homework as they spend all their money cent on the cards.

It's a business success for Taher, who said he plans to expand the sale of the cards and albums to other West Bank towns.

The former candy salesman said he means for the album and pictures to be a history lesson. Children who are now seven cannot remember incidents from the start of the fighting three years ago, Taher said.

"I am writing the history of the intefadeh (uprising) in pictures," Taher said. "I collected these pictures from journalists, and I want people to remember this all their lives."