Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

English Queen (finally) to host Holocaust survivors (& other stories)

October 27, 2004

[Note by Tom Gross]

* This dispatch contains articles that are all updates to other items sent out previously on this list. They concern Holocaust-related items on Hungary, Holland the UK, the U.S., and Romania.

 

CONTENTS

1. Hungarians Protest
2. Pressure building on U.S. to settle claims that U.S. Army plundered Jewish property
3. Hungarian official resigns after Holocaust joke
4. A second Anne Frank: Diary of Jewish girl killed by Nazis found in Tilburg
5. Dutch soccer team Ajax proud to be called "the Jews"
6. English Queen to host Holocaust survivors
7. Finally, Romania fully acknowledges participation in Holocaust

There are summaries first, followed by the full articles.


SUMMARIES

HUNGARIANS PROTEST

[This is an update to the dispatch of October 15, 2004 titled The Jews are an 'inferior race,' says Diana, 26, Budapest.]

There are senior print and TV journalists from several central and east European countries on this email list. A well-known journalist in Budapest writes:

"To update you on your dispatch last week. The Diana Bacsfi episode has produced a very powerful counter-reaction across the Hungarian political spectrum – about 25,000 people took part in an anti-fascist demonstration here, including the prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany on October 15, the 60th anniversary of the Arrow Cross coup. There were so many protestors that the police sealed off central Budapest.

"It seems Bacsfi did Hungary a favor in a way, as all main parties came out very strongly against her Fascism/Nazi-nostalgia. I think it's worth noting that today Hungary has done itself quite proudly – we condemn anti-Semitism where we find it, and we should also praise those who take a real stand against it."

Tom Gross adds:

Hungarian police have now detained Diana Bacsfi, leader of the Magyar Jovo Csoport (Movement for a Hungarian Future). for disturbing the peace and for giving Nazi-style salutes in public. Police also suspect her group was responsible for pouring red paint on the memorial to Holocaust victims in front of the Novotel park in Budapest.

500,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz with the enthusiastic assistance of Hungarian officials, and 100,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in other ways including being shot and thrown into the Danube.

 

PRESSURE BUILDING ON U.S. TO SETTLE HOLOCAUST CLAIMS

(Associated Press, Miami bureau, October 11, 2004)

Bipartisan political pressure is building for the Bush administration to settle a lawsuit by Hungarian Jews who claim the United States plundered family riches that had been seized by the Nazis during World War II.

... In the waning days of the war, the Nazis sent 24 boxcars toward Germany, filled with gold, silver, paintings, Oriental rugs, furs and other treasures seized from Hungarian Holocaust victims. Nazis, Hungarians and Austrians stole from the train along the way. The U.S. Army eventually seized control of the riches, but American officers helped themselves to china, silverware and artwork for their homes and offices, according to the commission.

The lawsuit seeks up to $10,000 each for as many as 30,000 Hungarian Jews and their survivors... The train and cargo worth an estimated $50 million to $120 million were shrouded in official secrecy until the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets detailed it in a 1999 draft report.

... The United States pressured European governments and businesses in the 1990s to pay Holocaust reparations, and critics say the U.S. government should hold itself to the same standard.

... The Justice Department said last summer that the United States "bears neither the legal nor the moral responsibility" for the losses. In court papers, Justice attorneys said that Hungarian Holocaust victims, many of whom lost relatives to the Nazis and survived the war penniless, "lived generally prosperous lives" in North America...

 

NO LAUGHING MATTER

"Hungarian official resigns after Holocaust joke"
(Associated Press, Budapest bureau, October 18, 2004)

A parliamentary deputy with the governing Socialist Party said Monday he would resign from his post after being caught on camera making a joke about the Holocaust... Last week, while he was waiting to take part in an anti-fascist protest, Janos Zuschlag was caught on camera by the Hir TV news channel making a joke about Holocaust victims.

... Zuschlag apologized for his remarks... "I made a huge mistake, in part as a man and in part as a politician," Zuschlag said. But Zuschlag, who described his comments as "a mistake, but not a sin," said he would keep his post in the party's youth organization and run again for a parliamentary seat in 2006...

 

A SECOND ANNE FRANK? HELGA DEEN: 1925 - 1943

"Diary of Jewish girl killed by Nazis found in Tilburg"
October 19, 2004

An 18-year-old Jewish girl's diary which describes her last month of imprisonment during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands has been discovered. Echoing the famous Anne Frank diary, the new find tells of both the terror and the mundane aspects of life during the Holocaust.

Helga Deen describes her feelings of powerlessness and despair, but also writes in her diary of delousing, arguments between camp detainees, boerenkoolstamppot (kale stew) and infamous child transports.

Deen was eventually murdered, along with her father, mother and brother, by the Nazis in Sobibor death camp in Poland on 16 July 1943, newspaper De Volkskrant reported. The diary of another Jewish girl, Anne Frank, has sold more than 25 million copies and has been translated into 55 languages.

... the Tilburg Regional Archive was loaned Deen's diary earlier this year by the son of Kees van den Berg, who had a relationship with Deen during World War II... "I couldn't believe what I saw," archivist Gerrit Kobes said, adding that the book with 21 pages of diary entries and several pages of lead pencil sketches of the camp was unique... The Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) has also described the latest discovery as remarkable.

Deen was in her final year of school at the Rijks hbs in Tilburg when she was transported with her family to Camp Vught on 1 April 1943. She was housed in barracks 34B. In total, some 31,000 people (including 15,000 Jews) were held in Camp Vught between January 1943 and September 1944. It was the only SS concentration camp located outside Germany... Her diary will be put on display in Apeldoorn on Saturday 30 October at the National Archive Day.

 

DUTCH SOCCER TEAM AJAX PROUD TO BE CALLED "THE JEWS"

"Warm welcome for Maccabi footballers from Dutch 'Super-Jews'"
(Associated Press, Amsterdam Bureau, October 20, 2004)

Dozens of blue-and-white Israeli flags greeted Maccabi Tel Aviv as the visiting players stepped onto the field at Amsterdam's ArenA stadium. But most of the flags bearing the Star of David on Tuesday night were in the hands of Ajax supporters rooting for the home team, not for the visiting Israelis. In one of the odder quirks in the world of sporting fandom, die-hard Ajax supporters call themselves "Joden" or "Super-Joden" – Dutch for "Super Jews" – a nickname that reflects the team's and Amsterdam's Jewish roots.

... Visitors to the ArenA occasionally are surprised to hear hardcore fans belting out the Hebrew classic "Hava Nagila." The nickname for Ajax fans dates back to before World War II, when Amsterdam was home to many of the Netherlands' 140,000 Jews and the Ajax stadium was located near a Jewish neighborhood. Most Dutch Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and little remains of Amsterdam's old Jewish quarter. But the tradition survived.

... Fans of opposing teams sometimes shouted anti-Semitic slurs against Ajax, prompting Ajax fans to further embrace their "Jewishness" in stubborn defiance... Ajax managers insist there's nothing essentially Jewish about the club. The Israeli-looking flag is not the official emblem, and the team's real colors are red and white rather than Israel's blue and white. But the Star of David is popular on nonofficial club hats and scarves...

 

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

"Queen To Host Survivors"
(By Justin Cohen, TotallyJewish.com, October 18, 2004)

The Queen is set to host a reception for Holocaust survivors exactly 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. The St. James' Palace event, also to be attended by British veterans who liberated Nazi camps, will be just one of many commemorative events marking the fifth national Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January.

... A spokeswoman for the Queen said: "Next year's Holocaust Memorial Day coincides with the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz... "The Queen is looking forward to meeting representatives of both survivors and veterans at the reception."

... Home secretary David Blunkett said: "Holocaust Memorial Day remains a day of huge importance to our nation not only because it allows us to remember those who fell victim to the Nazis, but also because it inspires and encourages us to act on the lessons of the Holocaust to challenge intolerance and racism wherever we find it today.

... Welcoming the announcement of the reception, Lord Janner [a prominent member of the British Jewish community] said: "The Queen's decision is moving, momentous and very appropriate. It is an honour for the survivors and for the memory of those who did not survive."

 

ROMANIA ACKNOWLEDGES HOLOCAUST

[This is an update to items on Romanian Holocaust denial in three previous dispatches I sent last year.]

"Romanian President Puts Shameful Holocaust Episode To Rest"
(By Michael Shafir, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, October 13, 2004)

Romanian President Ion Iliescu delivered an historic speech on 12 October at the parliament building in Bucharest when, for the first time, a Romanian head of state acknowledged in no ambiguous terms and with no "ifs and buts" his country's participation in, and responsibility for, the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Romania has come a long way since the days of May 1991, when legislators observed a minute of silence on the anniversary of the 1946 execution of Romania's wartime, Nazi-allied leader, Marshal Ion Antonescu, for war crimes. Such a shameful performance was repeated in June 1999.

The presidential address was given to mark – for the first time in Romania – Holocaust Day. In May 2004, a government decision established that the day would be marked on 9 October, but commemoration was postponed this year to avoid violating the Jewish Sabbath...


FULL ARTICLES

PRESSURE BUILDING ON US TO SETTLE CLAIMS

Pressure building on U.S. to settle claims that Army plundered Jewish riches
By Catherine Wilson
The Associated Press
October 11, 2004

Bipartisan political pressure is building for the Bush administration to settle a lawsuit by Hungarian Jews who claim the United States plundered family riches that had been seized by the Nazis during World War II.

Washington lawyer and Republican insider Fred Fielding is mediating the dispute as a federal judge in Miami considers a renewed Justice Department attempt to scuttle the class-action lawsuit.

"We're still talking," Fielding said last week. "As long as the parties are talking, there's a chance of a solution everybody can live with."

The train and cargo worth an estimated $50 million to $120 million were shrouded in official secrecy until the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets detailed it in a 1999 draft report.

In the waning days of the war, the Nazis sent 24 boxcars toward Germany, filled with gold, silver, paintings, Oriental rugs, furs and other treasures seized from Hungarian Holocaust victims.

Nazis, Hungarians and Austrians stole from the train along the way. The U.S. Army eventually seized control of the riches, but American officers helped themselves to china, silverware and artwork for their homes and offices, according to the commission.

The lawsuit seeks up to $10,000 each for as many as 30,000 Hungarian Jews and their survivors.

A hearing is set Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz in Miami on legal issues that need to be decided to determine whether the lawsuit goes to trial. She ruled against the Justice Department once before and last year accused higher-ups in the government of "dragging their feet."

John Kerry borrowed that line earlier this month in a statement calling for a quick and fair settlement.

On the opposite side of the political spectrum, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, wrote White House strategist Karl Rove on Sept. 30, urging that the Holocaust survivors receive restitution.

Three survivors wrote President Bush on Sunday, begging him to "step in and ensure that there is justice for the victims in the Hungarian gold train case."

White House spokesman Taylor Gross said the government is participating in mediation "to see if the matter can be resolved amicably. We want to be sure that the U.S. government acted properly in its handling of this property at the end of World War II."

The United States pressured European governments and businesses in the 1990s to pay Holocaust reparations, and critics say the U.S. government should hold itself to the same standard.

Sam Dubbin, attorney for the families suing the government, said: "This administration had the ability to settle this case and hasn't."

The Justice Department said last summer that the United States "bears neither the legal nor the moral responsibility" for the losses. In court papers, Justice attorneys said that Hungarian Holocaust victims, many of whom lost relatives to the Nazis and survived the war penniless, "lived generally prosperous lives" in North America.

 

HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL RESIGNS AFTER HOLOCAUST JOKE

Hungarian official resigns after Holocaust joke
The Associated Press
October 18, 2004

A parliamentary deputy with the governing Socialist Party said Monday he would resign from his post after being caught on camera making a joke about the Holocaust.

Janos Zuschlag – at 27, one of the youngest members of Hungary's parliament – apologized for his remarks, saying he had erred by joking about an issue which could offend or hurt people.

"I made a huge mistake, in part as a man and in part as a politician," Zuschlag said.

But Zuschlag, who described his comments as "a mistake, but not a sin," said he would keep his post in the party's youth organization and run again for a parliamentary seat in 2006.

Last week, while he was waiting to take part in an anti-fascist protest, Zuschlag was caught on camera by the Hir TV news channel making a joke about Holocaust victims.

Responding to a comment about how cold the weather was and that Holocaust victims probably had endured similarly low temperatures, Zuschlag said, laughing: "It wasn't cold for them anymore."

Zuschlag's remark – shown repeatedly on Hungarian television stations – were vehemently condemned by all political parties.

Istvan Hiller, elected as the Socialists' new chairman on Saturday, said Zuschlag's quip was proof that "irresponsibility and stupidity are not party-specific."

Zuschlag had been a parliamentary deputy since 1998. The Socialists will name his replacement within a few weeks.

 

DIARY OF JEWISH GIRL KILLED BY NAZIS FOUND

Diary of Jewish girl killed by Nazis found in Tilburg
October 19, 2004

www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=19&story_id=12993&name=Diary+of+Jewish+girl+killedby+Nazis+found+in+Tilburg

An 18-year-old Jewish girl's diary which describes her last month of imprisonment during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands has been discovered. Echoing the famous Anne Frank diary, the new find tells of both the terror and the mundane aspects of life during the Holocaust.

Helga Deen describes her feelings of powerlessness and despair, but also writes in her diary of delousing, arguments between camp detainees, boerenkoolstamppot (kale stew) and infamous child transports.

Deen was eventually murdered, along with her father, mother and brother, by the Nazis in Sobibor death camp in Poland on 16 July 1943, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

The diary of another Jewish girl, Anne Frank, has sold more than 25 million copies and has been translated into 55 languages.

Her diary which helped the world put a name and a recognisable face to the anonymous millions slaughtered in the Nazi genocide covers the time from when Frank, her family and friends went into hiding in July 1942 in an attic in Amsterdam to escape Nazi persecution.

They were eventually betrayed two years later and Frank died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945.

Some 60 years later, the Tilburg Regional Archive was loaned Deen's diary earlier this year by the son of Kees van den Berg, who had a relationship with Deen during World War II.

The diary along with several letters, a fountain pen, a sanitary towel and a lock of hair was enclosed in a traditional brown ladies bag. In it Deen tells of her last days in Camp Vught in the Netherlands before being transported to Sobibor.

"I couldn't believe what I saw," archivist Gerrit Kobes said, adding that the book with 21 pages of diary entries and several pages of lead pencil sketches of the camp was unique.

Documentalist Els van der Meer who specialises in researching Camp Vught described the diary as an exceptional discovery. She said the only other known diary of the kind is that of David Koker, which was published in 1977.

The Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) has also described the latest discovery as remarkable.

Deen was in her final year of school at the Rijks hbs in Tilburg when she was transported with her family to Camp Vught on 1 April 1943. She was housed in barracks 34B.

In total, some 31,000 people (including 15,000 Jews) were held in Camp Vught between January 1943 and September 1944. It was the only SS concentration camp located outside Germany.

And it was announced on 5 June 1943 that all the children would be transported away from the camp. The first train of children aged up until three departed the next day with their mother. Children aged four to 16 departed with their mother or father on 7 June 1943.

The trains travelled to the transfer camp Westerbork. In total, 1,269 Jewish children were deported from Vught via Weesterbork to Sobibor in Poland, where they were killed almost immediately upon arrival, the website www.nmkampvught.nl said.

Schoolgirl Deen secretly wrote her diary from 1 June, having promised her boyfriend she would record her experiences, the correspondence indicates. She writes in the diary to her "dearest". The diary, together with five letters, was eventually smuggled out of the camp.

In her last journal entry, a month after her arrival at Vught, Deen writes that her family were to be placed on another transport. She also writes a final letter on 2 July 1943: "What we have experienced these months is indescribable and for someone who has not experienced it, unimaginable".

Her diary will be put on display in Apeldoorn on Saturday 30 October at the National Archive Day. More information in Dutch can be found at: www.archievendag.nl.

 

WARM WELCOME FOR MACCABI FOOTBALLERS FROM DUTCH "SUPER-JEWS"

Warm welcome for Maccabi footballers from Dutch "Super-Jews"
The Associated Press
October 20, 2004

Dozens of blue-and-white Israeli flags greeted Maccabi Tel Aviv as the visiting players stepped onto the field at Amsterdam's ArenA stadium.

But most of the flags bearing the Star of David on Tuesday night were in the hands of Ajax supporters rooting for the home team, not for the visiting Israelis.

In one of the odder quirks in the world of sporting fandom, die-hard Ajax supporters call themselves "Joden" or "Super-Joden" – Dutch for "Super Jews" – a nickname that reflects the team's and Amsterdam's Jewish roots.

These days not many of Ajax's fans are Jewish, but the Super-Joden say they are committed to the nickname. "It's serious," says fan Boij Vogel. "It's about pride."

Some of Vogel's favorite supporter songs are "Jews, Jews (Will Be Champion)" and "Super-Jews, Ole Ole!"

Visitors to the ArenA occasionally are surprised to hear hardcore fans belting out the Hebrew classic "Hava Nagila."

The nickname for Ajax fans dates back to before World War II, when Amsterdam was home to many of the Netherlands' 140,000 Jews and the Ajax stadium was located near a Jewish neighborhood.

About 70 percent of the Netherlands' Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and little remains of Amsterdam's old Jewish quarter. But the tradition survived.

"Amsterdam was always known as the most Jewish Dutch city," said Dan Einhorn, who is writing his senior thesis at Amsterdam's Free University on Ajax's Jewish links.

In the postwar era, Ajax also had several star players who were Jewish, notably winger Sjaak Swart and midfielder Bennie Muller.

But Einhorn said Ajax supporters only began identifying themselves as "Joden" in the 1970s, when soccer boomed into a professional sport with a massive following.

Then as now, Ajax was the team to beat in the Dutch league.

Fans of opposing teams sometimes shouted anti-Semitic slurs against Ajax, prompting Ajax fans to further embrace their "Jewishness" in stubborn defiance.

That feeling still resonates today.

"Other clubs chant against us for being Jews, so we say: 'Bring it on,"' supporter Danny Visser said.

To this day, Amsterdammers affectionately refer to their city as "Mokum," derived from a Yiddish word for "place," and banners sold at booths around the stadium proclaim Ajax "The Pride of Mokum."

Ajax managers insist there's nothing essentially Jewish about the club. The Israeli-looking flag is not the official emblem, and the team's real colors are red and white rather than Israel's blue and white.

But the Star of David is popular on nonofficial club hats and scarves.

Neither is there a political connection, certainly not in today's climate. The Dutch government, once considered among Israel's staunchest allies, has been sharply critical of the Israeli government's policies toward the Palestinians in recent years.

But the enthusiasm of Ajax fans for all things Jewish remains strong, and it was no surprise that Maccabi's arrival for the Champions League match was treated as a happy occasion.

The positivity was not lost on Israeli supporters like Noam Frosding, who traveled 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) from Israel to watch the match.

And even Maccabi coach Nir Klinge said if there is one place where it's OK for his side to lose 0-3, it's Amsterdam.

"There's a lot of sympathy for Ajax in Israel," he said before the match. "To be honest, I love Ajax."

Tuesday's match also included an appearance by 20-year-old right wing Daniel de Ridder, a Dutch Jew.

Historian Einhorn said De Ridder's religion is "no big deal," but he said Amsterdam's Jewish community has taken notice.

"Some do like it, of course, because it makes people feel connected with the team," he said. "We feel proud when a Jew makes it."

 

QUEEN TO HOST SURVIVORS

Queen To Host Survivors
By Justin Cohen
TotallyJewish.com
October 18, 2004

The Queen is set to host a reception for Holocaust survivors exactly 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz.

The St. James' Palace event, also to be attended by British veterans who liberated Nazi camps, will be just one of many commemorative events marking the fifth national Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the monarch will also attend Britain’s flagship event at Westminster Hall.

A spokeswoman for the Queen said: "Next year's Holocaust Memorial Day coincides with the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This coincidence will be of great significance to both the survivors of the Holocaust and those British servicemen that liberated them, particularly from Auschwitz.

"The Queen is looking forward to meeting representatives of both survivors and veterans at the reception."

Those attending the reception will be selected by organisations including the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Beth Shalom Holocaust centre in Nottingham.

Home secretary David Blunkett said: "Holocaust Memorial Day remains a day of huge importance to our nation not only because it allows us to remember those who fell victim to the Nazis, but also because it inspires and encourages us to act on the lessons of the Holocaust to challenge intolerance and racism wherever we find it today.

"The fifth national commemoration in London next year brings together survivors and liberators and it is especially fitting and meaningful for this national event that the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will host this reception. I hope that as many people as possible will join in paying respects to these survivors and learning from their testimony."

Welcoming the announcement of the reception, Lord Janner said: "The Queen's decision is moving, momentous and very appropriate. It is an honour for the survivors and for the memory of those who did not survive."

 

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT PUTS SHAMEFUL HOLOCAUST EPISODE TO REST

Analysis: Romanian President Puts Shameful Holocaust Episode To Rest
By Michael Shafir,
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
October 13, 2004

Romanian President Ion Iliescu delivered an historic speech on 12 October at the parliament building in Bucharest when, for the first time, a Romanian head of state acknowledged in no ambiguous terms and with no "ifs and buts" his country's participation in, and responsibility for, the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Romania has come a long way since the days of May 1991, when legislators observed a minute of silence on the anniversary of the 1946 execution of Romania's wartime, Nazi-allied leader, Marshal Ion Antonescu, for war crimes. Such a shameful performance was repeated in June 1999.

The presidential address was given to mark – for the first time in Romania – Holocaust Day. In May 2004, a government decision established that the day would be marked on 9 October, but commemoration was postponed this year to avoid violating the Jewish Sabbath.

Iliescu as well as former President Emil Constantinescu have on several occasions come close to acknowledging this shameful period in Romanian history, whether it was on International Holocaust Day (27 January, the day of the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp) or on other occasions. Yet previous presidential addresses had always distorted the significance of the day, were it only for the fact that they began by emphasizing "rescue" rather than "perpetration" in a chronological aberration aimed at stressing the alleged "Romanian exceptionalism" among Nazi Germany's wartime allies.

But not so this time. Iliescu told the audience that this "shameful chapter in our recent past...must be neither forgotten nor minimized." Furthermore, he pointed out that such soul-searching self-examination is needed in order for Romanians to put the past behind them and to allow them to march on the road to "building a future and building ourselves." This, he said, is never possible, if "tragic events, on which a long and unjustified silence had been cast," are not recalled and properly commemorated. What was truly remarkable in the president's speech was how he distanced himself from the dominating trends in Romanian historiography that tend to place the blame for the Holocaust on Nazi Germany or, at best, on alleged fringe elements in Romanian society such as the Iron Guard. Under the apparent influence of some of his advisors, Iliescu himself has done exactly that in the past. This time he bluntly acknowledged that anti-Semitic legislation in Romania dated back to 1937 and that even before the war began Jews were subjected to severe policies of discrimination and exclusion from Romanian society, as well as to forced labor.

The president went on to describe the January 1941 pogrom in Bucharest and the June 1941 pogrom in Iasi, insisting at length on the deportation of Bessarabian and Bukovinian Jews to Transdniester, which began on 9 October 1941. This is actually the reason why, at the insistence of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania and international Jewish organizations, the day selected to mark Holocaust Day is 9 October. The day thus symbolizes the state-organized Romanian participation in the perpetration of the Holocaust and not, as some had proposed in Romania, days marking pogroms or other dark events in which the role of state institutions is more difficult to precisely establish. It is for this reason that Romania would observe a day different from International Holocaust day, since Jews exterminated by Romanian authorities were not deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. That fate was met only by northern Transylvanian Jews, who at that time were under Hungarian rule.

Iliescu remarkably distanced himself from another self-exculpatory trend in modern Romanian historiography, one that emphasizes the second phase of the war, beginning in October 1942, when Antonescu gradually began to rescind the deportations and finally allowed those Jews who had survived the ordeals to return to Romania. He insisted that the change was not one of heart, but one reflecting developments on the battlefield: Antonescu began realizing that his country might lose the war and was hoping to thus hide the true dimension of the massacre. Yet, as he mentioned, over 250,000 Jews and more than 12,000 Roma had perished during the Holocaust. Here the president chose to stick to the lowest estimates of scholars, some of whom (as an official 11 October statement from the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest chose to use) assess the total to be more than 400,000, including Ukrainian Jews who perished at the hands of Romanian police and the military. The change in the tide of the war, he showed, explains the paradox of survival in Romania of a significant part of its Jewish population (some 400,000), whom Antonescu had originally decided to exterminate.

The speech also marks a great change for Iliescu, who had come a long way in his thinking himself. A rather careless remark he made in an interview with the Israeli daily "Ha'aretz" in July 2003 created an international uproar, with the Romanian president perceived as indulging in comparative trivialization of the Holocaust. Being at the end of his presidential mandate, Iliescu was apparently sensitive as to how he would enter history, including international history. In an effort to mend his image, he established an international commission on the Holocaust in Romania, headed by Elie Wiesel. The commission's conclusions are to be handed to the president next month. Earlier, the Romanian government had agreed with international Jewish organizations to establish a day for commemorating the Holocaust and to introduce into the school curriculum optional courses on the Holocaust. Indeed, according to Romanian media reports, the day was marked on 12 October in many Romanian schools. This, in fact, might be the most important aspect of the change – educating people about and giving them an awareness of the past.

Could Iliescu's speech and other increased attention to anti-Semitic episodes in the country's past uproot Holocaust denial in Romania? Uprooting might be too strong a word. There are Holocaust "negationists" (particularly among the elder generation) who did not and would not give up their effort to deny the obvious. And they direct their effort with tenacity at the young generation. On the eve of the Holocaust Day commemoration, one of those deniers, university professor Ion Coja, organized a "countermanifestation" in Bucharest, where he launched a new book with his well-known contentions. According to a government ordinance from March 2002, Holocaust denial is now a crime in Romania. Perhaps now acts should follow Iliescu's remarkable 12 October speech.


Operation Guardian and the U.S. elections (Part 2)

October 21, 2004

* This is the second of two dispatches on "Operation Clark County" and its counterpart, "Operation Guardian." There is an explanatory note on the first dispatch.

 

CONTENTS

1. "Letters to The Guardian"
2. "Advice? U.S. voters tell British, 'No, thank you'" (Reuters, Oct. 20, 2004)
3. "A clever trick?" (By John Gibson, Fox News, Oct. 19, 2004)
4. "British two cents draws, in sum, a two-word reply: Butt out" (By Sarah Lyall, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2004)
5. "Brits want to give you some advice" (Springfield News Sun, Oct. 14, 2004)


[Note by Tom Gross]

CHILDISH AND OBNOXIOUS

It seems to me that The Guardian has deliberately chosen to print the most extreme anti-Guardian comments, since many other websites have been publishing much more articulate, moderate and persuasive letters against Guardian policies.

I draw your attention to those The Guardian has published not because I agree with their tone or sentiment, but to demonstrate a cultural phenomena and as an example of how divisive the current U.S. election is proving.

You can also visit Tim Blair's site, to read about how "Operation Guardian" – the counter initiative to "Operation Clark County" – started, and has now spread to dozens of websites. Again, many of the comments posted are childish and obnoxious: http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/007752.php

 

EXAMPLES OF WEB POSTINGS TO THE GUARDIAN:

I have included only a few of these below, because so many are so ridiculous; if you want to look at another example (from Oct. 18, 2004) of letters The Guardian says it has received, go to www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1329858,00.html.

Here are some examples of the kind of comment The Guardian posted on line:

 

"Dear Guardian Guy,

Keep it up!

– Zarqawi"

 

"I hope everyone on this thread appreciates the great strain "Operation Clark County" has imposed on Guardian readers. They must put aside, for a few minutes, years of sneering anti-Americanism and pretend to be the concerned friends of those dumb, fat, gun totin', Yanks."

 

"And now you Europeans deign to offer us advice on our upcoming election. You will condescend to grant us your wisdom and sophistication. The people who gave the world Auschwitz, the Raj, and the Gulag; the people who divided Africa like a slaughtered steer and soaked their own continent in blood; the people of the Fourth Crusade, the 30 Years War, and the Western Front; the people who gave the world Nazism, Fascism, and Leninism: these people will now instruct us on how we should conduct our affairs."

 

"I recently read about your asinine attempt to influence the results of the upcoming Presidential election. Why anybody would care about the opinion of a know nothing socialist loser pseudointellectual elitist newsrag from Britain is beyond me, but it certainly is indicative of how desperate the Kerry campaign must be. Stay the hell out of our business, and have a nice day."

 

"Go back to sipping your tea and leave our people alone."


FULL ARTICLES

ADVICE? U.S. VOTERS TELL BRITISH, "NO, THANK YOU"

Advice? U.S. voters tell British, 'No, thank you'
Reuters (as printed in the International Herald Tribune)
October 20, 2004

www.iht.com/articles/2004/10/19/news/meddle.html

A letter-writing campaign sponsored by Britain's left-leaning Guardian newspaper that supports the Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, and targets undecided U.S. voters has provoked outrage across the Atlantic.

The newspaper has encouraged its readers to express their opinions on the coming U.S. election to voters in the key state of Ohio, a move that has prompted a deluge of indignant reactions.

One e-mail the newspaper printed read, "Hey England, Scotland and Wales, mind your own business. We don't need weenie-spined Limeys meddling in our presidential election."

The conservative Fox television network has criticized The Guardian and even Democrats have expressed horror at the campaign.

"We all feel it is not a good idea," said Sharon Manitta, spokeswoman for Democrats Abroad in Britain. "I think it was unwise. It is so poorly thought out."

But the newspaper, whose cartoons regularly portray President George W. Bush unfavorably, was unrepentant.

"We did consult a number of opinions and made our decision accordingly," said Paul MacInnes, assistant features editor. "It has been an operation to give our readers an opportunity to express their opinions."

Two weeks before the Nov. 2 election, Bush and Kerry are deadlocked in polls. Ohio is a key swing state that Bush won by four percentage points in 2000 and Clark County, the target of the newspaper's campaign, is at its heart.

As of Monday night, more than 14,000 people had registered with the Guardian to write to voters in Clark County, which has a population of 143,000.

The Guardian, which simply bought a list of registered voters and extracted those names that were listed as undecided, pledged that it would give out the name of each voter only once, to avoid swamping voters in Clark County with unsolicited mail from strangers on the other side of the ocean.

"We know that in many ways this is the world's election, and we understand the passion and concern in many parts of the world over it, but I wonder how people here in the U.K. would react to Americans telling them how to vote," Manitta said.

"This will certainly garner more votes for George Bush. I have strongly advised other media entities who have come to me and suggested this against doing so," she added.

While some e-mails to The Guardian from Democrats in Ohio were supportive, others suggested that the campaign was misguided.

"I just read a hilarious proposal to involve your readership in the upcoming U.S. presidential election," wrote one person. "I'm saying this as a Democrat," the e-mail continued, "Please, please be rational and move away from self-defeating hubris."

But the milder admonitions paled against some more-colorful opinions. Responded one person, "If you want to save the world, begin with your own worthless corner of it."

 

A CLEVER TRICK?

A clever trick?
By John Gibson
Fox News
October 19, 2004

www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,135823,00.html

Last week I told you about "Britain's Guardian newspaper organizing Brits" – and people from all over the world, actually – to write to voters in a small swing county in Ohio to urge them to vote President Bush out.

After three prominent Britons wrote letters to voters in Ohio telling them in high-minded English how dumb they would be to vote for Bush, Americans began to write back.

Monday, The Guardian printed a column with a sample of the earful it got from outraged Americans:

"We Ohioans are an ornery sort and don't take meddling well, even if it comes from people we admire and with their sincere goodwill," said one writer from Springfield, Ohio.

One from Washington D.C. wrote: "You vote for your leaders and we'll vote for ours. Your problem is with your leaders, not ours."

And these were the nice ones. Dozens of others were angry, hostile, truculent, threatening and exceedingly obscene.

I can't say here on the air a fraction of what outraged Americans had to say about and to the Brits who thought it would be helpful for voters in America to be educated on what a bad president George Bush has been. And I must say that I've decided this was a sly and clever trap set by The Guardian.

What The Guardian editors wanted was to show what louts and lowlifes Americans are... and so they baited the trap with someone like Lady Antonia Fraser lecturing us about our politics.

Then The Guardian got all these wild letters from wild Americans. And I think that was their point, really: To show Brits that Americans are still loutish frontiersmen wearing animal skins and scratching and spitting and cursing.

The Guardian's point in all of this was to show the world that the American voter is not qualified to select the leader of the free world. And the letters they got from us will confirm that opinion among many around the world.

Well, here's a news flash to all those people wherever they are: We don't care.

 

BRITISH TWO CENTS DRAWS, IN SUM, A TWO-WORD REPLY: BUTT OUT

British two cents draws, in sum, a two-word reply: Butt out
By Sarah Lyall
The New York Times
October 20, 2004

www.nytimes.com/2004/10/20/politics/campaign/20brits.html

The idea, as the left-leaning newspaper The Guardian here conceived it, was to allow "non-Americans" feeling alarmed or incensed by the state of affairs in the United States to do something about it.

Last week the newspaper began matching Guardian readers with independent voters in Clark County, Ohio, a key spot in a key swing state, urging them to "write a personal letter, citizen to citizen, explaining why this election matters to you." As an incentive, the paper printed sample letters from three prominent Britons – Lady Antonia Fraser, John le Carré and Richard Dawkins – arguing for the defeat of President Bush on Nov. 2.

"We in the rest of the world, who sadly cannot vote in the one election that really affects our future, are depending on you," said Mr. Dawkins, professor of public understanding of science at Oxford University. "The proper way to get rid of that smirking gunslinger is to vote him out."

But American voters, it turns out, do not much want to be told what to do by a bunch of foreigners, particularly when those foreigners are "losers and idiots," as one American characterized the British in a letter to The Guardian.

On Monday, the paper published a collection of American responses to its campaign. While some of the American correspondents were supportive of The Guardian's effort, many did not feel so friendly about it.

"Go back to sipping your tea and leave our people alone," one American sniped.

Another suggested that perhaps Britain would like people elsewhere meddling in its affairs.

"The next time you have elections in Great Britain, I shall endeavor to send names of your citizens to people in France, Iraq, India, the United Arab Emirates, Botswana, Pakistan, China and Argentina," the writer said, "so that they may attempt to influence your election."

There were also a number of remarks to the effect that the United States had already indicated to Britain, back in 1776, how it felt about outside interference. Also noted was the United States' decisive entry into World War II.

"If it wasn't for America, you'd all be speaking German," one writer said.
Some of the letters from the States seemed to bolster the widespread European view that Americans, whether because of inattention or arrogance, do not care much about the world beyond their own borders. Speaking of the entreaty from Mr. le Carré, the best-selling writer of thrillers, one American correspondent wrote: "People will read these letters and say, 'John le Who? Never heard of him, but who is he to tell me who to vote for?' "

 

BRITS WANT TO GIVE YOU SOME ADVICE

Brits want to give you some advice
By Michelle Everhart
Springfield News Sun
October 14, 2004

www.springfieldnewssun.com/hp/content/news/stories/2004/10/14/sns1014guardian.html?urac=n&urvf=10983547178550.9300048707664055

Readers of a British newspaper have been invited to write Clark County voters with the aim of persuading the undecided to vote for either George W. Bush or John Kerry.

The 400,000-circulation Guardian, a London-based newspaper, published an article explaining to its international readers that although they have no vote in the U.S. presidential election, they can make a difference.

" ... We've zeroed in on one of the places where this year’s election truly will be decided: Clark County, Ohio, which is balanced on a razor’s edge between Republicans and Democrats,” the article reads. It can be found on the Internet at guardian.co.uk, under the heading “My fellow non-Americans..." by Oliver Burkeman, who is based in the newspaper’s New York City bureau.

The newspaper is encouraging its readers from “Basildon to Botswana” to write Clark County residents who do not have a declared party, “which somewhat increases the chances of their being persuadable.”

Features editor Ian Katz said the unique idea stemmed from many foreigners’ feelings of helplessness while they watched the unfolding of the U.S. election – an election they feel will have a strong impact on the entire world.

“The United States is the most powerful country by far,” Katz said from London. “Domestic decisions are in fact huge decisions that could affect everyone in the world. In many ways this election will have more impact in our countries than our own political elections do.”

Editors looked at counties from Florida, Missouri and Ohio and picked Clark County because there are enough undeclared registered voters to accommodate the desired number of potential letter recipients, Katz said.

The Clark County Board of Elections shows 50,754 undeclared voters, but Katz said they received about 36,000 names and addresses.

Linda Rosicka, director of the Board of Elections, said The Guardian paid $25 for a “flat file,” a list of all registered voters in the county. Purchasers can extract whatever segment of voters they want, she said, and anyone can buy the list.

“We’re still waiting for their check,” she said of The Guardian. Normally, the lists are pay-in-advance, she said.

Rosicka also said she has received calls from Fox News, NBC and ABC, further verifying Clark County’s importance in the election.

Clark County voters also are in the electoral spotlight because of the close presidential election in 2000, when Democratic candidate Al Gore beat George W. Bush by just 324 votes.

The article and Katz acknowledge the plan could backfire, stating, “Anyone might be justifiably angered by the idea of a foreigner trying to interfere in their democratic process.”

Katz said that he does not want Clark County residents to think the newspaper is meddling in the election but simply conveying outsiders’ concerns over the potential outcome.

The Guardian, a traditionally liberal newspaper, makes no attempts to hide that it would like Bush out of office. British newspapers, unlike those in the United States, generally are openly partisan and tailor news coverage as well as editorials around their ideological preferences.

For the letter-writing campaign, however, the editors and reporters tried to craft the message as neutrally as possible, Katz said. The web site is careful to state that each letter-writer is free to support whichever candidate he backs, while noting a poll it conducted showed 47 percent of Britons back Kerry and 16 percent support Bush.

The system is designed so each voter’s information, all public record, is given to only one person participating in the process. This is to prevent one voter’s mailbox being crammed with letters from abroad.

“We don’t want anyone to feel violated,” Katz said. “We don’t give out any details but what is already public record, and we encourage people not to share the information.”

As of 5 p.m. London-time – 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – 3,000 people requested information on a Clark County voter, although it appears not all of them plan to write letters.

The newspaper already received e-mail letters from people upset about the campaign, even some from Ohio telling the newspaper to get lost, Katz said.

“We’ve gotten a lot of angry Republicans,” he said. “We figured there would be attempts to sabotage it.”

Despite some complaints, Katz said they also have some people copying courteous and reasonably intelligent letters to the newspaper saying “good on you” for its efforts.

The Springfield News-Sun also received about a dozen e-mails, starting early in the day, about the Guardian campaign, from places as diverse as New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Alaska and Switzerland, almost all of which expressed some degree of outrage.

A woman in New York City e-mailed that she had requested Clark County addresses under her six separate accounts. "I intend to immediately delete the e-mails should I ever get them. Thus, I may have saved six Ohio voters from being annoyed by Britishers with an axe to grind," she wrote.

Katz said they decided to go with postal mail, rather than e-mail, because the former is more personal.

The newspaper also encourages letter writers to include their name and address with the hopes of recipients replying and maybe even creating pen pals, Katz said.

The campaign is more than just a way for foreigners to state their views to locals. It also is a contest. The four most persuasive letter writers will win a trip to Ohio along with Guardian journalists to visit Clark County and campaign at the end of October.

One day of publication has garnered media requests from around the world including Ireland, Canada and the United States, Katz said.

In addition to its circulation of about 400,000 in England, the Guardian gets about 10 million unique visits to its Web site monthly, 4 million of which are from the United States.


Operation Guardian (Part 1)

* This is the first of two dispatches on the American presidential election concerning "Operation Clark County" and its counterpart, "Operation Guardian." (The second dispatch can be read here.)

 

CONTENTS

1. The Guardian: More conspiracy theories about Israel
2. "Operation Clark County": Attempting to influence the U.S. election
3. "Operation Guardian": Concerned Americans write to The Guardian
4. The Guardian: America on verge of becoming "a closed theocracy"
5. The Guardian: "Give money" to anti-Bush groups
6. The Guardian: Sample letters against Bush
7. The Guardian: "Write to the American media"


[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch concerns The Guardian. Although it is a British newspaper, The Guardian's influence stretches well beyond Britain.

This is not only because of its widely read Internet site and its international print edition. Although most educated Britons prefer The Times or Daily Telegraph (which have considerably higher circulations) The Guardian is overwhelmingly the paper of choice for BBC staff, who (given the kind of people the BBC employs) prefer a more left-wing newspaper such as The Guardian or Independent. Thus the BBC in turn repeats The Guardian's view of the world on BBC radio and TV broadcasts in over 50 languages throughout the globe. (The BBC is the world's biggest international news broadcaster.)

The International Herald Tribune and Toronto Star apart, The Guardian is the only non-American newspaper listed as "an American paper" on a new website listing all the clarifications, retractions and admission of errors in the American press (www.regrettheerror.com).

 

THE GUARDIAN'S CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUT THE JEWS

I attach below a letter by a subscriber to this email list sent yesterday morning.

From: Ian Solomon
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 10:45 AM
To: letters@guardian.co.uk
Subject: Guardian crosses the line

FOR PUBLICATION

Sirs,

I was astonished to read the article by your columnist Simon Tisdall ("Bush and Kerry dance to the tune of Ariel Sharon", Wednesday October 20th). When I read there that the leader of the Jewish state "has the world's only superpower dancing to his tune" and has the Bush administration "led by the nose", I have difficultly finding the dividing line between this article and the traditional antisemitic calumny about the Jews controlling the world. If there is such a dividing line, I would be grateful if the editors of the Guardian would clarify it for those of us who simply read the words on the page and draw the obvious conclusion.

Sincerely,
Ian Solomon
Jerusalem

 

Tom Gross adds:

There were several other letters of this type sent to The Guardian yesterday. None were published by The Guardian today. The Guardian did publish a letter from the Israeli embassy in London but felt it necessary to accompany that letter with a letter from John Rose, providing him with the opportunity to further publicize his (already well publicized in The Guardian) book, "The Myths of Zionism," and to publicize the campaign with which he is involved: "The Stop the (Apartheid) Wall Campaign in Palestine."

The article to which Ian Solomon refers ("Bush and Kerry dance to the tune of Ariel Sharon") was published prominently, on the first page of The Guardian’s international news section yesterday.

Today, The Guardian couldn't wait until its international news section to defame Israel. Instead on the front page of its international edition it runs a "Special Report" about the investigation into the death of a Palestinian civilian earlier this month. An important story perhaps, but it is not clear why it is so important that it is one of only three stories on The Guardian's front page (the other two stories concerning Britain) and why the words "Special Report" were placed in special red ink (unlike all other text on the page).

 

"OPERATION CLARK COUNTY"

For those who haven't been following this, for the past week, The Guardian has been running a campaign inviting Guardian readers around the world to write to U.S. voters in Clark County, a closely balanced electoral district in Ohio. The Guardian called its campaign "Operation Clark County."

The Guardian Internet site has been providing readers with the names and private addresses of voters in Clark County. The website is presently down, after suffering a massive hacker attack, but The Guardian has already managed to give out the private names and addresses of Clark County voters to many thousands of its readers.

In the paper today, the Guardian boasted that it had given out Clark County voter details to people in countries as far a field as Botswana, Chile, Norway, Germany, Morocco, Australia, Uruguay, Sweden, Singapore, China, Brazil, Italy, and France.

The Guardian did little to hide the fact that their aim was to bombard the county's voters with reasons not to vote for President Bush.

During the last week, the Guardian's "Operation Clark County" has been widely publicized in media throughout the world. These include reports on:

CNN
Fox News
Japanese TV
Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
The New York Times
The Washington Post

The New York Times headline on their story about "Operation Clark County" was "British Two Cents Draws, in Sum, a Two-Word Reply: Butt Out".

The Washington Post asked, "Can the Brits swing Ohio?"

 

"OPERATION GUARDIAN"

Hundreds of people from around the world have emailed editors at The Guardian to complain about Operation Clark County. Many of these letters can be read on Tim Blair's website, under the title, "Operation Guardian".

http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/007752.php

(You can also find further details about "Operation Guardian" there.)

 

THE GUARDIAN: AMERICA ON VERGE OF BECOMING "A CLOSED THEOCRACY"

The Guardian's own opinions can best be summed up in their editorial yesterday.

The paper says: "[The U.S.] hangs on the threshold of becoming a one-party state ruled by a clique of radical religious reactionaries... Not since Richard Nixon's paranoid rants has a president worked so hard to evade public review... [Bush wants to] turn America into a closed theocracy at war with all who differ with the administration."

 

THE GUARDIAN: "GIVE MONEY" TO ANTI-BUSH GROUPS

The Guardian advises readers not only how to "Write to a voter" but also how to circumvent U.S. law and "Give money".

The Guardian writes on its website:

"American law forbids foreigners from giving money to affect the outcome of a federal election – except that, on closer inspection, it doesn't. You're banned from donating to the campaigns themselves, or to many of the independent campaigning groups that fight explicitly on behalf of one candidate. So you need to identify officially non-partisan groups whose activities, none the less, have the practical effect of helping one candidate over the other."

The Guardian then goes on to suggest specific groups to which non-Americans may wish to donate, together with their contact details.

 

SAMPLE LETTERS AGAINST BUSH

The Guardian has also published a series of sample letters to U.S. voters by prominent British personalities.

For example, Richard Dawkins, the distinguished Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, writes the following to Clark County voters about Bush:

"An idiot he may be, but he is also sly, mendacious and vindictive... thuggish ideologues... pariah state… brazenly lying... cynical mendacity… The world would be a better place without George Bush, but that doesn't justify an assassination attempt."

I attach below three of these letters, as published in The Guardian. I would also like to re-assure American subscribers to this email list that although once again, they are being told – this time by John Le Carre – that Bush is "universally hated abroad," I do not find this is in fact the case.

I travel widely, and speak to and interview many people in many countries, and by and large I find it is only the left-wing elites in western Europe, north America and Israel that hate Bush with such venom. Many ordinary people throughout the world support his foreign policies, as do many intellectuals in eastern Europe and (in private) in the Arab world.

-- Tom Gross



JOHN LE CARRE

Three prominent Britons hit the campaign trail
Get the name of a US voter: Click here
By John Le Carre
The Guardian
October 13, 2004

www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1326066,00.html

Maybe there's one good reason – just one – for re-electing George W Bush, and that's to force him to live with the consequences of his appalling actions, and answer for his own lies, rather than wish the job on a Democrat who will then get blamed for his predecessor's follies.

Probably no American president in all history has been so universally hated abroad as George W Bush: for his bullying unilateralism, his dismissal of international treaties, his reckless indifference to the aspirations of other nations and cultures, his contempt for institutions of world government, and above all for misusing the cause of anti-terrorism in order to unleash an illegal war – and now anarchy – upon a country that like too many others around the world was suffering under a hideous dictatorship, but had no hand in 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction, and no record of terrorism except as an ally of the US in a dirty war against Iran.

Is your president a great war leader because he allowed himself to be manipulated by a handful of deluded ideologues? Is Tony Blair a great war leader because he committed Britain's troops, foreign policy and domestic security to the same hare-brained adventure?

You are voting in November. We will vote next year. Yet the outcome in both countries will in large part depend on the same question: how long can the lies last now that the truth has finally been told? The Iraq war was planned long before 9/11. Osama provided the excuse. Iraq paid the price. American kids paid the price. British kids paid the price. Our politicians lied to us.

While Bush was waging his father's war at your expense, he was also ruining your country. He made your rich richer and your poor and unemployed more numerous. He robbed your war veterans of their due and reduced your children's access to education. And he deprived more Americans than ever before of healthcare. Now he's busy cooking the books, burying deficits and calling in contingency funds to fight a war that his advisers promised him he could light and put out like a candle.

Meanwhile, your Patriot Act has swept aside constitutional and civil liberties which took brave Americans 200 years to secure, and were once the envy of a world that now looks on in horror, not just at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, but at what you are doing to yourselves.

But please don't feel isolated from the Europe you twice saved. Give us back the America we loved, and your friends will be waiting for you. And here in Britain, for as long as we have Tony Blair singing the same lies as George Bush, your nightmares will be ours.

• John Le Carre is a novelist.

 

ANTONIA FRASER

O duty
Why hast thou not the visage of a sweetie or a cutie ... ?
Why art thou so different from Venus?
And why do thou and I have so few interests in common between us?

These sentiments on the subject of duty, so brilliantly expressed by Ogden Nash, may well be yours, dear Unknown, when I, a national of another country, urge you to do your duty and vote in your coming presidential election. In fact, of course, we have all too many interests in common. When you vote – and please do vote by the way, even if you disagree with everything I am about to say – that vote will have as much effect on my future and the much longer future of my children and grandchildren, as it will on your own. For this is a crucial election, the most crucial, I believe, of my lifetime (and I first voted in 1955!).

First of all, if you back Kerry, you will be voting against a savage militaristic foreign policy of pre-emptive killing which has stained the great name of the US so hideously in recent times. A policy that Bush and his gang are set to continue – if they get the opportunity. I say "the great name" of the US because I believe that to be profoundly true. Although resolutely against the Iraq war, I remain equally resolutely philamerican, almost every movement towards liberty in the past having its roots or its refuge in the US.

As a wartime child, I am well aware of the benevolence of the American soldiers who came to our aid, the ones that filled the foreign graveyards where they lay, fallen because they had joined our war. Brought up in Oxford, I regarded these men as gods, generous gods. I shall never forget Hank, a composite of the very young American soldiers who regularly got my brother Thomas and me into the Ritz cinema to see movies such as Saboteur. In fact, Hank, in retrospect, looked rather like the Great Tom, my cinematic hero in Saving Private Ryan (so maybe Tom is Hank's boy; I like to think so). From the image of Hank to that of Abu Ghraib ...

Then there is the question of women's rights, and the possible repeal of legislation that has for a generation made all women equal before the law, not just the rich. Once again, this history of women's rights in America is long, strong and wonderful. As long ago as 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville, visiting America from France, discovered "the singular address and happy boldness" of its women, featured in Democracy in America. If you vote for Kerry, you will help to avert a move backwards towards women's suffering.

President Bush declared on Friday that, "History will decide". Dear Unknown, please be part of that history and restore your country to its greatness, both foreign and domestic.

• Antonia Fraser is a biographer and historian.

 

RICHARD DAWKINS

Dear Americans,

Don't be so ashamed of your president: the majority of you didn't vote for him. If Bush is finally elected properly, that will be the time for Americans travelling abroad to simulate a Canadian accent. Please don't let it come to that. Vote against Bin Laden's dream candidate. Vote to send Bush packing.

Before 9/11 gave him his big break – the neo-cons' Pearl Harbor – Bush was written off as an amiable idiot, certain to serve only one term. An idiot he may be, but he is also sly, mendacious and vindictive; and the thuggish ideologues who surround him are dangerous. 9/11 gave America a free gift of goodwill, and it poured in from all around the world. Bush took it as a free gift to the warmongers of his party, a licence to attack an irrelevant country which, however nasty its dictator, had no connection with 9/11. The consequence is that all the worldwide goodwill has vanished. Bush's America is on the way to becoming a pariah state. And Bush's Iraq has become a beacon for terrorists.

In the service of his long-planned war (with its catastrophically unplanned aftermath), Bush not only lied about Iraq being the "enemy" who had attacked the twin towers. With the connivance of the toadying Tony Blair and the spineless Colin Powell, he lied to Congress and the world about weapons of mass destruction. He is now brazenly lying to the American electorate about how "well" things are going under the puppet government. By comparison with this cynical mendacity, the worst that can be said about John Kerry is that he sometimes changes his mind. Well, wouldn't you change your mind if you discovered that the major premise on which you had been persuaded to vote for war was a big fat lie?

Now that all other justifications for the war are known to be lies, the warmongers are thrown back on one, endlessly repeated: the world is a better place without Saddam. No doubt it is. But that's the Tony Martin school of foreign policy [Martin was a householder who shot dead a burglar who had broken into his house in 1999]. It's not how civilised countries, who follow the rule of law, behave. The world would be a better place without George Bush, but that doesn't justify an assassination attempt. The proper way to get rid of that smirking gunslinger is to vote him out.

As the bumper stickers put it, "Re-defeat Bush". But, this time, do it so overwhelmingly that neither his brother's friends in Florida nor his father's friends on the Supreme Court will be able to rig the count. Decent Americans – there are absolutely more intelligent, educated, civilised, cultivated, compassionate people in America than in any other country in the western world – please show your electoral muscle this time around. We in the rest of the world, who sadly cannot vote in the one election that really affects our future, are depending on you. Please don't let us down.

• Richard Dawkins is professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University.

 

THE GUARDIAN: "WRITE TO THE AMERICAN MEDIA"

Here is a further example of the way in which The Guardian is seeking to influence the U.S. elections:

www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1325803,00.html

How to contact the US media

If you would like to share your opinions with a bigger audience, you could try writing to regional US newspapers or contacting radio phone-ins. We list below the papers and stations in five swing states outside Ohio

Get the name of a US voter: Click here

Wednesday October 13, 2004

NEVADA – Kerry: 48%, Bush: 47%
The Las Vegas Review Journal
1111 W. Bonanza Road
Las Vegas, NV 89125
(702) 383-2011
www.reviewjournal.com

KNPR-FM
1289 S. Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 258-9895
www.knpr.org

NEW MEXICO – Kerry:46%, Bush: 47%
The Albuquerque Tribune
7777 Jefferson St. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
(505) 823-7777
www.abqtrib.com

KANW-FM
2020 Coal Ave SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
(505) 242-7163
www.kanw.com

WISCONSIN – Kerry:47%, Bush: 46%, Nader: 2%
Milwaukee Courier/Southeastern Star
2431 W. Hopkins St.
Milwaukee, WI 53206
(414) 449-4860
www.milwaukeecourier.org

Milwaukee Times Weekly 2214 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53212
(414) 263-5088
www.milwtimes.com

WUWM-FM
161 W. Wisconsin Ave
Suite LL 1000
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413

IOWA – Kerry: 48%, Bush: 47%
Des Moines Register 715 Locust St
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 284-8000
www.dmregister.com

KUNI-FM University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0359
(313) 273-6400
www.kuniradio.org

WOI Radio Group 2022 Communications Building
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-3241
(515) 294-2025

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Kerry: 47%, Bush: 47%
The Telegraph 17 Executive Drive
Hudson, NH 03051
(603) 882-2741
www.nashuatelegraph.com

Amherst Citizen
P.O. Box 291
Amherst, NH 03031
(603) 672-9444
www.amherstcitizen.com

WEVO-FM
207 North Main St
Concord, NH 03301-5003
(603) 228-89
www.nhpr.org

It is the policy of the Guardian to correct significant errors as soon as possible. Please quote the date and page number. Readers may contact the office of the readers' editor by telephoning 0845 451 9589 (UK only, calls charged at local rate) or +44 (0)20 7713 4736 between 11am and 5pm UK time Monday to Friday excluding UK bank holidays.

Mail: Readers' editor, The Guardian, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER, UK.

Fax: +44 (0)20 7239 9997.

Email: reader@guardian.co.uk, and letters@guardian.co.uk


The “media intifada”: Is it running out of steam?

October 20, 2004

I attach a comment article from today's Jerusalem Post, in which I argue that the international "media intifada" against Israel, like the intifada on the ground, is beginning to run out of steam – but this is likely to prove only temporary.

-- Tom Gross


A MILD SIGN OF HOPE IN THE MEDIA?

A mild sign of hope in the media?
By Tom Gross
The Jerusalem Post
October 20, 2004

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1098245481587&p=1006953079865

Is the international "media intifada" against Israel, like the intifada on the ground, beginning to run out of steam?

To judge by the reporting of Israel's recent Gaza operation, this just might be the case. Of course, there is still plenty of negative coverage. There was the usual emotive reporting ("Two girls, two shots to the head," read the Guardian's headline; "The harvest of death in this most dispossessed of refugee camps continued," began Mitch Potter's news report in the Toronto Star.)

And there were also the usual outright lies. Agence France Presse, for example, reported last week (in a story reprinted in newspapers throughout the world) that the majority of the 111 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza over the last two weeks were children.

But overall, the reporting on Operation Days of Penitence was not nearly as fierce, nor as bad, as it has been on several past occasions.

When, for example, Israel launched a similarly-sized counterterrorist operation in Jenin in 2002 (and actually killed very few civilians in doing so), Israel-baiting in the European media reached hysterical levels. Israel was invariably compared to the Nazis, al-Qaeda, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and the Taliban.

The Guardian said Israel's actions were "every bit as repellent" as the 9/11 attacks. The (London) Evening Standard called them acts of "genocide" and, for good measure, accused Israel of the "willful burning of several church buildings."

And even supposedly pro-Israel newspapers like Britain's Daily Telegraph said "hundreds of Palestinian victims" had been "buried by bulldozers in mass graves." Palestinians in Jenin, Telegraph readers were told, were "stripped to their underwear, bound hand and foot, placed against a wall and killed with single shots to the head."

During recent weeks, by contrast, not only has there been a slight easing of pressure against Israel in media coverage, but some European reporters have actually taken the unusual step of speaking out against their Israel-hating colleagues.

In Paris on Saturday several journalists at Radio France International slammed the station's news director, Alain Menargues, for his "unacceptable" remarks during an interview concerning his book Sharon's Wall on Radio Courtoisie last week.

Menargues told listeners that we knew from the Book of Leviticus and from 2,000 years of history that Jews wished to separate themselves from "impure" non-Jews. He added that Jews had deliberately created the world's first ghetto in Venice "to separate themselves off from the rest."

And in London on Sunday fellow journalists publicly condemned the notorious Robert Fisk, The Independent's Mideast correspondent (and a previous winner of journalist of the year award for, among other things, his anti-Israel tirades). The associate editor of the (London) Times said Fisk's coverage "masquerades as reporting but is, in fact, polemic."

Bill Newman, ombudsman for The Sun, Britain's most popular newspaper, said Fisk's coverage of Israel was so bad that he found it "distasteful."

A further sign of change is the displeasure the terror groups themselves have expressed now that they are no longer automatically getting the sympathetic coverage they have come to expect from Western journalists. They have recently started to kidnap journalists (French ones in Iraq, an Israeli Arab working for CNN in Gaza) as a warning to others to toe the line.

There are several possible reasons why there may have been a slight easing in attacks on Israel recently, at least in some parts of the media:

* The media are presently preoccupied with the US elections.

* For the time being, Iraq has become the main focus of Mideast reporting.

* The ferocious nature of terror attacks like those in Beslan and Madrid might finally have persuaded some European journalists to consider the possibility that Israel is justified in the steps it has taken to defend itself.

* The recent beheadings perpetrated by hostage-takers in Iraq have, for the time being at least, given their fellow "militants" in Gaza a bad name.

* Even the most liberal of the pro-Arab media are finally tending to treat Yasser Arafat in a negative light.

* Perhaps commentators realize that Israel is intending to do what the international community has demanded of it for decades and withdraw from Gaza – and yet in response, far from making conciliatory gestures, Palestinian groups have murdered Israeli children in Sderot and Beersheba. Some journalists are now less enamored of Hamas. (There are exceptions, of course; both Orla Guerin of the BBC and Ben Wedeman of CNN have recently started referring to Hamas as "the resistance.")

* Improved public-relations efforts on behalf of Israel: not the lamentable efforts of Gideon Meir, Israel's PR guru at the Foreign Ministry, but those of private groups such as HonestReporting.

* Perhaps, too, there is a belated realization that – even if it isn't acknowledged in public – the Israeli army makes honest and sustained efforts to avoid civilian casualties, of a kind that has very seldom been taken by other armies.

However, experience suggests that this mild improvement in media comment and coverage is likely to prove only temporary. Negative opinion about Israel, especially in Europe, has become so entrenched in broad sections of elitist opinion that there is little chance of Israel receiving fair coverage on a consistent basis – not until there is full recognition in Europe and elsewhere of the nature and threat of Islamic fundamentalist terror.

(The writer is a former Middle East foreign correspondent.)


BBC “to ditch Reuters”?

October 19, 2004

This is a follow-up to the dispatches:

* The global head of Reuters news responds (September 23, 2004)
* Reuters: A news agency that will not call a terrorist a terrorist (July 13, 2004)
* On bus bombs and bystanders (September 24, 2004)
* Other previous dispatches on Reuters and on the BBC

 

CONTENTS

1. "Cost cutting hits BBC picture desk" (Guardian, Oct. 19, 2004)
2. We failed to be balanced, admits Reuters
3. "S.Africa moves to avert protests over Israeli visit" (Reuters, Oct. 18, 2004)
4. "What Reuters failed to grasp" (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 3, 2004)
5. "Reuters terminology laundry" (Ma'ariv, Sept. 26, 2004)


[Note by Tom Gross]

WE FAILED TO BE BALANCED, ADMITS REUTERS

Since I wrote an article on Reuters in the July issue of the National Review (an article which was reproduced on news websites throughout the world, and to which the global head of Reuters, David Schlesinger, responded at some length) several other journalists have written articles critical of Reuters' Middle East coverage. I attach two of these (from The Jerusalem Post and from Ma'ariv) below.

Last week, despite denying in response to my article that Reuters had any kind of problem with regards to its Israel coverage, David Schlesinger flew to Jerusalem to talk to the Reuters bureau there about their coverage. (I am aware of some of what was said but cannot make this public at this point.)

Last month, Reuters also came to the Middle East to film a gushing promotional video for Reuters shareholders in the U.S. and Europe. The video featured Arab and Jewish staff from the Mideast, emphasizing how the news agency employs Jews and Arabs, working together side by side "in harmony".

One reason why they work in harmony is that Reuters handpicks as staff Jews and Arabs who are both highly sympathetic to "the Palestinian cause".

Among the many anti-Israeli Jews Reuters employs in the Middle East is Matt Spetalnick, who wrote the report on the September 22 Jerusalem suicide bomb in which he suggested that the French Hill bus stop – one of Jerusalem's busiest (civilian) bus stops and the location of that day's attack – is some kind of military target. (See the dispatch of September 24, 2004 titled On bus bombs and bystanders.)

That day, as I pointed out in that dispatch, even though Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie, Yasser Arafat's spokesman Saeb Erekat, and Arafat's Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (who proudly claimed responsibility for the bomb) all admitted that the targets were Israeli civilians, Reuters tried to suggest otherwise.

Reuters also ran another story that day in sympathy with the suicide bomber, entitled "Bomber's Stunned Family Has Little Time To Grieve". In a very rare move, Reuters has apologized for that story in a private email, sent to a subscriber on this list. I attach the text of that apology below.

-- Tom Gross

 

CONTENTS AND VERY BRIEF SUMMARIES

I attach five items on Reuters.

1. A story from today's Media Section of The Guardian (London). The Guardian says "The BBC is running trials to see if it can ditch the internationally renowned news agency, Reuters, in a dramatic, if not desperate, bid to save money... Reuters has one of the biggest newsgathering operations in the world, often with camera crews in areas the BBC cannot reach, and has been a vital source of pictures in Iraq." The BBC may instead rely on AP (Associated Press) TV and Arab TV networks for their pictures.

2. We failed to be balanced, admits Reuters. Reuters Editor in Chief admits that a story connected to the September 22, 2004 suicide murders of Israelis by the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, was "not balanced."

3. "S. Africa moves to avert protests over Israeli visit" (Reuters, October 18, 2004). I attach this story from yesterday (which was also widely distributed by AOL to their customers) as an example of how Reuters slips superfluous anti-Israeli information into their reports. In this case, I am referring to the end of the article, produced by their Johannesburg bureau.

4. "What Reuters failed to grasp" (By Noga Tarnopolsky, Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2004). She writes: "Reuters's story is so far from real journalism" and "I'd be interested in asking Reuters's Jerusalem bureau chief. If a murderer came up to you as you unlocked the door to your car, how would you react?"

5. "Reuters terminology laundry" (By Jonathan Ariel, Ma'ariv, September 26 2004). He writes: "The bottom line is that Reuters' arguments are unacceptable, the antithesis to the truth, the facts and common sense, not to mention elementary human decency. By refusing to differentiate between terrorists and other combatants, Reuters has become partial and partisan, aiding and abetting terrorists by sanitizing and legitimizing them."



FULL ARTICLES

THE GUARDIAN: THE BBC MAY DITCH REUTERS

Cost cutting hits BBC picture desk
By Chris Tryhorn and Jason Deans
The Guardian
October 19, 2004

media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,7493,1330324,00.html

The BBC is running trials to see if it can ditch the internationally renowned news agency, Reuters, in a dramatic, if not desperate, bid to save money. The corporation is investigating how it would cope without pictures from either Reuters or the smaller, but also internationally respected, APTN agencies, a move that could save it up to £3m.

News services are going without Reuters pictures this week until tomorrow, while from Thursday they are not allowed to use feed from APTN for a week. The "real life exercise", which is designed to see if the BBC really needs access to two separate providers of video footage, also includes a ban on library pictures.

It underlines the BBC's willingness to consider drastic measures in a bid to achieve the kind of cuts in costs desired by the new director general, Mark Thompson.

Adrian van Klaveren, the corporation's head of newsgathering, told executives in an email last week that the review made sense in the face of "financial pressures". "As you know, we are looking at the options we face for next year's news budgets," Mr van Klaveren wrote.

"Historically, we have always had two video news agencies (currently Reuters and APTN) but given the financial pressures we face, it makes sense to review this position. "To that end, we are conducting two short trials to gauge what having only one agency would be like. This is a real life exercise and adherence to it is not optional.

To go without one of the news agencies seems inconceivable for the BBC, which under John Birt built a news and current affairs empire and a worldwide reputation in TV news to go with it.

Reuters has one of the biggest newsgathering operations in the world, often with camera crews in areas the BBC cannot reach, and has been a vital source of pictures in Iraq.

The BBC relies on agency material to cover foreign news, especially in hotspots such as Falluja where the agencies' local cameramen can reach particularly difficult areas. If it went without either Reuters or AP, it might have to rely more on pictures from other channels, such as Arab broadcaster al-Jazeera.

Both agencies are also used by the BBC's principal rivals, ITN and Sky News. Some executives suspect the exercise is being used as a bargaining tool to drive down the price of pictures.

Mr van Klaveren – touted as a potential successor to Mark Damazer as the BBC's deputy director of news – asked staff to let him know of any "nice to have" situations, where "it would have been useful to have the other agency".

In the case of breaking news or exclusive pictures that the "wrong" agency has, staff must ask permission to use it.

One industry insider said it would save the BBC "a seven-figure sum" if it ditched one of the two agencies as a picture supplier. Another suggested a potential saving of between £500,000 and £3m.

Cuts have been on the agenda at the BBC since Mr Thompson took up his post in June. He has described the BBC's overheads as "too much" at £320m a year, and warned a programme of cost cutting would be needed to balance the books. The BBC refused to comment.

 

WE FAILED TO BE BALANCED, ADMITS REUTERS

[Sent to a subscriber of this email list]

Thank you for your e-mail. I have reviewed the Sept 22 story, titled Bomber's Stunned Family Has Little Time To Grieve, to which your e-mail refers and proper care was not taken in the editing of the copy. Reuters is committed to the highest standards of balanced reporting and I regret that this story did not meet those standards. We are reinforcing our editing safeguards.

Yours sincerely,

Geert Linnebank
Editor in Chief
Reuters

 

S. AFRICA MOVES TO AVERT PROTESTS OVER ISRAELI VISIT

[Tom Gross writes: I attach this story from yesterday (which was also widely distributed by AOL to their customers) as an example of how Reuters slips superfluous anti-Israeli information into their reports. In this case, I am referring to the end of the article, produced by their Johannesburg bureau.]

S.Africa moves to avert protests over Israeli visit
Reuters
October 18, 2004

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's government held talks with pro-Palestinian groups on Monday to try to stave off likely protests against a planned visit this week by Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

South Africa's black-led government has encouraged factions in the Middle East conflict to draw on its own experiences in negotiating the end of apartheid white rule in 1994.

It hosted talks last month with members of Israel's ruling Likud party to try to revive negotiations to end the Middle East conflict.

But its willingness to talk to the Israeli government, and its position as Israel's largest trading partner in Africa, has angered some pro-Palestinian activists, particularly among its economically influential Muslim minority.

Pro-Palestinian activists have written letters of protest to the government and on Saturday staged a demonstration in Cape Town against the visit beginning on Wednesday, during which Olmert will meet South African President Thabo Mbeki.

"We are discussing the situation with a view to finding an amicable resolution that will add impetus to the effort that the government is making to find a long-lasting resolution of the political crisis facing Palestinians and Israelis," said a spokesman for Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad who met the representatives.

The Palestinian Solidarity Group, which helped organise Saturday's Cape Town protest, said it hoped to stage demonstrations during Olmert's visit, but had given the government until Monday evening to respond to its complaints.

"We are hoping for a response – we want to know who invited them (the Israeli delegation) and why," Mercia Andrews, of the Palestinian Solidarity Group in Western Cape province, told Reuters.

"They (the South African government) say their main aim is to support the Palestinian people, but how can you do that if you are Israel's biggest trading partner in Africa," she said.

As well as being a deputy prime minister, Olmert is Israel's minister of communications, industry, trade and labour, and his visit to South Africa will include meetings with Pahad as well as Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mphahlwa.

Meanwhile relations with Israel's government are complicated by South Africa's protests over the 375 mile (600 km) West Bank barrier – ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice but which Israel says it needs to keep suicide bombers out – as well as Israel's historic support for apartheid.

 

WHAT REUTERS FAILED TO GRASP

What Reuters failed to grasp
By Noga Tarnopolsky
The Jerusalem Post
October 3, 2004

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1096700520891&p=1006953079865

When I was 20 and not yet contemplating a future in journalism, a famous reporter from a very famous newspaper came to the city where I was working to give a talk about his coverage of the Middle East. He probably shouldn't have come. Confronted by members of the audience who knew too much about his field, Famous Reporter quickly retreated into a pitiful defensive posture from which he said that his questioners' standards were too high. "What we write is just the toilet paper of history," he said with a weak smile. (No, not "the first draft of history.") Suffice it to say he was referring to a major East Coast newspaper, and I've never forgotten his performance.

You have to wonder sometimes about who goes into this field.

There was a suicide attack in Jerusalem a few days ago. Given what the city has been through, it was not the most significant of attacks: 18-year-old Zeinab Abu Salem approached a generally crowded bus stop in French Hill and blew herself up using a three- to five-kilogram bomb packed with nails. She could have killed more than 20 people but was detained for questioning by two border policemen. Realizing they were on to her, she quickly detonated the explosives.

The two border policemen who stopped her – Menashe Komemi and Mamoya Tahio – paid with their lives for their vigilance. They were there, on the job, to prevent exactly such attacks. Both died after several minutes of agony witnessed all too closely by people standing at the bus stop, who described what they'd seen to the Israeli media.

Later that evening, I overheard a conversation between two neighbors discussing Komemi, 19, and Tahio, 20. One quietly said they'd been heroic, saving so many lives. The other said they were dumb – they should have shot Abu Salem the minute they realized what she was up to.

Why do I bring this up? Because these two neighbors, neither of them journalists or people with a special connection to major news issues, grasped the fundamental question that Reuters, the international news service, failed to comprehend.

One formulation for that question might be, How do you react when confronted by a murderer? It's a question I'd be interested in asking Reuters's Jerusalem bureau chief. If a murderer came up to you as you unlocked the door to your car, how would you react?

What the Reuters bureau chief did, so far beyond his most basic task – which was immediate coverage of the attack – was to put out two featurish pieces.

The first of these pieces is entitled "Bomber's stunned family has little time to grieve." The other is "After bomb, Jerusalem Palestinians also feel fear." Why was this piece published? Not a single Jerusalem Palestinian was affected by this attack.

But back to Zeinab Abu Salem. Reuters in its "Bombers stunned family" piece, tells us that Zeinab, acting perhaps like an adolescent as she packed to leave – she was, after all, just 18 – did not properly inform her family that she would not be coming home. Upon hearing the news of his daughter's death, the father, who had recently undergone heart surgery, felt faint and had to be taken to hospital, shortly to be followed by his wife; she also felt awful and feared, as a family member is quoted saying, that she not only lost her daughter but might lose her home and her husband as well. Yes, at the hands of the evil Israelis who demolish houses.

I'm actually opposed to the policy of demolishing homes, but Reuters's story is so far from real journalism that I hope you'll forgive my addition of that little word "evil." Zeinab's 12-year-old brother, Tarek (whom she also did not inform of her plans) is quoted as saying, "I don't know what's happening. I don't know where she is. She isn't at home."

The article ends with a quote from one of Zeinab's uncles, Mustafa Shinawi. "Oppression is everywhere," he says. "Every Palestinian finds his own suitable way to protest the Israeli oppression."

The piece does not identify Zeinab clearly as an adult who left her home with the intent to commit murder, and does not explain the four-year policy of suicide bombings undertaken by various Palestinian terrorist groups. In other words, it gives no context.

Aside from its potential use in a Journalism 101 class as an example of how to fail as a reporter, this is a useless bit of writing. Or maybe it has a political point. I have no idea.

But any Reuters reader who might wonder if the mother of Menashe Komemi also fainted when she heard of the death of her son, or whether Mamoya Tahio's younger brother is also pained and confused, is left to ponder these questions without the benefit of Reuters's reporting. And any Reuters reader who wonders what eyewitnesses saw after Zeinab detonated her bomb are left to imagine this scene on their own.

Someone needs to remind Reuters what reporting is meant to do: to convey news, not impressions. To answer the who, what, when, why, where, and how of any event. To tell us, for example, that Yasser Arafat's Aksa Martyrs Brigades accepted responsibility for the murder committed by young Zeinab Abu Salem – with no regard, apparently, for the feelings of her parents.

(The writer is a Jerusalem-based author.)

 

REUTERS TERMINOLOGY LAUNDRY

Reuters terminology laundry
By Jonathan Ariel
Ma'ariv
September 26, 2004

www.maarivintl.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&articleID=11170

Reuters claims terrorist is an emotive, not factual term, since "one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter". A rose by any other name...?

Recently, as a result of a spat with the CanWest media group, Reuter's dirty little secret finally came out, they never call use the "T-word" when reporting terror attacks, preferring terms like militants or activists.

This was admitted by two senior Reuters officials. In an interview with the New York Times, they admitted never labeling any action, no matter how reprehensible as terrorism, and never refer to the perpetrators as terrorists. "Terror is an emotive term, and we as impartial journalists cannot use such terminology. One man's terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter".

This statement suffers from two basic defects. The first, and less important has to do with form, it is a tired and well-worn cliché, long bereft of any originality it once had.

The second, and much more important defect is that it is fallacious. A terrorist is someone who perpetrates terrorism, plain and simple, no ifs, ands or buts. Define terrorism and one can define a terrorist.

There is significant and substantial consensus among both security, military and diplomatic professionals as to what constitutes terrorism. The State Department's definition is “politically motivated attacks on non-combatant targets.

Professor Boaz Ganor, head of the ICT (International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism), one of the world's leading authorities on terrorism takes this basic principle much further.

"Surprisingly, many in the Western world have accepted the mistaken assumption that terrorism and national liberation are two extremes in the scale of legitimate use of violence. The struggle for "national liberation" would appear to be the positive and justified end of this sequence, whereas terrorism is the negative and odious one. It is impossible, according to this approach, for any organization to be both a terrorist group and a movement for national liberation at the same time".

"In failing to understand the difference between these two concepts, many have, in effect, been caught in a semantic trap laid by the terrorist organizations and their allies. They have attempted to contend with the clichés of national liberation by resorting to odd arguments, instead of stating that when a group or organization chooses terrorism as a means, the aim of their struggle cannot be used to justify their actions".

"As the late Senator Jackson put it. "The idea that one person's 'terrorist' is another's 'freedom fighter' cannot be sanctioned. Freedom fighters or revolutionaries don’t blow up buses containing non-combatants; terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don't set out to capture and slaughter schoolchildren; terrorist murderers do ... It is a disgrace that democracies would allow the treasured word 'freedom' to be associated with acts of terrorists".

Boaz Ganor proposes universally adopting the following definition. "Terrorism is the intentional and systematic use of, or threat to use violence against civilians or against civilian targets, in order to attain political aims".

The key element in this definition is the means “deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians”. The fact that the aims are political is irrelevant, since many people and organizations have political aims, this does not mean that they seek to achieve them by blowing up busses, schools and restaurants.

History bears this out. The ANC, which waged the most successful war of liberation in recent history, against South Africa's apartheid regime, was not a terrorist organization. Its guerrilla army (MK-Umkhonto se Sizwe) was, primarily, exactly that, a guerrilla army. It waged an unconventional (what is called today low intensity) war against legitimate military and economic targets.

It is true that some attacks did target civilians, but these were the exception, rather than the rule. It is also true that civilians were killed when economic targets were attacked. However attacking an enemy's infrastructure and vital economic targets is considered legitimate warfare, irrespective of whether it is done by an air force or a guerrilla.

Some attacks caused collateral civilian casualties, but what war doesn't. In every war, whether conventional or not, mistakes happen and wrong targets get hit. This does not make those responsible terrorists. The red line separating terrorism from legitimate warfare is the intent and strategy, when one side adopts a deliberate strategy of targeting civilians, then they become terrorists.

Islamic and Middle East terrorism passes every test for being defined as terrorism, and its perpetrators as terrorists. They deliberately and systematically target civilians. We are not talking about civilians working in economically strategic targets. Busses, schools, airplanes and restaurants are not factories or power plants. These targets are not attacked because of their economic or strategic value, but simply because they are places where there are lots of civilians, making them target rich environments, enabling the terrorist the most bangs for his buck.

The bottom line is that Reuters arguments are unacceptable, the antithesis to the truth, the facts and common sense, not to mention elementary human decency. By refusing to differentiate between terrorists and other combatants, Reuters has become partial and partisan, aiding and abetting terrorists by sanitizing and legitimizing them.


Leading medical journal compares Israel to al Qaeda

October 18, 2004

* British Medical Journal, one of the world's leading medical publications, runs another anti-Israel diatribe
* Same British Medical Journal article also appears on pro-Hamas website
* Separately: the editor of "Diabetes Voice," the journal of The International Diabetes Federation, resigns after printing attack on Israel

 

CONTENTS

1. Editor of the Journal "Diabetes Voice" resigns after magazine publishes political attack on Israel
2. The international Diabetes Federation apologizes for article in "Diabetes Voice"
3. British Medical Journal: "Palestine: The assualt on health and other war crimes"
4. British Medical Journal (Letters, October 17, 2004)


[Note by Tom Gross]

"WE ARE NOT TRAINED IN THE DARK ARTS OF POLITICS"

Yet again, the highly respected British Medical Journal (BMJ) – read the world over by leading physicians and others – has published an anti-Israel diatribe (issue of October 16, under the title "Palestine: The assault on health and other war crimes.")

This comes only days after Israeli chemists won the Nobel Prize.

Among the complete fabrications in his article, BMJ author, Dr. Derrick Summerfield (who is the "Honorary senior lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, London" and is also a British government employee), writes: "The Israeli army, with utter impunity, has killed more unarmed Palestinian civilians since September 2000 than the number of people who died on September 11, 2001... Clearly, soldiers are routinely authorised to shoot to kill children..."

(In fact, the vast majority of Palestinians killed over the last four years have been armed, many perpetrating attacks on Israeli civilians at the time they were killed.)

In the guise of respectable scientific writing, the British Medical Journal allows its pages to be used to accuse Israel of war crimes, deliberate child-killing, illegal colonization, apartheid, and the destruction of "more than 60 000" Palestinian houses (another complete lie). In this supposedly academic article, there is no reference at all to any Palestinian culpability or to the enormous corruption by the Palestinian Authority, aided and abetted by the European Union and others, which has helped to damage the healthcare of ordinary Palestinians.

Attached below is Dr. Summerfield's article followed by heated correspondence for and against the article. One doctor says he does not wish to take issue with Summerfield's "skewed opinions and prejudices" but with "the Editorial team of the BMJ which can permit publication of such an inflammatory political diatribe." Some Jewish doctors are considering resigning from the BMA.

Not surprisingly, the same article by Dr. Summerfield appears at www.palestinecampaign.org/archives.asp?xid=1278 (The logo for this website has a map of Palestine containing all of Israel.)

Ironically, the paper following Dr Summerfield's in the same issue of BMJ (by Dr McNaughton from New Zealand) has a headline "We are not trained in the dark arts of politics".

 

EDITOR OF THE JOURNAL "DIABETES VOICE" RESIGNS AFTER MAGAZINE PUBLISHES POLITICAL ATTACK ON ISRAEL

NGO-Monitor, which tracks whether non-governmental organizations are living up to their stated bipartisan and charitable commitments, has severely criticized an article in "Diabetes Voice" ― the quarterly publication of the International Diabetes Federation ― which they said amounted to "a blatant political attack [on Israel] that has little or nothing to do with diabetes."

They state: "The one-sided and highly distorted version of history that is presented is based on the Palestinian version of events and vocabulary, and immorally ignores the brutality of Palestinian terrorism. It is also entirely inconsistent with the goals proclaimed by Diabetes Voice, the International Diabetes Federation, and Medecins Sans Frontires.

The editor-in chief of Diabetes Voice resigned over the matter; the abstract was re-written for the publication's archived website; and the International Diabetes Federation published an official apology (below).

 

THE INTERNATIONAL DIABETES FEDERATION APOLOGIZES FOR ARTICLE IN "DIABETES VOICE"

In a very rare move (not matched by far worse culprits among editorial staff at the BBC, The Guardian and elsewhere) the magazine Diabetes Voice has apologized for printing anti-Israel propaganda. It reads as follows:

www.idf.org/home/index.cfm?unode=271BB76E-AFB8-4BB9-A433-A0A22E1685AC

Diabetes Voice: an apology

The aim of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is to help people with diabetes everywhere in the world.

In the June 2004 issue of the official IDF Bulletin Diabetes Voice, Dr Panagiotis Tsapogas, Medical Co-ordinator of MSF (Médecins sans Frontières) in Gaza 2002-2003, reported on the challenges of living with diabetes in the Gaza Strip, expressed hope and called for help. Sadly, this article was preceded by an introductory paragraph, not written by Dr Tsapogas, which was intended to "set the scene". The paragraph, which had also been posted on the IDF website together with the Table of Contents of the said issue, expressed views which were not those of the IDF and was immediately removed from the website.

We regret the political tone of this introductory paragraph, which in no way represents the views of the Federation. On behalf of IDF and Diabetes Voice, we offer our unreserved apology to those who have been offended.

As bearing responsibility for the content of Diabetes Voice, the Editor-in-chief has offered his resignation which IDF has accepted.

We wish to affirm that the IDF as a Federation of 185 associations in 142 countries does not represent any political views and that its mission is to "promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide".

Pierre Lefèbvre, President, IDF
Martin Silink, President-elect, IDF
Philip Home, Editor-in-chief, Diabetes Voice


FULL ARTICLES

BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL:
"PALESTINE: THE ASSAULT ON HEALTH AND OTHER WAR CRIMES"

Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes
By Derek Summerfield
British Medical Journal
October 16, 2004

bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/329/7471/924

Does the death of an Arab weigh the same as that of a US or Israeli citizen? The Israeli army, with utter impunity, has killed more unarmed Palestinian civilians since September 2000 than the number of people who died on September 11, 2001. In conducting 238 extrajudicial executions the army has also killed 186 bystanders (including 26 women and 39 children). Two thirds of the 621 children (two thirds under 15 years) killed at checkpoints, in the street, on the way to school, in their homes, died from small arms fire, directed in over half of cases to the head, neck and chest – the sniper's wound. Clearly, soldiers are routinely authorised to shoot to kill children in situations of minimal or no threat. These statistics attract far less publicity than suicide bombings, atrocious though these are too.

Amnesty International has called for an investigation into the killing of Asma al-Mughayr (16 years) and her brother Ahmad (13 years) on the roof terrace of their home in Rafah on 18 May, each with a single bullet to the head. Asma had been taking clothes off the drying line and Ahmad feeding pigeons. Amnesty noted that the firing appeared to have come from the top floor of a nearby house, which had been taken over by Israeli soldiers shortly before. Amnesty suspects that this is not "caught in crossfire," this is murder.

Israeli military reoccupation of the West Bank and Gaza – a system of military checkpoints splitting towns and villages into ghettos, curfews, closures, raids, mass demolition and destruction of houses (more than 60 000), and land expropriations – has made ordinary life impossible for everyone, and is driving Palestinian society and its institutions towards destitution. Moreover, Israel has been constructing a grotesque barrier that, when completed, will total over 400 miles – four times longer than the Berlin Wall. Extending up to 15 miles into Palestinian territory, the real purpose of the wall is permanently to lock more than 50 illegal Israeli settlements into Israel proper. This is expansive, aggressive colonisation, in defiance of the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the United Nations General Assembly resolution of last July.

Last year a UN rapporteur concluded that Gaza and the West Bank were "on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe." The World Bank estimates that 60% of the population are subsisting at poverty level (£1.12; $2; 1.6 per day), a tripling in only three years. Half a million people are now completely dependent upon food aid, and Amnesty International has expressed concern that the Israeli army has been hampering distribution in Gaza. Over half of all households are eating only one meal per day. A study by Johns Hopkins and Al Quds universities found that 20% of children under 5 years old were anaemic, 9.3% were acutely malnourished, and a further 13.2% chronically malnourished. The doctors I met on a professional visit in March pointed to a rising prevalence of anaemia in pregnant women and low birthweight babies.

The coherence of the Palestinian health system is being destroyed. The wall will isolate 97 primary health clinics and 11 hospitals from the populations they serve. Qalqilya hospital, which primarily serves refugees, has seen a 40% fall in follow up appointments because patients cannot enter the city. There have been at least 87 documented cases (including 30 children) in which denial of access to medical treatment has led directly to deaths, including those of babies born while women were held up at checkpoints. The checkpoint at the entrance to some villages closes at 7 pm and not even ambulances can pass after this time. As a recent example, a man in a now fenced in village near Qalqilya approached the gate with his seriously ill daughter in his arms, and begged the soldiers on duty to let him pass so that he could take her to hospital. The soldiers refused, and a Palestinian doctor summoned from the other side was also refused access to the child. The doctor was obliged to attempt a physical examination, and to give the girl an injection, through the wire.

There are consistent reports of ambulances containing gravely ill people being hit by gunfire, or detained at checkpoints while drivers and paramedics are interrogated, searched, threatened, humiliated, and assaulted. Wounded men are abducted from ambulances at checkpoints and sent directly to prison. Clearly marked clinics are fired on, and doctors and other health workers shot dead on duty.

Physicians for Human Rights (Israel) have lambasted the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) for its silence in the face of these systematic violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which guarantees the right to health care and the protection of health professionals as they do their duty. Remarkably, IMA president Dr Y Blachar is currently chairperson of the council of the World Medical Association (WMA), the official international watchdog on medical ethics. A supine BMA appears in collusion with this farce at the WMA. Others are silenced by a fear of being labelled "anti-semitic," a term used in a morally corrupt way by the pro-Israel lobby in order to silence. How are we to affect this shocking situation, one which to this South African-born doctor has gone further than the excesses of the apartheid era.

Derek Summerfield, honorary senior lecturer
Institute of Psychiatry, London
derek.summerfield@slam.nhs.uk

 

BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL LETTERS

Letters
British Medical Journal
October 17, 2004

[Letters can be submitted at bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/329/7471/924]

The other side of the Palestinian tragedy

Michael L. Loren,
Physician
Lee's Summit, Missouri 64064
Send response to journal:
Re: The other side of the Palestinian tragedy
15 October 2004

All of us should hope that the Israel and the Palestinians will come to peace rapidly and stop the bloodshed. This is not a one sided war. Many Israeli children and Adults have been slaughtered by terrorists and suicide bomb killers. Israel is forced to search out and destroy terrorist elements that hid in crowded areas among innocents. And innocent children and adults die. This is the tragedy. New Arab leadership is needed to stop the violence and suicide bombings and convince their people that peace is the only alternative. Finally, there has been no evidence that Israeli soldiers have been trained to shoot directly at innocent children.

 

Palestine: "war crimes"

Kenneth Lancer,
Private Medical Practitioner
Gardeners Cottage Shenley Park,
Radlett Lane Shenley Herts WD7 9JP
Send response to journal:
Re: Palestine: "war crimes"

15 October 2004

Sir, I found Derek Summerfield's "personal views" article (BMJ 16th October) extremely disturbing. The account is a highly biased political statement without any reference to any Palestinian culpability. I do not, however, wish to take issue with any of his skewed opinions and prejudices. It is rather with the Editorial team of the BMJ which can permit publication of such an inflammatory political diatribe. I feel I may need to reconsider my membership of the BMA (as will no doubt many others) unless an apology is forthcoming.

 

The truth is not so one-sided

William L Jackson,
Physician
Washington, DC 20307
Send response to journal:
Re: The truth is not so one-sided

15 October 2004

If reading Summerfield's rant in a vacuum, one would be tempted to think violence and provocation in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a purely one-sided affair. Everybody knows this is not the case, and failure to even briefly recognize the barbarous atrocities that move Israel to self-preservative acts is dishonest and serves only to deepen mistrust. Moreover, Summerfield's last sentence begs the following questions: Why didn't those subjected to the disgraceful injustices of apartheid respond with similar homicidal and genocidal means? Were they less humiliated, oppressed or squalid? Or did they simply have an appreciation for human life, unaffected by twisted religious and racial ideology, that didn’t allow for such barbarity?

 

Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes

Giovanni David Zoanetti,
Medical Scientist
Adelaide, Australia. 5006
Send response to journal:
Re: Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes

15 October 2004

I find the almost rabid nature of Derek Summerfield's article not only grossly biased but unhelpful. I look forward to some authoritative responses, but wish to make a few personal comments.

To suggest that the Israeli military has in some way given the green light to target Palestinian civilians is ridiculous. Yes, there are tragically innocent victims, but this will occur when the terrorists hide among their population. Indeed, they realise it is great publicity world-wide when there are innocent victims. If Israel did not care about civilian casualties, surely it would adopt a policy similar to the Palestinian suicide bombers or simply carpet bomb areas. Why bother sending in soldiers and risking their lives?

If Palestinians did not continually use ambulances to transport terrorists and weapons, there would be no need for the Israelis to stop and search them. If Palestinian homicide bombers did not kill and maim hundreds of Israelis there would be no need for a fence. If the Palestinian Authority was not so corrupt and incompetent some of the many millions of dollars donated to them could be put to good use.

The response to Ehud Barak's offer of around 97% of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, etc, was for Arafat to turn up the terror and in so doing deprive many of his constituents of employment in Israel. The Palestinian people have continually been failed and hoodwinked by their leaders. More and more people around the world have come to realise this fact. What about Derek Summerfield? Israel is not entirely blameless for the mess and must take steps to ensure a better future for both Israelis and Palestinians. Leaving Gaza as Sharon wishes would be good. It would be good if the Palestinians would reject terrorism, stop inciting their population (starting in kindergarten) to violence and hatred and present themselves back at the peace table.

 

BMA should campaign on Palestine

Peter M Neville,
Consultant Physician
Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, NP7 9ET
Send response to journal:
Re: BMA should campaign on Palestine

16 October 2004

I am writing to heartily congratulate Dr Summerfield for his brave comments (Personal View, 16/10/2004) on the gross abuses of human rights that have been taking place in occupied Palestine for many years. His comments are brave because I predict that your email box will rapidly be submerged in messages condemning him (unjustly) as anti-Semitic and/or ill -informed. For the record, I support the existence of the state of Israel, but do not recognise its right to systematically deny the Palestinians all the trappings and rights of a civilised society.

I endorse his appeal to the BMA to campaign on this issue. It is the responsibility of the BMA, as representatives of the British medical profession, to speak out about the abuses taking part on a daily basis in occupied Palestine. The standard political justification for the treatment meted out to Palestine is that it is in the interests of Israeli self- defence. I am certain that had the British government taken a similar view at the peak of the Northern Irish problem, and started aerial bombardment of Catholic areas of Ulster cities, the overall death toll (on both 'sides') would have been far higher, and the international opprobrium far louder. The effects on mental health of the policies described are also incalculable and will inevitably cause polarisation of opinion, and ever worsening atrocities from a population who have no other means of protest.

The astounding aspect of this whole story is that it has been well- covered and described in many international newspapers, but the story has completely failed to generate any international government-led protest. There is an international culture of silence at the highest levels with regard to this issue.

Many independent authorities recognise that the long-standing human rights abuses in Palestine (and failure of UN enforcement of its own decrees), is a (the?) major cause of anti-Western resentment and hatred in the Middle East, yet this issue is almost never mentioned when discussions of terrorist motivation are heard (all too rarely). Palestine is the 'elephant in the corner' that everybody is aware of yet nobody will acknowledge. I appeal to the BMA to consider campaigning on this issue.
Yours sincerely

Peter M Neville Consultant Physician Nevill Hall Hospital Abergavenny Monmouthshire Peter.Neville@gwent.wales.nhs.com

 

The truth hurts

Ali Riza,
Doctor
G3
Send response to journal:
Re: The truth hurts

16 October 2004

May I congratulate Dr Derek Summerfield for this honest and truthful account of the terrible tragedy the Palestinians are living under?

I find most responses to this article disgusting. It is obvious that there is a grave attempt to justify these war crimes committed by the Israeli army against Palestinian women and children.

Israel occupies Palestinian land. Israeli government is in violation of over 121 united nation resolutions condemning Israeli abuse of Palestinian human rights and asking of immediate withdrawal of the occupying terrorists from Palestinian land. What’s happening to the Palestinians now is a crime that the world should not turn a blind eye for.

I am not going to bother replying to responders to the article above, as their intentions are clear. I hope that most readers agree that we should try to help the Palestinians survive through and protect their women and children. We should ask the UN to send a peacekeeping force to Palestine NOW and before it is too late.

 

Obedience to international law

Mark Struthers,
GP
Bedfordshire, UK. mark.struthers@which.net
Send response to journal:
Re: Obedience to international law

16 October 2004

There is something curiously depressing about the predictable outrage and denial engendered by Derek Summerfield’s personal view on war crimes and the health of the Palestinian people.

Americans and Israelis know what will bring a lasting peace to the Middle East and security to the State of Israel.

In 1967, after the Six Day War, the United Nations made it clear what had to be done. Resolution 242 passed by the UN on 22 November 1967 emphasised the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. The UN determined that Israel would give up occupied territory in return for peace with the Arabs. The Arabs signed up to 242 and fully realised that it was a tacit acknowledgement of Israel’s right to exist.

The US, as always, shows utter contempt for international law and international convention. Israel now follows its master’s footsteps with complete impunity in its suicidal war on terror. Both countries stand as outlaws, as international renegades. The entire world can see that the life of an Arab is not the equivalent of that of an Israeli or a US citizen – the disgraceful actions in Iraq are testament to that – where revenge, humiliation and violent retaliation have been the driving force.

What if ... the Palestinians stopped the atrocious suicide bombing that targets innocent Israeli citizens? Would Israel obey resolution 242 and leave the occupied territories? Israel is building a 400-mile wall extending deep into Palestinian territory with the purpose of locking more than 50 illegal settlements into a greater and permanent Israel. No one in the world believes that Israel intends to obey international law after nearly 40 years of obstruction and sabotage: why should the Palestinians?

The State of Israel, protected as ever by the Americans, will not fall to suicide bombers. When Israel withdraws completely from the occupied territories and complies with all humanitarian laws and principles, there will be peace. America understands simplicity. This is simple.

 

Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes

Ahmed Alsaidi,
Sr.consultant in Rheumatology
The Royal hospital, Muscat.Oman
Send response to journal:
Re: Palestine: teh assault on health and other war crimes

17 October 2004

I would like to thank and congragulate Dr. D.Summerfild for his article which has shed some light on the daily suuffering of the Palestenian civelians under the Israili occupation.No doubt his and the BMJ e-mails will be pomparded by letters labling him as "anti-semetic" and accusing him of beeing baised against the"threatened" state of Israil! which is the most heavily armed and the only neuclear power in the region Over the last 10 days alone more than 120 Palestinians were killed by the Israili army many of them were children,including a 13 years old school- girl, and elderly men and women ,in addition to the destrucion of many houses and other properties.This was barely mentioned in the western media. For those who are interested in the international law ,Israil has NOT implimented a single United Nation resolution issued against it. And instead of sanctions ,the state of israil continued to recieve unlimeted support from the Unite States of America, which encourages it to continue its attrocities against the Palestinians.

 

Unbalanced

Gerald M. Fraser,
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Unit
Department of Gastroenterology, Rabin Medical Center, Petach Tikva, Israel
Send response to journal:
Re: Unbalanced

17 October 2004

The dividing line between "reasonable force" and "excessive force" used to protect your citizens is rather dependent where you are located geographically. Dr. Summerield in London cannot begin to understgand the feelings of Israelis who are under constant threat of suicide bombers and are exposed to rocket attacks in the south. The death of any civilian let alone a child is a cause for the deepest regret. However, civilians are being killed on both sides. Whatever Dr. Summerield thinks about Israeli policy, Israelis do not condone the deliberate and indescriminate blowing up of a child or civilian and certainly do not go out into the streets to rejoice as do the Palestinians. It is the Palestinians that restarted the intifada 4 years ago, not Israel. That events have not turned out as Palestinian leaders had hoped, clearly appears to be a source of frustration to many beyond the borders of the region.

 

Misuse of the columns of the BMJ

Joy Wolfe,
No relevant medical postion Governor of a special needs college
24 Marchbank Drive Cheadle Cheshire SK8 1QY
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Re: Misuse of the columns of the BMJ

17 October 2004

How Sad that the BMJ should allow itself to become a vehicle for an ill-informed and largely inaccurate diatribe against Israel.

What place does this have in a respected medical journal I realise that the author of this piece sought to legitimise it by giving it an minimal medical link, but most of the article is an anti Zionist attack bordering on antisemitism.

It would not be so bad if the statistics and allegations in Derek Summerfield's piece were accurate and honest, but they are largely questionable at best and downright incorrect at worst.

Where he got his statistic on so-called extradicial killings I will never know, any more than his misguided opinion on the objective of Israel's security fence.

As for Israel damaging Palestinian health, it is here more than anywhere Summerfield demonstrates his ignorance. With Israeli help there has been a huge improvement in many areas of Palestinian health, not least in the infant mortality rate and in eliminating a number of life-threatening diseases.

Israel has been responsible for sending Palestinian children abroad for life-saving treatment, and may I suggest that a visit to any Israeli hospital where many Palestinian and Arab patients are treated alongside their Israeli neighbours would give the lie to spurious allegations.

His total lack of understanding about the purpose of the security fence is clearly shown, and his list of allegations about its effect is highly exaggerated. No-one denies that the fence does inconvenience the Palestinians, but Summerfield conveniently overlooks the fact that the only reason it has been erected is to curb Palestinian terrorism, something that it has largely been successful in achieving, and which has been welcomed by the leaders of many Israeli Arab villages which are also protected by the fence. But maybe Summerfield does not think the lives of Israeli women and children on buses, in cafes, discos and their homes are worth protecting.

While Palestinian terrorists continue to use ambulances and UN vehicles to transport terrorists and suicide belts, (Reuters video May 2004) Israel is intent on protecting her citizens from terror.

I am deeply saddened that so many Palestinian children have been the victims of this senseless Intifada unleashed by Yasser Arafat, but if they were not cynically used to be among the terrorists as human shields and if they were not incited through their school books and summer camps to want to kill Jews, the casualty list of accidental deaths would have been far lower. The use of children as suicide bombers, the worst example being a boy with learning difficulties who was told this was his only chance of having sex, is nothing short of child abuse.

How sad that a man in the medical profession should care so little about accuracy in his clear desire to blacken Israel and propound his anti Zionist viewpoint. Joy Wolfe Manchester UK

 

Palestinians

Alan Ferris,
GP Extraordinaire
EN6 1QH
Send response to journal:
Re: Palestinians

17 October 2004

I am outraged that such a one-sided article should appear in the BMJ.... but then it would appear that Dr Summerfield is not really unbiassed. The same article appears almost word for word at www.palestinecampaign.org/archives.asp?xid=1278
which is a more appropriate place for such an outrageous cr*p. Others with better verbal skills than I will respond, I am almost speechless, but I would like to ask the BMJ:
Are there not rules about duplicate publication?

 

Palestine

Raymond Million,
Consultant Rheumatologist (retired)
11 St John Street Manchester M34DW
Send response to journal:
Re: Palestine

17 October 2004

Dr Summerfield may be right in his bald presentation of facts but in so doing may be skewing reality by the apparent unscientific omission of background.

No sane person can justify damage and death to innocent people.

It is well that his article appears under the title "Personal View" which it might be claimed exonerates him from the publication of "personal bias".

History reveals that the United Nations created the state of Israel and the following day the Arab nations declared a state of war which continues to the present day. Inevitably, as exemplified by a multitude of bitter conflicts throughout the world since that date, prejudice, bias and dishonour are rampant. Just as there can be no justification for the horrors examplified in Dr Summerfield's paper, neither can there be any exoneration for rocket attacks on innocent communities, for the abuse of ambulances in the concealment of terrorists, for the ghastly self- destruction and wholesale indiscriminate murder via suicide bombing.

It is beyond the clinical remit to introduce politics to a medical journal but having done so, it merits balanced response. It is of note that the paper following Dr Summerfield's in the same issue by Dr McNaughton from New Zealand has a headline "We are not trained in the dark arts of politics". Authors please note.


The Jews are an “inferior race,” says Diana, 26, Budapest

October 15, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Children of Auschwitz" museum reopens after Indiana arson attack
2. Hungary fears violence between Nazis and Jews at Budapest rally today
3. German court frees 86-year-old Slovak in Nazi war crimes trial
4. Federal judge in New York dismisses 20 Holocaust lawsuits
5. Turkey's main synagogue reopens after terror attack
6. Israel condemns lauding of Latvian Nazi war criminal
7. Accused Austrian Nazi guard faces deportation from the U.S.
8. Germany declines to ban "anti-Semitic Arab books" at Frankfurt Book Fair (the world's biggest book fair)



[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch contains items from today and from earlier this week concerning the Holocaust and contemporary anti-Semitism.

Some of these items – notably those from Indiana, Istanbul, Budapest and Riga – are updates of previous items sent on this list over the last 18 months.

I attach summaries first for those who don't have time to read them in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

"CHILDREN OF AUSCHWITZ" MUSEUM REOPENS AFTER ARSON ATTACK

(Associated Press, October 12, 2004)

"A Holocaust museum created in 1995 and then burned to the ground last year in what many believe was an act of hate has made the first step toward rising again. Ground breaking for a new CANDLES Museum, which stands for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Experiments Survivors, occurred Monday after backers raised nearly $300,000 to rebuild the museum from an arson fire last year.

... The museum's founder, Eva Kor said donations to help rebuild came in from as far away as Israel, London and New York, but residents also chipped in. Kor said local school children in Indiana also raised about $25,000. Kor said she still needs about $150,000 for the building's interior and other expenses."

[Tom Gross adds: I attach this item also because I know and have previously interviewed Eva Kor, now aged 70. With her identical twin sister, Miriam Mozes Zeiger, Eva was subjected to horrific torture dressed up as "medical experimention" by Dr. Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. Eva and Miriam were small girls at the time. Eva is now aged 70. Miriam died of cancer in 1993.]

 

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS FEAR VIOLENT CLASH BETWEEN NAZIS AND JEWS AT BUDAPEST RALLY

(By Amiram Barkat and Yehuda Lahav, Ha'aretz, October 15, 2004)

"Hungarian police officers are making plans to secure an anti-fascist rally in Budapest, organized by the Jewish and gypsy communities and student groups, as they fear a violent confrontation may ensue if Nazi activists arrive at the scene of the demonstration.

Hungary has revoked the license given to Nazi activists, who had planned a protest today in the heart of Budapest. Nazis had requested a permit to hold a rally to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the revolution led by Arrow Cross fascist movement leader Ferenc Szalasi. During World War Two, members of the Arrow Cross murdered scores of people, including many Jews…

The Nazis' rally was to have been held following calls made by The Hungarian Future Group. The group is lead by Diana Bacsfi, 26. Bacsfi considers herself a national socialist, declared ... Jews and gypsies "inferior races," and denied the Holocaust. Hungarian law does not forbid anti-Semitic statements..."

[Amiram Barkat, Ha'aretz's Jewish affairs, correspondent, is a subscriber to this email list]

[Tom Gross adds: In all, almost 100,000 Budapest Jews were killed by the Arrow Cross regime, which lasted barely four months in the capital and two more in western Hungary. After German troops replaced it and occupied Hungary in March 1944, a further 450,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps in a period of just 56 days. Szalasi and nearly 150 other officials were executed after the war and some 27,000 others were convicted of war crimes.]

 

GERMAN COURT FREES 86-YEAR-OLD SLOVAK IN NAZI WAR CRIMES TRIAL

(Associated Press, Friday October 15, 2004) (This is the full item)

A German court today ordered that an 86-year-old man charged with Nazi-era war crimes in Slovakia be freed from custody while his trial continues, a decision that came after a key witness said he could no longer clearly remember what happened. The Munich court ruled that former Capt. Ladislav Niznansky, who is charged with 164 counts of murder in massacres in three villages, was no longer under "urgent suspicion."

Niznansky went on trial last month. He is accused of heading the Slovak section of a Nazi unit code-named Edelweiss, which hunted resistance fighters and Jews after the Germans crushed an uprising against Slovakia's Nazi puppet government.

According to prosecutors, in 1945 Niznansky personally shot at least 20 people, and formed a shooting squad to kill 18 Jewish civilians discovered hiding in underground bunkers. On Monday, key witness Jan Repasky said he no longer clearly remembers what happened, despite having testified against Niznansky in a separate trial in Czechoslovakia four decades ago.

 

FEDERAL JUDGE IN NEW YORK DISMISSES 20 HOLOCAUST LAWSUITS

(Associated Press, October 14, 2004) (Extracts only)

A federal judge Thursday threw out 20 lawsuits accusing an Italian insurance company of failing to pay benefits to victims of the Holocaust. U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey said the lawsuits are pre-empted by the U.S. government's policy of trying to resolve such claims through a special commission. The class-action lawsuits – filed in New York, Wisconsin, Florida and California by Holocaust survivors and their heirs – claimed Assicurazioni Generali refused to honor policies held by victims of the World War II-era genocide...

 

TURKEY'S MAIN SYNAGOGUE REOPENS AFTER TERROR ATTACK

(Associated Press, October 12, 2004)

"Hundreds of Turkish Jews chanted hymns and a religious leader blew a ram's horn during the reopening of this predominantly Muslim country's main synagogue nearly a year after a suicide bombing. Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva marked the reopening by carrying a Torah scroll into the Neve Shalom synagogue, one of two synagogues bombed in a string of November 2003 suicide attacks that killed more than 60 people in Istanbul. The attacks were blamed on al-Qaida.

... Turkey, with about 25,000 Jews, has one of the largest Jewish populations among Muslim countries. Many trace their roots to Spain, where Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th Century and were welcomed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

The bombings aimed "to damage the peaceful social fabric of Turkish society and to upset and derail Turkey, a country with a Muslim population, a secular democratic state that has continued to develop its relations with Israel and USA, and aims to be part of the European Union," said Silvyo Ovadya, president of the Jewish community.

... Neve Shalom had been targeted in two earlier attacks: In 1986 gunmen opened fire, killing 22 people, and in 1992 the Iranian-backed Turkish Hezbollah organization set off a bomb; no one was killed... Ovadya said the community was looking for a new plot of land to build a more secure community center and synagogue. He said the prime minister had expressed support..."

 

ISRAEL CONDEMNS LAUDING OF LATVIAN WAR CRIMINAL

(Associated Press, October 5, 2004) (Extracts only)

The Israeli Embassy and the Latvian government condemned the distribution of privately printed commemorative envelopes honoring a famous Latvian pilot who served in a World War II commando unit that murdered thousands of civilians, including Jews. A small extremist group published copies of the envelopes, bearing the inscription: "National hero of the people of Latvia pilot Herberts Cukurs."

"Herberts Cukurs was an active and willing participant in the mass murder of the Jews of Latvia during the Holocaust," Israel's ambassador to Latvia, Gary Koren... Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks also condemned the release of the envelopes by the little-known extremist group, the Union of National Force, and asked the state's security police department to investigate... Nearly 80,000 Jews in Latvia, 90 percent of the prewar Jewish population, were killed during the Holocaust.

... Cukurs fled to South America after the war and was assassinated in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1965 by an organization calling itself "Those who do not forget."

The Latvian government considers Cukurs a war criminal and the country's prosecutor general's office has twice rejected requests made by Cukurs' relatives to have his memory rehabilitated.

Jewish groups and the Latvian government have clashed at times over how Latvia has dealt with its Holocaust past. Israeli officials last year denounced the presence of several high-ranking Latvian government officials at the unveiling of a cemetery and memorial to Latvia's Waffen SS soldiers who fought in Latvia with the Nazis against the Red Army..."

 

ACCUSED AUSTRIAN NAZI GUARD FACES DEPORTATION FROM THE U.S.

(England's "Press Association," October 9, 2004) (Extracts only)

"A 79-year-old man accused of serving as a Nazi concentration camp guard during the Second World War says he was forced against his will to join an SS battalion.

The US government alleges that Anton Geiser, a retired steelworker, was a guard at the Sachsenhausen camp near Berlin from January to November of 1943. It is seeking to revoke his US citizenship and deport him.

In papers filed yesterday in Pittsburgh federal court, Geiser said he was a 17-year-old farmworker in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia when he was drafted in 1942 and that his service "was entirely involuntary and was performed on pain of death."

Geiser "does not dispute the fact that rampant and outrageous atrocities were committed" at the camp but maintains that "he has no culpability for those crimes," according to court filings.

... US Officials also allege that Geiser – then surnamed Geisser – lied on his visa application about his involvement in the SS when he, his wife and two children were granted immigration visas.

... Geiser is the 131st person publicly accused of being a Nazi by the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to track down Nazis who emigrated to the United States."

 

GERMANY DECLINES TO BAN "ANTI-SEMITIC ARAB BOOKS" AT FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR (THE WORLD'S BIGGEST BOOK FAIR)

Probe plea by Jewish body rejected
Agence France Presse
October 9, 2004
(This is the full item)

German authorities declined to open a criminal probe following a complaint by a leading Jewish rights group that Arab publishers were displaying anti-Semitic literature at a major book fair.

"We reviewed the written complaint and saw no reason to take direct action," said a spokesman for the prosecutor's office in the western city of Frankfurt, Joerg Claude.

Frankfurt Book Fair director Volker Neumann received a letter Wednesday from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in protest against books on display at stands run by Arab publishers, the guests of honor at this year's show.

Book fair spokesman Holger Ehling said the organization had mentioned "six or seven" books from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Libya which allegedly glorified the late leader of the Palestinian radical group Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, denied the Holocaust and attacked the Israeli secret service Mossad.

Ehling said the prosecutor's office was immediately informed but that the books had not been pulled from the booths. "The book fair has no right to censor books so we handed the matter to the authorities," he said, stressing that books critical of Israel were not necessarily in violation of Germany's strict hate speech laws.

On the opening day of the fair Wednesday, a small group of Jewish protesters waved Israeli and American flags in front of the fairgrounds, calling the decision to highlight the Arab world at the event a "scandal" and distributing brochures listing human rights abuses in the Middle East.

Security has been stepped up at the event this year, with frequent police patrols and airport-style metal detectors at entrances. The Frankfurt fair, the world's largest annual publishing event, runs through Sunday.



FULL ARTICLES

HOLOCAUST MUSEUM REOPENS AFTER FIRE

Holocaust museum reopens after fire
The Associated Press
October 12, 2004

A Holocaust museum created here in 1995 and then burned to the ground last year in what many believe was an act of hate has made the first step toward rising again.

Ground breaking for a new CANDLES Museum, which stands for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Experiments Survivors, occurred Monday after backers raised nearly $300,000 to rebuild the museum from an arson fire last year.

"It's a very simple design, but very symbolic," museum founder and Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, 70, said before the ceremony. "I can't wait until I see the bricks going up."

Kor said the new building on the same site will contain symbolism to remember both the Holocaust and the fire. Parts of the burned drywall from the old museum and some charred books will be displayed so people will know "this is the way hatred and prejudice look today."

The old museum was destroyed November 18, 2003, when police say someone torched the small brick building and wrote "Remember Timmy McVeigh" on the side of the museum, a reference to the executed Oklahoma City bomber.

No one has been charged in the blaze, but Kor is convinced it was an act of hate.

Kor and an identical twin sister, Miriam Mozes Zeiger, were subjected to genetic experiments by Dr. Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's infamous "Death Angel." Her sister died of cancer in 1993.

Kor said the new museum will feature six narrow windows near the entrance that look like candles to symbolize the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust. It will also feature 11 windows throughout the museum to symbolize the total number of people, both Jews and others, killed in the Holocaust.

"It's very important that we remember all the victims," Kor said.

She said donations to help rebuild came in from as far away as Israel, London and New York, but Indiana residents also chipped in. Kor said local school children raised about $25,000.

Kor said she still needs about $150,000 for the building's interior and other expenses. The structure is scheduled to be completed by February.

 

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS FEAR VIOLENT CLASH AT BUDAPET RALLY

Hungarian officials fear violent clash at Budapest rally
By Amiram Barkat and Yehuda Lahav
Ha'aretz
October 15, 2004

Hungarian police officers are making plans to secure an anti-fascist rally in Budapest on Thursday, organized by the Jewish and gypsy communities and student groups, as they fear a violent confrontation may ensue if Nazi activists arrive at the scene of the demonstration.

Hungary has revoked the license given to Nazi activists, who had planned a protest Friday in the heart of Budapest, according to the Jewish Agency.

Nazis had requested a permit to hold a rally to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the revolution led by Arrow Cross fascist movement leader Ferenc Szalasi. During World War Two, members of the Arrow Cross remained in Hungary for several months, under the aegis of the Nazis, until they were banished from the country by the Soviets. They murdered scores of people, including many Jews, killed liberal and anti-fascist statesmen, insisted upon continuing the Battle of Budapest against the Red Army, and led to the destruction of the Hungarian capital.

The Nazis' rally was scheduled to take place in front of a building that housed the Arrow Cross party headquarters.

The Nazis' rally was to have been held following calls made by The Hungarian Future Group. The group is lead by Diana Bacsfi, 26. Several weeks ago, group members placed pictures of Szalasi on central street in Budapest. Police were unable to find grounds for banning the group's activities. Encouraged by their success, the group stuck stickers of an arrow cross, with xx in the center. The use of the arrow cross has been banned in Hungary, as it is considered a "symbol of the dictatorial regime," but the modified version of the cross, with the xx, is allowed by police and state prosecution.

Bacsfi considers herself a national socialist, declared that her movement aims at a dictatorship, and calls for the "destruction" of the movement's political opponents. During her interrogation by police, she said recently that her movement calls for the establishment of a ministry dealing with racial matters, and for the reinstatement of the Nazi constitution. She also called Jews and gypsies "inferior races," and denied the Holocaust. Hungarian law does not forbid anti-Semitic statements.

After reports of the planned Nazi demonstration were made public, a large-scale public protest was organized. First to call for a counter-protest were leaders of the Jewish community, as well as leaders of an anti-fascist organization. Shortly thereafter, representatives from coalition parties joined them, as did representatives from the opposition parties, albeit they were hesitant to do so. Representatives from all four parties represented in the Hungarian parliament signed a declaration condemning the planned Nazi demonstration.

 

TURKEY'S MAIN SYNAGOGUE REOPENS

Turkey's Main Synagogue Reopens
The Associated Press
October 12, 2004

Hundreds of Turkish Jews chanted hymns and a religious leader blew a ram's horn during the reopening of this predominantly Muslim country's main synagogue nearly a year after a suicide bombing.

Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva marked the reopening Monday by carrying a Torah scroll into the Neve Shalom synagogue, one of two synagogues bombed in a string of November 2003 suicide attacks that killed more than 60 people in Istanbul. The attacks were blamed on al-Qaida.

"I want to state here once again that I am fundamentally against the association of the terrorist attacks we suffered 11 months ago... with the name of a religion," Haleva said.

Turkey, with about 25,000 Jews, has one of the largest Jewish populations among Muslim countries. Many trace their roots to Spain, where Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th Century and were welcomed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

The bombings aimed "to damage the peaceful social fabric of Turkish society and to upset and derail Turkey, a country with a Muslim population, a secular democratic state that has continued to develop its relations with Israel and USA, and aims to be part of the European Union," said Silvyo Ovadya, president of the Jewish community.

In a message read at the ceremony, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a devout Muslim, vowed that the attacks "will never hurt Turkey's national unity."

Leon Esim, 51, who had been at a bar mitzvah at Neve Shalom at the time of the blast, welcomed the reopening.

"This is my second home," Esim said, with tears in his eyes. "Today is a very happy day."

The November attacks raised questions about the synagogue's future and the safety of the Jewish community.

Neve Shalom had been targeted in two earlier attacks: In 1986 gunmen opened fire, killing 22 people, and in 1992 the Iranian-backed Turkish Hezbollah organization set off a bomb; no one was killed.

Ovadya said the community was looking for a new plot of land to build a more secure community center and synagogue. He said the prime minister had expressed support.

In July, the synagogue held a private ceremony to mark the return of the Torah scrolls. Monday's ceremony, though, was considered the official reopening.

Foreign diplomats from Israel, the United States, and European countries and Muslim and Christian religious leaders also attended.

"This is a very happy and important day for us all," said Emmanuel Nahshon, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy. "This proves that the terrorists lost."

Turkish officials have charged 69 suspected members of a Turkish al-Qaida cell in connection with the bombings at Neve Shalom, the Beth Israel synagogue, the British Consulate and a London-based bank.

Beth Israel reopened in December.


Arab intellectual: It is time to stop blaming the Jews for 9/11 and Beslan

CONTENTS

1. Saudi TV interviewer: "Would you, as a human being, be willing to shake hands with a Jew?"
2. Saudi respondent: "If I happened to shake hands with a Jew, I would have to consider amputating my hand afterwards."
3. Leading Arab intellectual: "It is time to stop blaming the Jews for 9/11" ... "Sheikh Fadhlallah and others should not have said the Jews were behind the Beslan school incident."
4. "The magnificent 19" group disbanded in London.


"ARABS ARE STILL UNWILLING TO ACCEPT THAT THEY CARRIED OUT 9/11"

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach five items: Three recent dispatches translated from the Arab media by MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute) dealing with Arab attitudes towards Jews, and two other related articles by the Associated Press and (UK) Daily Telegraph.

In the second of these items, Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, former dean of the Faculty of Shari'a at the University of Qatar, criticized the conspiracy theories rife in the Arab world that the Jews and the Israeli Mossad were behind the 9/11 attacks. He says: "Arabs are still unwilling to accept that they carried out 9/11."

He also criticizes the British Moslem extremist organization in London, Al-Muhajiroun, which attempted to hold a commemoration in London on September 11 to "the magnificent 19" (as they refer to the September 11 murderers.)

[See the dispatch on this list of September 7, 2004 titled London Convention Will Celebrate 9/11 (and other items) which included a news report from the London-based Arabic language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, which incidentally has been carrying a number of articles recently which have been critical of Islamic fundamentalism.]

Yesterday, as the Daily Telegraph reports in the final item on this dispatch, Al-Muhajiroun was disbanded.

The third item in this dispatch contains extracts from an article in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (referred to above) on October 9, 2004, by Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director-general of the Al-Arabiya TV channel and former editor of the paper.

He writes that the Arab world should not justify the terror attacks in Taba in which Jews died while condemning other suicide attacks.

He says: "The problem can be summed up in one word – extremism. Without dealing with the extremist way of thinking, which is on the rise, both in terms of its circulation and in terms of its violence, we cannot envisage an improvement occurring in the security situation...

"As long as the Arab and Muslim intellectuals are not convinced of the reality of the problem, which is first and foremost the existence of extremism, [and are not convinced of the need] to fight it, whether it is clothed in national or religious terms – this bloodshed, destruction and fear will not cease...

"It is inconceivable for us to justify one terrorist bombing while denouncing another. [The terror attacks] are interconnected ideologically, if not by the affiliation of their perpetrators."

In the fourth item attached below, AP reports that the Saudi interior minister has appealed to Arab news media to combat "improper ideas" (i.e. support for suicide terrorism).

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

SAUDI TV EXAMINES PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARD JEWS

The following are excerpts from a show on Saudi Arabia's IQRA TV Channel, on September 26, 2004, which featured "man on the street" interviews about feelings about Jews.

[To view a segment from this show, visit memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=275]

Interviewer: "Would You, as a Human Being, be Willing to Shake Hands with a Jew?"

Respondent 1:

"Of course I wouldn't be willing to shake hands with a Jew, for religious reasons and because of what is happening now in Palestine, and for many reasons that don't allow me to shake a Jew's hand."

Respondent 2:

"No. Because the Jews are eternal enemies. The murderous Jews violate all agreements. I can't shake hands with someone who I know is full of hatred towards me."

Respondent 3:

"No, the Jew is an enemy. How can I shake my enemy's hand?"

* * *

Interviewer: "Would you refuse to shake hands with a Jew?"

Respondent 4:

"Of course, so I wouldn't have to consider amputating my hand afterwards."

* * *

Interviewer: "If a Child Asks You Who 'Who are the Jews,' What Would You Answer?"

Respondent 5:

"The enemies of Allah and His Prophet."

Respondent 6:

"The Jew is the occupier of our lands."

Respondent 7:

"The murderers of prophets. Our eternal enemies, of course."

Respondent 2:

"The murderers of prophets, that's it."

Respondent 8:

"Allah's wrath is upon them, as the Koran says. Allah's wrath is upon them and they all stray from the path of righteousness. They are the filthiest people on the face of this earth because they care only about themselves – not the Christians, not the Muslims, nor any other religion.

"The solution is clear, not only to me but to everyone. If only [the Muslims] declared Jihad, we would see who stays home. We have a few countries... There is one country with a population of over 60-70 million people. If we let them only march, with no weapons even, they would completely trample the Jews, they would turn them into rotten carcasses under their feet. There is another country that donated money, saying, 'I am behind you, I'll support you with weapons, just wage [ Jihad ].'

"But the cowardice inside us, deep within our hearts, was instilled by the Arab leaders, may Allah forgive them. They breast-fed us with it from the day we were born to this very day it has grown with us."

 

QATARI INTELLECTUAL ON THE ISLAMIC ROOTS OF ANTISEMITISM AND 9/11 CONSPIRACY THEORIES

Memri
October 4, 2004

In the Qatari daily Al-Raya, Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, former dean of the Faculty of Shari'a at the University of Qatar, criticized the conspiracy theory in the Arab world that the Jews and the Israeli Mossad were behind the 9/11 attacks. In the article, Al-Ansari wrote that this theory is rooted in Muslim tradition and in the founding scriptures of Islam. The following are excerpts from the article: [1]

Arabs are Still Unwilling to Accept that They Carried Out 9/11

"The third anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11 has passed, and the Arab world is still asking itself who was behind it. Despite the clear-cut evidence, and the many confessions and investigations ... the Arabs are unwilling to accept that the ones behind the deed were a group from among us – the '19 Exalted Ones,' as they were called last year by the fundamentalists at their London convention. [2]

"The Arabs keep insisting on their innocence and accusing the Mossad of planning the deed with the aim of launching an aggressive war against the Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq... But this tale clashes with the fact that Jews are cowards and do not commit suicide. So the theory was amended, and it was claimed that the Mossad had planned and funded [the operation], and a group from among our innocent young people was deceived and ensnared by the Mossad, and that it was they who carried out [the operation].

"I do not know how long this [Muslim] arrogance will continue. Why don't we want to acknowledge that these young people were the sons of a culture that is hostile toward the world, not idiots or mad. No one enticed them, and they did not suffer from oppression, repression, or poverty. They carried out the operation because of their belief that it was Jihad and martyrdom. They were our young people and our sons, and they were our responsibility."

'We have Incited [Our Youth] to Die for the Sake of Allah'

"It is we who stole their future, and we have sinned against them because of our backwards education, because of our harmful religious views, because of our inciting preachers' pulpits, and because of our violent media. It is we who have not succeeded in giving their existence value and meaning, and have not made life better for them than death. We have incited them to die for the sake of Allah, and have not taught them how to live for the sake of Allah.

"How long will we make life hell for our young people? How long will we continue to replay the record about American injustice and world justice towards us as pathetic justification for the violence and terror among us – as if we are the only nation suffering from injustice...

"Why, in fact, are we the only nation enchanted by the theory that a Jewish conspiracy stands behind events? Why does the tree of conspiracy bloom on our soil...? And why are we still prisoners of theories whose falsity has been proven...?"

'Conspiracy Theory Roots [are] Connected to Belief, Historic Factors, and Political Circumstances'

"In my opinion, this theory has very deep roots connected to aspects of belief, historic factors, and political circumstances. Among the reasons [for the conspiracy theory] are:

• "The words of the Koran regarding the deception of the Children of Israel against their prophets and against the other nations.

• "The words of the Sira [biography of the Prophet Muhammad] with regard to the dangerous conspiratorial role [played by the Jews] already in the early days against Islam, against the Prophet Muhammad, and against the Muslims and their new empire.

• "The words that fill the books of [Muslim] heritage ... [say] that the Jew Abdallah ibn Saba is behind the great conflicts [among Muslims]. [3] These conflicts shattered the strength of the Muslims, and therefore in our [school] curricula we make sure ... to remain silent and skip over the political disagreements and armed conflicts about power and rule that arose among the Companions of the Prophet, [presenting] them all as using religious judgment, and as loyal and just. These conflicts [are presented as if they] occurred only because of the deception of Ibn Saba the Jew and that he is responsible and to blame. As we know, historical research has proven that Ibn Saba is a legendary figure, and that even if he existed it is impossible for any man, however devious, to play such an important and excessive role [in the history of Islam]. [If we believe this,] we must assume that the Companions of the Prophet were so careless and naive that a single Jew could deceive them, and thus we ostensibly decide that the Jews have superhuman genius.

• "The words that our culture implants in the souls and minds of the Muslims, [i.e.] that that the Jews are the source of evil in the world. It appears that we are the only nation that still thinks that "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" are real – even though they were compiled by the Russian intelligence service in order to torment the Jews of Russia in the days of the Tsar, [as] the expert in Jewish affairs Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Masiri [wrote] in his famous encyclopedia.

• "The words of the stories of the final days, concerning the eternal conflict between the Arabs and the Jews, until the Day of Judgment when the Jew will hide behind [the tree] and the rock, and [the rock] will say [to the Muslim], 'O servant of Allah, o Muslim, a Jew is hiding behind me, come and kill him.' These traditions make the Muslim suspicious, and he interprets every event as if a Jew is behind it. This is why Sheikh Fadhlallah and others have not ruled out a Jewish role in the tragic incident that took place in the school in Beslan.

"These are the deep roots that arbitrarily control both us and how we see the world around us. How can they be circumvented so that we can better and more accurately understand and grasp what happened and is happening in our complex world?"

Footnotes

[1] Al-Raya (Qatar), September 20, 2004.

[2] Referring to an annual convention held since 9/11 to celebrate the attacks organized by the London Islamist organization Al-Muhajiroun.

[3] Abdallah bin Saba was a Jew who converted to Islam. He considered the Fourth Caliph Ali bin Abu Taleb to have a divine element, and some, mostly Sunni, writers attribute to him the establishment of Shi'ite sectarianism. Some also claim that he was a legend invented by the enemies of the Shi'ites who sought to prove that Shi'a Islam was not true Islam, but was invented by a Jew. Also, he is thought to have incited against the Third Caliph Uthman bin 'Affan and caused his assassination.

 

DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF AL-ARABIYA TV CHANNEL: "THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SUICIDE ATTACKS IN KABUL, AL-ANBAR, ISLAMABAD, RIYADH, ALGIERS, PARIS, DAMASCUS, OR TABA"

Memri
October 11, 2004

In an article in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on October 9, 2004, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director-general of the Al-Arabiya TV channel and former editor of the paper, discusses the common denominator between the recent terrorist attacks worldwide. The following are excerpts from the article:

"One cannot understand the nature of the attack in Taba, Egypt, unless we put it in the broader context. That same week the world map was drenched with blood: the bombing [in Taba] was preceded a few hours earlier by an explosion in the French capital. The explosion hit the embassy of Indonesia, the Islamic nation with the largest [Muslim] population, and as a result there were many victims. Two bombings occurred in Pakistan – in the first, an extremist blew up a mosque full of Shiites while they were praying, and a few days later another extremist attacked a group of Sunnis in response. In both bombings many innocent people were killed. In the center of the Algerian capital the militant Salafi group [i.e. Al-Jama'a Al-Salafiyya Li-Al-Da'wah Wa-Al-Qital] carried out an attack. During the exchange of fire, which lasted two hours, two people were killed and eight were wounded. Add to this the long list of cars containing suicide bombers, which led to the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis. [The car bombings] recurred in a number of towns [in Iraq], and such news items have become commonplace.

"Being in the midst of this mass destruction, we can understand the nature of the problem only by looking at [all the attacks] from the same perspective. Without doing so, it will never be possible to grasp the truth. The problem can be summed up in one word – extremism. Without dealing with the extremist way of thinking, which is on the rise, both in terms of its circulation and in terms of its violence, we cannot envisage an improvement occurring in the security situation...

"It may be that what occurred yesterday in Egypt is no more than [an act] of [non-Egyptian] suicide groups that crossed the Egyptian coastline. It does not neces-sarily mean the return from the local cemeteries of the extremists who were crushed in the nineties. That period of bloodshed ended with a true defeat of the radical organization, and this led the extremists [in Egypt], who were fighting lost battles on both the security level and the ideological level, to leave Egypt and flee to Sudan and Afghanistan and to join the other groups in regions that they consider easier [to operate in].

"As long as the Arab and Muslim intellectuals are not convinced of the reality of the problem, which is first and foremost the existence of extrem-ism, [and are not con-vinced of the need] to fight it, whether it is clothed in national or religious terms – this bloodshed, destruction and fear will not cease.

"It is inconceivable for us to justify one terrorist bombing while denouncing another. [The terror attacks] are interconnected ideologically, if not by the affiliation of their perpetrators. A solution solely concerned with security can never succeed in bringing terrorism to a halt. This sheds light once again on [the position of] the Arab intellectuals, who not only are silent but even justify terror, for they in reality supply terrorism with what it most needs - propaganda and legitimacy. Therefore they are embarrassed when [such an] incident takes place on their own land and they hasten to make distinctions and clarifications.

"The danger of extremism threatens almost all the Arab and Islamic societies. There is no difference between the suicide attacks in Kabul, Al-Anbar, Islamabad, Riyadh, Algiers, Paris, Damascus, Tripoli, or Taba. They all embody one reality: that their perpetrators hold extremist views."

 

SAUDI MINISTER URGES ARAB MEDIA TO COMBAT "IMPROPER IDEAS"

Saudi Minister urges Arab media to combat "improper ideas"
The Associated Press
October 10, 2004

Saudi Arabia's interior minister appealed to regional news media Saturday to help combat "improper ideas" that lead young people to support extremist movements.

Speaking before a meeting with his counterparts from Persian Gulf nations, Prince Nayef said Arab journalists need to confront Islamic militancy.

"We insist that the media participates with us in fighting terrorism," he said. "No matter how hard we work and no matter what the security apparatus does, it is not the solution. The solution is in an intellectual effort that removes these improper ideas and brings back to the right path those who went astray."

He also said Persian Gulf countries were committed to uprooting terrorism.
"Terrorism is rejected and, unfortunately, I say with pain that those who carry it out are citizens of ours, and it is attributed to Muslims and Arabs," he said.

The prince raised the media issue in response to an unrelated question – one about Saudi reaction to Thursday night's coordinated bombing attacks on tourists, many of them Israeli, in the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Shytan. Some Israeli officials have said they believe the al Qaeda network was probably behind the attack. Condemning attacks against Israelis is awkward for governments in Arab countries, where sympathies lie firmly with the Palestinians in their fight with Israel.

Abdulrahman Attiyah, secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, also sidestepped direct condemnation of the attacks.

The six-nation group believes "the lack of a fair and comprehensive peace for all parties on the issue of Palestine and the Middle East motivates such acts," he said. "What happened at the Taba Hilton should not be looked at in isolation of this truth."

Saudi Arabia, which terrorists have targeted in a series of attacks since last year, came under intense international pressure after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States to reform its society and crack down on militants and their financial backers. Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 plane hijackers involved in the attacks were born in Saudi Arabia.

 

AL-MUHAJIROUN DISBANDED IN LONDON

Militant group al-Muhajiroun disbanded
By Philip Johnston Home Affairs Editor
The Daily Telegraph
October 14, 2004

An extremist Muslim group that celebrated the September 11 hijackers as "the magnificent 19" has disbanded, its leaders said last night.

Al-Muhajiroun has angered mainstream Muslim organisations by giving support to terrorist attacks around the world. It has been denounced as a fringe group that attracted undue attention because of its fanatical views.

Its self-styled spiritual leader, Omar Bakri Muhammed, known as the Tottenham Ayatollah, said the organisation was dissolving but its members would link up with other groups. A statement on the group's website said: "We have decided that it is time to shed ourselves of titles, bodies and infrastructure to merge together as one global sect against the crusaders and occupiers of Muslim land.

"Post 9/11 we are in a time of crisis. We need to come together and pool our resources. Globally, we will support Muslims wherever they are." The statement added: "We are not going to stop now. The going is going to get tougher."

The group was regularly monitored by the police and Home Office and there are some in the Muslim community who believe the disbandment is a tactical move to avoid being forced to wind up.