Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

The Sacramento Union stands by its criticism of Arafat

November 30, 2004

[Note by Tom Gross]

Correction: In my introductory note in some editions of yesterday's dispatch I referred to the CABU. The organization holding the celebration of Yasser Arafat's life next week is in fact the CAABU – The Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding.

 

CONTENTS

1. Attacking those papers which criticized Arafat
2. "A word about Arafat"
3. "Finishing what Hitler started"
4. "Yasir Arafat gets the Che Guevara treatment" (an article from Harvard Law School)


ATTACKING THOSE PAPERS WHICH CRITICIZED ARAFAT

I have very occasionally made reference on this list to the leading pro-Israel media watchdog groups, such as HonestReporting.

However, the anti-Israel "activist" groups online are far greater in numbers.

Below is an example of how one small U.S. newspaper, "The Sacramento Union," replied having been bombarded with complaints after they printed an article criticizing Yasser Arafat.

In a published response, "The Sacramento Union" says it will not be intimidated from its position that it was fair to allow Arafat to be described as "the father of modern terrorism," and its criticism of "Western diplomats [that] painted over Arafat's sordid nature."

The paper writes: "The plain truth: The font of so much hatred in the Middle East was none other than Yassir Arafat, who made a peaceful settlement impossible, who justified the slaughter of innocents."

Admittedly that comment piece, "Finishing What Hitler Started" (By Mark Williams, Sacramento Union, November 12, 2004 – which is also attached in full below), contained harsh and occasionally offensive language (which I for one do not approve of), but no more so than the language regularly used about Israel in the so-called mainstream media.

[Thanks to David Steinmann for drawing this to my attention.]

 

SUMMARY (FROM HARVARD LAW SCHOOL)

THE CHE GUEVARA TREATMENT

At the end of this email I also attach one further comment piece on Arafat unrelated to the Sacramento Union (Yasir Arafat gets the Che Guevara treatment, By Mitch Webber, The Record – which is an independent newspaper published by students at Harvard Law School, November 18, 2004.)

Webber writes: "Try finding mention of Black September in Arafat obituaries... In its official obituary, The New York Times poeticizes Arafat's "once-taut stomach" and his "trademark checkered head scarf, carefully folded in the elongated diamond shape of what was once Palestine." If you didn't know any better, you might think Palestine was a sovereign state before Israel existed. At any rate, it can't be long before Arafat's kafiyah becomes as ubiquitous on college dorm walls and t-shirts as Che Guevara's single-starred beret.

... If only our own President were more like Arafat, maybe The New York Times would publish the occasional kind word about him as well. But I seriously doubt the UN will fly its flag at half-mast upon Bush's passing..."


ARTICLES IN FULL

A WORD ABOUT ARAFAT

A word about Arafat
The Sacramento Union
November 24, 2004

The Sacramento Union has been targeted by an orchestrated letters-to-the-editor campaign, unmistakable because of the extreme repetitiousness of content and tone. The campaign takes us to task – understandably – for publishing a column by Sacramento talk show host Mark Williams, to whom Yassir Arafat’s death occasioned some potent invective.

When much of the mainstream media was euphemistically describing the Palestinian leader’s life in terms reserved for a great statesman, Williams cleared his throat and reminded readers that the man was, ahem, a terrorist. Indeed, some call him the father of modern terrorism, though the roots of terror as an instrument of political change go back at least a century. But Arafat was quintessentially a terrorist, one who inspired so many others over the past three decades that he needn't have been directly linked to them to have been in real ways responsible for them.

Western diplomats painted over Arafat's sordid nature, largely because they claimed the search for more legitimate Palestinian leaders was futile – a debatable proposition – and because late 20th-century culture, ever sinking into moral relativism, increasingly countenanced terrorism as a laudable form of political expression.

Arafat's growing stature was appalling for several reasons, not least because his swagger prohibited the emergence of moderate Palestinian leaders – many of whom were assassinated by agents connected to Arafat himself. Moreover, his detestable anti-Semitism was barely concealed. When President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered him more than even he could imagine, he could not bring himself to accept a deal. The reason: He did not want a deal; he wanted an end to the state of Israel.

We can sympathize with Arab-Americans who, owing to the lack of other Palestinian leaders and to the build-up of Arafat in Western culture, are outraged by Mark Williams’s remarks. Some of the remarks, not untypical of talk radio, were jarring when seen in print. Tombstones, for example, are not urinals. If we could retroactively excise that comment, for one example, we would.

And yet, there is a through-the-looking-glass aspect to the perspective of many of those who joined the letter-writing campaign (a few samples of which, not all of them, we'll publish). George Orwell once said the intellectual’s duty is to state the plain truth, especially when so many other intellectuals instinctively spread confusion.

By printing Mark Williams’s comments, we have been accused of spewing "hate speech," that politically correct phrase that insinuates itself, not as a thought-stimulator, but as a thought-stopper. The plain truth: The font of so much hatred in the Middle East was none other than Yassir Arafat, who made a peaceful settlement impossible, who justified the slaughter of innocents.

An inelegant truth, that, sometimes inelegantly stated. We may only pray, with President Bush, that Arafat's death brings new opportunities for peace and, yes, Palestinian self-determination.

 

THE COMMENT PIECE THAT WAS ATTACKED

Finishing What Hitler Started
By Mark Williams
Sacramento Union
November 12, 2004

The media in this county have gone nuts. I actually heard one TV anchorette – with nice teeth but no brains or sense of history past her first Barbie Doll – refer to Yasser Arafat as "the George Washington of Palestine."

Get this straight: Yasser Arafat was a blood-soaked, sub-human, vile, reprehensible, murderous animal. Its (his) savagery was unmatched in the latter half of the 20th Century and the fires of Hell are burning that much more brightly for his having been spawned.

This sociopathic reptile’s terrorist history dates to his founding of Fatah – designed to liberate Israel from the Jews, by way of extermination, in the 1950s. By 1969 he was big dog on the Middle Eastern block, head of a conglomeration of Islamic terrorist organizations unified under a single committee on which each is represented.

The Executive Committee of the PLO becomes the Arab equivalent of the Mob commission founded by Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonnano, Lucky Luciano, Tommy Lucchese, Frank Costello, and Vito Genovese. Joe was a humanitarian compared to Arafat, the five families were only killing each other at the time, united to stop that and direct their efforts toward the business at hand. In Arafat's case, the goal of unification was to improve and coordinate a more effective offensive against innocents.

And what a record Arafat accumulated!

February 21, 1970. Swissair flight 330 blown out of the sky inbound to Tel Aviv. All passengers and crew lost.

May 8, 1970. Nine school kids and three of their teachers blown to bits when Arafat orders their school bus obliterated by bazooka fire

September 5, 1972. Also under Arafat's direct command, terrorists murder 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics (FYI; Mahmood Abbas, who tops a short list of successors to Arafat today was the creep who worked out the logistics for that slaughter)

March 1, 1973. The US Ambassador to the Sudan is among those killed when Arafat's animals take over the Saudi embassy in Khartoum.

May 15 1974. This is one of Arafat’s best pieces of work. Under orders from the soon-to-be Nobel Peace Prize winner, a group of PLO tosses grenades into a group of schoolchildren being held hostage and try to mow down the survivors with machine guns. Twenty-one children and two adults killed in the school. A child, home from school sick, is murdered – along with both parents – when Arafat's guys make a quick stop by the house to see if they missed anybody.

October 7, 1985. An oldie but goodie. American Leon Klinghoffer is shot in his wheelchair, which is then rolled off of the Achille Lauro’s deck and to a watery grave in the Mediterranean.

January 17, 2002. Six killed, 35 wounded when Arafat’s “freedom fighters” machinegun a bat mitzvah. Two dead, 40 injured five days later when commuters are machine-gunned by Arafat’s animals at a bus stop. A week later they burst into a private home to murder an 11-year-old and her mother

May 27, 2002. The "George Washington of Palestine" orders an infant and her grandmother blown to pieces at an ice cream parlor. The next day they mow down a group of kids playing basketball. Three dead; ages 17, 17 and 14. The next month’s high point for Yasser comes with three more dead kids: 16, 12 and 5 in a home invasion, along with their mother and a neighbor who tried to help the other victims.

May 2004. Arafat dispatches four more kids: 11, 9, 7, 2, and mom when he RPGs their car.

Those are just a few highlights – a partial list, abbreviated because to publish a complete list of the accomplishments of the founding father of terrorism would take up this entire publication. There are literally hundreds of attacks on innocents, hundreds more on mostly off-duty IDF and ordinary street cops walking their beats. The death toll in the thousands. But you won’t hear this from the American media whose motto is: “Warm up the box cars, we found a nest of ‘em!”

Folks, this emperor is as naked as they come:

* Item: There is not, never has been, never will be a nation Called "Palestine." It is a myth. Atlantis has more validity. "Palestine" exists only as a vehicle for the extermination of an entire people and a major goal of Islamic Jihad in its war against civilization.

* Item: If there is a crueler pile of camel manure than Palestine, then it has got to be the total fiction of a Palestinian "people" as a group distinct from Jews, Arabs or the other peoples indigenous to the area. They have "homelands." What they do not have is a Jew-less Israel. This nonsense about a homeland is just that – nonsense. But dangerous nonsense. These freaks of some twisted politically correct nightmare are furiously scratching matches over a gas jet trying to relight Auschwitz.

Is there anything holy to our contemptible media? They are celebrating a monster that did more to advance toward the Final Solution than anybody since Schickelgrueber – Arafat was the bin Laden of his day and now he is dead. Good, I am glad. I hope it was painful. The appropriate headstone over the stiff would be a working urinal.

 

A SEPARATE PIECE ON ARAFAT

Yasir Arafat gets the Che Guevara treatment
By Mitch Webber
The Record
November 18, 2004

www.hlrecord.org/news/2004/11/18/Opinion/Yasir.Arafat.Gets.The.Che.Guevara.Treatment-808823.shtml

Can one write an obituary or eulogize Yasir Arafat without betraying a bias in the Israel-Palestine conflict? It doesn't seem possible. But I'll do my best, making only a single, modest point before heading to the highlight reel of the all-important World Opinion to see what our erstwhile allies have said about the recently deceased Chairman.

My one point is this: for Yasir Arafat, it was never about the occupation.

In 1957, pursuant to the Israeli Independence War armistice lines (or as the war is more succinctly known in the Arab world: al-Nakba, The Catastrophe), Jordan held East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip. It was in that year, 1957, a full decade before the 1967 Six-Day War, that Yasir Arafat founded al Fatah ("The Conquest") to fight a guerrilla war against Israel. (To be fair, Arafat did eventually go to war against Jordan, but only after Jordan no longer occupied the West Bank. Arafat's belief that Palestinians were entitled to all of Jordan, as well as all of Israel, culminated in 1970's Black September – the utter defeat and expulsion of the Palestinians from Jordan. Try finding mention of Black September in Arafat obituaries.)

But don't take my word for what Arafat meant to Palestinian nationalism. Take Nelson Mandela, best known of late for calling America's war against Iraq "racist" and accusing the United States of committing "unspeakable atrocities." Last week Mandela called Arafat "an icon in the proper sense of the word... one of the outstanding freedom fighters of this generation."

Now I question Mandela's sense of perspective and proportion on the topic of Arafat. After all, Mandela has spent much of the last few years on an Anti-Israel World Speaking Tour. Exhibiting the moral maturity of a child, Mr. Mandela trots the globe insisting that if Israel gets to retain its arsenal, America has no right preventing Iran and North Korea from developing nukes. Analogously, I imagine Mr. Mandela is equally befuddled as to why cops, and not outlaws, get to carry unconcealed pistols in public. That is, unless the outlaw in question is Arafat, and he's speaking before the General Assembly.

I have yet to hear a eulogist mention the fact that most estimates have Arafat personally pocketing between four and five billion dollars in foreign humanitarian aid earmarked for his own people. Again, to be fair to Arafat, $4 billion is nowhere near the $11 billion mark Kofi Annan's UN skimmed in its oil-for-food scandal. So we shouldn't be surprised to find Annan overlooking a fellow Peace Prize laureate's criminal corruption.

The Secretary-General does not disappoint. Annan was "deeply moved" by the passing of Arafat. In his press release, Annan praised Arafat for, in 1988, "accept[ing] the principle of peaceful coexistence between Israel and a future Palestinian state." 1988? It seems Annan missed the headlines, say, in 1996, when Arafat remarked, as he often did in the years following Oslo, "We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion.... We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem." That doesn't sound like the two-state solution our enlightened Western friends pretend to advocate.

Coming to Arafat's defense one final time, I'm certain the Chairman meant to say that he hoped to make life unbearable for Israelis or Zionists, not Jews, because – say it with me now – "anti-Zionism is NOT anti-Semitism."

Speaking of Iraqi sanction profiteers, French President Jacques Chirac mourned the death of a man "of courage and conviction." Mr. Chirac diplomatically omitted any mention of which convictions, precisely, Arafat embodied. We're left with the impression that the content of a man's convictions is of no moment, so long as he had some. Which makes me wonder: why is it that Mr. Chirac never speaks highly of our own President Bush, who, if nothing else, is certainly a man of convictions?

Likewise, the Pope reportedly felt "pain" for the "illustrious deceased," and Vladimir Putin hailed Arafat for dedicating his life to "an independent state, which would coexist with Israel within recognised and secure borders." I find the latter's remarks particularly touching; if there's one world leader sensitive to Muslim self-determination, it's Vlad Putin.

Don't let me give the impression that Americans haven't shed our own tears for Mr. Arafat. Model ex-president and sometime-Arafat-speechwriter Jimmy Carter must have felt a true loss of consortium last week at the news of Arafat's death. According to Carter biographer Douglas Brinkley, "There was no world leader Jimmy Carter was more eager to know than Yasir Arafat." Last Friday, Carter defended Arafat as the "legitimate," democratically elected Palestinian leader. Carter is apparently employing an idiosyncratic, mechanical definition of democracy, in which a dictator gets to delete all true opposition from the ballot and then "indefinitely postpone" all subsequent elections. Carter's op-ed several times scolds the "occupying Israelis," but never says a disparaging comment about Arafat. No mention of the Munich Olympics, no Ma'alot, no Moshav Avivim, no Achille Lauro, no assassinated American ambassador, no airline hijackings. No thousands and thousands of dead civilians. No need to sweat the details.

In its official obituary, The New York Times poeticizes Arafat's "once-taut stomach" and his "trademark checkered head scarf, carefully folded in the elongated diamond shape of what was once Palestine." If you didn't know any better, you might think Palestine was a sovereign state before Israel existed. At any rate, it can't be long before Arafat's kafiyah becomes as ubiquitous on college dorm walls and t-shirts as Che Guevara's single-starred beret.

If only our own President were more like Arafat, maybe The New York Times would publish the occasional kind word about him as well. But I seriously doubt the UN will fly its flag at half-mast upon Bush's passing.

I'm afraid I've fallen into my own trap and interjected my own views into what was supposed to be a dispassionate discussion of Chairman Arafat. So back to my original, indisputable point, so glaringly forgotten by a world smitten by the father of modern terrorism. Yasir Arafat, a man whose steel resolve was matched only by his six-pack abs, began his war for conquest a decade before Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

Unless the Occupied Territories include all of Israel proper – Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat – it was never about the occupation.

(Mitch Webber is a 2L from Rochester, NY.)


An evening to celebrate the life of Yasser Arafat: Dec 7, 2004 (& SOAS)

November 29, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Remembering Arafat: An evening to celebrate the life of Yasser Arafat: Dec. 7 2004."
2. "Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Conference for students and others, Dec. 5, 2004"
3. Another Jew attacks Israel
4. Attacks on Israelis down 70 percent since Arafat's death
5. The BBC on Barghouti


"CELEBRATING YASSER ARAFAT"

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach the programs for two events in London this week.

The first (to celebrate the life of Yasser Arafat) is organized by the CABU (the Council for Arab-British Understanding).

Speakers include Lord David Steel. Before he entered the House of Lords, Steel was the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party. This party is increasing its popularity at the present time in the UK.

Former British Ambassadors and Foreign Office Ministers will also participate, as will anti-Israeli Jewish groups, including Just Peace UK and the Jewish Socialist Group.

NOTE 1: For more about Just Peace UK, see the dispatch of December 20, 2003 titled On the twelfth day of Christmas, Arik Sharon sent me....

That dispatch concerned the anti-Israel Christmas carols sung publicly in London last year, some of the words of which many believed to have also been anti-Semitic.

NOTE 2: Another Liberal Democrat, Dr. Jenny Tonge, MP, led a minute's silence for deceased Hamas chief Sheikh Yassin in one of the meeting rooms at the British parliament earlier this year. (See my dispatch of April 19, 2004 titled: Rantissi 2: A minute's silence by British MPs for Sheikh Yassin.)

 

"SETTLER COLONIALISM AS GENOCIDE"

The second item attached below is the schedule for the conference on Sunday at SOAS, one of the foremost institutes of higher education in London. Leading students from all over the world study there, including many who later assume important positions in government in their home countries.

Topics at the conference include "Settler Colonialism as Genocide" and "Our Duty to Expose Israel, the Extra-Judicial Pariah State."

Tom Paulin, the Oxford University academic and BBC TV arts commentator, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. For more details on Paulin, see
www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gross111202.asp.

Seven out of the 16 speakers at the conference are Jews, which I am told is a deliberate choice by the organizers. These include the Jewish professors Steven and Hillary Rose, who are leading campaigners against Israel in academic circles in north America and Europe.

Not mentioned in the program is that organizer Victoria Brittain has worked for many years as a senior editor on the comment pages of The Guardian newspaper.

 

"HOUSING THE ADVOCATES OF THE MURDER OF ISRAELIS"

Stephen Pollard writes:

It would be almost impossible to draw up a list of more biased anti-Israel speakers, many of whom do not even support Israel's right to exist, and at least one of whom – Tom Paulin – has advocated the mass murder of Israeli citizens.

Assuming – it's a big assumption, given the viewpoint and record of some speakers – that they do not call for violence or murder, then they are of course entitled to their view, and to express it. But at SOAS? SOAS is an academic institution which is supposedly dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, not to the advocacy of hate politics.

The authorities at SOAS presumably know what is going on in their premises. The meeting is hardly secret. Are we to assume from this that they are happy to allow advocates of the murder of Israelis to grace their institution?

 

"A RACIST REGIME"

Tom Gross writes:

Increasingly, media outlets are using Jews to attack Israel. For example, here from MSNBC is quote of the day for November 22, 2004 | 11:23 AM ET

"Quote of the Day:

'It is one of the ironies of history that Jews – whether in the US, Europe, or Israel – who were disproportionately involved in struggles for universal human rights and civil liberties should now be supporting policies of a right-wing Israeli government that is threatening to turn Israel into a racist state. For if Sharon leverages his promised withdrawal from Gaza into an Israeli presence in the West Bank that is impossible to dislodge – a point that some observers insist has already been reached – a racist regime is surely what his policies will produce.' – Henry Siegman, former executive head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America."

 

ARAFAT DEAD, ATTACKS DOWN

Tom Gross writes:

Since the death of Yasser Arafat, there has been a seventy percent decline in Palestinian attacks on Israeli Jews (IDF quoted in Ma’ariv, 26 November 2004).

 

THE BBC ON BARGHOUTI

Here is the BBC from November 25, 2004 ("PM programme")

"Marwan Barghouti, who was jailed by Israel for leading the Intifada, has announced that he will stand for President of the Palestinian Authority."

Actually Barghouti was not jailed "for leading the intifada". He was jailed for the murder of five civilians, for involvement in four terror attacks, given 20 years for attempted murder and another 20 for membership of a terrorist organization. Barghouti was found guilty for his role in three attacks that killed a Greek Orthodox monk near Ma'aleh Adumim in 2001; an Israeli near Givat Ze'ev in 2002; and three people at a Tel Aviv restaurant in 2002.

But the BBC aren't likely to want to tell their audience that.


ITEMS IN FULL

"CELEBRATING YASSER ARAFAT"

[It is not the policy of this email list to ever give out email addresses, phone or fax details. Therefore I have removed these from the email below -- TG]

Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2004 18:20:10 +0000
From: "Chris Doyle (CAABU)"
Subject: Remembering Arafat: An evening to celebrate the life of Yasser Arafat: 7 December 2004
To: "Chris Doyle (CAABU)"

Remembering Arafat: An evening to celebrate the life of Yasser Arafat

Held in the presence of H.E Afif Safieh-Palestinian general delegate to the UK

Speakers Include:

Rajab Chamlakh
Head of The Association of Palestinian Community in the UK

Robin Kealy CMG
Former British Ambassador in Tunisia and former Consulate General in East Jerusalem

Rt Hon Sir Jeremy Hanley KCMG
Former Foreign Office Minister responsible for the Middle East and former Chair of Conservative Party

Rt Hon Lord David Steel KBE DL
Former leader of the Liberal Democrats & former President of Medical Aid for

Palestinians

Asad Abdul Rahman
Independent PLO-EC member formerly in charge of Refugees Affairs Department

H.E Afif Safieh
Palestinian Delegate to the UK and the Holy See

Hosted by the Joint Committee for Palestine
Tuesday 7th December, 7pm
Friends House, 173 - 177 Euston Road, London NW1
Nearest tube: Euston
For further details please contact CAABU at [Phone number]

The Joint Committee for Palestine is a loose coalition of British organizations (including Council for Arab-British Understanding, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Association of the Palestinian Community, AMOS Trust, Deir Yassin Remembered, Just Peace UK, Palestine Return Centre, LMEC and Jewish Socialist Group), concerned with achieving justice for the Palestinians.

Chris Doyle
Director
CAABU (Council for Arab-British Understanding)
1 Gough Square, London, EC4A 3DE
www.caabu.org
[Phone, fax, email details removed]

 

"RESISTING ISRAELI APARTHEID"

Resisting Israeli Apartheid conference
School of Oriental and African Studies, London
Sunday 5th December, 2004

Program

10.00-10.15 Welcoming Remarks Victoria Brittain, UK

10.15-10.45 Keynote address
Tom Paulin, Oxford University, UK
Partition and Literature: Reflections
Palestine/Israel and Northern Ireland
Chair: Steven Rose, Open University, UK

10.45-11.00 Coffee Break

11.00-13.00 Isolating Apartheid: Divestment, Sanctions, Boycott
Chair: Victoria Brittain, UK

11.00-11.15 Lisa Taraki, Palestine
The Cultural & Academic Boycott of Israel

11.15-11.30 Lawrence Davidson, USA
Divestment: Isolating Apartheid Financially

11.30-11.45 Betty Hunter, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
The Boycott Israeli Goods (BIG) Campaign

11.45-12.00 Omar Barghouti, Palestine
Boycott as Resistance: The Moral Dimension

12.00-13.00 Discussion

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-16.00 Isolating Apartheid: Scope & Principles
Chair: Nur Masalha, UK

14.00-14.15 Ilan Pappe, Israel
The Meaning & Objectives of Boycott

14.15-14.30 Ur Shlonsky, Israel and Switzerland
Resisting Apartheid and the Charge of Antisemitism

14.30-14.45 Mona Baker, UK
On the Distinction between Institutions & Individuals

14.45-15.00 John Docker, Australia
Settler Colonialism as Genocide. Implications for a Strategy of Solidarity with the Palestinians

15.00-16.00 Discussion

16.00-16.30 TEA BREAK

16.30-18.00 Isolating Apartheid: Strategies and Actions
Chair: Karma Nabulsi, UK

16.30-16.45 Hilary Rose, BRICUP, UK
Building the Academic Boycott in Britain

16.45-17.00 Haim Bresheeth, UK
Organising the Academics: Our Duty to Expose Israel, the Extra-Judicial Pariah State

17.00-17.15 Ben Young, Jewish Students for Justice for Palestinians, UK
The Role of Students: Lessons from South Africa

17.15-18.00 Discussion

18.00-18.15 Summary & Close
Jeremy Corbyn MP


“My nation of heroes, my chosen people...” (& BBC complaints cover-up?)

November 25, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "My nation of heroes, my chosen people..."
2. Saudi-Funded
3. "Poisoning the promised land: How the chosen people are killing Israel"
4. Is the BBC deliberately failing to report complaints about its anti-Israel coverage?



“MY NATION OF HEROES, MY CHOSEN PEOPLE...”

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to the dispatch of November 9, 2004 titled Former Guardian columnist: "There is a heaven. And its name is Israel", in which well-known writer and opinion-setter Julie Burchill, formerly of The Guardian and now of the Times of London, wrote a positive travel article about Israel.

Last year, Burchill (who is not Jewish) announced that after many years she was resigning from the Guardian because of its "quite striking bias against the state of Israel" which, she said, was not "entirely different from anti-Semitism."

Yesterday, on the cover of its second ("T2") section, the Times of London carried another long article by Burchill about Israel.

“WOULDN’T IT BE EASIER IF THE JEWS DIDN'T EXIST?”

In the article, Burchill says she is fed up with her "sweetest, educated friends" saying: "Come on, admit it – don't you ever EVER think that if the Jews had never existed how much easier life would be?"

Burchill adds: "It didn't take a genius to see that the more Jews stood up for themselves, the less the world liked it, whereas other races were cheered on and drooled over as 'freedom fighters', no matter how bloody their hands got. Could it be that anti-Semitism in England in particular was based on the fact that we had gone in the opposite direction to the Jews – from powerful to powerless – and felt great resentment about this fact? After all, they’d had a good deal more than loss of empire to deal with in the 20th century – the loss of one third of world Jewry, for instance."

She also says: "Israel's cool, clear-eyed take on matters of faith and secularism is a lesson to all of us. Imagine – a country in which the MOST religious are the LEAST nationalistic!"

SAUDI-FUNDED

Writing an article sympathetic to Israel is now considered so shocking in a centrist British paper like the Times of London, that the editors at the Times felt the need to also print what has been described as "a mean-spirited side-bar" from Ghada Karmi, a research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. Karmi's piece contains a number of inaccuracies. The Times also fails to tell its readers that the institute to which he is attached at the University of Exeter is generously funded by Saudi hardliners.

“POISONING THE PROMISED LAND: HOW THE CHOSEN PEOPLE ARE KILLING ISRAEL”

Still, Burchill's cover story marks a departure from previous anti-Israel cover stories in "T2," such as the cover story of four years ago by the then Times Israel correspondent Sam Kiley. That story, which was titled "Poisoning the promised land: How the chosen people are killing Israel," was printed by the Times complete with a blood-red mock-up on its front page.

Burchill's and Karmi's pieces are attached in full below. The Times has encouraged readers to send in their views about Burchill's piece. The editors write: "Is Julie Burchill right about Israel. What do you think? E-mail debate@thetimes.co.uk "

-- Tom Gross

 

IS THE BBC FAILING TO REPORT ISRAEL COMPLAINTS

The BBC – which is a publicly funded organization and is under a legal obligation to be balanced and impartial – reports quarterly on the complaints they have received from the public about their television, radio, and online programs.

In interviews, senior BBC staff have acknowledged in the past year that complaints about their unfair coverage of Israel are among the most common they receive.

Indeed the organizations HonestReporting and BBCWatch (in both cases their senior staff are long-time subscribers to this email list) have reported that tens of thousands of readers of their respective Internet sites have written to the BBC.

HonestReporting says that on at least five separate occasions this year, its subscribers have complained to the BBC about different programs.

It is therefore surprising that of the 641 items that the BBC now claims have generated complaints so far this year, only 2 (says the BBC) are associated with Israel.

Questions are being asked about whether the BBC is deliberately denying having received these complaints.

The BBC states on its website: "The Programme Complaints Unit investigates alleged breaches of the editorial standards outlined in BBC Producers' Guidelines. BBC Governors consider appeals against its findings. The latest appeal findings and quarterly bulletins are published below."

www.bbc.co.uk/info/policies/programmecomplaints/



ARTICLES IN FULL

MY NATION OF HEROES, MY CHOSEN PEOPLE...

My nation of heroes, my chosen people...
By Julie Burchill
Times of London
Cover story Times 2
November 24, 2004

Unreservedly pro-Israel, our correspondent reveals how her first visit to the country fulfilled a long emotional and political love affair

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7-1371499_1,00.html

When I told people that I was going to Israel this autumn, I noticed that a lot of them had the same reaction. They’d look dubious, then worried, then say: "Ooo. Is it a story?" The implication being that only professional interests could take one to such a hellhole. They also expressed fear for my safety, going as far on the part of one friend (Gentile, never been there) to actually weep, and on the part of my beloved former mother-in-law (Jewish, never been there) to write to me that she would pray every night for my intact return, even though she is an atheist!

I had had it coming, the Big Jew Thing; ever since as a nine-year-old girl in a working-class West Country Stalinist family, I learnt about the Shoah and the Six-Day War at the same time. It must have been that collision, that schism; death, life, struggle, NEVER AGAIN! – how could I ever not believe? Then I learnt the word for what I was; philo-Semite. That so few people have heard of philo-Semitism, whereas everyone has heard of anti-Semitism, says it all, really.

And the puzzle comes back to this – why do these people, above all others, inspire such ludicrous, ceaseless, surreal loathing? Why is it that one of my sweetest, youngest, most educated friends said to me one night, not even drunk: "Come on babe, admit it – don’t you ever EVER think that if the Jews had never existed how much easier life would be?"

Over the years I have pursued the Jewish Enigma and, it must be said, often got it wrong. My marriage to a non-observing Jew in the 1980s ended after a decade, most of which was spent either having very good sex (yay!) or rowing about the Palestinian question (oy!), with the shiksa on the side of the Jews and the Jew having a good old kvetch on behalf of the Palestinians. It was during such rows with my Jewish husband and his Jewish family, for the first time, that I wondered whether it was actually the Jews I really liked most... or the Israelis, those SuperJews, on whose behalf I seemed increasingly to be going into battle.

It didn't take a genius to see that the more Jews stood up for themselves, the less the world liked it, whereas other races were cheered on and drooled over as "freedom fighters", no matter how bloody their hands got, I reflected. Could it be that anti-Semitism in England in particular was based on the fact that we had gone in the opposite direction to the Jews – from powerful to powerless – and felt great resentment about this fact? After all, they’d had a good deal more than loss of empire to deal with in the 20th century – the loss of one third of world Jewry, for instance.

And Israel is a country the size of Wales, which within the first 25 years of its re-establishment (remember, the Jews were in the countries of the Middle East some seven centuries before the Muslims even existed) – from the Declaration of Independence in 1948 to the Yom Kippur War of 1973 – single-handedly fought off murderous attacks from such neighbouring dictatorships as Egypt, Jordan and Syria. (The US, surprisingly, did not begin to aid Israel in any major way until the mid-1970s; the country was founded with arms from the Communist bloc, and the first Government comprised a coalition of the majority Socialist Mapai Party with the Stalinist Mapam Party to the Left and religious and liberal groups to the Right. Beat that for pluralism!)

During the same period, it's worth noting, the might of the British Armed Forces couldn’t even keep the oddballs and bishop-bashers of the IRA under control, so tied were the hands of our soldiers. It became common in working-class English households during the Seventies to hear Dad, never a great fan of the Jews ("sneaky", "arrogant", "cliquey"), say grimly as the latest atrocity from Ulster made itself felt through the medium of the Six O’Clock News: "The Israelis would have that lot sorted out in no time!" In 30 years, the image of the archetype Jew had gone from that of a frail, bullied scholar walking meekly to his doom to that of a big blond brute in a tank bulldozing across the desert, scattering tyrannies before him, STANDING UP FOR HIMSELF!

If the English working class were seeing the Jews in a new and favourable light due to Israel’s military triumphs – small and scrappy, innee, yer Israeli? Bit like us! – it’s fair to say that both the right-wing ruling class and the liberal middle class were shocked senseless by developments. You could see the bafflement on the faces of the most well-meaning of liberals as the mild-mannered, ever-scapegoated People Of The Book morphed into the creators of the Uzi machine gun and the proud owners of a nuclear capacity. (Interestingly, when the Jews put their scientific brilliance to the service of the European powers, no one ever complained, as I remembered. No one ever said: "Ooo, Albert Einstein, don’t do that!")

What the Jews had done, unique of all the oppressed races of the world, was to come back better than ever.

This was a country founded on socialist principles, by idealists and intellectuals, which could shape-shift at the merest whiff of cordite into a lean, mean, fighting machine that did not allow soldiers to salute their "superiors" yet was deadly effective. It was the only Jewish country in the world, yet surrounded as it was by hate-filled theocracies who had wan-ted Hitler to kill the lot of them, it held secularism to be the most precious cornerstone of its democracy; only in Israel do you find that the most religious Jews, the Haredim, are the most opposed to the existence of the Jewish state – the most extreme of these, the Neturei Karta, even supported the PLO’s charter calling for its destruction. Ultra-religious Jews are not generally drafted into the Israeli Army, and those who are end up in the "Rabbinical Corps", checking that the kitchens are kosher.

Secular Israel regards them with its characteristic, ceaseless tolerance; but for their part, the men in their side-curls and suits walk alongside young Israeli hotties wearing less on the street than other girls wear on the beach with never a sneer or slur, let alone a stoning. Surrounded on all sides by countries where religion and politics are one, to the point that democracy is considered ungodly, and where the chosen religion spends so much time acting as a tireless curtain-twitching Mrs Grundy, determined above all to curtail the freedom of women, that it has no time to tackle the subjugation and impoverishment of its faithful by their filthy rich rulers, Israel's cool, clear-eyed take on matters of faith and secularism is a lesson to all of us. Imagine – a country in which the MOST religious are the LEAST nationalistic!

Anti-semitism can be as in-your-face as smashing up synagogues. But it can also be sly, sneaky, subtle and sometimes surreal. It must, in my opinion, go some way to explaining why Israeli human rights issues are so obsessively concentrated on, while many Arab and African countries are allowed to treat their citizens with as much subhuman sadism as they wish – the pregnant, raped women so frequently sentenced to death by stoning under Islamic regimes come immediately to mind, but the list is never-ending. In having one human rights rule for democratic Israel – which can be summed up as "Be perfect or we’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks" – and another for the dictatorships which surround it – "Do what you like to your people, it’s your culture!" – Whitey displays an interestingly sly bit of anti-Semitism which is also rather insulting to the said dictatorships and the people they lord it over.

The Jews are seen to be the one ethnic group who "pass" as white; their insistence on making their state a democracy is also seen as a sign of their stubborn refusal to act the savage to Whitey’s civilising influence. In short, the Lord forbid that any ethnic group should ignore the all-important world dominance hierarchy and dare to turn from victim into victor – and that is Israel’s ultimate crime.

So why did it never occur to me to actually go to Israel before? After all, since I broke my self-imposed travel embargo a decade ago (didn’t want to have sex with my various husbands, if you're interested) I’ve been a veritable globetrotter, nipping off to places as far away as the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean at the drop of a luggage tab. Why I would choose to make 12-hour flights to places I had absolutely no interest in while Israel is a mere four hours away, has a climate which makes the Bahamas look like Bradford and everything about it fascinates me, is a mystery to me, but a lot of it probably has to do with inertia, fear and a long-held belief that one should never meet one’s heroes.

This was the first time a whole country had been my hero – millions of the f******, all ready to let me down! – so naturally I held back.

Finally, the turn of events led me there. An avalanche of congratulatory e-mail from Jews around the world led to lunch with beautiful Michelle from the Israeli Tourist Board, which led to me and my best friend Nadia Petrovic – the only person I know whose philo-Semitism leaves mine in the shade – boarding an aircraft to Tel Aviv this October.

Even before your baggage goes through airport X-ray machines so huge that it would be possible for a standing adult, barely stooping, to walk through one, everything about going to Israel is larger than life, which is strange considering that it’s a country the size of Wales. Everything from the clothes you need to pack – not many, nothing warm, because it’s always hot and always informal unless you plan to hang around some neurotic, misogynistic Muslim/Catholic "Holy Place", in which case, COVER YOURSELF YOU FILTHY DAUGHTER OF A WHORE! – to the reaction you get from your friends – OH NO, YOU'RE GOING TO DIEEEEEE! – is Not Normal.

But that feeling ended, for me, the minute I was settled on the El Al aircraft. Looking around at my fellow passengers, in their various skullcaps, side-curls and crop-tops, I felt an eerie sense of calm, so different from the irritation, nerves and boredom that air travel usually provokes. My favourite bit of the Bible, verse 16, Chapter 1 of The Book of Ruth, came back to me, triumphantly this time after a lifetime of aloneness: "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."

To be among them, but not of them; to "pass", of all the outrageous things, when one of the stewardesses (minimal make-up, stern slacks; Israeli girls make the rest of us, even Oriental women, look like inappropriate drag queens, but somehow you can’t hate them because they’re beautiful as they don’t mean to be) speaks to me in Hebrew! I can’t get over this – it’s what I’ve been waiting for since I was nine years old! – but my face falls a little when snub-nosed, baby-blonde Nadia is similarly spoken to; no one could mistake her for one. Bitch. And this is the first of many sad lessons I learn in Israel – that because of the terrible fall-off in tourism since the intifada, Israelis presume that they have no friends abroad any more. They simply presume that every person on an Israeli plane, or in an Israeli hotel, is an Israeli. That was the first thing that broke my heart, there.

But it healed the moment we stepped out of the plane into the sunshine. In Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth’s self-loathing hero remarks of his first visit to Israel something like: "Look! – Jews – Jews everywhere – walking around as if they own the place! WHICH THEY DO!" What was striking to me, though, all through Israel, was the very absence of weight being thrown around. "Shalom." They say it, them Jews, every time. It’s their hello, their goodbye, their have-a-nice-day, and they mean it. You hear them say it, you see them do it, and sometimes, just a little bit, got to say it, it makes you hate them – makes you hate their endless belief in the goodness of Mankind, the very Mankind that came so very near to destroying them.

You see it in Jerusalem, where the mosques and churches gleam free. You see it in Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, where the Avenue of the Righteous comes before everything else – the Righteous being un-Jews, that is. You see it from the car, being driven from Jerusalem to Eilat, when you ask your Israeli tour guide what is that place over there that looks... different? Oh, that’s the Bedouins. That’s the Palestinians. That’s where they cut off people ’s hands and stone women to death, because it’s their culture, and that’s what so much of the "civilised" world wants even more of Israel to be sacrificed unto.

You see it in Ariel Sharon, that alleged hawk of hawks, sending in the Israeli Defence Force to violently evict 8,000 Jews from the Gaza in order to go ONE STEP CLOSER towards peace with a people who want his own people dead. You see it in the beautiful English Jewish journalist Charlotte Halle from Haaretz, the "Tel Aviv Guardian", married to an Israeli, with a three-year-old son, who only comes near to losing her temper once with me – when I express too much antipathy towards the Palestinians who already want her baby son dead, because he will grow up to be a Jew, and she is prepared to go, as her ceaseless, blameless, shameless people are always prepared to go, for ever a bridge too far.

You see it in Nadia’s eyes when she says, so serenely, in the car after Yad Vashem: "I always knew that lots of people had suffered. But if ever, EVER, anyone says that anyone has ever suffered like the Jews did, you know now that they’re either one of two things. One, they're silly. Or two, they’re just a little bit WICKED."

You see it in Tel Aviv, on your balcony, your last night in Israel, with Nadia crying back in the room, and you really want to go home and see your husband and she does her son... but you really wonder how you will live now, back at home, beyond the wild blue yonder where these people, these F****** PEOPLE, did the thing they did – where they literally created the modern world.

Where they turned a place the size of Wales, which was just another regular barren Arab desert, into a Garden of Eden overnight, or at least over a decade. Where they came straight off the ships from Auschwitz and Belsen and Drancy and simply rolled up their sleeves and shook their heads and said, "Oyyyy..."

Where they created Tel Aviv – the first Jewish city in 2,000 years – by simply saying it was so, a few dozen ragged-ass Hebrew re-settlers, standing on some sand in 1909.

Where they don't even WANT your help, the obdurate, stubborn, stiff-necked f****** —
All seven million of them –
Seven million...
So we won, then...

Back in the room, Nadia is singing now as she packs.

I’ve been back from Israel less than a week as I start writing this, and my suntan is already fading as my mind and soul shrink back to the size they were before – the size that fits so snugly around The X Factor and Brit Art and Whither the Novel Now and all those cultural Hula Hoops we keep up so frantically to distract ourselves from the big hole in the middle that is us.

Don't get me wrong – I love my life. This isn't a cheesy old I-was-lost-and-now-I’m-found snow job – I find that such woe-is-me eulogies tend to come from your basic dust-in-the-wind types anyway, who have neither the guts nor the inclination to change their lives but can’t pass up the chance of a little extra whine-time. No, like I said – I love my life. I love my God, my husband, my son Jack, my job, my friends and reality TV. I’m a happy bunny with such a high level of optimism that I frequently wake up in the morning, at the age of 45, feeling almost excited about washing my face and drinking my coffee – a sure sign, according to my shrink friend, of a person in A Happy Place. (Or a cretin.)

And yet, and yet... while all other parts of my heart beat properly, I feel that, increasingly, I have a country-sized hole in it. I have always loved my country with a fierce cool pride, knowing our faults, and still thinking "Yeah, we may well be stiff-upper-lipped/stuffed-shirts/sex-maniacs/drunks/po-faced/frivolous/whatever – but what’s the option? Being French – BEING GERMAN? I don’t think so!" No country is perfect, but relatively, I have always felt blessed to be British; generally, when prejudiced push comes to murderous shove, we have always tended to be on the side of the angels.

But increasingly, I don't feel this. Because, in the face of all the evidence of history, and thus in the face of logic, Britain is slowly but surely ceasing to be Britain and becoming little more than an outpost of the "European Union" – the very name, I feel, echoes the join-us-in-friendship-or-else! promise/threat of an earlier European Unity dream-turned-nightmare. I have many minor gripes against the EU, such as its monstrous levels of corruption and waste.

But mainly I loathe the EU as I believe it to be a massive threat to what remains of the world Jewry which its leader, Germany, did so much to destroy. I cannot trust an organisation which has a belligerent Germany, aided and abetted by his vicious short sidekick, France, at its head – especially when that Germany is increasingly painting itself as the real "victim" of the Second World War. And it’s not just them, it’s us – in 2003 an EU survey claimed that six out of ten Britons believed Israel to be a threat to "world peace", whatever that is.

Israel is not without its problems – but they are problems which are a result of other countries’ ignorant and destructive instincts and actions rather than its own. Because of this, they will be easier to solve – and, crucially, they make "war-torn" Israel a far better place to be in than peaceful Britain. Israelis can at least see the bombs that go off in their country – whereas ours go off in our minds and hearts, day after day, destroying everything which was once precious to us. I’m bad at languages, but I do have a heartful of soul and pretty soon I’ll have a Hebrew teacher – a female teacher, thankyouverymuch! – who I’ll see once a week. And eventually, I’ll get there.

Once I couldn't imagine not living – or dying – in England, but as I get older the more I feel the need to walk in the sun; in the blatant, blameless light of confidence, of communal effort, of a cause greater than keeping the European gravy train/hate machine on track. It's not exactly next year in Jerusalem – but, God willing, five years from now in Tel Aviv will do me just fine.

DEBATE

Is Julie Burchill right about Israel. What do you think?

E-mail debate@thetimes.co.uk

 

WRITER TAKES ISSUE WITH JULIE BURCHILL

'Ugly reality' of Israel's atrocities
Times of London
November 24 2004

This writer takes issue with Julie Burchill

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7-1371498,00.html

To defend Israel today is to be either callous or wilfully ignorant. Had Julie Burchill bothered during her visit there to cross the few miles from Israel to Gaza or the West Bank, she would have seen such human suffering as to disturb even her frenetic adulation of Israel. She might have seen the daily lot of nearly three million Palestinians as they battle with army checkpoints, curfews, random shootings, arbitrary arrests and air raids. She might have found that the "superJews" she so admires humiliate and oppress Palestinians at a whim: last year, at the Nablus checkpoint, a middle-aged man was made to strip, get down on all fours and bark like a dog before he could enter his city. Women in labour routinely wait at checkpoints until some give birth there and see their babies die.

Those that survive live a blighted childhood. Since September 2000, Israel has killed more than 660 Palestinian children and wounded 9,000 – such as little Iman, sprayed with bullets when walking to school in Rafah last month, even after she died. Thousands of children are traumatised by the daily horrors they witness. For a Palestinian child, life under Israeli occupation means turning 15 and seeing the army come to arrest you if you are male, or seeing your friends bleed to death because no ambulance is allowed to rescue them.

It is difficult to convey the scale and effect of Israel's abuses of Palestinian lives through statistics alone. But these are horrifying enough: since 2000, nearly 4,000 Palestinians killed, and 30,000 injured; 400 were assassinated; and 25,000 homes were demolished. In addition, hundreds of acres of farmland were destroyed. No state on earth, except Israel, could get away with these atrocities, now routinely justified as "defence" against Palestinian "terrorism".

The truth is that the West, which created Israel, cannot bear to see what it has done. In trying to solve the problem of Jewish persecution in Europe, which culminated in the Holocaust, Western powers helped to establish the Jewish state as a refuge for the Jews and their own consciences. A compelling argument at the time, it became unassailable when Old Testament stories about the ancient Israelites and their exploits in the Holy Land were thrown in.

But these were European sensitivities arising from European events that had nothing to do with the people who paid the price for Israel's establishment. Most Palestinians are Muslims who do not accept the Biblical version of events. So why were they sacrificed to assuage European guilt and fulfil Zionist ambitions? And who cares to compute the cost to the Palestinians of creating Israel 56 years ago? Far easier to ignore all that and cling to the romantic illusion of an Israel of fearless pioneers and liberal upholders of civilised, Western values. But the ugly reality behind this myth is showing and people like Julie Burchill will have to take note some day.

(Ghada Karmi is a research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter)

Columbia University, “a Poison Ivy”

November 23, 2004

* Edward Said's legacy of hate lives on at Columbia University

 

CONTENTS

1. Columbia University, a poison ivy
2. The Bollinger whitewash
3. "How many Palestinians have you killed?"
4. Canadian Prof: all Israelis over 18 can be targeted for death
5. "Resisting Israeli Apartheid" conference At SOAS, 5 December, 2004
6. New graffiti at Rutgers


THE LEGACY OF HATE CONTINUES

[Note by Tom Gross]

The legacy of hate established towards Israel at Columbia University by the late (and much lauded) Prof Edward Said, the so-called "professor of terror," continues.

Three of New York's main newspapers, the Daily News, the New York Post and the New York Sun have now covered this story. Unsurprisingly, the New York Times has yet to give prominence to accusations of harassment and anti-Semitism by professors towards students at New York's most prestigious university. (Were any other minority to be the targets of such abuse one can be sure the Times would not ignore it).

I attach several articles below, with summaries first for those who don't have time to read them in full. Those pressed for time may in particular want to read the New York Daily News story below. It appeared on the paper's front page under the banner headline "Poison Ivy: Climate of hate rocks Columbia University."

Please note that Columbia initially refused to say how their new chair of "Edward Said professor of Arab studies" was funded. But The United Arab Emirates, which denies the Holocaust on state TV channels and is one of the worst human rights violators in the Mideast, is reported to have provided $200,000 for the chair. (By contrast, Harvard University returned money from the UAE after complaints were raised about the propriety of taking money from that source.)

The new "Edward Said professor of Arab studies" at Columbia is Said's heir, Rashid Khalidi.

 

"RESISTING ISRAELI APARTHEID" CONFERENCE AT SOAS, DECEMBER 5

For those on this list who don't know, SOAS is one of the foremost institutes of higher education in London. Leading students from all over the world study there, including many who later assume important positions in government in their home countries.

On December 5, 2004, SOAS is holding a conference titled "Resisting Israeli Apartheid."

Tom Paulin, the Oxford University academic and BBC TV arts commentator, who has told the Egyptian media that he thinks some Jews should be shot dead, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. (Other speakers include extremists Mona Baker and Jeremy Corbyn MP.)

Topics include "Settler Colonialism as Genocide" and "Our Duty to Expose Israel, the Extra-Judicial Pariah State."

[Information courtesy of MA students at SOAS who subscribe to this email list.]

 

NEW GRAFFITI AT RUTGERS

The anti-Israel Solidarity International Movement tried but failed to hold a conference last year at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Recently fresh graffiti has gone up on and near campus, stating: "Pro-Israel is Anti-American," "How many Americans must die for Israel," and "Destroy Jewish domination to achieve world peace."

[Information courtesy of students at Rutgers University who subscribe to this email list.]

 

SUMMARIES

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, A POISON IVY

"Hate 101. Climate of hate rocks Columbia University" (New York Daily News, November 21, 2004)

Many students say Columbia Prof. Hamid Dabashi, a department chairman, has bullied and threatened them for defending Israel.

It's a capital of "thuggery" – a "ghastly state of racism and apartheid" – and it "must be dismantled." A voice from America's crackpot fringe? Actually, Dabashi is a tenured professor and department chairman at Columbia University. And his views have resonated and been echoed in other areas of the university.

... In three weeks of interviews, numerous students told the Daily News they face harassment, threats and ridicule merely for defending the right of Israel to survive.

... Dabashi has achieved academic stardom: professor of Iranian studies; chairman of the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department; past head of a panel that administers Columbia's core curriculum.

The 53-year-old, Iranian-born scholar has said CNN should be held accountable for "war crimes" for one-sided coverage of Sept. 11, 2001. He doubts the existence of Al Qaeda and questions the role of Osama Bin Laden in the attacks.

... "Students tell me they've been browbeaten, humiliated and treated disrespectfully for daring to challenge the idea that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish nation," he said.

"They say they've been told Israeli soldiers routinely rape Palestinian women and commit other atrocities, and that Zionism is racism and the root of all evil."

... In the world of Hamid Dabashi, supporters of Israel are "warmongers" and "Gestapo apparatchiks." The Jewish homeland is "nothing more than a military base for the rising predatory empire of the United States."

... Nicholas De Genova, who teaches anthropology and Latino studies said, "The heritage of the victims of the Holocaust belongs to the Palestinian people ... Israel has no claim to the heritage of the Holocaust."

... Joseph Massad, who is a tenure-track professor of Arab politics, allegedly asked one student, Tomy Schoenfeld: "How many Palestinians have you killed?" ... To Massad, CNN star Wolf Blitzer is "Ze'ev Blitzer." ... Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can be likened to Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, he once declared.

George Saliba, a professor of Arabic and Islamic science, told a recent graduate, Lindsay Shrier: "You have no claim to the land of Israel... no voice in this debate. You have green eyes, you're not a true Semite. I have brown eyes, I'm a true Semite."

[Full article continues below]

[Much of the research into the atmosphere of hate at Columbia was conducted by Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser of the David Project. Both are long time subscribers to this email list.]

 

THE COLUMBIA WHITEWASH

"The Bollinger whitewash," (New York Sun (editorial), November 19, 2004)

The president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, has been quietly making the rounds in town, reassuring key figures in the Jewish community – and in other communities – that he deems unacceptable the kind of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel behavior recently uncovered by documentary filmmakers on the Columbia campus. He assigned the university's provost, Alan Brinkley, to look into the matter. But Mr. Brinkley's early statements are already sending a ripple of concern through the key parties watching this dispute that what is going to be done will be a whitewash of a serious situation.

... The fact is that Columbia has been infected with a contingent of faculty members whose hatred for Israel has eclipsed any academic mission that makes sense in a crown jewel of education in the city of New York.

... In the long run, a failure by Columbia to address the scandal in its midst, or hide behind an academic code of conduct, will not only invite intervention by the federal authorities but will also bring market pressures to bear. Our own view is that it is long past time for the community of big givers to Columbia to call a halt to further financial support of the university until such time as it is clear that a whitewash is not going to be Mr. Bollinger's approach to the current scandal...

 

"HOW MANY PALESTINIANS HAVE YOU KILLED?"

Film on anti-Israel bias on campus
Columbia abuzz over underground film
By Jacob Gershman
New York Sun
October 20, 2004

At a history class, a professor mockingly tells a female Jewish student she cannot possibly have ancestral ties to Israel because her eyes are green.

During a lecture, a professor of Arab politics refuses to answer a question from an Israeli student and military veteran but instead asks the student, "How many Palestinians have you killed?"

At a student meeting on the topic of divestment from Israel, a Jewish student is singled out as responsible for death of Palestinian Arabs...

 

CANADIAN PROF: "ALL ISRAELIS OVER 18 CAN BE TARGETED FOR DEATH"

"Canadian prof won't be disciplined for calling all Israelis 'targets'" (The Associated Press, November 18, 2004)

A Canadian university professor who is also president of the country's Islamic Congress won't be disciplined for saying that all Israelis over the age of 18 are legitimate targets of suicide bombers, the University of Waterloo announced Wednesday.

... Officials with B'nai Brith Canada said in a statement that the university's decision not to discipline Elmasry is "unacceptable." "Surely, Israeli students cannot feel comforted in knowing that a professor considers them to be fair game – legitimate targets for murder."

... Canadian police have launched an investigation into Elmasry's comments as a possible hate crime...


FULL ARTICLES

CLIMATE OF HATE ROCKS COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Hate 101. Climate of hate rocks Columbia University
By Douglas Feiden
New York Daily News
November 21, 2004

Many students say Columbia Prof. Hamid Dabashi, a department chairman, has bullied and threatened them for defending Israel.

It's a capital of "thuggery" – a "ghastly state of racism and apartheid" – and it "must be dismantled." A voice from America's crackpot fringe? Actually, Dabashi is a tenured professor and department chairman at Columbia University. And his views have resonated and been echoed in other areas of the university.

Columbia is at risk of becoming a poison Ivy, some critics claim, and tensions are high.

In classrooms, teach-ins, interviews and published works, dozens of academics are said to be promoting an I-hate-Israel agenda, embracing the ugliest of Arab propaganda, and teaching that Zionism is the root of all evil in the Mideast.

In three weeks of interviews, numerous students told the Daily News they face harassment, threats and ridicule merely for defending the right of Israel to survive.

And the university itself is holding investigations into the alleged intimidation.

Dabashi has achieved academic stardom: professor of Iranian studies; chairman of the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department; past head of a panel that administers Columbia's core curriculum.

The 53-year-old, Iranian-born scholar has said CNN should be held accountable for "war crimes" for one-sided coverage of Sept. 11, 2001. He doubts the existence of Al Qaeda and questions the role of Osama Bin Laden in the attacks.

Dabashi did not return calls.

In September in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, he wrote, "What they call Israel is no mere military state. A subsumed militarism, a systemic mendacity with an ingrained violence constitutional to the very fusion of its fabric, has penetrated the deepest corners of what these people have to call their soul."

After the showing of a student-made documentary about faculty bias and bullying that targets Jewish students, six or seven swastikas were found carved in a Butler Library bathroom last month.

Then after a screening of the film, "Columbia Unbecoming," produced by the David Project, a pro-Israel group in Boston, one student denounced another as a "Zionist fascist scum," witnesses said.

On Oct. 27, Columbia announced it would probe alleged intimidation and improve procedures for students to file grievances.

"Is the climate hostile to free expression?" asked Alan Brinkley, the university provost. "I don't believe it is, but we're investigating to find out."

But one student on College Walk described the campus as a "republic of fear." Another branded the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department the "department of dishonesty."

A third described how she was once "humiliated in front of an entire class."

Deena Shanker, a Mideast and Asian studies major, remains an admirer of the department. But she says she will never forget the day she asked Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics, if Israel gives warnings before bombing certain buildings so residents could flee.

"Instead of answering my question, Massad exploded," she said. "He told me if I was going to 'deny the atrocities' committed against the Palestinians, I could get out of his class."

"Professorial power is being abused," said Ariel Beery, a senior who is student president in the School of General Studies, but stresses he's speaking only for himself.

"Students are being bullied because of their identities, ideologies, religions and national origins," Beery said.

Added Noah Liben, another senior, "Debate is being stifled. Students are being silenced in their own classrooms."

Said Brinkley: If a professor taught the "Earth was flat or there was no Holocaust," Columbia might intervene in the classroom. "But we don't tell faculty they can't express strong, or even offensive opinions."

Yet even some faculty members say they fear social ostracism and career consequences if they're viewed as too pro-Israel, and that many have been cowed or shamed into silence.

One apparently unafraid is Dan Miron, a professor of Hebrew literature and holder of a prestigious endowed chair.

He said scores of Jewish students – about one a week – have trooped into his office to complain about bias in the classroom.

"Students tell me they've been browbeaten, humiliated and treated disrespectfully for daring to challenge the idea that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish nation," he said.

"They say they've been told Israeli soldiers routinely rape Palestinian women and commit other atrocities, and that Zionism is racism and the root of all evil."

One yardstick of the anti-Israel sentiment among professors, critics say, is the 106 faculty signatures on a petition last year that called for Columbia to sell its holdings in all firms that conduct business with Israel's military.

Noting that the divestment campaign compared Israel to South Africa during the apartheid era, Columbia President Lee Bollinger termed it "grotesque and offensive."

That didn't stop 12 Mideast and Asian studies professors – almost half the department – and 21 anthropology teachers from signing on, a review of the petition shows.

To identify the Columbia faculty with the most strongly anti-Israel views, The News spoke to numerous teachers and students, including some who took their courses; reviewed interviews and published works, and examined Web sites that report their public speeches and statements, including the online archives of the Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper.

Their views could be dismissed as academic fodder if they weren't so incendiary.

Columbia's firebrands

In the world of Hamid Dabashi, supporters of Israel are "warmongers" and "Gestapo apparatchiks."

The Jewish homeland is "nothing more than a military base for the rising predatory empire of the United States."

Nicholas De Genova, who teaches anthropology and Latino studies. The Chronicle of Higher Education calls him "the most hated professor in America."

At an anti-war teach-in last year, he said he wished for a "million Mogadishus," referring to the slaughter of U.S. troops in Somalia in 1993.

"U.S. patriotism is inseparable from imperial warfare and white supremacy," he added.

De Genova has also said, "The heritage of the victims of the Holocaust belongs to the Palestinian people. ... Israel has no claim to the heritage of the Holocaust."

De Genova didn't return calls.

Bruce Robbins, a professor of English and comparative literature.

In a speech backing divestment, he said, "The Israeli government has no right to the sufferings of the Holocaust."

Elaborating, Robbins told The News he believes Israel has a right to exist, but he thinks the country has "betrayed the memory of the Holocaust."

Joseph Massad, who is a tenure-track professor of Arab politics. Students and faculty interviewed by The News consistently claimed that the Jordanian-born Palestinian is the most controversial, and vitriolic, professor on campus.

"How many Palestinians have you killed?" he allegedly asked one student, Tomy Schoenfeld, an Israeli military veteran, and then refused to answer his questions.

To Massad, CNN star Wolf Blitzer is "Ze'ev Blitzer," which is the byline Blitzer used in the 1980s, when he wrote for Hebrew papers but hasn't used since.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can be likened to Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, he once declared.

"The Jews are not a nation," he said in one speech. "The Jewish state is a racist state that does not have a right to exist."

Massad didn't return several calls. On his Web site, he says he's a victim of a "witch hunt" by "pro-Israel groups" and their "propaganda machine."

George Saliba, a professor of Arabic and Islamic science. His classroom rants against the West are legendary, students have claimed.

One student says his "Islam & Western Science" class could be called "Why the West is Evil." Another writes that his "Intro to Islamic Civilization" often serves as a forum to "rail against evil America."

A recent graduate, Lindsay Shrier, said Saliba told her, "You have no claim to the land of Israel ... no voice in this debate. You have green eyes, you're not a true Semite. I have brown eyes, I'm a true Semite."

Saliba did not return calls.

Rashid Khalidi, who is the Edward Said professor of Arab studies. He's the academic heir to the late Said, a professor who famously threw a stone from Lebanon at an Israeli guard booth.

Columbia initially refused to say how the chair was funded. But The United Arab Emirates, which denies the Holocaust on state TV channels, is reported to have provided $200,000.

When Palestinians in a Ramallah police station lynched two Israeli reservists in 2000 – throwing one body out a window and proudly displaying bloodstained hands – the professor attacked the media, not the killers.

He complained about "inflammatory headlines" in a Chicago Sun-Times story and called the paper's then-owner, Conrad Black, who also owned the Jerusalem Post, "the most extreme Zionist in public life."

Reached at Columbia, Khalidi declined to comment on specifics.

"As somebody who has a body of work, written six books and won many awards, the only fair thing to do is look at the entire body of work, not take quotes out of context," he said.

Lila Abu-Lughod, a professor of anthropology, romanticizes Birzeit University in the West Bank as a "liberal arts college dedicated to teaching and research in the same spirit as U.S. colleges."

But it is well-established that Birzeit also is the campus where Hamas openly recruits suicide bombers, stone-throwers and gunmen.

As in her published works, Abu-Lughod gave a carefully nuanced response when reached Friday by The News:

"The CIA has historically recruited at Columbia, but that's not the mission of Columbia. The mission of Birzeit is to educate students, and they're working under very difficult circumstances to do that."

 

THE BOLLINGER WHITEWASH

The Bollinger Whitewash
Editorial
New York Sun
November 19, 2004

The president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, has been quietly making the rounds in town, reassuring key figures in the Jewish community – and in other communities – that he deems unacceptable the kind of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel behavior recently uncovered by documentary filmmakers on the Columbia campus. He assigned the university's provost, Alan Brinkley, to look into the matter. But Mr. Brinkley's early statements are already sending a ripple of concern through the key parties watching this dispute that what is going to be done will be a whitewash of a serious situation.

The provost has blundered at the outset by saying, as our Jacob Gershman reported Wednesday, that he was primarily concerned with incidents inside the classroom, as opposed to what professors say or write beyond their teaching. This comes amid pressure from guilt-ridden professors who do not want standards enforced in their department or professors disciplined and who know that much of the harassment that has taken place has been outside the classroom or, in some reported instances, off campus. The approach Mr. Brinkley is taking ignores the content of the scholars' research. In other words, Mr. Brinkley is avoiding the heart of Columbia's problem.

Treating this problem as one of harassment of students is all well and good, but only up to a point. The fact is that mistreatment of students is but a simple matter that could be taken care of by federal civil rights prosecutors or investigators, either from the Justice Department or the Department of Education in Washington. The Education Department recently indicated it will expand its enforcement activities in respect of campus anti-Semitism. Our reporting suggests that eventually federal authorities will have to get involved at Columbia. But a more fundamental problem exists, one articulated by a professor of Yiddish at Harvard, Ruth Wisse, in an interview with The New York Sun last spring: "This is not a question of comfort of students. The real question is what is the status of Middle East studies at Columbia University."

In other words, if Mr. Bollinger thinks the problem at Columbia can be dealt with by establishing new grievance policies for students or by creating a professorship of Israel studies, as Columbia is setting out to do, it's time for the Trustees to get involved. For such measures will only palliate the university's crisis. There will be much quoting of Columbia's code of academic freedom and tenure, which states that faculty members "may not be penalized by the University for expressions of opinion or associations in their private or civic capacity." But it also calls on them to "bear in mind the special obligations arising from their position in the academic community." The fact is that Columbia has been infected with a contingent of faculty members whose hatred for Israel has eclipsed any academic mission that makes sense in a crown jewel of education in the city of New York.

This point is well understood by the courageous critics who have been seeking to expose the problems at Columbia, including Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum and Campus Watch, and the David Project, which produced the film that forced Columbia to mount the investigation that Mr. Brinkey is now heading. Writing in the Columbia Spectator this week, Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser of the David Project conclude with a call for an intellectually diverse Middle East department "that deals with the major challenges in the Middle East, including the oppression of women, gays, and minorities, and the challenges of democracy, human rights, civil society, and modernity," all matters that the anti-Jewish crowd fears will cast a harsh light on the enemies of Israel.

In the long run, a failure by Columbia to address the scandal in its midst, or hide behind an academic code of conduct, will not only invite intervention by the federal authorities but will also bring market pressures to bear. Our own view is that it is long past time for the community of big givers to Columbia to call a halt to further financial support of the university until such time as it is clear that a whitewash is not going to be Mr. Bollinger's approach to the current scandal. There are other universities in New York City, both private and public, where great philanthropic opportunities await that do not confront donors with the risk that their funds will be hijacked by haters of Jews and Israel. And where, if such a problem does occur, it will be addressed by the university leadership both inside the classroom and without.

 

FILM ON ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS ON CAMPUS

Film on anti-Israel bias on campus
Columbia abuzz over underground film
By Jacob Gershman
New York Sun
October 20, 2004

At a history class, a professor mockingly tells a female Jewish student she cannot possibly have ancestral ties to Israel because her eyes are green.

During a lecture, a professor of Arab politics refuses to answer a question from an Israeli student and military veteran but instead asks the student, "How many Palestinians have you killed?"

At a student meeting on the topic of divestment from Israel, a Jewish student is singled out as responsible for death of Palestinian Arabs.

Those scenes are described by current and former students interviewed for an underground documentary that is causing a frisson of concern to ripple through the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University, where the incidents took place.

The film, about anti-Israel sentiment at the school, has not yet been released to the public, but it has been screened for a number of top officials of Columbia, and talk of its impact is spreading rapidly on a campus where some students have complained of anti-Israel bias among faculty members.

"The movie is shocking," one Columbia senior, Ariel Beery, said.

"It is shocking to see blatant use of racial stereotypes by professors and intimidation tactics by professors in order to push a distinct ideological line on the curriculum," Mr. Beery, who was interviewed for the film, said.

The film is the creation of the David Project, a 2-year-old group based in Boston that advocates for Israel and is led by the founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group, Charles Jacobs. The David Project, which is refusing to make the film public, has screened it for Barnard College's president, Judith Shapiro, and Columbia's provost, Alan Brinkley, according to sources.

Neither Ms. Shapiro nor Mr. Brinkley would return calls seeking comment about the film, though at a meeting in Washington this week with women active in Jewish charitable work the Barnard president is said to have spoken of how emotionally affected she was by the film.

With versions at 11 minutes and 25 minutes in playing time, the film consists of interviews with several students who contend that they have felt threatened academically for expressing a pro-Israel point of view in classrooms.

One of the scholars discussed most in the film, according to a person who has seen the film, is Joseph Massad, a non-tenured professor of modern Arab politics, who is teaching a course about Middle East nationalism this fall. Mr. Massad, a professor at Columbia's department of Middle East and Asian languages and cultures, has likened Israel to Nazi Germany and has said Israel doesn't have the right to exist as a Jewish state.

In the film, a former Columbia undergraduate, Tomy Schoenfeld, recalls attending a lecture about the Middle East conflict given by Mr. Massad in spring 2001. At the end of the lecture, Mr. Schoenfeld prefaced a question to the professor by informing Mr. Massad that he was Israeli, Mr. Schoenfeld told The New York Sun. "Before I could continue, he stopped me and said, 'Did you serve in the military?'" Mr. Schoenfeld, who served in the Israeli Air Force between 1996 and 1999, recalled. He said that he told Mr. Massad he had served in the military and that Mr. Massad asked him how many Palestinians he had killed. When Mr. Schoenfeld refused to answer, Mr. Massad said he wouldn't allow him to ask his question.

Mr. Massad did not return phone calls for comment yesterday. Mr. Schoenfeld told the Sun that his encounter with Mr. Massad was not representative of his dealings with Columbia professors and that the Middle East-Asian department is "usually balanced."

Mr. Beery, the senior at the school, told the Sun that anti-Israel bias is prevalent in the department and said the documentary film demonstrates how many students at Columbia have been affected by it.

"You would be surprised," Mr. Beery said, "to find the number of students who were willing to stand up and be counted as members of the student body who oppose the intimidation of students in the classroom, especially on topics related to the Middle East."

In 2003, Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, convened a committee of six Columbia professors to investigate the possibility of the school's declaring stricter boundaries between academic expression and political activism. But the credibility of the investigation came into doubt among those following the issue seriously when Mr. Bollinger told the New York Daily News that the committee found no claims or evidence of bias or intimidation in the classroom.

Mr. Beery said the committee did not look hard enough for bias and said Jewish students at Columbia have no avenue for pressing complaints about anti-Israel prejudice among faculty members.

"Because Jews are seen as this overrepresented ethnic group and not prone to protests, they sweep it under the rug," he said.

Columbia is looking to raise money for an endowed professorship in Israeli studies to make up for what Mr. Bollinger has said is lack of contemporary Israel scholarship at the school.

That effort comes at a time when the university is under a cloud for having accepted money from the United Arab Emirates, one of the worst human rights violators in the Middle East and a country hostile to Jews and Israel, to help finance a chair named for the late professor Edward Said, who was a writer and anti-Israel Palestinian activist. Harvard University returned money from the UAE after complaints were raised about the propriety of taking money from that source.

The situation of Jewish students on anti-Israel campuses like Columbia is an issue that is coming into focus only slowly among a Jewish communal leadership whose attention has been elsewhere. The isolation of Jews on campuses has been recognized for decades.

One of the most famous letters ever written by a Jewish figure was penned in 1918 by the Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky and sent to a South African university student. Jabotinsky had heard that in the face of campus anti-Semitism the student was contemplating suicide. Jabotinsky advised him that it would be cowardly for the student to take his own life and that, instead, he should take heart from the Zionist stirrings, which were then just beginning.

The letter, which is reproduced in facsimile form in the "Encyclopedia Judaica," says: "I think, in a very conservative estimate, that the next ten years will see the Jewish state of Palestine ... a reality; probably less than ten." He said it would be "foolish to forego all of this" because of anti-Semites at the university.

Jewish students interviewed by this reporter at Columbia suggest that they perceive their situation in a different light than the student to whom Jabotinsky wrote. The Columbia students do not charge that they are facing anti-Semitism on campus. They attach an importance to what they see as a distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments.

"They teach everything in the context of one special, small struggle, when there are 23 countries out there where minorities are being oppressed, where women are bound to their homes, where homosexuals are being put in jail. They're ignoring the rest of the Middle East in favor of a small dimension of it," Mr. Beery said.

 

CANADIAN PROF WON'T BE DISCIPLINED FOR CALLING ALL ISRAELIS 'TARGETS'

Canadian prof won't be disciplined for calling all Israelis 'targets'
The Associated Press
November 18, 2004

A Canadian university professor who is also president of the country's Islamic Congress won't be disciplined for saying that all Israelis over the age of 18 are legitimate targets of suicide bombers, the University of Waterloo announced Wednesday.

Mohamed Elmasry was a panelist on Ontario current affairs television program Michael Coren Live last month when he said Israeli adults can be attacked because they all are members of the country's military.

Elmasry has said he was trying to express the view of many Palestinians, not his personal opinion.

"Although the statements made are indeed abhorrent and unacceptable, I have taken into account the contents of the apology and retraction and your long years of distinguished service as a faculty member at this university as well as your assurance that there will be no repetition of any such statements in the future," dean of science George Dixon said.

Officials with B'nai Brith Canada said in a statement that the university's decision not to discipline Elmasry is "unacceptable." "Surely, Israeli students cannot feel comforted in knowing that a professor considers them to be fair game – legitimate targets for murder," said executive vice president Frank Dimant.

Despite Elmasry's remorse over the incident, local police have launched an investigation into his comments as a possible hate crime.


Examples of U.S. Media against the Israeli government and army

CONTENTS

1. St. Petersburg Times: One big detention camp
2. Minneapolis Star Tribune: Those murdering Israelis
3. The NY Times, selective as ever
4. Abu Mazen: What the NY Times fails to tell its readers


[Note by Tom Gross]

There is a common, but incorrect, assumption outside the U.S. (where over half the recipients of this email list live) that American media and universities almost never express anti-Israel sentiment.

Several European journalists on this list have told me in the past that "if it is true we are sometimes more favorable to the Palestinians, this is because the U.S. media never criticizes Israel."

This is untrue. I attach two examples, taken at random from yesterday.

 

ST. PETERSBURG TIMES: ONE BIG DETENTION CAMP

Susan Taylor Martin, the "Senior Correspondent" for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, writes in the opening line of her news report "it is hard to deny the Gaza Strip is like a big detention camp" and then goes on to say, when she crosses the Gaza border into Israel "the soldier released us from the holding pen."

She brushes aside any Israeli security concerns and the hundreds of Israeli civilians murdered in recent years, by merely saying: "after several people died in suicide attacks, security was dramatically tightened."

 

MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE: THOSE MURDERING ISRAELIS

In the Minneapolis Star Tribune, an article yesterday by Ziad Amra titled "Lack of peace due to U.S., Israel" says that "millions of Palestinian refugees [were] ethnically cleansed by Israel."

He writes: "successive Israeli governments have continued with impunity murdering Palestinians... in just the last three years, Israel has murdered more than 3,000 Palestinians [while] Palestinians have continued to seek peace."

[As I have written several times before on this list, the 3000 figure commonly given for the number of Palestinians who have died includes hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombers who died at their own hands as well as hundreds of gunmen killed while killing and maiming Israeli civilians in shooting attacks in Israeli towns; and dozens of Palestinians killed as alleged "collaborators" by other Palestinians.]

Ziad Amra is a board member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

 

THE NY TIMES, SELECTIVE AS EVER

Meanwhile, the editorialists at America's most powerful newspaper, the New York Times, show no sign of learning from their past failures to adequately report on the misdeeds or Yasser Arafat or criticize his regime.

For example, last Friday's New York Times editorial, titled "Mr. Sharon, you're up at bat," called on Sharon to aggressively support Abu Mazen (Mohammed Abbas) on the basis that Abu Mazen hasn't delivered anti-Israel speeches in the last week. This, the Times believes, is a major act on Abu Mazen's part, and Israel should immediately make major concessions in return.

The New York Times repeatedly calls Abbas a "moderate" while ignoring his role as Arafat's deputy for the past forty years, his long history of involvement in PLO terrorism, and that he wrote a PHD thesis advocating Holocaust denial, and so on.

The emphasis to show he has changed into a moderate is perhaps on Abbas, just as it would be on Saddam's deputy of 40 years should such a deputy have taken over control of Iraq. But the Times apparently doesn't think so

As though disappointed that more suicide bombers aren't getting through, the Times writes: "the Israeli Army need to find ways to allow Palestinians to maneuver more easily around roadblocks and closures."

Suggesting that Sharon doesn't want peace, the Times adds that Sharon needs "to board the peace train with Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and Mr. Abbas."

Even today, Hamas fired mortars at both Israeli military and civilian targets. Abbas has so far done nothing to discourage such attacks.

For those new to this list who want to read my own essay on the New York Times and Israel, you can do so at www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gross031403.asp

 

ABU MAZEN: WHAT THE NY TIMES FAILS TO TELL ITS READERS

Abu Mazen was one of the chief architects of the terrorist attack that killed 10 Israeli athletes and one American (David Berger) at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, according to Mohammed Daoud Oudeh (or Abu Daoud), the coordinator of the Munich attack claims.

In Arabic publications, Abu Daoud has repeatedly said that Abu Mazen provided the funds and instructions to carry it out. Daoud first made this charge to a non-Arabic audience in his 1999 French language memoir, "Palestine: From Jerusalem to Munich." He repeated it again in an interview in 2002 with Sports Illustrated magazine. Abu Daoud said he was angered by the dozens of Palestinian terrorists allowed to return to the Palestinian-controlled territories as a result of the Oslo process while he remained persona non grata in Israel and the United States.

Daoud was also interviewed about the Munich massacre for a film called "One Day in September," produced by Sony Pictures Classics. Director Kevin Macdonald said Abu Mazen admitted Black September was merely the cover name adopted by Fatah members when they wanted to carry out attacks on Jews. Abu Daoud recalled how Arafat and Abu Mazen both wished him luck and kissed him when he set about organizing the Munich attack. (Daoud has also repeated this in an interview with the Arab TV network al-Jazeera.)

The New York Times might also want to tell its readers that Abu Mazen chose to write his PHD thesis (at Moscow's Oriental College) on Holocaust revisionism and follow it up with a book in 1983, "The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Movement," which denies the Holocaust occurred. Abu Mazen has never specifically repudiated his book, which purports to refute "the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed" in the Holocaust.

Abu Mazen may yet turn out to be a peacemaker, but this is no excuse for the New York Times to cover up for him.

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

CROSSING BORDER IS ENDURANCE TEST

Crossing border is endurance test
By Susan Taylor Martin Times Senior Correspondent
St. Petersburg Times
November 22, 2004

www.sptimes.com/2004/11/23/Worldandnation/Crossing_border_is_en.shtml

Erez crossing, Israeli-Gaza border – No matter how you feel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it's hard to deny the Gaza Strip is like a big detention camp. Palestinians can't leave without Israeli permission – and it's becoming harder for others to get out, too.

Until recently, the process was fairly quick and simple: You showed your passport to soldiers on the Palestinian side of the Erez Crossing and got in a taxi that took you to the Israeli side.

But after several people died in suicide attacks, security was dramatically tightened.

That's understandable. What's harder to fathom are the unexplained delays.

After finishing our work in Gaza, photographer John Pendygraft and I reached the border at 4 p.m. Sunday. Under the new policy, Palestinian soldiers now take your passport, phone the details to the other side and wait to hear back from the Israelis.

While the soldiers wait, you wait. And wait. And wait.

The first hint this might take a long time came around 4:45 p.m. when word spread that the border had been closed since 11 a.m. for "technical reasons" but would reopen "soon."

A wave of hope surged through the crowd, which included families with small kids, an amorous European couple and a smartly dressed diplomat. As the minutes ticked by with no sign of movement, friendships blossomed from the sharing of cigarettes and the latest rumors:

"It'll reopen in five minutes."

"It'll reopen at 6."

We struck up a conversation with Sami, an Israeli Arab engineer working on a construction project in Gaza. He goes home to Jerusalem every other week, and he said delays at Erez have become routine: "Two hours, sometimes three hours, I wait."

By 5:30 darkness had fallen, and the scene took on a desolate, Road Warrior air. Gunfire echoed in the distance and half-starved dogs slunk in the moon shadows.

When the 6 p.m. reopening failed to materialize, I was all for heading back to Gaza City. But a friendly CNN cameraman said his "man in Tel Aviv" was pressuring the Israel Defense Forces to let journalists cross. "Ten minutes, we'll be through" he assured us.

An hour later, we were still there. Someone came up with a number for the soldiers on the Israeli side, so we took turns calling to see when the border would reopen. Depending on who answered, the reply was A) "soon"; B) "more than two hours"; or C) "I don't know."

We implored the two young Palestinian soldiers still on duty to get a straight answer from the Israelis.

"The phone's dead – we have to recharge it," one said, and went back to his crossword puzzle.

It was now 8 p.m. – four hours after we arrived. It seemed obvious there would be no crossing tonight. We returned to our hotel, where we had dinner overlooking the Mediterranean. I told John that a least we'd lucked into a beautiful evening, without rain.

Shortly after midnight, I was awakened by a ferocious rattling of windows. Rain was coming down in sheets, and the sea had been whipped to foam by gale-force winds.

It was still pouring at 8 a.m. Monday when we arrived at Erez to try again. Sami, our new friend, and several others huddled in the only relatively dry place to wait, a vacant building open to the elements.

8:30. 9:30. 10 – again, the Israelis had apparently closed the border with no explanation. "Now that Abu Mazen is here," a soldier said, referring to the new Palestinian leader, "maybe this situation will improve."

At 11 a.m., the same soldier warned, "It'll be hours" and suggested everyone leave for lunch. No sooner had he spoken than a colleague appeared with a handful of passports – ours as well as those of four Spaniards and an elderly Arab woman. Of the 20 or so people waiting, the Israelis had cleared just a few to cross.

John and I grabbed our gear and headed down the long concrete tunnel that links the Palestinian and Israeli checkpoints. No more taxis; regardless of age or fitness, you now cross the border under your own steam.

At the Israeli end we came to a formidable-looking gate with turnstile.
"COME," boomed a disembodied voice, like that from behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.

One of the Spaniards went through first, squeezing himself and his luggage through the narrow turnstile.

"TURN AROUND," the voice ordered. The Spaniard took off his jacket, held up his arms and did a clumsy pirouette to show he didn't have a gun or bomb belt strapped beneath his shirt.

"NEXT," the voice commanded.

Ten minutes later, all seven of us were in a large, cell-like enclosure. Finally, a human appeared – a young Israeli soldier who handed John a glove through the bars and ordered him to run it over himself and the other men for traces of explosives. He gave me a second glove; I patted down the Arab woman, then myself.

Tests negative, the soldier released us from the holding pen. From there it was routine: luggage through an X-ray machine; people through a metal detector; a review of passports. After waiting nine hours over two days, we were on Israeli soil.

One possible reason for our delay, we later learned, was that the Israelis are installing equipment that shows an exact outline of the body so screeners can detect hidden weapons. Given such high technology, you'd think it would be simple to let those waiting on the other side know when and for how long the border will be closed.

Sami, the engineer, may still be there – along with all the others waiting in the cold, wind and rain.

"I heard they're shutting the border for two days," our driver said as – free at last – we headed for Jerusalem.

 

LACK OF PEACE DUE TO U.S., ISRAEL

Lack of peace due to U.S., Israel
By Ziad Amra
Minneapolis Star Tribune
November 22, 2004

www.startribune.com/stories/1519/5095735.html

With the passing of Yasser Arafat, a mantra is being established by commentators and U.S. government officials that a "new" opportunity for peace between Palestinians and Israelis exists.

This mantra assumes the lack of peace in the region is due to the intransigence of one man – Arafat – and not the existence of millions of Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed by Israel and an illegal 37-year Israeli military occupation of the Occupied Territories (West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem).

If such a new opportunity exists, it is for the Bush administration and the Israeli government to seize.

The reality is that Israel has failed to negotiate a final peace agreement with the Palestinians since negotiations began in 1991.

While Arafat was not perfect, it is worth noting Israel failed to achieve an agreement with a person who was a Nobel Peace Prize winner (1995) and the only democratically elected leader (1996) in the Arab world.

Instead, throughout the years of peace negotiations, successive Israeli governments have continued with impunity murdering Palestinians, confiscating their land and doubling to 400,000 the number of illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank – not the good-faith actions of a country committed to withdrawing from the Occupied Territories.

To put this destructiveness into perspective, in just the last three years, Israel has murdered more than 3,000 Palestinians (one-third of them children) and injured more than 20,000 – proportionately this would compare to 336,000 Americans killed and more than 2.2 million wounded.

Yet, in spite of this violence on their lives, Palestinians have continued to seek peace – because as the weakest, most victimized people in the region, nobody needs it more than they do.

Though the perception in this country is that Arafat rejected a "generous" peace proposal at Camp David in the summer of 2000, negotiations actually continued through January 2001 at Taba, Egypt, with serious progress made on bridging differences. Only with the election of current Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did negotiations end.

Despite what they say, both Israel and the Bush administration have worked against a peaceful two-state resolution to the conflict. The Bush administration has rejected the traditional U.S. role as a mediator and instead placed itself at the disposal of Israel – aiding and abetting Israel's murderous policies and limitless breaches of international law.

Both Israel and the Bush administration failed to seize upon the March 2002 Arab League offer that all Arab countries would sign a peace agreement with Israel – if Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank and a just settlement was found for the millions of refugees.

Instead, this past April President Bush endorsed Israel's goal of keeping large portions of the West Bank, maintaining a majority of illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank and negating the rights of Palestinian refugees. This negated the entire basis of peace since negotiations began – Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories and two states at peace.

Moreover, the Bush administration has supported Israel's building of the Wall that will surround and annex more than 40 percent of West Bank land.

Ostensibly to protect Israel, the Wall's route belies Israel's intentions – to usurp as much Palestinian land as possible. Why else does this Wall zigzag throughout the West Bank, rather than along Israel's border? The International Court of Justice in the Netherlands understood this and in July 2004 declared the Wall illegal under international law.

Finally, the Bush administration has insisted that Palestinians establish a democracy. Although it is an oxymoron to require an oppressed and militarily occupied nation to have "free and fair elections" and become a full-fledged democracy, the Palestinians had elections in 1996 and have been seeking new elections in spite of U.S. and Israeli obstacles. However, any new democratically elected Palestinian leader will likely be ignored by the United States and Israel if he pursues Palestinian national interests rather than those of Israel.

Peace will not be had at the barrel of an Israeli gun or with continued U.S.-endorsed Israeli theft of Palestinian land. Nor will peace depend on which Palestinian leader is elected. Peace will depend on whether the United States encourages Israel to end its 37-year occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, remove its illegal settlements from Occupied Territory and provide justice to the refugees it created.

(Ziad Amra, Minneapolis, is a board member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.)

 

MR. SHARON, YOU'RE UP AT BAT

Mr. Sharon, you're up at bat
Editorial
The New York Times
November 19, 2004

www.nytimes.com/2004/11/19/opinion/19fri2.html?oref=login&oref=login

After four years of gloom and doom for those who seek peace in the Middle East, the last few days, with the baby steps toward some modicum of civility between Israelis and Palestinians, have been downright heady. First, the new Palestinian leaders offered Israel a burial site it could accept for Yasir Arafat. Then President Bush, prodded by the British prime minister, Tony Blair, actually said he was willing to "spend the capital of the United States" on creating an independent Palestinian state. And finally, Mahmoud Abbas, the new head of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the likely front-runner to replace Mr. Arafat, set a date for elections: Jan. 9. What's more, Mr. Abbas has thus far resisted any urge to toughen up his image with Palestinian hard-liners through unnecessary anti-Israel speeches. If this were baseball, President Bush would have hit a single, and Mr. Abbas a double. Now it's time for Ariel Sharon to step up to the plate.

Mr. Sharon has long claimed that he's been waiting for a moderate Palestinian leader, someone he can actually deal with, as opposed to Mr. Arafat, whom he viewed as duplicitous. So we shall take Mr. Sharon at his word, and encourage him to board the peace train with Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and Mr. Abbas.

The first order of business is to give the moderate Mr. Abbas something tangible to help him shore up his credibility with the Palestinian people. Mr. Sharon should immediately announce a complete freeze on settlement activity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. That should take priority over releasing Palestinians held in Israeli jails, as many of those prisoners have blood on their hands.

Next, Mr. Sharon has got to do all he can to expedite free, full and fair elections involving all Palestinians – including those in East Jerusalem. Right now many are practically under lock and key, with their movements zealously restricted by Israeli roadblocks and closures. Added to that are regular Israeli Army incursions into Gaza and all the towns in the West Bank, which will also discourage election turnout. Obviously, Israel has the right to protect its citizens from Palestinian suicide bombers bent on upending any attempt at a peace settlement. But Mr. Sharon and the Israeli Army need to find ways to allow Palestinians to maneuver more easily around roadblocks and closures - especially when it's time to get to polling sites.

A peace deal will be possible only if a new Palestinian leader can establish enough authority to prepare the Palestinian people for what they must accept if they ever want an independent state: a Jerusalem shared between the two countries, final borders based on 1967 lines and a recognition that for all but a symbolic handful of refugees, the right of return will be to a new Palestinian state, not to Israel. Such a deal was difficult enough for Mr. Arafat to accept; it will be even harder for a new leader who comes to the table with only a fraction of Mr. Arafat's authority with his people.

Over the years, there have miraculously been a few moments of possibility that have punctured the gloom that is the peace process in the Middle East: the talks at Oslo and at Camp David come to mind. Now we seem to have stumbled, through the death of Mr. Arafat, into another moment of opportunity. It would be criminally negligent if any of the principal leaders involved didn't step up to the plate. Mr. Sharon, we await you, and we beg that you swing for the fences.


“They had lost their names” (and other items)

November 22, 2004

CONTENTS

1. Database enshrines Holocaust victims.
2. Yad Vashem Press Release.
3. Swastikas, bomb threats and attacks on Jews in Argentina last week.
-- Said to be connected to glorification of Yasser Arafat in Argentine press
-- University students stand and give Nazi salute when an Argentine rabbi gives a lecture
4. British Jew shot dead in Belgium. Follows the stabbing of Jewish teen by Arab youths outside Jewish school.
5. Belgian MP goes into hiding after criticizing Muslims. Death threats follow her criticism of Belgium Muslim leaders' refusal to condemn killing of Theo van Gogh.
6. Belgian Justice minister now also under guard after death threats.
7. Jewish sites attacked in Ireland.
8. Vandals spray swastikas on Jewish gravestones in England.


DATABASE ENSHRINES HOLOCAUST VICTIMS

[Note by Tom Gross]

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum and archive in Jerusalem, began assembling so-called pages of testimony – records filled out by relatives of Holocaust victims – in 1955. These pages finally went on line today, November 22, 2004, at www.yadvashem.org.

I attach information about this, and also articles about acts of contemporary anti-Semitism in Argentina, Belgium, Ireland and England. There are summaries of the articles first for those who don't have time to read them in full.

 

SUMMARIES OF ARTICLES

"THEY HAD LOST THEIR NAMES"

"Database enshrines Holocaust victims" (By Joseph Berger, The New York Times, November 21, 2004)

What is known of their lives has always been dwarfed by a single, almost sacred number: 6 million. But each of the victims of the Holocaust had a name, an address, a place of birth, a place of death. Now, Yad Vashem has assembled the largest and most comprehensive listing of Jewish victims' names – more than 3 million, or half of those who perished – along with biographical details, photographs and nutshell memoirs. It will start to make the information available online tomorrow at www.yadvashem.org.

The project is seen not only as a signal act of commemoration for Jews who often lost the relatives who might have remembered them, but also as another refutation to those who have campaigned to deny the scope of the Holocaust.

The database will allow children, grandchildren and future descendants to research the histories of their families, and in some cases permit the dwindling ranks of survivors to trace relatives whose fate is still unknown.

"The moment persons entered Auschwitz they lost their names – they became a number," said Elie Wiesel. "[Because of this project] a hundred years from now, we will know where to turn and know something about their genealogy and where they came from."

... Irving Roth, a 75-year-old Slovakian survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald said the names were crucial because "it takes the mass of 6 million and places a name, a face, a history to the person." Roth spoke about his grandfather, Shimon Rosenwasser, who was killed at Auschwitz. Roth remembered him "as an observant Jew but also an outdoorsy type who owned a lumber business and could pick up a hatchet and cut a tree down."...

[Joseph Berger of the New York Times, who wrote this article, is one of several senior writers and editors at the New York Times who are subscribers to this email list.]

 

YAD VASHEM PRESS RELEASE

This is the press release I and other journalists received last Thursday. It refers to today's press conference. [Senior staff at Yad Vashem are also longtime subscribers to this email list.]

YAD VASHEM TO BRING ONLINE CENTRAL DATABASE OF HOLOCAUST VICTIMS MONDAY WILL SOLICIT PUBLIC ASSISTANCE IN GATHERING ADDITIONAL NAMES

(November 18, 2004 - Jerusalem) Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, Israel, will hold a major press event Monday, November 22, 2004 to announce the uploading of its historic Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names to the Internet. The event will take place at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies Lecture Hall, at 10:00 a.m. The Database will be presented and an international 11th Hour Campaign to collect more names of victims will be announced. Special video messages from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Professor Elie Wiesel, and Simone Veil will be presented as well.

The Database, which will allow online public interaction and contributions of new names and materials, seeks to capture the names of as many Jewish Holocaust victims as possible. The sophisticated technology allows users worldwide to access a treasure trove of millions of personal, historical and genealogical documents using cutting-edge web search systems from the convenience of any computer.

The Names' Database is an international undertaking led by Yad Vashem to attempt to reconstruct the names and life stories of all the Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Through interactive features, users can submit information, perform comprehensive searches and take part in educational programs.

(For more information about the press event, please contact estee.yaari@yadvashem.org.il)

 

SWASTIKAS, BOMB THREATS AND ATTACKS ON JEWS IN THE PAST WEEK IN ARGENTINA

-- Said to be connected to glorification of Yasser Arafat in Argentine press coverage.
-- University students stand and give Nazi salute when an Argentine rabbi gives a lecture.

"Rash of anti-Semitism in Argentina" (By Florencia Arbiser, The Jewish Times, Buenos Aires, November 21, 2004)

Argentine Jewish leaders are wondering whether a string of recent anti-Semitic incidents indicates a growing trend of Jew-hatred ... At dawn on Sunday, swastikas and a picture of Hitler were found at the Jewish cemetery of Liniers. On Monday, more graffiti – swastikas and threatening messages – had been added.

The messages included "Kristallnacht 08/11/38," a reference to the murderous pogrom that heralded the onset of the Nazis' most restrictive anti- Semitic policies; and "Movement Walther Darre," a reference to a former Nazi agriculture minister who was born in Argentina.

... On Monday, a Hitler drawing and Nazi inscriptions were found on a bus belonging to the Maimonides Jewish school.

... Over the past week, three other local Jewish institutions – the Hebraica Jewish club, Paso Temple and the Sephardic Congregation – suffered bomb threats, though the news was not made public to avoid spreading fear in a country where bombings destroyed the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the AMIA community center in 1994.

According to Claudio Avruj, the DAIA's executive director ... " We think the past week was a special week with Yasser Arafat's funeral, the Kristallnacht commemoration and the appeal of the AMIA trial acquittal sentence."

... Beyond the timing of the recent incidents, however, there has been a rise in the intensity of anti-Semitic incidents this year. A few months ago, a Buenos Aires city legislator called one of her office employees a "shitty Jew," but was not punished. Two weeks ago, an Argentine rabbi was giving a university lecture when a dozen people in the audience stood up and gave the Nazi salute...

 

BRITISH JEW IS SHOT DEAD IN BELGIUM

"British Jew is shot dead in Belgium" (London Times, November 19, 2004)

Moshe Naeh, a British Orthodox Jew and a father of five, was shot in the head and killed outside his home near Antwerp's diamond quarter, which is at the centre of a large Jewish community. He was dressed in the long black robes and hat worn by Orthodox Jews. He worked as a rabbi's assistant in a local synagogue.

... In June, a Jewish teenager was stabbed by Arab youths outside a Jewish school in an Antwerp suburb. No one has been arrested. Days later, a Jewish man, 43, was beaten unconscious. The federal Government has vowed to crack down on anti-Semitism. Most of the attacks are thought to be by young men from the city’s 50,000-strong North African community...

 

BELGIAN MP GOES INTO HIDING AFTER CRITICIZING MUSLIMS

[I attach this article even though it is not directly connected to anti-Semitism because of (a) its possible connection to the context of the article above; (b) as a follow-up to previous references on this email list to the killing of the film-maker Theo van Gogh in neighboring Holland.]

"Belgian MP goes into hiding after criticising Muslims" (London Times, November 18, 2004)

A Belgian politician of Moroccan origin who has repeatedly criticised Islamic culture is under police protection after being threatened with "ritual killing". Mimount Bousakla, a Socialist senator in Antwerp, whose parents are Muslims from Morocco, reported the threat to the police, who took it seriously after the killing of the film-maker Theo van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam this month.

The case of Ms Bousakla has strong parallels with that of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee to the Netherlands and former Muslim who became an MP and is now in hiding after criticising the oppression of women in Islam.

... Ms Bousakla, who keeps her religious beliefs private but is believed to have all but lost her Islamic faith, had dismissed earlier death threats as inconsequential, but she was so alarmed at the weekend that she contacted the police for the first time. A Socialist party official said: "She again received threats and now has round-the-clock police protection and has gone into hiding."

... It is thought that the threats were prompted by her denunciation of Belgian Muslim groups for refusing to criticise the murder of Mr van Gogh. Last week, Ms Bousakla, 32, criticised the Muslim Executive, the official umbrella organisation for Muslims in Belgium, for not condemning the killing...

 

BELGIAN JUSTICE MINISTER NOW UNDER GUARD AFTER DEATH THREATS

"Justice minister under guard after death threats" (Expatica News, November 19 2004)

Belgium's Justice Minister, Laurette Onkelinkx, has been given increased police protection after receiving death threats. The Belgian federal prosecutor's office said late on Thursday that Onkelinkx was one of three leading Belgian politicians who had received the threats.

Former justice minister Philippe Moureaux and Brussels politician Mohamed Chahid had also been threatened, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office explained...

 

JEWISH SITES ATTACKED IN IRELAND

"Jewish sites attacked in Ireland" (The Observer, November 14, 2004)

Gardai [The Irish police] are investigating links between an Irish neo-fascist website and an upsurge in anti-semitism in Dublin. Three Jewish sites in the capital were targeted late Thursday night or early Friday morning, with swastikas daubed on a synagogue, a museum and a cemetery.

... Jewish leaders in the city said the vandalism was unprecedented in modern times. A swastika was sprayed in black paint on the wall of the Irish Jewish Museum and Heritage Centre at Portobello. The museum's curator, Raphael Siev, who was opening up the centre for a school party visit from Glasnevin discovered it.

... 'I am very upset about this as it is very worrying because this is an attack on a part of the history and cultural heritage of Dublin. On Friday I received many messages of support from our neighbours around us. This museum charts the lives of Jewish people in this city over the last 150 years, so it is worrying that something like this could happen,' he said.

There were similar acts of vandalism on the Progressive Synagogue at Rathfarnham and on graves at the Jewish cemetery in Dolphin's Barn ... There are now just several hundred Jewish families left in Dublin from a population of 4,000 at the end of the Second World War.

[Raphael Siev is a subscriber to this email list.]

 

VANDALS SPRAY SWASTIKAS ON JEWISH GRAVESTONES IN ENGLAND

(This is the latest in a series of anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish cemeteries, synagogues and persons in Britain.)

"Vandals spray swastikas on Jewish gravestones" (November 18, 2004)

Vandals have sprayed swastikas and other Nazi insignia on 15 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in southern England. They said the anti-Semitic graffiti had appeared on the gravestones in Aldershot, Hampshire...



FULL ARTICLES

DATABASE ENSHRINES HOLOCAUST VICTIMS

Database enshrines Holocaust victims
By Joseph Berger
The New York Times
November 21, 2004

What is known of their lives has always been dwarfed by a single, almost sacred number: 6 million. But each of the victims of the Holocaust had a name, an address, a place of birth, a place of death.

Now, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum and archive in Jerusalem, has assembled the largest and most comprehensive listing of Jewish victims' names – more than 3 million, or half of those who perished – along with biographical details, photographs and nutshell memoirs. It will start to make the information available online tomorrow at www.yadvashem.org.

The project is seen not only as a signal act of commemoration for Jews who often lost the relatives who might have remembered them, but also as another refutation to those who have campaigned to deny the scope of the systematic slaughter of Europe's Jews under the Nazi regime of German dictator Adolph Hitler.

"They lost their names"

The database will allow children, grandchildren and future descendants to research the histories of their families, and in some cases permit the dwindling ranks of survivors to trace relatives whose fate is still unknown. Many survivors realized after World War II that their kin had been swept up in massacres or deported to concentration camps, but they never knew for certain where and when they had been killed.

"The moment persons entered Auschwitz they lost their names – they became a number," said Elie Wiesel, a spokesman for Holocaust survivors and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. "Six million names were evaporated, turned into dust and ashes. A hundred years from now, we will know where to turn and know something about their genealogy and where they came from."

Avner Shalev, chairman of the directorate of Yad Vashem, said that as word of the project spread, the list would be greatly expanded by new entries to the Yad Vashem Web site.

Yad Vashem began assembling so-called pages of testimony – records filled out by relatives in Israel and abroad – in 1955, two years after the museum was created by Israel's Parliament as the country's "remembrance authority."

The pages included 22 items of information, including hometown, year of birth, occupation and relatives. Later, Yad Vashem placed advertisements seeking more names, interviewed survivors and borrowed lists from other archives.

By this year, it had gathered pages for 2 million victims and these were supplemented by information gleaned from hundreds of bureaucratic lists kept by the Nazis and their collaborators. These included lists of concentration-camp inmates and manifests of railroad transports.

The half-century effort could not identify all the 6 million, Shalev said. In large parts of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, no documentation was kept by the squads who shot to death entire Jewish populations of some towns or by Nazi troops who dispatched ghetto inhabitants to death camps, where they were gassed upon arrival.

In Hungary, most of the lists of the 437,000 Jews rounded up by the Hungarian police and sent to Auschwitz in a period of 56 days in 1944 were never located, Shalev said.

The number 6 million was calculated after the war by comparing prewar censuses with lists of survivors compiled by the Red Cross and other relief organizations. There were almost 9 million Jews in the countries of Europe that fell under Nazi control, and the Nazis killed two out of every three. The Yad Vashem Web site will not include non-Jews, such as Gypsies, who were also systematically slaughtered by the Nazis.

Compiling a list of distinct individuals presented thorny problems because names and towns were spelled in so many variations.

"Jews spell Isaac 700 ways," Shalev said. "And Cohen? – there are a thousand ways to spell Cohen." The Yad Vashem search engine takes account of such discrepancies and also tries to eliminate duplicates.

Information can be added

The database, which Shalev said cost $15 million to $17 million to create, is searchable in English and Hebrew. Users will be able to add names, submit missing information and photographs or correct misinformation, entries that will be checked for accuracy. They can also look up the pages of testimony filled out in the spidery survivors' handwriting.

Irving Roth, a 75-year-old Slovakian survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald and a retired engineer who lives in Williston Park, N.Y., said the names were crucial because "it takes the mass of 6 million and places a name, a face, a history to the person."

Few of the dead, he noted, were buried in marked graves.

Roth spoke about his grandfather, Shimon Rosenwasser, who was killed at Auschwitz. Roth remembered him "as an observant Jew but also an outdoorsy type who owned a lumber business and could pick up a hatchet and cut a tree down." He hopes his own grandchildren will learn about him from the Web site.

"These were human beings," he said, "who lived, laughed, cursed, fought, who did the things human beings do."

 

RASH OF ANTI-SEMITISM IN ARGENTINA

Rash of anti-Semitism in Argentina
By Florencia Arbiser
Special to the Jewish Times
November 21, 2004
Buenos Aires

Argentine Jewish leaders are wondering whether a string of recent anti-Semitic incidents indicates a growing trend of Jew-hatred.

Abraham Kaul, president of the AMIA central Jewish institution, couldn't hide his concern Tuesday at a meeting with Jewish media.

At dawn on Sunday, swastikas and a picture of Hitler were found at the Jewish cemetery of Liniers. On Monday, more graffiti – swastikas and threatening messages – had been added.

The messages included "Kristallnacht 08/11/38," a reference to the murderous pogrom that heralded the onset of the Nazis' most restrictive anti- Semitic policies; and "Movement Walther Darre," a reference to a former Nazi agriculture minister who was born in Argentina.

The attack on the Liniers cemetery, located on the outskirts of Buenos Aires and one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the country, followed three previous attacks there this year, in which bronze plaques were stolen.

"Are these signs of an escalation of anti-Semitic violence in the region?" Kaul asked. What worried him most was the fact that the incidents showed "something more than a soccer fan's ignorant anti-Semitic song. These demonstrations seem to be more learned."

At dawn on Monday, a Hitler drawing and Nazi inscriptions were found on a bus belonging to the Maimonides Jewish school.

The DAIA, the Jewish community's political umbrella organization, met with federal police to demand an explanation for why a 24-hour police presence at the cemetery couldn't prevent such attacks, and what could be done differently in the future.

Authorities said police had been in the bathroom when the graffiti were painted.

Over the past week, three other local Jewish institutions – the Hebraica Jewish club, Paso Temple and the Sephardic Congregation – suffered bomb threats, though the news was not made public to avoid spreading fear in a country where bombings destroyed the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the AMIA community center in 1994.

According to Claudio Avruj, the DAIA's executive director, there have been more than 100 incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti in Buenos Aires this year.

But he stressed that, "DAIA does not believe there is a Nazi escalation. We think the past week was a special week with Yasser Arafat's funeral, the Kristallnacht commemoration and the appeal of the AMIA trial acquittal sentence."

The last reference was to the community's decision to appeal the acquittal of five locals accused of complicity in the 1994 AMIA bombing. The attack, which killed 85 people and injured 300, remains unsolved.

Beyond the timing of the recent incidents, however, there has been a rise in the intensity of anti-Semitic incidents this year.

A few months ago, a Buenos Aires city legislator called one of her office employees a "shitty Jew," but was not punished.

Two weeks ago, an Argentine rabbi was giving a university lecture when a dozen people in the audience stood up and gave the Nazi salute.

In September, a 16-year-old student who brought a gun to class killed three classmates and wounded five. Though the victims weren't Jewish, the student later told a psychologist that he was moved to act because he admired Hitler.

Jewish officials are putting aside differences among their organizations to search for ways to fight such occurrences.

"Although we have clear political differences with the DAIA, we will act together in the demand to live freely and in peace," said AMIA's Kaul.

On Wednesday evening, leaders of DAIA and AMIA were to meet with the governor of Buenos Aires province and security officials to find out what happened at the cemetery and what is being done to investigate the incidents.

DAIA also will hold a meeting next week with city security officials on how police can prevent future such incidents.

 

BRITISH JEW IS SHOT DEAD IN BELGIUM

British Jew is shot dead in Belgium
By Anthony Browne, Brussels Correspondent
London Times
November 19, 2004

Moshe Naeh, a British Orthodox Jew and a father of five, was shot in the head and killed outside his home near Antwerp’s diamond quarter, which is at the centre of a large Jewish community. The police found Mr Neah, who was in his twenties, lying in a pool of blood in the early hours of the morning. He was dressed in the long black robes and hat worn by Orthodox Jews. He worked as a rabbi’s assistant in a local synagogue.

There has been rising concern about anti-Semitic attacks against the 17,000-strong Jewish community in Antwerp, but a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said that there was no evidence that the attack was inspired by extremism or racism. Police suspect it was the result of a personal dispute.

In June, a Jewish teenager was stabbed by Arab youths outside a Jewish school in an Antwerp suburb. No one has been arrested. Days later, a Jewish man, 43, was beaten unconscious.

The federal Government has vowed to crack down on anti-Semitism. Most of the attacks are thought to be by young men from the city's 50,000-strong North African community. On Wednesday, Mimount Bousakla, a Socialist senator of Moroccan origin in Antwerp, was taken into protective custody after being threatened with "ritual killing". He had been repeatedly critical of radical Islam and conservative aspects of Muslim culture.

 

BELGIUM MP GOES INTO HIDING AFTER CRITICISING MUSLIMS

Belgian MP goes into hiding after criticising Muslims
By Anthony Browne, Brussels Correspondent
London Times
November 18, 2004

A Belgian politician of Moroccan origin who has repeatedly criticised Islamic culture is under police protection after being threatened with “ritual killing”. Mimount Bousakla, a Socialist senator in Antwerp, whose parents are Muslims from Morocco, reported the threat to the police, who took it seriously after the killing of the film-maker Theo van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam this month.

The case of Ms Bousakla has strong parallels with that of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee to the Netherlands and former Muslim who became an MP and is now in hiding after criticising the oppression of women in Islam.

The threats to Ms Bousakla, thought to be from Islamic radicals, are also likely to inflame tensions in Antwerp, the power base of the far-right anti-immigrant Vlaams Blok party, which attracts a quarter of the vote in the multicultural city. The Vlaams Blok, which arose from Nazi collaborators during the Second World War, was last week banned by the Belgian supreme court for falling foul of anti-racism laws despite being the most popular party in the Flemish region.

Ms Bousakla, who keeps her religious beliefs private but is believed to have all but lost her Islamic faith, had dismissed earlier death threats as inconsequential, but she was so alarmed at the weekend that she contacted the police for the first time.

A Socialist party official said: "She again received threats and now has round-the-clock police protection and has gone into hiding." However, she is still working as normal inside the Flemish parliament.

It is thought that the threats were prompted by her denunciation of Belgian Muslim groups for refusing to criticise the murder of Mr van Gogh. Last week, Ms Bousakla, 32, criticised the Muslim Executive, the official umbrella organisation for Muslims in Belgium, for not condemning the killing.

"The Muslim Executive should have protested in connection with Theo van Gogh's murder and called on the Muslims in Belgium to criticise the attack on a massive scale. However, it did nothing, and so better disappear," she said.

Mr van Gogh, a former Socialist who made a film attacking domestic violence against Muslim women, was shot six times and nearly beheaded, and had a declaration of holy war impaled in his chest in broad daylight in Amsterdam on November 2. Many Muslims groups have been hesitant to condemn the murder because Mr van Gogh, a TV celebrity in the Netherlands, was abusive about Muslim extremists and said that it was inevitable that someone would be provoked.

After Mr van Gogh's murder, police uncovered a suspected network of Islamic radicals conspiring to murder leading "enemies of Islam".

In the past two weeks, half a dozen Dutch politicians have received death threats by letter, e-mail and telephone. Two went into hiding, including Ms Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders, an MP who is seen as the successor to the murdered antiIslamic populist Pim Fortuyn and who was the subject of an internet video promising 72 virgins for any Muslim who decapitated him.

Ms Hirsi Ali, who describes herself as an ex-Muslim, wrote and presented the ten-minute film Submission, directed by Mr van Gogh, which is thought to have prompted his killing. The film criticised domestic violence against Islamic women.

Ms Bousakla has also been critical of conservative and radical elements of Islam. Two years ago, she wrote a book, Couscous with Belgian Fries, about the problems of being brought up between the Moroccan and Belgian cultures, and criticising forced marriages, the place of women in society and the role of men within the family.

She has openly opposed fundamentalist influences in Belgian mosques. She has also attacked Dyab Abou Jahjah, the fiery Lebanese-born leader of the Arab European League, who has been dubbed the "Belgian Malcolm X".

Ms Bousakla said last year: "He is just a guy from the Middle East who wants to fight the conflict they have there in the streets of Antwerp."

Mr Abou Jahjah recently announced that he intended to leave Antwerp because of the rapid rise of the Vlaams Blok, whose share of the vote has risen from 10 per cent in 1991 to 24 per cent now, putting it ahead of all other parties.

A Socialist party spokeswoman said that she expected the Vlaams Blok would use the threats to Ms Bousakla to its own advantage. "The Vlaams Blok try and play on everything," she said.

Last week the Vlaams Blok, which has ten members of the regional parliament, was banned by Belgium's highest court for inciting racism. Its supporters and workers were threatened with imprisonment. It was immediately disbanded, and then reconstituted under the new name Vlaams Berlang, meaning "Flemish interest".

 

BELGIUM'S JUSTICE MINISTER UNDER GUARD AFTER DEATH THREATS

Justice minister under guard after death threats
Expatica News
November, 19 2004

Belgium's Justice Minister, Laurette Onkelinkx, has been given increased police protection after receiving death threats.

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office said late on Thursday that Onkelinkx was one of three leading Belgian politicians who had received the threats in a letter.

Former justice minister Philippe Moureaux and Brussels politician Mohamed Chahid had also been threatened, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office explained.

Speaking on Belgium's RTL radio station on Friday Onkelinkx said the Belgian authorities were trying to determine whether the threats against her and her political colleagues – all of whom are members of Belgian socialist parties – were in any way linked to the murder of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh.

Van Gogh was allegedly murdered by an Islamic militant.

A letter pinned to his body with a knife suggested Van Gogh was killed because of his vocal criticism of Islam.

Meanwhile, Onkelinx announced on Friday that a person thought to have been behind death threats made to Belgian socialist senator Mimount Boussakla had been arrested.

Boussakla, who is of Moroccan origin and is a senator from Antwerp, had been forced into hiding after receiving telephone calls from a person who threatened to kill her "ritually".

 

JEWISH SITES ATTACKED

Jewish sites attacked
Garda probe links between swastikas at synagogue and neo-fascist websites
By Henry McDonald, Ireland Editor
The Observer
November 14, 2004

Gardai are investigating links between an Irish neo-fascist website and an upsurge in anti-semitism in Dublin.

Three Jewish sites in the capital were targeted late Thursday night or early Friday morning, with swastikas daubed on a synagogue, a museum and a cemetery.

Detectives are now exploring if there are any connections between the anti-semitic incidents and the Stormfront Ireland discussion forum, which is part of the Stormfront/White Pride-World Wide internet site.

Jewish leaders in the city said the vandalism was unprecedented in modern times. A swastika was sprayed in black paint on the wall of the Irish Jewish Museum and Heritage Centre at Portobello. The museum's curator, Raphael Siev, who was opening up the centre for a school party visit from Glasnevin discovered it.

'The paint was still wet when I spotted it. This museum is almost 20 years old, as it was opened in 1985 by Chaim Herzog, a former President of Israel. There has never been anything of a negative nature like this on our walls before,' he said.

'I am very upset about this as it is very worrying because this is an attack on a part of the history and cultural heritage of Dublin. On Friday I received many messages of support from our neighbours around us. This museum charts the lives of Jewish people in this city over the last 150 years, so it is worrying that something like this could happen,' he said.

Siev said the museum has never received any hate mail let alone been subjected to anti-semitic attacks.

There were similar acts of vandalism on the Progressive Synagogue at Rathfarnham and on graves at the Jewish cemetery in Dolphin's Barn. In both incidents the same black spray paint was used to daub swastikas. In the same period the memorial to Irishmen and women who died serving in the British armed forces during the two world wars was also vandalised. Anti-British slogans were daubed on the site at Islandbridge commemorating the Irish war dead.

Jacov Pearlman, the rabbi at the Progressive Synagogue, said: 'I deplore any act of racism against any minority in this country.'

A senior Garda source said they had to consider the possibility of links between an emerging neo-fascist group in Dublin and the apparently co-ordinated vandalism.

'There is plenty of anti-semitic material on this site from Irish contributors, so we will try and see if there are any connections. We have to examine every angle on this worrying development,' the officer said.

Stormfront Ireland, among other things, promotes the cause of Holocaust revisionism. In one email posted by 'Barry' it is suggested that 'Ireland is an easy country to do Revisionism in.' Other correspondents call for a new political party with the slogan 'Ireland First' to campaign for the repatriation of thousands of new immigrants who have recently arrived.

'We need a full-blown nationalist party like the FN (National Front) in France or the BNP, but hopefully without their flaws,' another writes.

There are now just several hundred Jewish families left in Dublin from a population of 4,000 at the end of the Second World War.

 

VANDALS SPRAY SWASTIKAS ON JEWISH GRAVESTONES

Vandals spray swastikas on Jewish gravestones
(Press, Auckland, New Zealand)
November 18, 2004

LONDON: Vandals have sprayed swastikas and other Nazi insignia on 15 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in southern England.

They said the anti-Semitic graffiti had appeared on the gravestones in Aldershot, Hampshire, over the past month.

"This is about the lowest thing anybody can do," Police Constable Andy Gardiner of Hampshire police said.

"Any sort of vandalism would be bad enough but to put symbols like these on Jewish graves is a despicable act."

As well as swastikas, the vandals had sprayed SS on some of the graves – a reference to the Schutzstaffel, a paramilitary unit of the Nazi party.

Britain is home to around 265,000 Jews. Members of the Jewish population have warned that anti-Semitism is on the rise.


“Arafat as Moses.” Arafatmania

November 15, 2004

[This is a follow-up to last Thursday's dispatch titled Yasser Arafat, "the stuff of legends". This dispatch contains a further article by myself, published this morning in the Jerusalem Post, on the media reaction to Arafat's death.]

-- Tom Gross


THE UNITED NATIONS

On Kofi Annan's instructions, the UN especially flew its flag at half-mast at its headquarters in New York to mark "President Arafat's death." This is despite the fact that Arafat did not represent any UN member state, and the UN doesn't usually mark the death of leaders of even its member states in this way. For example, the UN didn't fly its flag at half-mast when Ronald Reagan died earlier this year.

 

FRANCE PAYS TRIBUTE

The mayors of several French municipalities say they will rename streets and squares after Arafat. These include suburban cities near Paris and Lyons which have already been the location of frequent anti-Jewish violence during recent years.


ARAFAT AS MOSES

Arafat-mania
By Tom Gross
The Jerusalem Post
November 15, 2004

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1100405850803

For the Guardian, Yasser Arafat was to be compared to "Moses."

On CNN, he was described as a "revolutionary romantic figure comparable to Ho Chi Minh and Nelson Mandela."

For USA Today, he "embraced" "sorrow and hope."

South Africa's City Press described him as a leader who "marshalled freedom fighters."

And in the Toronto Sun we were told he was "murdered" by Israel.

If anyone is still in any doubt that much of the Western media has been taken in by the Stalin-like cult of personality Arafat nurtured for himself over the past 40 years, they shouldn't be any more – not after hearing or reading the lies, half-truths and distortions that were served up in the 48 hours of virtually nonstop coverage on international news networks following the announcement of Arafat's death last Thursday.

In scores of reports and interviews by dozens of correspondents on both BBC and CNN, acts of terrorism were left completely unmentioned. Instead we were treated to an almost endless stream of sanctimonious drivel. Arafat "embodied the peace of the brave"; he "saved the Palestinian people from extinction"; his life was "marked by dignity."

Arafat, we were reminded, was "a leader," "a politician," an "inspirational figure." So, too, is Osama bin Laden, but it is hard to imagine anyone in the Western media covering bin Laden's death with almost no mention of terrorism and virtually no allusion to his victims.

Reading much of the print media, watching BBC and CNN, listening to the even more partisan coverage of BBC World Service Radio (which attracts over 150 million listeners daily) it was as if these acts of terror had never happened.

It was as though those Olympic athletes had never been killed, those airliners never hijacked, those schools never bombed, those passengers in airline terminals at Rome, Vienna and elsewhere never gunned down.

It was as if the Ma'alot school massacre (of mostly 15-year old girls) had never occurred, or a bazooka had never been fired into a school bus from Moshav Avivim, wiping out an entire class and their teachers.

It was as if an American ambassador and a Jordanian prime minister had never been murdered, or a wheelchair-bound American pensioner had never been shot and dumped into the Mediterranean because he had a "Jewish-sounding name."

And it was as if an eight-month pregnant mother, Tali Hatuel, hadn't been shot in the head by Arafat's Fatah, execution-style, together with her four young children, only last May.

In many reports these victims were simply airbrushed from history.

When the time comes, will the BBC run 48 hours of virtually nonstop coverage of Colonel Mu'ammar Gaddafi's death without mentioning Lockerbie? Will they devote 48 hours to IRA leaders with barely a mention that they killed anyone?

Will The Guardian run front-page articles by writer John le Carre describing them as "cuddly," as le Carre described Arafat last Friday? Le Carre added in his piece that when he met Arafat he told him: "Mr. Chairman, I have come to put my hand on the Palestinian heart."

Arafat's terrorism was also omitted on the Web. For example, the timeline on BBC online (titled "Yasser Arafat: Key dates") jumped straight from: "1994: Jointly awarded Nobel peace prize with Rabin and Peres" to "2001: Israel blockades him inside Ramallah headquarters."

The timeline put out by the Associated Press, the world's biggest news agency, and used by news outlets worldwide (titled "Key Events in Yasser Arafat's Life"), also omitted all acts of terrorism. Indeed we can only wonder what kind of terror AP's timeline says Arafat "renounced" on December 12, 1988.

Instead of interviewing one or two relatives of Arafat's thousands of victims, we were told, repeatedly, how the UN was especially flying its flag at half-mast at its headquarters in New York to mark "this grave day for the world." And how UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was "deeply moved" by "President Arafat's death."

He was, said a saddened Annan, "one of those few leaders who could be instantly recognized by people in any walk of life all around the world."

The Pope's chief spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, told us of his "pain" at the passing of the "illustrious deceased." May God "grant eternal rest to the soul" of "a leader of great charisma who loved his people," he said, while making no reference to any of those for whose deaths and injuries Arafat was responsible.

In round-the-clock coverage we were repeatedly told how French President Jacques Chirac called Arafat "a man of courage and conviction," and how before his death was announced Chirac had paid homage by kneeling in silence at his bedside.

In a relatively discordant note, the editorial of the British paper the Sun said: "There have been few more nauseating sights than the French fawning over the coffin of Yasser Arafat... What will France do when Osama bin Laden dies... Declare a national holiday?"

In one of the other all too few critical remarks by a leading newspaper following Arafat's death, the Financial Times concluded Arafat was "a brilliant manipulator of the media and public opinion."

About that there can be no doubt.

(The writer is a former Jerusalem correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph.)


A partial list of some of Yasser Arafat's victims

November 11, 2004

[Note by Tom Gross]

SOVIET-STYLE

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was pronounced dead this morning. In fact he has probably been dead for some days despite fierce denials from Saeb Erekat, Nabil Sha'ath, and his other cronies, and from compliant French doctors. As an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal (who is a subscriber to this email list) put it: Even in the announcement of his death, "the totalitarian instincts Arafat learned from his Soviet trainers and then nurtured in the Palestinian leadership remain alive and well."


NOBEL PRIZE

* Below, I attach a partial list of a few of Arafat's victims.

* At the same time, Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
www.nobelprize.org/peace/laureates/1994/

 

MULTI-MILLIONAIRE

* And as he cheated his own people, he became one of the richest men in the world – www.forbes.com/2003/02/24/cz_royalslide_6.html

(The $300 m. figure given by Forbes that Arafat has in his private bank accounts is almost certainly an underestimate.)

 

A MINUTE IN THE LIFE OF ARAFAT

A one-minute film on Arafat's life was released this morning by HonestReporting, and can be viewed at www.honestreporting.com/m/legacy.asp

Although the film is clearly one-sided, you may wish to watch it as a counter to some of the piffle Reuters and others are putting out this morning on Arafat.

 

* For more, on some of Arafat's other victims, see:
www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Terrorism/TerrorAttacks.html
and – www.mfa.gov.il

Fatah, which was headed until today by Arafat, is the main constituent part of the PLO. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is part of Fatah. It was set up and paid for by Arafat, using in part European Union donations of recent years.



A (VERY) PARTIAL LIST OF ARAFAT'S VICTIMS

* Jan. 1, 1965: Fatah's first terror attack in Israel predates any Israeli "occupation" of the West Bank or Gaza. (There were many other terror attacks by other Palestinian armed groups before this.)

* July 5, 1965: Fatah plant explosives at Mitzpe Massua, near Beit Guvrin; and on the railroad tracks to Jerusalem near Kafr Battir.

* 1965-1967: A wave of Fatah bomb attacks target Israeli villages, water pipes, railroads. Homes are destroyed and Israelis are killed.

* Feb. 21, 1970: SwissAir flight 330, bound for Tel Aviv, is bombed by the PLO group PFLP in mid-flight, killing 47.

*Sept. 6, 1970: TWA, Pan Am, and BOAC airplanes are hijacked by the PLO.

* September 1970: The PLO attack Jordanian targets, then flee to Lebanon.

* Sept. 5, 1972: 11 Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Olympics by the PLO.

* March 1, 1973: Palestinian terrorists take over Saudi embassy in Khartoum and murder the United States' ambassador to Sudan, Cleo Noel and others.

* April 11, 1974: 18 residents of Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel are killed in their apartment building by the PLO who infiltrated from Lebanon.

* May 15, 1974: A school in Ma'alot is attacked by Palestinian terrorists who infiltrated from Lebanon. 26 Israelis, including many children, were killed.

*Nov. 13, 1974: Arafat, wearing a gun, addresses UN General Assembly.

* Oct. 7, 1985: The Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro is hijacked by the PLO. Wheelchair-bound elderly man, Leon Klinghoffer, was shot and thrown overboard.

* May 29, 2001: Gilad Zar, 41, of Itamar, was shot dead in an ambush by Fatah Tanzim.

* May 29, 2001: Sara Blaustein, 53, and Esther Alvan, 20, of Efrat, were killed in a drive-by shooting south of Jerusalem. The Fatah Tanzim claimed responsibility for the attack.

* June 18, 2001: Doron Zisserman, 38, shot and killed in his car by Fatah sniper fire.

* Aug 26, 2001: Dov Rosman, 58, killed in a shooting attack by Fatah.

* Sept 6, 2001: Erez Merhavi, 23, killed in a Fatah Tanzim ambush shooting near Hadera while driving to a wedding.

* Sept 20, 2001: Sarit Amrani, 26, killed by Fatah terrorist snipers as she was traveling in a car with her husband and 3 children.

* Oct 4, 2001: 3 killed, 13 wounded, when a Fatah terrorist, dressed as an Israeli paratrooper, opened fire on Israeli civilians waiting at the central bus station in Afula.

* Nov 27, 2001: 2 killed 50 injured when two terrorists opened fire with Kalashnikov assault rifles on a crowd of people near the central bus station in Afula. Fatah claimed joint responsibility.

* Nov 29, 2001: 3 killed and 9 wounded in a suicide bombing on an Egged 823 bus en route from Nazereth to Tel Aviv near the city of Hadera. Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack.

* Dec 12, 2001: 11 killed and 30 wounded when three terrorists attacked a bus and several passenger cars with a roadside bomb, anti-tank grenades, and light arms fire near the entrance to Emmanuel in Samaria. Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack.

*Jan 15, 2002: Avi Boaz, 71, an American citizen, was kidnapped at a PA security checkpoint in Beit Jala. His bullet-riddled body was found in a car near Bethlehem. The Fatah's al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the murder.

*Jan 15, 2002: Yoela Chen, 45, was shot dead by the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

* Jan 17, 2002: 6 killed, 35 wounded when Fatah stormed into a bat mitzva reception in a banquet hall in Hadera opening fire with an M-16 assault rifle.

* Jan 22, 2002: 2 killed, 40 injured when a Fatah terrorist opened fire with an M-16 assault rifle near a bus stop in downtown Jerusalem.

* Jan. 27, 2002: One person was killed and more than 150 were wounded by a female Fatah suicide bomber in the center of Jerusalem.

* Feb 6, 2002: A mother and her 11 year old daughter were murdered in their home by a Palestinian terrorist disguised in an IDF uniform. Fatah claimed responsibility.

* Feb 18, 2002: Ahuva Amergi, 30, was killed and a 60-year old man was injured when a terrorist opened fire on her car. Maj. Mor Elraz, 25, and St.-Sgt. Amir Mansouri, 21, who came to their assistance, were killed while trying to intercept the terrorist. The terrorist was killed when the explosives he was carrying were detonated. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

* Feb 22, 2002: Valery Ahmir, 59, was killed in a Fatah drive-by shooting north of Jerusalem as he returned home from work.

* Feb 25, 2002: Avraham Fish, 65, and Aharon Gorov, 46, were killed in a Fatah terrorist shooting attack. Fish's daughter, 9 months pregnant, was seriously injured but delivered a baby girl.

* Feb 25, 2002: Police officer 1st Sgt. Galit Arbiv, 21, died after being fatally shot, when a Fatah terrorist opened fire at a bus stop in the Neve Ya'akov residential neighbhorhood in northern Jerusalem. Eight others were injured.

* Feb 27, 2002: Gad Rejwan, 34, of Jerusalem, was shot and killed by one of his Palestinian employees in a factory north of Jerusalem. Two Fatah groups issued a joint statement taking responsibility for the murder.

* March 2, 2002: A suicide bombing by al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem killed 11 people and injured more than 50.

* March 5, 2002: 3 were killed and over 30 people were wounded in Tel Aviv when a Fatah terrorist opened fire on two adjacent restaurants shortly after 2 am.

* March 5, 2002: Devorah Friedman, 45, of Efrat, was killed and her husband injured in a Fatah shooting attack.

* March 9, 2002: Avia Malka, 9 months, and Israel Yihye, 27, were killed and about 50 people were injured when two Fatah terrorists opened fire and threw grenades at cars and pedestrians in the coastal city of Netanya on Saturday evening, close to the city's boardwalk and hotels.

*March 21, 2002: An al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade suicide bomber exploded himself in a crowd of shoppers in Jerusalem, killing 3 and injuring 86.

* March 29, 2002: Two killed and 28 injured when a female Fatah suicide bomber blew herself up in a Jerusalem supermarket.

* March 30, 2002: One killed and 30 injured in an al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.

* April 12, 2002: Six killed and 104 wounded when a female al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade suicide bomber blew herself up at a bus stop on Jaffa road at the entrance to Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda open-air market.

* May 27, 2002: Ruth Peled, 56, of Herzliya and her infant granddaughter, aged 14 months, were killed and 37 people were injured when a Fatah suicide bomber detonated himself near an ice cream parlor outside a shopping mall in Petah Tikva.

* May 28, 2002: Albert Maloul, 50, of Jerusalem, was killed when shots were fired by Fatah terrorists at the car in which he was traveling.

* May 28, 2002: Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorists killed Netanel Riachi, 17, Gilad Stiglitz, 14, and Avraham Siton, 17, three yeshiva high school students playing basketball.

* June 19, 2002: Seven people were killed and 37 injured when a Fatah suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded bus stop and hitchhiking post in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem.

* June 20, 2002: Rachel Shabo, 40, and three of her sons – Neria, 16, Zvika, 12, and Avishai, 5 – as well as a neighbor, Yosef Twito, 31, who came to their aid, were murdered when a terrorist entered their home in Itamar, south of Nablus, and opened fire. Two other children were injured, as well as two soldiers. The PFLP and the Fatah Al Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

* July 25, 2002: Rabbi Elimelech Shapira, 43, was killed in a Fatah shooting attack near the West Bank community of Alei Zahav.

* July 26, 2002: St.-Sgt. Elazar Lebovitch, 21, of Hebron; Rabbi Yosef Dikstein, 45, of Psagot, his wife Hannah, 42, and their 9-year-old son Shuv'el Zion were killed in a Fatah Al Aqsa Brigade shooting attack south of Hebron. Two other of their children were injured.

* July 30, 2002: Shlomo Odesser, 60, and his brother Mordechai, 52, both of Tapuach in Samaria, were shot and killed when their truck came under Fatah fire in the West Bank village of Jama'in.

* Aug 4, 2002: 2 killed and 17 wounded when a Fatah terrorist opened fire with a pistol near the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City.

* Aug 5, 2002: Avi Wolanski (29) and his wife Avital (27), of Eli, were killed and one of their children, aged 3, was injured when terrorists opened fire on their car as they were traveling on the Ramallah-Nablus road in Samaria. The Martyrs of the Palestinian Popular Army, a splinter group associated with Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack.

* Aug 10, 2002: Yafit Herenstein, 31, of Moshav Mechora in the Jordan Valley, was killed and her husband, Arno, seriously wounded when a Fatah terrorist infiltrated the moshav and opened fire outside their home.

* Sept 18, 2002: Yosef Ajami, 36, was killed when Fatah terrorists opened fire on his car near Mevo Dotan, north of Jenin in the West Bank.

* Oct 29, 2002: Three people, including 2 fourteen year olds, were shot to death by a Fatah terrorist.

* Nov 10, 2002: Revital Ohayon, 34, and her two sons, Matan, 5, and Noam, 4, as well as Yitzhak Dori, 44 – all of Kibbutz Metzer – and Tirza Damari, 42, were killed when a Fatah terrorist infiltrated the kibbutz, located east of Hadera near the Green Line, and opened fire.

* Nov 28, 2002: 5 killed and 40 wounded when two Fatah terrorists opened fire and threw grenades at the Likud polling station in Beit She'an, near the central bus station, where party members were casting their votes in the Likud primary.

* April 24, 2003: 1 was killed and 13 were wounded in a suicide bombing outside the train station in Kfar Saba. Groups related to the Fatah al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the PFLP clamied joint responsibility for the attack.

* May 5, 2003: Gideon Lichterman, 27, was killed and two other passengers, his six-year-old daughter Moriah and a reserve soldier, were seriously wounded when Fatah terrorists fired shots at their vehicle in Samaria.

* May 19, 2003: 3 were killed and 70 were wounded in a suicide bombing at the entrance to the Amakim Mall in Afula. The Islamic Jihad and the Fatah al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades both claimed responsibility for the attack.

* Aug 29, 2003: Shalom Har-Melekh, 25, was killed in a Fatah shooting attack while driving northeast of Ramallah. His wife, Limor, who was seven months pregnant, sustained moderate injuries, and gave birth to a baby girl by Caesarean section.

* Jan 29, 2004: 11 people were killed and over 50 wounded in a suicide bombing of an Egged bus no. 19 at the corner of Gaza and Arlozorov streets in Jerusalem. Both the Fatah-related al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

* March 14, 2004: 10 were killed and 16 wounded in a double suicide bombing at Ashdod Port. Hamas and Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack.

* May 2, 2004: Tali Hatuel, 34, and her daughters – Hila, 11, Hadar, 9, Roni, 7, and Merav, 2 – of Katif in the Gaza Strip were killed when two terrorists fired on an Israeli car at the entrance to the Gaza Strip settlement bloc of Gush Katif. They were systematically shot one-by-one at point-blank range. Fatah claimed joint responsibility for the attack.

 

PRESS RELEASE

Israel Foreign Ministry – Jerusalem
Jerusalem
November 11, 2004

General Closure on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

In accordance with the decision by the political echelon and in light of the security assessment, a general closure has been imposed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, effective this morning.

The IDF is deploying in order to allow for a dignified funeral ceremony for the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat.

Passage into the West Bank will be allowed with appropriate permits, as will be publicized.

During the closure, passage will be allowed for humanitarian cases approved by the Liaison offices.


Yasser Arafat, “the stuff of legends”

I attach an article published today on National Review Online.


ARAFAT GETS THE DI TREATMENT

Arafat gets the Di treatment
"The stuff of legends."
By Tom Gross
November 11, 2004

www.nationalreview.com/comment/gross200411110927.asp

Arab leaders long ago stopped liking or respecting Yasser Arafat, or indeed believing a word he said. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak once referred to him, in the presence of Secretary of State Warren Christopher, as "a son of a dog." The Syrian defense minister called Arafat the "son of sixty thousand whores."

Yet until the very end, some prominent Western journalists never stopped heaping praise on him, or covering up for his countless crimes and misdeeds.

It didn't matter how many Jews, Arabs, and others died on his orders, or how many times he let down his own people, or stole from them. For these journalists, as well as for many European governments, he remained a worthy Nobel peace-prize winner and the "sole legitimate representative" of the Palestinian people.

To judge by some of the reporting as he lay on his deathbed in Paris – the hushed tone of the television newsreaders, the flattering touched-up portrait photos on the cover of the London Times – Arafat was a figure who deserved to be deeply revered, a kind of ailing pope.

There was little mention of the fact that he played a central role in the growth of modern terrorism, and continued to instigate it until the end. That his hijacking of airplanes inspired al Qaeda, that he ruined the modern Olympics by gunning down athletes, that he had a wheelchair-bound American pensioner shot and thrown into the Mediterranean, or that the PLO's massacre of 21 young Israeli children in their school pre-dated Beslan.

Instead, on the BBC, for example, correspondent Barbara Plett revealed that she had cried last month when Arafat was whisked away from Ramallah by helicopter for medical treatment in France. She spoke of her "connection to the man."

The last time BBC correspondents were so emotional during their reporting was when Princess Diana died. (Plett's program, "From Our Own Correspondent," was broadcast throughout the world on BBC World Service Radio, which attracts over 150 million listeners daily.)

But it comes as little surprise that BBC reporters were so moved, given the network's long-held admiration for Arafat. For example, one BBC profile in the summer of 2002 (a year in which Arafat-inspired terror attacks against Israeli Jews – from the Netanya Passover massacre to the Hebrew University bombing – reached a peak) described him as a "hero" and "an icon." It spoke of him as having "performer's flair," "charisma and style," and "personal courage." He was not only "respectable," but "triumphant" and "the stuff of legends."

Other prominent Western media, such as the New York Times, have also long sought to downplay Arafat's dictatorial rule, his endemic corruption, or his close connection to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade – the terror group which has rivaled Hamas in the number of suicide attacks perpetrated against civilians in recent years.

Jonathan Steele, of the Guardian, wrote last week that Arafat was "a respected and approachable human being." South Africa's City Press said he "marshaled freedom fighters."

Arafat knew how to turn on the charm with gullible Western reporters. When one American journalist brought his young daughter to meet him in Ramallah shortly after the Al Aqsa Brigades murdered several Israeli children, Arafat spent half the interview playing with her. As recently as last July, the lead editorial of the New York Times was still sanitizing Arafat's image, referring to him as "a democratically elected leader" and a "romantic" revolutionary.

But in other parts of the world, journalists are less enamored of Arafat. In the Times of India, for example, Lalita Panicker wrote last week that Arafat's record "has been disastrous."

"It is cause for celebration for the Palestinians," she wrote, as he lay near death in a Paris hospital, that he "will never again control their destiny."

"Dressed in ridiculous battle fatigues," she went on, "he has demonstrated that he neither wants nor can he deliver peace. Arafat's lasting and most pernicious legacy is that he has contributed to completely changing the Palestinian psyche. The Palestinians were once the most secular, tolerant, and educated people in the Arab world. Today, Palestinian classrooms have become the hotbeds of recruitment for jihad... As a result, an entire younger generation has grown up on a diet of hate and fanaticism."

Even the Arab media were more critical of Arafat than the BBC and others in the West. The profile of Arafat currently on al Jazeera's website ("Arafat: Man with a Mission") makes clear in its very first line that Arafat was born in Cairo (not in Jerusalem as he claimed) and that his father had "some Egyptian ancestry." Al Jazeera added that "Arafat's governing style tended to be more dictatorial than democratic."

Writing last week on Islam Online (Arafat: The Enigmatic Leader") Kareem Kamel spoke of the "the cronyism and corruption that have been rampant in the Palestinian territories since Arafat came from exile" and of the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars of European Union aid money – news that may be familiar in the Middle East but has rarely been subject to scrutiny in Europe itself.

The widely read anti-Israel website, the Electronic Intifada, unlike the BBC Online profile, doesn't shy away from using the word "terrorism" in its profile ("The End of the Arafat Era"). Indeed, it says that he "defined 'terrorist chic' for the Western world."

It's a fair comment, but what should also be said is that nowhere did Arafat find more starry-eyed fans than among some deluded European and North American journalists.

(Tom Gross is a former Jerusalem correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph of London. Among his recent articles for NRO is "Living in a Bubble: The BBC's very own Mideast foreign policy.")


Former Guardian columnist: “There is a heaven. And its name is Israel”

November 09, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Small country, big impression" (By Julie Burchill, Times of London (Travel supplement), Nov. 6, 2004)
2. "Good, bad and ugly" (By Julie Burchill, Guardian, Nov. 29, 2003)
3. "The Hate that shames us" (By Julie Burchill, Guardian, Dec. 6, 2003)
4. "She will be missed like acne" (Guardian Letters, Dec. 2003)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I have mentioned the well-known British journalist Julie Burchill several times during the last five years on this email list, most notably in the dispatches of:

* Boy, 17, murdered for "looking like a Jew" (May 27, 2003)
* The Guardian discovers modern anti-Semitism (Nov. 30, 2003)
* The Guardian: More from Julie Burchill and others (Dec. 9, 2003)

Last year, I included an article by Burchill (who is not Jewish) in which she announced that after many years she was quitting as a writer for the Guardian because of its "quite striking bias against the state of Israel" which was not "entirely different from anti-Semitism."

Burchill defined such anti-Semitism: "where the political is personal, and the personal pretends to be political, and those swarthy / pallid / swotty / philistine / aggressive / cowardly / comically bourgeois / filthy rich / delete-as-mood-takes-you bastards always get the girl."

Last weekend, the Times of London printed a travel article by Burchill (on pages 4 and 5 of its travel supplement) about her first visit to Israel.

I attach a summary of that article, followed by the article in full, and then extracts from two of the articles by Burchill sent out on this list last year.

It should be noted that – such is the anti-Israel atmosphere in Britain, as in the rest of Western Europe – in their introduction to the travel article, the Times online travel editors felt the need to tell their readers that "Julie Burchill is famously pro-Israeli." (Many travel writers have sympathies for countries about which they write travel pieces, but it is highly unusual for travel editors to tell readers this in the introduction to the articles.) In the print edition of the Times, the editors deleted the part about Burchill being "famously pro-Israeli" and instead described her as "a long-time fan."

-- Tom Gross

 

"THERE IS A HEAVEN. AND ITS NAME IS ISRAEL."

SUMMARY

Small country, big impression
By Julie Burchill
The Times of London, Travel section
November 6, 2004

It's the laziest cliché in the travel-writing book to describe a place as a country of contrasts. Usually this means that – hold the front page! – a country's got both a beach and a city. And sometimes these weak words become weasel words, as when used about Brazil, the country with the largest gap between richest and poorest in the world.

So I hope that you'll forgive me when I use this creaking phrase about Israel – but how much more of a contrast could there be than spending a morning crying one's heart out at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, and an afternoon sitting by the pool of a five-star hotel on the Dead Sea, sunbathing with neither fear nor sunscreen. Because, get this, the altitude is the lowest in the world, meaning that all those pesky little UA and UV rays that tend to cause skin cancer are zapped by all those extra layers of ozone.

... According to received wisdom, the Israelis are a para-fascist people crushing all before them; how odd, then, that Old Jerusalem is a model of pluralism, with its Christian and Muslim quarters, churches and mosques gleaming free.

... There are lots of lies told about Israel – some of them deliberate, others are mere misunderstandings. "It's far away" – no, it's four hours by plane. "It's dangerous" – I've felt more physically threatened on Brighton sea front on a school night. "It's expensive" – a pair of this season's Dolce & Gabanna sunglasses, for £27 rather than their usual £100-plus, would beg to differ.

If you want to believe them, go ahead, ignore Israel, and keep trotting back to the same old destinations you've visited a score of times. But you'll be missing out on culture that makes Venice look like Milton Keynes, and weather that makes Tenerife look like Leeds – we were there in October, the first month of Israel's brief winter, and in north and south the weather stayed in the eighties (high twenties), with never a cloudy day.

... The Jews say that there is no heaven – but on this occasion, I would beg to differ with this splendid people. Because from what I've seen, albeit in the short space of a week, there is a heaven. And its name is Israel.


ARTICLE IN FULL

SMALL COUNTRY, BIG IMPRESSION

Small country, big impression
By Julie Burchill
The Times (Travel supplement)
November 6, 2004

Julie Burchill is famously pro-Israeli, but had never visited the country. So what did she make of her Promised Land?

www.travel.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,10209-1343750,00.html

It's the laziest cliché in the travel-writing book to describe a place as a country of contrasts. Usually this means that – hold the front page! – a country’s got both a beach and a city.

And sometimes these weak words become weasel words, as when used about Brazil, the country with the largest gap between richest and poorest in the world. In this case, "a country of contrasts" comes down to the fact that some people pick their teeth with golden gewgaws while round the corner, families literally live on, and from, rubbish heaps.

So I hope that you'll forgive me when I use this creaking phrase about Israel – but how much more of a contrast could there be than spending a morning crying one's heart out at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, and an afternoon sitting by the pool of a five-star hotel on the Dead Sea, sunbathing with neither fear nor sunscreen. Because, get this, the altitude is the lowest in the world, meaning that all those pesky little UA and UV rays that tend to cause skin cancer are zapped by all those extra layers of ozone.

The next day you're in Tel Aviv, reeling at the sheer barefaced beauty of the Bauhaus buildings. And in Israel you can do all this without once feeling like a shallow, surface-skimming tourist, because this country sees the darkness of the past and the sunshine of the present as two sides of the same coin. "Yes, we've suffered – all the more reason to enjoy," is the overall impression you come away with.

Of course, you can get a combo of history, culture and cocktails in many countries. But they aren't the size of Wales. Try and "do" Italy in a week and you’ll end up bewitched, but also bothered and bewildered, which is why most visitors stay in one region; the same goes for France.

But in seven nights, my friend Nadia and I stayed in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Eilat and Tel Aviv. And though we came back determined to return ASAP, and well aware that there was so much more to see, in no way did we feel exhausted or short-changed.

I must stress at this point that Nadia and I are card-carrying philistines as far as holidays go; before Israel, our idea of fun in the sun was to roast from nine till five before staggering out in unsuitable shoes to dance unbecomingly to Euro-pop and swill blue cocktails.

Yet in Israel, we found ourselves crying at buildings, exclaiming over paintings and cooing over ruins.

It started in Jerusalem. Go out on to the balcony of David's Citadel hotel and – well, "It's not Kansas any more, is it, Toto?" Nor is it the usual five-star view of sand, sea and ennui – instead, where normally a manicured lawn would lead down to a becalmed coast, are the real, actual walls of the Old City, complete with Jaffa Gate.

Go to sleep, wake up and try to rub the dream from your eyes – and there it is again, in the broad daylight that begins in Israel at 5am sharp.

After breakfast, inside the living city that just happens to be straight out of the Bible, you get your first experience of Israeli decency. According to received wisdom, these are a para-fascist people crushing all before them; how odd, then, that Old Jerusalem is a model of pluralism, with its Christian and Muslim quarters, churches and mosques gleaming free.

Beauty Without Cruelty: it was the name of an English cosmetics company, the first not to test their wares on animals, but it seems so much to describe the attitude of Jewish culture towards others. If only the opposite were true; next morning, bright and early, Nadia and I were taken to Yad Vashem – the huge and, it must be said, beautiful memorial to the genocide of the European Jews in the first half of the 20th century.

I won't try to describe it here. Enough to say that these empty-headed Englishers arrived at 9am and didn't feel able to leave until 1pm. Our unimpeachable Israeli guide, the beautiful and brilliant Ms Ora Schlesinger, spoke to us softly after about three hours: "Julie, Nadia. I hate to have to say this. But we must go soon."

We were uncontrollable in our grief; every time we thought we could move on, one of us would utter a cry of anguish and dart back into the darkness of the halls. When we eventually emerged, though, we felt calm and ready for anything. Come on, Israel – let's do it! We were driven to the Dead Sea resort of Ein Bokek; I fooled around in the water, and it was just the most fun you could have outside zero gravity. Bobbing about, I felt a cheap metaphor coming on; against all odds, Israel stays buoyant. Nadia asked me if I didn't want to go with her to have mud thrown at me in a luxury spa. "No, thanks," I answered smartly, "I can get that at home!" Then next day, an hour's drive to the Vegas of the Promised Land, the Cannes of Canaan – Eilat.

The Sheraton Herod's Palace and Spa hotel in Eilat had a very amusing triptych of art in the rooms. I don’t know if they were meant to be sarky – probably not, as Israelis, unlike English, tend to be too straightforward for a sneaky thing like sarcasm – but my nasty mind took them that way. The first two show obviously Arab figures sitting around in a barren landscape, smoking hookahs, arguing, generally dossing about and wasting their lives.

In the third, the glorious white edifice of the hotel has fully risen from the parched landscape, and one robed figure is looking up at it. You can't see his face, but you just know what he's thinking: "Them Jews! – they've done it again!" Meanwhile Nadia was downstairs having something called a hot stone treatment at the Herod Vitalis spa. She said it was the best thing she'd ever experienced physically without having to send her clothes to the dry-cleaners afterwards.

I've stayed at five-star hotels from Mauritius to Torquay, but this one really made me wish that ratings went up to six. (Oh, and I've stayed at the allegedly "seven-star" Burj al Arab in Dubai too.)

There are lots of lies told about Israel – some of them deliberate, others are mere misunderstandings.

"It's far away" – no, it's four hours by plane. "It's dangerous" – I've felt more physically threatened on Brighton sea front on a school night. "It's expensive" – a pair of this season’s Dolce & Gabanna sunglasses, for £27 rather than their usual £100-plus, would beg to differ.

If you want to believe them, go ahead, ignore Israel, and keep trotting back to the same old destinations you've visited a score of times. But you'll be missing out on culture that makes Venice look like Milton Keynes, and weather that makes Tenerife look like Leeds – we were there in October, the first month of Israel's brief winter, and in north and south the weather stayed in the eighties (high twenties), with never a cloudy day.

And you'll be missing a people whose sheer beauty makes Catherine Zeta-Jones and Johnny Depp look like Dawn French and Stephen Fry. Oh, and you’ll be missing out on supporting, in some small way, a dazzling, good-hearted country surrounded by barren theocracies who'd rather it had never existed.

"You're English, aren't you? You’re a good people!" an Israeli said to me; despite the great wrongs done by this country to theirs leading up to the birth of their country, these people choose to remember the kindness over the cruelty, whenever possible.

"I would like to welcome British people to Israel – to Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv and all our beautiful country," said Israeli tourism minister, Gideon Ezra, recently.

While from any other politician it might have been dismissed as mere patter, with Israel it comes from the heart. Well, they've got me – after my honeymoon in Antigua next month, I can't imagine ever wanting to go anywhere else.

The Jews say that there is no heaven – but on this occasion, I would beg to differ with this splendid people.

Because from what I've seen, albeit in the short space of a week, there is a heaven. And its name is Israel.

 

"GOOD, BAD AND UGLY"

* This is an extract from the dispatch of Sunday, November 30, 2003 titled The Guardian discovers modern anti-Semitism. That dispatch included a whole series of articles and letters from the Guardian. Below, for space reasons, I attach only the summary I prepared of Burchill's article.

SUMMARY

Good, bad and ugly
By Julie Burchill
The Guardian (weekend supplement)
November 29, 2003

" As you might have heard, I'm leaving the Guardian next year for the Times. I admire the Guardian. I also find it fun to read... But if there is one issue that has made me feel less loyal to my newspaper over the past year, it has been what I, as a non-Jew, perceive to be a quite striking bias against the state of Israel. Which, for all its faults, is the only country in that barren region that you or I, or any feminist, atheist, homosexual or trade unionist, could bear to live under.

... I don't swallow the modern liberal line that anti-Zionism is entirely different from anti-semitism ... Jews historically have been blamed for everything we might disapprove of: they can be rabid revolutionaries, responsible for the might of the late Soviet empire, and the greediest of fat cats, enslaving the planet to the demands of international high finance. They are insular, cliquey and clannish, yet they worm their way into the highest positions of power in their adopted countries, changing their names and marrying Gentile women. They collectively possess a huge, slippery wealth that knows no boundaries – yet Israel is said to be an impoverished, lame-duck state, bleeding the west dry.

... The fact that many Gentiles and Arabs are rabidly Judeophobic, while many others are as horrified by Judeophobia as by any other type of racism, makes me believe that anti-semitism/Zionism is not a political position (otherwise the right and the left, the PLO and the KKK, would not be able to unite so uniquely in their hatred), but about how an individual feels about himself. I can't help noticing that, over the years, a disproportionate number of attractive, kind, clever people are drawn to Jews; those who express hostility to them, however, from Hitler to Hamza, are often as not repulsive freaks.

... How fitting that it was Richard Ingrams – who this summer proclaimed in the Observer [the Sunday edition of The Guardian] that he refuses to read letters from Jews about the Middle East, and that Jewish journalists should declare their racial origins when writing on this subject. Replying in another newspaper, Johann Hari suggested sarcastically that their bylines might be marked with a yellow star, and asked why Ingrams didn't want to know whether those writing on international conflicts were Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Hindu..."

(The full article is at www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,1094325,00.html )

 

"THE HATE THAT SHAMES US"

This is an extract from the dispatch of December 9, 2003 titled The Guardian: More from Julie Burchill and others. That dispatch included several articles and letters. Below, for space reasons, I attach only the summary of Burchill's article, which was a follow-up to her article summarized above.

SUMMARY

The hate that shames us
By Julie Burchill
The Guardian (weekend supplement)
December 6, 2003

"... As I said last week, I have come to believe – looking at how anti-semitism is the only form of racial prejudice that unites both left and right, from the KKK to the PLO – that loathing the Jews is more about the personal than the political, despite the phoney, anticolonial cant of the anti-Zionists. For instance, I've noticed that some people use the Jews as a sort of warped magic mirror, accusing them of things that they themselves are obviously guilty of. When the Old Etonian Tam Dalyell claimed that there was in this country a Jewish "cabal" of politicians wielding disproportionate influence, did he not consider the fact that, since time immemorial, the country has been run by overprivileged public schoolboys such as himself, allowing barely a look-in for equally (or, perish the thought, more!) electable and capable citizens of working-class origin?

... Then there is Tom Paulin, he of the Ulster Protestant heritage... you've got to wonder if his refusal to see anything wrong with the murder of American Jews who settle in Israel means that he'd be equally sanguine if his relatives in Northern Ireland were murdered by looners whose nationalist creed dictated that Ulster Protestants were asking for it by settling in a country not "theirs".

... Attacks on Jews in this country [the UK] have risen by 75% this year; and since 2000, there has been a 400% increase in attacks on synagogues... To contemplate the thought processes of such individuals makes any decent person want to wash their hands until the slime of hypocritical hatred is swept away. But when whole sections of society peddle such lies, it's scarier still. And when carriers of the disease are shielded by those who govern us, you start to believe the lunatics have taken over the asylum: the EU's racism watchdog recently suppressed a report on the rise of anti-semitism because it concluded that Muslims were behind many incidents. What sort of world do we live in, when racism is "allowed" to be reported only if it comes from the white and the right? What about a stubborn, shimmering little thing called truth? ..."

(The full article is at www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,1099727,00.html )

 

"SHE WILL BE MISSED LIKE ACNE"

This is the kind of letter that The Guardian printed from its readers in response to Burchill's articles on Israel -- TG

Guardian Letters, December 2003

Hooray! What excellent news that Julie Burchill is returning to work for Rupert Murdoch. I guess her communist principles helped in making that decision. She will be missed, like acne. Her contribution to reasoned discussion will undoubtedly be recorded in the annals for posterity, an achievement similar to Herod's contribution to baby-sitting.

Sean Finlay
Wilmslow, Cheshire


Osama Bin Laden praises Robert Fisk (& other items)

November 04, 2004

CONTENTS

1. The Guardian helps swing Ohio
2. Leah Levin, child Holocaust survivor, murdered in Tel Aviv with Danish help
3. Jewish groups protest to the Danish government
4. Osama Bin Laden praises British-Irish journalist Robert Fisk


[Note by Tom Gross]

All these items are follow-ups to previous dispatches on this email list.

THE GUARDIAN HELPS SWING OHIO

[This is an update to the two dispatches titled Operation Guardian of October 21, 2004.]

In 2000, residents of Clark County, Ohio, voted for Al Gore by a margin of 1% (324 votes).

Following the combined letter-writing efforts of Guardian readers (“Operation Clark County”) to persuade locals to vote against Bush, there was a significant swing to President Bush this time in Clark County, by a margin of 2.4%.

To paraphrase the front-page claim of the British tabloid Sun newspaper headline about the British election that helped Margaret Thatcher stay in power, “It was The Sun wot won it!” (for Mrs. Thatcher), some are now suggesting in connection with the 2004 US presidential election: “It was The Guardian wot won it!”

 

LEAH LEVIN, 67

[This is an update to the dispatch of November 2, 2004, titled Danish NGO helped fund yesterday's Tel Aviv suicide bomb.]

One of those killed in the market, Leah Levin, was a child survivor of the Holocaust.

She had not only suffered terrible traumas during the war, but Levin, 67, a resident of Givatayim (near Tel Aviv), discovered only four years ago that her brother had survived the Holocaust, in which most of their family had been murdered. She was able to celebrate her birthday for the first time four years ago because of the data gleaned from her brother, whom she thought to have been killed in the Holocaust.

On Monday, she went to purchase a few food items at the Carmel Market and was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber whose attack was co-funded by a Danish NGO.

 

PROTESTING TO THE DANISH GOVERNMENT

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (whose senior directors are all long-time subscribers to this email list) tells me they have now protested to the Danish government as a result of my dispatch.

Here is their press release, sent yesterday from their European office in Paris:

Wiesenthal Centre to Danish Prime Minister: “Support to Terror a Stain on Denmark’s Record and Grounds for Judicial Measures Under International Law”
Paris, November 3, 2004

In a letter to Denmark’s Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Liaison expressed outrage at “Rebellion,” a Danish Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) donation, only two weeks ago, of 50,000 Danish Kronor ($8,500) to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which proudly claimed credit for Monday’s suicide attack in a Tel Aviv market, resulting in three deaths and thirty-five wounded.

Shimon Samuels stated that: “The PFLP, founded by George Habash, notorious for his “paternity” of civilian airplane hijacking, has been involved in mass indiscriminate murder since the 1960’s, in direct coordination with PLO leader Yasser Arafat.”

Denmark’s leading daily, Politiken, quotes ‘Rebellion” – an NGO with apparent support in the Danish Parliament – as “having no regrets about its donation,” nor its obscene complicity in endorsing the incitement of a sixteen year old child to join a mindless cult of death.

Samuels continued: “Mr. Prime Minister, Denmark once extolled the values of the preservation of life in saving its wartime Jewish community from the Nazi occupant, and, in campaigning for the rights of the child in international arenas.”

The letter emphasized that: “Not only is the direct support for terror, in this case by a juvenile perpetrator, a moral stain on Denmark’s record, it is probably legally actionable under European Union provisions, and, grounds for judicial measures by the victims under international law.”

The Centre urged the Danish Prime Minister “to ban ‘Rebellion,’ to publicly condemn its involvement in the chain of terror from endorsement to funding, and to invite the families of the victims and survivors to Copenhagen for an expression of national sympathy and remorse.”

 

BIN LADEN SINGLES OUT FISK FOR PRAISE

The full transcript of Osama Bin Laden's pre-U.S. election speech has now been released by the Al Jazeera TV network, and can be read in full in English at:
http://english.aljazeera.net/English/archive/archive?ArchiveId=7403

Al Jazeera reports:

Monday November 1, 2004, 16:01 Mecca Time, 13:01 GMT

“Following is the full English transcript of Usama bin Ladin’s speech in a videotape sent to Aljazeera. In the interests of authenticity, the content of the transcript, which appeared as subtitles at the foot of the screen, has been left unedited...”

Bin Laden says: “And you can read this, if you wish, in my interview with Scott in Time Magazine in 1996, or with Peter Arnett on CNN in 1997, or my meeting with John Weiner in 1998. You can observe it practically, if you wish, in Kenya and Tanzania and in Aden. And you can read it in my interview with Abdul Bari Atwan [of BBC radio], as well as my interviews with Robert Fisk. The latter is one of your compatriots and co-religionists and I consider him to be neutral.”


Here are two of my previous dispatches about Robert Fisk:

HOLOCAUST REVISIONIST DAVID IRVING PRAISES ROBERT FISK

[From dispatch of April 30, 2004]

The Daily Telegraph diary reported yesterday (April 29, 2004) that when The Independent asked extreme right-wing historian David Irving for a quote about his plans for a lecture tour of Britain, he replied: “I will be happy to assist any journalist on the newspaper that publishes Robert Fisk.”

[Fisk, who is The Independent of London’s Chief Middle East Correspondent, and has been voted journalist of the year in the UK, is an extremist critic of Israel, but is much admired by people who term themselves liberals in Britain, the US and the Middle East.]

 

THE DANGERS OF FISKING

From: “Tom Gross”
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2003
Subject: ‘The Dangers of Fisking’

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach an essay on Robert Fisk published today in The Spectator magazine (London) by the eminent scholar (and subscriber to this email list) David Pryce-Jones. For those of you who are not familiar with Fisk, he is in a class of his own among European journalists when it comes to his hatred of America and Israel.

Although Fisk is actually a news reporter (he is the chief Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper of London), he rarely shies away from expressing his opinions in his news reports.

Last year, after some Taliban beat him up, he wrote, “I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.”

In the past year alone, Fisk has called Ariel Sharon a war criminal in no fewer than seven articles.

As Pryce-Jones writes, “About a dozen times over the past year Fisk has written that in 1983 Donald Rumsfeld met Saddam Hussein, and this is enough to make the United States responsible for Saddam’s crimes. The corpses in the mass graves of Iraq are the result of ‘American encouragement’.”

Fisk’s articles are reprinted in publications and Internet sites all over the Arab world. Fisk is regularly invited to lecture at American universities, where he is held in esteem reserved second only to the late Edward Said, for his particular brand of Middle East analysis.

But among those who are more interested in accuracy, as Pryce-Jones says, “a new word has appeared: ‘fisking’, meaning the selection of evidence solely in order to bolster preconceptions and prejudices.”

In Fisk’s opinion “If ever a sword was thrust into a military alliance of East and West, the Israelis wielded that dagger.”

For Fisk, President Bush and his men have fallen into the hands of the Jews... “the Perles and the Wolfowitzes and the Cohens” ... the “very sinister people hovering around Bush.”

As Pryce-Jones points out, “Fisk warned that the United States was going the way of Hitlerism, no less. The department of homeland security, in another example of fisking running away with grammar and meaning, has ‘Teutonic roots’ because Homeland translated as Heimat in the Third Reich. As for ‘Shock and awe’, that was ‘a classic slogan from the old Nazi magazine Signal’.”

-- Tom Gross

 

FULL ARTICLE

THE DANGERS OF FISKING

The Dangers of Fisking
The Spectator
November 15, 2003

David Pryce-Jones accuses the Independent journalist Robert Fisk of hysteria and distortion in his reporting on the Middle East.

In the www arena where the world speaks invisibly to itself, a new word has appeared: ‘fisking’, meaning the selection of evidence solely in order to bolster preconceptions and prejudices. Just as cardigans or mackintoshes are named after an inventive individual, so fisking derives from the work of Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent of the Independent, stationed these many years in Beirut.

The preconceptions and prejudices that are immortalising Fisk in the English language express an unqualified contempt for America. For him, most Americans are ignorant and arrogant, and their leaders mendacious and cynical power maniacs leading everyone to perdition. Everything wrong with the Middle East is particularly their fault. About a dozen times over the past year Fisk has written that in 1983 Donald Rumsfeld met Saddam Hussein, and this is enough to make the United States responsible for Saddam’s crimes. The corpses in the mass graves of Iraq are the result of ‘American encouragement of Saddam and treachery’. Supporting the military regime in Algeria, in another instance of their perfidy, the Americans must also be responsible for the 100,000 or more murdered there in the civil war.

Most unforgivably, they are also friends of Israel. Fisk has fits at the very idea of that. All administrations in Washington are bad, but, in the first place, President Bush and his men belong to the ‘failed lunatic Right’ and in the second place they have fallen into the hands of the Jews. Advisers such as Kenneth Adelman ‘have not vouchsafed their own religion’, but together with ‘the Perles and the Wolfowitzes and the Cohens’ they are ‘very sinister people hovering around Bush’. The whole lot of them drive what Fisk calls ‘the American-Israeli war’. For fear that their own soldiers will be arrested for what they do in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States shuns the International Criminal Court. By my count, in the course of the past year Fisk has called Ariel Sharon a war criminal in no fewer than seven articles. In about 15 articles over the past year, he further assures us that the Iraq war is really all about oil. How that squares with American-Israeli conspiracy is not clear.

Fellow leftists by the million paddle about in this swamp of unreason. What makes Fisk conspicuous is his self-righteousness. The content and style of his writing proclaim that in his own eyes he is not really a reporter but the repository of truth. Other journalists are not up to their task; they are ‘nasty little puffed-up fantasy colonels’, warmongering collaborators of the wicked American-Israelis. He alone has the calling and the courage to reveal the evil rampant everywhere. Woe, woe, saith the preacher. Fisking is evangelical missionary work.

At the time of the first Gulf war in 1991 Fisk promised that the American-led coalition would end in doom, and deserved to. The formidable Iraqi army would never be dislodged from Kuwait. A riot unexpectedly broke out in Jerusalem, leading to loss of life when Israeli police opened fire. All was lost, including Fisk’s grammar and meaning: ‘If ever a sword was thrust into a military alliance of East and West, the Israelis wielded that dagger.’ To the very end, Fisk was predicting all manner of military and political disasters, none of which came true, or had any chance of doing so. The Iraqi army simply went home, as sane men do in such circumstances.

In the 1990s he interviewed Osama bin Laden and found himself in the presence of a great man and a great danger. One proof of this was the publicity posters printed in Urdu that bin Laden thoughtfully presented to him. On another occasion some Taleban roughed him up, and Fisk commented, in an example of the missionary praising the pot he will be boiled in, ‘I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.’

By November 2002, American officials and the men behind them who didn’t vouchsafe their religion were evidently hell-bent on having the second Gulf war, and it was high time to fulminate against them from the pulpit. Several American universities invited him to lecture in the lull before the storm. After one television appearance in Texas, a redneck cameraman showered him with four-letter words, which was harder to apologise for than the Taleban assault earlier. Unexpectedly, Osama bin Laden attacked Israeli tourists in Kenya, and put out a videotape ideal for fisking. ‘I am frightened by the implications of this tape,’ Fisk exclaimed. Al-Qa’eda was now against Israel, and they were ‘ruthless, highly motivated ...more than a match for Israel’s third-rate intelligence men’. Any strike against al-Qa’eda would be seen as an Israeli strike. Ariel Sharon had walked into a trap, and the Jews would be taking everyone else down with them. Washington and London hadn’t yet realised that they were losing the initiative and that bin Laden was writing the script.

In this fresh mood of despair, Fisk warned that the United States was going the way of Hitlerism, no less. The department of homeland security, in another example of fisking running away with grammar and meaning, has ‘Teutonic roots’ because Homeland translated as Heimat in the Third Reich. As for ‘Shock and awe’, that was ‘a classic slogan from the old Nazi magazine Signal’. On at least five occasions - by my count again - he has inveighed against the likely use of depleted uranium shells, which allegedly cause cancer on a genocidal scale. There would naturally be censorship of journalists, puffed-up fantasy colonels though they were. The press centre set up in Qatar had the purpose of keeping them away from the facts. CNN had issued a document entitled ‘Reminder of Script Approval Policy’, and the keywords in it were ‘approve’ and ‘authorise’. In four separate articles, Fisk emphasised how in the course of his missionary vocation he had closely inspected burnt or disfigured corpses. Bush had avoided military service, and neither he nor Blair could have any idea of the horrors he bore witness to. In three articles he was to bring up the fate of British soldiers who surrendered to the Turks in the first world war, and in two further articles he waxed sorrowful over local British war cemeteries. Ignominy and burial now awaited another expeditionary force.

From mid-March to the end of April this year, Fisk was in Baghdad. He took proper precautions to equip himself with flak jacket and gas mask, and to buy stores for the coming emergency, imparting reassuring news about his candles, biscuits and 25 loo rolls. He further informed us that he was reading a biography of Sir Thomas More, a man so self-righteous that he went to the stake for it. The implicit comparison was not lost.

And then, on 19 March, the Americans began ‘acting out their rage’. Just five days later, he was quoting an Iraqi general already speaking of quagmire. For Fisk, ‘Things are going wrong. We are not telling the truth. The Iraqis are riding high.’ Cruise missiles were falling in all the wrong places. On 1 April he was wondering ‘Where, for heaven’s sake, is all this going?’ The siege of Baghdad would need a quarter of a million men, and it was ‘fading from the diary’. Next day he was even more distraught. The Iraqi army was prepared to defend its capital. ‘How, I kept asking myself, could the Americans batter their way through these defences?’

On 6 April, when a rival daily newspaper already had the headline, ‘Endgame in Baghdad’, Fisk was maintaining that the battle for Baghdad ‘promises to be both dirty and cruel’. The Americans were claiming to be in the inner suburbs, ‘which was untrue’. He was concentrating instead on a cloud of white smoke from a building which ‘must have’ contained the depleted uranium aerosol spray that causes cancers. The deaths of three journalists prompted him to ask whether this was not deliberate murder by the Americans. ‘Something very dangerous appeared to be getting loose.’

Sensible men as ever, the Iraqi army had in fact gone home, once more unnoticed by Fisk, and in the streets American marines were helping Iraqis to pull down a prominent statue of Saddam. This prompted Fisk to write that Saddam was ‘our’ man, and ‘metaphorically at least, we annihilated him. Hence the importance of all those statue-bashing mobs, of all that looting and theft.’ This example of fisking is not easily open to interpretation, but appears to insinuate that in overthrowing Saddam we are somehow overthrowing ourselves. That day too, Fisk lamented that soon Iraq would have relations with Israel, and ‘a real Israeli embassy’ - as opposed to the hidden one of the Wolfowitzes and Cohens.

Immediately after Saddam’s downfall, without missing a beat, Fisk was more alarmist than ever. ‘America’s army of “liberation” is beginning to seem an army of occupation.’ From now on, the word liberation, like the word democracy, carried obligatory scare quotes. In his eyes, the looting of the Museum of Archaeology was a conflict of ‘poor Shia and rich Sunnis’, and ‘by failing to end this violence - by stoking ethnic hatred through their inactivity - the Americans are now provoking civil war.’ Fisking is adaptable in order to show that whatever Americans do or don’t do leads to the self-same damnation.

Towards the end of April, Fisk seems to have abandoned his gas mask and loo rolls for a well-deserved rest from his mission. Returning after a month or so, he found alcohol, Internet cafés and prostitution. In the new Iraqi press ‘you can say what you like about anyone. Isn’t that freedom?’ Borrowing from the biography of Sir Thomas More, he castigated Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim as ‘a man for all seasons’, ready either to resist or to collaborate with Anglo-American ‘democracy’ according to expediency. It was bad luck for Fisk that the ayatollah and 122 of his followers were afterwards the victims of a savage bombing by unknown Iraqis, and even that was not outrageous enough to provoke inter-communal violence. The looting of ancient Sumerian sites has been going on for four millennia, but at the beginning of June Fisk visited these ruins to detect and to trumpet ‘one of the most terrible cultural crimes of recent history’. Americans were naturally to blame. Robbers were only satisfying the appetite of rich collectors in New York.

After another break, Fisk was back in Baghdad in July, in time for the shoot-out in which Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed. The dead men, in Fisk’s initial reaction, ‘were said to bear an impressive resemblance to Uday and Qusay’. The city of Baghdad burst into cheering at the news, but Fisk held that everybody was asking for proof that the brothers were dead. The Americans duly published photographs; whereupon Fisk changed tack and said that ‘ghoulish wasn’t the word for it’. Publication of these photographs was likely to prove ‘a historic mistake of catastrophic proportions’. The real story of that moment was the failure of the Iraqi ‘interim’ government to choose a leader.

Fisk’s third stay in Baghdad lasted from the end of August to late September. Fisking involves both commission and omission. Once again, he reported nothing from Kurdistan, nothing about the return of the Marsh Arabs to their immemorial home. A journey to Basra provided a single story designed to show that the editor and publisher of a new paper there was a stooge who would give no trouble. Nothing about the new central bank, the opening of lines of credit or the currency reform. Nothing about goods and services, or supplies to hospitals. Nothing about markets. Nothing about private lives. Not a single interview with American officials or Iraqis trying to reconstruct their country. Nothing about Ahmad Chalabi. Fisk seems only to have haunted the prison of Abu Ghraib and the mortuary of Yarmouk hospital, exclusively searching for American brutality.

At present, a decent future for Iraq hangs in the balance. The Americans hope to create some suitable form of democracy or at least self-rule for Iraq. Failure to do so will expose that country to the risk of civil war and anarchy, and compromise the standing of the United States in the world as well. Public opinion in the West has its part to play in determining the outcome of these dramatic events. Perverting American purposes and practices in Iraq, fisking helps to bring about the doom that it anticipates with such glee and relish. Fisk seems to have left Baghdad for the present, but no doubt he will return, or from a distance continue to corrupt the Independent with his hysteria and disinformation. The Iraqis are his real victims. One of the oldest of imperial lessons is that the missionary does the natives no favours.


Danish NGO helped fund yesterday's Tel Aviv suicide bomb

November 02, 2004

CONTENTS

1. Danish NGO helped fund yesterday's Tel Aviv suicide bomb
2. The vctims
3. BBC, misreporting on Israel, as usual
4. Note on yesterday's article on U.S. elections

 

** There is a note on yesterday's article about the U.S. elections (Will Jews still vote like Puerto Ricans used to?) at the end of this email.

** Follow-up to dispatch of September 19, 2004 (Moderate Muslims speak out; also warn "liberal Jews" to "wake-up"). In that dispatch I featured an article about a Dutch film presented by a Moslem Somalian refugee (Ayaan Hirsi Ali) who is now a Dutch MP. ("Refugee who became Dutch MP defies Islam with film about Koran.") She criticized the Koran's treatment of women and the continued oppression of Muslim women in Europe by Muslim authorities.

Today, the director of that film (Theo van Gogh, 47, a grandnephew of the painter Vincent van Gogh) was shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street by a Moroccan immigrant to Holland. Ayaan Hirsi Ali remains under 24-hour police protection. news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041102/ap_en_mo/netherlands_filmmaker_slain

** Another follow-up note: Sheik Zayed, lifetime (and so far only) President of the United Arab Emirates, funder of anti-Semitic activities worldwide, donor to Harvard University, and subject of several previous dispatches on this email list, died today. He received a generous testimonial on the BBC which mentioned none of the controversy surrounding his activities.


[Note by Tom Gross]

[With thanks to Michael Weinstein for drawing the "Politiken" article to my attention]

DANISH NGO HELPED FUND YESTERDAY'S TEL AVIV SUICIDE BOMB

Today's edition of Denmark's main paper, "Politiken," reports that two weeks ago, the Danish NGO "Rebellion" donated 50,000 Danish Kroners ($8,500) to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which proudly claimed responsibility for yesterday's Tel Aviv suicide bombing. This NGO is supported by a number of members of the Danish Parliament. The PFLP is a faction within Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization.

Even those of you on this list who don't understand Danish (presumably, most of you) may like to take a look at Politiken webpage from late last night reporting this story under the title "Dansk støtte til terrorbevægelse bag bombeaktion." (Unlike most European news media, this newspaper uses the word "terror.")

www.politiken.dk/visArtikel.iasp?PageID=343129

 

"NO REGRETS"

Following yesterday's bomb, reports Politiken, a leader of the NGO was asked if they now had any regrets about the donation. The reply was "no."

The bomber, who turned 16 just four months ago, was the youngest ever "successful" suicide bomber.

Palestinian dignitaries have condemned the choice of bomber because of his age but not the fact he murdered three people (two women and a man) shopping in the (crowded, working class, open-air, Carmel) market and wounded over 40 others.

The blast knocked over vegetable and fruit stalls and splattered blood and body parts over the narrow enclosed street in central Tel Aviv.

Samira Abdullah, the bomber's mother, told the Associated Press: "It's immoral to send someone so young. They should have sent an adult who understands the meaning of his deeds."

 

THE VICTIMS

Those murdered yesterday were Shmuel Levy, 65; Leah Levine, 67; and Tatiana Ackerman, 32.

Two of the three dead were pensioners. Twenty of the injured are still in hospital. Some have severe wounds.

 

OTHER EUROPEAN POLITICIANS BLAME THE JEWS FOR GETTING THEMSELVES MURDERED AND MAIMED

Shortly after yesterday's murders of Israeli shoppers, a visiting delegation of European politicians condemned not the PLO, but Israel for creating these "martyrs" – as the Spanish Member of Parliament representing the group called the terrorists.

 

BBC, MISREPORTING ON ISRAEL, AS USUAL

The BBC and others have incorrectly reported that yesterday's was the first suicide attack since the double bus bombing in Beersheba in August.

In fact, the September Jerusalem bus stop bomb (carried out by Arafat's al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade) killed two Israelis and wounded many others. For more details, see the dispatch of September 24, 2004 titled On bus bombs and bystanders.

There have also been dozens of other suicide bomb attempts since August, which Israel has prevented.

-- Tom Gross



NOTE ON YESTERDAY'S ARTICLE ON U.S. ELECTIONS

Thank you to all those who wrote, both favorably and critically, in response to yesterday's dispatch on the U.S. elections: Will Jews still vote like Puerto Ricans used to?

I regret that I will not have time to reply to all of you individually.

Norman Podhoretz, a long time subscriber to this email list, and for many years the Editor-in-Chief of Commentary magazine (and now Commentary's Editor-at-Large), points out:

"You are unfair in suggesting that there may have been something 'racist' about Milton Himmelfarb's crack, which first came in an article in Commentary. It was solidly based on data showing that Episcopalians were then the richest religio-ethnic group in America, and that Puerto Ricans were more heavily Democratic than any other ethnic group."

Several other subscribers have also pointed out that hundreds of thousands of American Jews strongly support Bush's re-election, and are represented by many websites, such as www.jewsforgeorge.com in Michigan.

FOR COMMENTS

Those of you wish to read this article or leave comments, can do at the Jerusalem Post's website, or at other websites that have picked this up, including the two below.

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1099195316153&p=1006953079865

web.israelinsider.com/views/4325.htm

www.israelnationalnews.com/article.php3?id=4365