Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

“A family in mourning” (The BBC means the bomber’s)

February 28, 2005

CONTENTS

1. The BBC: "A family in mourning"
2. Victims of a murder
3. Ynet: Celebrations in Gaza and the West Bank
4. Former deputy IDF chief blames Sharon for the attack
5. Reuters' extraordinary twisting of the English language
6. AP: "Palestinian officials had information on bomber, but failed to act"
7. "Abbas Rejects Use of Force to Disarm Palestinian Groups" (Arab News, Feb. 20, 2005)



[Note by Tom Gross]

THE BBC: "A FAMILY IN MOURNING"

BBC1 TV news yesterday carried a clip, "A family in mourning." One might have imagined it would concern the family of one of the five victims of Friday's suicide attack in Tel Aviv, perhaps Yael Orbach, for example, who was due to be married in three weeks time.

But, true to form, the BBC's used its enormous public funds and host of reporters, to instead show the mourning of the family of the suicide bomber.

The BBC appears to think it is more appropriate to sympathetically show the perpetrator rather than the victims who were targeted for death merely for being Israeli Jews.

[Thank you to the half dozen subscribers of this email list who wrote to me about this.]

For more on the BBC's record of reporting on Israel, see "Living in a Bubble: The BBC’s very own Mideast foreign policy" www.nationalreview.com/comment/gross200406181018.asp]

 

VICTIMS OF A MURDER

I attach details of those killed in Friday's suicide attack, followed by some other information relating to that bombing.

ODELIA HOBERA, 26, from Jerusalem, died this morning in a Tel Aviv hospital as a result of horrific injuries sustained in Friday's attack. "We worked round the clock to keep her alive, but in the end we couldn't save her," a doctor at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital said earlier today.

ARYEH NAGAR, 36, grew up in a religious family in Kfar Saba. His last name Nagar, meaning carpenter, was also his profession: He made furniture. He leaves five siblings.

ITZIK BUZAGLO, 40, from the Galilee moshav of Mishmar Hayarden, and his wife Linda had come to the "Stage" nightclub on the Tel Aviv promenade to a surprise birthday party of a friend. Itzik died in the blast at the entrance to the club, while his wife Linda was critically wounded and taken to Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, where she is still receiving treatment. The couple has two children: a 9-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter.

YAEL ORBACH, 28, from Rehovot, was set to marry her boyfriend of four years, Ofir Gonen, in three weeks, She was killed in the suicide attack, while Gonen was moderately wounded and is currently hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. "My daughter was killed by base murderers at the prime of her life," Orbach's mother, Helen Solomon-Ziebinsky, said in a statement released to the press. "She was about to marry her beloved boyfriend. She was full of life, a good soul, always ready to help." Orbach had studied acting, and was working at a Tel Aviv law firm. She was buried yesterday in Kfar Saba.

RONEN RUBENOV, 28, of Tel Aviv, had come to the Stage club for a surprise party for a friend. Born in Tel Aviv, Rubenov lived on Kibbutz Tse'elim and worked on the kibbutz's dairy farm for three years. "Ronen was everything for us, he supported the entire family," his sister Orly said. "I am a single mother, and he was a father to my two children." Rubenov was buried yesterday in Holon.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION CONCERNING FRIDAY'S BOMBING

Tom Gross writes:

49 people were injured in Friday's attack. As on Monday afternoon, 22 remain hospitalized, some with severe wounds and at least one in critical condition.

The Damascus-based leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack. "The calm period with the [Palestinian] Authority was an agreement for a month and that has ended," Abu Tareq, a member of Islamic Jihad's Damascus-based political bureau, told the Associated Press.

In a videotape made prior to the attack, bomber Abdullah Badran declared that the attack was intended to do harm to the Palestinian Authority, which he said served the interests of the United States.

A local leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Tulkarm, one of the terror organizations within Fatah, told Palestinian Authority leaders that senior Hezbollah operative, Kais Obeid, recruited the suicide bomber. Hezbollah, which is funded by Iran, has hundreds of West Bank gunmen from various Palestinian groups on its payroll.

DAILY ATTEMPTS

Although some international media have made it as if Friday's attack was a "one-off" since Mahmoud Abbas (more widely known in the Middle East by his nom de guerre, Abu Mazen) was elected Palestinian president, in fact Israel has continued to prevent terror attacks on a daily basis. Last Monday, for example, Israeli security forces captured a terrorist en route to carry out an attack in Jerusalem.

CELEBRATING IN GAZA AND THE WEST BANK

Yedioth Ahronot's webiste reports that Fatah and Islamic Jihad members fired shots in the air in celebration following the attack.

ALMOST NO ACTION TAKEN

So far Israel's response to Friday's attack has been muted. But Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim said yesterday that in the absence of strong PA action, Israel might resume its policy of targeted killings of commanders and operatives of the terrorist organizations.

PA Chairman Abbas has yet to take any action against Islamic Jihad or other terror organizations.

The bombing just came five days after Israel freed 500 Palestinian prisoners in a further good-will gesture

DAYAN BLAMES SHARON FOR THE ATTACK

Former deputy IDF chief Uzi Dayan said today that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is to blame for Friday's suicide attack in Tel Aviv because he has caved into American and international pressure and failed to ensure that the West Bank separation fence had been completed.

Dayan, who heads a public pressure group advocating the construction of the fence, told a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that, had the fence been completed, the terrorist who carried out Friday's attack would not have been able to reach Tel Aviv.

-- Tom Gross

 

REUTERS' EXTRAORDINARY TWISTING OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

In its report on Friday night/Saturday morning, Reuters uses the word terror, but contrary to all norms of journalism, singles out the word in both its headline and text, placing it in quotes to imply that it does not regard Friday's act of terror as an act of terror.

[For more on this topic, see "The Case of Reuters: A news agency that will not call a terrorist a terrorist." www.nationalreview.com/issue/gross200407120846.asp]

Israel says Palestinians have failed to end "terror"
Reuters
February 26, 2005

Israel said on Friday that the Palestinians had failed to prevent "terror," after a deadly suicide bombing in Tel Aviv occurred amid attempts by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to secure a truce from militants.

"The Palestinian Authority's attempt to reach arrangements for the prevention of terror have failed, just as Israel said they would. Israel has always maintained that is impossible to maintain a dialogue with (militants)," Israeli government spokesman David Baker told Reuters.

He did not comment on whether a ceasefire declared by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Abbas was still in effect.

 

AP: "PALESTINIAN OFFICIALS HAD INFORMATION ON BOMBER, BUT FAILED TO ACT"

The Associated Press reports:

Israeli military officials said Sunday they received information a month ago that the cell behind Friday’s bombing was planning an attack and passed it along to Palestinian officials, who did nothing.

 

ABBAS REJECTS USE OF FORCE TO DISARM PALESTINIAN GROUPS

Abbas Rejects Use of Force to Disarm Palestinian Groups
By Hisham Abu Taha
Arab News
February 20, 2005

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he opposes any use of force to disarm Palestinian groups.

"We don't want conflict with the armed organizations, but agreement," he said in an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel to appear in tomorrow’s edition. The president said fighters from Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad must be integrated into the Palestinian security forces.

"After that, there will be no illegal arms, because the fighters must first hand them over," he told Der Spiegel.

Abbas also pledged that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza would be free of violence. "People will throw flowers at the Israelis, and not stones," he said. Hamas and Islamic Jihad agreed on Feb. 12 to maintain an informal truce following talks with Abbas.


Israeli woman wins Mrs. World; & Israel’s new bobsled team

+ How tomatoes prevent cancer

This is part of an occasional series of emails looking at the less political aspects of Israeli life -- Tom Gross

 

CONTENTS

1. "Israeli mother crowned Mrs World" (The Press Trust of India, Feb. 26, 2005)
2. "Mrs Israel - most beautiful married woman" (Deccan Herald, Feb. 26, 2005)
3. "Oscar-nominee Natalie Portman's kiss infuriates religious Jews" (AFP, Feb. 23, 2005)
4. "Israel's bobsled team bombs in Canada" (Media Line, Feb. 10, 2005)
5. Owner of the NFL champion New England Patriots rededicates Jerusalem stadium (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2005)
6. "'Sound of silence' is new soccer anthem" (Media Line Feb. 10, 2005)
7. "Israeli scientists explain how tomatoes prevent cancer" (Israel 21c, Jan. 30, 2005)

 




[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach seven items. The first two are news reports on the success of a 28-year-old Israeli mother, Sima Bakhar, who was crowned "Mrs. World" in the contest in India on Friday night. Bakhar defeated 40 other contestants for the diamond-studded tiara valued at $18,000.

Bakhar, an architect by profession, also bagged the "Beautiful Legs" at the Mrs World Contest. Organizers say the contest "showcases the modern married women who has imbibed style, grace, beauty and intelligence." The two runners-up were Mrs. Croatia and Mrs. New Zealand.

You can see photos of the winner and runners-up by visiting the website of the Hindustan Times (URL address below)

In this email I attach the full items, without summaries.

 




ISRAELI WOMAN IS CROWNED MRS. WORLD IN INDIA

Israeli mother, Sima Bakahr, crowned 'Mrs World'
Press Trust of India
Amby Valley (Lonavala)
February 26, 2005

www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1258750,000900040001.htm
www.hindustantimes.com/onlineCDA/PFVersion.jsp?article=http://10.81.141.122/news/181_1258750,000900040001.htm

The 28-year-old Israeli mother's simple statement that "being away from her daughter" was her biggest challenge, seems to have clinched the diamond and ruby-studded Mrs World crown for Sima Bakahr.

The 27-year-old Croatian contestant, Ivana Boce and 37-year-old Sherin Peace from New Zealand were crowned first and second runner up respectively at the beauty pageant, organised last night exclusively for married women and hosted by the Sahara group in the picturesque hill station of Lonavala in Amby Valley.

It was Bakahr, a mother of young daughter, answer at the final round that her biggest challenge at the contest was "being away from her daughter" that clinched the title and the $18,000 diamond-and-ruby studded crown.

Bakahr, an architect by profession, also bagged the "Beautiful Legs" at the Mrs World Contest, held for the first time in India.

The contest also saw the svelte beauty from New Zealand, Sherin Peace, walking away with the "Dream Body" while the Bulgarian beauty, Yana Marinova romped home with the "Beautiful Smile" title.

The Ukrainian beauty title holder, Svitlana Valova, was conferred the Beautiful Skin award. The Indian beauty Jeevika Shah also featured among the final six contestants vying for the title, but failed to make it to the last three.

Stepping out of the threshold of their homes, 41 married contestants from across the globe sashayed down the ramp, dressed in designer outfits, and amidst some melodious strains of music - all vying for the crown.

 

MRS ISRAEL – MOST BEAUTIFUL MARRIED WOMAN

Mrs Israel – most beautiful married woman
Deccan Herald
February 26, 2005

www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/feb262005/i6.asp

As Mrs Israel Sima Bakahr took centre stage to be crowned Mrs World 2005, the cameras could not stop flashing to capture the most beautiful emotion of the evening. Mrs Croatia, Ivana Brnic Boce was named the first runner-up and Mrs New Zealand Sherin Peace was the second runner-up, reports Sumaa Tekur from Amby Valley, Sahara Lake City near Mumbai.

The open air theatre against the backdrop of a 15th century fort along the Sahyadri range in Amby Valley at Sahara Lake City near Mumbai was the venue on Friday.

Chandigarh-born Jeevika Shah, India's entry to the contest made it to the final six. When asked, "What are the most important qualities essential to becoming a successful human being?" she replied, "It is necessary for a successful human being to be calm, composed, peaceful with oneself, focussed and intelligent." But what won Mrs Israel the diamond and ruby studded crown worth $18,000 was simply a mother missing her daughter.

To the question, "What was your biggest challenge in this competition?" this 28-year-old beauty who has been married for the last five years answered, "Staying away from my daughter. I am having a great time here, but my thoughts keep going back to my daughter."

The cheers and the loud applause from the very impressed audience said it all.

The judges chose Mrs Ukraine Svitlana Valova as the Dettol Beautiful Skin, and Mrs Bulgaria Yana Marinova as Duncans Beautiful Smile, while Mrs Israel was voted Most Beautiful Legs.

 

OSCAR-NOMINEE NATALIE PORTMAN'S KISS INFURIATES RELIGIOUS JEWS

Oscar-nominee Portman infuriates religious Jews over kiss scene
Entertainment News
AFP
Feb 23, 2005

Hollywood star Natalie Portman, nominated for a best supporting actress award at [yesterday's] Academy Awards, stirred a scandal over a kissing scene by Jerusalem's Wailing Wall -- the most sacred spot in Judaism, the top-selling Israeli daily said.

The Israeli-born 23-year-old, who [was nominated for] a golden statuette [yesterday] for her role in the film "Closer," was on location in Jerusalem for the shooting of "Free Zone", an Israeli-directed film, Yediot Aharonot reported.

But a kissing scene with co-actor Aki Avni in a car park next to the Wailing Wall infuriated religious Jews praying at the site, who slammed the smooch as an act of "lewdness" before chasing the pair and the crew off the set.

The paper said director Amos Gitai had not asked for permission prior to shooting the scene, but reached a compromise after the incident that he and his crew could come back to the site at a later hour.

 

ISRAEL'S BOBSLED TEAM BOMBS IN CANADA

Israel's Bobsled Team Bombs In Canada
The Media Line
February 20, 2005

If Jamaica can do it, why not Israel? Three American Jews who hold Israeli citizenship have launched a bobsled team for international competition. Midpoint in the 2005 Bobsled World Championships at Calgary, Canada, "Israel One" – as the team is known -- held 35th place out of 39 teams.

 

OWNER OF THE NFL CHAMPION NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS REDEDICATES JERUSALEM STADIUM

Kraft rededicates Jerusalem field
The Jerusalem Post
February 24, 2005

Robert Kraft may have made his most important offseason football move Wednesday night from a lush, green field in Jerusalem. The owner of the NFL champion New England Patriots re-dedicated Kraft Family Stadium in front of several hundred people, and he is hoping that history will repeat itself.

"It wasn't until we dedicated this field in '99 here in Jerusalem that we won three out of the last four Super Bowls," Kraft said in Hebrew to the delight of the assembled crowd. "I don't think it's a mere coincidence."

Kraft, who grew up in a traditional Jewish family, not only provided American Football in Israel, a 900-member flag football league, with new artifical grass, but also with a blessing. "We hope that this creates more interest in American football," he said. "Pru Urvu [Be fruitful and multiply]."

Kraft's wife Myra, who is leading an Israel mission from Boston, wants to see more females taking snaps on Kraft Field. "I hope to see more and more women's teams playing on the field," she said after autographing the backs of several young girls' shirts. "I hope that Israel does what America finally did with giving equal money to women's sports."

Shana Sprung, 19, is one of many girls who has benefited from the Krafts' generosity. "I've been playing football basically for three years already," Sprung said while taking a breather on the sideline of the women's league all-star game. "It started when we were sitting on the sideline watching the guys play, and Steve [Leibowitz] came over to us and asked us if we wanted to play. He said we may even be able to go to the Dominican Republic."

Sprung represented Israel last year in the Dominican Republic, as the national women's team finished fourth at the World Cup of Flag Football. "That was amazing," she said, and then darted back onto the field for the next play.

Leibowitz, the president of AFI, founded the league in 1988 and is looking forward to watching the sixthteenth Holyland Bowl, the league championship game, on Saturday night. "It's not the Super Bowl," Leibowitz told hundreds of fans and players. "But we've got the best Jewish players in the world."

While the Patriots were busy winning Super Bowls, AFI players were gradually improving their football skills. Moshe Shapiro, 23, knows that the league's competitiveness will only increase as a result of the improved Kraft Family Stadium.

"Before [the new turf] there were a couple of sand traps in the middle where we twisted our ankles, there were mud puddles, and general mayhem," said Shapiro, a residnt of Har Nof. "I think [the artifical grass] is unbelievable. I love it."

To begin the dedication ceremony, Kraft walked out onto the field accompanied by Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. While dozens of people encircled Kraft to get a picture of him, Netanyahu took a football in his left hand and threw it to a young boy. The ball fell short of the target.

The crowd was later treated to both the American and Israeli national anthems played by the Israeli Police Marching Band. Although most of those in attendance were from America, the crowd was considerably louder in singing Hatikva.

"In our lifetime I never thought I'd be able to feel the special ruach [spirit] of hearing the American national anthem," said Kraft. "And then hearing Hatikva game me the chills."

At the end the ceremony, Kraft hoisted the silver Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy for all to see. People rushed up to get a closer look, as some began chanting "DY-NA-STY" in reference to the Patriots' repeated succes and in gratitude to the team's owner.

 

"SOUND OF SILENCE" IS NEW SOCCER ANTHEM

'Sound of silence' is new soccer anthem
The Media Line
February 10

Spare a thought for the soccer players of Croatia. The national squad played a friendly game against Israel in Jerusalem on Wednesday night. While all soccer internationals begin with considerable panache, last night the organizers could not even manage to pump out the Croatian national anthem. Staff at the stadium had burnt the anthem onto a compact disc, but the format chosen would not play on the public-address system. So, at half time, a car was driven into the arena, the disc inserted into its stereo system, while an employee held a microphone up to the car’s speakers. And in case you were wondering, the anthem is entitled Lijepa Nasa Domovino or Our Beautiful Home.

 

ISRAELI SCIENTISTS EXPLAIN HOW TOMATOES PREVENT CANCER

Israeli scientists explain how tomatoes prevent cancer
By Allison Kaplan Sommer
Israel 21c
January 30, 2005

If you are looking for a reason to eat more pizza and pasta topped with lots of tomato sauce, you can thank Israeli researchers for providing great justification.

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have identified why it is good for us to consume large quantities of tomatoes - and say that the best way to eat them is cooked up with some olive oil and cheese.

Scientists have long believed that the carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables have a cancer preventive effect. In particular, studies have found that as the consumption of tomato products increases, risk of certain types of cancer decreases - even more so than when a variety of vegetables are eaten. Over the years, studies have found that the risk of up to ten different types of cancer can be reduced by eating tomatoes. The preventative effect is due to the lycopen, the phytonutrient which gives tomatoes their red color.

What has been a relative mystery until now is precisely why this happens. But the BGU scientists are well on the way to discovering the precise mechanism that would explain this relationship between tomato consumption and cancer prevention.

In a study published in the January 2005 issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Dr. Yoav Sharoni and Dr. Joseph Levy discuss how carotenoids, well known for their antioxidant activity, also act to prevent cancer by stimulating the body's antioxidant response element. Lycocenes, which comes from lycopen, is a member of the carotenoid family.

"Luckily, we have an established system in our body to fight carcinogens and toxins. This system is the anti-oxidant response elements, Levy said.

"Put simply - when you have toxins or carcinogens attacking the cells, our bodies turn on this system. It produces a lot of enzymes which convert these toxins and carcinogens - that can cause DNA mutations that lead to cancer – to less toxic forms by expelling them from the body through urination."

"What is new is that we have shown that the lycocenes and other family members, are the most active when it comes to turning on this antioxidant response system. Our study is focused on the mechanism of how carotenoids like lycopen successfully activate this known protective system in our body which produces the enzymes - we have found clearly that they activate this system. This is the mechanism which prevents cancer."

The clear message this research points to: Eat lots of vegetables, and particularly tomatoes. Levy says that the research clearly shows that the so-called Mediterranean diet is superior to a meat-and-potatoes regimen when it comes to maintaining health, and recommends that people consider drastically increasing their vegetable consumption.

"If you can, incorporate between five to nine portions of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet," he said.

Surprisingly, that doesn't necessarily mean consuming piles of salad. Many people believe instinctually that vegetables like tomatoes are best eaten raw for maximum benefits. But Levy says the research points otherwise.

"Many of these materials are not soluble in water, so they are badly absorbed in our gut when eaten raw and by themselves. You have to take them with some fat, some cheese or oil in salad and more of that. If you cook them, they are very stable, and if you cook them with some oil and have them as sauce or soup they are better absorbed than raw tomatoes," he said.

Levy holds the Irving Isaac Sklar Chair In Endocrinology and Cancer at BGU. He is a Professor in the university's Clinical Biochemistry Department Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University, and acts as the Head of the Endocrine Laboratory at Soroka Medical Center.

His research partner, Sharoni is also a Professor in the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, and is the past chairman of the department. Their work has received grant support from agencies including Chief Scientists of the Israeli Ministry of Health, European Community, Cap Cure, as well as from pharmaceutical and nutraceutical corporations.


YWCA says Israel is “just like Hitler”

February 25, 2005

This dispatch concerns the anti-Israel stands taken in recent days by various Christian-linked organizations, including the World Council of Churches, Christian Aid, the Church of Scotland, and YWCA -- Tom Gross

CONTENTS

1. The American YWCA fails to condemn the World YWCA statement stating Israel is "just like Hitler" (The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, Arizona, Feb. 18, 2005)
2. Gaza YMCA hosted ceremonies paying rewards to families of suicide bombers (The Guardian, London, March 13, 2003)
3. YMCA: "The one-sided media reporting is unfair to the Palestinians"
4. World Council of Churches calls for Divestment from Israel (February 23, 2005)
5. "Christian Aid" uses charity funds for anti-Israel political advertisements
6. The BBC apologizes for broadcasting an anti-Semitic blood libel by Scottish cleric John Bell, but now a senior Church of Scotland official says Bell has been made a martyr "like Jesus"

 




THE AMERICAN YWCA FAILS TO CONDEMN STATEMENT OF THE WORLD YWCA STATING ISRAEL IS JUST LIKE HITLER

[Note by Tom Gross]

Although the majority of American Christians remain strongly supportive of the state of Israel, in recent days a number of different Christian-associated bodies have shown their strong antipathy towards the Jewish state.

The timing of this new hostility may surprise some. It comes at the very moment when Israel is about to take enormous risks by withdrawing from a territory very close to its own major population centers, and which contains a still highly hostile population – a population in possession of more firearms per capita than almost any other in the world.

Israel is not being given any security guarantees for taking this risk by the Palestinian Authority or the armed groups which the PA shelters. But it is being rewarded with hostile statements and acts by some church bodies.

The National Coordinating Board of the American YWCA, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, last week failed to pass a statement condemning the report of the World YWCA that said Israel aimed to "rid themselves" of the Palestinians just as "Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews."

The report was written by Doris Pagelkopf, vice president of the World YWCA, and the American representative on the World YWCA board. It was written after she paid a pilgrimage to Yasser Arafat before he died last year. She wrote: "I strongly felt the correlation to World War II. During that war Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews and now Israelis... are trying to choke off and rid the land of Palestinians."

There is a long article about that meeting in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, which I attach at the end of this email.

 

GAZA YMCA HOSTED CEREMONIES PAYING FAMILIES OF SUICIDE BOMBERS

Tom Gross adds:

This is not the first time the YWCA has allowed itself to be used in an extremist way on behalf of Palestinian radicals. On March 13, 2003, The Guardian (London) reported, in a news item titled "Saddam funds fail to buy Gaza hearts":

"... In January, Mahmoud Jamasi strapped explosives to a raft and guided it towards the vessel off the Gaza coast... the Hamas fighter was the absent star of yesterday's gathering at the Gaza YMCA as the only suicide bomber to be honoured by President Saddam's envoys, who handed out $245,000 to the relatives of those who died recently in the intifada"

 

YMCA: "THE ONE-SIDED MEDIA REPORTING IS UNFAIR TO THE PALESTINIANS"

The World Alliance of YMCAs, based in Geneva, has also previously issued a 3,000-word report (in I believe, 2003) concluding that "the one-sided nature of the conflict demands that the YMCA take the side of the oppressed Palestinian people."

The YMCA report declared that Israel is "killing people without provocation," and using "massive force against unarmed protestors and completely innocent people, mainly women, the elderly, and children."

The YMCA report further cited "biased and one-sided media reporting on the crisis, which left the Palestinian side generally outraged."

 

WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES CALLS FOR ISRAELI DIVESTMENT

February 23, 2005

The World Council of Churches, the body representing millions of Protestant and Orthodox Christians worldwide, has called for its 347 member churches* to divest from companies profiting from "Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza."

The central committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Geneva, modeled its resolution after that passed by the Presbyterian Church (USA) last year. No specific companies have yet been named.

[* Note: "Church" refers to denominational infrastructure including all individual member churches. Presbyterian Church (USA), for example, is a single member-church, but represents individual churches throughout the United States with an aggregate membership estimated at 2.5 million Presbyterians.]

Tom Gross adds: Besides their bias, the WCC is completely out of touch. Their resolution complaining of housing demolitions comes some days after Israel announced that this practice will no longer be employed. The WCC refers to a "dividing wall," when almost all the separation barrier is in fact a chain-link fence. And so on.

The WCC press release is at
www2.wcc-coe.org/pressreleasesen.nsf/index/pr-cc-05-08.html

 

Here is the short New York Times item on this:

Church Group Hints at Mideast Divesting
New York Times
February 23, 2005

The World Council of Churches, the Geneva-based ecumenical affiliation of 347 Protestant and Orthodox denominations, has recommended to members that they give "serious consideration" to divesting from companies that aid Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The council's stance echoes that of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., which voted last summer to explore selective divestment in such corporations. The Presbyterian Church's decision created a rift with American Jewish groups.

On Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League called the Council of Churches recommendation, which is nonbinding, "a biased, one-sided interpretation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

The council's governing body, which issued the statement on Monday at a meeting in Geneva, said that "criticism of the policies of the Israeli government is not in itself anti-Jewish."

 

"CHRISTIAN AID" USES CHARITY FUNDS FOR ANTI-ISRAEL POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENTS

www.ngo-monitor.org/editions/v3n07/CAUsesCharityFundsForAntiIsraelAdverts.htm

NGO Monitor writes (24 February 2005): “Drawing upon simplistic and emotional language and imagery, a prominent advertisement from Christian Aid on the front page of The Guardian (London) sees this organization again using its considerable "charitable" resources to promote a political message focused on Israel's security barrier against Palestinian terror attacks.

On 15 February 2005, the front page of The Guardian featured a prominent advertisement from Christian Aid. At an estimated cost of approximately £4000 ($7500), Christian Aid has again used its considerable "charitable" resources to promote a political message focused on Israel's security barrier against Palestinian terror attacks.

Drawing upon simplistic and emotional language and imagery, this advertisement erases the context of this violent conflict, as was the case in CA's "Child of Bethlehem" and "Peace Under Siege" campaigns. Failing to acknowledge any Palestinian responsibility for the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Authority, Christian Aid places the blame solely on "Israel's occupation and the poverty it has created." While Christian Aid claims to have condemned Palestinian suicide bombings, this immoral 'balance' does not justify the political attacks against Israel, as documented and analyzed by NGO Monitor and repeated in this advertisement.

The one-sided text, while referring to the difficult situation in both Israel and the Palestinian territories, treats the Palestinians as "the voiceless ones" ignoring the "voiceless" Israeli victims of terror and the many lives that have been saved by the security barrier. Christian Aid claims, in dramatic and entirely unsubstantiated fashion, that Palestinian families will be "carved down the middle by the separation barrier."

In sharp contrast to its legal status as a charity, Christian Aid's advertisement in The Guardian illustrates an unchanging political agenda, even at a time of renewed hope and efforts at peacemaking in the Middle East. In contrast to the new atmosphere in the region, it appears that Christian Aid has not reevaluated its own highly partisan contribution to the hatred and violence.”

 

BBC APOLOGIZES FOR BROADCASTING ANTI-SEMITIC BLOOD LIBEL OF SCOTTISH CLERIC JOHN BELL, BUT NOW CHURCH OF SCOTLAND OFFICIALS SAY BELL HAS BEEN MADE A MARTYR "LIKE JESUS."

After Scottish cleric John Bell and the BBC both apologized two weeks ago for a BBC Radio 'Thought for the Day' session in which Bell accused the Israeli army of deliberately shooting at "unarmed [Palestinian] schoolchildren," the issue seemed closed.

But in a letter to the editor published in The (Scotland) Herald, Church of Scotland official Sandy Gemmill compares Bell to Jesus.

Gemmill writes: "Two thousand years ago there was a man in Israel who used such uncorroborated tales of Samaritans, servants, agricultural workers, sheep, weddings and the like to illustrate various controversial points. Clearly the passage of time has not dampened the enthusiasm of the Israeli authorities to speak out against such tales and take action to suppress apparent lies

"... Unfortunately, any criticism of the Israeli government is now taken as being anti-Semitic... The term should not be used to deflect unfavourable comments about the way that governments abuse their powers. The Israeli government is no different from those in authority in, for example, Great Britain and the United States. Governments are like monoliths in exercising power on behalf of the people and from time to time must be reminded of the need to see beyond their own self-centred interests to those of the human race. If an uncorroborated story concerning any member of the Israeli Army, real or imaginary, can aid that process then that should be applauded."

British Journalist Melanie Phillips, a long-time subscriber to this email list, writes:

"So faced with a libel perpetrated against the Jews, Gemmill concludes that the Jews who are protesting are trying to suppress the truth and crucify the perpetrator, just like he thinks they did to Jesus! One is aghast at this calumny piled upon calumny, at the anti-Jewish prejudice that is here revealed and at the brazen revelation of the ancient theological underpinning of this prejudice. Gemmill assumes that what Bell said was true, even though there is not a shred of evidence for it and even though his account contained two demonstrable errors of fact which should surely give any rational person grounds for suspecting that the whole thing was a farrago of nonsense."

 




FULL ARTICLE ON YWCA

ANTI-ISRAEL REPORT STANDS

Anti-Israel report stands
YWCA national board fails to condemn Witness Report
The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix (Arizona)

By Deborah Sussman Susser
Associate Editor
February 18, 2005

www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/050218/ywca.shtml

The YWCA of the USA's National Coordinating Board (NCB), which met in Phoenix from Feb. 11-13, failed to pass a statement condemning the 2004 Witness Report, a four-page account of a visit that 14 members of the World YWCA made to the Middle East last spring.

That report detailed a visit to Yasser Arafat at his compound in Ramallah and concluded that Israelis were trying to "rid the land of Palestinians" just as "Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews."

Arafat, who died Nov. 11, was the leader of the Palestinian Authority.

The YWCA of the USA is a member of the World YWCA. The YWCA of the USA is made up of local associations that are organized into regions, such as the Southwest Delta Region, to which the Maricopa County YWCA belongs.

The statement condemning the report had been adopted and put forward to the NCB by the Pacific Region of the YWCA, which includes Tucson.

Janet Marcotte, executive director of the Tucson YWCA, said the Witness Report "has been a concern to our organization for a long time. I'm surprised it hasn't come up sooner."

Sharon Bettinelli, executive director of the YWCA Berkeley, in California, echoed Marcotte's concerns. "I'm on the executive committee, so we had been dealing with this for a while," she told Jewish News by phone the day after the NCB voted against the Pacific Region's statement.

In anticipation of the NCB meeting in Phoenix on Feb. 13, Bettinelli sent the 30 members of her board copies of the Pacific Region's statement as well as the Witness Report.

"I wanted to make sure our board members knew about it," she said, "because it was very important for us to separate ourselves from what was going on. ... We have quite a number of Jewish people involved here, and we don't want them to think in any way that we support this. 'They' are 'we.' That's why it was so important for so many of us out here to try to make sure that this resolution was passed at the meetings in Phoenix."

Five members of the NCB voted for the statement, and 11 voted against. There was one abstaining vote.

According to several YWCA members and observers who attended the meeting, the substance of the statement was not discussed; after it was voted down, it was referred to the YWCA's World Relations Committee for further study.

A prior statement from the Southwest Delta Region denouncing the Witness Report was voted down and referred to the same committee at a meeting of the NCB in November. According to participants at the Feb. 13 meeting, the committee has taken no action on the Southwest Delta Region's statement.

Marcotte said she found the results of the Feb. 13 vote "astounding. Anybody outside the organization would be distressed to see that given what we say we stand for as an organization, we didn't pass this very frankly inoffensive statement and make it the policy of the YWCA of the USA."

Authored by Doris Pagelkopf, vice president of the World YWCA and the American representative on the World YWCA board, the Witness Report reads in part: "I strongly felt the correlation to World War II. During that war Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews and now a group of Israelis ... is trying to choke off and rid the land of Palestinians."

The report was distributed to members of the World Relations Committee by Pagelkopf, who is a member of that committee, and included in a link in the newsletter of the YWCA of the USA, which is where Barbara Lewkowitz, then executive director of the YWCA of Maricopa County, came across it last summer.

Lewkowitz and Maricopa County YWCA board member Abbie Beller had already been alarmed by what both described as a "lack of balance" in a resolution brought before the World YWCA by the YWCA of Palestine at a meeting in Brisbane, Australia, in 2003, which both Lewkowitz and Beller attended. The 2003 resolution called for "an end to Israeli military aggression" as well as "the immediate withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq."

The YWCA of the USA was the only national body to vote against the 2003 resolution, which was adopted by the World YWCA.

Lewkowitz, who was first interviewed by the Jewish News in November, after she resigned her position, said at the time, "I thought the resolution was untenable, but I was even more offended by the (Witness) Report."

According to Lewkowitz, she mailed a copy of the report to the members of the executive committee of the local YWCA and received no response. She said that she also asked to have the issue put on the agenda for the August board meeting and that it was not.

At that meeting, Beller resigned in protest. Interviewed by Jewish News in November, Beller expressed dismay that the board of the Maricopa County YWCA "didn't take the situation more seriously." At least one other board member later resigned as well. In her letter of resignation, a copy of which was obtained by Jewish News, she noted she was unable to reconcile her own views with the World YWCA's initiatives regarding Palestine, Israel and Iraq.

Connie Robinson, president of the YWCA of Maricopa County board of directors, said she did not attend the Feb. 13 session at which the Pacific Region's statement opposing the Witness Report was presented.

Reached by telephone the following day, Robinson said that she had not seen the statement and had no opinion on it. Asked for comment on the Witness Report, she said that she had none and that she had not read it in its entirety. She also declined to comment on the resolution on the Middle East passed by the World YWCA in 2003, saying, "I don't have anything in front of me right now. I need to refresh my memory and I don't have anything to refer to," and added that she had other priorities.

Prior to the NCB meeting this past weekend, the directors of the Jewish Community Relations Councils of the Jewish federations in both Phoenix and Tucson, in conjunction with the YWCA of Tucson, invited Peggy Sanchez Mills, the CEO of the YWCA of the USA, and members of the YWCA's national board to meet with members of the Jewish community while they were in Phoenix for the NCB gathering.

Josh Protas, director of the Southern Arizona JCRC, said that Sanchez Mills declined to meet in person, but offered to arrange a conference call.

Both Protas and Michelle Steinberg, director of the Greater Phoenix JCRC, declined to participate in a conference call, saying in a joint statement, "We believe that a face-to-face meeting is required to begin a meaningful and productive dialogue about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and have offered to meet at a future time and place that is convenient for the leadership of the YWCA of the USA."

According to Steinberg, she tried unsuccessfully several times to arrange a meeting with Robinson and other board members of the local YWCA in the month preceding the NCB meeting.

Robinson and a small number of local YWCA board members met on Feb. 9 with President Ken Smith and Executive Director Rabbi Robert Kravitz of The American Jewish Committee regarding, in Kravitz's words, "the misunderstandings and the difficulties in (Robinson's) planning for her upcoming event."

That event is the Tribute to Women, the local YWCA's major fund-raising lunch, to be held March 2. Kravitz told Jewish News that Robinson called the AJC at the urging of one of the honorees.

Kravitz described the meeting with Robinson and her board members as "a very frank meeting of the minds, and I think the result will be positive. They told us that they would be publishing two advertisements, one in the Jewish News and one in the Arizona Republic, indicating their position."

The ad published in this week's Jewish News does not mention the Witness Report that is denounced by the statements from the Southwest Delta and Pacific regions.

Eileen Mershant, one of two NCB representatives from the Great Lakes Region who voted for the Pacific Region statement on Feb. 13, said that she did so because "it was a fairly straightforward request to simply say that the comments in the Witness Report made last summer do not reflect the views of the YWCA of the USA. And I don't believe they do."

Asked why the statement was defeated, she sighed. "I wish I had a simple answer and I don't," she said finally. "I have a feeling other things entered into it that I'm not sure I understand, because it seems pretty straightforward to me."

Mershant wondered if perhaps the voting members didn't "refresh their memories on the content of the Witness Report" prior to voting. "I have looked at (the Witness Report) again," she said, "and it was terribly one-sided. It just simply would have been a far clearer thing to say this does not represent the views of the YWCA of the USA and make that a clear, unequivocal statement."

Mershant added her concern that because the Witness Report initially came through the World Relations Committee, which is a committee of the YWCA of the USA, "it could appear that the World Relations Committee was endorsing it."

Asked whether the World Relations Committee from which the Witness Report originally came is the same committee to which the Southwest Delta and Pacific Region statements have been returned for review, Mershant allowed that it was.

"That makes your head wonder a bit," she said. "It's kind of circular."

The resolution is scheduled to be revisited at the NCB's next meeting, in April, in Washington, D.C.

Teheran bemused as France bans anti-Semitic Iranian TV station

This is an update to several previous dispatches on this list, including:

* Iranian TV: Israelis steal Palestinian children's eyes (Dec. 23, 2004)
* France to ban "revolting" anti-Semitic TV broadcasts (Feb. 2, 2004)
* French schoolbook: "It was an exam day in the occupied West Bank" (Nov. 18, 2003)

CONTENTS

1. "France bans IRI's Sahar TV network" (Official IRIB news website, Feb. 22, 2005)
2. "Broadcast of Iranian TV Channel Sahar" (Feb. 23, 2005)
3. "Broadcast of Iranian TV Channel Jaam-E-Jam 3" (Feb. 23, 2005)
4. "France's Chirac Condemns Racism, Jews Demand Action" (Reuters, Feb. 22, 2005)

 




FRANCE ACTS, AT LAST

[Note by Tom Gross]

Responding to the latest in a long series of anti-Semitic attacks in France – the latest being last weekend's arson attack on the memorial at Drancy, where tens of thousands of French Jews, including many thousands of children, were deported to their deaths [See Note 1 below] – the French government has finally decided to try and prevent satellite television broadcasts inciting anti-Semitism among French Moslems.

Below is a news report from the website of the state-controlled IRIBnews (The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting news website).

You will see in this, as in previous transcripts, that it seems that Iranian Islamic anti-Semites – like secular Western anti-Semites – realize that it is to their advantage to use the word "Zionists" (which makes it sound like they are making a purely political point) rather than "Jews," which would expose them to more obvious accusations of racism. IRIBnews therefore refer to Jews as Zionists in their text: "The unbased allegations over gas rooms and genocide of Jews known as holocaust among Zionists."

"ZAHRA'S BLUE EYES"

The series "Zahra's Blue Eyes" – subject of a dispatch on this list titled Iranian TV: Israelis steal Palestinian children's eyes (Dec. 23, 2004) – continued to be broadcast on Sahar TV, a leading Iranian television station, from early December 2004 up to a few days ago. It depicted Israeli military and civilians (all dressed in the traditional clothing of religious Jews) conspiring to steal the eyes of Palestinian children. The series was produced by a former official of the Iranian Education Ministry. It was made in Farsi but also dubbed into Arabic for further broadcast.

The Bush administration was one of the few foreign governments to condemn the program. Additionally, 15 members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, wrote to the director of the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran to condemn the series. These included the only Holocaust survivor in congress, Tom Lantos (D-CA).

On Tuesday (February 22) Iranian TV reported that Sahar TV was told it would be banned from broadcasting in France from March 10 because of its broadcasts of "Zahra's Blue Eyes," and of "Al-Shatat."

"THE DIASPORA"

"Al-Shatat" ("The Diaspora") is a Syrian-produced film originally broadcast by Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV in Arabic but re-aired by Sahar TV in Persian for an Iranian audience one month ago. Al-Manar had also been banned in France for its airing of Al-Shatat.

As documented on this email list, "Al-Shatat" (a 30-part "mini-series" which cost $5.1 million to make) was broadcast during Ramadan last year by Al-Manar. The film is "a Syrian TV series recording the criminal history of Zionism," according to a review in the Syria Times.

Here, for example, is one episode (episode twenty) of Al-Shatat, depicting a classic medieval Christian anti-Semitic blood libel. A Rabbi, played by an Arab actor, directs a member of his synagogue to help him:

1) kidnap the son of his Christian neighbor;
2) bring the boy to the synagogue;
3) slit the boy's throat;
4) drain the boy's blood into a basin;
5) use the blood to make Passover matzoh bread;
6) serve the matzoh to the members of the synagogue.

In Episode Six, a group of rabbis in a Rome ghetto gather to torture and kill a man found guilty of marrying a non-Jewish woman. As the man screams in agony, the chief rabbi instructs his congregation: "You hold his nose shut. You, open his mouth with tongs. You pour lead into his mouth. You cut off his ears. You stab his body with a knife before the lead kills him. This is a sacred Talmudic court." The men then follow the Rabbi's orders.

Below, I attach reports on this from three different Iranian TV broadcasters, followed by a Reuters report from Paris. First there is an additional note on Alois Brunner.

-- Tom Gross

 

[Note 1] -- SS OFFICER ALOIS BRUNNER

Tom Gross writes:

The Drancy camp, just outside Paris at which many French Jews died and many more were transported on to death camps, was run mainly by French citizens. But from 1943, Eichmann's deputy, his fellow Austrian Alois Brunner, arrived to help supervise round-ups.

I mention this because Brunner is believed to be the last surviving senior Nazi alive. He is still being given protection by the Syrian regime at his comfortable home in Damascus. Germany, Israel and other countries have previously Brunner’s extradition. With Syria very much in the news at present and increasing call's for the Baath regime in Damascus to end its military occupation of Lebanon, rein in terror groups, and democratize, those government officials and advisers who subscribe to this email list from the US and elsewhere may wish to ensure that Brunner's extradition is also on the list of demands that the international community now places on Damascus.

Louis Handschuh, an elderly survivor of Drancy and Auschwitz, adds from Paris, via a subscriber to this email list in Paris who knows him: "Of course I remember Alois Brunner – I still have the scar he gave me on my head. He smashed a rock on me because I did not salute him quickly enough when we met in the courtyard."

 




FRANCE BANS IRI'S SAHAR TV NETWORK

France bans IRI's Sahar TV network
February 22, 2005

www.iribnews.ir/Full_en.asp?news_id=187740&n=35

Under pressures of Zionis [sic] lobby, French government decided to bar Iran's Sahar TV Network from broadcasting as of the tenth of March.

French and Arabic parts of Sahar TV Network has shown two anti-Zionist programs which triggered French council for monitoring media to ban broadcast of the network.

Director of the Sahar TV Network said that the network had tried to reveal the crimes of the Zionist regime as well as the unbased allegations over gas rooms and genocide of Jews known as holocaust among Zionists.

The decision by French Monitoring Council unveiled the true face of democracy in the West.

 

TRANSCRIPT OF BROADCASTS ON IRANIAN TV

Broadcast of Iranian TV Channel Sahar
February 23, 2005

Newscaster: "The French Higher Council for Radio and Television decided to cancel [the broadcasting of] Iranian Sahar TV, which belongs to the Islamic Republic of Iran, on the Hotbird satellite. This was the result of its airing the 'Al-Shatat' series and 'Zahra's Blue Eyes,' which, naturally, had various ramifications because it wanted to express the truth, to tell the truth, and to highlight the truth in everybody's minds, but not as the Zionists want. Our only crime is that we wanted to side with the oppressed. Our only crime is that we wanted to be followers of Imam Hussein's teaching, peace be upon him - Hussein who taught us, and indeed continues to teach us, how to face the aggressors."

 

"FRANCE HAS BANNED THE BROADCASTS... DUE TO ANTI-ISRAEL PROGRAMMING"

Broadcast of Iranian TV Channel Jaam-E-Jam 3
February 23, 2005

First newscaster: "Following the ban on the Al-Manar TV broadcasts in France, we see that the Sahar TV broadcasts have also been banned in a country that has claims to be free and democratic."

Second newscaster:"Yes, unfortunately... As you've said, France has banned the broadcasts of the Sahar Global network due to anti-Israeli programming. The French Higher Council for Radio and Television passed on this decision to the Eutelsat company. Sharif-Zadeh, director of the Sahar network, had this to say:"

Intervieweee, Mohsan Sharif-Zadeh, in response to a question: "Obviously, we began this trend to support the Palestinian people and to present the false foundations of the Zionist regime. Naturally, we will continue all programming as long as broadcasts have not been stopped by Eutelsat. Even afterwards we will continue our programming."

 

CHIRAC AGAIN CONDEMNS RACISM, BUT JEWS DEMAND ACTION

France's Chirac Condemns Racism, Jews Demand Action
February 22, 2005
Reuters

[Extracts of this report only included here]

French President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday condemned an attack in which swastikas were daubed on the main mosque in Paris, and faced pressure from Jewish groups to intensify the fight against anti-Semitism and all racism.

The graffiti scrawled on the outer wall of the Grand Mosque and an arson attack on a railway carriage that is now a monument to Jews killed by the Nazi Germans, were the latest in a wave of racist attacks that have alarmed Muslims and Jews in France.

... A dozen swastikas, the SS initials of Adolf Hitler's guard and the words "Get out!" were found Monday written in black paint on the outer wall of the mosque in central Paris.

... There has also been no claim of responsibility for the attack on the railway carriage at Drancy, just outside Paris.

Police said a petrol bomb was thrown at the carriage on Sunday night but it was not badly damaged. The Nazi Germans transported Jews by train from a transit camp at Drancy to death and concentration camps during World War II.

Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin condemned the Drancy attack Monday, but a Jewish leader said Tuesday French should step up its fight against anti-Semitism.

"It's true that the authorities do the maximum to fight this curse of anti-Semitism and racism, but one must fight it more intensely," Roger Cukierman, head of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organizations, told RTL radio.

He said all French people must make an effort to help prevent racist attacks.

"Public opinion must understand that these are not viewpoints but crimes which have to be punished," said Cukierman, who has criticized French sentences for anti-Semitic crimes as too light.

About 600,000 Jews live in France, the largest Jewish population in Europe. It is also home to [over] 5 million Muslims, Europe's largest Muslim minority.

Despite Chirac's drive to crack down on racist attacks, more than 300 tombs or graves have been desecrated in eastern France since April - many in Jewish cemeteries but also some Muslim and a few Christian graves...


“Patricia Roxborough,” the Mossad’s Christian superspy, buried in Israel

February 21, 2005

CONTENTS

1. “Mossad’s Christian heroine dies” (New York Post, Feb. 19, 2005)
2. Israel Harel, “The man who made the Mossad” (Past dispatch, Feb. 19, 2003)


POSING AS A CANADIAN PHOTOJOURNALIST...

[Note by Tom Gross]

"Patricia Roxborough," one of the leading female operatives in Israel's external intelligence agency, the Mossad, was this week buried in Israel. She died of cancer, aged 67. After a Christian service and cremation, her ashes were buried in a Jewish ritual on her "adopted" kibbutz, in accordance with her wishes.

Patricia Roxborough – whose real name was Sylvia Raphael – was a South African-born Christian with a Jewish father. Posing as a Canadian photojournalist, she was one of the first Mossad agents to penetrate Yasser Arafat's bases in Jordan and Lebanon in the 1960s.

She was closely involved in Israel's partially successful attempts to track down the PLO terrorists responsible for the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

There are a number of other operations she was involved in which have not been made public.

 

I attach an article below on this matter, by Uri Dan of The New York Post, who is a subscriber to this email list. Uri Dan has close links with the current prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, and is generally well informed on these matters.

I am not attaching other reports because they contain some inaccuracies. (The most obvious example of this is the statement published in the magazine of "The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs" – a pro-Arab lobby group set up retired state department officials in Washington that is taken seriously by some journalists – that Sylvia Raphael was killed in the 1980s in Limassol, Cyprus.)

Instead of attaching other articles on Roxborough / Raphael, after Dan's piece, and for the benefit of new subscribers to this list, I attach the summary of the dispatch of exactly two years ago – February 19, 2003 – titled Israel Harel, the man who became the Mossad. That dispatch concerned the life and death, age 91, in Tel Aviv, of Israel ("Little Isser") Harel, the legendary second head of the Mossad. Among other things, he was the man who brought in Buenos Aires businessman Ricardo Klement, otherwise known as Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer who presided over the "Final Solution."

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLE

"MOSSAD'S CHRISTIAN HEROINE DIES"

Mossad's Christian Heroine Dies
By Uri Dan
New York Post
February 19, 2005

www.nypost.com/commentary/40014.htm

The Mossad, Israel's spy agency, this week brought home to her final rest one of its legendary female operatives, Sylvia Raphael. Only now is it being revealed that she was one of the secret agents who penetrated the PLO bases in Jordan and Lebanon four decades ago when a little-known gang leader named Yasser Arafat was beginning his terrorist attacks.

Her story reads like ... well, like a spy novel.

Raphael was born in 1937 in South Africa to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother. That made her non-Jewish, technically, but after she and her mother read "Exodus," she became devoted to Israel and went to Tel Aviv to teach English in the early 1960s.

The Mossad spotted the tall, intelligent Raphael as a potential intelligence operative and recruited her.

After a year's training, she was sent to Paris, posing as a free-lance journalist with a Canadian passport under the name Patricia Roxburgh.

When Israel decided to hunt down the Black September terrorists who killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, she obtained information that helped commandos find and execute three of them.

Four months later, Raphael's secret career came to an end in an operation that still remains largely a mystery.

She and other agents were assigned to the Norwegian town of Lillehamer in July 1973 to eliminate Hassan Ali Salameh, the Black September operations chief. But other agents mistakenly killed another man — and Raphael was arrested in the ensuing dragnet.

She was convicted and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in jail. She married her defense lawyer, Annaeus Schjodt, behind bars.

While in prison, she was adopted by an Israeli kibbutz, Ramat Hakovesh, and she lived there briefly after her release. Then she and Schjodt lived together in Norway and South Africa.

A few months ago, cancer-stricken and in a wheelchair, Raphael returned to Ramat Hakovesh and said that's where she wanted to be buried.

And so, after her Christian cremation, her ashes were buried there in a Jewish ritual this week.

 

ISRAEL HAREL, “THE MAN WHO MADE THE MOSSAD”

(This is the introduction to a previous dispatch, from February 19, 2003.)

[By Tom Gross]

Israel (“Little Isser”) Harel, considered to be the true creator of Israel’s external intelligence agency, the Mossad, died yesterday in a Tel Aviv hospital, aged 91. (Reuven Shiloah actually set up the Mossad in 1951, but Harel than led it from 1952 and through much of the 1950s and 1960s.)

Harel was credited by Russian, American and British spy chiefs for making the Mossad one of the finest organizations of its kind in the world. In the words of today’s headline in Israel’s best-selling newspaper Yediot Ahronoth, he was “The Man who made the Mossad.”

He personally directed the two-year operation to capture Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer who presided over the “Final Solution,” and after the war had escaped to Argentina where he lived under the pseudonym “Ricardo Klement”.

 

“HE WOULDN’T EVEN HAVE CAUGHT YOUR EYE”

Moshe Tabor, the Mossad operative who captured Eichmann, said Harel played an instrumental role in the operation: “If you were in a room with Isser and a hundred other people, he wouldn’t even have caught your eye. He was small and quiet. He had a sharp ability to analyze situations and reach the right conclusions. Isser was the one who coordinated the whole Eichmann operation.”

In a television interview aired long after Eichmann’s capture in 1960, Harel said he told (then Israeli) Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion: “I have brought you a present. Eichmann is here.” Harel’s book recounting the abduction – “The House on Garibaldi Street” – became a best-seller and was turned into a Hollywood movie.

 

OBTAINING KRUSHCHEV’S FAMOUS 1956 “SECRET SPEECH”

Among his other triumphs was when he handed James Jesus Angleton, the head of the CIA’s counterintelligence division, the full text of Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev’s famous 1956 “secret speech” denouncing Stalin, a copy of which the Mossad had obtained.

Born Isser Halperin in Vitebsk, in what is now Belarus (the region in which the famed painter Marc Chagall grew up and depicted in many of his paintings), Harel moved with his family to Latvia in 1922 and to Palestine in 1929. He fought for the British against the Nazis in the 1940s, while at the same time gathering intelligence for the Haganah against the British who then controlled Palestine. He became head of Haganah intelligence in 1944, and was appointed deputy head of the Mossad in 1952.

 

WOLFGANG LOTZ, THE “CHAMPAGNE SPY” OF CAIRO

Among the agents under Harel’s command were:

* Shula Cohen, the so-called “Mata Hari of the Middle East,” who ran Mossad operations in Beirut in the 1950s and 60s
* Elie Cohen, whose information was critical in helping Israel win the Six Day War, and who was hanged in Damascus after being caught
* Wolfgang Lotz, the so-called “Champagne spy,” who lived in Cairo and befriended many senior Egyptian army officers. Lotz, who was born in Mannheim, Germany, and was partly Jewish but not circumcised, also took an Israeli name: Ze’ev Gur-Aryeh

-- Tom Gross


London’s mayor still refuses to apologize for “Nazi remark”

February 18, 2005

* Finally, Tony Blair asks London's mayor to apologize for his 'Nazi remarks'

This dispatch is mainly designed for subscribers to this email list who live in North America. The mainstream liberal media there, such as The New York Times, have all but ignored this story – the third serious instance of anti-Semitism this month by senior members of Tony Blair's ruling Labour party in Britain. Given their track record, the reluctance of The New York Times to cover this story is no doubt connected to the fact that the Labour Party is a left-leaning party, and not on the far right. There have been dozens of articles on this matter over the past eight days in Britain, Israel, and elsewhere.

[I have kept various spellings in this dispatch in the original British English.]

 

CONTENTS

1. "London mayor calls Jewish reporter 'war criminal'" (Reuters, February 11, 2005)
2. "Blair Seeks Mayor's Apology Over Nazi Remark" (AP, February 17, 2005)
3. "London's mayor irks Jewish groups" (Washington Times, February 16, 2005)
4. "Livingstone ignores Blair demand for apology over Jewish slur" (London Times, February 17, 2005)
5. "Holocaust survivor demands apology from mayor" (The Guardian, February 10, 2005)



THE MAYOR TELLS A JEW HE SHOULD BE AT A CONCENTRATION CAMP

[Note by Tom Gross]

Over a week ago (on February 10), London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, when told by a journalist from the city's main newspaper (the Evening Standard) that he was Jewish, compared that journalist to a Nazi concentration camp guard. (The reporter was not interviewing the mayor on any issue connected to Jewish matters at the time the remark was made.)

The remarks by Livingstone – a member of Tony Blair's ruling Labor Party – came only a few days after the Labour Party was widely criticized for launching its re-election campaign with anti-Semitic posters depicting the leader of the opposition Conservative party, Michael Howard (who is of Jewish origin) as a grotesque Fagin or Shylock-like figure. (The UK general election will likely take place in early May.)

WHY NO REPORTING IN THE NEW YORK TIMES?

I have not reported on either of these matters on this email list until now because - even with their poor record of highlighting the anti-Semitism that is now rife among sections of elitist "liberal" society in western Europe and elsewhere - I expected the mainstream American liberal media to do so.

They have not, however, done so. (The New York Times website finally carried an Associated Press report on the Livingstone story yesterday, but as you can see from, the Reuters report attached below, the Times editors have in fact been aware of this for over a week. Those newspapers in the US, which are not left-leaning, such as The Washington Times, have reported on the matter. The New York Times has a far larger staff and resources, and a greater number of news pages, than the Washington Times.)

The controversy has been reported on in European papers and in Israel, and remains front-page news in the UK, where Tony Blair took almost a week to call on Livingstone to apologize.

BLAIR EXPLOITS ANTI-SEMITISM IN A GRAB FOR VOTES

According to some observers, Blair is making a blatant bid to tap into revived anti-Semitic sentiment among a slice of the British population and in particular among British Muslims who live in marginal constituencies and are supposedly angry with Blair for his support of the Iraq war. (There are at least 13 marginal parliamentary seats in which the Muslim vote could swing the result of the election, and seven seats where the Muslim vote registers at more than 25 per cent of the electorate. There are about 280,000 Jewish people in the UK, and about 1.8 million Muslims.)

Livingstone's remarks came just hours after a report was released showing anti-Semitic attacks in Britain had reached their highest level in modern times. Violent assaults against British Jews rose by 54 per cent last year.

LIVINGSTONE'S DEFENDERS IN THE UK MEDIA

Mayor Livingstone – who last year embraced an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who had said Israeli Jews should be killed – has been condemned by many commentators in the British press.

But the mayor has been also defended by some British media commentators. They include Albert Scardino in the Guardian, Johann Hari in the Independent, and Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph.

Scardino, who yesterday called Livingstone "colourful," is an executive editor of the left-leaning Guardian newspaper.

Hari called Livingstone "cheeky" and said his "supposed anti-Semitism" had been "distorted." He said the remarks to the Jewish reporter were "a bit of a cheap shot." "Crude? Yes. Anti-Semitic? Don't be silly," wrote Hari.

Johnson called the mayor's remarks a "a non-story" in an article in yesterday's conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph, titled "Whatever you do, Ken, don't apologise."

"Any apology... would be a surrender to ... bullying," added Johnson. (Johnson is editor of the Spectator, a rightist weekly political magazine that has recently carried a number of anti-Semitic references in its pages. He is also a columnist for The Daily Telegraph and a Conservative MP.)

CALLS TO RESIGN

Other British journalists, such as Melanie Phillips (a subscriber to this email list), have called on Livingstone to resign. "The Qaradawi affair proved it; now this ouburst reinforces it. The Mayor of London is not fit for public office," she wrote.

The deputy mayor of London, who is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, has strongly criticized the mayor.

Livingstone denies he is an anti-Semite and said his remarks were aimed at the Evening Standard, a newspaper that has been critical of his policies. But, as the Guardian revealed yesterday, Livingstone actually earned a total of £32,657 (about $60,000) from the Evening Standard between June 1998 and February 2000 for restaurant reviews.

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

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

A WEEK OLD, BUT NEW YORK TIMES IS NOT STILL NOT INTERESTED

[I attach this article, which is over a week old, and was released by Reuters news agency on their worldwide news wire, as an example of how newspapers like The New York Times could have covered this story a week ago, but chose not to – TG]

"London mayor calls Jewish reporter "war criminal"" (Reuters, February 11, 2005).

London's outspoken Mayor Ken Livingstone refused to apologise for comparing a Jewish newspaper reporter to a war criminal and concentration camp guard, despite complaints from Britain's main Jewish group. "Were you a German war criminal?" the Evening Standard quoted Livingstone as saying on a tape recording of the exchange with its reporter Oliver Finegold. When the journalist said he was Jewish and was offended by the mayor's remarks, Livingstone replied: "Actually you are just like a concentration camp guard." ... A frequent, outspoken critic of Israeli policy, Livingstone has denied in the past that he is anti-Semitic. A report released on Thursday said violent anti-Semitic attacks in Britain had reached record levels, prompting calls by Jewish leaders for more to be done to protect their community.

 

TONY BLAIR TAKES ALMOST A WEEK TO DEMAND AN APOLOGY

[I attach this article to show it took almost a week for Tony Blair to call on the mayor, a member of his Labour Party, to apologize – TG]

"Blair Seeks Mayor's Apology Over Nazi Remark" (The Associated Press, February 17, 2005).

Prime Minister Tony Blair urged London's mayor on Wednesday to apologize for an offensive remark made to a Jewish journalist comparing him to a Nazi concentration camp guard. Mr. Blair said he did not believe that the comment by the mayor, Ken Livingstone, was meant to be anti-Semitic, or that it should jeopardize his job. But the prime minister urged the mayor to say he was sorry. "A lot of us in politics get angry with journalists from time to time, but in the circumstances, and to the journalist because he was a Jewish journalist," Mr. Blair said on television. "Yes, he should apologize. Let's just apologize and move on - that's the sensible thing."

Mr. Livingstone's comment coincided with the release of a new report showing that the number of anti-Semitic attacks in Britain rose sharply to record levels in 2004... In January, Prince Harry, 20, third in line to the British throne, caused an uproar by attending a costume party in London wearing a swastika armband.

... For several days, Mr. Livingstone has turned down requests for an apology from Jewish and Holocaust groups, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and the London Assembly.

 

LONDON'S OLYMPIC BID "COULD BE HARMED"

[I attach this article as an example of how smaller-circulation conservative leaning newspapers such as the Washington Times reported this story, while the New York Times which has ignored the issue – TG]

"London's mayor irks Jewish groups"(By Al Webb, The Washington Times, February 16, 2005).

The mayor of London has infuriated Jewish leaders and Holocaust survivors in Britain by accusing a Jewish reporter of acting like a Nazi concentration camp guard, and then refusing to apologize for the anti-Semitic jibes.

... The defiant mayor, Ken Livingstone, sometimes known as "Red Ken" for his socialist politics, rejected growing demands that he retract the accusations he leveled at reporter Oliver Finegold, insisting his comments were not racist and that he had no intention of withdrawing them.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews immediately lodged a formal complaint with the Standards Board of England, a local government watchdog that has the power to ban Mr. Livingstone from holding public office for five years if he is found guilty of misconduct.

... The furor began at a party in honor of one of Mr. Blair's Labor members of Parliament who was celebrating 20 years of "coming out" as a homosexual. Mr. Finegold, a reporter for the London Evening Standard, asked the mayor how the festivities were going.

"What did you do before?" asked Mr. Livingstone. "Were you a German war criminal?" To which the reporter replied, "No, I'm Jewish, I wasn't a German war criminal and I'm, actually quite offended by that. So how did tonight go?"

"All right, well, you might be [Jewish]," the mayor said, "but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard. You are doing it just because you are paid to, aren't you?" Mr. Livingstone said... Mr. Livingstone dismissed any suggestion that the uproar could harm London's Olympics bid, and suggested that his actions in standing up for his beliefs might even impress the visiting inspectors...

 

LIVINGSTONE IGNORES BLAIR'S DEMAND FOR AN APOLOGY

"Livingstone ignores Blair demand for apology over Jewish slur" (London Times, February 17, 2005).

"Ken Livingstone was back on a collision course with Labour’s leadership last night after he defied Tony Blair's demand for him to apologise for an allegedly anti-Semitic outburst that has cast a shadow over London’s 2012 Olympic bid... the Mayor of London could face disciplinary action if he did not withdraw comments in which he likened a Jewish reporter to a "concentration camp guard".

The Prime Minister's intervention came on the second day of the four-day visit by an inspection team from the International Olympic Committee to assess the capital’s bid for the 2012 Games.

... A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: "The offence taken to Ken Livingstone’s comments is clearly not limited to the Jewish community. The public is clearly of the opinion that he should apologise."

... Mr Livingstone, in a terse statement, said that he "was not making further comment on this issue at the present time" as he was dealing with the IOC visit...

... The Conservatives on the London Assembly have lodged a formal complaint with the Commission for Racial Equality. Bob Neill, the Tory leader, said: "As London's senior civic leader the mayor has an explicit responsibility to promote ever-better race relations. I believe that in his failure to apologise he has abjectly failed to do that and may in fact have badly damaged them."

 

A SURVIVOR OF AUSCHWITZ, BUCHENWALD AND BERGEN-BELSEN COMMENTS

"Survivor demands apology from mayor" (Media Guardian, February 10, 2005).

A survivor of the Holocaust has called on Ken Livingstone to apologise for remarks he made in an exchange with an Evening Standard journalist, comparing the reporter to a "concentration camp guard". Gina Turgel, a Polish Jew, questioned how a man in his position could "make light" of the pain and suffering the survivors of the Holocaust felt.

"I am quite a placid person, but this makes me angry," she said... "How can a man in the mayor's position make light of the Holocaust? Particularly when as a nation we have just taken time to remember the horror of the past. Perhaps the mayor does not understand the pain we went through. As a survivor I hope the mayor will make a public apology, but that would only be a first step," said Ms Turgel.

The 68-year-old survived Auschwitz, Buchenwald and the Bergen-Belsen death camps. Her three brothers and two sisters were killed by the Nazis and she now lives in Britain. Two weeks ago she was chosen to lead the Queen to her seat in Westminster Hall at the national ceremony held to mark Holocaust Memorial Day...



FULL ARTICLES

LONDON MAYOR CALLS JEWISH REPORTER "WAR CRIMINAL"

London mayor calls Jewish reporter "war criminal"
By James Kilner
Reuters
February 11, 2005

London's outspoken Mayor Ken Livingstone refused to apologise on Friday for comparing a Jewish newspaper reporter to a war criminal and concentration camp guard, despite complaints from Britain's main Jewish group.

"Were you a German war criminal?" the Evening Standard quoted Livingstone as saying on a tape recording of the exchange with its reporter Oliver Finegold.

When the journalist said he was Jewish and was offended by the mayor's remarks, Livingstone replied: "Actually you are just like a concentration camp guard."

He also called the Evening Standard, a London newspaper he has clashed with in the past, a "load of scumbags." The confrontation took place outside a City Hall party to mark the 20th anniversary of former national government minister Chris Smith's announcement that he was gay.

Jon Benjamin, director-general of the board of deputies of British Jews, said: "We are depressed and upset by what really amounts to some rather bizarre comments.

"We have sent in a complaint over these offensive and upsetting comments," he told Reuters on Friday.

A statement from the mayor's office accused the Standard of harassing guests and provoking the mayor. His office said the mayor would not comment further.

"The discussion between the journalist and the mayor escalated, from relatively light-hearted comments of the mayor asking whether the journalist's previous job had been as a war criminal - given the paper he was working for - to the journalist eventually telling the mayor to 'f++k off'," the statement read.

A frequent, outspoken critic of Israeli policy, Livingstone has denied in the past that he is anti-Semitic.

A report released on Thursday said violent anti-Semitic attacks in Britain had reached record levels, prompting calls by Jewish leaders for more to be done to protect their community.

 

BLAIR SEEKS MAYOR'S APOLOGY OVER NAZI REMARK

Blair Seeks Mayor's Apology Over Nazi Remark
The Associated Press
February 17, 2005

Prime Minister Tony Blair urged London's mayor on Wednesday to apologize for an offensive remark made to a Jewish journalist comparing him to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Mr. Blair said he did not believe that the comment by the mayor, Ken Livingstone, was meant to be anti-Semitic, or that it should jeopardize his job. But the prime minister urged the mayor to say he was sorry.

"A lot of us in politics get angry with journalists from time to time, but in the circumstances, and to the journalist because he was a Jewish journalist," Mr. Blair said on television. "Yes, he should apologize. Let's just apologize and move on - that's the sensible thing."

Mr. Livingstone's comment coincided with the release of a new report showing that the number of anti-Semitic attacks in Britain rose sharply to record levels in 2004, including physical attacks, name calling, hate mail and the desecration of property, like the vandalism of synagogues with swastikas.

In January, Prince Harry, 20, third in line to the British throne, caused an uproar by attending a costume party in London wearing a swastika armband. The royal family issued an apology on his behalf.

In addition, the opposition Conservative Party recently accused Mr. Blair's Labor Party of using an anti-Semitic advertisement on one of its Web sites. It showed the faces of the Tory leader, Michael Howard, and his deputy, both of whom are Jewish, transposed onto the bodies of flying pigs.

Asked about Mr. Livingstone, Mr. Howard said Wednesday that he thought it was important for politicians to talk with "civility and courtesy about the issues we all face." He added, "I think it is a matter of great sadness that we are not seeing that from the Labor Party."

Lord Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, praised Mr. Blair for urging Mr. Livingstone to apologize. Speaking on ITV News, Lord Janner said of the mayor: "I would never have regarded him in the past as being anti-Semitic. But the sort of remark he made is anti-Semitic."

For several days, Mr. Livingstone has turned down requests for an apology from Jewish and Holocaust groups, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and the London Assembly.

He has said he did not believe he had done anything wrong.

 

LONDON'S MAYOR IRKS JEWISH GROUPS

London's mayor irks Jewish groups
By Al Webb
The Washington Times
February 16, 2005

The mayor of London has infuriated Jewish leaders and Holocaust survivors in Britain by accusing a Jewish reporter of acting like a Nazi concentration camp guard, and then refusing to apologize for the anti-Semitic jibes.

The flap could not have come at a worse time, as International Olympic Committee representatives from around the globe arrived in London yesterday to tour the city and make a judgment on whether London is fit to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The defiant mayor, Ken Livingstone, sometimes known as "Red Ken" for his socialist politics, rejected growing demands that he retract the accusations he leveled at reporter Oliver Finegold, insisting his comments were not racist and that he had no intention of withdrawing them.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews immediately lodged a formal complaint with the Standards Board of England, a local government watchdog that has the power to ban Mr. Livingstone from holding public office for five years if he is found guilty of misconduct.

With competition for the world's most important international sports spectacular at a critical stage, fears grew here that Mr. Livingstone's jibes at the reporter could do London's bid irreparable harm and tilt the odds in favor of one of the four rival candidate cities " New York, Paris, Moscow and or Madrid. The winning city is to be announced on July 6. At the moment, Paris is considered the favorite.

A crucial meeting between the 13 Olympics inspectors and British government officials is scheduled for Friday at Prime Minister Tony Blair's Downing Street office, and among those expected to meet and greet them is Mr. Livingstone.

The furor began at a party in honor of one of Mr. Blair's Labor members of Parliament who was celebrating 20 years of "coming out" as a homosexual.

Mr. Finegold, a reporter for the London Evening Standard, asked the mayor how the festivities were going.

"What did you do before?" asked Mr. Livingstone. "Were you a German war criminal?" To which the reporter replied, "No, I'm Jewish, I wasn't a German war criminal and I'm, actually quite offended by that. So how did tonight go?"

"All right, well, you might be [Jewish]," the mayor said, "but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard. You are doing it just because you are paid to, aren't you?" Mr. Livingstone said.

Mr. Livingstone, an outspoken left-wing politician who claims he has been the victim of a hate campaign at the hands of the Evening Standard for the past 25 years, then told Mr. Finegold that "your paper is a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots." The Board of Deputies of British Jews, whose members also represent victims of the Holocaust, immediately demanded an investigation, and the Greater London Assembly, the 25-member elected body that helps the mayor govern the capital, voted unanimously to demand that Mr. Livingstone withdraw his remarks.

But the mayor, at a press conference yesterday, flatly refused to apologize for his remarks.

"You may think that my remarks to that reporter " and many over the years are offensive," he said. "That is purely a matter of judgment. ... If you think [my comments] are racist, I think you are wrong... It would be very easy for me to buy off media pressure by lying, but I am not going to do it."

Mr. Livingstone dismissed any suggestion that the uproar could harm London's Olympics bid, and suggested that his actions in standing up for his beliefs might even impress the visiting inspectors.

"I think it is important that the IOC members realize that when we get the Games, inevitably there will be some in the media that are going to go for them, and that they have a mayor who is not going to panic, change course or get in a great flap," he said.

Instead, he said, what the inspectors will find is that they will have a London mayor who "will deliver the Games on time and to budget."

 

LIVINGSTONE IGNORES BLAIR DEMAND FOR APOLOGY OVER JEWISH SLUR

Livingstone ignores Blair demand for apology over Jewish slur
By Andrew Pierce, Sam Coates and Helen Nugent
(London) Times
February 17, 2005

Ken Livingstone was back on a collision course with Labour’s leadership last night after he defied Tony Blair’s demand for him to apologise for an allegedly anti-Semitic outburst that has cast a shadow over London’s 2012 Olympic bid.

Members of Labour's powerful National Executive Committee, who have the power to expel party members, said that the Mayor of London could face disciplinary action if he did not withdraw comments in which he likened a Jewish reporter to a "concentration camp guard".

The Prime Minister's intervention came on the second day of the four-day visit by an inspection team from the International Olympic Committee to assess the capital's bid for the 2012 Games.

Mr Blair, asked on 5 television if Mr Livingstone should say sorry, said: "Yes, it's a simple answer. A lot of us get angry with journalists from time to time, but in the circumstances in which the journalist was a Jewish journalist, yes, he should apologise. He should apologise and move on."

Pressure is growing on Mr Livingstone from all wings of the Labour Party to climb down only 12 months after his suspension from the party was lifted. Mr Livingstone was expelled for breaking his promise in March 2000 not to stand against a Labour candidate in the mayoral election.

A senior member of the NEC, who declined to be named, said: "If Livingstone fails to apologise or to make amends by explaining himself, the NEC will have a duty to investigate the issue."

Mark Seddon, a member of the NEC who has been a vocal supporter of Mr Livingstone, said: "Ken has a great record on race relations. I do not for one minute think he is anti-Semitic. But these remarks are unacceptable. The NEC will have to tell him to apologise. If he does not his reselection as a Labour Party candidate could be re-examined and called into question."

Mr Livingstone, whose signature is on all the bid documents, was among the team who began detailed presentations yesterday morning to the 13 IOC inspectors.

Tony McNulty, the Transport Minister with special responsibility for London, speaking minutes after addressing the IOC team, said: "The remarks were offensive, gratuitous and insensitive and he should apologise."

Mike Lee, the London 2012 communications director, said at a press conference: "This issue is a matter for the mayor to resolve. Tessa Jowell (Culture Secretary) and Tony Blair have said what should happen next. It's clear that it's time for him to apologise."

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: "The offence taken to Ken Livingstone's comments is clearly not limited to the Jewish community. The public is clearly of the opinion that he should apologise.'

Lord Janner of Braunstone, the Labour peer who was a British Army war crimes investigator, said: "(Livingstone's) remarks were totally offensive and disgraceful. I cannot think of anything more offensive or disgusting for Mr Livingstone to say.

"The Prime Minister is the leader of Mr Livingstone's party and if he doesn't listen to his party leader on an issue such as this then he should resign as Mayor of London. There is a real danger now that he is damaging London’s Olympic prospects."

Mr Livingstone, in a terse statement, said that he "was not making further comment on this issue at the present time" as he was dealing with the IOC visit. The statement repeated his insistence that he despised anti-Semitism with the same virulence as all other forms of racism.

The Conservatives on the London Assembly have lodged a formal complaint with the Commission for Racial Equality. Bob Neill, the Tory leader, said: "As London's senior civic leader the mayor has an explicit responsibility to promote ever-better race relations. I believe that in his failure to apologise he has abjectly failed to do that and may in fact have badly damaged them."

 

SURVIVOR DEMANDS APOLOGY FROM MAYOR

Survivor demands apology from mayor
By Lisa O'Carroll
The Guardian (Media Guardian section)
February 10, 2005

A survivor of the Holocaust has called on Ken Livingstone to apologise for remarks he made in an exchange with an Evening Standard journalist, comparing the reporter to a "concentration camp guard".

Gina Turgel, a Polish Jew, questioned how a man in his position could "make light" of the pain and suffering the survivors of the Holocaust felt.

"I am quite a placid person, but this makes me angry," she said.

The mayor of London told the reporter, Oliver Finegold, that he should not be working for a paper that has a "record of supporting fascism" - a reference to its sister paper, the Daily Mail, which flirted with fascism in the 1930s.

In an extraordinary tirade, Mr Livingstone started by asking Mr Finegold whether he was considering "getting treatment" for working with the Standard. In what must be assumed to be a reference to the Mail's links with fascism, he went on to ask whether Finegold was a "German war criminal".

"How can a man in the mayor's position make light of the Holocaust? Particularly when as a nation we have just taken time to remember the horror of the past. Perhaps the mayor does not understand the pain we went through. As a survivor I hope the mayor will make a public apology, but that would only be a first step," said Ms Turgel.

The 68-year-old survived Auschwitz, Buchenwald and the Bergen-Belsen death camps. Her three brothers and two sisters were killed by the Nazis and she now lives in Britain.

Two weeks ago she was chosen to lead the Queen to her seat in Westminster Hall at the national ceremony held to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The mayor's remarks have also raised temperatures at the gay and lesbian lobby group, Outrage, which says it is bewildered by the mayor's "bizarre outburst" which took place outside a party for gay MP Chris Smith who was celebrating 20 years since coming out.

Today the mayor's office defended the exchange and claimed Finegold and his photographer had been harassing gay and lesbian guests on their way to and from the party.

"Of all the mayor's many events and receptions, the Evening Standard chose to 'door-step' the people attending an event with a large number of lesbian and gay attendees, thrusting a camera into their faces as they left," Mr Livingstone's spokesman said.

"The mayor took the Standard's relatively unusual actions in this regard to be harassment of a predominantly lesbian and gay event.

"In these circumstances it is hardly surprising that the discussion between the journalist and the mayor escalated, from relatively light-hearted comments of the mayor asking whether the journalist's previous job had been as a war criminal - given the paper he was working for - to the journalist eventually telling the mayor to 'f**k off'.

"The Standard's Diary journalists, who only ever write anonymously, can dish it out but they aren't prepared to take it."

Finegold was not available for comment but he has a tape recording of the exchange which the Standard has played to MediaGuardian.co.uk.

"We can confirm there is a tape recording of the conversation and Oliver [Finegold] did not swear at the mayor," said a senior executive.

The spokesperson went on to justify the reference to fascism by detailing the links between the Rothermere family - the founders of the Daily Mail, whose company Associated Newspapers took over the Evening Standard 25 years ago - and fascist leaders in the 1930s.

Brett Lock, spokesman for Outrage, said: "It was a bizarre outburst, bizarre that the mayor should be using the gay and lesbian community as an excuse for what was a high profile public event. I do now see how media exposure could not have been expected.

"The mayor's suggestion that the gay and lesbian community need to be protected from photographers - it's almost as if he expects us to skulk around in the dark and then he swoops down like Superman and comes to our rescue."


Humane portrayal of Palestinian suicide bombers at Berlin Film Festival

February 15, 2005

* Warm applause in Berlin for film glorifying Palestinian suicide bombers
* In Denmark, pictures and personal details of prominent Danes of Jewish origin posted on website, together with the word "Jew"

CONTENTS

1. "Humane portrayal of Palestinian suicide bombers screens at Berlin Film Fest" (Agence France Presse, Berlin bureau, February 15, 2005)
2. "Neo-Nazi website exposes Jewish Danes" (The Copenhagen Post, February 14, 2005)

 




[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach two articles, from Berlin and Copenhagen, with summaries first for those of you who don't have time to read them in full.

Please note that the 55th Berlinale is second only to Cannes and equal to Venice on the global film festival circuit. The film sympathizing with suicide bombers, "Paradise Now," is up for several awards at the Berlinale. Awards will be announced next Sunday. "Paradise Now" already has distributors in France, Italy, Spain and other European countries. It has Palestinian, Dutch, French and German producers.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

WARM APPLAUSE IN BERLIN FOR FILM GLORIFYING PALESTINIAN SUICIDE BOMBERS

"Humane portrayal of Palestinian suicide bombers screens at Berlin Film Fest" (AFP, Berlin bureau, February 15, 2005)

A portrayal of Palestinian suicide bombers as complex and conflicted people driven to their deadly deed by the Israeli occupation premiered in an unflinching film at the Berlinale.

"Paradise Now," shot almost entirely in Nablus in the occupied West Bank, follows the two longtime friends, Kais Nashef as Said and Ali Suliman as Khaled, as they prepare and set out for their attack in Tel Aviv.

... "They are human, whether you like it or not, even the suicide bombers are human. They make extreme decisions in an extreme situation," Palestinian-born director Hany Abu-Assad told AFP in an interview.

The Berlin audience warmly applauded the controversial movie, screening in competition at the festival for the Golden and Silver Bear awards. Six days before the honors are handed out there is no clear favorite.

... The movie includes the filming of the traditional video in which the would-be "martyrs" explain why they are sacrificing themselves in the armed struggle against occupation, and a scene in which the men are wired up as human bombs...

[For a later update on the above story please see "London bomber traveled to Israel; Britain begins to 'wake up' to reality of suicide bombing" (July 22, 2005).]


 

NEO-NAZI WEBSITE EXPOSES JEWISH DANES

"Neo-nazi website exposes Jewish Danes" (The Copenhagen Post, February 14, 2005)

Pictures of prominent Danes of Jewish and foreign background have been published on a website with connections to neo-nazi organizations. The page features Danish politicians, journalists, columnists, and artists... The website features pictures of the people and their names, with the word 'Jew' stamped under the picture. Some of those appearing also have their telephone number and email address listed.

Many of those appearing on the website are prominent media personalities such as movie director Susanne Bier.

... 'The homepage pushes freedom of speech to its limits,' Chief Detective Inspector Hans Jorgen Bonnichsen told daily newspaper Politiken. "It's in a gray zone, and we must see if it is against the law.' ...

 




FULL ARTICLES

HUMANE PORTRAYAL OF PALESTINIAN SUICIDE BOMBERS SCREENS AT BERLIN FILM FEST

Humane portrayal of Palestinian suicide bombers screens at Berlin Film Fest
Agence France Presse, Berlin bureau
February 15, 2005

A portrayal of Palestinian suicide bombers as complex and conflicted people driven to their deadly deed by the Israeli occupation premiered in an unflinching film at the Berlinale.

"Paradise Now," shot almost entirely in Nablus in the occupied West Bank, follows the two longtime friends, Kais Nashef as Said and Ali Suliman as Khaled, as they prepare and set out for their attack in Tel Aviv.

But gradually, the young men change their minds.

"They are human, whether you like it or not, even the suicide bombers are human. They make extreme decisions in an extreme situation," Palestinian-born director Hany Abu-Assad told AFP in an interview.

The Berlin audience warmly applauded the controversial movie, screening in competition at the festival for the Golden and Silver Bear awards. Six days before the honors are handed out there is no clear favorite.

"This is reality, this is what life is like under occupation. We didn't need to do much acting," Ashraf Barhoum, chilling as Abu-Karem, the mastermind behind the planned attack on Israeli soldiers, told a news conference through a translator.

Abu-Assad (who directed the 2002 film "Rana's Wedding") said he intentionally chose Nablus, picking mostly actors from there. Often, the crew had to interrupt work because of shooting or even missile attacks.

"The concept of the film was to make fiction in a 100 percent reality," he said. "To shoot in the place while it's happening ... this is why it looked so authentic, but at the same time it's a film."

The director, whose film already has distributors in several European countries, among them France, Italy and Spain, is keen to see the movie shown in Middle Eastern theaters, particularly in Israel.

"I think it's very important that the Israelis see it," he told reporters, stressing that he by no means condones suicide attacks. "They have to see it because it is part of their narrative, part of their tragedy."

"Paradise Now" has already taken the first step towards screening there. The state-backed Israeli Film Fund announced here it would support the film with advertising, but only if it secures a distributor.

"They might give us the money, but we still have to find the theaters. We can find ourselves with pockets packed with dollars but no theaters to show the film," Israeli co-producer Amir Harel said.

The movie includes the filming of the traditional video in which the would-be "martyrs" explain why they are sacrificing themselves in the armed struggle against occupation, and a scene in which the men are wired up as human bombs.

Barhoum said everyone felt the film hit very close to home.

"People were crying when Khaled was reading his last will and testament" to the video camera, he said.

The would-be attack is thwarted when a military patrol arrives after the two slip through a cut fence between the West Bank and Israel, and they are separated. Only Khaled returns to the base, while Said, explosives still strapped to his chest, disappears.

Suha (French actress Lubna Azabal in a convincing outing), a Palestinian woman attracted to Said, joins Khaled on the wild hunt for Said. Said still wants to avenge his dead father, executed when he was 10 for collaborating with the Israelis.

"If we can't live as equals, at least we can die as equals," Khaled screams at her. "In this life, we're all dead."

But Suha spits back "We kill and are killed, and nothing ever changes."

Abu-Assad co-wrote "Paradise Now," which also has Palestinian, Dutch, French and German producers -- basing his tale upon interrogation transcripts of failed suicide bombers, along with friends and families of attackers who died.

But humor also figures in what would appear to be a very heavy tale -- the video camera breaks down twice as Khaled is reciting his suicide manifesto, and when it finally works he looks up to see several people chewing on pita bread on the other side of the camera.

The 55th Berlinale, second only to Cannes and equal to Venice on the global film festival circuit, runs through the 20th of February.

 

NEO-NAZI WEBSITE EXPOSES JEWISH DANES

Neo-Nazi website exposes Jewish Danes
The Copenhagen Post
February 14, 2005

www.cphpost.dk/get/85864.html

Prominent Danes with Jewish and foreign backgrounds have been exposed on a website connected to neo-nazi group. The Police Intelligence Service is on the case.

Pictures of prominent Danes of Jewish and foreign background have been published on a website with connections to neo-nazi organizations. The page features Danish politicians, journalists, columnists, and artists, to name but a few.

The website features pictures of the people and their names, with the word "Jew" stamped under the picture. Some of those appearing also have their telephone number and email address listed.

Many of those appearing on the website are prominent media personalities such as movie director Susanne Bier, and journalists from leading television stations and newspapers. The site claims that that Jews, especially those in the media, conspire to control the world.

Socialist and Muslim MP Kamal Qureshi is also portrayed on the website.

Denmark's Police Intelligence Service told media that the content of the website might be permitted under Denmark's freedom of speech laws, but that they would investigate whether Denmark's racism-preventive legislation banned it.

"The homepage pushes freedom of speech to its limits," Chief Detective Inspector Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen told daily newspaper Politiken. "It's in a gray zone, and we must see if it is against the law."

The Security Service has noted an increasing number of racist websites.

"We're more than aware of this development as it can increase the risk of direct confrontations," Bonnichsen said.


“Israel killed Hariri”: Latest Arab and Iranian conspiracy theory

CONTENTS

1. "Al Qaeda denies involvement in Hariri killing" (Al-Bawaba, Feb. 15, 2005)
2. "Hariri's killing condemned by world leaders, Iran points finger at Israel" (Al- Jazeera.com, Feb. 15, 2005)
3. "Lebanon - Mossad hit-team strikes again" (Islam Online Discussion Forum, Feb. 14, 2005)



AS USUAL, SOME IN THE ARAB WORLD BLAME THE JEWS

[Note by Tom Gross]

Quite predictably, some groups in the Arab world and in Iran have already begun to blame Israel for the assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri yesterday. (Hariri was killed in a powerful bomb explosion that destroyed his convoy on Beirut's seafront, gouging a crater in the street 30 feet wide and 9 feet deep, and killing 11 other people, including seven of his bodyguards.)

Not surprisingly, the Arab media have publicized some of these unfounded conspiratorial claims. I attach articles from al-Bawaba, al-Jazeera and a discussion group on Islam Online about "previous Mossad assassinations." (The claim that Israel killed among others Lebanese Christian leader Bashir Gemayel – who was a strong supporter of the Jewish state – is particularly laughable.) There are likely to be more conspiracy theories bounded about the Arab media world in the coming days concerning Hariri's death.

SYRIA MAY HAVE USED HIZBULLAH TO DO ITS DIRTY WORK

Hariri was a staunch opponent of Syria's long-standing military occupation of (partly-Christian) Lebanon and of Syria's continued illegal land grabs.

Both U.S. and Israeli intelligence believed that Syria used the Lebanese Shia terrorist group Hizbullah to kill Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, who had many allies among Lebanese Christians.

In Paris, Lebanon's most prominent exile, former army commander Gen. Michel Aoun, also said that he suspects Syria was behind the assassination. The Syrians "totally control the country," Aoun said on France-Info radio. "Nothing moves without it being controlled by the Syrians."

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud called the killing "a dark point in our national history." Lebanon has declared three days of national mourning for Hariri.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

AL-QAEDA DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN HARIRI KILLING

"Al-Qaeda denies involvement in Hariri killing" (Al Bawaba, February 15, 2005)

A day following the attack in which former Lebanese premier Rafic al-Hariri was killed, a statement posted on the web Tuesday and attributed to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network denied any involvement in the incident. It said Lebanese, Syrian or Israeli intelligence were those behind the Beirut attack.

The statement, signed by an unknown group calling itself the al-Qaeda Organization in the Levant, was posted on an Islamist website often used by al-Qaeda… "Blaming the Jihadist and Salafist groups for what happened in Beirut is a complete fabrication," the statement said, according to Reuters... "This is clearly an operation that was planned by a state intelligence agency ... and we blame either the Mossad, the Syrian regime or the Lebanese regime."

 

IRAN POINTS FINGER AT ISRAEL

"Al Hariri's killing condemned by world leaders, Iran points finger at Israel" (Al Jazeera.com, February 15, 2005)

"Yesterday's assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri was condemned by several world leaders; from France, Palestine, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy and the White House.

Although Damascus itself strongly condemned Al Hariri's killing, some openly pointed the finger of suspicion at Syria, which hinted on Monday that some were trying to "sow division" between the two countries, Syria and Lebanon... Bush discussed the former PM's killing with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, McClellan said, after an unknown militant group claimed in a video that it was behind the assassination of Al Hariri for his ties with Saudi Arabia.

... Iran expressed concern about the fallout of what it described as a "terrorist act", pointing finger at Israel.

"An organized terrorist structure such as the Zionist regime has the capacity for such an operation whose aim is to undermine the unity of Lebanon," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

... European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana praised Hariri as "a man of peace and a great friend."

 

"MOSSAD HIT-TEAM STRIKES AGAIN"

"Former Lebanese PM Assassinated: Lebanon - Mossad hit-team strikes again" (Islam Online Discussion Forum, February 14, 2005)

"A car bomb took the life of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri today. It would not be the first time that Israel has, directly or indirectly, has targeted Arab leaders... Israeli Mossad has always been considered the possible key player' behind the scene in the following murders:

... September 1982 - Bashir Gemayel, elected president, is killed before taking office by a bomb. His brother Amin becomes president..."



FULL ARTICLES

AL QAEDA DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN HARIRI KILLING

Al Qaeda denies involvement in Hariri killing
Al Bawaba
February 15, 2005

www.albawaba.com/en/news/180111

A day following the attack in which former Lebanese premier Rafic al-Hariri was killed, a statement posted on the web Tuesday and attributed to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network denied any involvement in the incident. It said Lebanese, Syrian or Israeli intelligence were those behind the Beirut attack.

The statement, signed by an unknown group calling itself the Al Qaeda Organization in the Levant, was posted on an Islamist website often used by al Qaeda, a day after another unknown Islamist group claimed it was behind the massive blast that killed Hariri and eight others. Several hours after the attack, Al Jazeera TV broadcast a video tape from the unknown Islamist group which said it had killed Hariri because of his Saudi ties.

"Blaming the Jihadist and Salafist groups for what happened in Beirut is a complete fabrication," the statement said, according to Reuters. "The priorities of the jihadist groups in the Levant are supporting our brethren in Iraq and Palestine, not blowing up cars."

"This is clearly an operation that was planned by a state intelligence agency ... and we blame either the Mossad, the Syrian regime or the Lebanese regime."

 

AL HARIRI'S KILLING CONDEMNED BY WORLD LEADERS, IRAN POINTS FINGER AT ISRAEL

Al Hariri's killing condemned by world leaders, Iran points finger at Israel
Al Jazeera.com
February 15, 2005

www.aljazeera.com/me.asp?service_ID=7079

Yesterday’s assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri was condemned by several world leaders; from France, Palestine, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy and the White House.

Although Damascus itself strongly condemned Al Hariri's killing, some openly pointed the finger of suspicion at Syria, which hinted on Monday that some were trying to "sow division" between the two countries, Syria and Lebanon.

Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed on Monday in a powerful bomb explosion that destroyed his convoy on Beirut's seafront.

Analysts say that Al Hariri's assassination came at a time of high political tension, as legislative elections are to be held in the coming few months and the U.S. is trying to step up international pressure on over Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon.

Seizing the chance to increase its pressure on Syria, the United States condemned the killing of Al Hariri, repeating its call for the immediate withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon.

U.S. President George W. Bush "was shocked and angered" by the brutal attack which killed Al Hariri, claiming the lives of another 9 people with him, said Scott McClellan, White House spokesman.

"This murder today is a terrible reminder that the Lebanese people must be able to pursue their aspirations and determine their own political future free from violence and intimidation and free from Syrian occupation," he said.

Shortly after Al Hariri’s killing, the U.S. president contacted, allies, governments in the region, and the UN Security Council to "punish those responsible" for the killing and force Syria to pull out its troops from Lebanon, said the spokesman.

Bush discussed the former PM's killing with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, McClellan said, after an unknown militant group claimed in a video that it was behind the assassination of Al Hariri for his ties with Saudi Arabia.

Although McClellan stopped short of blaming Damascus or any other country for the attack, Israel quickly pointed the finger at Syria, with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom claiming that some rebel groups backed by Syria could be behind the assassination.

Speaking to the Israeli radio from Paris, Shalom said: "I cannot say for certain that Syria is behind the attack but there are many groups which could have carried it out".

During his visit to Paris, Shalom met with French President Jacques Chirac, a close personal friend of Hariri. Chirac called for an immediate probe into the killing.

"France strongly condemns this crime. It asks that an international inquiry be launched without delay to determine the circumstances of this tragedy and who is responsible," his office said.

The Israeli foreign minister said there was "no doubt that Syria... is uncomfortable with the prospect of elections in Lebanon, and the last thing they want is to be forced to leave Lebanon."

Saudi Arabia sent "the kingdom's heartfelt condolences" and stressed its "total rejection of terrorist acts against innocents that seek to plant chaos and destruction".

On the other hand, UN chief Kofi Annan said that the bombing was from "a chapter in Lebanon's history" that he had hoped was over.

"Such acts are a reversion to a chapter in Lebanon's history that he had hoped was long past. It is imperative that the already fragile situation in the region should not be further destabilised," his office said in a statement.

Syria swiftly condemned the assassination, with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad calling it an a "terrible criminal act ".

"The Syrian government and people stand alongside brotherly Lebanon in this dangerous situation and convey our sincerest condolences to the family of Mr Hariri and the families of the other victims," President Assad said.

Al-Assad urged the Lebanese people "to reinforce their national unity and reject all those who aim to cause trouble and sow division among the people".

The Syrian Information Minister Mahdi Dakhl-Allah stated, "Syria regards this as an act of terrorism, a crime that seeks to destabilise Lebanon."

He further added, "Syria expressed its support and backing for Lebanon," and that it was a "black day" for Syria, Lebanon and all Arabs.

Hariri, a self-made billionaire who helped rebuild his country after decades of war was described by Dakhl-Allah as "…a distinguished popular Lebanese leader who fought for

Lebanon's growth, prosperity and independence. It's a criminal, terrorist act that aims to shake Lebanon's stability and kill as many Lebanese as possible."

"This comes at a time of great international pressure on Lebanon and Syria which aims to realise Israel's desires in the region and this act cannot be separated from these pressures," he added.

Commenting on Al Hariri’s assassination, the Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said that the former Prime Minister had died a "martyr for a united Lebanon", ordering three days of mourning and a state funeral for him.

Iran accuses Israel

Also Iran expressed concern about the fallout of what it described as a "terrorist act", pointing finger at Israel.

"An organized terrorist structure such as the Zionist regime has the capacity for such an operation whose aim is to undermine the unity of Lebanon," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

Raising concerns about Lebanon's stability, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said: "I hope we will all contribute to maintaining peace and security in Lebanon."

Also Nabil Abu Rudeina, the Palestinian Authority spokesman, condemned the killing as "a crime against the Lebanese people and a blow to the stability of Lebanon."

The Japanese foreign ministry also denounced Al Hariri's assassination saying that: "Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason. Japan renews its firm condemnation against such terrorist attack."

Also British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that the former Prime Minister Hariri helped a lot in rebuilding Lebanon after the civil war.

"Until now, Beirut and Lebanon as a whole have enjoyed relative peace and security, so this is a setback as well as an act of terror," he said.

In Germany, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer also voiced his condemnation and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder sent a message of condolence.

Also Gianfranco Fini, the Italian Foreign Minister, sent a message to Lebanese counterpart Mahmud Hammud expressing his country's condolences after the "vile attack".

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana praised Hariri as "a man of peace and a great friend."

 

"LEBANON-MOSSAD HIT TEAM STRIKES AGAIN"

Former Lebanese PM assassinated:
Lebanon - Mossad hit-team strikes again
Islam Online Discussion Forum
February 14, 2005

www.islamonline.net/Discussion/English/bbs.asp?action=maintopic&aParID=482426&aPathID=242&aGroupID=88601&aSubject=Lebanon+%2D+Mossad+%91hit%2Dteam%92+strikes+again

A car bomb took the life of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri today. It would not be the first time that Israel has, directly or indirectly, has targeted Arab leaders to keep its neighbouring countries in turmoil. During its invasion of Lebanon in the 1980s, the Zionists used their Christian proxy, Phalangists, to assassinate several Lebanese leaders, both Muslims and Christians. Israeli Mossad has always been considered the possible 'key player' behind the scene in the following murders:

March 1977 - Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt is killed in ambush in his Shouf mountain fiefdom in central Lebanon . June 1978 - Tony Franjieh, son of former President Suleiman Franjieh, is assassinated in raid by rival militias at his home in Ehden, north Lebanon.

September 1982 - Bashir Gemayel, elected president, is killed before taking office by a bomb. His brother Amin becomes president.

June 1987 - Lebanon's veteran Prime Minister Rashid Karami is killed by a bomb in an army helicopter in Tripoli. Karami was serving his ninth term as prime minister in a 37-year career.

May 1989 - Grand Mufti Sheikh Hassan Khaled, religious head of Lebanon 's Sunni community, is killed by a car bomb in Beirut. The blast killed 22 people and wounded 80.

November 1989 - President Rene Muawad is killed in a huge bomb explosion in Beirut.

October 1990 - Gunmen killed Dany Chamoun, chairman of the National Liberal Party, in a Beirut suburb.

February 1992 - Israelis killed Abbas Mussawi, a Hizbullah leader, in helicopter ambush of his convoy near village of Jibsheet in south Lebanon.

January 2002 - Elie Hobeika, former minister and leader of pro-Israeli militia involved in 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, is killed in Beirut.

May 2002 - Mohammad Jihad Ahmad Jibril, son of Ahmad Jibril, leader of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General-Command (PFLP-GC), is killed in car bomb in Beirut.


Kuwaiti newspaper: “America being held hostage by the Jews”

February 14, 2005

* "Larry King on his program warned about Jewish control of the film industry, the media, and everything."

FROM KUWAIT, OF ALL PLACES

[Note by Tom Gross]

An article in the Kuwaiti daily paper "Al-Siyassa" asserts that Jews control America and repeats the additional untruths that Benjamin Franklin, as well as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, warned Americans against allowing Jews into the U.S.

The Franklin speech is in fact a well-known Nazi propaganda forgery. It first appeared in the 1935 edition of the German anti-Semitic text "A Handbook on the Jewish Question."

Although such anti-Semitic and anti-American hate is a regular staple of the Arab and Iranian media, it may come as a surprise that this particular piece of hate is disseminated by a newspaper in Kuwait, a country which owes its very existence to US sacrifices made against Saddam Hussein's invading forces only 14 years ago.

The allegations in the Kuwaiti daily are based on a recent broadcast on Al-Manar TV – the television propaganda arm of the Iranian-controlled Lebanese extremist group Hizbullah.

It is difficult to know how many people in the Middle East today believe the anti-Semitic lies of their own media.

The article below was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the leading monitoring group of its kind. There is a summary first, followed by MEMRI's dispatch. (MEMRI president Yigal Carmon is a subscriber to this email list.)

 




SUMMARY

KUWAITI DAILY AND AL-MANAR TV RECYCLE FORGED NAZI DOCUMENT:
"AMERICA HAS BECOME HOSTAGE TO THE JEWS, AS BENJAMIN FRANKLIN PREDICTED"

Muhammad Yousef Al-Malifi writes in the Kuwaiti daily paper "Al-Siyassa":

"My article today is not like other articles... Today, I will present to the readers what is hidden from them, but not from the political and intellectual elite.

... This document spares us the writing of 1,000 articles about the danger in America's falling into the hands of Israel, its enslavement to Tel Aviv, and what this fall will do to the American people.

... Benjamin Franklin's text reads: 'The U.S. is in great danger, and this danger is the Jews. Gentlemen, everywhere Jews are and everywhere they settle, they [bring down] the moral level, harm moral decency, and act to oppress. They always aspire to suffocate the nation financially and to obtain wealth for themselves, as happened in Portugal and Spain over 1,700 years ago... Yet if the civilized world today would return Palestine to them, to which they claim to have a right, they [the Jews] would find many reasons not to go back there. Why? Because the Jews are bloodsuckers, extortionists, and people whose nature this is, and who are incapable of living with each other.' ..."

 




FULL MEMRI DISPATCH

"KUWAITI DAILY AND AL-MANAR TV RECYCLE FORGED NAZI DOCUMENT: AMERICA HAS BECOME HOSTAGE TO THE JEWS, AS BENJAMIN FRANKLIN PREDICTED"

"Kuwaiti Daily and Al-Manar TV Recycle Forged Nazi Document:
America Has Become Hostage to the Jews, as Benjamin Franklin Predicted"
MEMRI
February 14, 2005

www.memri.org

In an article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, titled 'Satanic Spirits and American Documents,' Muhammad Yousef Al-Malifi recently cited the "Franklin Prophecy." This follows a November 2004 interview with Lebanese journalist Arafat Nizam Al-Din on Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV, recorded and translated by the MEMRI TV Project, in which he also claimed that Benjamin Franklin, as well as George Wash-ington and Thomas Jefferson, warned Americans against allowing Jews into the country.

The Franklin speech is a well-known Nazi propaganda forgery, which first appeared in the 1935 edition of the German antisemitic book 'A Handbook on the Jewish Question' and which has at times resurfaced in the Arab press. The forgery claims that during a speech at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1789 (sic; the actual date of the convention was 1787), Benjamin Franklin warned that unless the Jews were expelled from the fledgling nation by constitutional decree they would immigrate in great numbers, enslave the Christian population, and control the economy. There are several variations upon the story: sometimes Franklin is mistakenly referred to as the U.S. president, and sometimes he is said to have made the statements during a recess, and not as a speech. In addition, the forgery is sometimes attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

The statements were allegedly recorded by South Carolina delegate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in a diary now supposedly at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Former Franklin Institute Director Henry Butler Allen stated numerous times during his tenure in the 1930s that no such document ever existed (and in January 2002, the Franklin Institute's chief librarian told MEMRI that no such document was in the Institute's possession). The forgery and its background were reviewed by columnist Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post on March 6, 1998.

The following are excerpts from Al-Malifi's article and Al-Din's interview:

 

"IT WARNS OF THE DANGER POSED BY THE JEWS TO AMERICA"

On January 16, 2005, Muhammad Yousef Al-Malifi wrote an article in Al-Siyassa which raised the Franklin forgery. The following are excerpts:

"My article today is not like other articles... Today, I will present to the readers what is hidden from them, but not from the political and intellectual elite.

"The document I will present today was written by a former American president [sic]. This document spares us the writing of 1,000 articles about the danger in America's falling into the hands of Israel, its enslavement to Tel Aviv, and what this fall will do to the American people.

"This document is over 212 years old, and it warns of the danger posed by the Jews to America. The original copy of this strategic document has been in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia for the past 214 years. The document was written by Benjamin Franklin when he served as the U.S. president some two centuries ago.

"When I present to the readers this serious document, which was first translated by 'Araf Al-Baytam, I will prove that fools have begun to rule America - after it was ruled by wise men as this late president [Franklin].

"The text reads: 'The U.S. is in great danger, and this danger is the Jews. Gentlemen, everywhere Jews are and everywhere they settle, they [bring down] the moral level, harm moral decency, and act to oppress. They always aspire to suffocate the nation financially and to obtain wealth for themselves, as happened in Portugal and Spain over 1,700 years ago... Yet if the civilized world today would return Palestine to them, to which they claim to have a right, they [the Jews] would find many reasons not to go back there. Why? Because the Jews are bloodsuckers, extortionists, and people whose nature this is, and who are incapable of living with each other. Moreover, they must live with the 'other,' that is, the Christians and others who do not belong to their race, in order [for them to be able to] rip them apart. Gentlemen, if the Jews are not expelled by law from the U.S., within less than 100 years they will stream en masse into our land, take control of it, destroy us, and change the structure of our State ... and then we will lose our character and identity.' [This is what Franklin said] and this is what is happening today in Iraq.

"'[Franklin continues:] Gentlemen, if the Jews are not expelled within 100 years, our children will work the fields to feed the Jews, while the Jews and their children will live in palaces, sign deals, make money, and become intoxicated with joy - while our children suffer from poverty. O Americans, I warn you: If you do not expel the Jews for good, your children and your children's children will curse you in their graves. Know that the Jews think that we are not Americans - that we have no right to America, even though they have lived with us for generations. This is because the ravening beast cannot change its nature. O Americans, you must know that all the anarchy in the United States today is only because of the Jews.'

"This is the end of the document.

"Noble readers, this document exposes the truth. Had the rulers of America been a good second generation to their predecessors, America would not today have become hostage to the Jews' policy, and Washington would not be aiding Tel Aviv in its satanic spirit.

"I have no more accurate explanation [for what is happening today] than the content of this document, which spells out America's situation with the Jews today with great accuracy, letter by letter and moment by moment.

"O late American president [Benjamin Franklin]! If only you could see what has happened to your people, and how your prophecy - about the establishment of a country of devils at the expense of your wretched people - has come true!"

 

AL-MANAR TV

Lebanese Journalist: "George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin Warn of the Jews"

The following is an excerpt from a November 1, 2004 Al-Manar TV interview with Lebanese journalist Arafat Nizam Al-Din. (To view the clip, visit www.memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=323: )

Arafat Nizam Al-Din: "Israel and the Zionist lobby have succeeded in infiltrating every juncture of American political life over the course of years and through persistent effort, to the point where they have entered every aspect... The Pentagon and the State Department were always sympathetic to the Arabs because of their interests and because of the military thinking that studies strategy and knows where the U.S. interests and sources of power lie. But nowadays they have penetrated the Pentagon and the State Department. There are still some people and groups in the State Department who look after American interests and know where they lie.

"Today I wrote in my article, as a kind of gift to the winner of the elections, who should know what the U.S. interests are. I'm not talking about the Arabs' interests. We don't want the U.S. to work for Arab interests, we want it to work for its own interests.

"George Washington, the founder of the U.S. and of its independence, the first president and forefather of U.S. independence, has a famous saying that those [i.e. Jews] are the real enemies of the U.S. Jefferson, the third president, said, 'If we do not succeed in holding them back and restraining them, they will take over all junctures...' It appears in his will."

Interviewer: "And Franklin..."

Arafat Nizam Al-Din: "Benjamin Franklin, one of the founders of independence, wrote in a document: 'The American people, the American citizens will become their servants, if we do not pay heed...'"

Interviewer: "But these declarations... Some Arab intellectuals go back to statements made at least 250 years ago. The world has changed. Reality has changed."

Arafat Nizam Al-Din: "But he had an important vision... You know, sometimes people make statements and after a while, it turns out that these were words of wisdom. They foretold the future. This is what really happened. But let's forget the past. Only a few days ago somebody said - by God, I've forgotten his name, a very elderly senator..."

Interviewer: "Alain Menargues from France, was removed from his post..."

Arafat Nizam Al-Din: "Alain Menargues. But in the U.S., a famous senator, the oldest in the Congress, announced that he was stepping down and made some very serious statements. He said this Zionist lobby controls everything. Unfortunately I've forgotten his name. In addition there are many other people - the actor Marlon Brando, who just died, also said..."

Interviewer: "He is famous..."

Arafat Nizam Al-Din: "Larry King on his program warned about Jewish control of the film industry, the media, and everything."

Jerusalem Post co-owners now go to court in two continents

Jerusalem Post co-owners set to battle it out in US and Israeli courts

* Israeli owner of Jerusalem Post sues Canadian co-owner for damages and slander in the Jerusalem District Court

* This follows the Canadian co-owner's application to the New York Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the Israeli owner

 




[Note by Tom Gross]

A large number of media professionals on this email list expressed interest in the dispatch titled The struggle for control of "The Jerusalem Post" heats up (February 1, 2005).

Below is a new article on the subject from Globes, the Tel Aviv business daily. There is a summary of the article first.

(Globes is the Israeli equivalent of the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times. The Jerusalem Post is Israel's leading English-language news publication.)

 

SUMMARY

"Azur planning to sue CanWest for damages, slander" (Globes, February 13, 2005)

Israeli Businessman Eli Azur is petitioning the Jerusalem District Court to declare him the sole owner of "The Jerusalem Post". Azur will sue CanWest Global Communications for damages. He says that CanWest has slandered him, and damaged his business, property, and reputation.

Azur asserts that CanWest's media campaign against his company Mirkaei Tikshoret Ltd., and CanWest's petition for arbitration and a temporary restraining order, have caused him a great deal of public damage. He alleges that his reputation has been tarnished, and doubt cast on his rights as a shareholder in "The Jerusalem Post".

With a market cap of $5 billion, CanWest is the largest communications company in Canada, with dozens of newspapers, radio and television stations, and Internet businesses.

Last month, CanWest initiated an arbitration proceeding against Mirkaei Tikshoret in a New York court, demanding 50 percent of the shares in "The Jerusalem Post", and half of the additional rights acquired by Mirkaei Tikshoret.

 




FULL ARTICLE

AZUR PLANNING TO SUE CANWEST FOR DAMAGES, SLANDER

Azur planning to sue CanWest for damages, slander
By Shmuel Dekalo
Globes
February 13, 2005

www.globes.co.il/serveen/

Eli Azur is petitioning the Jerusalem District Court to declare him the owner of "The Jerusalem Post".

Businessman Eli Azur last week petitioned the Jerusalem District Court to declare him the owner of "The Jerusalem Post". Azur's claim states that he plans to sue CanWest Global Communications (NYSE: CWG; TSX: CGS) for damages, and that CanWest has slandered him, and damaged his business, property, and reputation.

Azur asserts that CanWest's media campaign against Mirkaei Tikshoret Ltd., controlled by Azur, when "The Jerusalem Post" was acquired, and CanWest's petition for arbitration and a temporary restraining order, have caused him a great deal of public damage. He alleges that his reputation has been tarnished, and doubt cast on his rights as a shareholder in "The Jerusalem Post".

These actions are allegedly making it difficult for Azur to raise the financing that the Jerusalem Post group needs, because potential investors are unwilling to invest in the group before it is made clear that that Azur owns the rights to the shares, and is free to use them as he sees fit.

The court petition is another stage in the dispute between Azur and the Asper family, which controls Canadian company CanWest. With a market cap of $5 billion, CanWest is the largest communications company in Canada, with dozens of newspapers, radio and television stations, and Internet business.

The claim describes the course of negotiations and relations between Azur and Mirkaei Tikshoret on the one hand, and CanWest on the other. The parties planned to buy "The Jerusalem Post". Mirkaei Tikshoret and CanWest signed a letter of intent in mid-2004, declaring their intention to jointly buy the shares in "The Jerusalem Post" from Hollinger International Inc. (NYSE: HLR).

According to Azur, the principles of the agreement were changed, and the parties signed a letter in November 2004, which stated that Mirkaei Tikshoret would purchase the shares and other rights in "The Jerusalem Post" by itself.

Azur asserts that the parties continued their negotiations after this letter was signed, with the aim of reaching an arrangement for the sale of the newspaper's assets. Mirkaei Tikshoret eventually paid $13.2 million for "The Jerusalem Post".

Azur says that he alone paid for the purchase of the newspaper, and virtually all the proceeds were paid for an assignment of the newspaper's $40 million debt to Hollinger, from Hollinger to Mirkaei Tikshoret. Azur alleges that Mirkaei Tikshoret actually bought from Hollinger the right to become a $40 million creditor of "The Jerusalem Post". His claim states that only $999 was paid for the shares.

The claim states that in mid-December 2004, after presenting approval from the Antitrust Authority director general, CanWest refused to help finance the deal, and that Azur therefore paid the entire sum of the purchase.

Mirkaei Tikshoret financed the deal with a loan from Bank Leumi. Azur was a personal guarantor for the sum paid to Hollinger. Azur also asserts that the information about the sale of the shares was communicated to Hollinger, which raised no object to the sale of the shares.

The parties continued their negotiations in early January 2005, but following an ultimatum by CanWest representatives, negotiations broke up, and CanWest's representatives left Israel. Later in January, CanWest initiated an arbitration proceeding in the matter against Mirkaei Tikshoret in a New York court.

In the arbitration proceeding, CanWest is demanding 50% of the shares in "The Jerusalem Post", and half of the additional rights acquired by Mirkaei Tikshoret. Azur is asking the court to declare that he is the owner of the shares, which he purchased, and that no one else has any rights to the shares.


Now Palestinian parents ask: Were suicide attacks worth it?

February 12, 2005

"PALESTINIAN FAMILIES WONDER: WERE SUICIDE ATTACKS WORTH THE LOSS OF OUR CHILDREN?"

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach an article from the Chicago Tribune in which, at a time of renewed hope for the resumption of peaceful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Chicago newspaper interviews the families of eight Palestinian suicide bombers

These eight bombers were responsible in total for the murder of 82 Israelis (including several Holocaust survivors) and the maiming and injuring of 628 others.

In total over the last four years, Palestinian suicide bombings have left more than 4,000 people (mostly Israelis) dead or badly injured.

Hundreds of other Israelis were killed or injured by Palestinian suicide bombers in the 1990s after the American and Israeli left invited Yasser Arafat to set up armed forces in Gaza and the West Bank.

This is a very long article – running to over 3200 words (i.e. over five times the length of an average foreign news article in most newspapers). I therefore attach extracts first for those who don't have time to read it in full.

It is perhaps surprising that the Chicago Tribune didn't find space to mention by name a single victim of any of these bombings.

-- Tom Gross

 




SUMMARY / EXTRACTS FROM ARTICLE

"Palestinian families wonder: Were suicide attacks worth the loss of our children?" (By Christine Spolar, Chicago Tribune, February 6, 2005).

"An hour after Fatima Daraghmeh heard the first report of a suicide bombing at a mall in Afula, Israel, her 5-year-old son ran excitedly into the kitchen. "My sister's picture is on TV!"

Three Israelis were dead and dozens wounded and, miles away, the Daraghmeh family found itself caught in the horror. Their 19-year-old daughter Hiba was the killer. Israeli authorities interrogated the girl's parents, Fatima and Azzem. Soon reporters crowded their West Bank home. Fatima Daraghmeh recalled that they asked her if she felt a "mother's pride" in sacrificing for the Palestinian cause.

She couldn't bear the words. "They kept asking and asking and then, finally, they could tell: I wasn't going to praise the operation," Daraghmeh said. "There was no way I was going to say I was proud. The only one who supports such a thing is the person who hasn't seen her child die."

... Recent opinion polls by the respected Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found growing misgivings about the violence as the intifada, or rebellion, moves into its fifth year. Palestinian support for armed attacks against Israeli citizens dropped from 54 percent last September to 49 percent in December. Opposition to such attacks rose to 48 percent, another 5 percentage-point change, and the number of Palestinians who believe they are winning the armed conflict dropped 5 points, to 35 percent.

Nowhere has the impact of the wanton killing been more debated and, at times, damned than in the homes of the suicide bombers themselves.

... In the days after his daughter's deadly attack in May 2003, Azzem Daraghmeh, a thick-waisted, towering man, barely spoke when friends came by the traditional mourning tent to offer congratulations.

... More than a year later, Daraghmeh agonized, with words familiar to other Palestinian parents, over the dark-eyed daughter he lost. "Those guys who set my daughter up--they took advantage of her age and her ideas of the world. What has happened has turned my life upside down," he said. "If I knew who set up Hiba, I'd kill him. Why didn't he send his own daughter or wife or mother?"

'Passover Massacre'

Soccer teams are named for Issam Odeh's younger brother. So are newborn babies. But Issam Odeh, a 37-year-old father of six, now stumbles over the word "hero" when his children ask about their uncle, Abdel Bassat Odeh, a Hamas operative who one Passover night in 2002 killed Israelis by the dozens*.

[* Tom Gross adds: Thirty Israeli and foreign Jews were killed – including two elderly Auschwitz survivors – and 180 others were wounded in that attack.]

"All these people say he's a hero. They claim him as a hero. Well, we're the ones who lost him," said Issam Odeh as he stood in his meagerly stocked food store in Tulkarem, a Palestinian city barricaded by Israel's security wall.

"He did what everyone here thinks is great. But look what happened then and look what happens now. The whole world views what he did as something unacceptable."

Issam Odeh once spoke with pride about the brother. "We have lost a brother, but we are left with pride," he said in an early interview. But last summer, with Israeli soldiers in control of the West Bank and Palestinian fighters dead or underground, Odeh wondered whether the feverish days of 2002 and his brother's suicide bombing were worth the ruin around him...

... Hours after the bombing, crowds milled around the Odeh home to celebrate what they called martyrdom. Some family members found the acclaim soothing. Nawal Odeh, who expressed pride during media interviews that day, later said she was raging behind closed doors. "I kept shouting, "Shut up, shut up. You don't know what we're going through."

... Palestinians lost ground with the attacks, Issam Odeh, the bomber's brother [who loudly supported the action at the time] now acknowledges, and his own four sons and two daughters suffered. His business, like much of the Palestinian economy, collapsed. Entire cities were placed under Israeli military control and, for months, Issam Odeh's family was turned back at every Israeli checkpoint when it tried to move beyond Tulkarem.

'The English major and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades'

When Dareen Abu Aisheh [aged 21, an English major at An-Najah University] blew herself apart at an Israeli checkpoint, her father, Mohammed, likened her death to an act of God. Her mother, Wafika Abu Aisheh, never did. Two months after Dareen's suicide, when a relative pointed out a leader of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who set up suicide missions for the military arm of Yasser Arafat's Fatah political group**, Wafika charged over and demanded to know how he had manipulated her daughter to die.

"I was shaking. I was arguing," the mother of 10 said about the heated exchange that erupted at a social gathering in Nablus. "I'm furious with them. I curse them," her mother said about Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades' role in the attacks.

[** Tom Gross adds: This was the group that for the past four years most of the Western media denied was under the control of Yasser Arafat and his Fatah organization. On several occasions, as I have documented in the past, newspapers like the New York Times did their best not to mention the group at all, leaving readers with the impression that the vast majority of suicide and shooting attacks were being carried out by Hamas or Islamic Jihad, when this was not in fact the case.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades themselves now admit their ultimate commander and paymaster was Arafat. Arafat's financial support for this terror group was made easier thanks to generous donations to Arafat by the European Union. These EU donations were strongly defended by the then EU Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten, a former British cabinet minister, who refused repeated calls by some members of the European parliament to investigate what the funds were being used for. Chris Patten has since been appointed Chancellor of Oxford University, a post he now occupies.]

 




ARTICLE IN FULL

PALESTINIAN FAMILIES WONDER: WERE SUICIDE ATTACKS WORTH THE LOSS OF OUR CHILDREN?

Palestinian families wonder: Were suicide attacks worth the loss of our children?

"The only one who supports such a thing is the person who hasn't seen her child die," says one mother

By Christine Spolar
Tribune foreign correspondent
Chicago Tribune
February 6, 2005

www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0502060429feb06,1,7758474.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

An hour after Fatima Daraghmeh heard the first report of a suicide bombing at a mall in Afula, Israel, her 5-year-old son ran excitedly into the kitchen. "My sister's picture is on TV!"

Three Israelis were dead and dozens wounded and, miles away, the Daraghmeh family found itself caught in the horror. Their 19-year-old daughter Hiba was the killer. Israeli authorities interrogated the girl's parents, Fatima and Azzem. Soon reporters crowded their West Bank home. Fatima Daraghmeh recalled that they asked her if she felt a "mother's pride" in sacrificing for the Palestinian cause.

She couldn't bear the words.

"They kept asking and asking and then, finally, they could tell: I wasn't going to praise the operation," Daraghmeh said. "There was no way I was going to say I was proud. The only one who supports such a thing is the person who hasn't seen her child die."

For years, suicide bombings have proved to be a potent and popular tactic in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. But a new era in politics--the death of longtime leader Yasser Arafat, the election of Mahmoud Abbas and a summit this week in Egypt -- will likely mean a reckoning over the use of armed violence and suicide killings in the name of national aspirations.

Recent opinion polls by the respected Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found growing misgivings about the violence as the intifada, or rebellion, moves into its fifth year.

Palestinian support for armed attacks against Israeli citizens dropped from 54 percent last September to 49 percent in December. Opposition to such attacks rose to 48 percent, another 5 percentage-point change, and the number of Palestinians who believe they are winning the armed conflict dropped 5 points, to 35 percent.

Nowhere has the impact of the wanton killing been more debated and, at times, damned than in the homes of the suicide bombers themselves.

Their children can be counted among the region's most determined killers. Since the beginning of the intifada in September 2000 through the most recent attack Jan. 18 at a Gaza checkpoint, Palestinian suicide bombings have left more than 4,000 victims--533 killed and 3,523 injured--in 98 separate attacks documented by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Israeli lives were shattered by the killings. At the same time, the bombers tore apart their own families' prospects. Israel, invoking national security, sent troops and tanks into Palestinian cities after the attacks to search for militants. In 2002, Israel began building a mammoth and controversial concrete-and-barbed wire barrier around the West Bank to stop the flow of bombers.

For this story, the families of eight killers were interviewed. Some of the families, interviewed soon after the bombings and then repeatedly in the past year, asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal from Israelis as well as Palestinians. The eight Palestinian bombers tracked by the Tribune accounted for 82 dead and 628 wounded Israelis.

The bombings, many of the killers' relatives now concede, fed a national passion at a terrible cost.

In the days after his daughter's deadly attack in May 2003, Azzem Daraghmeh, a thick-waisted, towering man, barely spoke when friends came by the traditional mourning tent to offer congratulations. He was overwhelmed by harsh realities. Israeli soldiers blasted their house into rubble, and he was forced to sell 40 sheep so he could clean a two-room animal pen and call it home for his wife and two young sons in the village of Tubas.

More than a year later, Daraghmeh agonized, with words familiar to other Palestinian parents, over the dark-eyed daughter he lost.

"Those guys who set my daughter up--they took advantage of her age and her ideas of the world. What has happened has turned my life upside down," he said. "If I knew who set up Hiba, I'd kill him. Why didn't he send his own daughter or wife or mother?"

"Passover Massacre"

Soccer teams are named for Issam Odeh's younger brother. So are newborn babies. But Issam Odeh, a 37-year-old father of six, now stumbles over the word "hero" when his children ask about their uncle, Abdel Bassat Odeh, a Hamas operative who one Passover night in 2002 killed Israelis by the dozens.

"All these people say he's a hero. They claim him as a hero. Well, we're the ones who lost him," said Issam Odeh as he stood in his meagerly stocked food store in Tulkarem, a Palestinian city barricaded by Israel's security wall.

"He did what everyone here thinks is great. But look what happened then and look what happens now. The whole world views what he did as something unacceptable."

Issam Odeh once spoke with pride about the brother who triggered the conflict's single deadliest bomb. "We have lost a brother, but we are left with pride," he said in an early interview. But last summer, with Israeli soldiers in control of the West Bank and Palestinian fighters dead or underground, Odeh wondered whether the feverish days of 2002 and his brother's suicide bombing were worth the ruin around him.

"Now we are in a chaotic situation," he said. "We don't know what works and what doesn't work. I look at it this way now: The solution is peace."

His brother's attack was painful for Issam Odeh in ways older Palestinians and in particular his parents, fruit traders from a coastal village lost to Israel in 1948, might never understand. Odeh and his brother were educated and, in their youth, worked at hotels in Tel Aviv and Herzliya. As a young waiter, Odeh enjoyed mastering English and Hebrew. He liked foreigners and dated some. He counted Israelis among his friends.

But by the coldest months of 2002, neither Odeh, his brother nor many other men from Tulkarem had good thoughts about Israelis. More than a year had passed since hard-line politician Ariel Sharon had visited a holy site--known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims--and touched off bloody clashes.

Tensions were boiling. The peace talks arranged by President Bill Clinton at Camp David were a sour memory. Suicide bombers hit a Tel Aviv disco and a Jerusalem pizzeria, and snipers targeted Israeli roads and settlements. On orders from Sharon, who had become prime minister, troops sought militants in densely populated Palestinian areas and ended up killing Palestinians, the fighters and the innocent, in numbers nearly four times those of the Israeli dead.

In March 2002, as the Israeli army raided militant hideouts in Gaza and the West Bank, seven bombers blasted a cafe, buses, bus stops, a market. Then on March 27, Abdel Bassat Odeh donned the dark suit of an Orthodox Jew and pushed the carnage higher.

The handsome 25-year-old detonated an explosives-wired valise amid a crowd gathered on Passover eve for a seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel. Thirty Israelis were killed and 180 wounded.

Within 24 hours, the Israeli commanders called up 20,000 reservists, the largest emergency order since the Lebanon war of 1982. Tanks rolled into Tulkarem, Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah.

The Odeh family huddled in its apartment, about 8 miles from the bombed hotel, uncertain what to do.

Weeks later, Israeli soldiers took over the Odeh home and packed dynamite into its walls. The explosion blew up both the Odehs' building and a neighboring one. Dozens of people, mostly relatives, were homeless.

Many of the Odehs eventually resettled in a small building they renovated. Odeh's mother, Nawal, and father, Mohammed, waved off questions about the bloody consequences of Abdel Bassat's action. They wanted to talk instead about what led Abdel Bassat to kill himself. They didn't blame him. They didn't blame any Palestinian. They blamed Israel.

Israeli security, months before the bombing, had named their son a wanted man based on suspicions that he funneled money into Hamas militant activities. Their son viewed the arrest warrant as a death sentence, the parents said, and he went underground.

Hours after the bombing, crowds milled around the Odeh home to celebrate what they called martyrdom. Some family members found the acclaim soothing. Nawal Odeh, who expressed pride during media interviews that day, later said she was raging behind closed doors. "I kept shouting, `Shut up, shut up. You don't know what we're going through.'

"We knew the Israelis were after him," Nawal said. "What is better--to just be killed or to be a martyr? They did this to him. I think it was better to be a martyr."

Wasn't she pained that her son killed people gathered for a cherished religious event? "I assume the Jews feel the same pain I feel," the 58-year-old woman said. "There is pain on one side and there is pain on the other."

Issam Odeh, the bomber's brother, shrugged at the idea that he might have known some of the Israeli dead. Compassion, he said, cannot blur loyalties.

"When the soldiers come to Tulkarem and kill us, at the end of the day, their families say `Welcome home.' They don't worry about how many they killed," he said.

Still, Palestinians lost ground with the attacks, he acknowledged, and his own four sons and two daughters suffered. His business, like much of the Palestinian economy, collapsed. Entire cities were placed under Israeli military control and, for months, Issam Odeh's family was turned back at every Israeli checkpoint when it tried to move beyond Tulkarem.

"Children look at you to protect them. Mine still talk about their old home, their toys," he said.

One son speaks about the dynamited home as a bad dream. The child sees him as a failed father, Odeh said. "It's like he's thinking: Couldn't you have done something?"

The bombing by Odeh's brother, which was dubbed the Passover Massacre, came to symbolize the worst of the senseless violence in the Middle East.

"We feel the whole world turned against us," said Odeh, who watches Arab and Western media.

Does that change how he or anyone else remembers his brother? Is he still a hero? "We are all victims," he countered.

"The other day, my 7-year-old kid, in 1st grade, asked me: Daddy, is an Israeli soldier a human being, like us? . . . I couldn't figure out how to answer," Odeh said. "I knew if I did, after one question, he'd ask another difficult question. And how do I keep answering the questions? Because the last question leads where? Who is a human being?"

In the half-light of his grocery, Issam Odeh considered his future. His store is bankrupt. His only hope for work now is driving a taxi.

"I loved my life before this all started," he said. "I pray day and night now that I can leave, move my children from this place, go to Europe, anywhere. . . . The reality now is pain.

"I said, one time, I am proud of my brother. I said it. My mind now is somewhere else."

"The English major"

When Dareen Abu Aisheh blew herself apart at an Israeli checkpoint, her father, Mohammed, likened her death to an act of God.

"No one wants to see a daughter die, but we cannot change God's will," the retired laborer said. "All I can do is accept this."

Her mother, Wafika Abu Aisheh, never did. Two months after Dareen's suicide, when a relative pointed out a leader of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who set up suicide missions for the military arm of Yasser Arafat's Fatah political group, Wafika charged over and demanded to know how he had manipulated her daughter to die.

"I was shaking. I was arguing," the mother of 10 said about the heated exchange that erupted at a social gathering in Nablus. "He kept saying, `Don't blame me. She wanted to do it.'"

Dareen Abu Aisheh, 21, an English major at An-Najah University, was the only person killed Feb. 27, 2002, when she set off an explosion at a roadblock near the Israeli town of Maccabim. Three Israeli police who stopped her taxi from the West Bank were injured, and her Palestinian driver was shot and wounded in the aftermath. Abu Aisheh was headed to Tel Aviv but apparently panicked as police checked her documents. She blasted her body into pieces.

Years later, Abu Aisheh's deed stirs passions and debate among those who loved her.

"I'm furious with them. I curse them," her mother said about Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades' role in the attacks. She and other family members said they never viewed Dareen, even in the worst times of 2002, as anything more than idealistic about Palestinian independence.

The girl intensely debated the conflict--as all Palestinians do --but she also wrote poems about resistance and taught Koran classes as a catharsis. "She was my flesh. Do you think I would have allowed her to kill herself in a thousand pieces? What mother--only an insane mother would want that for their child," Wafika said.

But Abu Aisheh's father and sisters describe her as an adult with strong convictions who made a choice based on how she saw Israelis control Palestinians.

"Israel has made us older faster," said 18-year-old sister Ikram. "We bear responsibility beyond our years. . . . What is happening on the ground here is more important than anything else."

Ikram, now a high school senior, said she will follow her sister to an-Najah University. But Ikram will study a different field--architecture--and use her anger toward an ideal.

"They destroy," Ikram said about the Israeli incursion into Nablus in 2002. "And we will build.

"I decided: For every building that falls, save the bricks," she said. "I will learn an effective form of resistance that keeps giving and giving and building up society."

The young bomber's mother seems tortured most by the memories of her daughter's final hours--and the lies she told.

Dareen Abu Aisheh awoke early that cold February morning to pray. Her mother made coffee, returned to bed and heard Dareen rustle in. Her daughter, reading the Koran, snuggled next to her until about 8:30 a.m., when she left for school. By noon, for reasons the mother cannot explain, she began to feel "odd, like a fire inside" and tense about her daughter.

She went to visit her oldest son, Tawfik. His greeting was startling: "Where's Dareen?"

The mother said Dareen was at school. That's a lie, Tawfik said. She wasn't even in Nablus. She had just phoned from a checkpoint and told him cryptically: "Go stay with Mom."

The daughter phoned again, this time to her mother. "Where are you?" her mother said. "Don't make my heart ache."

Stop crying, Dareen told her, and "stay firm with God."

The line went dead.

Wafika and Tawfik Abu Aisheh tried in vain the next day to find out where she had gone. Mother and son were watching television the next night when the news flashed by. The mother, numb, switched from channel to channel to hear the reports. A Palestinian woman had set off an explosion at a checkpoint near Maccabim.

The mother barely needed to hear the name.

"What could I have done?" she said. "Who could I have called? Could I call the Palestinian Authority? Could I call the Israelis? . . . In every case, Dareen would have been taken from me."

Tempting the desperate

Both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can agree on one thing: Suicide bombing tempts the most desperate.

Jihad Msemi, a strategist for Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who escaped an Israeli missile strike in 2002, maintains that suicide bombers never need to be persuaded or coerced to kill.

"I assure you, when a 20-year-old comes forward and wants to be a martyr, we discuss it," Msemi said. "We try to give them a gun and let them fight that way. But . . . most of the young people who want this are driven by emotions. It becomes uncontrollable. The suicide bomber seeks it--and keeps working on it. You know he'll do something, if just throw himself in front of a tank. That's when you say: Give him the suicide belt."

Even Israeli security sources who track such attacks find a kind of logic among the young killers. For the most part, as one security source said, the bombers are "normal people with mostly normal problems" and motivations.

"As Palestinians, they fight for a cause, and a cause to them that is just. Who can convince them that it's not right?" the Israeli security source said. "As long as the situation is bad, it can be exploited."

Fatima and Azzem Daraghmeh said they always tried to warn their children that the Palestinian militancy offered no future. Fatima, who finished six grades of school, said she and her husband encouraged the children to pursue education. Her daughter Hiba turned down two offers of marriage so she could earn a college degree.

One son, Bakr, went to vocational school in Nablus and found the militants there intoxicating. Soon Bakr and his mother were arguing over his late hours. She feared he was becoming a resistance fighter, one who believed guns and fury could end occupation.

"He was always talking Palestine. I said, 'Forget Palestine. I care about you,'" the mother said.

Hiba would play peacemaker to offset Bakr's impudence, but she, too, could baffle her mother. The pretty teen began wearing a full-length veil that covered all but her eyes. Her mother tried to tease her out of the extreme dress, seeing it as an expression of devotion to Islam but also shyness.

"Only donkeys are that covered," her mother would tell her. "Who's going to marry a girl they can't see?"

It all began unraveling in 2001 for the family. During a fractious march in Nablus, Bakr was shot by Israeli soldiers. He was recuperating at home in 2002 when Israeli soldiers arrested him on charges of planning a suicide bombing. He was later sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Hiba was inconsolable after that army raid on their house. Soldiers shredded the notebooks she needed for school exams, family members said. She cried about the chaos and told her parents she hated the Israelis.

Still, the parents said they never expected her, within a year's time, to seek deadly revenge.

"I sit here and try to figure it out and, sometimes, I think my head is going to explode," said Fatima Daraghmeh, 48, the mother of eight. "I don't have any answers to why they did this. To know, I'd have to be able to get into their hearts."

The Daraghmehs later discovered that they still might not know the depth of their children's deceit. Another daughter, Jihan, was arrested days after Hiba's suicide bombing. For months, Jihan was held by the Israelis. On July 27, 2004, she pleaded guilty to giving West Bank militants--the same Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades linked to her sister's bombing--the name of another woman willing to be a suicide bomber.

Jihan, 29, and a mother of five children, was sentenced to 13 months in jail. Several months later, given credit for time served, she was released. Jihan told her parents that, despite her plea in court, the Israelis exaggerated her ties and she's not involved with the resistance.

The Daraghmehs say they want to believe their daughter.


Mithal al-Alousi: Paying a heavy price for recognizing Israel’s existence

February 10, 2005

This is a follow-up to the dispatch Iraqi official wishes "shana tova" to the Israeli people (September 15, 2004).

* Mithal al-Alousi, a brave Iraqi and a man of peace, paid a heavy price for his democratic views and for recognizing Israel, as his sons were murdered in Baghdad yesterday.

* Mithal al-Alousi is a subscriber to this email list and has publicly recognized Israel's right to exist.

 

CONTENTS

1. "Al-Alousi survives an assassination attempt, but two of his sons are killed" (United Press International, Feb. 8 2005)
2. "A previous attempt on Mithal al-Alousi's life" (CNN, Jan. 13, 2005)
3. "Al-Alousi had to set up a new party after his visit to Israel" (KurdishMedia.com, Oct. 27, 2004)
4. "New Iraq, Old Routine" (Arabic Media Internet Network, Oct. 6, 2004)
5. "Iraqi defends his Israel visit" (Washington Times, Sept. 26, 2004)
6. Repeat of previous dispatch: Iraqi official wishes "shana tova" to the Israeli people (Sept. 15, 2004.)



[Note by Tom Gross]

AN IRAQI POLITICIAN IN ISRAEL

To remind you: Last September, Mithal al-Alousi, an official in the interim Iraqi government, stepped up onto a podium in Herzliya, Israel, and wished "Shana Tova (Jewish Happy New Year) to the Israeli people".

Al-Alousi visited Israel to speak at an international conference on counter-terrorism at the ICT (International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism), a think tank housed at the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center) in Herzliya. I was also a speaker at that conference and had an opportunity to talk privately to al-Alousi, who was on his first visit to Israel, and who came across as a pleasant man who genuinely desires peaceful relations between the Arab world and Israel.

Al-Alousi's trip to Israel was reported on in dozens of newspapers around the world, including the Arab media. Since then, he has received numerous death threats and there have been several attempts on his life.

For reasons connected to security, I did not make public previous updates concerning Mithal al-Alousi.

The story I attach below, from UPI, has received virtually no publicity anywhere else in the West. I also attach several previous articles I didn't send before.

Even though his life is under threat every day, Mithal continues to advocate pro-democratic views and says that Iraq should have peaceful relations with Israel.

-- Tom Gross



AL-ALOUSI SURVIVES AN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT, BUT TWO OF HIS SONS ARE KILLED

Baghdad Bomb Kills 21 Army Recruits
United Press International
February 9, 2005

www.newswatch50.com/news/national/story.aspx?content_id=1064E30F-F322-47C8-AD64-75470ADB11A1

A car bomber in central Baghdad killed at least 20 people yesterday and injured more than a dozen others applying as Iraqi army recruits, military officials said.

The blast shook the capital around 10:30 a.m., a spokesman with the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division said. Security sources said the explosion cut through a truck carrying Iraqi soldiers at Muthanna Airport Field.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on the motorcade of Mithal al-Alousi, the general-secretary of the Iraqi Nation Democratic Party. Al-Alousi survived the attack, but two of his sons and a bodyguard were killed in the spray of bullets.

Al-Alousi, a former senior member of the Iraqi National Congress party, visited Israel three months ago to attend a conference on combating terrorism and has been the subject of many assassination attempts in the past.

The attacks come on the heels of two attacks Monday that killed at least 27 people in Mosul and Baqubah.

The attacks this week have all targeted either police, military forces, or civilians hoping to find jobs in the security forces.

 

A PREVIOUS ATTEMPT ON MITHAL AL-ALOUSI'S LIFE

Car bomb outside mosque kills seven
Baghdad election center director killed
CNN
January 13, 2005

edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/01/13/iraq

A car bomb was detonated outside a Shia mosque Thursday night, killing four Iraqi police officers and three civilians and wounding 30 others, a U.S. military spokesman said.

The bombing in the town of Khan Bani Saad, about 20 km (12 miles) south of Baquba, occurred at about 6 p.m. (10 a.m. ET), said Maj. Neal O'Brien, spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division in Tikrit.

Afterward, Iraqi police engaged in small-arms fire with insurgents, who were seen fleeing the area, he said.

The wounded were taken to a hospital. O'Brien said the attack "shows the desperate nature of the insurgents as Iraq moves closer to elections."

Meanwhile, gunmen killed the director of a Baghdad election center Thursday, another in a series of attacks targeting election officials and candidates as the vote set for January 30 approaches.

Baghdad police, who reported the slaying, did not release the director's name. He was in charge of an election center in the al-Khadoumiyah neighborhood in the northern part of Baghdad.

Also on Thursday, the Democratic Islamic Party announced Iraqi presidential candidate Mithal al-Alousi was targeted for the second time in two weeks.

Al-Alousi, who supports normal relations between Iraq and Israel, was attacked Tuesday at midnight in western Baghdad.

Al-Alousi said an explosion went off on the second floor of his home just as the lights were turned on in those rooms. No one was injured. Police believe a grenade was thrown through the window.

On Wednesday, a representative for prominent Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani was shot to death in Salman Pak, east of Baghdad. The representative's son and four bodyguards were also shot, police said.

Sheikh Mahmoud al-Madaeeni was al-Sistani's representative in Salman Pak, according to the town's police chief. Al-Sistani is Iraq's most influential Shiite leader and strongly supports the general elections.

[The rest of this CNN article relates to other matters concerning Iraq and is not included here.]

(CNN's Dana Bash, Elise Labott, Nermeen al-Mufti, Barbara Starr, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Ayman Mohyeldin and Jennifer Yuille contributed to this report.)

 

AL-ALOUSI HAD TO SET UP A NEW PARTY AFTER HIS VISIT TO ISRAEL

Fired INC official founds new Iraqi political party
KurdishMedia.com
October 27, 2004

www.kurdmedia.com/news.asp?id=5676

Mithal al-Alousi, formerly a senior member of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), announced the formation of a new political party to be known as the Democratic Iraqi National Party in Baghdad. This party will take part in the Iraqi elections planned for January 2005. In addition to his previous membership in the INC, Alousi was the Director General of the committee formed for the de-Ba’athification of Iraq.

Alousi attended a conference on terrorism at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center in Israel in September 2004 and stated that many elements in Iraq are interested in diplomatic ties with Israel. Following Israeli media reports of Alousi’s visit and public statements, the INC declared that Alousi’s statements did not represent “its point of view” and fired Alousi from his position within the party. At least one other member of the INC left the party in response to this incident.

 

NEW IRAQ, OLD ROUTINE

New Iraq, old routine
By Ksenia Svetlova *
Arabic Media Internet Network
October 6, 2004

www.amin.org/eng/uncat/2004/oct/oct6.html

[* Ksenia Svetlova is an Israeli columnist for the Russian-language newspaper Novosty Nedeli and an Arab affairs reporter for Israel Plus, Russian-language TV.]

Does anyone remember why US invaded Iraq? I mean except for the threat of WMD that had not been found and the alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda chief Usama Bin Laden, which had not been proven? Let me remind you if you don’t. According to George Bush Jr. one of the prime goals was liberating Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and building free and democratic Iraq. I believe the exact words of American president were “We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near. …..” (address to the nation, 17/03/2003).

For plenty Iraqis these promises sounded like music to their ears. Some were naïve enough to believe that these words can and will be translated into actions and that brighter, better and freer future is just around the corner. Only guess what: new Iraq is a lot like the old one.

Too bad that some of the keenest believers had to find out the hard way. One of these people is Jamal Mithal al-Alousi, ex-head of the debaathification committee and an ex-member of the National Iraqi Congress party, headed by renown US supporter Ahmad Chelabi. Today Mr. Al-Alousi is an ex, a used-to-be, an outcast whose only crime... is a visit to Israel. Mr. Al-Alousi was invited to participate in international conference on global impact of terrorism that took place in Herzlliya, Israel 11-14/09/04. While still in Israel al-Alousi was notified that he was sacked from his position and from the party for visiting "a Zionist state".

Not long after his return to Iraq al-Alousi learned that there was a court order against him and that he is about to be arrested. On what grounds, you ask? Well, apparently new Iraq still lives by old legal codes, and while Saddam Hussein is in prison and will soon be tried for his crimes, the laws that were produced by his regime are nevertheless valid!

The particular law that was broke by Mithal al-Alousi was issued in 1968 and states that any Iraqi that had visited Israel is to be punished severely. Not long ago all Iraqi passports bared a stamp "valid for visitation in any country except for Zionist entity".

Today the stamp is gone, but it seems that the routine is still very much alive. And although the bad guy with a moustache is locked away, his supporters around the country are determined to stick to the tradition of hatred, terror and fear. Should Mithal al-Alousi be thrown in jail, there is more then enough evidence that his life will be in danger as constant threats on him and his family continues pouring in.

So where is the democracy George Bush was talking about before invading Iraq fits it? Where are the freedom of speech and movement that being so bluntly violated by the same Governing council that promised to protect these fundamental human rights and on 08/03/2004 actually signed on the text of interim constitution which states in article 13 D that "each Iraqi has the right of free movement in all parts of Iraq and the right to travel abroad and return freely."? Does the journey to democracy ends with Saddam's and Aziz’s trials? If so, perhaps these guys should be given their old jobs back? If not, some action should be taken already today, as it could be too late tomorrow for Mithal al-Alousi and other Iraqis that still hope that freedom and democracy shall blossom on Iraqi soil once. Right now would be the perfect time to take a closer look on the "New Iraq" before more people will pay by their lives for someone else's empty promises.

 

IRAQI DEFENDS HIS ISRAEL VISIT

[This is one of articles in dozens of news outlets worldwide that mentioned al-Alousi's visit to Israel.]

Iraqi defends his Israel visit
The Washington Times
September 26, 2004

washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040926-042158-1021r.htm

The former Iraqi official in charge of disbanding Iraq's Baath Party, Mithal al-Alousi, reportedly said Sunday he was not the only Iraqi to visit Israel.

The London-based ash-Sharq al-Awsat quoted al-Alousi, who was fired from his position for visiting Israel, as threatening to sue those who had terminated him from his post.

He told the Arabic-language daily "incumbent officials and leaders in Iraq have gone on secret visits to Israel," adding there were also leaders in the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi, who went to the Jewish state.

But he refused to reveal names.

Al-Alousi described his recent visit to Israel as "legitimate as a politician and researcher in issues of combating terrorism, its causes and results, especially in Iraq."

He added that if Iraq wanted to live in peace and "if we want to build a new Iraq, we should establish good relations with the rest of the world, based on respect for Iraq's sovereignty."

He claimed he had received approval from the Iraqi National Council for his visit to Israel, adding the council intended to question him on that visit.

Al-Alousi also described a handshake between Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom during the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York last week as "nice."

 

 

REPEAT OF PREVIOUS DISPATCH

[This is attached for all those who have joined this email list since last September.]

Iraqi official wishes "Shana Tova" to the Israeli people... is then sacked; his family in Baghdad are forced to go into hiding.
September 15, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Shana Tova to the People of Israel"
2. The Media and Terrorism
3. Schily: "Fight Anti-Semitism As Well As Terrorism"
4. Eiland reveals in public for the first Time: Israel's Criteria for "Targeted Interceptions"
5. Arafat sends New Year wishes to Israelis, and Dispatches Suicide Bomber to Kill them at the same time

 

[Note by Tom Gross]

"SHANA TOVA TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL"

This week Mithal al-Alousi, a senior official in the new Iraqi government, stepped up onto a podium in Herzliya, Israel, and wished "Shana Tova [Happy New Year] to the Israeli people". (The Jewish New Year begins this evening.)

Al-Alousi, who is director general of the Supreme Iraqi National Commission for DeBathification in Baghdad, has called for a new open, honest and tolerant beginning for the Arab peoples.

Al-Alousi was in Israel to speak at an international conference on Counter-Terrorism at the ICT (International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism) a think tank housed at the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center) in Herzliya.

His visit marks the first time that a senior Iraqi official has publicly visited Israel. Furthermore, al-Alousi flew to Israel (from Ankara, Turkey) on El Al Israel Airlines.

I was also a speaker at this conference and had an opportunity to talk privately to al-Alousi, who was on his first visit to Israel, and who comes across as a pleasant man who genuinely wishes for peaceful relations between the Arab world and Israel.

Al-Alousi said "many intellectuals in Iraq know that Israel must be taken into account as an existing fact and that generations of people have been born here. It is in Iraq's interests to have diplomatic relations with everyone, and that is what we want."

"A VITAL COMPONENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST"

He added that he came to Israel "because it is such a vital component in the Middle East".

I wasn't going to write on this list about al-Alousi's visit, but after details of his visit were reported on by journalists for the AP and Reuters, it has been reported upon by dozens of Arab news outlets.

Al-Alousi has now been fired by the Iraqi National Congress after an emergency meeting of its leadership in the wake of reports of the visit, and his family, facing death threats, have had to go into hiding.

Al-Alousi said he was aware of the risk of coming to Israel but with so many other threats against him already, he said he was used to threats to his life.

Al-Alousi is (perhaps) ahead of his time. On Sunday, the Arab Web site Illaf published a report stating that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hishiyar Zibai is the most prominent of an important group in the Iraqi government pushing for an end to the state of war between Iraq and Israel.

According to Illaf, quoting Iraqi diplomats in Amman, last week there was a meeting in Amman of senior Iraqis with Israelis. Jordanian government sources said there are contacts between Israelis and Iraqis, though usually it is business people, not government officials. The sources said the Iraqi defense minister also favors a thaw in relations with Israel, but Iraqi President Iyad Alawi is opposed, arguing that the Iraqi government should concentrate on rehabilitating the country.

-- Tom Gross

 

THE MEDIA AND TERRORISM

The ICT conference brought together about 800 experts on terrorism (intelligence officials, politicians, policy-makers, military officials, academics and some journalists) from about 33 countries. It began (deliberately) on September 11, and ended yesterday evening.

I was asked to speak at the conference on the "Media and terrorism." More specifically, I spoke on the way in which terrorist groups, while rejecting western values and society, are experts at skillfully exploiting the western media to help further their political aims, and this has led to western intellectuals (and many journalists) sympathizing with not just their aims but their tactics (i.e. mass murder). Terrorists and their sympathizers lie to their teeth, knowing they can rely on western journalists to uncritically print their lies and rely on western politicians (particularly in Europe) to lap them up. They are "useful idiots," as Lenin described those in the west taken in by Communist propaganda.

Other speakers at the conference included:

* Moshe Ya'alon, the chief of staff of the Israeli army
* Shabtai Shavit, the former Head of the Mossad, and Chairman of the ICT Directors
* Vladimir Vasilyev, Chairman of the Duma (Russian Parliament) Committee for Security
* Otto Schily, the Interior Minister of Germany
* Gennady Tarasov, Russian ambassador to Israel
* Rohan Gunartna, from Singapore, who is regarded as the world's leading academic expert on Al Qaeda
* Anne Bayefsky, an expert on the UN discrimination against Israel and others

There were several other speakers from Russia, China, Germany, Denmark, Australia, India, Georgia, as well as a number of Israeli-Arab leaders.

American speakers including officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

Other speakers on the media included:
* Shalom Kital, the head of Israel Channel Two news
* Yon Feder, the Chief Editor of Ynet, Israel's largest Internet news portal
* Yossi Melman, intelligence correspondent for Ha'aretz

 

SCHILY: "FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM AS WELL AS TERRORISM"

Otto Schily, the Interior Minister of Germany, called the fight against terrorism a "new world war" and said "we cannot discuss terrorism without mentioning anti-Semitism as well - it provides the foundation on which terrorism often builds."

He added: "No nation has suffered under the scourge of terrorism longer and harder than Israel... we see a dreadful trail of blood over the years and decades caused by Islamist terrorism. Islamist terrorism has become the most dangerous threat to the whole civilized world in the 21st century."

Tom Gross adds: Schily was originally a leftist German politician, who rose up through the ranks of the Green Party and was sympathetic to the PLO. Today, as interior minister, he is taking a much firmer line on terror groups and has recently banned Hamas and PLO front organizations from operating in Germany.

 

EILAND REVEALS IN PUBLIC FOR THE FIRST TIME: ISRAEL'S CRITERIA FOR "TARGETED INTERCEPTIONS"

"THERE WAS NOT ONE SINGLE CASE OF MISTAKE IN IDENTITY."

Speaking at the conference, National Security Adviser Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland revealed that the IDF had four criteria that had to be met to carry out a targeted interception.

1. There was no way to possibility to arrest the person, without dozens of civilians dying in gun battles. Eiland indicated that targeted interceptions were very rarely used in the West Bank, where the IDF pretty much has free reign in the past few years. Eiland also noted that during this time security forces had arrested over 1,500 people.

2. Interceptions are only approved when the intelligence was completely reliable, and no mistake could be made about the intended target's identity. Eiland, who was head of the Operations Division during much of Israel's recent conflict with the Palestinians, said the IDF carried out about 150 attempted interceptions in the past four years. "There was not one single case of mistake in identity. Sometimes we missed or caused damage beyond what we expected. This is a 100 percent record," claimed Eiland.

3. The target was "important enough."

4. It had to be done with the minimum probability of causing innocent casualties. "There have been dozens, if not hundreds of times that we had good operational opportunity to do something but did not because it did not meet all four conditions," Eiland said.

 

ARAFAT SENDS NEW YEAR WISHES TO ISRAELIS, AND DISPATCHES SUICIDE BOMBER TO KILL THEM AT THE SAME TIME

Tom Gross writes:

Ever the master of manipulation of the media, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat yesterday sent a New Year's message on his own behalf, that of the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people to the people of Israel.

In extending his best wishes Arafat also expressed the hope that Israelis and Palestinians can begin to live in security and attain a long-awaited peace "for the betterment of your children and our children and a promising future for the whole region."

The message was also signed in his capacity as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

At the same time he was sending the message, gunmen in Ramallah working for Arafat's Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, murdered another Rami Yaghmour, 28, suspected of collaboration with Israel. Yaghmour had been arrested last month by the Palestinian Authority's Special Forces security apparatus and PA security sources claimed that he had confessed during "interrogation". Yaghmour is the sixth suspected collaborator killed in Ramallah in recent months.

Also at the same time that Arafat told Israelis that he wished "for the betterment of your children and our children and a promising future for the whole region," Arafat's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades dispatched a suicide bomber to kill them. The Palestinian suicide bomber on a bicycle blew up at a West Bank crossing, wounding three Israeli soldiers, one seriously (his injuries are life-threatening, according to doctors). The bomber blew himself up at the checkpoint after he failed to get into Israel proper.


How can Arabs influence the media in the west?

February 09, 2005

* Arab News editorial today: "I cannot think of better conmen than Israeli and pro-Israeli 'experts' in the field of media packaging..."



[Note by Tom Gross]

One surprising facet of the "public relations war" on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict is how each side sees the other as far superior. I attach the latest article from the Arab media to argue that Israel is much more adept at PR than Arab governments - from today's edition of the Saudi daily paper, "Arab News."

Many may find it surprising that so many Arab commentators regard the efforts of the Israeli Foreign Ministry as being so successful. If they were, then there might be Israeli spokespersons who are household names among educated television viewers in the West in the way that Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi are.

Contrary to what the author of this latest article, Ramzy Baroud, writes - that "Israel invests colossal sums of money in media training" - in fact the sums Israel devotes to PR are considerably less than those spent by Arab governments and pro-Palestinian advocacy groups.

However, more importantly than the sums in question, are the skills and professionalism of those appointed by the Israeli government to explain Israeli positions to a Western audience. In my opinion, they are often far less skilled than many of those advocating positions on behalf of the Palestinian Authority or Palestinian "militant" groups.

I attach the article below, with the relevant extracts pertaining to the Arab-Israeli dispute first, for those on this email list who don't have time to read the article in full but are primarily interested in this aspect of it.

(Extra Note: Most people on this email list are working journalists or government officials. But there are also a number of subscribers running websites and weblogs and should they choose to write about this article, I would be grateful if they would mention that I drew their attention to it.)

-- Tom Gross

 

EXTRACTS OF ARTICLE RELATING TO PRO-ISRAELI P.R.

"How Can Arabs Influence the Media in the West?" (By Ramzy Baroud, Arab News, February 9, 2005)

"... For many years, Israeli and pro-Israeli officials, academics and the like have been swarming American news networks, talk radio programs and opinion pages of American newspapers, large and small.

But if one is to discern their approach, he will find an almost complete deviation from the issue at hand. It is noteworthy to mention that in their rhetoric, they scarcely reveal that their ultimate allegiance is to Israel. They come across as very much American. Thus, they justify the killing of Palestinians in Rafah by contrasting America's need to uproot terrorism in Afghanistan, and explain the suffocating closure of the occupied territories by referring to the US Army's occasional move to seal Iraqi borders in the face of 'infiltrators.'

If you take a moment to listen to an Israel media expert talking to Fox News about democracy, liberty, freedom and so on, it might slip your mind that the real goal of this expert-impostor is to justify the denial of democracy, liberty and freedom to someone else.

I cannot think of better conmen than Israeli and pro-Israeli "experts" in the field of media packaging. Of course Israel invests colossal sums of money in media training, the construction and operation of media centers in Israel and the United States and elsewhere. In short, Israel understands the impact of the media in the world, and takes this business very seriously.

Arabs don't. Most Arab countries are nowhere close to Israel's impressive media triumphs... The reproachful tone used on CNN or Fox News to interrogate an Arab guest can hardly be discounted... The issue of bias must be raised continually as a part of the ongoing debate on media ethics and fairness..."

 



ARTICLE IN FULL

HOW CAN ARABS INFLUENCE THE MEDIA IN THE WEST?

How Can Arabs Influence the Media in the West?
Ramzy Baroud, Aljazeera.net English
Arab News
February 9, 2005

arabnews.com/?page=7§ion=0&article=58735&d=9&m=2&y=2005

How can Arabs influence Western media, combat its inherent bias and grotesque misrepresentations of the Arab and Muslim world?

Despite the perpetual need to address this issue nothing noteworthy has been achieved on this front, particularly after the attacks of Sept. 11, with the awesome, intellectual, social and cultural backlash unleashed thereafter.

Many of the attempts to bridge the gap between East and West have been crude at best. They facilitated the emergence of two groups of Arab intellectuals and media spokespeople.

One group was "uncompromising". It refused to acknowledge that a Western audience has an entirely different frame of reference and thus cannot subscribe to an Arab or Muslim argument that simply conforms to what is accepted and what is not in an Arab society.

The other group just wanted to "fit in". Intellectuals of this type told the media what the media wanted to hear. They preferred to draw the audience’s applause, rather than risk its taunts and heckling.

Needless to say, both groups have failed miserably. This is not to suggest that a common ground is far-fetched and that an eloquent as well as courageous third voice is impossible.

For many years, Israeli and pro-Israeli officials, academics and the like have been swarming American news networks, talk radio programs and opinion pages of American newspapers, large and small.

But if one is to discern their approach, he will find an almost complete deviation from the issue at hand. It is noteworthy to mention that in their rhetoric, they scarcely reveal that their ultimate allegiance is to Israel. They come across as very much American. Thus, they justify the killing of Palestinians in Rafah by contrasting America's need to uproot terrorism in Afghanistan, and explain the suffocating closure of the occupied territories by referring to the US Army's occasional move to seal Iraqi borders in the face of "infiltrators."

If you take a moment to listen to an Israel media expert talking to Fox News about democracy, liberty, freedom and so on, it might slip your mind that the real goal of this expert-impostor is to justify the denial of democracy, liberty and freedom to someone else.

I cannot think of better conmen than Israeli and pro-Israeli "experts" in the field of media packaging. Of course Israel invests colossal sums of money in media training, the construction and operation of media centers in Israel and the United States and elsewhere. In short, Israel understands the impact of the media in the world, and takes this business very seriously.

Arabs don't. Most Arab countries are nowhere close to Israel's impressive media triumphs. Part of the reason is the uninterrupted corruption that plagues most Arab institutions.

In any given Arab country, chances are that those in charge of media and international relations are chosen based on anything but experience, wisdom and competence. Family affiliations play an important part, but also allegiance to the ruling party or close ties to men in charge. They lack fluency, persuasiveness and are "just too important" to submit to the notion of instruction or training of any sort.

One must not mistake this critique as a justification for the Western media's deliberate bias. The reproachful tone used on CNN or Fox News to interrogate an Arab guest can hardly be discounted. It is this approach — accusatory and indicting — that drove one of the most eloquent scholars, late Professor Edward Said, to distance himself from mainstream media altogether.

But acknowledging bias should not be a justification for the ineptitude and ineffectiveness of the Arab voice in Western media. The issue of bias must be raised continually as a part of the ongoing debate on media ethics and fairness, not as a justification for shying away from the media challenge.

No surprise that Arab governments employ American PR firms, with total lack of knowledge regarding Arab affairs to revamp their image before Western audiences.

Most Arab countries lack the resources to engage in this important undertaking. Real potential resides in collective action. Countries such as Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia possess the financial and infrastructural resources to sponsor serious media initiatives, making use of the remarkable wealth of brilliant Arab minds brimming all over the world.

This is not a matter of policy, far from it. It is a cultural imperative, a response to the media pundits who justify the hard-line foreign policy of the Bush administration and sell wars and Abu Ghraib-like torture chambers as essential for American freedom, security and democracy. So how can Arabs influence the Western media? They must understand that one may succeed at getting away with corruption and incompetence in any field, but not in the field of media.


Reporting on Auschwitz: 2005 & 1942

February 04, 2005

I attach below a slightly longer version of an article that appeared yesterday in The Jerusalem Post.

The article analyzes the media coverage last week during the ceremonies for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and compares this with the coverage during the Holocaust itself, particularly the lamentable record of the New York Times.

It suggests that a comparable mindset still seems to dominate the New York Times and other so-called liberal media today, having negative consequences for the people of Darfur and elsewhere.

-- Tom Gross

 



FULL ARTICLE

REPORTING AUSCHWITZ, THEN & NOW

Reporting Auschwitz, then & now
By Tom Gross
The Jerusalem Post
February 3, 2005

Last week's media coverage marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was surprisingly comprehensive and accurate. Even many of those news outlets that have a poor record of covering Jewish issues, such as anti-Semitism and the Middle East, covered the story well.

Take the BBC, for example. As recently as January 13, 2005, the BBC posted a webpage titled "BBC Guides: The Holocaust. What was it?" Designed to explain the controversy over Prince Harry's wearing of a Nazi uniform at a fancy-dress party, that webpage neglected to mention Jews, erroneously stated that most Holocaust victims were German citizens, and encouraged the myth that other groups were persecuted by the Nazis to anything like the same extent that Jews were.

The BBC webpage blandly stated: "The Holocaust was a mass murder of millions of people... Most of the victims died because they belonged to certain racial or religious groups, which the Nazis wanted to wipe out, even though they were German citizens. This kind of killing is called genocide."

Yet last week, the BBC covered the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz in a serious and thorough way, both on air and on-line. That most victims were Jews was highlighted. "The Holocaust. What was it?" and other webpages were corrected. And whereas, a week earlier the BBC had referred to the "Auschwitz prison camp", it now used the infinitely more accurate term "death camp". (If BBC staff really think it was a prison camp, they don't begin to understand what Auschwitz was.)

Other media with previously poor records, such as the French newspaper Le Monde, also had generally sound coverage.

The (London) Guardian, too, had some good pieces - although at the same time, true to form, it supplemented its lead editorial, titled "Holocaust Memorial Day: Eternal memory", with an accompanying commentary by former Oxford University professor Terry Eagleton, in which he justified suicide bombing "in Israel" and likened suicide bombers to their victims. (Unsurprisingly, the piece was reprinted the following day in the Saudi paper Arab News and appeared on a half-dozen extremist Moslem websites.)

The Guardian also couldn't resist greatly exaggerating the numbers of Roma (Gypsies) who died in the camps. (Perhaps the paper isn't aware that inflating the number of Roma and homosexuals killed by the Nazis, in order to try and de-emphasize the centrality of Jews among Holocaust victims, is now a favorite trick of revisionist historians.)

In the Arab world, most media simply ignored last week's anniversary altogether. In Iran, the government-linked Tehran Times marked the occasion by explicitly denying that "the so-called Holocaust" happened and accusing "Zionist leaders" of "conjuring up images of gas chambers." (It makes one wonder all the more what the Iranian regime wants nuclear weapons for.)

Still, as far as the Western media goes, this improved coverage today contrasts sharply with the lack of proper coverage in the decades following World War II, or even as recently as 10 years ago. And it also provides a bitterly ironic reminder of just how poor coverage was during the Holocaust itself.

The omissions of the New York Times are perhaps the most disturbing. Although it was far from being the only newspaper to deliberately play down or do its best to ignore Hitler's genocide, it bears a special responsibility as having been even then the world's single most influential paper.

Such was the Times' influence as the premier American source of wartime news (particularly so in an age before television) that had it reported the Holocaust properly, other US papers would probably have followed, and US public opinion might have forced the US government to act. (European papers - outside Nazi-occupied countries - provided slightly better, though still lamentable, coverage.)

But the Times, possibly because they feared people might think of it a "Jewish" paper, made sure reports were brief and buried inside the paper.

* On June 27, 1942, for example, the Times devoted just two inches to the news that "700,000 Jews were reported slain in Poland."

* On July 2, 1942, it noted that gas chambers were being used to kill 1,000 Jews a day - but only on page 6.

* On November 25, 1942, it reported that there had been roundups, gassings, cattle cars and the disappearance of 90 percent of Warsaw's ghetto population - but only on page 10.

* On December 9, 1942, its report that two million Jews had been killed and five million more faced extermination appeared only on page 20.

* On July 2, 1944, it reported that 400,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to their deaths so far, and 350,000 more were likely to be killed in the next weeks. Yet this news received only four column inches on page 12. (That edition's front page carried an analysis of the problem of New York holiday crowds on the move.)

During the war, no article about the Jews' plight ever qualified as the Times' leading story of the day.

The New York Times has never properly acknowledged its failings in this matter. And the fact that a comparable mindset still seems to dominate the paper today continues to have consequences - whether in the unfair coverage it gives Israel, or the relative lack of attention given to other genocides and systematic acts of inhumanity, such as those in North Korea or Burma, and in particular those for which Arabs are chiefly responsible, as in Darfur.

The tsunami tragedies can occupy the front page for days on end, but Darfur is lucky if it makes an inside page once in a week.

(Tom Gross is a former Jerusalem correspondent for the (London) Sunday Telegraph and (New York) Daily News)

 

This article has also been picked up by several other news websites, where comments have been left by readers. These include:

web.israelinsider.com/Views/4920.htm

www.israelnationalnews.com/article.php3?id=4749

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107314591917&p=1006953079865

Fans flock to Harry Potter’s grave in Israel & Coming soon: Arafat-Park

February 02, 2005

* New position created by the Palestinian Authority: "Executive Director of the National Committee for Immortalizing the Symbol of the Immortal Leader Yasser Arafat"

* "Some 5 million pieces of Araphernalia have been preserved for future historians"


WILD ABOUT HARRY

[Note by Tom Gross]

Because many pieces sent on this list are highly serious and sometimes depressing, I try and occasionally send lighter material when available. The first of the two items on this dispatch probably qualifies.

Contents of this dispatch:

1. "Tourists flock to Harry Potter's grave in Israel" (AFP, Jan. 25, 2005)
2. "Coming soon: Arafat deification 'theme park'" (Toronto Star, Jan. 30, 2005)

 

TOURISTS FLOCK TO HARRY POTTER’S GRAVE IN ISRAEL

The first piece below is from AFP (the French news agency), and the version attached here was carried on "The Mail and Guardian," Africa's first online newspaper.

AFP reports that tourists and fans of literary boy wizard Harry Potter are flocking to Harry Potter's grave. The tomb in question belongs to Corporal Harry Potter, a 19-year-old British soldier who is buried in a cemetery close to Tel Aviv. Potter was killed 66 years ago during fighting in the town of Hebron. (Hebron is in the West Bank, and now has a largely Palestinian Arab population, but historically it had a sizeable Jewish population, until many were killed or driven out.)

Potter is buried in Ramle, south of Tel Aviv. The Ramle local council has recently added the grave to the official tourist guide.

Harry Potter books are very popular in Israel, as elsewhere.

-- Tom Gross

 

ARAFAT DEIFICATION CENTER COMING SOON

The Toronto Star reports on Sakher Habash, who has the following Stalin/Saddam Hussein-type title:

He is "Executive Director of the National Committee for Immortalizing the Symbol of the Immortal Leader Yasser Arafat."

He heads a 50-person committee charged with turning Yasser Arafat's former Mukata compound headquarters, into a kind of Arafat glorification theme park, reminiscent of those built elsewhere for Communist leaders in years passed. Arafat's Mukata compound was until recently used to shelter the dispatchers and planners of suicide bombers that killed many civilians in Israel.

I attach the article below, with a summary first for those who don't have time to read it in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARY OF ARAFAT “THEME PARK” ARTICLE

Mitch Potter, Jerusalem correspondent for the Toronto Star, writes:

"Like a perpetual memory machine, the tomb of Yasser Arafat grows more elaborate with each passing day. Just 11 weeks ago, as Arafat lay dying in a hospital bed outside Paris, this bare-dirt corner of the iconic Palestinian leader's debris-strewn Mukata headquarters was one of the most blighted sights in the entire West Bank.

Today, a national shrine is rising from the rubble, replete with landscaped gardens, newly transplanted mature olive trees and Palestinian flags framing a steel-and-glass burial chamber whose doors open toward the holy city of Mecca.

With all eyes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict focused on the prospects of a long-overdue ceasefire, the high-speed deification of Arafat's wreath-strewn gravesite has passed almost unnoticed. But it is nonetheless fascinating to watch the almost daily adornments accrue.

... Sakher Habash, who has been at Arafat's side since their days of exile in Beirut in the 1980s, admits to being something of a packrat. From reel-to-reel tapes of early Palestinian Liberation Organization meetings to the tiniest scraps of paper initialed by Arafat, he calculates some 5 million pieces of Araphernalia have been preserved for future historians.

... Inside his tomb today, the latest adornment to Arafat's memory includes a 24-hour posting of three guardsmen, comprised of volunteers drawn from his elite Presidential Guard. They rotate in shifts at the top of each hour with all the formality attendant at Buckingham Palace..."



FULL ARTICLES

TOURISTS FLOCK TO HARRY POTTER’S GRAVE

Tourists flock to Harry Potter's grave
AFP (Agence France Presse)
January 25, 2005

www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=196114&area=/breaking_news/other_news/

Fans of literary boy wizard Harry Potter have been beating a path to the tomb of a 19-year-old British soldier who is buried in a cemetery close to Tel Aviv, the Maariv daily reported.

Corporal Harry Potter, a member of the Royal Worcestershire regiment, was killed 66 years ago during fighting in the southern West Bank town of Hebron and was subsequently laid to rest in a cemetery in the town of Ramle.

"Every day, tourists and visitors come wanting to see Harry's grave," the cemetery's custodian, Ibrahim Huri, told the paper.

"At first I didn't know why they were interested in this grave, but then I was told there were books and movies about him."

The local council has recently added the grave to the official tourist guide.

"There is great interest and curiosity over Harry's grave," Ramle deputy mayor said. "We want to make an historical investigation into the soldier killed in Hebron when he was only 19."

 

ARAFAT’S TOMB A SHRINE IN MUKATA

Arafat’s tomb a shrine in Mukata
By Mitch Potter
The Toronto Star
January 30, 2005

The adornments accrue daily at what could become a Yasser Arafat theme park in the Palestinian leader's Ramallah compound, Writes Mitch Potter, Middle East Bureau

Like a perpetual memory machine, the tomb of Yasser Arafat grows more elaborate with each passing day.

Just 11 weeks ago, as Arafat lay dying in a hospital bed outside Paris, this bare-dirt corner of the iconic Palestinian leader's debris-strewn Mukata headquarters was one of the most blighted sights in the entire West Bank.

Today, a national shrine is rising from the rubble, replete with landscaped gardens, newly transplanted mature olive trees and Palestinian flags framing a steel-and-glass burial chamber whose doors open toward the holy city of Mecca.

With all eyes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict focused on the prospects of a long-overdue ceasefire, the high-speed deification of Arafat's wreath-strewn gravesite has passed almost unnoticed. But it is nonetheless fascinating to watch the almost daily adornments accrue.

However much Palestinians promise that, in the fullness of time, Arafat will make one last journey to be reburied in his beloved Jerusalem, the embellishments underway at this supposedly temporary gravesite come with a sense of permanence.

Palestinian political insiders admit there was scant little time to plan when it became apparent Arafat would not be coming home alive from his emergency airlift to France in November.

Just five days before his death on Nov. 11, Arafat's inner circle of advisers and loyalists huddled in a Ramallah office to confront for the first time what they were not yet ready to tell the world – that their leader, the man they called the rais, was finished.

"We had to talk about burial, but nobody wanted to have this conversation," remembers Sakher Habash, 67, a member of the central committee of Arafat's Fatah movement and its recognized chief ideologue.

"But we forced ourselves to discuss it. When we finally decided on the Mukata as a temporary burial site, we had to do everything in 24 hours.

"It was as if a bridegroom were coming. We had to race against the clock."

Habash mobilized 300 Palestinian flags he had been saving for a rainy day and Arafat's Mukata staff worked through the night, sweeping up and trucking away the detritus of more than four years of intifada.

Fresh topsoil was heaped into a burial mound, upon which a crew of Palestinian masons scrambled to lay a platform of black Italian marble, bordered with hand-cut blocks of limestone.

They made the deadline, but only just.

The next afternoon, as tens of thousands of Palestinians turned in frenzy toward the sound of the Egyptian military helicopter arriving with Arafat's body, work crews were still on their hands and knees, frantically preparing a strip of red carpet for a last-minute touch of regalia.

Habash says those initial efforts were entirely organic. Nobody had time to craft a master plan. It just happened.

"Everyone had an idea. Everything just fell into place."

What has happened since is anything but accidental. Habash is now executive director of the National Committee for Immortalizing the Symbol of the Immortal Leader Yasser Arafat.

The astonishingly fanciful title means he oversees a 50-person committee charged with reinventing the Mukata compound as a kind of Arafat theme park.

What exists today, he says, is just the beginning. Plans are being hatched for a mosque, a library and a national archive on the grounds of this former British police headquarters.

The partially destroyed apartment complex nearby, where Arafat spent his final three years, has been under 24-hour guard since the former leader's death.

Habash's committee is viewing it as a future museum.

Habash, who has been at Arafat's side since their days of exile in Beirut in the 1980s, admits to being something of a packrat.

From reel-to-reel tapes of early Palestinian Liberation Organization meetings to the tiniest scraps of paper initialled by Arafat, he calculates some 5 million pieces of Araphernalia have been preserved for future historians.

"Even those (Palestinians) who didn't like Arafat feel that they have lost something very important," says Habash.

"What we want to do is turn the Mukata into the permanent symbol of the Palestinian people – a symbol that will be as great as the symbol of George Washington."

National symbols are no less important to neighbouring Israel.

Yet none of the tombs of that nation's founding fathers – from Theodore Hertz to David Ben Gurion to Yitzhak Rabin – can be described as anything but modest, compared with the shrine evolving around Arafat.

"That is one big different between our cultures," notes professor Yehuda Gradus, director of the Ben Gurion Institute and overseer of the former prime minister's gravesite in Israel's southern Negev desert.

"Arafat to them was almost like a ghost. He was built into this enormous figure, which is a very common phenomenon throughout the Third World.

"It doesn't surprise me at all that there will be such a spectacular site."

Gradus says the Israeli inclination is to construct national memories focusing less on its leaders and more on the ideas they represented.

Consequently, while Ben Gurion lies in a rather ordinary grave, Israel has invested heavily in the nearby Ben Gurion Institute for Desert Research, where some 85 scientists live and work to this day, advancing the former leader's trailblazing ideas about reclaiming the desert as a habitat for humanity.

"Ben Gurion was a very modest man," says Gradus. "And so he has a modest grave.

"But he also was a visionary. He believed that by leading the world in this field, Israel would be a light unto other nations, achieving scientific advancements and exporting this knowledge of desert development for the benefit of all."

Such separation of man and motive appears unlikely to ever apply to Arafat.

Even his most articulate Palestinian critics admit to conflicting emotions. Those who revile him for flawed leadership are still able to embrace him as a symbol of national struggle.

Inside his tomb today, the latest adornment to Arafat's memory includes a 24-hour posting of three guardsmen, comprised of volunteers drawn from his elite Presidential Guard.

They rotate in shifts at the top of each hour with all the formality attendant at Buckingham Palace.

"We were given the choice to guard the tomb or work elsewhere," explains Abu Laith, 22, a fresh-faced guardsman from Bethlehem who says Arafat used to address him as "my son" in his daily ritual of reviewing the Mukata troops.

"We asked to be here," Laith continues. "I feel this is part of my legacy, to stand inside the tomb. It comforts us to be this close."