Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Al-Quds University in east Jerusalem criticizes UK academic boycott of Israel

April 27, 2005

* Statement by Al-Quds University in Eastern Jerusalem: "We believe it is in our interest to build bridges, not walls; to reach out to the Israeli academic institutions, not to impose another restriction or dialogue-block on ourselves."

* UK academic leaders applauding the boycott: "Israel" is "a colonial apartheid state, more insidious than South Africa."

 

CONTENTS

1. Boycott of Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities passed
2. "Dangerous and Misguided" (Guardian, Letter by Melvyn Bragg, April 25, 2005)
3. "Lecturers to boycott two Israeli universities" (Independent, April 23, 2005)
4. "Haifa, Bar Ilan slam academic boycott" (Jerusalem Post, April 25, 2005)
5. "Anger as union bars Israeli academic" (Sunday Telegraph, April 24, 2005)
6. "Blinkered and ill-timed" (Times of London, April 25, 2005)
7. "Why Israel will always be vilified" (Guardian, April 24, 2005)
8. "Europe blinded by anti-Semitic bigotry" (By Arab-American commentator Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily, April 20, 2005)

 



[RACHEL CORRIE PLAY UPDATE]

Thank you to all those who have written concerning the "Forgotten Rachels" article sent out on this list yesterday. I regret I don't have time to reply to most of you individually.

The article continues to gain widespread coverage on websites and elsewhere. Andrew Sullivan yesterday recommended it to readers. David Frum called it "A brilliant piece of work." (For those who don't know, David Frum was a leading speechwriter for Pres. Bush and wrote "the axis of evil" speech, among others.) Julie Burchill praised the piece. And so on.

For those wishing to see photos of six Rachels murdered in terror attacks, please see www.take-a-pen.org/english/Articles/Art25041005.htm

The play "My name is Rachel Corrie" continues to receive glowing reviews. Here is an example of a review published since my article was written:

John Peter in the (London) Sunday Times "Culture" section, April 24, 2005: "Rachel Corrie ... who died in Palestine, crushed by an Israeli bulldozer, apparently in cold blood … a cry of indignation by a brave, sensitive, thoughtful woman who wanted to help and bear witness. She wasn't some airhead, a saintly, self-admiring maniac: she had faith and purpose."

 

BOYCOTT OF HAIFA AND BAR ILAN UNIVERSITIES PASSED

[Note by Tom Gross]

Last Friday, Britain's Association of University Teachers (AUT) voted to boycott Israel's Bar Ilan and Haifa Universities. The Council of the AUT, a trade union and professional association representing over 48,700 UK higher education professionals, unanimously passed the two motions to boycott the institutions of higher learning.

The AUT claimed Haifa and Bar Ilan universities had undermined Palestinian rights and academic freedom. The union also asked its executive committee to consider a boycott against the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The boycott by Britain's main university teachers' union has angered Jewish students and administrators who said it could fan anti-Semitism.

Many non-Jews have also spoken out vociferously against the boycott and some have said they will refuse to comply with it. Here, for example, is the statement by Adam Logan, a lecturer in pure mathematics, at the University of Liverpool, who says he will resign from the University of Liverpool if they attempt to enforce the boycott: www.liv.ac.uk/~adaml/math/statement.html.

The Times of London (owned by Rupert Murdoch – one of the few news proprietors to be sympathetic to Jewish concerns) editorialized that the AUT "actions are an echo of the Nazi ban on Jewish academics, and the general discrimination so common three generations ago."

A JOVIAL MEETING... WITH RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE

Last Friday, a jovial AUT executive union meeting heard unanswered orations by Sue Blackwell and Shereen Benjamin, both lecturers at Birmingham University. The academics labeled Israel as a "colonial apartheid state, more insidious than South Africa," called for the "removal of this regime" (which Blackwell clarified as meaning the state of Israel) and depicted Israeli universities as "repressing" academic freedom. The speeches were met with rapturous applause from the audience, before AUT executive president Angela Roger cut short the session and moved to deny a right of reply to opponents of the motions.

"LACK OF TIME" TO CHALLENGE THE MOTION

The session was then directed towards a vote, and a "lack of time" was cited as the reason preventing challenges to the motions from being heard. The executive passed by sizeable majorities two separate motions adopting boycotts against Haifa University for its allegedly restricting academic freedom and against Bar Ilan University for its college located in the town of Ariel, which lies just beyond Israel's 1967 borders. Israeli Professor Mina Telcher was barred from putting her view across to the Union.

EXTREME LEFTIST JEWISH SUPPORT FOR ATTACKING ISRAEL

Shereen Benjamin, the second speaker to advocate a boycott of Israeli universities, was unable to answer questions about the Palestinian union which signed a letter calling for the conference to boycott Israel and could not identify its membership. In her speech to the conference, Ms. Benjamin used a number of photographs, and later conceded that the images were obtained from "Electronic Intifada" (a pro-Palestinian propaganda website). Shereen Benjamin, like several of the vocal members of the AUT urging the boycott, is Jewish. She was joined in this campaign by Steven and Hillary Rose (both also Jewish) who had first led a campaign to boycott Israeli Universities in April 2002.

EXTREME ISRAELI LEFT: LETS BOYCOTT OURSELVES

The boycott has also received encouragement from some professors belonging to Israeli Universities. A message from Dr. Ilan Pappe, a political science lecturer at Haifa University, was distributed to every executive member at the conference, in which Pappe called on the conference to adopt a boycott of his own university, and alleged he was the victim of "restriction" and "harassment." It should be noted that at the present time Pappe is still a lecturer at Haifa University and is still receiving Israeli taxpayers' money to spread anti-Israel sentiment. Since the verdict, Ron Kuzar, also a lecturer at Haifa University, has called for a total embargo on Israel including a boycott of all Universities similar to the embargo placed upon the apartheid regime in South Africa.

IS IT LEGAL?

The British press is now debating whether the boycott is in fact legal, in light of the fact that the lecturers' trade union is forcing the universities to break contracts and cancel projects and conferences, and is preventing employment of people who have already been promised jobs. Moreover, boycotting individual students and lecturers because of their nationality is discrimination – forbidden by university charters.

Not since 1930s Germany have Jews been the targets of an official boycott in a civilized country. Only recently leaders of Britain's 10,000 Jewish students complained of the presence of the "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" book being distributed on many campuses throughout Britain. Like many of the commentators in the articles attached below – one has to ask where are the boycotts of Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, China and countless other countries who are truly limiting academic freedom.

On Tuesday, April 26, Palestinians fired three Qassam rockets on the Israeli town of Sderot. UK university lecturers will probably not be condemning this latest attempt to murder Israeli civilians in southern Israel. In fact, given the UK media, they probably won't know it happened.

I attach six articles below. There are summaries of five of them first for those who don't have time to read them in full. I recommend in particular reading the last two articles, by David Aaronovitch and Joseph Farah.

-- Tom Gross (with thanks to Ben Green for his help in preparing this dispatch)

 

[Additional note by Tom Gross – Over the last two weeks there have been a large number of letters published in British newspapers regarding the boycott. Below is one by Melvyn Bragg, a leading British broadcaster, writer and novelist, whose views carry some weight among the UK establishment.]

"DANGEROUS AND MISGUIDED"

Letters
Battle of the boycott
The Guardian
April 25, 2005

www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,1469436,00.html

I write to express dismay and opposition to the decision taken by the AUT to sever links with Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities.

This boycott fails to recognise the continuous democratic processes and discussions within Israel, where brave voices are constantly raised against the actions in Palestine; it glides over the effects of the barbaric suicide attacks on the streets of Israel and the unremitting threats from Arab states that they will destroy Israel; it is wrong because it denies the hard-won freedom of international academic discourse; and, as far as Britain is concerned, it denies freedom of speech, which is a gift for extremists everywhere.

I have no doubt that the AUT's decision was sincerely taken, but I believe it is dangerous and misguided.

Melvyn Bragg
London

 

SUMMARIES

LECTURERS TO BOYCOTT TWO ISRAELI UNIVERSITIES

"Lecturers to boycott two Israeli universities"(by Sarah Cassidy, Education Correspondent, The Independent, April 23, 2005)

[Note by Tom Gross – This three-paragraph article is the whole item – the use of terms such as "alleged complicity with Israeli persecution" suggests that this Education Correspondent, like many journalists and readers in Britain, has come to believe the misinformation spread by Middle East reporters.]

education.independent.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=632238

University lecturers have voted to boycott two of Israel's eight universities over their alleged complicity with Israeli persecution of Palestinians.

The Association of University Teachers voted to sever links with Haifa University and Bar Ilan University, accusing them of colluding in a system of "apartheid" that victimised Palestinians and anyone who opposed the Israeli state.

There were cheers as the two motions were passed. But the 200-strong audience rejected a call to boycott the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which is accused of demolishing Palestinian homes in order to expand its campus. Delegates instead voted for a decision to be postponed to allow for an investigation.

 

AL-QUDS UNIVERSITY SHOWS ITS SUPPORT

"Haifa, Bar Ilan slam academic boycott" (The Jerusalem Post, By The Associated Press and Talya Halkin, April 25, 2005)

Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities targeted in a boycott by Britain's biggest university teachers' union condemned the decision on Monday, calling it shameful and a blow to academic freedom.

... In addition, Al-Quds University in eastern Jerusalem also came out against the academic boycott of Israel. "We are informed by the principle that we should seek to win Israelis over to our side, not to win against them," said the university, which is headed by Dr. Sari Nusseibeh.

"Therefore... we believe it is in our interest to build bridges, not walls; to reach out to the Israeli academic institutions, not to impose another restriction or dialogue-block on ourselves."

... Israel's Foreign Ministry over the weekend accused the British union of hypocrisy - saying Israel is the only Mideast country with complete academic freedom - and urged British academics to distance themselves from the boycott.

 

AUT REFUSES PERMISSION FOR ISRAELI PROFESSOR TO SPEAK AT CONFERENCE

"Anger as union bars Israeli academic" (Sunday Telegraph, By Julie Henry, April 24, 2005)

An Israeli professor has been refused permission to speak at a conference of British academics who were debating a motion to sever all links with her university.

... The revelation that Prof Mina Telcher, a leading mathematician, was denied the opportunity to put the Israelis' side of the story before the vote will heighten criticism of the AUT, which was already under fire for cutting short the debate on the controversial motion because of time constraints.

... The request to send a speaker to the conference was made on Tuesday by Prof Yosef Yeshurun, the rector of Bar-Ilan. He also asked if Prof Telcher could address the conference on Thursday, rather than Friday, to allow her to return home for the start of Passover yesterday. Prof Yeshurun was told that no external visitors were allowed to speak for or against motions and that the date could not be changed.

 

LONDON TIMES: AN ECHO OF THE NAZI BAN ON JEWISH ACADEMICS

"Blinkered and ill-timed" (The Times of London, Lead editorial, April 25, 2005)

The decision by the Association of University Teachers (AUT) to boycott two universities in Israel is a mockery of academic freedom, a biased and blinkered move that is as ill-timed as it is perverse.

... Their actions are an echo of the Nazi ban on Jewish academics, and the general discrimination so common three generations ago.

... The second reason why this boycott — swiftly and rightly condemned by university vice-chancellors and principals — is so dangerous is that it can quickly become an excuse for anti-Semitism. Many people, including the Jewish co-sponsor of the motion, are able to draw a proper distinction between criticism of Israel and racism; an increasing number, however, are not — or, more despicably, choose not to see any difference. Many Jewish students at British universities are already suffering growing hostility, including intolerable abuse from extremists. The Union of Jewish Students argued that any of its members supporting Israel would not be equal in the classroom with an AUT member.

... How much academic freedom exists in Syria? Or Saudi Arabia? Why does the AUT not call for a ban on contacts in dozens of other countries inimical to human rights? If the reply is that building bridges achieves far more, that is all the truer of Israel. AUT members should defeat this pernicious ban by cultivating every contact available as soon as possible with the two Israeli universities.

 

WHY ISRAEL WILL ALWAYS BE VILIFIED

"Why Israel will always be vilified" (The Observer, By David Aaronovitch, April 24, 2005)

... So, according to the disclosed agenda, somehow or other, the boycott will make Israeli academics think again about their support for the system, thus strengthening the forces of progress and justice. It will make Palestinians feel better, it will make Sue Blackwell feel better, it will help.

... Meanwhile, back in Israel, you can easily imagine whose position is strengthened by the AUT boycott. And it isn't that of the academics most sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Look at the Europeans! Once again, they have singled Israel out for special treatment! Who can we trust but ourselves? In the United States, far more important to Israel than we will ever be, it will add grist to the arguments of those who want to support Israel at all hazards and under all circumstances.

... After the vote had been won, Blackwell, a former Christian fundamentalist turned revolutionary socialist, told the press how glad she was to be part of a union that was 'prepared to stand up for human rights'. The problem here, as she will have realised, is that if the AUT was to boycott places with bad human rights records, there'd be a whole lot of boycottin' goin' on…

... There is a significant level of academic freedom and debate in Israel, flawed though it may be, compared with much of the rest of the world. Take just one country, Tunisia, which has a run-of-the-mill torturing authoritarian regime and no debate in its universities at all. Yet it wouldn't surprise me if many academics at Birmingham University have holidayed there, completely unhindered by Sue Blackwell. And then, of course, there's China.

... So the object of those wanting peace and justice in the Middle East is to bring about an end to that occupation, and enable the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. It is to persuade both sides that such a settlement is practical and to persuade both sides to make the difficult sacrifices that are necessary. It is to build confidence between Jews and Palestinians, and to strengthen, always, the hand of the peacemakers.

Unless, of course, you don't believe that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state at all within any borders. And this, as it happens, seems to be the view of Sue Blackwell, who describes Israel as 'an illegitimate state'. Unlike the United Nations, she does not believe it should have been set up and she would rather it disappeared. As she pointed out in 2003 to a previous AUT council: 'From its very inception, the state of Israel has attracted international condemnation for violating the human rights of the Palestinian people and making war on its neighbours.' Or, to put it even more bluntly, everything is all the fault of the Israelis…

 

WHY ARE THERE NO BOYCOTTS OF IRANIAN UNIVERSITIES?

"Europe blinded by anti-Semitic bigotry" (WorldNetDaily, By Joseph Farah, April 20, 2005)

... Let me give you my perspective on this action – the perspective of an Arab-American. Israel is not a colonial state. It is not a racist state. The Arabs who live in Israel are among the freest Arabs in the world.

Every so-called "Palestinian" college has been created and funded by Israel. There were no Palestinian colleges or universities before 1967. And that is with good reason. Before 1967, there was no such thing as a Palestinian national identity. That notion was invented by Yasser Arafat and his allies post-1967 so they could pursue their plan to eradicate the Jewish state and the Jewish people of the Middle East by posing as victims rather than persecutors.

... In Israel, Arabs vote in free elections. They hold office. They protest. They freely publish newspapers attacking the government.

Arabs don't do this in any other state – with the possible exception of newly liberated Iraq.

In Israel, Arabs are even permitted to teach their revisionist history lessons. They are free to teach the most vile kinds of hatred against Jews and Israelis – even receiving subsidies for those lessons from the suicidal, self-loathing, politically correct and intellectually incorrect Israeli government.

... Europe is undergoing the kind of mass psychosis it experienced once before – in the late 1930s …If you doubt what I am saying, ask yourself the following questions:

Why are there no boycotts of Syrian universities?

Why are there no boycotts of Saudi Arabian universities?

Why are there no boycotts of Iranian universities?

Why are there no denunciations of the police state totalitarianism that is the norm throughout the Middle East with one notable exception – Israel?

 



FULL ARTICLES

HAIFA, BAR ILAN SLAM ACADEMIC BOYCOTT

Haifa, Bar Ilan slam academic boycott
By The Associated Press and Talya Halkin
The Jerusalem Post
April 25, 2005

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1114395823246

Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities targeted in a boycott by Britain's biggest university teachers' union condemned the decision on Monday, calling it shameful and a blow to academic freedom.

University officials said they did not expect the boycott call by the 40,000-member Association of University Teachers to have any immediate effect.

Nonetheless, they said they would fight the decision and called on the worldwide academic community to reject it.

"This is a very unbalanced decision ... basically a shameful decision," said Bar-Ilan's president, Moshe Kaveh. "In academic spheres, one should not interfere between academic activity and research, and political decisions."

The union, which approved the decision at its annual conference on Friday, said the two Israeli universities had undermined Palestinian rights and academic freedom. It said it would soon issue guidance to its members on what the boycott would forbid.

Haifa University Vice President Ada Spitzer said she didn't expect the boycott to immediately effect academic collaboration.

"It's more symbolic than actual damage," she said. Still, she called it "an important symbolic act," since it is the first time an Israeli university has been subject to a boycott. "They are erecting a barrier to academic freedom," she said.

The British union said it targeted Bar-Ilan University for its links to the College of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Jewish AUT members have begun to secede from the union, and calls for mass resignations have been issued.

In addition, Al-Quds University in eastern Jerusalem also came out against the academic boycott of Israel.

"We are informed by the principle that we should seek to win Israelis over to our side, not to win against them," said the university, which is headed by Dr. Sari Nusseibeh.

"Therefore...we believe it is in our interest to build bridges, not walls; to reach out to the Israeli academic institutions, not to impose another restriction or dialogue-block on ourselves."

The AUT also accused Haifa University of threatening to fire an Israeli political science lecturer for supporting a student's research into allegations of killings by IDF troops.

Both universities on Monday said many elements of the allegations are false.

Kaveh said Bar-Ilan helps supervise standards of the college of Ariel, which awards a joint degree with Bar-Ilan, but that the 22-year-old West Bank college is largely autonomous and on the way to full independence. "We were like an incubator," he said.

Kaveh, a physics lecturer at Cambridge University for 35 years, said he is planning on doing research in Britain this summer and already has been assured by British colleagues that they would not honor the boycott.

Haifa University officials said they were baffled by the boycott call, saying it was based on an erroneous understanding of a dispute over a 5-year-old master's thesis.

In the thesis, the student claimed he had uncovered evidence that Israeli soldiers massacred 200 Palestinians during the 1948 war for Israel's independence. The university rejected the thesis after investigating the allegations and concluding the student had fabricated or distorted much of his evidence.

The student later apologized to an Israeli court and admitted to falsifying the story after soldiers involved in the case sued him.

However, Ilan Pappe, a Haifa University professor who helped the student, accused the school of suppressing academic freedom and called on colleagues in Britain and the US to boycott the university.

While Haifa faculty members have filed complaints against Pappe, the university said it has never taken any disciplinary action against him and he remains on the faculty.

Both Israeli universities said they are beacons of diversity in Israel, welcoming students and faculty of all religious, political and ethnic backgrounds. Haifa University, for instance, said 20 percent of its student body are Arab Israelis.

"We will continue our efforts to further Jewish-Arab reconciliation, despite politically motivated initiatives to muzzle free speech and the academic discourse," the university said in a statement.

In its decision, the British union also asked its executive committee to consider a boycott against the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for allegedly bulldozing Palestinian homes to make way for new buildings. The university was closed for a Jewish holiday Monday and officials did not return a message seeking comment.

Israel's Foreign Ministry over the weekend accused the British union of hypocrisy - saying Israel is the only Mideast country with complete academic freedom - and urged British academics to distance themselves from the boycott.

In 2002, hundreds of European academics called for a boycott of Israeli universities to protest the treatment of the Palestinians. The move led to the firing of two Israelis from British publications and prompted allegations of discrimination and intellectual censorship.

(Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report)

 

ANGER AS UNION BARS ISRAELI ACADEMIC

Anger as union bars Israeli academic
By Julie Henry, Education Correspondent
Sunday Telegraph
April 24, 2005

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/04/24/naut24.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/04/24/ixhome.html

An Israeli professor has been refused permission to speak at a conference of British academics who were debating a motion to sever all links with her university.

The Telegraph has learnt that the Association of University Teachers (AUT) turned down a plea from Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv to send one of its most distinguished academics to Britain to rebut accusations of human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The AUT was accused of fuelling anti-Semitism after delegates at its annual conference voted on Friday to boycott all academic links with Bar Ilan and Haifa universities. The revelation that Prof Mina Telcher, a leading mathematician, was denied the opportunity to put the Israelis' side of the story before the vote will heighten criticism of the AUT, which was already under fire for cutting short the debate on the controversial motion because of time constraints.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews described the decision as "blinkered, irresponsible and dangerous".

The request to send a speaker to the conference was made on Tuesday by Prof Yosef Yeshurun, the rector of Bar-Ilan. He also asked if Prof Telcher could address the conference on Thursday, rather than Friday, to allow her to return home for the start of Passover yesterday. Prof Yeshurun was told that no external visitors were allowed to speak for or against motions and that the date could not be changed.

Delegates to the conference in Eastbourne were told that Bar-Ilan University had links with a college in what the union described as an "illegal settlement" in the occupied West Bank.

Ronnie Fraser, the chairman of the Academic Friends of Israel, said that the AUT had repeatedly manoeuvred to prevent an opposing voice being heard.

Lord Janner, the chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, condemned the union's decision. He said: "They obviously did not want to hear the other case. I am deeply shaken by the vote and the curtailment of reasoned debate. It is a setback for academic freedom."

Jonathan Whitehead, a spokesman for the AUT, said that the conference would become unworkable if outside speakers were allowed to comment on motions.

 

BLINKERED AND ILL-TIMED

Blinkered and ill-timed
The AUT boycott of Israeli universities is inimical to academic freedom
Leader
The Times of London
April 25, 2005

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,542-1584297,00.html

The decision by the Association of University Teachers (AUT) to boycott two universities in Israel is a mockery of academic freedom, a biased and blinkered move that is as ill-timed as it is perverse. The vote at the AUT annual conference to forbid its 40,000 members to visit Haifa and Bar Ilan universities in protest at the alleged ill-treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories not only comes at the very moment when official Israeli-Palestinian relations are improving, but it also targets the very institutions in Israel that have been havens of political and racial tolerance and beacons of academic freedom.

The sponsors of the boycott maintain that Haifa University is threatening to sack a lecturer for supporting a student's thesis on an alleged Israeli massacre in 1948, and that Bar Ilan has links with a college based in a settlement in the West Bank. They say the academic boycott is a protest against discrimination, as valid as the widely supported ban by British universities on links with South African institutions during the apartheid years.

Such a claim is as laughable as it is inaccurate. Whereas many South African academics supported outside pressure on their government and almost all black students complained of discrimination, in Israel neither is true. In both universities, Jews and Arabs study together, and in Haifa especially there is a substantial number of Arab lecturers and students. Moreover, if Palestinian students themselves are not calling for a boycott, what is the point of such tokenism by the AUT?

In many British universities there are vocal critics of Israeli policies. Academics have expressed revulsion at the continued building of Israeli settlements and the occupation of Palestinian territories. They are fully entitled to the vigorous expression of their views. They can speak out in public, join protest marches and argue with pro-Israeli colleagues. What they are not entitled to do is to impose a trade union boycott that is inimical to academic freedom — a principle fundamental not only to civilised society but the very basis of their professional life. Their actions are an echo of the Nazi ban on Jewish academics, and the general discrimination so common three generations ago.

The second reason why this boycott — swiftly and rightly condemned by university vice-chancellors and principals — is so dangerous is that it can quickly become an excuse for anti-Semitism. Many people, including the Jewish co-sponsor of the motion, are able to draw a proper distinction between criticism of Israel and racism; an increasing number, however, are not — or, more despicably, choose not to see any difference. Many Jewish students at British universities are already suffering growing hostility, including intolerable abuse from extremists. The Union of Jewish Students argued that any of its members supporting Israel would not be equal in the classroom with an AUT member.

The issue of discrimination is more overtly political in the broader context of the Middle East. How much academic freedom exists in Syria? Or Saudi Arabia? Why does the AUT not call for a ban on contacts in dozens of other countries inimical to human rights? If the reply is that building bridges achieves far more, that is all the truer of Israel. AUT members should defeat this pernicious ban by cultivating every contact available as soon as possible with the two Israeli universities.

 

WHY ISRAEL WILL ALWAYS BE VILIFIED

Why Israel will always be vilified
It is convenient for many British liberals that Israel exists. It saves them from examining the manifest failings in their own actions
The Observer
Comment
By David Aaronovitch
April 24, 2005

observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1468969,00.html

Last Friday saw two examples of intelligent people behaving in a futile way. The first was the decision by the US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, to seek the death penalty for would-be suicide terrorist, Zacharias Moussaoui. Not only does such a sentence confer on Moussaoui precisely the heroic end that he was seeking (did Gonzales never read Brer Rabbit?), but it would also deprive the authorities of a potentially valuable source of information and psychological insight. All it does is make some Americans feel better.

And then there was the decision of the Association of University Teachers council in Eastbourne to boycott two (perhaps three) Israeli universities, the futility of which I now hope to prove.

Let us first look at the stated objectives of the boycott. What does it seek to achieve? The literature of the campaign suggests that these objectives, far from being focused, are many and nebulous. They are, according to the motion's prime mover, Sue Blackwell of the English Department of Birmingham University, variously to 'add to the pressure on the country's economy and dent its international prestige'; to send a 'message of support to students and colleagues in Palestine'; and to act as 'consciousness-raising' for British academics who, through the boycott, can be brought to realise how the world really is. A sort of speculum for their hidden political organs.

The boycott seems also to be simultaneously aimed at the Israeli system in toto, and at the specific misdeeds of particular institutions - Haifa University for political censorship, Bar-Ilan for having relations with the illegal settlements on the West Bank, and the Hebrew University for pulling down Arab houses to build student dormitories. The AUT executive is 'investigating' this last accusation, but the scope of these targets probably reflects the campaigners' need to maximise support for their motion.

So, according to the disclosed agenda, somehow or other, the boycott will make Israeli academics think again about their support for the system, thus strengthening the forces of progress and justice. It will make Palestinians feel better, it will make Sue Blackwell feel better, it will help.

But will it? On Friday morning, the participants in the council meeting may have read an article in the Guardian by the progressive Israeli writer, Etgar Keret. He recalled how the Manchester academic, Mona Baker, sacked his translator, Miriam Schlesinger, from the board of Baker's journal, the Translator. Keret reflected on the irony. Schlesinger was the former head of Amnesty International in Israel, as well as being a peace activist. Keret added: 'Baker was not the first to call for a boycott of [Miriam's] academic work. Israeli right wingers had been irked by her signature on some petition and had called upon students at Israeli universities to refrain from attending classes given by her and others of her ilk.'

If the AUT delegates read Keret's appeal, just over half of them ignored it. And now, if they have their way, the Schlesingers of this world will be routinely boycotted unless, according to the terms of the motion, they show sufficient individual zeal in the cause of justice of the Palestinians. Sufficient zeal as judged by whom? We have no idea.

Meanwhile, back in Israel, you can easily imagine whose position is strengthened by the AUT boycott. And it isn't that of the academics most sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Look at the Europeans! Once again, they have singled Israel out for special treatment! Who can we trust but ourselves? In the United States, far more important to Israel than we will ever be, it will add grist to the arguments of those who want to support Israel at all hazards and under all circumstances.

So why do something so obviously counterproductive? The AUT delegates will have been reminded of the intolerable conditions of many of those living under Israeli occupation. They will have felt the emotional tug of those stories of checkpoint humiliations, collective punishments and the shooting of civilians. They'll have seen pictures of the wall. The motion may make them feel better. Warmer.

After the vote had been won, Blackwell, a former Christian fundamentalist turned revolutionary socialist, told the press how glad she was to be part of a union that was 'prepared to stand up for human rights'. The problem here, as she will have realised, is that if the AUT was to boycott places with bad human rights records, there'd be a whole lot of boycottin' goin' on. She has tried in the past to finesse this difficulty, at one point arguing: 'You cannot talk about academic freedom and free debate in Israel in the same way you can talk about it in the UK, or in almost any other country in the world.'

This sunniness is rather obviously absurd. There is a significant level of academic freedom and debate in Israel, flawed though it may be, compared with much of the rest of the world. Take just one country, Tunisia, which has a run-of-the-mill torturing authoritarian regime and no debate in its universities at all. Yet it wouldn't surprise me if many academics at Birmingham University have holidayed there, completely unhindered by Sue Blackwell. And then, of course, there's China.

No, Israel's universities are not bad and Israel's human rights record is no worse than that of many other countries. So, inevitably, the tack shifts. Israel's universities are intrinsically racist, according to Blackwell, with 'Israeli academics routinely implicated in racist discourses against Arab students and Arabs in general'.

And that's because there is something utterly unique about Israel itself, which marks it out from the merely abusive North Koreas and Irans. It has become an apartheid state, as South Africa was. And it, therefore, should be treated in the same way, with boycotts and disinvestments.

This is a genuinely, grade-A stupid argument, whether it emanates from the lips of Professor Steven Rose or the more sacred ones of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In itself, Israel is not anything like South Africa, where a majority was denied all political and civic rights on the grounds of race. What is analogous, however, is Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, which bears comparison with South Africa's occupation of Namibia or, some might say, Serbia's occupation of Kosovo.

So the object of those wanting peace and justice in the Middle East is to bring about an end to that occupation, and enable the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. It is to persuade both sides that such a settlement is practical and to persuade both sides to make the difficult sacrifices that are necessary. It is to build confidence between Jews and Palestinians, and to strengthen, always, the hand of the peacemakers.

Unless, of course, you don't believe that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state at all within any borders. And this, as it happens, seems to be the view of Sue Blackwell, who describes Israel as 'an illegitimate state'. Unlike the United Nations, she does not believe it should have been set up and she would rather it disappeared. As she pointed out in 2003 to a previous AUT council: 'From its very inception, the state of Israel has attracted international condemnation for violating the human rights of the Palestinian people and making war on its neighbours.' Or, to put it even more bluntly, everything is all the fault of the Israelis.

The problem is that many Jews understand very well that this is her view and, unfortunately, will believe that it is also the view of all her fellow campaigners. Consequently, there will now be a battle royal (of which this article is part) about the rights and wrongs of these particular tactics, and the bigger picture will inevitably be lost. Everyone will return to their trenches and take the tarpaulins off their heaviest and most inaccurate artillery.

However, there may be a saving grace. Two years ago, Blackwell predicted that Tony Blair would be ousted at the next general election over Iraq. But if not: 'Then it may well be time for international pressure to be brought to bear, since the British electorate will have failed in their moral duty'.

So, one last reason, perhaps, to vote Labour on Thursday week. To enjoy the sight of Sue Blackwell busily boycotting herself.

 

EUROPE BLINDED BY ANTI-SEMITIC BIGOTRY

Europe blinded by anti-Semitic bigotry
By Joseph Farah
WorldNetDaily
April 20, 2005

www.wnd.com/news/printer-friendly.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43891

The Association of University Teachers in the United Kingdom is set today to begin blacklisting Israeli professors who refuse to condemn their country's policies toward Arabs.

The academics will debate today whether to boycott three of Israel's eight universities – Haifa, Bar Ilan and Hebrew – over their alleged complicity with the government's policies toward the so-called "Palestinians."

But the boycott will exclude "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies."

Let me give you my perspective on this action – the perspective of an Arab-American.

Israel is not a colonial state. It is not a racist state. The Arabs who live in Israel are among the freest Arabs in the world.

Every so-called "Palestinian" college has been created and funded by Israel. There were no Palestinian colleges or universities before 1967. And that is with good reason. Before 1967, there was no such thing as a Palestinian national identity. That notion was invented by Yasser Arafat and his allies post-1967 so they could pursue their plan to eradicate the Jewish state and the Jewish people of the Middle East by posing as victims rather than persecutors.

You can see just how well that insidious plan is working among Europe's hateful, anti-Semitic pseudo-intellectuals. It's working to perfection.

The victim is being blamed for the crime.

The AUT's indictment of Israel is short on specifics – with good reason. There simply is no case to be made that Israel is oppressing Arabs, that it is making life unbearable for them, that it is the worst place on earth for them.

In Israel, Arabs vote in free elections. They hold office. They protest. They freely publish newspapers attacking the government.

Arabs don't do this in any other state – with the possible exception of newly liberated Iraq.

In Israel, Arabs are even permitted to teach their revisionist history lessons. They are free to teach the most vile kinds of hatred against Jews and Israelis – even receiving subsidies for those lessons from the suicidal, self-loathing, politically correct and intellectually incorrect Israeli government.

Yet, none of this matters in the rarefied atmosphere of Europe's perverted academic culture.

It's about Arab nationalist chic. It's cool on campus in Europe and North America to wear the keffiyeh. Never mind the fact that it represents repression, dictatorship, murder of the innocents, terrorism. Jews aren't cool. Arabs are.

Some Arabs, that is.

Christian Arabs aren't cool, either. Europe is silent as they are persecuted, murdered and scattered to the four winds by the Islamic nationalists and the phony Palestinians.

Only Christians and Jews who denounce their beliefs, embrace their enemies and tormentors and who blame themselves for acts of violence against them are to be accepted and tolerated under the new European academic orthodoxy.

Sadly, if this brand of ethnic and religious hatred were limited to the academy, it would not represent a crisis. Unfortunately, what is happening today in the annual council of the Association of University Teachers in England is symptomatic of what is spreading like a cancer throughout Europe, Canada and other parts of the world.

It is the mental disorder of anti-Semitism. It is a disease. It is irrational. It defies explanation. And it is evil.

Europe is undergoing the kind of mass psychosis it experienced once before – in the late 1930s.

This is how it started then. Self-delusion is a pre-requisite for the justification of holocaust, of genocide, of ethnic cleansing.

If you doubt what I am saying, ask yourself the following questions:

Why are there no boycotts of Syrian universities?

Why are there no boycotts of Saudi Arabian universities?

Why are there no boycotts of Iranian universities?

Why are there no denunciations of the police state totalitarianism that is the norm throughout the Middle East with one notable exception – Israel?


Anti-Israel propaganda sells out on London stage

This is an update to two previous dispatches on this subject.



[Note by Tom Gross]

SOLD OUT, WITH PLANS TO READ THE PLAY IN SCHOOLS

"My Name is Rachel Corrie," the new play that opened at the prestigious London theatre recently described by the New York Times as "the most important theatre in Europe," has sold out. It has become one of the fastest-selling plays in 50 years, and is probably on its way to the US, with plans to distribute the text of the play in schools.

The theatre at which it is playing (the Royal Court) was lavishly refurbished in 2000 with the help of large donations from Jewish benefactors.

"HER DELICATE AUDREY HEPBURN FACE"

The play is co-directed by "Harry Potter" and "Die Hard" star Alan Rickman and by Katharine Viner, the editor of The Guardian's weekend magazine.

In one article for The Guardian in 2001, Viner described the notorious PLO terrorist and airplane hijacker of the 1970s Leila Khaled, as such: "The gun held in fragile hands, the shiny hair wrapped in a keffiah, the delicate Audrey Hepburn face... the symbol of Palestinian resistance."

The new Rachel Corrie play has not only been praised in the British press, but beyond – on Al Jazeera's website, for example, and in the Beirut Daily Star, and elsewhere.

Below, I attach my article on the subject from Monday's Jerusalem Post.

At the foot of this email, there is a note about websites and readers' comments on the article.

-- Tom Gross

 



THE FORGOTTEN RACHELS

The forgotten Rachels
The Jerusalem Post (Opinion Page)
By Tom Gross
April 25, 2005

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1114322084559&p=1006953079865

"My Name is Rachel Thaler" is not the title of a play that is likely to be produced anytime soon in London. Thaler, aged 16, was blown up at a pizzeria in an Israeli shopping mall. She died after an 11-day struggle for life following the February 16, 2002 attack, when a suicide bomber approached a crowd of teenagers and blew himself up.

She was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live. Yet I doubt that anyone at London's Royal Court Theatre or most people in the British media, have heard of her. "Not a single British journalist has ever interviewed me or mentioned her death," her mother Ginette told me last week.

Thaler's parents donated her organs for transplant (helping to save the life of a young Russian man), and grieved quietly. After the accidental killing of Rachel Corrie, by contrast, her parents embarked on a major publicity campaign. They traveled to Ramallah to accept a plaque from Yasser Arafat on behalf of their daughter. They circulated her emails and diary entries to a world media eager to publicize them.

Among those who published extracts from them in 2003 was the influential British leftist daily The Guardian. This in turn inspired a new play, "My Name is Rachel Corrie," which opened this month at the Royal Court Theatre, one of London most prestigious venues. (The New York Times recently described it as "the most important theatre in Europe.")

The play is co-edited and directed by Katharine Viner, the editor of The Guardian's weekend magazine, and by film star Alan Rickman (of Die Hard and Harry Potter fame). Their script weaves together extracts from Corrie's journals and e-mails.

For those who don't recall the story, Rachel Corrie was a young American radical who burnt mock-American flags at pro-Hamas rallies in Gaza in February 2003. A short while later she died after jumping in front of an Israeli army bulldozer that was attempting to demolish a structure suspected of concealing tunnels used for smuggling weapons.

Partly because of the efforts of Corrie and her fellow activists in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), the Israeli army was unable to stop the flow of weapons through these tunnels. Those weapons were later used to kill Israeli children in the town of Sderot in southern Israel, and elsewhere.

However, in many hundreds of articles on Corrie published worldwide in the last two years, most papers have been careful to omit such details. So have Rickman and Viner, leaving almost all the critics who have reviewed the play completely clueless about the background of the events with which it deals.

"Corrie was always a progressive with a conscience ... she went to work with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza," wrote Michael Billington in The Guardian last week, without a shred of explanation as to what the ISM actually is.

The ISM is routinely described as a "peace group" in the western media. Few make any mention of the ISM's meeting with the British suicide bombers Omar Khan Sharif and Assif Muhammad Hanif, who a few days later blew up Mike's Place, a Tel Aviv pub, killing three and injuring dozens - including British citizens. Or of the ISM's sheltering in its office of Shadi Sukia, a leading member of Islamic Jihad. Or of the fact that in its mission statement, the ISM said "armed struggle" is a Palestinian "right."

"'Israel' is an illegal entity that should not exist," wrote Flo Rosovski, the ISM "media co-ordinator," clarifying the ISM's idea of peace.

Unfortunately for those who have sought to portray Corrie as a peaceful protester, photos of her burning a mock American flag and stirring up crowds in Gaza were published by the Associated Press and on Yahoo News on February 15, 2003, before she died. But the play doesn't mention this.

So British reviewers are left to tell the British public that the play is a "true-life tragedy" in which Corrie's "unselfish goodness shines through" (Evening Standard).

"Corrie was murdered after joining a non-violent Palestinian resistance organization," writes Emma Gosnell in the Sunday Telegraph. ("Murdered" is a term that even Corrie's staunchest defenders have hesitated to use up to now.)

Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph, talks of "Corrie's concern for suffering humanity... ones leaves the theatre mourning not only Rachel Corrie but also one's own loss of the idealism and reckless courage of youth."

Not surprisingly, the play has also been praised on Al Jazeera's website and in the Beirut Daily Star.

In one of the most astonishing comments, Michael Billington, the Guardian's critic, writes of the play: "The danger of right-on propaganda is avoided."

It is ironic to reflect that there have been several real victims of the Intifada called Rachel - and it is hard to believe that these critics have ever heard of them. All these other Rachels died within a few months of Corrie, but - unlike her - in circumstances that weren't disputed. They were deliberately murdered:

Rachel Levy (17, blown up in a grocery store), Rachel Levi (19, shot while waiting for the bus), Rachel Gavish (killed with her husband, son and father while at home celebrating a Passover meal), Rachel Charhi (blown up while sitting in a Tel Aviv cafe, leaving three young children), Rachel Shabo (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 16 while at home).

Katharine Viner, the co- director of the Corrie play, is certainly familiar with Palestinian terrorists. For example, in 2001, she described a Palestinian hijacker she interviewed in The Guardian as such:

"The iconic photograph of Leila Khaled, the picture which made her the symbol of Palestinian resistance and female power, is extraordinary in many ways: the gun held in fragile hands, the shiny hair wrapped in a keffiah, the delicate Audrey Hepburn face refusing to meet your eye. But it's the ring, resting delicately on her third finger. To fuse an object of feminine adornment, of frivolity, with a bullet: that is Khaled's story, the reason behind her image's enduring power. Beauty mixed with violence."

(Since that interview Viner has twice been named British Newspaper Magazine Editor of the Year.)

Only one critic (Clive Davis in the Times of London) dismisses parts of the play as "unvarnished propaganda." At one point Corrie declares "the vast majority of Palestinians right now, as far as I can tell, are engaging in Gandhian non-violent resistance". As Davis notes, "Even the late Yasser Arafat might have blushed at that one."

Rachel Corrie's death was undoubtedly tragic. But ultimately this play isn't really about Corrie, but about fomenting hatred of Israel. The production is now sold out and there is talk of it being staged in America. The Royal Court is also rushing out a printed edition of the play to give to schools.

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

 

A NOTE ABOUT WEBSITES AND COMMENTS ON THE ABOVE ARTICLE

Dozens of websites and weblogs have cited this article since its publication on Monday, including those of commentators Melanie Phillips and Clive Davis of London, Prof. Steven Plaut of Haifa, and Charles Johnson (of Little Green Footballs) in northern California. (All are subscribers to this email list.)

Others commentators, such as Andrew Sullivan, have sent me encouraging personal notes about the article.

Readers' comments on this article have also been left at many sites and weblogs, for example at http://web.israelinsider.com/views/5396.htm

On Little Green Footballs alone, 244 comments have been left so far
(http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=15604_The_Forgotten_Rachels#comments)

* I disagree with both the tone and content of many of these comments and would ask that anyone leaving comments do so in a considered and moderate manner.

For a photo of Corrie of the type not seen at the Royal Court Theatre, see http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0405/rachels.php3


Jewish despair as Queen Elizabeth set to honor the BBC’s Orla Guerin

April 21, 2005

* Jewish despair as Queen Elizabeth II set to honor the BBC's Orla Guerin with an MBE



ISRAEL: HER REPORTING "SMACKS OF ANTI-SEMITISM"

[Note by Tom Gross]

The BBC's Jerusalem correspondent Orla Guerin (one of several the BBC keeps in the city) is regarded by many as the most anti-Israeli journalist reporting from Israel today.

Her revulsion for the state of Israel has been documented on several occasions and she has been criticized publicly by other British journalists for her partiality.

Referring to Guerin, Israeli government minister Natan Sharansky last year asked the BBC why they employed a correspondent whose reporting "smacks of anti-Semitism."

In 2002, a columnist in the (London) Daily Telegraph said Guerin and two other British correspondents in Israel were "doing the work of Goebbels without bothering to wear the brown uniform identifying their agenda."

HOW THE ISRAELIS STOLE CHRISTMAS

One of Guerin's reports later that year was titled "How the Israelis Stole Christmas."

The (London) Evening Standard, which interviewed Guerin in 2003, said she "questioned Israel's claim to be a democracy" and "compared its press freedom with Zimbabwe's."

Several times, the BBC has had to "clarify" Guerin's reporting after complaints.

According to a senior British journalist, after the Hamas leader in Gaza Dr Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi was killed by Israel last year, Guerin's report was removed from the BBC website after even the BBC regarded it as unduly favorable to Rantissi.

"OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO BROADCASTING"

Now, on the recommendation of Tony Blair's government, the British Queen is to honor Guerin with an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for her "outstanding service to broadcasting."

Dublin-born Guerin is an Irish national and it is rare for a foreigner to be given an MBE. A spokesman for the BBC said: "We are delighted that Orla will be awarded an honorary MBE."

A LABOUR PARTY CANDIDATE

Now living in Jerusalem, with her Arab husband, Guerin has covered the Middle East for four years. She recently said one of the most memorable moments of her career was Arafat's funeral

She stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Labour party in Dublin at the European elections in 1994.

Yesterday and today, Guerin and the BBC refused to answer questions about her award from Jerusalem Post journalists. I attach two items below.

-- Tom Gross

 

AN EXAMPLE OF GUERIN'S NEWS REPORTING

This is an extract from www.biased-bbc.blogspot.com concerning Guerin's reporting of the double suicide bomb in Tel Aviv in January 2003:

"The shameful Orla Guerin excelled herself on tonight's BBC News. Reporting on the murder of 22 people by Palestinian terrorists, she concluded her report thus: 'But for the Palestinians it never stops; 50 of them killed by the army each week'. So grotesquely biased is Ms Guerin that she is unable even to report on a clear, straightforward example of Palestinian terror without finding a way of including dubious – at best – Palestinian propaganda and insinuating that it Israelis are only getting their just deserts."

 



ISRAEL "SHOCKED" AT BBC REPORTER AWARD

Israel 'shocked' at BBC reporter award
By Herb Keinon
The Jerusalem Post
April 21, 2005

Israeli officials expressed dismay this week that BBC reporter Orla Guerin, who has come under sharp attack for what some perceive as an anti-Israeli bias in her coverage, will receive an MBE honor from the British government for "outstanding service to broadcasting."

Diaspora Affairs Minister Natan Sharansky, who last year wrote a formal letter of complaint to the BBC over Guerin's coverage, said it is a pity that a lack of anti-Semitism was not a criterion for the award.

If it were a criterion, he said, Guerin would not be receiving the honor. The MBE stands for Member of the British Empire, one of a number of honors issued each year by the Queen.

"It is very sad that something as important as anti-Semitism is not taken into consideration when issuing this award, especially in Britain where the incidents of anti-Semitism are on the rise," Sharansky said.

Guerin, when contacted Wednesday, would not speak without receiving permission from her home office in London. A phone query to the BBC offices in London, followed – as requested – by an e-mail with a short description of the line of questioning, did not yield a response from either the BBC or Guerin.

According to the Sunday Times, the 38-year-old Guerin will be presented the award by Baroness Symons, the minister of state for the Middle East in the British Foreign Office. According to this report, Guerin – who has spent 10 years reporting from war-torn countries – was to receive the honor last year, but the ceremony was postponed so she could report from Ramallah on Yasser Arafat's funeral.

In addition to Jerusalem, she has also reported from Kosovo, Grozny, Moscow and the Basque country.

One Israeli official, who responded to the news by saying he was "shocked," said Guerin is among the most anti-Israeli journalists reporting from Israel today.

According to this official, granting her an award fits into a pattern that began in 2003 when the United Kingdom's Political Cartoon Society awarded Dave Brown of the Independent its "cartoon of the year" award for a cartoon he drew depicting a naked Ariel Sharon biting off the bloodied head of a Palestinian child.

"It seems if you are anti-Israel, you will get an award," the official said.

Last year, in response to one of Guerin's dispatches about Israel's capture of a mentally challenged 16-year-old would-be suicide bomber, Sharansky wrote the BBC that it employs a "gross double standard to the Jewish state" that smacks of anti-Semitism.

Sharansky protested that Guerin, in her report, portrayed the event as "Israel's cynical manipulation of a Palestinian youngster for propaganda purposes." He said this "reveals a deep-seated bias against Israel. Only a total identification with the goals and methods of the Palestinian terror groups would drive a reporter to paint Israel in such an unflattering light instead of placing the focus on the bomber and the organization that recruited him."

The report, he said, "has not only set a new standard for biased journalism, it has also raised concerns that it was tainted by anti-Semitism."

In his letter, Sharansky quoted Guerin as describing to viewers how the IDF "paraded the child in front of the international media," then "produced" the child for reporters, "posed" him a second time for the cameras, and then "rushed him back into a jeep."

Likewise, the Evening Standard, which interviewed Guerin in 2003, wrote that she "questioned Israel's claim to be a democracy, compared its press freedom with Zimbabwe's and accused its officials of paranoia."

During that interview, Guerin - referring to a period that year when Israel refused to cooperate with the BBC - said "I can't imagine any other government thinking like that - Zimbabwe is the comparison. I'm absolutely stunned that they think it's appropriate."

"Israel talks regularly - at this point, in my view, with less justification - about being the only democracy in the Middle East," she said. "But how can you still be a democracy and try to harass the press? This is not how a democracy behaves."


PA Chairman Abbas sends holiday greetings to “Jews everywhere”

* Hundreds of Jewish soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to get kosher Passover rations
* Passover seders to be held in Baghdad, Fallujah, Tikrit, Bahrain and Qatar

 

CONTENTS

1. "Abbas sends holiday greetings" (JTA, April 20, 2005)
2. "Jewish soldiers in Iraq get kosher Pesach rations" (Ha'aretz, April 21, 2005)
3. "530,000 passengers expected through Ben-Gurion during Passover" (Ha'aretz, April 21, 2003)
4. "Passover exodus floods airport" (Ynet news, April 20, 2005)

 



NEXT YEAR IN PEACE?

[Note by Tom Gross]

Palestinian Authority chairman Mohammed Abbas (also widely known in the Middle East by his 'nom de guerre' Abu Mazen) has sent Passover holiday greetings to "Israelis and Jews everywhere."

This is of some significance from a man who for years disputed the Holocaust.

His predecessor, Yasser Arafat, also routinely sent Passover greetings to Jews, but then on several occasions, such as in 2002, dispatched suicide bombers to kill them the next day. Israelis have higher expectations of Abbas.

The Jewish festival of Passover begins on Saturday night and lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days outside Israel.

Please note that in relation to the article below about Passover Seders being held in Iraq, this is under the protection of the US army. It is still not safe for a Jew to enter Iraq in a civilian capacity despite millennia of previous Jewish presence in the region.

I attach four articles below.

-- Tom Gross

 



SUMMARIES

ABBAS SENDS HOLIDAY GREETINGS

Abbas sends holiday greetings
Jewish Telegraph Agency
April 20, 2005

Mahmoud Abbas wished world Jewry a happy Passover.

"With the advent of the Passover festival, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the people of Israel, and Jews everywhere 'Chag Sameach, happy holiday,'" the Palestinian Authority president said during an interview Tuesday with Israel's Channel Two television, switching briefly from Arabic to Hebrew for the greeting.

"Passover is the festival of liberation. With your help, we Palestinians would also like to achieve liberation," he said, addressing the Israeli audience.

 

JEWISH SOLDIERS IN IRAQ GET KOSHER PASSOVER RATIONS

Jewish soldiers in Iraq get kosher Pesach rations
By Shlomo Shamir
Ha'aretz
April 21, 2005

www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=567681

The Jewish members of America's armed forces will again receive kosher K-rations this Pesach throughout the holiday, provided by the U.S. Defense Department.

Thousands of packages containing kosher for Pesach MREs (meals ready to eat) have already reached U.S. army and navy supply bases, with special shipments aimed at Jewish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each kit contains 24 MREs, enough for three meals a day for the eight days celebrated in the Diaspora. The meals, prepared by a catering plant in Chicago and supplied by the Jewish Welfare Board's Jewish Chaplains Council, give soldiers a choice of three menus.

The Jewish Chaplains Council estimates that the number of Jews stationed in Iraq is between 500 and 600. Of the 30 Jewish chaplains on active duty around the world, eight chaplains are stationed in Iraq, including two female rabbis.

Each chaplain stationed in Iraq will hold two seders at base camps, with central seders taking place in Baghdad, Falluja and Tikrit. There will also be two seders at the army headquarters in Bahrain, and air force headquarters in Qatar. Jewish soldiers stationed in remote locations will be able to attend seders led by soldiers who received special training for that purpose.

 

530,000 PASSENGERS EXPECTED IN BEN-GURION DURING PASSOVER

530,000 passengers expected through Ben-Gurion during Passover
By Zohar Blumenkrantz and Amiram Barkat
Ha'aretz
April 21, 2003

(Summary only)

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/567966.html

Some 530,000 passengers on 3,553 flights are scheduled to pass through Ben-Gurion International Airport over the Passover holiday (April 17 to May 7), posing the first major challenge for the new Terminal 3.

The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) expects a 20 percent increase in passenger volume during this peak travel period compared to last year.

... The airport's busiest day will be May 1, the day following the second Passover holiday, with 286 departures and arrivals carrying 43,000 passengers.

The peak Passover season will end on Thursday, May 5, with 35,000 passengers on 235 flights.

 

THIS YEAR IN TURKEY

Pesach exodus floods airport
Tens of thousands of passengers, coming in and out of the country on hundreds of daily flights, are set to pack Ben-Gurion International Airport this Pesach, an increase over recent years
By Danny Sadeh
Ynetnews
April 20, 2005

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3075432,00.html

Israelis' traditional exodus from the country for their Pesach [Passover] vacation is more intensive this year than in recent years. At the same time, more travelers are expected to enter the country, as well.

More than 200 fully loaded planes are set to fly out of Israel Wednesday and Thursday. On average, this means one plane takes off every 12 minutes.

Israelis' favorite destination this year has not changed: 30 fully booked flights are scheduled to take wandering Jews to their seders in what many local travel agents like to call the second Israel, Turkey.

However, those who can spend more than $500 on a family vacation overseas will be heading to North America. Among the favorite destinations of an additional 30 packed flights taking off in the next couple of days are New York City, Orlando, Florida, and the West Coast.

The younger, more adventurous local crowd seems to be making amends for the mass departure from neighboring Egypt in Biblical times. As many as 15,000 Israelis are set to return to Sinai, despite repeated security warnings. However, this is still only about half of the number of Israelis who spent last Pesach there.

Incoming traffic

But there will be incoming traffic as well. An El Al official reported that the airline is flying 33 percent more visitors into the country this year than last year during Pesach. Other international airlines are reporting a significant increase in the number of arriving passengers, as well.

"We have no room for tourists wanting to come to Israel," said Ofer Kisch, CEO of Lufthansa Israel.

In total, 39,000 passengers are set to go through Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday. Come Sunday, May 1, at the holiday's end, 286 flights are set to go through the airport, carrying 43,000 people in and out of the country.

All that jazz is set to conclude come May 5, with 35,000 passengers on 235 flights. That is, until next year.


Viagra ruled Kosher for Passover; and Gorillas keeping Kosher too

CONTENTS

1. "Viagra ruled kosher for Passover" (BBC News, April 14, 2005)
2. "Bread is off the menu as safari park puts animals on kosher diet" (Independent, April 20, 2005)
3. "Zoo Keeps Gorillas Kosher for Passover" (AP, April 20, 2005)

 


VIAGRA GIVEN THE ALL-CLEAR

[Note by Tom Gross]

The Jewish festival of Passover begins on Saturday night and lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days outside Israel.

I occasionally try and send "lighter" articles on this, and attached below are stories from the BBC and the Associated Press.

* Viagra, which had been deemed not kosher since 1998 under strict dietary laws over the week-long Jewish spring holiday, has been given the all-clear by leading rabbis. A prescription for Viagra is issued in Israel on average once every minute, according to news reports.

* Accustomed to eating a slice of bread with cream cheese every morning, beginning Tuesday the gorillas and other animals at Ramat Gan safari have been fed matzo instead. Presumably the gorillas have not been prescribed Viagra too.

-- Tom Gross

 



FULL ARTICLES

VIAGRA RULED KOSHER FOR PASSOVER

Viagra ruled kosher for Passover
BBC News
April 14, 2005

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4444839.stm

A leading Israeli rabbi has ruled that the anti-impotency pill Viagra can be taken by Jews on Passover, reversing a previous ban. Viagra had been deemed not kosher since 1998 under strict dietary laws over the week-long Jewish spring holiday.

Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu said the pill can be swallowed if it is encased in a special soluble kosher capsule first. Viagra's Israeli manufacturers said they sought an answer after receiving queries from worried religious men.

The drug was previously prohibited because its coating was considered inedible over Passover, when contact with everyday ingredients, known as hametz, is forbidden under Jewish law.

In particular, Jews must dispose of any foodstuffs containing leavening agents, such as bread, cake or biscuits, or anything which might have come into contact with them in the production process.

The dietary laws are so strict that only drugs to treat life-threatening conditions may be consumed during the festival, which lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days for Jews in the rest of the world.

According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Rabbi Eliahu, a former chief rabbi, said men can take Viagra if they purchase special capsules made from kosher gelatin in which to put the pill before the holiday starts.

Viagra's Israeli manufacturer, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals-Israel, said swallowing the capsule does not breach Jewish law because the Viagra would not come into direct contact with the body.

A prescription for Viagra is issued in Israel on average once every minute, the newspaper reports.

Since Viagra was introduced seven years ago, more than 23 million men have been prescribed the drug worldwide, Pfizer says. Annual sales are worth nearly $2bn.

PASSOVER LAWS (BBC)

Possession or consumption of foodstuffs containing leaven forbidden

Use of "koshered" crockery or cooking utensils

Consumption of specially approved food and household products

 

BREAD IS OFF THE MENU AS SAFARI PARK PUTS ANIMALS ON KOSHER DIET

Bread is off the menu as safari park puts animals on kosher diet
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent
April 20, 2005

news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=631167

Animals at a leading Israeli safari park are being given a fully kosher diet over this year's Passover, requiring a significant change in diet for creatures such as elephants and gorillas.

The Ramat Gan Safari - one of the country's most popular attractions - will be feeding its animals with matzos, the brittle unleavened bread customary over the religious holiday which begins on Saturday night. Workers have begun cleaning the animals' habitats and the new diet has started to ensure that as required under Jewish law for humans no chametz - leavened products - will be in the enclosures at Passover. Elephants and apes at the park normally eat large quantities of bread.

"We're doing a thorough cleaning just like in every Israeli home so that the safari is kosher," said Sagit Horowitz, a spokeswoman for the safari. "The animals will receive a kosher for Passover mix of food and matzos so that by the time Passover arrives there isn't even a single crumb of chametz left near the animals." The animals will have a kosher diet for seven days.

Ms Horowitz said the move was required by the rabbinate as some animal food comes from tithes, the tenth of crops given to priests and the poor.

But the park also took into account the sensitivities of its visitors. "Religious and Haredi visitors come to the safari, and it doesn't look good when the elephant eats bread right in front of them."

 

ZOO KEEPS GORILLAS KOSHER FOR PASSOVER

Zoo Keeps Gorillas Kosher for Passover
By Ami Bentov
The Associated Press
April 20, 2005

When Passover comes around, even gorillas in Israel keep kosher. In line with many other Israelis busy cleaning their homes to remove bread-related products for the Passover holiday that begins Saturday night, the Safari Park Zoo near Tel Aviv does the same.

Since the zookeepers and handlers cannot touch any leavened products during the weeklong holiday that marks the biblical Jewish exodus from Egypt, the gorillas and other animals are also fed matzo - the unleavened cracker Jews eat to remember that in their rush to flee slavery, the ancient Israelites' bread did not have time to rise.

Accustomed to eating a slice of bread with cream cheese every morning, beginning Tuesday the gorillas and other animals at the safari were fed matzo instead, said Emelia Turkel, the zoo's curator.

"This turns out to be an interesting time for the gorillas and for the other animals because they get a bit of a change in diet," Turkel said. "We call this environmental enrichment, Jewish style."

The zoo has always fed the animals matzo during the Passover holiday, Turkel said, but try to limit their intake to just one or two crackers a day to prevent them from suffering from the most common side-effect of matzo - constipation.

"If they eat too much it does cause stomach problems, so we hope that our public this week will not be feeding their own matzo to the animals," Turkel said.

Watching the zookeepers throw matzos to the excited gorillas - romping in the grassy area after the crackers - visitors to the safari laughed and joked about the holiday tradition.

"I think it's a good idea for them. They're influenced by the Jews here," said Moshe, a visitor to the safari who gave only his first name.


Iran bans Al-Jazeera (& note on the new pope’s stint in the Hitler youth)

April 19, 2005

THE NEW POPE AND HIS STINT IN THE HITLER YOUTH

[An additional note by Tom Gross]

Following on from three dispatches about John Paul II that were sent on this list earlier this month, several people have asked me to send some of the articles that have appeared in the international media in the last two days about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's having belonged to the Hitler Youth. These articles include "Papal hopeful is a former Hitler Youth" (The Sunday Times of London, April 17, 2005) and similar pieces in papers like the Times of India.

Ratzinger was appointed pope about an hour ago, and some are warning that his wartime past may return to haunt him. That past includes brief membership of the Hitler Youth, when he was aged 14, and wartime service aged 16-17 with a German army anti-aircraft unit, the workforce of which also included slaves from Dachau concentration camp.

Ratzinger may have many faults for his ultra-conservative social views and his nasty comments about other religions, such as the Russian Orthodox Church. But his Hitler Youth stint in 1941 was something that was compulsory and should not in and of itself be held against him.

Towards the end of the war, he was sent to Hungary, where he set up tank traps and saw Jews being herded to death camps. He deserted in April 1944 and spent a few weeks in a prisoner of war camp.

There is no suggestion that he was involved in any atrocities. His father, also called Joseph, was an anti-Nazi.

-- Tom Gross

 

This is an update to several previous dispatches on Al-Jazeera, and several on Iran

 

CONTENTS:

1. Al-Jazeera, doing a good job for once
2. "Iran bans al-Jazeera after riots (BBC News, April 19, 2005)
3. "Iran closes al-Jazeera offices (Guardian, April 19, 2005)

 



AL-JAZEERA, DOING A GOOD JOB FOR ONCE

[Note by Tom Gross]

In the past, al-Jazeera has rightly been criticized for its highly slanted and incendiary coverage of the US and Israel. Regarding Israel in particular, Al-Jazeera has often simply made things up, such as the supposed existence of mass graves in Jenin and elsewhere in April 2002.

However in the case of Iran this week, it seems that Al-Jazeera has been unjustly punished for reporting on a genuine story. Just as Al-Jazeera has been praised for making some Arab governments more accountable, it should be praised for highlighting the anti-Arab moves of the Iranian government. (At least three people have died in Iran's south-west Khuzestan province over the past few days in ethnic riots, sparked by alleged plans to "change the area's ethnic makeup." Iran's Arabs, who are the majority in Khuzestan's capital Ahwaz, make up only 3% of the population of Iran.)

At the same time, by banning Al-Jazeera, the Iranian regime has again shown that it regards the media as little more than a tool for propaganda, and not as a check on bad governance.

I attach two articles from today, with summaries first for those who don't have time to read the articles in full.

 

SUMMARIES

IRAN BANS AL-JAZEERA AFTER RIOTS

"Iran bans al-Jazeera after riots" (BBC News, April 19, 2005)

Iran has suspended operations by the al-Jazeera television network, accusing it of inflaming violent protests by the country's Arab minority. Al-Jazeera described the action as "surprising and unjustified"... The television network - which is popular among Iranian Arabs - is reported to have been the first to broadcast news of the riots.

The Iranian government is launching an investigation into al-Jazeera's coverage of the rioting. "If it is proved that al-Jazeera committed a crime, it will be prosecuted," Mohammad Khoshvaght of the culture and Islamic guidance ministry told state television.

 

IRAN CLOSES AL-JAZEERA OFFICES

"Iran closes al-Jazeera offices" (By Stephen Brook, The Guardian, April 19, 2005)

The Iranian authorities have shut down the Tehran offices of al-Jazeera, accusing the broadcaster of inflaming ethnic riots in the south of the country.

Al-Jazeera said today it had been told to stop broadcasting in Iran and had appealed to the government to reverse its decision. "Al-Jazeera assures its audience that it will continue to cover Iranian affairs objectively, comprehensively and in a balanced way, and calls on the relevant Iranian authorities to reconsider the decision to suspend its bureau's activities," the broadcaster said.

... The unrest Iran's south-west Khuzestan province was also discussed on al-Jazeera's talkshows, prompting a government investigation into its coverage.

 



FULL ARTICLES

IRAN BANS AL-JAZEERA AFTER RIOTS

Iran bans al-Jazeera after riots
BBC News
April 19, 2005

news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4459033.stm

Iran has suspended operations by the al-Jazeera television network, accusing it of inflaming violent protests by the country's Arab minority.

Three people have died in ethnic clashes in Iran's south-west Khuzestan province over the past few days.

The riots are thought to have been sparked by alleged plans - which the government denies - to change the area's ethnic makeup.

Al-Jazeera described the action as "surprising and unjustified".

It said it would maintain its "editorial policy of airing the full range of opinions and covering current affairs in Iran objectively and fairly".

The television network - which is popular among Iranian Arabs - is reported to have been the first to broadcast news of the demonstrations.

The government is launching an investigation into al-Jazeera's coverage of the rioting.

"If it is proved that al-Jazeera committed a crime, it will be prosecuted," Mohammad Khoshvaght of the culture and Islamic guidance ministry told state television.

Iranian MPs have criticised al-Jazeera, saying it portrayed the violence as a separatist unrest.

The Popular Democratic Front of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran, which is based in London, told al-Jazeera that it had called for peaceful demonstrations in Khuzestan to "to mark 80 years of Iranian occupation" but the government had opted to deploy military force.

Iran's Arabs, who are the majority in Khuzestan's capital Ahwaz, make up only 3% of the population of Iran.

Iran's interior ministry says the area is now calm.

 

IRAN CLOSES AL-JAZEERA OFFICES

Iran closes al-Jazeera offices
By Stephen Brook
The Guardian
April 19, 2005

media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,7493,1463288,00.html

The Iranian authorities have shut down the Tehran offices of al-Jazeera, accusing the broadcaster of inflaming ethnic riots in the south of the country.

Al-Jazeera said today it had been told to stop broadcasting in Iran and had appealed to the government to reverse its decision.

"Al-Jazeera assures its audience that it will continue to cover Iranian affairs objectively, comprehensively and in a balanced way, and calls on the relevant Iranian authorities to reconsider the decision to suspend its bureau's activities," the broadcaster said.

The Arabic news network was first to report the unrest in Iran's south-west Khuzestan province near the Iraq border, which has led to 200 arrests over the past few days.

The unrest was also discussed on al-Jazeera's talkshows, prompting a government investigation into its coverage.

"We suspended its activity in Iran to investigate the network's role in unrest in Ahvaz," Mohammad Khoshvaght of the culture and Islamic guidance ministry told state television.

"We expect the network to respect Iran's national integrity and security. If it is proved that al-Jazeera committed a crime, it will be prosecuted."

Al-Jazeera is popular among Iran's Arabs, who are the majority in Khuzestan's capital Ahwaz but make up only 3% of the country's population. Persians account for 51%.

Al-Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, has fallen foul of governments across the Middle East.

It was banned from reporting in Iraq last year and has angered authorities in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait for its policy of airing opposition views and criticisms.

The US government has also attacked the network for its coverage of the Iraq war.


Hamas’ leading bombmaker the star of a new Syrian-produced TV series

This is an update to several previous dispatches on Hizbullah, Syria, and the manipulation of the media by extremists groups.

 

CONTENTS

1. Glorifying the father of suicide bombing
2. The ultimate lie: Hamas "spares children"
3. Banned in France
4. Another victim
5. "Israel's hand in 9/11 is clear"
6. "Hamas bombmaker star of Syrian produced TV series" (Arutz Sheva, April 18, 2005)
7. "Taliban take to the airwaves" (UPI, April 19, 2005)
8. "Bush refuses to talk to Assad" (Al-Jazeera, April 18, 2005)

 



GLORIFYING THE FATHER OF SUICIDE BOMBING

[Note by Tom Gross]

According to the article below, a 12-part Syrian-produced series on the life of the "father of suicide bombings," Hamas bomb-maker Yihye Ayyash, has begun airing on the Lebanese-based Hizbullah satellite television station Al-Manar.

The new series, which is airing in prime time each evening in Lebanon and internationally, glorifies the master terrorist Ayyash and Hamas in general. Sinister music is played whenever a Jew appears on the scene.

THE ULTIMATE LIE: HAMAS "SPARES CHILDREN"

Ayyash is portrayed as a role model, and even a moral humanist. One scene depicts Ayyash urging terrorists under his command not to harm any Israeli children in an "operation." He says to them: "Never forget, we are superior to our enemy in our moral standards."

This is a lie worthy of neo-Nazis and Holocaust revisionists. On countless occasions, Ayyash and Hamas have deliberately targeted children.

"ISRAEL'S HAND IN 9/11 IS CLEAR"

This series is yet another reminder that Hizbullah holds back the Palestinians by not sending out a positive message to their Muslim brethren, but by praising the mass killers of Jews.

The series come only days after it was reported that the Arab League Ambassador to Britain, Ali Muhsen Hamid, told a gathering of the Foreign and Commonwealth Council at the British Parliament that "Israel's hand in the [9/11] matter is clear."

BANNED IN FRANCE

As reported on this email list, Al-Manar was recently banned in France for its previous incendiary broadcasts, such as the dramatic adaptation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which the French authorities finally admitted had helped stir up anti-Semitic violence in France. It is still broadcast in other European countries and is popular with Arab-speaking populations there.

The BBC World Service also continues to promote Al-Manar. Last week, for example, a leading Al-Manar journalist appeared for a full hour on a special BBC discussion program. In the course of the entire hour, the BBC, while reporting in bemused tomes that the US government have sought to have Al-Manar banned for encouraging terrorism, did not provide a single example of Al-Manar's extremist broadcasts, and left BBC listeners with the idea that Al-Manar was a legitimate form of journalism and the Bush administration's complaints were all imaginary.

ANOTHER VICTIM

Hizbullah almost certainly aided Syrian intelligence in the bomb that killed ex-Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri in February. Yesterday, another former Lebanese minister (Basil Fuleihan, the economy minister) died from wounds sustained in that same attack.

Fuleihan, who had suffered burns to more than 90 percent of his body, succumbed to his injuries in a Paris hospital, leaving behind a wife and two young children. Fuleihan held a British passport, and was one of Hariri's top aides and was credited for the success of many of his economic policies.

-- Tom Gross

 



FULL ARTICLES

HAMAS BOMB-MAKER STAR OF SYRIAN PRODUCED TV SERIES

Hamas Bomb-Maker Star of Syrian Produced TV Series
Arutz Sheva
April 18, 2005

www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=80472

A 12-part series on the life of the "father of suicide bombings," Hamas bomb-maker Yihye Ayyash is set to be aired on the Lebanese-based Hizbullah satellite television station al-Manar.

Ayyash was born in 1966, near Shechem. He studied electrical engineering at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah and joined Hamas shortly afterward. His bombs killed at least 76 Israelis and injured more than 400 before Israeli intelligence succeeded in killing him, using a bomb installed in his cellular phone.

Ayyash is lauded as a hero in the Palestinian Authority and posters featuring his face, with the honorific nickname 'al-Muhandas' [the engineer], plaster the walls of many Arab towns in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

On January 5th, 1996, Israeli security agents succeeded in planting 1.7 ounces of explosives in his cell phone – detonating it after he answered the phone and his voice was confirmed.

This is not the first anti-Semitic program to be aired on al-Manar. Aside from the laudatory news reports following any attack on Israeli civilians, the channel broadcast a series called 'A-Shatat' [Diaspora] in November 2003. The show was billed as an accurate depiction of modern Zionism, but was blatantly anti-Semitic in content and made repeated references to the forged anti-Semitic document "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion".

Following that broadcast and the refusal of al-Manar to remove anti-Semitic programming, the channel was removed from the rosters of local satellite networks in the United States and France.

The series on Ayyash began airing in April, at prime time each evening. The series glorifies the terrorist and Hamas in general.

The Arab actors playing IDF soldiers of Israeli government officials speak Hebrew in the series, though with a thick Arabic accent. Sinister music is played whenever a Jew appears on the scene.

Ayyash is portrayed as a role model, and even a moral humanist. One scene depicts Ayyash urging terrorists under his command not to harm any Israeli children in an "operation." He says to them: "Never forget, we are superior to our enemy in our moral standards."

 

TALIBAN TAKE TO THE AIRWAVES

Taliban take to the airwaves
UPI
April 19, 2005

Afghanistan's overthrown Taliban regime has announced the start of a pirate radio station which will air anti-government programs.

Abdul Latif Hakimi, a Taliban spokesman, said the station known as Shariat Ghagh (Voice of Islamic Law) is back on the air and can be heard in four southern Afghan provinces. The station, which was active during the Taliban's time in power from 1996 to 2001, will use a mobile transmitter inside Afghanistan, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Web site reported Monday.

"The radios of the world, which are apparently free, are in fact slaves of others. That is why we have launched the radio, to make people aware about the Taliban's thoughts and objectives," Hakimi said, as quoted by the Pakistani newspaper Daily Times. An official with the U.N. World Food Programme also confirmed the start of the new station's broadcasts.

U.S. forces have predicted the collapse of the Taliban, saying there are roughly only 2,000 fighters still loyal to the Islamist movement. The radio station is an effort to strengthen their stand and expand their sphere of influence in the southern region of Afghanistan.

 

BUSH REFUSES TO TALK TO ASSAD

Bush refuses to talk to Assad
Al-Jazeera
April 18, 2005

According to the pan-Arab daily Al Sharq Al Awsat, U.S. President George Bush will not sit down and talk to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad a U.S. official was quoted as saying.

"The United States is not at all happy with Syria's policies," the unnamed official told the London-based paper. "Contact with the Syrian regime will remain at the lowest level and will not reach the point where President Bashar Al Assad finds himself at the same table as President George Bush."

Meanwhile, the Israeli daily Maariv on Thursday quoted U.S. officials as saying that "in private, American officials and in particular President Bush, say that Assad is a 'strange personality,' that he can't be trusted and that we must wait for him to leave the political arena."

"Even in Syria, people are conscious of what's going on in the world and around them" say the Americans. (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon has heard from his partners that the "Syrian regime is about to collapse and won't survive the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon," the Israeli paper said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ali Tuygan called on Washington to cooperate with Syria and Iran in order to solve pending issues and to further avoid confrontations.

The Anadulu News Agency quoted Tuygan as saying, during a meeting at the Washington Institute, that the Syrian-Turkish relations gave Turkey the opportunity to understand the situation in the region.

Meanwhile, in Paris, the Chairman of the Arab- French Solidarity society Lucien Peterlein underlined the society's absolute solidarity with Syria in the face of the current pressures it is exposed to.

According to Peterlein, "We stand by Syria in the face of pressures and threats against that aim at obliging it to abandon its firm principles." The statement hailed Syria's wise and brave leadership towards the existing pressures, stressing that Syria has opted for the way of peace and what is right.


The liberation of Belsen: The BBC didn’t believe their own reporter

April 18, 2005

CONTENTS:

1. The BBC didn't believe their own reporter
2. Pictures of naked bodies with missing hearts and livers
3. Anne Frank, one of many thousands
4. Leftist newspapers less interested
5. "Tears as day of deliverance from Belsen recalled" (Scotsman, April 18, 2005)
6. "At last we can talk of our secret horror" (Daily Telegraph, April 18, 2005)
7. "Survivors mark liberation of Nazi camps" (AP, April 18, 2005)
8. "When Belsen was liberated, the Holocaust came to Britain" (Times of London, April 16, 2005)

 



[Note by Tom Gross]

THE BBC DIDN'T BELIEVE THEIR OWN REPORTER

Sixty years ago tomorrow, millions of people around the world became aware for the first time of the full horror of the Holocaust: on April 19, 1945, BBC radio broadcast details of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

But the BBC reporter on the scene, Richard Dimbleby, had actually compiled his report four days earlier on April 15, 1945, hours after he arrived at the camp with the British army unit which liberated Belsen.

His BBC bosses in London said they found it so hard to believe his report that for four days they refused to broadcast it.

Finally, on April 19, 1945, after Dimbleby – one of the BBC's leading correspondents – threatened to resign if the BBC didn't broadcast his account, the BBC broadcast it.

Dimbleby broke down five times while trying to record descriptions of the stench of decomposing flesh, the pyramids of starved and emaciated corpses, some still dying, others waiting to be buried, with arms and legs were like matchsticks, their bones poking through their skin.

PICTURES OF NAKED BODIES WITH MISSING HEARTS AND LIVERS

A few days later, British army film of soldiers bulldozing thousands of stick-like corpses into mass graves at the camp shocked the world and brought home the barbarity of the full Nazi regime for the first time. Some of the pictures showed naked bodies with missing hearts and livers, people alive with no teeth or hair. Until that stage of the war there had been no images of what had happened in the camps.

(Among the liberating British army soldiers was Chaim Herzog, later President of Israel.)

ANNE FRANK, ONE OF MANY THOUSANDS

The vast majority of the victims at Bergen-Belsen were Jews. They included well-known Holocaust victims such as Anne Frank and Simone Veil. In deference to the few orthodox survivors, services commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation were held not last Friday April 15, the Jewish Sabbath, but yesterday.

LEFTIST NEWSPAPERS LESS INTERESTED

As the (rightist) Daily Telegraph notes today: "Since that day 60 years ago, many in the West have preferred not to think about how a nation as apparently civilised as Germany could have come to treat human beings like this. It seemed more comfortable to dismiss Adolf Hitler and his followers as inhuman madmen – aberrations of history – than to accept that anything like the Holocaust could happen again. But all of history should warn us that it could happen again."

Many center-right newspapers have extensive coverage today, including front-page photos. But some left-leaning papers, such as the Independent (of London) and the New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune, make almost no reference today to the ceremonies at Belsen yesterday and carried no photos. It is probably not a coincidence that these are the papers that are routinely hostile to Israel.

For example, the Independent today has a little story without a photo at the foot of page 21, in contrast to rightist papers like the Daily Express which carries a top-of-the-page photo of flowers being left yesterday at a grave for Anne and Margot Frank.

And the International Herald Tribune publishes a huge, side-angled photo of Ariel Sharon in his Jerusalem office, looking particular sinister, next to their story today (which is only three sentences long) headlined "Camp survivors mark anniversary of release."

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

SHAUL LADANY, SURVIVING HITLER AT BELSEN, ARAFAT AND ABBAS AT MUNICH

"Tears as day of deliverance from Belsen recalled" (By Allan Hall, in Belsen, The Scotsman, April 18, 2005)

On a hot spring day in 1945 British soldiers stumbled on a dark secret of the Third Reich amid a dense German forest... Six decades on, Belsen is a serene oasis of greenery and remembrance stones, the huts which contained the "sub-human" enemies of Nazism long ago vaporised by army flame-throwers... 150 survivors - including Poles, Czechs, Canadians, Israelis, Americans and Slavs - who made it back to the hell from which they were rescued 60 years ago.

They were people like white-haired Lilliane Eckstein, now 77, who lost 82 members of her family in the Holocaust. Her mother died at Belsen, while she contracted typhus and only just survived. "I didn't want to. I survived in a world where everyone I loved had gone," she said.

With tears streaming down her face, the former Czech schoolgirl, now a pensioner living in New York, added: "I came here because I owe it to my family, to those wonderful British soldiers, to the dead. I hate this place. But I have a duty to be here."

Ruth Turek, 75, a Polish Jewish survivor who lost her entire family in the camps and who also now lives in the US, said: "My sister was gassed at Treblinka, my mother in Auschwitz. But I lived to say I would not forget them, and I won't. I remember the awful stink of the place and people lying around and dying, dying, dying. There is never a day that I don't think about what was done here."

Another survivor was Shaul Ladany, 69, from Israel, who was a young boy when the British arrived. He said God had "shone twice on me in this life" - in 1972 he was a marathon walker with the Israeli Olympic team in Munich and narrowly missed being kidnapped with other athletes by Palestinian terrorists and killed.

He and his sister Marta, 64, walked hand in hand upon the fields where huts once stood with people more dead than alive crammed into them... "You know what I really remember?" said Mr Ladany. "I remember being so hungry that I was in pain and seeing wild tomatoes growing in the forest on the other side of the barbed wire. And that tormented me more than anything."

... Major Dick Williams, 84, one of the first soldiers in the camp, will be there today to honour the dead and his comrades from long ago. He said: "It was an evil, filthy place, a hell on Earth. I hope that the younger generation can understand to truly prevent another Belsen from ever being built on this Earth again."

 

SKELETONS WALKING

"At last we can talk of our secret horror" (By Hannah Cleaver in Bergen-Belsen, Daily Telegraph, April 18, 2005)

She was a Polish Jew who, along with countless others, had been sent to Bergen-Belsen to die. She was unconscious when British troops finally entered the gates and discovered the horror.

He was a British military policeman, told that he had been "volunteered" to help with the concentration camp, drawing up lists of the survivors and helping to bury the tens of thousands of dead.

But Renee and Charles Salt did not meet 60 years ago when the camp was liberated. Soon after they did, a few years later, they married. "I was pleased that he had seen what I had seen," Mrs Salt, 76, said yesterday. "It meant that he could understand."

Yet this understanding took the form of an unspoken contract between the two not to talk about what they experienced; an agreement that remained in force for half a century. "It was too much, we could not talk about it," she said. "Of course we knew where we had both been during the war, but we never really talked about it."

Mrs Salt's journey to Bergen-Belsen took her from her home town of Zdunsk Vola, near Lodz in Poland, through ghettoes and even to Auschwitz. Even before reaching her destination, and still in her teens, she had been so kicked, beaten, starved and humiliated that there was little more to do but wait for death.

"By 1945 I had lost just about everything," she said. "Family, home, money, education, country, hair, even my teeth - it had all been taken away from me. I was left a skeleton with nothing."

Yet having become almost inured to the sight of death, the pain of beatings and the constant fear that a casual decision by a stranger might end her life, Renee was shocked when she got off the train at Bergen-Belsen.

"The scene that met our eyes was impossible to describe. Here we saw skeletons walking. Their arms and legs were like matchsticks, their bones poking through their poor skin.

"The bodies had their eyes open, they were all over the place, you couldn't tell who was who. Even in Auschwitz all that time there was a grain of hope. When we came to Belsen, I was just praying to die quickly" ...

 

MEDICAL EXPERIMENTATION AT RAVENSBRUECK

"Survivors Mark Liberation of Nazi Camps" (By Matt Surman, The Associated Press, April 18, 2005)

Hundreds of survivors of Nazi concentration camps on Sunday marked the liberation 60 years ago of three of the most notorious camps in the Third Reich's vast system: Ravensbrueck, Sachsenhausen and Bergen-Belsen.

Judith Sherman, 75, brought her two sons and grandchildren to Ravensbrueck so she could tell them the story of her struggle to survive. "I think of Ravensbrueck every time I feel hungry. I think of Ravensbrueck every time I feel cold," said Sherman, of Cranbury, N.J. "Every time my grandchildren cry, I think of Ravensbrueck."

Sherman was among 300 survivors from around the world who attended the ceremony at Ravensbrueck, 60 miles north of Berlin near the town of Fuerstenberg, which gained infamy as the Nazis' camp for female prisoners, though some men also were held there.

... From 1939 to 1945, at least 132,000 women and children and 20,000 men were deported to Ravensbrueck, where tens of thousands died from hunger, disease, exhaustion or medical experiments. Six thousand prisoners were killed in a gas chamber built at the end of 1944…

 

"THAT WAS THE DAY I REALISED THE WORLD WAS NOT A NICE PLACE"

"When Belsen was liberated, the Holocaust came to Britain" (By Roger Boyes in Belsen, The Times (of London), April 16, 2005)

Ruth Turek blinked back tears in Belsen concentration camp yesterday and recalled the moment, 60 years ago, that the British Army moved in. "It was funny, just like today and the soldiers seem to come like angels," she said.

The day that the British saved the life of the 17-year-old Polish Jew was also the day that the Holocaust came home to Britain. The piles of corpses; the sweet stench of decaying flesh; the dazed, emaciated inmates: they became almost instantly part of the iconography of war crimes.

... Other camps had been liberated by April 15, but did not have such a raw impact on Britain. "For me as a British schoolboy in the 1970s, it was Belsen rather than Auschwitz which represented the Holocaust," said the historian Stephen Smith [a subscriber to this email list], who went on to head the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in Nottingham. "Not just because of the horrific skeletal pictures, but also because it was so connected to my own country."

The shock permeated first through the accounts of liberating soldiers, members of the Second Army who had seen some savage fighting. Most of the gritty photographs from the first days of liberation, as the British Army tried to make sense of the chaotic scenes – much of the camp seemed to be dying of typhoid fever – were taken by soldiers.

"And they didn't go back to barrack rooms cut off from the world; they returned to their homes in Glasgow, Manchester and Telford," Dr Smith said. "That sent a powerful word-of-mouth message and most of the Tommies were saying: 'Now I know what we were fighting for.'"

... "Soon after taking over at the Holocaust centre," Dr Smith said, "I was called to the home of an old soldier who said he needed to talk about Belsen after decades of silence. 'I feel almost guilty about it,' he said, 'so ashamed.'"

... Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor, turned to the camp commander, Josef Kramer and spat to an interpreter: "Tell him that when he hangs I hope he hangs slowly."

Correspondents poured into the camp. The Holocaust was on British kitchen tables. Army film units, with Alfred Hitchcock's involvement, produced stomach-curdling footage. The British at home, though battered, had no previous idea of how it looked to die of hunger. Some of the pictures emerging showed naked bodies with missing hearts and livers, clearly cannibalised.

... Although later Auschwitz was to take the central position in the narrative of the Holocaust, it was Belsen that provided the most immediate, the most graphic account. "When I talk to ordinary Britons who were 10 or 8 at the time of Belsen," Dr Smith said, "they will often tell me: 'That was the day I grew up and realised the world was not a nice place.'" ...



FULL ARTICLES

TEARS AS DAY OF DELIVERANCE FROM BELSEN RECALLED

Tears as day of deliverance from Belsen recalled
By Allan Hall at Belsen
The Scotsman
April 18, 2005

news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=403582005

On a hot spring day in 1945 – a day much like yesterday – British soldiers stumbled on a dark secret of the Third Reich amid a dense German forest.

Those who survived the horrors of the Belsen concentration camp to welcome the "angels in khaki" yesterday returned to the place where 70,000 people died.

This time there was no stench of decomposing flesh, no pyramids of emaciated corpses waiting to be buried.

Six decades on, Belsen is a serene oasis of greenery and remembrance stones, the huts which contained the "sub-human" enemies of Nazism long ago vaporised by army flame-throwers.

It was said that before Belsen was liberated many Britons did not know what they were fighting for. After its discovery no-one was in any doubt as to what they were fighting against.

It was an international brigade of some 150 survivors – including Poles, Czechs, Canadians, Israelis, Americans and Slavs – who made it back to the hell from which they were rescued 60 years ago.

They were people like white-haired Lilliane Eckstein, now 77, who lost 82 members of her family in the Holocaust. Her mother died at Belsen, while she contracted typhus and only just survived.

"I didn't want to. I survived in a world where everyone I loved had gone," she said.

With tears streaming down her face, the former Czech schoolgirl, now a pensioner living in New York, added: "I came here because I owe it to my family, to those wonderful British soldiers, to the dead. I hate this place. But I have a duty to be here."

Ruth Turek, 75, a Polish survivor who lost her entire family in the camps and who also now lives in the US, said: "They were our angels in khaki, the angels of the British army.

"They gave people food and some died because they were too weak to have such nourishment. But they rescued people like me, these healthy, happy- faced soldiers who were so very different from the brutal guards who abused us. My sister was gassed at Treblinka, my mother in Auschwitz. But I lived to say I would not forget them, and I won't. I remember the awful stink of the place and people lying around and dying, dying, dying. There is never a day that I don’t think about what was done here."

Another survivor was Shaul Ladany, 69, from Israel, who was a young boy when the British arrived.

He said God had "shone twice on me in this life" – in 1972 he was a marathon walker with the Israeli Olympic team in Munich and narrowly missed being kidnapped with other athletes by Palestinian terrorists and killed.

He and his sister Marta, 64, walked hand in hand upon the fields where huts once stood with people more dead than alive crammed into them.

They walked past the mass graves, one of them containing the remains of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl whose diary of her years in hiding became a beacon of hope for humanity in the years after the war.

"You know what I really remember?" said Mr Ladany. "I remember being so hungry that I was in pain and seeing wild tomatoes growing in the forest on the other side of the barbed wire. And that tormented me more than anything."

Among the Britons who arrived last night was Renee Salt. Her husband Charles was a military policeman involved in the liberation of Belsen whom she met much later in Paris.

Major Dick Williams, 84, one of the first soldiers in the camp, will be there today to honour the dead and his comrades from long ago.

He said: "It was an evil, filthy place, a hell on Earth. I hope that the younger generation can understand to truly prevent another Belsen from ever being built on this Earth again."

 

'AT LAST WE CAN TALK OF OUR SECRET HORROR'

'At last we can talk of our secret horror'
By Hannah Cleaver in Bergen-Belsen
The Daily Telegraph
April 18, 2005

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/04/18/wbels118.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/04/18/ixhome.html

She was a Polish Jew who, along with countless others, had been sent to Bergen-Belsen to die. She was unconscious when British troops finally entered the gates and discovered the horror.

He was a British military policeman, told that he had been "volunteered" to help with the concentration camp, drawing up lists of the survivors and helping to bury the tens of thousands of dead.

But Renee and Charles Salt did not meet 60 years ago when the camp was liberated. Soon after they did, a few years later, they married.

"I was pleased that he had seen what I had seen," Mrs Salt, 76, said yesterday. "It meant that he could understand."

Yet this understanding took the form of an unspoken contract between the two not to talk about what they experienced; an agreement that remained in force for half a century.

"It was too much, we could not talk about it," she said. "Of course we knew where we had both been during the war, but we never really talked about it."

Mrs Salt's journey to Bergen-Belsen took her from her home town of Zdunsk Vola, near Lodz in Poland, through ghettoes and even to Auschwitz. Even before reaching her destination, and still in her teens, she had been so kicked, beaten, starved and humiliated that there was little more to do but wait for death.

"By 1945 I had lost just about everything," she said. "Family, home, money, education, country, hair, even my teeth – it had all been taken away from me. I was left a skeleton with nothing."

Yet having become almost inured to the sight of death, the pain of beatings and the constant fear that a casual decision by a stranger might end her life, Renee was shocked when she got off the train at Bergen-Belsen.

"The scene that met our eyes was impossible to describe. Here we saw skeletons walking. Their arms and legs were like matchsticks, their bones poking through their poor skin.

"The bodies had their eyes open, they were all over the place, you couldn't tell who was who.

"Even in Auschwitz all that time there was a grain of hope. When we came to Belsen, I was just praying to die quickly."

Having tracked down her dying mother in the same camp, the then 16-year-old collapsed into feverish unconsciousness and missed the next 10 days – and the arrival of the British, among them her future husband.

"In the main camp there were just hundreds and thousands of bodies," said Mr Salt. "We got German civilians to dig trenches and we had to bury the bodies, but we also had to feed the survivors. What do you do?

"Some people were so desperate that they would find a tin or a piece of glass and open a body to eat the offal." Now 87, Mr Salt suffers from the gait and frailty of an old man and the weekend trip to Belsen from London was a long and tiring one for both him and his wife.

There were 23,200 bodies for Mr Salt and his fellow soldiers to deal with, as well as thousands of survivors, 13,000 of which were so starved and sick that they died soon after. Huge ditches were dug around the camp and up to 5,000 bodies were buried in each one.

Renee woke up 10 days after liberation in a delousing room. As she came to, someone was killing the fat black lice that had covered her since she entered Belsen.

"They gave me a quarter of a slice of bread with a teaspoon of stewed apple on it," she said. "That was the first thing I ate."

Two years later, having found the surviving two aunts out of 12 aunts and uncles in her family and – like many other survivors – suffered a nervous breakdown, she turned her back on Poland and moved to Paris.

There she met and fell in love with Charles, who decided to take Renee to London, where he went on to set up a delicatessen.

"We hadn't seen each other at Bergen-Belsen but we talked briefly about where we had been and realised we had been in the same place," said Mrs Salt.

She could not even tell her son and daughter, and only recently brought up the subject with her grandchildren. "For 50 years we didn't talk about it," she said. "We saw things on the television and then started to talk, putting it together piece by piece."

Mr Salt said yesterday: "It was so different when I was first here; there were huts all over the place. Now there is just grass. What they have done here with the memorial is great."

 

SURVIVORS MARK LIBERATION OF NAZI CAMPS

Survivors Mark Liberation of Nazi Camps
By Matt Surman
The Associated Press
The Washington Post
April 18, 2005

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A61461-2005Apr17.html

Hundreds of survivors of Nazi concentration camps on Sunday marked the liberation 60 years ago of three of the most notorious camps in the Third Reich's vast system: Ravensbrueck, Sachsenhausen and Bergen-Belsen.

Judith Sherman, 75, brought her two sons and grandchildren to Ravensbrueck so she could tell them the story of her struggle to survive.

"I think of Ravensbrueck every time I feel hungry. I think of Ravensbrueck every time I feel cold," said Sherman, of Cranbury, N.J. "Every time my grandchildren cry, I think of Ravensbrueck."

Sherman was among 300 survivors from around the world who attended the ceremony at Ravensbrueck, 60 miles north of Berlin near the town of Fuerstenberg, which gained infamy as the Nazis' camp for female prisoners, though some men also were held there.

Pierette Pierrot, a French resistance fighter, was pregnant when she was captured and imprisoned by the Nazis in 1944. Pierrot, 88, said she was able to hide her pregnancy from the Nazis with her baggy prison clothes and the help of others.

"There was a lot of friendship ... and only through that could I keep my child," Pierrot said.

When her son, Guy, was born March 11, 1945, in the camp, she had to lean even more on others – including a German camp nurse who knew her secret.

A month later, as the Third Reich crumbled, the SS allowed the Red Cross to evacuate 7,500 prisoners to Sweden.

Pierrot was one of those chosen to go and remembers bundling her son up in rags and stuffing him under a seat to smuggle him out with her. "I only really felt saved when we made it to Denmark," said Pierrot, whose son came with her for the ceremonies.

From 1939 to 1945, at least 132,000 women and children and 20,000 men were deported to Ravensbrueck, where tens of thousands died from hunger, disease, exhaustion or medical experiments. Six thousand prisoners were killed in a gas chamber built at the end of 1944.

Sachsenhausen, near Berlin, was liberated on April 22, 1945, by the Soviet army. One of the first Nazi concentration camps, it was initially meant mainly for political prisoners.

Bergen-Belsen, near Hanover, had by 1945 become a holding pen for the weak and sick. It was liberated on April 15, 1945.

 

WHEN BELSEN WAS LIBERATED, THE HOLOCAUST CAME TO BRITAIN

When Belsen was liberated, the Holocaust came to Britain
By Roger Boyes In Belsen, Northern Germany
The Times (of London)
April 16, 2005

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1571178,00.html

Ruth Turek blinked back tears in Belsen concentration camp yesterday and recalled the moment, 60 years ago, that the British Army moved in. "It was funny, just like today and the soldiers seem to come like angels," she said.

The day that the British saved the life of the 17-year-old Polish Jew was also the day that the Holocaust came home to Britain. The piles of corpses; the sweet stench of decaying flesh; the dazed, emaciated inmates: they became almost instantly part of the icon- ography of war crimes. Richard Dimbleby, the BBC reporter on the scene, broke down five times trying to record his account of the liberated camp.

The BBC demanded confirmation from other sources. Dimbleby threatened to resign. Eventually, on April 19, four days after the arrival of the troops, his account stunned Britain. "Behind the huts, two youths and two girls who had found a morsel of food were sitting together on the grass in picnic fashion, sharing it. They were not six feet from a pile of decomposing bodies."

Other camps had been liberated by April 15, but did not have such a raw impact on Britain. "For me as a British schoolboy in the 1970s, it was Belsen rather than Auschwitz which represented the Holocaust," said the historian Stephen Smith, who went on to head the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in Nottingham. "Not just because of the horrific skeletal pictures, but also because it was so connected to my own country." The shock permeated first through the accounts of liberating soldiers, members of the Second Army who had seen some savage fighting. Most of the gritty photographs from the first days of liberation, as the British Army tried to make sense of the chaotic scenes – much of the camp seemed to be dying of typhoid fever – were taken by soldiers.

"And they didn’t go back to barrack rooms cut off from the world; they returned to their homes in Glasgow, Manchester and Telford," Dr Smith said. "That sent a powerful word-of-mouth message and most of the Tommies were saying: 'Now I know what we were fighting for.' "

Most of the liberators are now too old to travel. Charles Salt, 84 – a military policeman who helped to arrest the vicious camp warden Irma Grese – travelled to the camp yesterday with his wife, Renee, who had been an inmate. Belsen brought them together.

"Soon after taking over at the Holocaust centre," Dr Smith said, "I was called to the home of an old soldier who said he needed to talk about Belsen after decades of silence. 'I feel almost guilty about it,' he said, 'so ashamed.' "

Frank Chapman, who drove the bulldozer that piled the naked corpses into communal graves, remained scarred by his camp experience until his death 18 months ago.

The liberation of Belsen was the first real wartime media event in the modern sense. The first correspondent on the ground was John D'Arcy- Dawson, the Sunday Times reporter, who arrived early enough to see the camp commander, Josef Kramer, led half-naked past his former inmates. The reporter watched as the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor, turned to Kramer and spat to an interpreter: "Tell him that when he hangs I hope he hangs slowly." British officers did not usually talk like that in the presence of reporters.

Kramer did, indeed, hang – some 70,000 inmates had died because of his neglect, incompetence or cruelty – and the British-led trials of the Belsen staff were a revelation for the British public. It marked the beginning of an intense period of anti-German sentiment in Britain.

Correspondents poured into the camp. The Holocaust was on British kitchen tables. Army film units, with Alfred Hitchcock's involvement, produced stomach-curdling footage. The British at home, though battered, had no previous idea of how it looked to die of hunger. Some of the pictures emerging showed naked bodies with missing hearts and livers, clearly cannibalised.

Although later Auschwitz was to take the central position in the narrative of the Holocaust, it was Belsen that provided the most immediate, the most graphic account. "When I talk to ordinary Britons who were 10 or 8 at the time of Belsen," Dr Smith said, "they will often tell me: 'That was the day I grew up and realised the world was not a nice place.'"

Anne Frank, the Dutch schoolgirl, was the most prominent victim of Belsen, but the liberators and their accompanying press corps would also rise to prominence, ensuring that Belsen continued to shape the consciousness of a generation.

Among the liberating soldiers was Chaim Herzog, later President of Israel. Among the BBC team was Patrick Gordon Walker, later a Member of Parliament and Foreign Secretary. Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, a cellist who had played for her life in the Auschwitz camp orchestra, ran unsteadily towards Gordon Walker after the liberation and gave an emotional interview to the BBC.

"It was repeated several times and showed the people in England that it was possible to be Jewish in Germany and still be alive," she says.

My Name is Rachel Corrie, Levy, Thaler, Levi, Gavish, Charhi, Shabo

April 14, 2005

This is an update to the dispatch of December 7, 2004, titled Alan Rickman, Rachel Corrie, David Irving, and Robert Fisk.

 



CONTENTS:

1. Theatre Review: "My Name is Rachel Corrie" (Guardian, April 14, 2005)
2. My Name is Rachel Levy (17, blown up in a grocery store)
3. My Name is Rachel Thaler (16, blown up in a pizzeria)
4. My Name is Rachel Levi (19, murdered while waiting for the bus)
5. My Name is Rachel Gavish (killed with her husband and son while at home)
6. My Name is Rachel Charhi (blown up while sitting in a cafe)
7. My Name is Rachel Shabo (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 6 while sitting at home)

 



[Note by Tom Gross]

The new play "My Name is Rachel Corrie" premiered last night in London at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre.

Naturally the first review today was in the Guardian. (I attach it below, with extracts first for those who don't have time to read it in full.)

The play was co-presented by Hollywood film star Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner. (Viner is the editor of The Guardian's weekend magazine).

For those who don't know, Rachel Corrie was the young American radical who burnt mock American flags at pro-Hamas rallies in Gaza in 2003. A short while later she died after throwing herself in front of an Israeli army bulldozer that was attempting to demolish a building used to hide weapons smuggling tunnels. Partly because of the efforts of Corrie and her fellow activists at the International Solidarity Movement, the Israeli army was unable to stop the smuggling of weapons through these tunnels. Those weapons were later used to kill Israeli children in the town of Sderot in southern Israel, near the Gaza Strip, and elsewhere.

However, this isn't the version that most newspapers worldwide have given of Corrie in many hundreds of articles published in the last two years. Many papers have been careful to omit such details in profiles lionizing Corrie, who has even been compared to Anne Frank

-- Tom Gross

 

THE FORGOTTEN RACHELS

Also attached below are snapshots of six of the Israelis named Rachel murdered by terrorist groups of the kind that Rachel Corrie did much to defend

These profiles were compiled with the help of Dr. Robin Stamler, of London, a long-time subscriber to this email list.

Dr Stamler writes: "My intention is not to be dismissive of Rachel Corrie's death. However, I am distressed that the deaths of other Rachels, together with the deaths of so many other Israelis, have been dismissed within the anti-Israel narrative promoted by the theatrical establishment and sections of the media that are focusing on this play. Somehow I doubt that the Royal Court will be staging a play to commemorate them."

Tom Gross adds: Please note that one of those profiled below, Rachel Thaler (blown up in a pizzeria, aged 16), was a British citizen. But I doubt that anyone at the Royal Court Theatre or most people in the British media, have ever heard of her.

 

CORRIE PICTURES

As an alternative to the version of Corrie produced on the London stage, people may wish to view photos of Corrie that were published by the Associated Press and on Yahoo News on February 15, 2003, before she died. These show Corrie on one of the occasions when she burnt mock American flags and stirred up crowds in Gaza.

http://zioneocon.blogspot.com/rachel%20corrie%202.jpg

And this is a photo of President Yasser Arafat awarding the parents of Rachel Corrie with a "Martyr's Medal" on her behalf after her death.

http://www.p-p-o.com/Eng/2003/9/25-9-2003-1.jpg

 

THEATRE REVIEW

(EXTRACTS)

Theatre: My Name is Rachel Corrie
Rating (4 stars. Maximum rating 5 stars)
Royal Court, London
By Michael Billington
The Guardian
April 14, 2005

"...In the course of 90 minutes you feel you have not just had a night at the theatre: you have encountered an extraordinary woman.

Most readers will know the bare facts about Rachel Corrie: that she was a 23-year-old American who went to aid Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and in March 2003 was killed by an Israeli bulldozer... Corrie herself has the artist's ability to see the significance of her own life.

... But Corrie was always a progressive with a conscience and in January 2003 she went to work with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza... Corrie went to Gaza specifically to support Palestinians whose homes were being demolished and makes no attempt to hide her partiality.

... Theatre has no obligation to give a complete picture. Its only duty is to be honest. And what you get here is a stunning account of one woman's passionate response to a particular situation.

... The danger of right-on propaganda is avoided by the specificity of Rickman's Theatre Upstairs production. Above all, this is a portrait of a woman. And Megan Dodds [the actress playing Corrie] captures above all is Corrie's boundless curiosity, nomadic spirit and rage against injustice.

... Theatre can't change the world. But what it can do, when it's as good as this, is to send us out enriched by other people's passionate concern...."

 

MY NAME IS RACHEL LEVY (17, Jerusalem, blown up in a grocery store)

March 29, 2002 – Rachel Levy, 17, of Jerusalem, was one of two people killed when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Kiryat Yovel supermarket in Jerusalem.

On Friday afternoon, Rachel's mother, Avigail, asked her to go to the supermarket to buy some things for the Shabbat meals. A 16-year-old female Palestinian suicide bomber, wearing a belt of explosives around her waist, walked into the supermarket in Jerusalem's Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood Friday afternoon and blew herself up. Haim Smadar, the security guard, prevented the bomber from going deep inside the store. Rachel Levy, who was near the entrance, was killed; 28 people were injured.

Rachel Levy was a senior at the Sieff High School. Fellow pupils from her photography class at school said that she was an excellent pupil, and that an exhibition of Rachel's photographs is being held at her school. "She was a charming girl, always smiling and pleasant. simply a wonderful person," said a relative. "She loved books, music, and sports," said her mother.

Rachel's cousin, Rafi Levy, was killed in a terrorist shooting attack at a roadblock near Ofra a month ago.

Rachel Levy was buried in Jerusalem. She is survived by her parents, Amos and Avigail, and her two brothers: Guy, 23, and Kobi, 7

 

MY NAME IS RACHEL THALER (16, of Ginot Shomron, blown up in a pizzeria)

February 27, 2002 – Rachel Thaler, 16, of Ginot Shomron died of wounds suffered on February 16 when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a pizzeria in the shopping mall in Karnei Shomron in Samaria, bringing the death toll in the attack to three.

Rachel Thaler had gone on Saturday night to the local Yuvalim Mall in Karnei Shomron with his brother, Lior. Since its opening six months ago, the mall has become a popular meeting place for local youth. Rachel, who suffered a critical head injury in the bombing, never regained consciousness. She died 12 days later. Her family donated her organs for transplant. The condition of Rachel's brother, Lior, 14, who was also seriously injured, has improved greatly.

Ganette Thaler said she had donated her daughter's organs, because she thought it was important that other people benefit from her tragedy, especially during this time of so many terrorist attacks. "I feel that part of my daughter is living in two other people who gained life from her donation. I know that's what my daughter would have wanted," she said.

Rachel was the oldest of the family's three children. Her parents – Ganette, from England, and Michael, from the US – moved to the Ginot Shomron neighborhood five years ago, and were divorced three years later. Michael had moved back to the US, while Ganette remained in Ginot Shomrom with the children.

"It hasn't been easy for her. Not long ago, Ganette discussed the possibility of moving to the US. Rachel came to me and asked me to persuade her mother to remain," Vered Cohen, a family friend and neighbor, said.

Rachel studied at the Ulpana in Dolev. Eliraz Smet, Rachel's guide in the Ulpana, said "She always had a smile on her face. We would aske her to teach us how she always kept the smile, even with what's going on."

Rachel Thaler was buried in Karnei Shomron. She is survived by her parents and two brothers, Lior and Zvi

 

MY NAME IS RACHEL LEVI (19, murdered while waiting for the bus)

February 14, 2001 – Sgt. Rachel Levi, 19, of Ashkelon, was one of 8 Israelis killed when a Palestinian crashed a bus into a crowded bus stop at Azor junction, south of Tel Aviv. It was the deadliest Palestinian attack on Israelis in four years.

Sergeant Rachel Levi worked on computers in logistics at Tel Hashomer. She had signed to continue her service in the IDF for an additional three years.

She had been dropped off by her father near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, about an hour before she was killed. He said: "Adi, my older daughter, told me that the attack occured at a junction where Rachel used to be daily. We called her on her cell phone, but there was no answer. We called her commander, and he said that she had not arrived. We then called the hospital, and they told us that she was not among the injured. We asked about her close friend and neighbor, Sigal Yunsi, and we were told that she was severely injured. I felt weak in the knees. We did not know what was happening. And then the officers came with the bad news."

"The army was her whole life," her mother Henya said. "I don't wish this feeling on any mother, I can't stop shaking."

Rachel left behind her parents and two sisters. She was buried in Ashkelon.

 

MY NAME IS RACHEL GAVISH (killed with her husband and son while at home)

March 28, 2002 – Rachel Gavish, 50, of Elon Moreh was one of four members of the Gavish family killed in Elon Moreh, when a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the hilltop community near Nablus, burst into their home, and shot them shortly before 9 P.M.

She was killed along with her husband David, her son Avraham, and her father Yitzhak Kanner.

The terrorist continued to shoot from one of the rooms while neighbors and security forces returned fire. Others placed a ladder to allow family members on the top story to escape. The terrorist remained in one of the top-story rooms, until he was shot and killed by security forces.

Rachel Gavish, together with her husband David, were among the founders of the Elon Moreh community. She worked as an educational counselor at the Ariel Regional College and at the Academic College for girls in Elon Moreh.

In Elon Moreh, thousands attended the funerals of Rachel, 50, and David Gavish, 51, their son Avraham, 25, who lives in Kedumim with his wife and was visting the family during the Pessah holiday, and Rachel's father, Yitzhak Kanner.

Rachel Gavish was buried in Elon Moreh alongside her family members. She is survived by her six children: Menashe (23), Yeshurun (2), Avigdor, (19), Tzofia (18), Leah (17), and Assaf (14)

 

MY NAME IS RACHEL CHARHI (blown up while sitting in a cafι)

April 4, 2002 – Rachel Charhi, 36, of Bat-Yam, died five days after being critically injured in a suicide bombing in a cafe on the corner of Allenby and Bialik streets in Tel-Aviv on March 30. Some 30 others were injured in the attack. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility.

Rachel and her husband Ben-Zion, who was among the injured, saw the terrorist and tried to escape but did not succeed, reported Rachel's siblings.

Rachel was a secretary at an accounting firm. Her daughter had often suggested she quit her job so as not to have to ride the busses, but Rachel told her not to worry. On the day of the attack, Rachel and Ben-Zion thought to dine in a different cafe but chose My Coffee Shop instead, since it was less crowded.

Rachel was buried in the Yarkon cemetery in Tel-Aviv. She is survived by her husband Benzion, daughter Kinneret 14 and sons Ariel 13 and Barak 7

 

MY NAME IS RACHEL SHABO (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 6 while at home)

June 20, 2002 – Rachel Shabo, 40, of Itamar was murdered along with three of her sons when a terrorist entered their home in Itamar, south of Nablus, and opened fire.

Shortly after 9 on Thursday night, the terrorist infiltrated the settlement, shooting in all directions before bursting into the Shabo home. The terrorist first shot the mother, Rachel, in the back. Then he shot Avishai, 5, Zvika, 13, and Neria, 16, as well as a neighbor, Yosef Twito, who came to their aid. Thirteen-year-old Avia told the doctor who treated her in the hospital that she had heard her mother shout out in pain and then all was quiet.

Boaz Shabo, the father, a printer by profession, was not at home. The older children – Yariv and Atara – were also out, visiting friends.

Rachel grew up in Karnei Shomron and met Boaz, from Moshav Beit Meir near Jerusalem, 20 years ago. The Shabos were among the founders of Itamar 18 years ago and always welcomed newcomers, inviting them to their home for a Shabbat meal. Rachel worked as a secretary in the nearby settlement of Yitzhar until a year ago. Her friends described her as an energetic and affable person.

Only a month earlier, Neria had escaped terrorist shots in his bedroom at the yeshiva high school on Itamar, when three of his friends were killed. His pillow had been hit by bullets. Neria's friends said he had been a genius. Zvika's friends described him as a righteous young man.

Rachel Shabo was buried in Itamar alongside her three sons. She is survived by her husband Boaz, and four of their children – Yariv (17), Atara (15), Avia (13) and Asael (10).

 

REVIEW-IN-FULL

MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE

Theatre
My Name is Rachel Corrie
Rating (4 stars. Maximum rating 5 stars)
Royal Court, London
By Michael Billington
The Guardian
April 14, 2005

www.guardian.co.uk/arts/reviews/story/0,,1459252,00.html

Political theatre takes many forms. It can be an engrossing judicial inquiry like Bloody Sunday. It can be a family saga like Wesker's Chicken Soup With Barley. Or it can be a deeply moving personal testimony like this selection from the writings of Rachel Corrie, edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner, editor of Guardian Weekend Magazine, and performed by Megan Dodds.

In the course of 90 minutes you feel you have not just had a night at the theatre: you have encountered an extraordinary woman.

Most readers will know the bare facts about Rachel Corrie: that she was a 23-year-old American who went to aid Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and in March 2003 was killed by an Israeli bulldozer. But what comes as a shock is realising that she combined an activist's passion with an artist's sensibility. Louis MacNeice once yearned for a poet who was "informed in economics, actively interested in politics". Rachel Corrie emerges as just such a person.

Writing was clearly in her blood. She started a diary when she was 12 and the first third of the evening shows her, at high school and at college in Olympia, Washington, using it to discover who she was. As a compulsive listmaker, she itemises the people she would like to hang out with in eternity; significantly, they are mainly writers, including Rilke, ee cummings, Gertrude Stein and Zelda Fitzgerald.

And Corrie herself has the artist's ability to see the significance of her own life. Writing of a boyfriend who ditched her, she says percipiently: "Colin always wanted to walk faster and I wanted to trudge and identify ferns."

But Corrie was always a progressive with a conscience and in January 2003 she went to work with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza. What makes this part of the evening so stirring is her ability to set down precisely what she sees. She records the exact amount of time Palestinians spend waiting at Israeli checkpoints. She talks to a doctor who knows that the house that it took him 30 years to afford can be destroyed in three hours, but who still says: "I trust in my god, so no problem."

She also records the surreal experience of watching Pet Sematary on cable TV and ducking in horror from its fictional violence. An obvious comparison is with David Hare's Via Dolorosa. But that was a conscious, and very fine, piece of theatrical reportage in which Hare talked to both Israelis and Palestinians at all levels. Corrie went to Gaza specifically to support Palestinians whose homes were being demolished and makes no attempt to hide her partiality.

And, while she distinguishes between Jewish people and Israeli politicians, she is appalled by what she sees: the checkpoints that prevent people getting to jobs and places of education, the casual destruction of wells, the children who grow up with tank-shell holes in their walls.

Theatre has no obligation to give a complete picture. Its only duty is to be honest. And what you get here is a stunning account of one woman's passionate response to a particular situation.

And the passion comes blazing through in Corrie's eloquent reaction to her father's inquiry about Palestinian violence. As she says, if we lived where tanks and soldiers and bulldozers could destroy our homes at any moment and where our lives were completely strangled, wouldn't we defend ourselves as best we could?

The danger of right-on propaganda is avoided by the specificity of Rickman's Theatre Upstairs production. Above all, this is a portrait of a woman. And Megan Dodds doesn't play down Corrie's early moments of precocious self-absorption. But what she captures above all is Corrie's boundless curiosity, nomadic spirit and rage against injustice. Dodds also conveys some essential human decency that makes Corrie feel guilty about her parent's tender concern for her own endangered existence.

Hildegard Bechtler has designed a remarkable set that encompasses both the young Corrie's clothes-strewn American bedroom and the sun-bleached, bullet-marked Palestinian walls in front of which she ends her tragically brief life.

But, although the aesthetics are important, they matter less than the show's content. And what that offers is a jolting reminder of the daily realities of Palestinian life and a portrait of a remarkable woman who tried to alleviate suffering.

Theatre can't change the world. But what it can do, when it's as good as this, is to send us out enriched by other people's passionate concern.


New Zealand MP says he is sick of the Holocaust (& other items)

April 12, 2005

This is an update to previous items on this list, including the articles contained in the dispatch of August 6, 2004 ("Second major anti-Semitic in New Zealand in 3 Weeks and "Who would have imagined New Zealand could change so much?")

Also:

* German court ruling says Dresden was a holocaust
* Hamas brutally murder 22-year-old university student in Gaza whose "crime" was to be seen in public with her fiance

 



CONTENTS:

1. "Tamihere 'sick' of Holocaust" (New Zealand Herald, April 10, 2005)
2. "Backbencher suspended after Holocaust remarks" (Taipei Times, April 11, 2005)
3. "PM indecisive over Tamihere, says Brash" (New Zealand Herald, April 11, 2005)
4. "Tamihere censured by Labour Party caucus" (New Zealand Herald, April 12, 2005)
5. "Helen Clark's comments on John Tamihere's censure" (New Zealand Herald, April 12, 2005)
6. Buchenwald, 60 years on
7. "German ruling says Dresden was a holocaust" (Daily Telegraph, April 12, 2005)
8. "Hamas 'Vice and Virtue Commando' murders Gaza woman" (Jerusalem Post, April 12, 2005)

 

MP SAYS HE IS "SICK" OF THE HOLOCAUST

[Note by Tom Gross]

Left-wing New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has been strongly criticized by opposition politicians (and by some members of her own party) for not taking effective action against former New Zealand Cabinet minister John Tamihere, who said in an interview published on Sunday that he was "sick and tired" of hearing how many Jews were gassed in the Holocaust.

Tamihere, 45, has long been tipped to become New Zealand's first indigenous Maori prime minister.

Tamihere has publicly apologized today for offence caused by his comments, but has refused to retract their content, angering colleagues.

Prime Minister Clark has asked Tamihere to take sick leave in the wake of his comments – in which he also offended homosexuals and women – but only during the period that parliament would in case be in recess. She said today that he would "probably return to work soon."

PM Clark said of Tamihere's comments: "Sideshows like this are not something I am going to have distracting me." New Zealand will hold a general election soon.

The trivializing of the Holocaust by Turiana Turia (mentioned in one of the articles below), occurred in 2000. It seems politicians playing with anti-Semitism to gain votes is not a new phenomenon in New Zealand.

A number of Holocaust survivors moved to New Zealand at the end of the war.

I attach five articles from today, yesterday and Sunday from the Taipei Times, the New Zealand Herald on Sunday, and the New Zealand Daily Herald.

There are summaries first for those who don't have time to read these articles in full.

[Please note that all these articles derive from original research carried out on behalf of this email list, and people on this list who run weblogs and who use items on it are, as usual, requested to please credit this list as a source of information.]

-- Tom Gross

 

BUCHENWALD, 60 YEARS ON

Tamihere's comments about the gas chambers were published on Sunday, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald.

In what was probably their last such gathering, on Sunday 500 survivors of Buchenwald mourned the tens of thousands killed there and urged the young to remember their suffering and be vigilant against anti-Semitism and far-right violence in today's Europe.

Attending the ceremony, Jerry Hontas, a US veteran who arrived in the camp as a 21-year-old medic, recalled the stacks of bodies and the stench. "We had no concept of such inhumanity... we couldn't talk to each other for days afterwards," he said.

In the three days alone before the American army liberated Buchenwald, 28,000 mainly Jewish inmates were sent on death marches to other camps.

A century earlier, one of Germany's greatest writers, Goethe, walked in the forests where the Buchenwald camp later was built.

-- Tom Gross

 

GERMAN RULING SAYS DRESDEN WAS A HOLOCAUST

[Summary only]

"German ruling says Dresden was a holocaust" (By Hannah Cleaver in Berlin, London Daily Telegraph, April 12, 2005)

German prosecutors have provoked outrage by ruling that the 1945 RAF [British airforce] bombing of Dresden can legally be termed a "holocaust".

The decision follows the refusal by the Hamburg public prosecutor's office to press charges against a Right-wing politician who compared the bombing raids to "the extermination of the Jews". German law forbids the denial or playing down of the Holocaust as an incitement to hatred.

So delicate is the subject of the slaughter of Jews under Hitler that any use of the word "holocaust", or comparison with it, faces intense scrutiny and sometimes legal action. But prosecutors have declined to pursue further the case of Udo Voigt, the chairman of the far-Right NPD, who likened the RAF's raids to the Nazis' "final solution".

Rudigger Bagger, a spokesman for the Hamburg public prosecutor, said the decision took into account only the criminal, not the moral, aspects of the case.

... Paul Spiegel, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, criticised the decision by prosecutors not to take action. He said the statements were incitement and allowing them to stand opened the door to further such comments...

 

HAMAS "VICE AND VIRTUE COMMANDO" MURDERS GAZA WOMAN

[This story is unrelated to other items on this email. I attach it because it has received so little attention in the international media. It was also reported in Ha'aretz and in some Palestinian media.]

"Hamas 'Vice and Virtue Commando' Murders Gaza Woman" (By Khaled Abu Toameh, Palestinian correspondent, Jerusalem Post, April 12, 2005)

[Summary only]

Hamas has begun operating a "vice and virtue commando" in Gaza to safeguard Islamic values, Palestinian security officials said. The new force is believed to be behind the gruesome murder over the weekend of Yusra al-Azzami, a 22-year-old university student whose "crime" was to be seen in public with her fiance.

Hamas's "morality" patrolmen spotted the young couple strolling along the beach in Gaza City, together with Azzami's younger sister. As they drove home, five masked gunmen in another car opened fire at Azzami, who was sitting in the front seat next to her fiance.

The assailants then dragged the young woman's body out of the car, pouncing upon it mercilessly with clubs and iron bars. The fiance and sister were also brutally beaten by the attackers...

 

SUMMARIES

TAMIHERE 'SICK' OF HOLOCAUST

"Tamihere 'sick' of Holocaust" (New Zealand Herald on Sunday, by David Fisher and Jonathan Milne, April 10, 2005)

Labour MP John Tamihere says he is "sick and tired of hearing how many Jews got gassed". The comments – branded yesterday by the Jewish Council as "sickening" and "deeply shocking for all Jews" – were made in the same interview in which Mr Tamihere referred to Cabinet minister Chris Carter as a "tosser" and "queer" and Cabinet minister Steve Maharey as "smarmy". They were released yesterday by Investigate magazine editor Ian Wishart after a spat with Mr Tamihere about the recording of the interview.

... Prime Minister Helen Clark said through a spokesman that while the government understood the pain the comment caused the Jewish community, she was certain Mr Tamihere meant no offence.

... David Zwartz, president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, said Mr Tamihere's comment was sickening for New Zealand Jews who suffered in the Holocaust and whose families were gassed.

... Victoria University political scientist Dr Jon Johansson said he was sure Ms Clark would have been appalled by the comment... "The prime minister and the party are on the horns of a dilemma, where they have to weigh up principle against the practical reality of risking losing the already fragile blue-collar vote...

 

BACKBENCHER SUSPENDED AFTER HOLOCAUST REMARKS

"Backbencher suspended after Holocaust remarks" (Taipei Times, DPA , Wellington, New Zealand, April 11, 2005)

Former New Zealand Cabinet minister John Tamihere was sent on extended stress leave by the government yesterday following comments that he was "sick and tired" of hearing how many Jews were gassed in the Holocaust.

Prime Minister Helen Clark effectively suspended him from her Labor Party and Parliament, saying his statements were "thoughtless, deeply offensive and utterly unacceptable."

She had earlier put him on stress leave for a week after publication of a magazine interview in which he said Clark was emotional and went to pieces, was surrounded by gays and lesbians, her chief adviser was "butch" and her female-dominated government was anti-men and allowed labor unions too much influence.

Tamihere, 45, a controversial politician has long been tipped as likely to be New Zealand's first indigenous Maori prime minister...

 

PM INDECISIVE OVER TAMIHERE, SAYS BRASH

"PM indecisive over Tamihere, says Brash" (By Maggie Tait, New Zealand Herald, April 11, 2005)

National Leader Don Brash would demand maverick MP John Tamihere's resignation if he were in the Prime Minister's position, he said today. Mr Tamihere is on indefinite "stress leave" after he made offensive comments about colleagues in an Investigate magazine interview followed by further comments on the Holocaust, women and another MP which were published yesterday in newspapers.

"It's time for him to resign," Dr Brash told NZPA. "He's offended not only Jewish New Zealanders but also women by the use of language and I'm neither a Jew nor a woman but I am offended by both those comments." ...

... "I think most New Zealanders recognise the Holocaust as arguably the most barbaric event in human history... to complain you've heard it too much and you are sick and tired of it is really very offensive to most people." ...

 

TAMIHERE CENSURED BY LABOUR PARTY CAUCUS

"Tamihere censured by Labour Party caucus" (New Zealand Herald, April 12, 2005)

John Tamihere was apparently thrown a lifeline today after being censured by the Labour Party caucus.

Prime Minister Helen Clark told reporters... "John [Tamihere] at his best is a wonderful colleague and puts 150 per cent in," Helen Clark said.

"John's known to stumble pretty badly and as he said last week he made the biggest mistake of his life which is damaging to him, and our concern is that it doesn't damage our party."

... Mr Tamihere will be on leave for the near future. Parliament goes into a fortnight's recess next week and he would "probably" return to work in Parliament after that, Helen Clark said.

 

HELEN CLARK'S COMMENTS ON JOHN TAMIHERE'S CENSURE

"Helen Clark's comments on John Tamihere's censure" (New Zealand Herald, April 12, 2005)

This is an edited version of Prime Minister Helen Clark's comments after the Labour Party caucus censured MP John Tamihere for his published views on colleagues, women, gays and the holocaust. [The newspaper uses a small h contratry to generally accepted useage of the term Holocaust – Tom Gross]

"John at his best is a wonderful colleague and puts 150 per cent in. John's known to stumble pretty badly and as he said last week he made the biggest mistake of his life which is damaging to him, and our concern is that it doesn't damage our party."

... Helen Clark said the party was focused on the election. "Sideshows like this are not something I am going to have distracting me," she said.

 



FULL ARTICLES

TAMIHERE "SICK" OF HOLOCAUST

Tamihere 'sick' of Holocaust
New Zealand Herald on Sunday
By David Fisher and Jonathan Milne (with additional reporting by Jonathan Dow)
April 10, 2005

www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10119675

Labour MP John Tamihere says he is "sick and tired of hearing how many Jews got gassed".

The comments – branded yesterday by the Jewish Council as "sickening" and "deeply shocking for all Jews" – were made in the same interview in which Mr Tamihere referred to Cabinet minister Chris Carter as a "tosser" and "queer" and Cabinet minister Steve Maharey as "smarmy". They were released yesterday by Investigate magazine editor Ian Wishart after a spat with Mr Tamihere about the recording of the interview.

Alerted yesterday to the remark, Prime Minister Helen Clark said through a spokesman that while the government understood the pain the comment caused the Jewish community, she was certain Mr Tamihere meant no offence.

In the interview, Mr Tamihere is asked by Mr Wishart about how a society can be focused on injustices of the past.

Mr Tamihere responds: "The Weisenthal Institute is the same. I'm sick and tired of hearing how many Jews got gassed, not because I'm not revolted by it – I am – or I'm not violated by it – I am – but because I already know that.

"How many times do I have to be told and made to feel guilty?"

David Zwartz, president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, said Mr Tamihere’s comment was sickening for New Zealand Jews who suffered in the Holocaust and whose families were gassed.

"It is deeply shocking for all other Jews, as was the earlier trivialising of the Holocaust by Mrs Tariana Turia. Jews have no desire to make Mr Tamihere or anyone feel guilty, we only want to have the historic truth known and understood so discrimination and oppression leading to genocide won’t happen again."

Victoria University political scientist Dr Jon Johansson said he was sure Ms Clark would have been appalled by the comment. "The Holocaust aspect – there is no redemptive quality to that thought. It contributes nothing, it pollutes our discourse," he said. "The prime minister and the party are on the horns of a dilemma, where they have to weigh up principle against the practical reality of risking losing the already fragile blue-collar vote.

"It does look like the final straw – and it's tinder dry."

Mr Wishart decided to release the comments after it emerged Mr Tamihere and one other person had returned to Soljans Cafe in West Auckland to talk to staff about the recording of the interview. The Agenda programme was contacted by a "source close to Mr Tamihere" offering tape recordings of staff who apparently said there was no recording device on the table when the MP lunched with Mr Wishart.

Tony Soljan, managing director of Soljans Estate Winery, said yesterday Mr Tamihere and the other person had talked to staff, who had asked that any conversation with them not be recorded. Mr Soljan said his staff felt "let down" when it emerged they had been taped.

Mr Wishart said the attempted "cover-up" by Mr Tamihere meant further excerpts would be released. He would also be lodging a complaint with TVNZ over its handling of the issue on Agenda yesterday.

Last night, Mr Tamihere refused to comment, although confirmed he had returned to the winery and spoken to staff.

He said he believed they were happy to be taped.

In a later conversation, Mr Tamihere said he was glad the comments were out now so Mr Wishart didn’t get another edition out of the interview.

 

BACKBENCHER SUSPENDED AFTER HOLOCAUST REMARKS

Backbencher suspended after Holocaust remarks
Taipei Times
By DPA (German Press Agency, Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
April 11, 2005

www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2005/04/11/2003250028

Former New Zealand Cabinet minister John Tamihere was sent on extended stress leave by the government yesterday following comments that he was "sick and tired" of hearing how many Jews were gassed in the Holocaust.

Prime Minister Helen Clark effectively suspended him from her Labor Party and Parliament, saying his statements were "thoughtless, deeply offensive and utterly unacceptable."

She had earlier put him on stress leave for a week after publication of a magazine interview in which he said Clark was emotional and went to pieces, was surrounded by gays and lesbians, her chief adviser was "butch" and her female-dominated government was anti-men and allowed labor unions too much influence.

Tamihere, 45, a controversial politician long tipped as likely to be New Zealand's first indigenous Maori prime minister, claimed he thought the interview for the magazine Investigate was off the record and Clark sent him on stress leave.

But she extended this indefinitely after the Herald on Sunday newspaper revealed extracts from the interview which the magazine had not published, including: "I'm sick and tired of hearing how many Jews got gassed, not because I'm not revolted by it – I am – or I'm not violated by it – I am – but because I already know that."

"How many times do I have to be told and made to feel guilty?" he said.

He was making a comparison with historic Maori claims of persecution by New Zealand's European settlers. Although part-Maori himself, Tamihere had won support across racial lines by insisting the indigenous people should move on from past injustices and not dwell on compensation handouts from the state.

Clark promoted him to her Cabinet but he quit a year ago pending inquiries into allegations of tax evasion and fraud which eventually cleared him.

She had made it clear he was rehabilitating himself as a backbencher when the interview in which he criticized her and their colleagues appeared last week.

Enraged at the apparent disunity in the government which will seek a third three-year term at a general election later this year, she sent him away from Parliament on stress leave on April 4. He was due to return to a parliamentary caucus meeting next Tuesday.

 

PM INDECISIVE OVER TAMIHERE, SAYS BRASH

PM indecisive over Tamihere, says Brash
By Maggie Tait
New Zealand Herald
April 11, 2005

www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10119858

National Leader Don Brash would demand maverick MP John Tamihere's resignation if he were in the Prime Minister's position, he said today.

Mr Tamihere is on indefinite "stress leave" after he made offensive comments about colleagues in an Investigate magazine interview followed by further comments on the Holocaust, women and another MP which were published yesterday in newspapers.

"It's time for him to resign," Dr Brash told NZPA.

"He's offended not only Jewish New Zealanders but also women by the use of language and I'm neither a Jew nor a woman but I am offended by both those comments."

Sunday newspapers reported Mr Tamihere saying he was sick of hearing about the Holocaust, that ally Clayton Cosgrove in caucus was being held back because he ran a "nasty" campaign against Prime Minister Helen Clark, and abused women in top jobs calling them "front-bums".

"Last week he was obviously in great difficulty in the Labour Party because he was effectively revealing the nature of the Labour Government," Dr Brash said.

Comments that Labour was driven by minority groups, unionists, and feminists and that it was duplicitous in dealing with minority coalition partners did not impact on the public.

"That was up to the Prime Minister to deal with or not deal with. She chose not to deal with it. I think the latest revelations – making remarks about both the Holocaust and women in a highly derogatory way offends not just the Labour Party but all New Zealanders."

Mr Tamihere's comments about the Holocaust were beyond the pale.

"I think most New Zealanders recognise the Holocaust as arguably the most barbaric event in human history... to complain you've heard it too much and you are sick and tired of it is really very offensive to most people."

Miss Clark declined to say on television this morning whether she would accept Mr Tamihere's resignation if offered.

"She's clearly playing for time and is revealing an indecisive side of her nature that has been largely hidden until John Tamihere revealed the truth," Dr Brash said.

"If I had a member of my caucus who made remarks like that I would seeking their resignation."

Dr Brash said he saw no parallels between Mr Tamihere's situation and the two weeks in October/November 2003 that National MP Nick Smith spent on stress leave.

Dr Smith had been National deputy leader until he made accusations against chief whip John Carter of conspiring and voting against former leader Bill English.

"There are no parallels at all. Nick Smith was away for two weeks, it was a finite period. He made no remarks to the public which were in any sense offensive and indeed he made no remarks outside the caucus at all."

 

TAMIHERE CENSURED BY LABOUR PARTY CAUCUS

Tamihere censured by Labour Party caucus
New Zealand Haerald
NZPA, Herald Online Staff
April 12, 2005

www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10120042

John Tamihere was apparently thrown a lifeline today after being censured by the Labour Party caucus.

Prime Minister Helen Clark told reporters that caucus has passed a resolution severely censuring Mr Tamihere for grossly offensive comments but everyone in the caucus liked Mr Tamihere.

"John at his best is a wonderful colleague and puts 150 per cent in," Helen Clark said.

"John's known to stumble pretty badly and as he said last week he made the biggest mistake of his life which is damaging to him, and our concern is that it doesn't damage our party."

Mr Tamihere appeared with the Prime Minister after the meeting. He said: "This gives me a chance of rehabilitating myself and I am grateful for that."

Asked questions by reporters he said he should not comment further, to which Helen Clark said: "I think so."

Mr Tamihere will be on leave for the near future. Parliament goes into a fortnight's recess next week and he would "probably" return to work in Parliament after that, Helen Clark said.

Mr Tamihere was unlikely to put his name up for a Cabinet vacancy if one became available, she said.

Labour leaders had advised Mr Tamihere to take some leave and stay away from caucus, after comments that he was sick of hearing about the holocaust were revealed at the weekend. But Mr Tamihere has insisted on attending.

He entered the caucus meeting without saying anything to journalists 15 minutes after other MPs began their meeting.

He was flanked by Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia and appeared to be very nervous and distressed.

Mr Tamihere has publicly apologised for offence caused by his comments, but has refused to retract their content, inflaming colleagues.

Helen Clark said after the meeting that the comments Mr Tamihere made in a recent Investigate magazine article and further remarks released to Sunday newspapers by journalist Ian Wishart were "grossly offensive".

She said they ran counter to the Labour Party's principles, policies of inclusion and respect for all.

In his comments Mr Tamihere offended women, Jews, and colleagues. Helen Clark said the resolution of censure condemned those comments.

"We have rejected the views he expressed and we have disassociated ourselves from them, we deplore the ill-disciplined behaviour," she said.

The Prime Minister said the caucus noted Mr Tamihere's statement "that in the run up to the general election he will be putting all his efforts into winning the Maori electorates for Labour".

Mr Tamihere's decision to attend today's caucus came after he received strong support at a meeting in his Tamaki Makaurau electorate last night.

Te Tai Tokerau Labour MP Dover Samuels said he spoke to his friend Mr Tamihere this morning confirming he would apologise to colleagues.

"I said it's better late than never. At the end of the day he's going to make his own decision but he's decided to front up to his caucus and he's rung leaders of the Jewish community," Mr Samuels said

"He must apologise unconditionally and from the heart." Mr Samuels said Mr Tamihere has "a hell of a lot to offer" the country and the comments were a terrible error made because of stress.

"He's needed his own space, he should have taken a break after he was cleared by the SFO over the other allegations. He's been under tremendous stress – I can relate to that."

Mr Tamihere covered stress up by different ways, Mr Samuels said.

"Attitude and sometimes smart jokes. But he's just made a grave error of judgment and he recognises that and the only way he can redeem himself is to show humility and humbleness to the people that he has wounded and hurt, including his very good personal friend Clayton Cosgrove."

Mr Tamihere had told Mr Samuels he regretted not apologising more fully after the comments were published in Investigate magazine.

 

HELEN CLARK'S COMMENTS ON JOHN TAMIHERE'S CENSURE

Helen Clark's comments on John Tamihere's censure
New Zealand Herald
NZPA
April 12, 2005

www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10120064

This is an edited version of Prime Minister Helen Clark's comments after the Labour Party caucus censured MP John Tamihere for his published views on colleagues, women, gays and the holocaust.

"John at his best is a wonderful colleague and puts 150 per cent in. John's known to stumble pretty badly and as he said last week he made the biggest mistake of his life which is damaging to him, and our concern is that it doesn't damage our party."

Helen Clark said the comments Mr Tamihere were "grossly offensive".

"We have rejected the views he expressed and we have disassociated ourselves from them, we deplore the ill-disciplined behaviour."

She said the caucus noted Mr Tamihere's statement "that in the run up to the general election he will be putting all his efforts into winning the Maori electorates for Labour, and we've noted this is consistent with his duty as a Labour member of Parliament to campaign strongly for the re-election of a Labour Government".

Helen Clark said Mr Tamihere understood it would take a long time to recover from his comments.

"I have said to him the challenge for him is to show he has the self-discipline to make that work.

"I believe he presented himself today in a very humble way to the caucus. There was no beating about the bush, there was no attempt to make excuses, there was an acceptance that what had happened should not have happened.

"What I said to the caucus is not only that most people like John at his best but most people know that John at his best has a lot of talent and has contributed a lot to us.

"What we also know is that he is capable of big stumbles, such as the interview with Investigate."

The challenge was for Mr Tamihere to operate at the level the party expected: "And when people operate at the level we expect they have a future".

Asked if she forgave Mr Tamihere Helen Clark said she was "capable of infinite forgiveness, but I like to see reciprocation and if someone presents themself in a humble fashion and says they are going to turn over a chapter then we move on".

Asked if it had been an emotional meeting, Helen Clark said: "It's not emotional. It is simply setting out that people approach this with a mixture of feelings. People like John at his best, at his worst people think what on earth is going on here?"

Helen Clark said the party was focused on the election.

"Sideshows like this are not something I am going to have distracting me," she said.

Khatami denies, but Assad admits, Katsav handshake at Pope’s funeral

April 10, 2005

CONTENTS:

1. "Iranian president denies Israeli handshake. Says incident at pope's funeral did not take place" (MSNBC / AP, April 9, 2005)
2. "Khatami calls meeting with Israeli president fiction" (Tehran Times, April 9, 2005)
3. "Syria says handshake between Syrian, Israeli presidents has no political indication" (Chinese Xinhuanet news agency, April 9, 2005)
4. "Mideast Adversaries Touched by John Paul II" (Washington Post, April 7, 2005)

 



THEY SPOKE IN FARSI

[Note by Tom Gross]

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has denied shaking hands with Israeli President Moshe Katsav at the pope's funeral on Friday, even though there were many witnesses to the handshake. This bare-faced lie by the Iranian regime again illustrates the way the Iranian leadership are content to mislead their citizens as well as their contempt for Israel.

It contrasts with the admission by the Syrian government spokesman that President Assad did shake hands with Katsav, although he claimed it has no political meaning.

Prince Charles also "by accident" shook hands with Robert Mugabe and did not deny it, neither did UK Foreign Secretary (Foreign Minister) Jack Straw when he shook hands with Mugabe.

Katsav told the Israeli press that his conversation with Katsav centered around Yazd, the central region of Iran where they both presidents grew up. They spoke in Farsi. There is a two year age difference between them. "The president of Iran extended his hand to me, I shook it and told him in Farsi, 'May peace be upon you,'" said Katsav.

ISLAMIC JIHAD SAYS POPE'S DEATH "A GREAT LOSS" TO THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE

I attach below reports from the Associated Press and from the (Iranian-state influenced) Tehran Times about the Katsav-Khatami handshake; and from the Chinese news agency about the Katsav-Assad handshake. (No Syrian leader has shaken hands publicly with an Israeli before. Assad is under strong political pressure at present from the Bush administration and from the people of Lebanon to moderate his regime.)

I also attach an article from the Washington Post that outlines Middle East reaction in general to the Pope's death. The Post mentions the Iranian response, which was discussed in my dispatches last week. The Post adds that "the Palestinian resistance group Islamic Jihad lamented his [the pope's] death as "a great loss" to the Palestinian cause."

(For Washington Post journalists, the Islamic Jihad is a resistance group. But for the Israeli – and some American – children who have had their limbs deliberately blown off by Islamic Jihad, or their parents murdered, it is a terror group.)

As the Islamic Jihad points out, the Vatican under the papacy of John Paul II, while being friendly in many ways to Jews, did indeed often adopt anti-Israeli positions, the most recent being the very strong denunciation by the pope of the security barrier that has saved the lives of so many Israelis.

-- Tom Gross

 



FULL ARTICLES

IRANIAN PRESIDENT DENIES ISRAELI HANDSHAKE

Iranian president denies Israeli handshake
Says incident at pope's funeral did not take place
MSNBC
The Associated Press
April 9, 2005

www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7443548/

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami strongly denied shaking hands and chatting with Israeli President Moshe Katsav at Pope John Paul II’s funeral, state-run media reported Saturday.

Following the pope's funeral on Friday, Katsav said he shook hands and chatted briefly with Khatami and the leader of another archenemy of Israel, Bashar Assad of Syria. Syria on Friday confirmed the handshake between Assad and Katsav but played down its political significance.

But after returning to Iran, Khatami denied shaking Katsav’s hand.

"These allegations are false like other allegations made by Israeli media and I have not had any meeting with any one from the Zionist regime," the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Khatami as saying.

No diplomatic breakthrough

Khatami was cited as saying his country "morally and logically" does not recognize Israel but will not interfere in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, meanwhile, said he doubted the handshake could represent a diplomatic breakthrough.

"I hope that it can be a new beginning, certainly. But frankly I doubt it," Shalom said in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa published Saturday. "Khatami and Assad are two extremists. It could only have happened thanks to the truly magnetic personality of John Paul II."

Israeli media reported Friday that during the Pope's funeral ceremony, Khatami talked briefly with Katzav. Some suggested the exchange was a small breakthrough between the leaders of two nations that have had no relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran toppled the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The Iranian-born Katsav said he and Khatami conversed about Yazd, the region in central Iran where both men were born.

"The two of us were born in the same region in Iran, two years apart," Katsav was quoted as saying.

"The president of Iran extended his hand to me, I shook it and told him in Farsi, 'May peace be upon you.'"

Iran and Israel have been bitter enemies for years – Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called Israel a "cancerous tumor" that must be wiped from the world map.

Iran is accused of supporting Lebanon's Shiite Muslim militant group, Hezbollah, which fought Israeli soldiers until they withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000. Hezbollah continues to launch occasional attacks against Israeli troops in a disputed parcel of land on the southern Lebanese border.

Iran also hosts militant Palestinian groups, including Hamas, and President Bush recently accused Iran of being the "the world's primary state sponsor of terror."

Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, has repeatedly said the destruction of Israel is the only way to solve the problems of the Middle East. But Iran’s reformers, including Khatami, avoid using such language.

 

KHATAMI CALLS MEETING WITH ISRAELI PRESIDENT FICTION

Khatami calls meeting with Israeli president fiction
Tehran Times
IRNA
April 9, 2005

www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=4/10/2005&Cat=2&Num=013

President Mohammad Khatami here on Friday strongly denied Israeli media allegations that he had met with Israeli President Moshe Katzav during funeral procession for the world Catholic church leader Pope John Paul II in the Vatican. Upon return home, Khatami said, "These allegations are false like other allegations made by Israeli media and I have not had any meeting with anyone from the Zionist regime."

Israeli media reported on Friday that during the Pope's funeral ceremony, Khatami held brief talks with Katzav. Pointing to Iran's stances toward the Zionist regime, Khatami said, "As reiterated many times, we do not both morally and logically recognize Israel which was created on the basis of force and usurpation."

Khatami said that recognizing Israel means that occupation and force are rooted in legitimacy, adding, "To me, to recognize Israel would be an injustice to humankind.

"We hope the world would know why all peace plans have been unsuccessful. Is it not because of wrong nature of the peace plans?" asked Khatami.

The president added that there are many plans for settlement of the Middle East problem but all are unsuccessful because do not observe Palestinian nation's rights.

Iran's stance toward the Palestinian cause is a moral, philosophical and humanitarian one, said Khatami adding that lasting peace would be restored through recognizing Palestine's absolute rights and repatriation of people expelled from their homeland.

Khatami added he had held talks with European high-ranking officials and intellectuals on the future of Middle East and Iran's stance toward the nature of Zionist regime.

Responding to a question on achievements of his visits to Austria, France and Italy, Khatami said that he had conferred with the countries' officials on issues of mutual interests as well as Iran's stance on the nuclear technology.

Khatami said during the meetings he had once more highlighted peaceful use of nuclear technology and warned against depriving Iran of its inalienable rights.

The Iranian president added Iran was ready to continue negotiations within the framework of regulations, but the talks could not be long.

Expanding economic cooperation with Austria, France and Italy was among the other issues discussed with the countries' officials, Khatami said.

Iran has passed the stage of importing goods and machinery, he said, adding building up standards of knowledge and technology in all fields is among the country's top priorities.

Khatami held talks with French officials on energy and automaking giants and conferred with Austrian officials over transfer of gas to Europe and Austria.

Referring to his speech at UNESCO Conference on Dialogue among Civilizations, Khatami said he had underlined the necessity of global dialogue among civilizations.

On presence of Iran's high-ranking delegation at the Pope's funeral ceremony,

Khatami said the Pope was a spiritual personality in the world and was a harbinger of morality and spirituality, adding Pope always stressed peace, coexistence and campaign against the materialistic and spiritually destructive factors affecting life.

"The death of the Pope left drastic impact on global and Christian societies," Khatami said.

Upon his arrival in Tehran Friday, Khatami was welcomed by First-Vice President Mohammad-Reza Aref and several other members of the cabinet.

 

SYRIA SAYS HANDSHAKE BETWEEN SYRIAN, ISRAELI PRESIDENTS HAS NO POLITICAL INDICATION

Syria says handshake between Syrian, Israeli presidents has no political indication

www.chinaview.cn

news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-04/09/content_2806783.htm

Xinhuanet
April 9, 2005

The handshake between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Israeli counterpart, Moshe Katsav, at Pope John Paul's funeral, is "a formality" and had no political indication, a Syrian official source said on Friday.

"The protocol required that participants shook hands as a formality ... it has no political indication and does not represent a change in Syria's position," the official SANA news agency quoted the source from the Information Ministry as saying.

"Mr. Katsav turned to President Bashar al-Assad who was standing amid a host of leaders and presidents and shook hands with him without exchanging any verbal phrases," the source said, adding that it was "an incidental case."

The Israeli media reported earlier in the day that the two presidents shook hands with each other twice at the funeral in Vatican City and al-Assad took the initiative to shake Katsav's hand for a second time.

"The Syrian president sat in the chair behind me ..., we exchanged smiles and shook hands," Katsav told the website of Israel's Maariv newspaper.

They shook hands for a second time during the funeral when guests were urged to demonstrate a gesture of goodwill toward those around them, the report said.

"This time it was the Syrian president who held out his hand tome," Katsav was quoted as saying.

The Israeli and Syrian delegations had been seated next to each other at the funeral.

Katsav also shook hands with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Khatami, and exchanged words, the report said.

Talks between arch foes Syria and Israel foundered in 2000 largely on the fate of the strategic Golan Heights, which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Syria has made several overtures to the Jewish state for restarting peace negotiations, but was rebuffed.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon insisted that Syrian forces first pull out of Lebanon and stop supporting Lebanese guerrillas and Palestinian militants before Israel would consider negotiations.

 

MIDEAST ADVERSARIES TOUCHED BY JOHN PAUL II

Mideast Adversaries Touched by John Paul II
How the Pope Healed Rifts With Both Jews and Muslims
The Washington Post
April 7, 2005

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31820-2005Apr6.html

One of Pope John Paul II's most striking accomplishments was his ability to transcend the conventional wisdom of war and politics that "the friend of my enemy is my enemy"

On Monday, Israel's most popular newspaper Yedioth Ahronot hailed John Paul II as "a true friend" of the Jewish state, the day after a spokesman for the Palestinian resistance group Islamic Jihad lamented his death as "a great loss" to the Palestinian cause.

The sworn enemies could both praise the pope because his appeal was neither rhetorical nor contradictory. International online commentary shows that the late pontiff gained respect with both Muslims and Jews by acknowledging the Catholic Church's historical offenses against both. At the same time he won admiration by expressing sympathy for the deepest insecurities of both peoples. The pope did not reconcile the differences between Palestinians and Jews, but he identified justice on both sides.

"Muslims Hail Pope's Efforts to Promote Ties," declared the lead headline in the government-supported Iran Daily.

"The Pope, the first to officially set foot in a mosque, during a visit to Syria in 2001, led a campaign over the past two decades to help turn conflict into cooperation between the world's 1.1 billion Catholics and 1.2 billion Muslims," reported the Tehran news site sympathetic to the country's reform movement.

The same tone prevailed in Bangladesh, where The Independent said that John Paul's May 2001 visit to a Syrian mosque "turned a page in inter-religious harmony."

"For the first time in history a Pope entered a mosque and called upon the Christians and Muslims to forgive each other for what occurred in the past. The setting, the vicinity of the tomb of Saladin, the hero of the crusade wars, lent a further significance to the Pope's call," said the newspaper.

John Paul II's similar gestures toward Jews were welcomed in Israel, according to Haaretz. "From his first visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1979 to his visit to Israel in 2000 – during which he asked forgiveness at Yad Vashem [the Holocaust memorial] and put a note in the Western Wall – the 26 years of his papacy were full of efforts to effect a major reform" in the relationship between Jews and Christians, said the liberal daily.

"He was the first pope to visit a synagogue, when he prayed at the Great Synagogue in Rome in 1986; in a speech in 1997 he said that Christians had failed during the Holocaust; during his visit to Israel, he apologized for the behavior of Christians who had caused the Jews to suffer; and he coined the term 'elder brothers' to describe the Jews."

At the same time, John Paul II gave voice to the political fears of both sides. For Muslims who worry the United States has targeted Islam since September 11, 2001, the pope's opposition to the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was praised by the Daily Star in Bangladesh. Pakistan's Dawn said John Paul II "will be remembered for rejecting the idea of a new anti-Muslim crusade implied by President Bush in one of his early post-9/11 speeches."

For Palestinians who feel they do not get a fair hearing from Western leaders, the pontiff's embrace of their dream of nationhood was especially welcome, according to the Palestinian Media Center. The official online news outlet of the Palestinian National Authority recalled John Paul's visit to the Holy Land in March 2000 where he led Mass in Bethlehem.

"Peace for the Palestinian people! Peace for all the peoples of the region!" the Pope began, according to the PMC. "No one can ignore how much the Palestinian people have had to suffer in recent decades. Your torment is before the eyes of the world. And it has gone on too long. The Holy See has always recognized that the Palestinian people have the natural right to a homeland, and the right to be able to live in peace and tranquility with the other people of this area," he said.

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, a potent bloc in Palestinian politics, still remember his words, according to Wafa, the Palestinian news agency.

"His Holiness remarkable pilgrimage to the Holy Land and his support for the Palestinian right for self determination are source of proud and strength to us," the prisoners wrote in a condolence letter to the Vatican.

To be sure, John Paul II had critics. On Monday, Iran's hard-line press "denounced pope John Paul II for his efforts to reconcile with the Jewish people, saying Israel should be seen as an enemy of the church and not just the Islamic republic," according to IranMania, a London-based news site.

"Not only did the pope never condemn the crimes of the 'Zionist regime' in the territories, the Vatican officially recognised its existence," the fundamentalist Jomhuri Islami newspaper complained.

Likewise, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post lamented John Paul II's opposition to the Iraq war and his sympathy for the Palestinians by describing him as "The Pope Who Loved Too Much."

But most online observers in the Middle East are not holding John Paul's surplus of love against him.


Israeli Arab wins quiz on Zionism (& soccer update)

April 07, 2005

CONTENTS:

1. Rami Wated, 12, beats Jewish boys in quiz on Zionism
2. Betar Jerusalem
3. Tottenham and Ajax
4. Neil Lennon, an Irish Catholic
5. Dudu Awat: A correction
6. Abbas Suan and Eyal Berkovic
7. "Arab Israeli beats Jewish boys in quiz on Zionism" (The Independent, April 7, 2005)
8. "Arab boy wins Israeli school quiz on Zionism" (Reuters, April 6, 2005)
9. "Arab Soccer Players Rescue Israeli Team” (Associated Press, April 1, 2005)
10. "Israelis toast Arab footballers" (Al Jazeera.net, April 1, 2005)
11. "'No Arabs, no goals': Arabs save Israeli football team despite racist jibes" (Agence France Presse / Daily Star, Lebanon, April 2, 2005)

 



[Note by Tom Gross]

RAMI WATED, 12, AN ISRAELI-ARAB, BEATS JEWISH BOYS IN QUIZ ON ZIONISM

I attach another example of Arab integration into Israeli society. The media has in the past generally ignored similar stories. However, they have carried several in recent days. The goal-scoring success of Israeli Arabs seems to have opened a new awareness for the foreign press in Israel.

Of the two articles on the quiz attached below, the Reuters piece does not include as many negative references as the article from today's Independent of London. (The Chief Middle East correspondent of the Independent is the notorious Robert Fisk.)

Also attached are three more articles on the Arab goalscorers in the Israeli World Cup (soccer) qualifying games. These have been published since my dispatch on the subject, and include ones from the Beirut Daily Star and from Al Jazeera.net.

The headline of The Associated Press story below ("Arab Soccer Players Rescue Israeli Team") puts a particular twist on things and is less accurate than that used by Al Jazeera.net ("Israelis toast Arab footballers").

BETAR JERUSALEM

In dozens of other articles on this subject that have appeared in recent days, journalists around the world have used the positive story of Jewish-Arab integration and unity on the soccer field, as an excuse to paint an overly negative picture of how awful life is for Arabs in Israel. In one of the articles below, Ahmed Tibi (an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset) complains, yet the author does not ask whether a Jew would be allowed to be a member of parliament in an Arab country, let alone make similar complaints.

Many articles on Israeli Arabs (including ones in this dispatch which are not even about soccer, such as the article from the Independent) have made much play of a small number of fans of the Betar Jerusalem soccer team who in the past have made racist chants. The aim of the journalists, presumably, is to try and establish for their readers that Israeli Arabs are routinely abused by Israeli Jews, which is not correct.

These Betar Jerusalem fans are a mindless minority who should be condemned unreservedly (and indeed are by most Israeli Jews). However, the problem of racism at Israeli soccer grounds pales in comparison with the problems of racism among fans at soccer grounds throughout Europe and beyond.

TOTTENHAM AND AJAX

In addition to sometimes severe racist chants against black players, especially in countries like Spain and Italy, there is a great deal of anti-Semitism among certain European fans. For example, at matches involving Ajax (Amsterdam) and Tottenham (London) – soccer clubs that supposedly have Jewish connections – opposition fans, by the thousand, often sing anti-Semitic songs such as “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas”; and use the tune of "I've never felt more like singing the blues" to instead sing the words "I have never felt more like gassing the Jews."

Yet Reuters, Associated Press and foreign media don't publish articles stressing how much racism or anti-Semitism there is at soccer grounds in other countries. Only in Israel.

NEIL LENNON, AN IRISH CATHOLIC

It is particularly amazing, as pointed out in my dispatch last week (Scoring goals against the "Israeli apartheid" myth, March 31, 2005), that some Irish fans have campaigned to have the Israeli soccer team banned because of its (imaginary) "apartheid."

Danny Preiskel, a subscriber to this email list, points out that Neil Lennon (a Catholic player) had to withdraw from the Northern Ireland soccer team match against Cyprus on police advice after repeated death threats from Protestants. (See, for example, news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/2208543.stm)

DUDU AWAT: A CORRECTION

In the dispatch Scoring goals against the "Israeli apartheid" myth, it was stated that Dudu Awat, the Israeli team goalkeeper, was an Israeli Arab. He is in fact Jewish from a French Algerian family. Thank you to all those people who wrote pointing that out.

ABBAS SUAN AND EYAL BERKOVIC

This week it was reported that Abbas Suan, the Israeli Arab who scored against Ireland, will be transferring to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the summer, giving him an even higher profile than he already has following his goal. The idea, according to press reports, is for him to play at club level alongside one of Israel's greatest Jewish players, Eyal Berkovic.

(Abbas Suan plays for Bnei Sakhnin – the team with a large Arab following who won the Israeli State Soccer Cup last season and represented Israel in European soccer competition this season.)

(Eyal Berkovic is one of Israel's greatest soccer exports. He has played for Southampton, West Ham, and Portsmouth – all clubs in the English Premier League – and for Glasgow Celtic, the Scottish champions.)

-- Tom Gross

 



FULL ARTICLES

ARAB ISRAELI BEATS JEWISH BOYS IN QUIZ ON ZIONISM

Arab Israeli beats Jewish boys in quiz on Zionism
By Donald Macintyre and Said Ghazali in Jerusalem
Independent
April 7, 2005

news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=627093

In a fortnight when two Arab footballers have kept Israel in World Cup contention, an Arab schoolboy has beaten hundreds of Jewish children to win a quiz focused on the history of Zionism.

Rami Wated, 12, an Arab Israeli from Jaffa, was a winning finalist in a competition to answer questions mainly based on Tel Aviv street names and their relevance to the history of Jewish nationalism.

Rami, the only Arab among the final 60 sixth-graders from Tel Aviv and its neighbouring port of Jaffa, spent 10 weeks preparing for the contest after a teacher at Hassan Arafi, his Arab school, suggested he entered. Questions included "Who is Rothschild Street named after? Who was Herzl? What does the symbol of Tel Aviv, seven stars surrounding a lighthouse, mean? Who was Hannah Rovina?"*

With his Jewish partner Guy Gutherz, Rami won a plaque, two tickets to the Rishon Lezion amusement park, and CDs of songs about Tel Aviv after coming equal top with a Jewish pair, Ron Kalef and his partner Yarin Sade.

"After my teacher said I should enter, I wanted to prove myself," Rami said yesterday. "I wanted to win. Despite the fact that many did not believe I would win, I prepared well ... It doesn't matter if you are Jewish or Arab, just as long as you can prepare properly."

Rami's school teaches Israeli history, but less than in equivalent Jewish schools. Rami said he had prepared with a booklet from the Tel Aviv municipality, which organised the contest, on the history and street names of the city.

Rami's father, Khaled, said most Arab schools in the area had declined to participate in the contest but the principal of Rami's school took a different view. Mr Wated added: "He wants to prove Arabs could share in such a contest like other Israeli boys and girls. He wants the school to be respected."

Mr Wated said he regretted that Rami - who was unable yesterday to answer "Who was Salahadin?**"- had not yet learnt Arab history. But he added of the Tel Aviv quiz: "There are more positive things than negative about this. It helps co-existence. Rami had a Jewish partner of his own age and this means they can understand each other better." Israeli Arabs make up a fifth of the 6.6 million population, though a Central Bureau of Statistics projection said this would rise to a quarter by 2025. Arab leaders have long complained of prejudice and a lack of government funds, including for education, although Israel denies discrimination.

Kobby Barda, the Tel Aviv municipality spokesman, said Rami's victory indicated a "renaissance" for Israeli Arabs working with Jewish fellow citizens, after two Arab goalscorers rescued Israel in successive World Cup qualifying games. "This is a nice story," he added.

Abbas Suan, who plays for Sakhnin, the Arab club which also has Jewish players and won Israel's FA Cup for the first time last season, scored Israel's goal in its 1-1 game against Ireland 11 days ago. And Maccabi Haifa's Walid Badier scored in Israel's 1-1 match with France last Thursday.

At a game in Tel Aviv on Monday between Sakhnin and Betar Jerusalem, booing Betar fans, notorious for racist chants, tried to drown out an announcer urging the crowd to welcome Suan after his goal against Ireland. But Sakhnin fans answered a frequent chant from Betar fans, "No Arabs, No Terror", by shouting, "No Arabs, No World Cup".

* Baron Edmond de Rothschild is the banker and philanthropist who helped many of the early 20th-century Jewish pioneers in Palestine; Theodor Herzl is a founding father of Zionism; stars in the Tel Aviv symbol represent seven days of the week, and daily hours worked by the municipality; the lighthouse is a beacon for Jewish migrants to Israel and Hannah Rovina, an actress, was "the first lady of Israeli theatre". He was the Muslim general who defeated the Crusaders .

 

ARAB BOY WINS ISRAELI SCHOOL QUIZ ON ZIONISM

Arab boy wins Israeli school quiz on Zionism
Reuters
April 6, 2005

www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=8101197

An Israeli Arab schoolboy has outshone Jewish counterparts to grab a share of victory in a school quiz on the history of Zionism and the creation of Israel.

Rami Wated, 12, and Jewish teammate Guy Gothertz clinched a joint first place with an all-Jewish pair after being quizzed on the history of Jewish nationalism, said Kobby Barda, spokesman for the city of Tel Aviv, which sponsored the contest. Wated was the only Arab among the 12 finalists. His prize was a modest plaque.

"Despite the fact that many did not believe that I would win, I prepared well ... It doesn't matter if you are Jewish or Arab, just as long as you can prepare properly," Wated said on Wednesday.

He is a pupil at an Israeli Arab state school where the curriculum on Jewish history is limited compared with that offered in Jewish schools.

"We are from an Arab school where we are not taught about Zionism, but as soon as I saw the booklet to prepare for the subject, I took to it immediately," Wated said.

The young resident of the ancient port of Jaffa next to Tel Aviv said he had prepared in part by reading up on streets named after important figures in the history of Zionism, the movement which led to Jewish statehood in Palestine in 1948.

Israeli Arabs comprise about 20 percent of the country's 6.78 million population. They have long complained of prejudice and a shortage of government funds for their towns, schools and institutions.

Israeli officials deny any policy of discrimination.

Arab deputies serve in the Israeli parliament. Israeli Arab players came to the rescue of Israel's national soccer team, leading the squad to 1-1 draws in both of its last two World Cup qualifying matches.

 

ARAB SOCCER PLAYERS RESCUE ISRAELI TEAM

Arab Soccer Players Rescue Israeli Team
By Kristen Stevens
The Associated Press
April 1, 2005

Israel suddenly has two Arab heroes. In a country where Jewish-Arab alienation runs deep, a pair of critical goals in World Cup soccer has created an instant connection across the divide.

For years, Abas Suan and Walid Badir endured racist taunts from the bleachers. Now they're the toast of the predominantly Jewish state.

Badir scored Israel's only goal in a 1-1 tie with France on Wednesday in a World Cup qualifying match, repeating Suan's feat in a Saturday match against Ireland - and keeping Israel in contention for a tournament slot.

The two are among Israel's minority Arabs, who make up about 20 percent of Israel's 6.8 million people. Many Israeli Arabs complain they are second-class citizens and targets of discrimination in employment, education and living conditions.

Their rage has spilled over from time to time. Conversely, four years of Palestinian-Israeli violence has kindled Jewish anger against Israeli Arabs for identifying with their relatives in the West Bank and Gaza.

Most Israeli soccer teams have Arab players, and often they are greeted with racist chants. "No Arabs, no terrorism," goes one.

Now that the two Arab players have rescued Israel's World Cup hopes, though, there's a new slogan being carried in banner headlines in Israeli newspapers: "No Arabs, no goals."

Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab lawmaker, said Arabs have mixed feelings about rooting for Israel in the fervor following the goals by Suan and Badir.

"As Arabs, we're normally pushed away from the Israeli political issues, and then suddenly we're pulled into this ultra-national patriotism,'' Tibi said.

The euphoria and goodwill of the moment may be transitory, said Zouheir Bahloul, an Israeli Arab sportscaster for Israel Radio and TV.

Part of the problem is how Israel's Arab citizens fit into the nation, dominated by its Jewish majority.

Bahloul said when Israeli Arabs see the athletic accomplishments of Suan and Badir, they feel more a part of Israel. But sports creates a virtual reality, he said, generating successful examples for Arabs while doors continue to close in other areas.

"If the state can create more opportunities in other fields, this type of inspiration gives Arabs the confidence to make things happen for themselves," Bahloul said.

Badir, a tall, rangy defender, burst into the penalty area Wednesday and headed a bullet shot past famed French goaltender Fabien Barthez, salvaging a tie score.

Badir's first comments were about his sport. "You have to give 200 percent in your job. I'm doing my best to fulfill my dream of reaching the World Cup," he said.

But his family's history in Israel is tainted by conflict and tragedy. His grandfather was one of about 50 Arabs killed by Israeli border police in 1956 at the Arab town of Kafr Kassem in an incident described by Jewish Israelis as a terrible mishap and by Arabs as a massacre.

Yet Badir stands at attention with the rest of the Israeli national soccer team as the Israeli anthem is sung before games, with its lyrics about Jews returning to their ancient land. It makes him uncomfortable, he says.

At a conference on racism in soccer last year, Badir said he hoped that one day the anthem would incorporate something that represents him as an Arab Israeli.

"Then I'll be able to sing it as well," he said.

As for Suan, he hopes the goodwill can endure.

After scoring his fateful goal, he told The Associated Press: "Now Jews and Arabs have something to agree on ... I only hope that Israelis will respect Arabs."

A native of Sakhnin, an Arab town in northern Israel, Suan said that through sports, athletes can set an example by relating to each other through friendship and dialogue.

"I think we get along better than politicians do," Suan said.

 

ISRAELIS TOAST ARAB FOOTBALLERS

Israelis toast Arab footballers
Al Jazeera.net
April 1, 2005

english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/F0328E76-38EF-454F-8A69-8646635A1904.htm

[This is exactly the same piece as the AP piece above – except that Al Jazeera.net gave a more positive headline to the story than that used by AP itself. The AP headline for example, was used by America Online on their website – Tom Gross]

 

'NO ARABS, NO GOALS'

'No Arabs, no goals': Arabs save Israeli football team despite racist jibes
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Daily Star Lebanon
April 2, 2005

www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=4&Article_id=13926

"No Arabs, no goals," crowed MP Ahmed Tibi as a second Arab-Israeli footballer smashed the ball into the back of the net, saving Israel's World Cup prospects for a second time in less than a week. Aping the slogan beloved of Jewish extremists, "No Arabs, no terror attacks," midfielders Abbas Suan and Walid Badier are heroes in Israel's heavily discriminated Arab community after their prowess kept football burning bright.

Suan and Badier scored match-tying goals in back-to-back qualifier matches against Ireland and France in Tel Aviv on Saturday and Wednesday, keeping Israeli hopes alive for the 2006 German World Cup.

Overjoyed with Badier's feats in Wednesday night's crucial match against France, Tibi telephoned a journalist from Israel's right-wing Maariv newspaper.

The paper thought Tibi's slogan pertinent enough to reprint as its headline.

"All week he had been dreaming about how Abbas Suan and Walid Badier would save the homeland," sneered a Maariv editorialist.

Israeli by nationality, Palestinians at heart, Israel's 1.2 million Arabs, descendants of those who remained on their land after the Jewish state was created in 1948, are treated as second-class citizens.

"My expression, 'No Arabs, no goals,' is my answer to the racists in Israel. These two goals have had more impact than all the political pontificating," Tibi told AFP.

"The fact that these two Arab players made more than 40,000 spectators in the stadium leap for joy deals a heavy blow to all the extremists in Israel. I'm sure it annoyed some officials in Israel," he added.

"Happily, Avigdor Lieberman's transfer plan was not implemented last week, otherwise Israel would have lost both matches," Tibi mocked.

The extremist right-wing Lieberman, a former Cabinet minister, advocated the deportation of all Arab Israelis to the Palestinian territories.

Ironic then, that Badier equalized against France as Arabs marked Land Day, which commemorates the killings of six Arab Israelis in clashes with security forces when the government decided to expropriate Arab land in 1976.

"Like Abbas Suan against Ireland, Walid Badier saved the Israeli side against France," triumphed the Arab-Israeli newspaper Al-Ittihad.

By each rocketing the ball to the back of the net, "Suan and Badier kept the Israeli team on course to the World [Cup] and gave it hope."

Suan said he hoped that the exploits of Arab players could better strengthen peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews in Israel.

"I hope we can achieve what politics cannot: through football narrow the divide between Arabs and Jews in Israel," he said.

"For the first time in the history of Israel, Jews and Arabs are united behind the same cause," said the captain of team Sakhnin, which last year became the first Arab-Israeli side to win the Israeli Cup.

But if he dreams of playing for Israel in the World Cup, he hopes the feats of Arab players will help to end the racist diatribe against Sakhnin that has disgraced Israeli stadiums.

For Sakhnin chairman Mazen Ghanayem, the three Arab players on the national team are "our ambassadors" to the world. "Thanks to them, the world knows 18 percent of the population of Israel are Arabs who work as they should but don't have their rights," he said.


Iran says Pope was too close to “evil” Jews

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

* Tehran Times marks Holocaust Day by denying it happened (Jan. 27, 2005)
* Iranian TV: Israelis steal Palestinian children's eyes (Dec. 23, 2004)
* Teheran bemused as France bans anti-Semitic Iranian TV station (Feb. 25, 2005)
* A world record: 35,000 new stories on the Pope in 24 hours (April 5, 2005)
* Arab media coverage of Pope's death infuriates Islamists (April 4, 2005)

 

CONTENTS OF THIS EMAIL:

1. "Iran: Pope was too close to 'evil' Jews" (WorldNetDaily.com, April 6, 2005)
2. "The pope who turned anti-Semitism aside" (Boston Globe, April 7, 2005)
3. "Pope John Paul II" (Jerusalem Post Editorial, April 3, 2005)
4. "The pope who changed history" (By Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2005)

 



IRAN: THE POPE CAVED IN TO "THE JEWISH LOBBY"

[Note by Tom Gross]

Several government-sponsored Iranian newspapers have criticized Pope John Paul II in the last three days for having been "too close to Jews." For example, the daily newspaper, Hamshahri, accused John Paul II of caving "in to pressure from the Jewish lobby" despite "Jewish responsibility for the death of Christ."

The Jomhuri Islami newspaper attacked John Paul II for recognizing Israel's existence.

Iran was also angry because in 1995, John Paul invited Lebanese bishops to the Vatican where they called on Syria to withdraw its nearly 20,000 troops from their country.

This follows an increasing pattern of anti-Israel rhetoric coming out of Iran, and may result from fears of an imminent attack on the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

STEALING CHILDREN'S EYES

This latest assault on Israel follows the accusation from Iran that Israel killed former Lebanese president Rafik Hariri, the denial of the Holocaust when the rest of the world was remembering the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and the Iranian TV soap opera that claimed the Israeli government has a policy of stealing Palestinian children's eyes. All these stories have been detailed in previous dispatches on this list.

I also attach complimentary articles on Pope John Paul II by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, and by Israeli finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

There are summaries first for those who don't have time to read these articles in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

IRANIAN STATE MEDIA SLAMS POPE FOR BEING "COMPROMISED" BY "ZIONIST REGIME"

"Iran: Pope was too close to 'evil' Jews. State-run media slams John Paul for being 'compromised' by 'Zionist regime'" (By Aaron Klein, WorldNetDaily.com, April 6, 2005)

Iran's government-sponsored media yesterday blasted Pope John Paul II for what it perceived as his closeness with Israel and the Jewish people, saying Israel should be considered an enemy of the church and not just of the Tehran regime. "Not only did the pope never condemn the crimes of the 'Zionist regime' in the territories, the Vatican officially recognized its existence," the official Jomhuri Islami newspaper said in an editorial.

... Another Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, accused John Paul of "[caving] in to pressure from the Jewish lobby" despite "Jewish responsibility for the death of Christ."

Arab leaders have in the past expressed mixed feelings about the pontiff, who frequented the Middle East and was credited for galvanizing Christian minority communities in several Mideast countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian areas between 1997 and 2001. Egypt's Copts used John Paul's visits in part to demand equal rights and an end to targeted violence against their community. Copts, who constitute between 8 and 15 percent of Egypt's population, have long clashed with Muslim extremists.

... But some Muslims have praised John Paul's outreach to the Islamic world. In 2001, he became the first pope to enter a Muslim place of worship, visiting the revered Omayyad Mosque in Damascus. He also met with leaders of Syria's non-Catholic churches...

 

THE CHILD OF MOSES AND HELEN HILLER

"The pope who turned anti-Semitism aside" (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, April 7, 2005)

As a young boy in the 1930s, my father* attended public school in Snina, a town in eastern Czechoslovakia. Twice a week, a Catholic priest would come in to teach the catechism, during which the few children who were Jewish would wait outside. As they left the classroom, my father recalls, the priest invariably made some insulting remark about the Jewish people.

For Jews in the Europe of my father's youth, such Christian contempt was a fact of life... This "teaching of contempt" fed an often virulent anti-Semitism, which created the climate for Europe's long history of persecuting Jews. Sixty-five years ago that history culminated in the Holocaust.

Yet not every priest in that era treated Jews with disdain. Consider the story of Moses and Helen Hiller, a Jewish couple in Nazi-occupied Poland who entrusted their 2-year-old son to a Catholic family named Jachowicz in November of 1942... The Hillers were deported to Auschwitz. They never returned.

The Jachowiczes came to love the little boy as their own and decided, when the war was over, to adopt him. Mrs. Jachowicz asked a young priest in Krakow to baptize the child, explaining that he had been born Jewish and that his parents had died. But when the priest... refused to perform the baptism. Instead he insisted that the Jachowiczes contact the child's relatives.

Today that boy is a middle-aged man, an observant Jew with children of his own. The young priest, whose name was Karol Wojtyla, died last week. He will be buried on Friday as Pope John Paul II, in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

... At a time when the Polish church could be vilely anti-Semitic -- in 1936 the primate of Poland, Cardinal Augustus Hlond, issued a pastoral letter declaring that "there will be a Jewish problem as long as Jews remain" and painting Jews as corrupters and atheists guilty of "spreading pornography" and ''perpetrating fraud, practicing usury, and dealing in prostitution" -- the future pope's closest friend was a Jewish boy, Jerzy Kluger.

... As a young bishop at the Second Vatican Council, [Karol Wojtyla] spoke up powerfully in support of "Nostra Aetate," the landmark Vatican declaration that renounced the idea of Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus and affirmed that God's covenant with the Jews is unbroken.

In 1979, on his first papal visit back to Poland, he journeyed to Auschwitz, taking pains to emphasize what the communist government of the day took pains to obscure: the Jewish identity of the Holocaust. ''The very people that received from God the commandment 'Thou shall not kill, itself experienced in a special measure what is meant by killing."

... In 1993, he formally recognized the state of Israel, repudiating forever the old theology that Jews were doomed to everlasting exile, never again to be sovereign in their homeland. He became the first pope to publicly beg forgiveness for Christian wrongs done to Jews.

... As he is laid to his rest, Jews and Christians will weep together.

[NOTE * For more on Jeff Jacoby's father, and his liberation from Auschwitz, see the first article in the dispatch on this list of January 27, 2005 titled (1) Auschwitz, 60 years on "My father was no longer there" - Tom Gross]

 

"FROM THIS MOUNTAIN HE LOOKED OUT UPON THE LAND WHICH YOU PROMISED"

"Pope John Paul II" (Jerusalem Post Editorial, April 3, 2005)

The pope who called Jews his "elder brothers," who placed a message of atonement in the Western Wall, and who opened relations with the Jewish state, will be remembered with affection and admiration by the Jewish people.

... It was one thing to make a formal break with the theology, as the Second Vatican Council had done, that Christianity had replaced Judaism, and that Jews were collectively to blame for the death of Jesus. It was another to show the sincerity and empathy of John Paul II in embodying the new doctrine into word and deed.

In 1965, for example, it would be hard to imagine a pope standing at the Western Wall, a site so holy to the Jewish people, and placing a prayer in it that read, "God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring Your name to the nations ... We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of Yours to suffer and, asking Your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant."

... Less noticed, but equally moving, was his prayer on the first day of that same pilgrimage in 2000, on Mt. Nebo in Jordan, overlooking Israel: "Blessed are you, God of our Fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob; the God of the Exodus and of the Passover, of the Covenant and of the promises. You faithfully led your people through the desert under the guidance of Moses. From this mountain he looked out upon the land which you promised as an inheritance to the chosen people."

Again, there could be nothing more striking than a pope declaring in Jordan that the Land he was gazing upon was promised to the Jews. Yet it is a measure of how far there is to go in relations between the Church and the Jews that even this pope chose to meet Yasser Arafat, for the first of 10 times, as far back as 1982 - which was before the PLO had renounced terrorism...

One also wonders why in November 2003, while suicide attacks against Israeli civilians continued, the pope condemned terrorism, but also said of the security fence Israel was building to stop terrorists...

We hope that the next pope will honor his legacy by continuing in his footsteps and showing even greater moral leadership with respect to Israel and bringing Jewish-Christian relations further into a new era.

 

THE CLOSING OF A HISTORIC CIRCLE

"The pope who changed history" (By Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2005)

'How many divisions does the pope have?" asked Stalin dismissively. In the case of Pope John Paul II the answer was - plenty. He marshalled his divisions of Catholic believers at a critical moment in the late 1980s when the Solidarity movement toppled the totalitarian regime in his native Poland.

... Aside from president Ronald Reagan, John Paul II did more than any other person to bring communism to an end. For that, history shall remember him.

... His warm embrace of the Jewish people was evident when I visited him in the Vatican as prime minister in 1997. The pontiff emotionally spoke to me about his friendships with Jews going back to his student days in pre-Holocaust Poland. . He looked at me and my wife Sara and said, "You are so young, and yet you are asked to lead the Jewish people - you must stay strong to carry such a burden on your shoulders."

He responded warmly to my invitation to visit the Holy Land during the millennium celebrations, "if health will permit me." He made good on his promise and in the year 2000 he came to Israel on a visit that symbolized the closing of a historic circle...

 



FULL ARTICLES

DEATH OF A PONTIFF

Iran: Pope was too close to 'evil' Jews
State-run media slams John Paul for being 'compromised' by 'Zionist regime'
By Aaron Klein
WorldNetDaily.com
April 6, 2005

www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43660

Iran's government-sponsored media yesterday blasted Pope John Paul II for what it perceived as his closeness with Israel and the Jewish people, saying Israel should be considered an enemy of the church and not just of the Tehran regime.

"Not only did the pope never condemn the crimes of the 'Zionist regime' in the territories, the Vatican officially recognized its existence," the official Jomhuri Islami newspaper said in an editorial.

The paper claimed the worldwide expansion of Islam had been "a constant worry" for a pope who had been "compromised [by] the 'Zionist regime.'"

Another Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, accused John Paul of "[caving] in to pressure from the Jewish lobby" despite "Jewish responsibility for the death of Christ."

Arab leaders have in the past expressed mixed feelings about the pontiff, who frequented the Middle East and was credited for galvanizing Christian minority communities in several Mideast countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian areas between 1997 and 2001.

Egypt's Copts used John Paul's visits in part to demand equal rights and an end to targeted violence against their community. Copts, who constitute between 8 and 15 percent of Egypt's population, have long clashed with Muslim extremists.

Analysts say Syrian and pro-Damascus Lebanese leaders were uneasy about the pontiff reaching out to Lebanon's large Maronite Catholic minority. Lebanese Christians and Muslims fought in the 1975-90 civil war. In 1995, John Paul invited Lebanese bishops to the Vatican where they called on Syria to withdraw its nearly 20,000 troops from their country.

And the pope was blasted by Arab leaders when he traveled to Israel on a millennium pilgrimage, meeting survivors of the Nazi Holocaust at the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem and putting a prayer note into the Western Wall.

But some Muslims have praised John Paul's outreach to the Islamic world. In 2001, he became the first pope to enter a Muslim place of worship, visiting the revered Omayyad Mosque in Damascus. He also met with leaders of Syria's non-Catholic churches.

Although Israel and the Vatican have in the past had a stormy relationship, with many faulting Pope Pius XXII for not speaking out against Nazi war crimes, Israeli figures yesterday praised Pope John Paul II as a principled religious leader whose efforts helped bring Jews and Catholics together. Many pointed to his visit to the Holy Land in 2000 as an historic reconciliation between the two faiths.

"[The pope was] a man of peace, a friend of the Jewish people. ... The world has lost one of the most important leaders of our time," said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Former Chief Israeli Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau said, "With the exception of John XXIII, there has never been as pro-Jewish a pope as John Paul II. In addition to his contribution to the fall of communism and the crumbling of the iron curtain - something that allowed hundreds of thousands of Jews to return to their heritage and even come to Israel - we must remember that the pope contributed to combating anti-Semitism in 120 countries he visited."

Meanwhile, alongside Iranian media criticisms, Iran's President Mohammed Khatami Monday described the pontiff as "a disciple of religious mysticism, philosophic deliberation and thought, and artistic and poetic creativity."

Khatami said he felt a sense of "loss" from the pope's death, and recalled meeting with the pope in 1999 in the Vatican and talking about "world politics and (international) cooperation."

Iran's anti-Israel eulogy of the pope has some concerned.

As the U.S. and Israel work to increase international pressure regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions, many are worried the Tehran regime might use pressure tactics against its Jewish community to ward off any upcoming action against Iran's suspected nuclear facilities.

Iran has recently been increasing the level of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement broadcast on its state-controlled media, monitors say.

A television series ran in Iran in January depicting "evil" Jews eagerly stoning crucified Christians during the decline of the Roman Empire. The series, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, shows "stereotypically evil-looking Jews wearing prayer shawls who notice Christian crucifixions and bribe a Roman officer to permit them to stone Christians," reported PMW.

 

THE POPE WHO TURNED ANTI-SEMITISM ASIDE

The pope who turned anti-Semitism aside
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist
Boston Globe
April 7, 2005

www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/04/07/the_pope_who_turned_anti_semitism_aside/

As a young boy in the 1930s, my father attended public school in Snina, a town in eastern Czechoslovakia. Twice a week, a Catholic priest would come in to teach the catechism, during which the few children who were Jewish would wait outside. As they left the classroom, my father recalls, the priest invariably made some insulting remark about the Jewish people.

For Jews in the Europe of my father's youth, such Christian contempt was a fact of life. Its origins lay in the church's ancient claim that God had rejected the Jews when they rejected Jesus and that his covenant with Israel had been superseded by a new covenant with the Christian church. This ''teaching of contempt" fed an often virulent anti-Semitism, which created the climate for Europe's long history of persecuting Jews. Sixty-five years ago that history culminated in the Holocaust.

Yet not every priest in that era treated Jews with disdain.

Consider the story of Moses and Helen Hiller, a Jewish couple in Nazi-occupied Poland who entrusted their 2-year-old son to a Catholic family named Jachowicz in November of 1942. The Hillers begged their friends to keep their child safe -- and, should they not survive, to send him to family members abroad who would bring him up as a Jew. Soon after, the Hillers were deported to Auschwitz. They never returned.

The Jachowiczes came to love the little boy as their own and decided, when the war was over, to adopt him. Mrs. Jachowicz asked a young priest in Krakow to baptize the child, explaining that he had been born Jewish and that his parents had died. But when the priest, some of whose friends had also died in Auschwitz, learned of the Hillers' wish that their son not be lost to the Jewish people, he refused to perform the baptism. Instead he insisted that the Jachowiczes contact the child's relatives.

Today that boy is a middle-aged man, an observant Jew with children of his own. The young priest, whose name was Karol Wojtyla, died last week. He will be buried on Friday as Pope John Paul II, in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

When it came to the Jews, John Paul's attitudes were revolutionary. He had grown up with Jews as neighbors and classmates; he and his father rented the second floor of a house whose Jewish owners lived below. At a time when the Polish church could be vilely anti-Semitic -- in 1936 the primate of Poland, Cardinal Augustus Hlond, issued a pastoral letter declaring that ''there will be a Jewish problem as long as Jews remain" and painting Jews as corrupters and atheists guilty of ''spreading pornography" and "perpetrating fraud, practicing usury, and dealing in prostitution" -- the future pope's closest friend was a Jewish boy, Jerzy Kluger. To the young Father Wojtyla, the contempt for Jews and Judaism that came so readily to priests like the one in my father's school must have always rung false, even heretical.

And so he fought it. As a priest in Krakow, he would not countenance the betrayal of murdered Jewish parents by baptizing their child. As a young bishop at the Second Vatican Council, he spoke up powerfully in support of ''Nostra Aetate," the landmark Vatican declaration that renounced the idea of Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus and affirmed that God's covenant with the Jews is unbroken.

In 1979, on his first papal visit back to Poland, he journeyed to Auschwitz, taking pains to emphasize what the communist government of the day took pains to obscure: the Jewish identity of the Holocaust. ''The very people that received from God the commandment 'Thou shall not kill, itself experienced in a special measure what is meant by killing."

"It is not permissible for anyone to pass by this," he continued, ''with indifference."

Milestone followed milestone. In 1986 he paid the first visit by a pope to the Great Synagogue in Rome, where he stressed the debt that Christians owe to the Jews, ''our elder brothers." In 1993, he formally recognized the state of Israel, repudiating forever the old theology that Jews were doomed to everlasting exile, never again to be sovereign in their homeland. He became the first pope to publicly beg forgiveness for Christian wrongs done to Jews.

And in 2000, on a deeply emotional pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he became the first pope to pray at the Western Wall, a moment of reverence for the Jewish faith -- and for the temple that was once its beating heart -- that would have been unthinkable for most of the preceding two millennia.

If John XXIII was the ''good pope" who set in motion the great shift in the church's relations with the Jewish people, John Paul II was the great pope who made it undeniable and irrevocable. As he is laid to his rest, Jews and Christians will weep together.

 

"FROM THIS MOUNTAIN HE LOOKED OUT UPON THE LAND WHICH YOU PROMISED"

Pope John Paul II
The Jerusalem Post
Editorial
April 3, 2005

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1112494793567&p=1006953079865

The pope who called Jews his "elder brothers," who placed a message of atonement in the Western Wall, and who opened relations with the Jewish state, will be remembered with affection and admiration by the Jewish people.

It was hard to fail to be touched by the compassion and dignity of this man who, though he represented one religion, came to symbolize the religious spirit to people of many faiths.

It was, if anything, a measure of the respect Jews had for him that, despite his many efforts to extend a hand in friendship, it was also difficult not to be disappointed that his moral leadership did not extend further in our time of need. We would not have expected as much from a lesser pope.

Though the process began before him, most dramatically with the 1965 Nostra Aetate declaration initiated by Pope John XXIII, John Paul II dedicated his papacy in part to continuing to redefine Christianity's relationship with the Jewish people.

It was one thing to make a formal break with the theology, as the Second Vatican Council had done, that Christianity had replaced Judaism, and that Jews were collectively to blame for the death of Jesus. It was another to show the sincerity and empathy of John Paul II in embodying the new doctrine into word and deed.

In 1965, for example, it would be hard to imagine a pope standing at the Western Wall, a site so holy to the Jewish people, and placing a prayer in it that read, "God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring Your name to the nations ... We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of Yours to suffer and, asking Your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant."

In just these few words, the pope affirmed the Jews' status as the chosen people, asked for forgiveness, and pledged Christian brotherhood with Jews - all wrapped not just in a dry statement, but in a profound and personal gesture.

Less noticed, but equally moving, was his prayer on the first day of that same pilgrimage in 2000, on Mt. Nebo in Jordan, overlooking Israel: "Blessed are you, God of our Fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob; the God of the Exodus and of the Passover, of the Covenant and of the promises. You faithfully led your people through the desert under the guidance of Moses. From this mountain he looked out upon the land which you promised as an inheritance to the chosen people."

Again, there could be nothing more striking than a pope declaring in Jordan that the Land he was gazing upon was promised to the Jews. Yet it is a measure of how far there is to go in relations between the Church and the Jews that even this pope chose to meet Yasser Arafat, for the first of 10 times, as far back as 1982 - which was before the PLO had renounced terrorism and when both the US and Israel had branded it a terrorist organization.

One also wonders why in November 2003, while suicide attacks against Israeli civilians continued, the pope condemned terrorism, but also said of the security fence Israel was building to stop terrorists, "the Holy Land doesn't need walls, but bridges."

Pope John Paul II was a great man and a friend of the Jewish people. It should go without saying that President Moshe Katsav should, as was only "under consideration" at this writing, attend his funeral. We hope that the next pope will honor his legacy by continuing in his footsteps and showing even greater moral leadership with respect to Israel and bringing Jewish-Christian relations further into a new era.

 

THE POPE WHO CHANGED HISTORY

The pope who changed history
By Binyamin Netanyahu
The Jerusalem Post
April 4, 2005

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1112581160683&p=1006953079865

'How many divisions does the pope have?" asked Stalin dismissively. In the case of Pope John Paul II the answer was - plenty. He marshalled his divisions of Catholic believers at a critical moment in the late 1980s when the Solidarity movement toppled the totalitarian regime in his native Poland. Once this brick was removed from the communist wall, it did not take long for the entire edifice to crumble. (That appears to have been the reason for the attempt on his life.) Aside from president Ronald Reagan, John Paul II did more than any other person to bring communism to an end. For that, history shall remember him.

It will also remember him for his tireless efforts to foster reconciliation between the world's great religions, including between Catholics and Jews. His plea for forgiveness from the Jewish people expressed a sincere desire to atone for the past iniquities of Christianity toward its "older brothers," as the pope called the Jews.

His warm embrace of the Jewish people was evident when I visited him in the Vatican as prime minister in 1997. The pontiff emotionally spoke to me about his friendships with Jews going back to his student days in pre-Holocaust Poland. He spoke of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, "the land of our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." He looked at me and my wife Sara and said, "You are so young, and yet you are asked to lead the Jewish people - you must stay strong to carry such a burden on your shoulders."

He responded warmly to my invitation to visit the Holy Land during the millennium celebrations, "if health will permit me." He made good on his promise and in the year 2000 he came to Israel on a visit that symbolized the closing of a historic circle.

Christianity, born 2,000 years ago on the shores of the Sea of Galilee with a message of goodwill to all men, returned there after blood-drenched centuries of religious warfare with a similar message of kindness, so masterfully expressed by Pope John Paul II. Who can deny today the importance to humanity's future of his message of moderating religious fanaticism?

The pope's third great contribution was the removal of barriers between the masses and the Catholic Church. He was the first pope to make the most of television, and in his travels to over 100 lands he sought to win adherence to the traditional values he believed in.

Some of those values are justifiably contested. But the fact that in an overly permissive world millions of young people turned to the pope's message and searched for renewed moral significance in their lives can only evoke great respect for him. The pope at once renewed and preserved his Church.

For all these reasons Karol Wojtyla will be remembered as a man who changed history.


A world record: 35,000 new stories on the Pope in 24 hours

April 05, 2005

CONTENTS:

1. 35,000 new stories on Pope John Paul II in 24 hours
2. Yad Vashem: The pope does not qualify as a Righteous Among the Nations
3. Prof. Arthur Hertzberg: "The Pope did not defy the Nazis in any overt way"
4. A note about yesterday's dispatch and spam
5. "In the Day After His Death, 35,000 New Stories Appeared on Pope John Paul II" (ABC News, April 4, 2005)
6. "Bad Diplomacy: Jewish adulation of the pope does a disservice to the truth," (By Arthur Hertzberg, belief.net, 1999)

 



35,000 NEW STORIES ON POPE JOHN PAUL II IN 24 HOURS

[Note by Tom Gross]

Because this email list concerns the way the media works, as well as the Middle East, I attach a further story concerning Pope John Paul II's death:

According to an ABC news report (attached below), in the day after his death, 35,000 new stories appeared on Pope John Paul II.

To put this item in context, this marks a 1000 per cent increase compared to the amount of stories major news media wrote on the re-election of President Bush last November.

 

YAD VASHEM: THE POPE DOES NOT QUALIFY AS A RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS

In the dispatch yesterday (Arab media coverage of Pope's death infuriates Islamists) I expressed surprise at reports in Ma'ariv, Israel's second highest circulation newspaper, that Yad Vashem was apparently considering making Pope John Paul II a Righteous Gentile.

I attach the following email from the press officer at Yad Vashem:

From: estee.yaari@yadvashem.org.il
To: Tom Gross
Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Subject: Re: Arab media coverage of Pope's death infuriates Islamists

Dear Tom,

Yad Vashem is not considering naming the Pope a Righteous Among the Nations – the story in Ma'ariv is simply wrong. Yad Vashem would be grateful if you could share this with your readers in your next dispatch.

Here's the clarification we have issued:

Yad Vashem would like to clarify that today’s report in Ma'ariv has no basis in fact. There are stringent criteria for recognizing Righteous Among the Nations foremost among them being that a person has risked his life to save Jews during the Holocaust. The incident described in Ma’ariv, while noble and commendable took place in 1946, after the end of the war, and did not involve saving Jews, and therefore is not relevant to the Righteous Among the Nations designation.

www1.yadvashem.org/about_yad/press_room/press_releases/03.04.05.html

Best regards,
Estee

 

HERTZBERG: "THE POPE DID NOT DEFY THE NAZIS IN ANY OVERT WAY"

(It should be noted that almost 25 per cent of the inhabitants of the Pope's hometown of Wadowice (pop: 9,000) were Jews. Almost none survived the war -- TG)

The following is extracted from www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/pope/etc/press.html

"Tonight's thoughtful 'Frontline' portrait of John Paul II presents the popular Pope as a man resisting, in the name of the church he leads, many of the century's movements of which he despairs...

Helen Whitney, the producer of 'John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,' begins with sensitively evoked scenes of the Poland in which Karol Wojtyla grew up and the religious traditions that in time drew him to the priesthood. Anti-Semitism was prevalent, and although the young man had many Jewish acquaintances, during the Nazi occupation, says Arthur Hertzberg, a professor of Jewish studies at New York University, 'He did not defy the Nazis in any overt way,' and did nothing to save their victims.

Yet after the war he earned a reputation for helping Jews, and as Pope he has made several gestures like declaring anti-Semitism to be a sin, that suggest a recognition that his church had failed during the Holocaust...

[Further down this email I attach a piece by Arthur Hertzberg.]

 

A NOTE ABOUT YESTERDAY'S DISPATCH AND SPAM

Certain webservers blocked yesterday's dispatch (Arab media coverage of Pope's death infuriates Islamists).

Those who failed to receive it include hotmail subscribers who registered their hotmail address in certain regions of the world – but not those hotmail subscribers registered in other geographic areas, who did receive it.

Based on two other dispatches hotmail blocked earlier this year to recipients in particular geographic regions only, I believe that Microsoft's spam technology is automatically blocking these because of a juxtaposition of place of origin, place of receipt, and words used, including the word referring to the party that came to power in Germany in 1933. (Based on past experience with spam technology, were I to mention the name of that party now, this email too may be blocked by hotmail.)

Subscribers who failed to receive yesterday's dispatch and would like it should send me an email.

Please may I remind all subscribers to this email to place * both * the following email addresses on their "Safe List":

tomgross100@topica.email-publisher.com
tomgross100@yahoo.com

 



FULL ARTICLES

35,000 NEW STORIES ON POPE AFTER DEATH

35,000 New Stories on Pope After Death
In the Day After His Death, 35,000 New Stories Appeared on Pope John Paul II
ABC News
April 4, 2005

abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=640161

Major news media around the world devoted 10 times as many stories to Pope John Paul II's death as they did to the re-election of President Bush, according to an analysis released Monday.

The Global Language Monitor, which scans the Internet for the use of specific words or phrases using Roman characters, found 35,000 new stories on the pope in the 24 hours after his death Saturday.

That compares with about 3,500 new stories on Bush within a day of his re-election and 1,000 new stories on former President Reagan within a day of his death last year.

The count includes stories at news Web sites as well as printed stories and transcripts of broadcasts found in electronic repositories such as LexisNexis. About 3,000 newspapers and 1,000 broadcasters around the world were tracked.

Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language, said the jump reflected the Roman Catholic pontiff's influence.

"He was tied in history, probably more than any pope in contemporary time," Payack said. "Because of his extensive travels, he's well known in many more countries."

 

JEWISH ADULATION OF THE POPE DOES A DISSERVICE TO THE TRUTH

Bad Diplomacy
By Arthur Hertzberg
Written in 1999

Jewish adulation of the pope's visit to Israel serves only to make Catholic leaders happy--and does a disservice to the truth

www.beliefnet.com/story/17/story_1719_1.html

In the mid-1950s, Golda Meir wrote a letter to Pope Pius XII thanking him for his notable efforts to save Jews during the years of the Holocaust. This statement was immediately contested by survivors and by scholars who insisted that this was wildly exaggerated, for Pius XlI's record during the war years had been, in their view, one of indifference relieved by a few occasional positive acts of help and money. The Israeli authorities offered no public answer to these objections. But at the time, I learned through friends in the prime minister's office that the statement was made because Israeli authorities felt such gestures were necessary to persuade the Vatican to recognize the State of Israel.

In recent days, I have encountered a comparable situation. The leaders of the rabbinic bodies of Reform and Conservative Judaism have issued a joint statement hailing the pope's visit to the Holy Land as a profound turning point in Jewish-Catholic relations, an act of reconciliation of historic proportions. When I asked one of the people who drafted this statement for the rabbis whether he really believed that Pope John Paul II would ask the Jews to forgive the church and its wartime pope for their inaction during the Holocaust, this honorable man ruefully agreed that he really did not think so. So I pressed him: Why did you really contribute to the creation of this statement? The answer that I got reminded me of Golda Meir's statement nearly one-half century ago. These religious leaders of American Jews cherish an excellent relationship with the Catholic hierarchy in America. That hierarchy gets upset if popes, past and present, are attacked.

Therefore, to preserve and strengthen the goodwill and friendship that does exist in the United States, it seems permissible to tell less than the whole truth about the record of the Vatican in the 20th century.

A comparable calculus seems to be operating in some of the highest quarters of the Vatican itself. To be sure, the Second Vatican Council declared some 30 years ago that it was wrong, hurtful, and dangerous to continue to blame Jews for the crucifixion of Christ. This has been repeated over and over again by the present pope, but occasionally there is a outbreak from somewhere in the Vatican that suggests that this is only public policy. It is useful to proclaim it in a world of increasing pluralism, but this view has not yet been completely assimilated into the very essence of the faith. As recently as Sunday, March 19, Father Peter Gumpel appeared on "60 Minutes" to insist that Pius XII was a holy man of undoubted saintliness. Father Gumpel is clothed in the full authority of the priest in the Vatican who investigates candidates for sainthood; he was defending Pius XII against his critics.

Later that day, the same Peter Gumpel said to a CBS correspondent, Mark Phillips, "Let us be frank and open about this, as in all the things that I have said. It is a fact that the Jews have killed Christ. This is an undeniable historical fact." But it is precisely this assertion that was denied by Vatican II and has been repeatedly excoriated by John Paul II. Is Father Peter Gumpel asserting that these changes in theology and liturgy are an act of public relations, of interdenominational diplomacy with the Jews, but that "true Catholics" like him know they are diplomatic gestures?

So who is fooling whom? Does anyone on either side of the Jewish-Catholic encounter and debate really believe what the Anti-Defamation League printed very prominently in an advertisement in The New York Times on Sunday, March 19, glorifying Pope John Paul II as remarkable in his unqualified love of Jews and Judaism? Have those who wrote that text for the Anti-Defamation League forgotten, or have they imagined that all their readers have forgotten, that this is the pope who received Kurt Waldheim in state when that dishonorable politician and former staff officer of an SS general who was hanged for his war crimes was president of Austria and boycotted by every other leader in the civilized world?

Had the writers of copy for the ADL not noticed that very recently this pope received Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, and the two managed to suggest together that the insistence by Muslims on building a mosque on land they owned in Nazareth next to the Church of the Annunciation was really an Israeli plot? But, of course, this ADL text too can be explained in whispers as a diplomatic necessity.

But is it not bad diplomacy to produce unbalanced accounts of the past? The last time this was done on a large scale, the authors were the people who put together new editions of the Soviet Encyclopedia when the political line changed. In an instant, Trotsky became a nonperson and Stalin became the source of virtue and goodness. Jewish-Catholic relations, and the reputations of people of great substance, some of whom sinned grievously, are matters too serious for such "diplomatic" games.

I must repeat these days what I have been saying in various contexts for many years: The issue between Jews and Catholics, as each community contemplates the Holocaust, is fundamental: Catholics would like to believe that the church, the mystical body of Christ, is incapable of being wrong, and that the sins of the Holocaust, and everything else in history for which Catholics apologize, were committed through the ages by individual Catholics. Most Jews insist that though individual Christians have behaved heroically, the church as a whole, and its leader during the Holocaust, behaved badly. We can only agree to disagree. We can only learn to act together for the good of humanity in the generations to come.

We must stop talking to each other diplomatically or manipulatively and start telling each other the truth, as each community sees it. Sweet words, which are often not really believed on both sides, will not help us. Jews and Catholics must grow up and enter the era of "tough love."


Arab media coverage of Pope’s death infuriates Islamists

April 04, 2005

CONTENTS:

1. Even Hizbullah interrupted its programming
2. Surprisingly, Yad Vashem is "considering naming the Pope a Righteous Gentile"
3. Editorials from the Israeli press (April 4, 2005)
4. Headlines from the Israeli press (April 3, 2005)
5. Press release – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (April 3, 2004)
6. Press release – Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres (April 3, 2004)
7. Press release – President Moshe Katsav (April 3, 2004)
8. Press release – Israeli Foreign Ministry (April 2, 2005)
9. "Arab media coverage of Catholic leader's death infuriates Islamists" (Daily Star Lebanon / AFP, April 4, 2005)

 



EVEN HIZBULLAH INTERRUPTED ITS PROGRAMMING

[Note by Tom Gross]

Advocates of a more democratic Middle East will welcome the relatively open manner in which the Arab media is covering the death of Pope John Paul II. In many ways, this pope helped improve relations between people of different faiths more than any other pope. Certainly some of the extreme Islamic leaders could learn much from John Paul II.

I attach an article below from today's Beirut Daily Star. The article was written by AFP (Agence France Presse) and also appears elsewhere today in a similar form, for example, on Yahoo News.

Radical Islamists have been using popular Islamist Web sites, such as the Islamic News Network, to express their anger at Arab television stations for according the pope such importance. In particular, they have lashed out at:

* Al-Jazeera (Qatar). The station, better known for screening "exclusive" videotapes from extremist Islamic leader Osama bin Laden, yesterday devoted widespread coverage to the pope's life and death.

* Al-Arabiya (Dubai) did the same, and transmitting live from the Vatican.

* Al-Manar. The Lebanese station belonging to Hizbullah – who are trying to curry favor among Lebanese Christians after their role in assassinating Rafik Hariri in February – interrupted its programs after the announcement of the pope's death to broadcast live from the Vatican.

* Iraqiya (Iraq) also interrupted programming on Saturday night to announce the pope's death.

 

YAD VASHEM "CONSIDERING NAMING THE POPE A RIGHTEOUS GENTILE".

Israeli officials and media have been falling over themselves in the last two days to mourn the pope and emphasize what a "friend" he was.

Certainly John Paul II was in many ways a great man, but in other ways (such as telling the populations of AIDS-ravaged parts of Africa that they would "burn in hell for eternity" if they used condoms), he was not.

By way of example of the Israeli reaction, I attach (below) four Israeli government press releases, and a collection of headlines and extracts from editorials today and yesterday from the Israeli press.

John Paul II was indeed the first pope to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories, and the first pope to visit a synagogue and a mosque.

MEETING ARAFAT

But scarcely mentioned now by Israel was the fact that John Paul II was also a great champion of the PLO. The pontiff met Yasser Arafat eight times over a two-decade period and embraced him warmly. He was often very critical of Israeli and US policy.

John Paul II also pushed forward the candidature for sainthood of Pius XII, the wartime pope criticized for his public failure to condemn the Holocaust.

MEETING WALDHEIM

The pope met Kurt Waldheim in the Vatican in 1987 after it was revealed that Waldheim had served in the Nazi unit responsible for the annihilation of Greek Jews.

The pope refused to condemn the enormous cross which was placed at the spot where Jews were killed at Auschwitz, despite the pleadings of Holocaust survivors to do so.

Surprisingly, in my opinion, Yad Vashem is now considering naming the Pope a Righteous Gentile, according to the Israeli paper Ma'ariv.

-- Tom Gross

 

EDITORIALS FROM THE ISRAELI PRESS, MONDAY APRIL 4, 2005

Extracts:

The Jerusalem Post writes: "The pope who called Jews his "elder brothers," who placed a message of atonement in the Western Wall, and who opened relations with the Jewish state, will be remembered with affection and admiration by the Jewish people. It was hard to fail to be touched by the compassion and dignity of this man who, though he represented one religion, came to symbolize the religious spirit to people of many faiths."

Hatzofeh writes: "The pope indeed condemned anti-Semitism, and the response to this was an increase in anti-Semitic incidents. One could get the impression that the reign of the pope has become something similar to that of the queen of England: a reign that is more symbolic than one that has influence beyond the Catholic Church – and even there in only a limited fashion."

Yediot Ahronot writes: "Israel mourns the death of Pope John Paul II. He extended the hand of true friendship to the Jewish people, asked forgiveness for the Church's relations with the Jews throughout the ages, designated anti-Semitism as an unatonable sin, established diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel, visited Jerusalem including Yad Vashem and the Western Wall – and thereby bestowed official Church recognition to Israel's sovereignty over the holy city."

 

HEADLINES FROM THE ISRAELI PRESS, SUNDAY APRIL 3, 2005

HA'ARETZ: The man who tried to reconcile Christians and Jews. John Paul II became champion of Jewish-Christian reconciliation.

MA'ARIV: The Pope is dead. Yad Vashem considering naming him Righteous Gentile.

YEDIOT AHRONOT: Israel: John Paul II was a great friend to the Jewish People.

 

PRESS RELEASE – PRIME MINISTER ARIEL SHARON

The following are Prime Minster Sharon's remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday, April 3, 2004:

"On behalf of the Government and the State of Israel, I would like to express condolences on the passing of Pope John Paul II, and to share in the mourning of millions of Christians and believers in both the State of Israel and around the Christian world.

Pope John Paul II was a man of peace and a friend of the Jewish People, who was familiar with the uniqueness of the Jewish People and who worked for an historic reconciliation between the peoples and for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Vatican in late 1993.

I was fortunate to meet the Pope in 1999, when I served as Foreign Minister and had traveled, on behalf of the Government, to invite him to attend the millennium celebrations. At my meeting with him, I felt the Pope's warm and admiring relations toward the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Yesterday, the world lost one of the most important leaders of our generation, whose great contribution to rapprochement and unity between peoples, understanding and tolerance will be with us for many years."

 

VICE PREMIER SHIMON PERES

Sunday, April 3, 2004

Mr. Peres said: "The Pope was true spiritual leader, whose leadership was not limited to his own followers. John Paul II represented the very best that mankind has to offer. His abilities and personality allowed him to transcend the Catholic dogma to represent the universal partnership of all mankind. In every step he took and every place he went, he tried to encourage peace and brotherly love."

 

PRESS RELEASE – PRESIDENT MOSHE KATSAV

Sunday, April 3, 2004

President Moshe Katsav expresses his deepest regret over the passing of Pope John Paul II and sends condolences – on behalf of both the State of Israel and himself – to the millions of mourners throughout the Christian world.

As a Christian leader and the head of the Roman Catholic Church, John Paul II will be remembered as someone who showed his believers new paths to interfaith reconciliation and brotherhood. Karol Wojtyla will be remembered as a moral man who stood for human rights and whose heart was with the downtrodden and the oppressed.

The Jewish People will remember John Paul II as someone who courageously stood up and put an end to an historic injustice when he officially disavowed the prejudices and accusations – for which our people and our faith had suffered from venomous anti-Semitism, persecutions and bloodshed – against the Jews that had multiplied in Catholic church writings and amongst its believers. He also initiated and fostered an enhanced and fruitful dialogue between Judaism and Christianity, and between Israel and the Vatican.

 

PRESS RELEASE – ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Israel, the Jewish people and the entire world, lost today a great champion of reconciliation and brotherhood between the faiths.

Israel's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Silvan Shalom, today expressed his deep sorrow at the passing of Pope John Paul II.

On behalf of the government and people of Israel, we extend our condolences to the Catholic Church and the flock of Pope John Paul II.

"This is a great loss, first and foremost for the Catholic Church and its hundreds of millions of believers, but also for humanity as a whole. I had the privilege of meeting with His Holiness twice, and I was deeply impressed by his insights and his unique humanity. The State of Israel joins all those who mourn his loss."

John Paul II led the Catholic Church towards closer relations with Israel and with the Jewish people.

Through his public and religious work, he promoted inter-faith understanding and dialogue, with a willingness to address the past, and a profound determination to build a future of understanding and brotherhood between all faiths.

John Paul II was the first Pope in history to visit a synagogue (Rome, 1986), where he referred to the Jewish people, for the first time, as "our elder brothers". On all his travels around the world he always made sure to meet with the Jewish community in every place. The Pope was committed to the fight against anti-Semitism, which he saw as a sin against God and against humanity.

In the build-up to the millennium, Pope John Paul II called on the Catholic Church to conduct soul-searching regarding its relations with the Jewish people and all those who have suffered as a result of the Church's teachings. Prior to his historic visit to Israel in 2000, the Pope asked the Jewish people for forgiveness for the crimes that have been perpetrated against it in the name of the Church. He later wrote that message on a piece of paper which he placed between the rocks of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, during his visit to Jerusalem.

The Pope's visit to Israel in March 2000, together with tens of thousands of pilgrims, also included a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, and meetings with Israel's president and prime minister.

Pope John Paul II will be remembered for his courageous and visionary drive to establish full relations between Israel and the Holy See, a joint effort which was crowned with success with the signing of the Fundamental Agreement between the two parties on 30 December 1993.

Israel, the Jewish people and the entire world, lost today a great champion of reconciliation and brotherhood between the faiths.

 



FULL ARTICLE

ARAB MEDIA COVERAGE OF CATHOLIC LEADER'S DEATH INFURIATES ISLAMISTS

Arab media coverage of Catholic leader's death infuriates Islamists
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Daily Star Lebanon
April 4, 2005

www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=13966

The Arab world's leading satellite television channels have been giving unprecedented coverage of the death throes of Pope John Paul II, provoking anger from Islamic extremists.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, famed for screening "exclusive" videotapes from Islamic militants including Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was among the first to announce the pope's death. On Sunday it continued providing widespread coverage of his life and death, as did Dubai-based Al-Arabiya.

Both Al-Jazeera and Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya transmitted live from the Vatican over the past few days, with blow-by-blow accounts from their correspondents at the Vatican, in Rome and at holy sites in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The two stations, along with many others throughout the Arab world, aired several documentaries about John Paul II and his various appeals for peace and dialogue between all faiths and civilizations.

They also highlighted images of the pope during his historic visit to the Palestinian territories and Israel in March 2000 when he was warmly welcomed at the Palestinian refugee camp of Dheishe, near Jesus's traditional birthplace of Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Arabs throughout the region assiduously followed the pope's numerous initiatives, including his unrealized desire to go to Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 to see how Iraqis suffered under international sanctions.

But radical Islamists, who advocate the expulsion of non-Muslims from Islamic countries, have been using Islamist Web sites to vent their anger at Arab television stations for according the pope such importance.

One such user lashed out at Al-Jazeera, saying viewers were "annoyed" with extensive reports eulogizing the pope, who the user described as an "old tyrant."

"What is mortifying is that this hooligan channel pretends [to defend] Islam," added the user, who wrote under the name Muhib al-Salihine on the Islamic News Network, a site often used by Islamist militants operating in Iraq.

"What is more humiliating - I think that it was Al-Arabiya channel - is that the imam of a mosque ... praised the memory [of the pope]," said Seri Eddine le Libyen on the same site.

"I have started to hate Al-Jazeera for the multiplicity of information on the grieving" for the pope, said another user.

In Lebanon, the Al-Manar satellite television of the Shiite group Hizbullah, interrupted its programs after the announcement of the pope's death to broadcast live from the Vatican.

Four other private Lebanese stations and the public Tele-Liban did the same.
In Iraq, the public television station Iraqiya also interrupted programming on Saturday night to announce the pope's death.