Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Norway: Olmert as “Nazi commander in Schindler’s list”

July 27, 2006

CONTENTS

1. Olmert as “Nazi commander in Schindler’s list”
2. Nobel Prize for what?
3. Is Kofi Annan listening?
4. “Disproportionate”
5. CNN’s senior reporter admits Hizbullah “had control” of his footage
6. Et tu, Telegraph?
7. No respect
8. The BBC: A hammer to whack Israel
9. BBC News supporting anti-Israel protests
10. Suzanne Goldenberg returns



[All notes below by Tom Gross]

I attach various points concerning the media coverage of the ongoing war between Israel and the Islamic “Party of God” militia, Hizbullah.

 

OLMERT AS “NAZI COMMANDER IN SCHINDLER’S LIST”

One of Norway’s largest newspapers has compared Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the infamous Nazi commander SS Major Amon Goeth who was depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List.

Finn Graf, the cartoonist for the Oslo daily Dagbladet, drew Olmert as Goeth. As the commandant of the Plaszow death camp in Poland, Goeth indiscriminately murdered Jews by firing at them from his balcony. He was convicted of mass murder in 1946 and hanged.

In response to Dagbladet, a joint Norwegian Jewish-Christian organization has appealed to the Oslo government to speak out against hatred of Jews “before anti-Semitism in Norway becomes dangerous.”

(With thanks to Michael Freund of the Jerusalem Post for the above information.)

Dagbladet is the third largest newspaper in Norway. In July 2006 the newspaper published a story which questioned whether Muslims were really responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. The article, “The Third Tower,” came a few weeks after the French magazine Le Monde Diplomatique’s Norway edition ran a similar front page story.

 

NOBEL PRIZE FOR WHAT?

This is what the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Betty Williams, has to say for herself:

“I have a very hard time with this word ‘non-violence’, because I don’t believe that I am non-violent. Right now, I would love to kill George Bush.”

Ms Williams, 64, an Irishwoman who won the peace prize in 1970s, was speaking to an audience of schoolchildren at the Earth Dialogues forum in Brisbane, Australia. “Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered,” according to a report in The Australian, one of Australia’s leading newspapers.

No doubt her fellow Nobel peace laureate, Yasser Arafat, would have agreed.

 

IS KOFI ANNAN LISTENING?

Retired Canadian Major-General Lewis MacKenzie has said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the Canadian soldier killed at a UN post in Lebanon on Tuesday had complained in e-mails that Hizbullah fighters were all over his position. “They use the UN as shields knowing that they can’t be punished for it.”

Without even checking the facts, UN Secretary-General Annan had immediately accused Israel of deliberately attacking a UN position without reason.

The deceased UN observer wrote to me saying that Israel was responding to Hizbullah gunmen firing rockets, and not aiming at the United Nations observers, said MacKenzie.

MacKenzie is the former commander of UN troops in Bosnia.

 

“DISPROPORTIONATE”

Perhaps the most frequently used word to criticize Israel in recent days has been “disproportionate.” Richard Cohen writing Tuesday in the Washington Post notes that “If by chance you have the search engine LexisNexis and you punch in the words ‘Israel’ and ‘disproportionate,’ you run the risk of blowing up your computer or darkening your entire neighborhood. Just limiting the search to newspapers and magazines of the past week will turn up ‘more than 1,000 documents.’ Israel may or may not be the land of milk and honey, but it certainly seems to be the land of disproportionate military response.”

Cohen goes on to criticize “a whole bunch of European newspapers whose editorial pages call for Israel to respond, it seems, with only one missile for every one tossed its way. Such neat proportion is a recipe for doom… After the Holocaust, after 1,000 years of murder [of Jews], the only proportionality that counts is zero for zero. If Israel’s enemies want that, they can have it in a moment.”

In fact only in the Israeli press have details been reported about the “proportion” taken by the Israeli air force to spare civilian lives. Anshel Pfeffer, of The Jerusalem Post, writes: “Maj. E, a reservist who is the CFO of an avionics company in his civilian life, explained that ‘each pilot has the permission to abort a mission if he feels that there is a danger to too many civilians. I personally took part in a mission to bomb a bridge, but when we were over the target I saw that there was too much traffic of people leaving Beirut on it, so I decided to abort. We returned at 3 a.m. to finish the job.’”

Whilst “disproportionate” is being used frequently by media throughout the world and by UN representatives, the word “occupation” is now being used less often.

Moshe Yaalon, the former chief of staff of the Israeli army writes: “For years, we were told that the ‘root cause’ of the Middle East’s problems was the Israeli occupation of Arab lands – the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and southern Lebanon. The ‘root cause’ theory always had plenty of holes. But never has it looked quite so naive and simplistic as it does this week.”

Over 150 rockets were fired into Israel yesterday, an increased number, wounding dozens of civilians.

 

CNN’S NIC ROBERTSON NOW ADMITS: HIZBULLAH “HAD CONTROL” OF HIS ANTI-ISRAEL FOOTAGE

“CNN Senior international correspondent” Nic Robertson, who is presently reporting from Beirut, has admitted his anti-Israel report on civilian casualties in Lebanon was stage-managed from start to finish by Hizbullah. He said the story he filed on July 18 was heavily influenced by Hizbullah’s “press officer” and that Hizbullah have “very, very sophisticated and slick media operations.”

Speaking on the CNN program “Reliable Sources,” Robertson said that the Hizbullah press officer also instructed the CNN camera team on what to film. Robertson said Hizbullah “had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn’t have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath.”

Robertson also said that Hizbullah has “very, very good control over its areas in the south of Beirut. They deny journalists access into those areas. They can turn on and off access to hospitals in those areas. They have a lot of power and influence. You don’t get in there without their permission.”

Robertson is not the only foreign journalist to have misled viewers with selected footage from Beirut. NBC’s Richard Engel and CBS’s Elizabeth Palmer were also taken around the damaged areas by Hizbullah minders. Palmer commented on her report that “Hizbullah is also determined that outsiders will only see what it wants them to see.”

Hussain Nabulsi, a Hizbullah spokesman has become a virtual media celebrity during the conflict appearing on Sky News (at least twice) as well as on CNN and has been quoted in articles for both the Times of London and Bloomberg.

On CNN, Nabulsi, standing in the rubble of flattened Beirut buildings, tells Robertson to “Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?” Nabulsi continued, “Shoot me. Shoot. This is here where they said Sheikh Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hizbullah, is living. This is wrong!”

For more, see this conversation between Robertson and Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz.

The influential Australian paper, The Age, published in Melbourne, today has an editorial by Ali Fayyad, a senior member of Hizbullah’s executive committee.

 

ET TU, TELEGRAPH?

The Daily Telegraph used to be one of the only quality newspapers in Europe that gave Israel a fair hearing. Now its news pages have turned against Israel. For example, the second largest banner headline on its home page yesterday, read in black type: “UK harbours Israeli bombs: U.S.-made bunker busters stored outside Glasgow.”

Its story then suggested that it was a scandal that “Britain has been used as a staging post for major shipments from America to Israel.”

With dozens of conflicts raging throughout the world, including in Afghanistan, where almost every day British troops are killing Afghans, without any real reporting of this in the British press, this was virtually a non-story from a news point of view. Its only real purpose was to editorialize against America and Israel, something the Conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph would not have done a few years ago.

Elsewhere in the Daily Telegraph, the foreign news pages have included some of the most slanted coverage of the present mideast crisis, routinely referring to “hell” that the Lebanese (not of course the Israeli) civilians have endured.

 

NO RESPECT

Meanwhile on the British left, this is the cartoon flyer that the “Respect” political party, which has elected representation in the Britain House of Commons, has been distributing.

Of course, anti-Semitism is now raging not just on the British hard left, but among some on the right too. For example, Conservative MP Sir Peter Tapsell said on Tuesday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was “colluding” with U.S. President George W. Bush in giving Israel the okay to wage a war crime “gravely reminiscent of the Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter of Warsaw.”

Of course, there was no “Jewish quarter” of Warsaw. The ghetto in the Polish capital, established in October 1940, constituted less than three square miles. Over 400,000 Jews were then crammed into it, about 30% of the population of Warsaw. 300,000 of these Jews were transferred to Treblinka where they were exterminated. Most of the rest were murdered in other ways. The ghetto was completely cleared of Jews by the end of May 1943.

People who are interested in correcting Sir Peter might want to read the second reader comment here: www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/742707.html.

(It should be pointed out that many other British and European politicians on both left and right, some of whom are subscribers to this email list, are supportive of Israel and not in any way anti-Semitic.)

 

THE BBC: A HAMMER TO WHACK ISRAEL

Stephen Pollard, writing in the Times of London on Monday, has described the BBC’s coverage of the conflict as “overwhelmingly one-sided, with presenters and reporters editorialising against what they universally refer to as ‘Israeli attacks on Lebanon.’”

Pollard, who is a subscriber to this list, cites the “Andrew Marr programme on BBC1” which interviewed four guests, of whom “not one had anything but bile to pour over Israel.” He added: “To judge from its contents, the programme was the first to have been edited by the leader of Hizbullah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.”

Following the article, Pollard received a sympathetic letter from a BBC News staffer, who must remain anonymous in order to preserve his or her job at the BBC. That person wrote:

“Note how Sky does much of its work from Haifa and the BBC does it all from Beirut. Note how every piece done by the BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, questions whether or not Israel has carried out war crimes… The BBC have sent out Fergal Keane and Jeremy Bowen whose clear agenda is to… tell us Israel is a bastard state… There is no intelligence here, no in-depth questioning of why this conflict has erupted. No discussion of Syria, Iran and Middle East geopolitics. It’s a hammer with which to whack Israel.”

 

BBC NEWS SUPPORTING ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTS

Last Saturday, the BBC’s website helpfully carried full details of the assembly points for that day’s anti-Israel march in London. Nowhere did it give the same detail for Sunday’s rally in London in support of Israel.

The BBC, the world’s largest television news network, is funded by the British taxpayer to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds per year, and is under a legal obligation to be impartial, which of course it is not when it comes to Jews and Americans.

 

SUZANNE GOLDENBERG RETURNS

Suzanne Goldenberg, the former chief Jerusalem correspondent for The (London) Guardian, has been rushed to south Lebanon from Washington, where she has been Guardian correspondent for the last three years.

Goldenberg is renowned for her anti-Israeli writing. (See New Prejudices for Old: The European press and the Intifada.)

For example, in Monday’s Guardian (July 24), there was a large photo of Goldenberg, complete with her name in large bold type at the top of the newspaper’s front page, under the headline “Family ordered to flee were targeted because they were driving a minivan.” In the same edition of the paper, following page after page of completely one-sided news coverage of the mideast crisis, The Guardian carried a piece by the decidedly left-wing Israeli writer Gideon Levy.

Some media analysts have suggested that The Guardian brought back Goldenberg and published Levy's article to counteract allegations by increasing numbers of critics that its newspaper coverage of the Middle East has now spilled over into anti-Semitism.

For example, last week (on July 19) The Guardian’s cartoonist Martin Rowson depicted a fist with Stars of David as knuckle dusters: www.guardian.co.uk/cartoons/martinrowson/0,,1823933,00.html

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

Nasrallah “to go to Damascus today” (& Hizbullah's “Nazi salute”)

* English language exclusive: Nasrallah’s latest speech on al-Manar TV was recorded in a Syrian intelligence studio

 

CONTENTS

1. Kuwaiti paper: Nasrallah “to go to Damascus today”
2. Hizbullah’s “Nazi salute”
3. Ohio professor held in Israel on Hizbullah spy charges
4. “An explicit debt” (By Daniel Johnson, New York Sun, July 27, 2006)
5. “For Israel this is a ‘proportionate’ response” (By Dominic Lawson, Independent, July 25, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

KUWAITI PAPER: NASRALLAH “TO GO TO DAMASCUS TODAY”

The Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassa this morning reports that Hizbullah leader Sheikh Nasrallah is due to travel to Damascus today for a secret meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani. (Larijani is also partly in charge of Iran’s nuclear program.)

The purpose of the meeting, according to the Kuwaiti paper, is to discuss further tactics to extend their war on Israel, and to continue to supply Iranian arms and ammunition to Hizbullah through Syria.

Nasrallah, according to the report, will travel in an armored vehicle belonging to Syrian intelligence, dressed with “regular clothes” and without his turban. He will be escorted by a Syrian Lt. General.

According to the paper, the latest speech of Nasrallah delivered on al-Manar TV was also recorded in a Syrian intelligence studio.

(This is the first time that these details are being reported in English. They have been translated exclusively for this email list/website from www.alseyassah.com/alseyassah/First_4.asp.)

OHIO PROFESSOR HELD IN ISRAEL ON HIZBULLAH SPY CHARGES

A geography professor who holds both American and Canadian citizenship has been jailed in Israel on charges that he was spying for Hizbullah for the past 19 days. Prof. Ghazi Falah of the University of Akron, Ohio, was detained on the Israeli side of the Israel-Lebanon border where he was taking photographs in a security zone.

Falah, who planned to travel soon to Beirut, is the founder and publisher of the Arab World Geographer and is considered to be an expert on the issue of Mideast border disputes.

HIZBULLAH’S “NAZI SALUTE”

I attach two interesting articles below. Both of them draw on information supplied by this email list/website.

The Hizbullah “Nazi salute” photo, referred to in Daniel Johnson’s article, can be viewed at several websites, including this one:

www.chretiens-et-juifs.org/article.php?voir%5B%5D=1637&voir%5B%5D=2193

Dominic Lawson’s article is particularly significant since it comes in the anti-Israeli and anti-American paper the Independent, of which Robert Fisk is Chief Middle East Correspondent.

Lawson writes: “President Chirac, whose former ambassador to London described Israel as ‘a shitty little country’, was among those Europeans who criticised Israel’s retaliation as ‘totally disproportionate.’ This was the same President Chirac who in January declared that ‘states who would use terrorist means against us must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part. This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.’ Or, in other words: we might nuke the bastards. Having already escalated the diplomatic language to ‘totally disproportionate’, imagine the words Chirac would unleash if the Israeli government this week threatened the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, unless its proxies in Lebanon desisted from their acts of terrorism.”

Dominic Lawson and Daniel Johnson, weekly columnists for The (London) Independent and The New York Sun respectively, are both subscribers to this email list.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

“ISLAMISTS HAVE ADOPTED THE NAZI LEGACY”

An explicit debt
By Daniel Johnson
The New York Sun
July 27, 2006

www.nysun.com/article/36866

This is the first Middle East war in which the main threat to Israel comes, not from secular Arab nationalism, but from Islamism. Both Hizbullah and Hamas draw their main inspiration, armaments, and funding from Islamist sources, ranging from the Sunni ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Shiite demagogues of Iran. What unites them all is a fanatical dedication to the destruction of Israel.

There are, however, parallels between the present war and previous campaigns waged against Israel by Arab nationalists. One thing that Arab nationalists and Islamists clearly have in common, though it is usually ignored in the Western media, is their explicit debt to the Nazis.

This extends even to overt Nazi symbolism. I am indebted to one of the most seasoned observers of the Middle East, Tom Gross, for a photograph of a Hizbullah rally on the Lebanese side of the border fence, shortly before the present conflict. With houses in the Israeli town of Metullah in the background, hundreds of uniformed Hizbullah terrorists are raising their arms in a Nazi-style salute. This obscene ceremony, complete with yellow standards and mullah commanders taking the salute, was happening in full view of Israeli civilians. Mr. Gross asks pointedly, “Are all those now attacking Israel around the world even capable of imagining what an elderly Holocaust survivor who happened to glance across the fence might have felt?”

Hizbullah’s Nazi salute is not just a historical curiosity, though it evokes memories of Hitler’s support for Arab agitators such as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem or the pro-Nazi coup in Iraq. Today the Nazi legacy manifests itself in Holocaust denial, an obsession that unites the most extreme Islamists, such as President Ahmadinejad with “moderate” secularists like the President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Arabs appropriated anti-Semitic ideology directly from the Nazis and have recycled it ever since. During the dark days of appeasement in the 1930s, a Hungarian emigre philosopher, Aurel Kolnai, wrote a book about the Third Reich entitled “The War against the West.” That is exactly what the hydra-headed forces of Islamism think they are fighting right now.

In the 1950s, the Baathist parties in Syria and Iraq modeled themselves on Hitler’s heady brew of nationalism and socialism, while rejecting western democracy. Charismatic dictators from Nasser and Gaddafi to Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat turned themselves into little Hitlers. Today, Islamists have adopted that Nazi legacy too, using a sham democracy merely to bolster theocracy. However, the Nazi connection is usually mentioned by Arab nationalists and Islamists sotto voce, because they constantly identify Zionism with Nazism in their propaganda.

A second key similarity between today’s Islamists and past Arab nationalists relates less to ideology than to geopolitics. Both movements are more or less openly imperialist. As the historian Efraim Karsh convincingly shows in his new book “Islamic Imperialism,” the pursuit of empire has been a constant theme since the time of Muhammad.

Both Islamists and Arab nationalists, however, deploy anti-imperialist rhetoric against Israel and the West. Ayatollah Khomeini notoriously denounced America as “the Great Satan” while attempting to annex his neighbor, Iraq. The purpose of Osama bin Laden’s jihad on behalf of “oppressed Muslims” is to subject them to a universal Caliphate. Even as Nasser dreamt of what John Dulles called “an empire stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean,” the Egyptian dictator posed as the champion of the “non-aligned” nations, struggling against European colonialism and superpower hegemony.

All these and other “anti-imperialist” empire-builders, of course, were and are happy to accept help from Western powers when it suits them. Their power depends on their ability to manipulate the free world: during the Cold War by playing off one superpower against the other, more recently by setting Americans against Europeans, Russians or Chinese.

The issue of imperialism is invariably accompanied by much hypocrisy. Today, for example, America is criticized because of its refusal to intervene to stop Israel from retaliating against Hizbullah. Apart from the British, Condoleezza Rice is almost isolated at the Rome conference on Lebanon. But America’s critics are demanding that a superpower should intervene to prevent a sovereign state from defending its population against bombardment by proxies of a government that has declared its intention of wiping that state off the map. What could be more imperialist than such an intervention?

The classic example of Arab exploitation of the West’s confusion over imperialism was the Suez crisis of 1956. Fifty years ago this week Gamal Nasser, the Egyptian dictator, nationalized the Suez Canal, thereby precipitating an international crisis. The British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, decided it was his duty to stop Nasser from becoming an Egyptian Hitler. President Eisenhower, campaigning for re-election, refused to have anything to do with it. The French, still embroiled in Algeria, feared Nasser and plotted with the Israelis to overthrow him. Mr. Eden, lacking American support, joined in this hare-brained scheme at the last minute, keeping Mr. Eisenhower in the dark.

And so, in late October, the crisis came to a head. Israel attacked and swiftly defeated Egypt in the Sinai. In a moment of hubris, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion’s chief of staff, Moshe Dayan, announced to the troops the “Third Kingdom of Israel.” After some delay, an Anglo-French air-and seaborne force captured Port Said. Nasser seemed doomed.

But Mr. Eisenhower reasonably enough felt betrayed, and appalled by what he saw as a reassertion of colonialism. He demanded that the British and French withdraw, and held a financial gun to Mr. Eden’s head: the pound sterling collapsed on the exchange markets. This left the British with no choice but to pull out, with the French reluctantly following suit.

Meanwhile the Soviet Union, led by Khrushchev, faced a crisis of its own in Hungary. Recently released documents seen by Professor Jonathan Haslam apparently reveal that Khrushchev had resolved not to crush the Hungarian uprising, when the Anglo-French landing in Suez persuaded him that Soviet prestige required a show of force. So Hungary was invaded and 200,000 refugees fled. Eastern Europe had to wait three more decades for freedom.

The Russians followed this up with an ultimatum to the British, French and Israelis, threatening nuclear war. Ben-Gurion wrote that the note “could have been written by Hitler,” but the threat was serious. He resolved there and then to acquire nuclear weapons in order to stand up to nuclear blackmail. With covert help from the French, Israel built its own nuclear reactor and eventually its own bomb.

Nobody comes out of Suez well. None of the key players – Eden, Eisenhower, Ben-Gurion – saw the bigger picture. The British and French deluded themselves that they could act without America, while the Americans failed to foresee the effect on the Arab world of humiliating the European powers without filling the power vacuum in the Middle East. So Nasser snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and the Arab war against the West began. Fifty years on, it is by no means over. Indeed, if those Nazi-saluting Hizbullah thugs are anything to go by, we may have seen nothing yet.

 

EGELAND WAS TALKING NONSENSE

For Israel this is a ‘proportionate’ response
By Dominic Lawson
The Independent
July 25, 2006

comment.independent.co.uk/columnists_a_l/dominic_lawson/article1195260.ece

As he walked through the rubble of buildings destroyed by the Israeli air force, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, described what he saw, inevitably, as “a humanitarian tragedy.” He was talking nonsense. It is, of course, a human tragedy. But for some reason it is now the habit of every commentator – especially on the BBC – to add four meaningless syllables to the truth, as if it was necessary to impress upon listeners just how terrible it all is. We do not need to be impressed. No sentient person who has seen the pictures of children killed or orphaned in the hostilities between Hizbullah and Israel requires such clumsy finger-pointing.

What is needed, however, is a little bit of context. And where better to get it than in the words of Sayad Nasrallah, the General Secretary of Hizbullah in Lebanon? He is, after all, the man who planned the rocket attacks and military incursions into Northern Israel which have provoked the Israel Defence Forces into such dire retribution. Nine years ago, after his 18 year old son was killed by the IDF in an anti-Hizbullah operation, Nasrallah gave a very wide ranging interview which is now to be found on a website devoted to the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini (look up on islam-pure.de if you want to see the full text).

Asked by his interviewer whether he felt hatred or grief at the loss of his son, Nasrallah ticked none of the above: “I am happy. He will certainly take us to paradise. As the family of a martyr we will experience that joy.” He went on to gloat that the then Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu “no longer demands a security zone. He wants only a guarantee that we will not pursue him to Northern Israel. But never will we recognise the existence of a Northern Israel… the Jewish entity is the symbol of terrorism. There can be no peace with such an entity. ”

The interviewer points out – and how prescient that now seems – that if Nasrallah carried out his threats to continue its war against ‘the Jewish entity’ on Israeli soil then “Israel has threatened to destroy the infrastructure of Lebanon – roads, bridges, electricity, water supply – to make the Lebanese realise what price they would have to pay for the attacks on Israel. Do you really want to risk everything that has been rebuilt after 15 years of civil war?” The Hizbullah leader responds: “We are very well aware of these threats. They are nothing new. They reflect nothing but sheer fear and helplessness; they prove that the Zionists are no longer able to defeat us by military means.” To which his interlocutor replies, rather bravely I think, “Oh yes they are”.

That feisty retort sheds some light on the other over-used word in the current crisis in Lebanon: ‘disproportionate’. What is the correctly proportionate response to a terrorist organisation which repeatedly sends rockets packed with ball bearings to cause maximum civilian casualties in your main domestic tourist resort? And what do you do if that organisation, backed by Iran and Syria, also has two ministers in the government of the country from which they are sending those rockets? President Chirac, whose former ambassador to London described Israel as “a shitty little country”, was among those Europeans who criticised Israel’s retaliation as “totally disproportionate.” This was the same President Chirac who in January declared that “states who would use terrorist means against us must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part. This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.” Or, in other words: we might nuke the bastards. Having already escalated the diplomatic language to “totally disproportionate”, imagine the words Chirac would unleash if the Israeli government this week threatened the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, unless its proxies in Lebanon desisted from their acts of terrorism.

We do not, of course, have any proof that Teheran has, as some allege, engineered the latest crisis to deflect the increasingly impatient Western powers from pursuing their action against Iran’s nuclear programme. Let us assume that it was a complete coincidence that the Hizbullah capture of two IDF conscripts (and the killing of eight others) within Israeli territory took place on the day after Javier Solana warned the chief Iranian negotiator, Ali Larijani, that his country’s nuclear dossier would be referred back to the Security Council. And let us also accept that it is a complete coincidence that on his way back to Teheran from that bruising meeting, Ali Larijani dropped in to Damascus for a meeting with Hizbullah’s other backer, President Bashar Assad.

Who needs to construct conspiracy theories when everything is so plain to see on the geo-political chess board? Last week the Iranian News Channel broadcast a speech by the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel. Addressing his remarks to Israel – but for the benefit also of the crowd in front of him – Gholam Ali declared: “Today the confrontation is not only within the borders of Lebanon. It is taking place deep within your own land. Today your flourishing cities in the North of Israel are within the range of the fire of the fighters and lion cubs of Hizbullah. No place in Israel will be safe.” At which observation the crowd chanted “Khameini is the leader! Death to America! Death to England!” The speaker continued: “As said by Hassan Nasrallah, this courageous, vigilant and informed religious scholar, the war has just begun. To Hassan Nasrallah we say ‘well done’. This religious scholar roars like a lion and the blood of the Imam Khomeini rages in his veins.” To these remarks the crowd chants: “No more humiliation! No more humiliation!”

It is humiliation, in fact, which the Israeli government is trying to avoid. Perhaps a former military leader such as Ariel Sharon could have withstood the terrific domestic pressure for retaliatory measures – always assuming that he would have wanted to. But the new Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has no such track record with which to reassure the Israeli people. Like any democracy, Israel’s actions are ultimately conditioned by sensitivity to public opinion – its own and not other countries’. It was, after all, domestic public opinion rather than the requirements of military strategy which caused Israel to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000. Its own people had sickened at the casualties to its conscript army. But when the Israeli public believes that national survival is at stake, as it has proved on a number of occasions since 1948, it will be deterred by no amount of international opprobrium. Although the British state was not founded upon of the experience of genocide, I suspect that most of the people of this country, in similar circumstances, would feel the same way.


Iran sends suicide bombers, while Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel are “best of friends”

July 26, 2006

CONTENTS

1. Iran spent “more than six months training Hizbullah”
2. Western mainstream media, in the dark
3. Iran says it is sending suicide bombers to Lebanon
4. A tale of two cities: Haifa and Tyre
5. NBC reports Israel bombed Hizbullah’s banks
6. Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel are “best of friends”
7. Turkish forces amass on Iraq border
8. American computer giant buys Israeli company for $4.5 billion
9. UN forgets to deal with its own abuses



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach various further points about the ongoing war between Israel and Hizbullah.

IRAN SPENT “MORE THAN SIX MONTHS TRAINING HIZBULLAH”

Western intelligence sources have confirmed that Iran spent the last six months carefully training Hizbullah to prepare for the confrontation it launched with Israel this month.

The intelligence sources say that a team of Iranian Revolutionary Guards prepared arsenals of medium-range rockets and missiles in the Bekaa valley, and held a series of exercises with Hizbullah on the use of new weapons and techniques. “Iranian Revolutionary Guards planned this war carefully throughout the first half of 2006,” an intelligence source who monitors Iran said. “They sent weapons and hundreds of volunteers through Damascus in a war designed to contain several stages.”

Today, according to the Associated Press, another 14 Israeli soldiers have been killed after being trapped by well-trained Hizbullah militia in Lebanon. (Other news reports put the numbers of confirmed dead at 9.)

WESTERN MAINSTREAM MEDIA, IN THE DARK

Many mainstream western media, such as the BBC, keep on reporting that “until a few days ago nobody knew that Hizbullah had missiles that could hit Haifa and beyond.”

In fact there was no secret about their existence. This email list/website highlighted such missiles in the dispatch of May 30, 2006, which was titled Tel Aviv, Beersheba within range of new Hizbullah rocket (& Israel re-enters Gaza).

IRAN SAYS IT IS SENDING SUICIDE BOMBERS TO LEBANON

The Iranian government news agency IRNA this morning reported that Teheran is today sending a first wave of suicide bombers to wreak havoc in Lebanon. The initial group of 27, who have been given the title the “Loyalists of Islamic Justice,” will leave for Lebanon after completing afternoon prayers today, according to IRNA.

Its mission will be to carry out attacks near civilian and military targets with the aim of plunging Lebanon into civil war.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES: HAIFA AND TYRE

Whilst most of the mainstream media have reported on the Israeli Air Force bombardment of Tyre, they have not made clear the link between Tyre and the Katyusha rockets that continue to rain down on Haifa. One such rocket killed a 15-year-old-girl in northern Israel yesterday. Over fifty other Israelis were injured. (Not included in foreign media tallies are several Israelis who have died in car accidents as they fled Katyushas; nor, for example, have they included the 76-year-old Haifa resident who died yesterday of a heart attack after he collapsed as he ran towards a bomb shelter upon hearing a warning siren as the latest barrage of rockets hit the city.)

Israel’s leading defense journalist, Ze’ev Schiff, of Ha’aretz, says: “Without an immediate destruction of the rockets in the area of Tyre, the war of attrition against Haifa – the third largest city in Israel – will not end. International newspapers published a photograph of 82 Lebanese coffins on their front pages, and Hizbullah claimed that each coffin held the body of a Lebanese killed by Israel. This may be, but it also may be not. However, do the readers know where the rockets fired against Haifa are coming from?”

According to intelligence sources, the Hizbullah unit deployed in the area of Tyre is equipped with longer-range rockets than the Hizbullah units elsewhere in south Lebanon. They have Syrian-made 220mm rockets with warheads of several dozen kilograms and also upgraded 122mm Katyusha rockets from Iran. Israel hopes that if pressure is placed on Hizbullah forces in Tyre, they will pull their main, long-range rockets further back.

According to Ha’aretz, and contrary to Hizbullah propaganda as broadcast by the main western TV networks, the Israeli bomb that struck a basement in Tyre killed 11 armed Hizbullah militants, and not “just civilians.”

Hizbullah have now fired over 3000 rockets into an area which houses one million Israeli civilians.

NBC REPORTS ISRAEL BOMBED HIZBULLAH’S BANKS

America’s NBC television network reports that Israel has bombed banks in Lebanon that hold Hizbullah accounts. According to NBC, air strikes in Beirut, Tyre, Sidon and Nabatiya have all targeted financial institutions that have Hizbullah as clients. NBC claims to have been told by an Israeli intelligence officer that the tactic has been successful and has left Hizbullah short of funds.

Israeli troops are also collecting bodies of Hizbullah terrorists killed in Lebanon and storing them in refrigerated containers in Israel, the army said today. Israel is expected to use the bodies of the Hizbullah members as a bargaining chip in any future prisoner swap.

MISS LEBANON AND MISS ISRAEL ARE “BEST OF FRIENDS”

Peace reigns at Miss Universe. The “Miss Universe” 2006 contest saw Miss Israel (Anastacia Entin, 21) and Miss Lebanon (Gabrielle Bou Rached, 20) strike up a friendship despite the fighting on Israel’s northern border. The contest, which took place last weekend, was won by Miss Puerto Rico.

Miss Germany, Natalia Ackerman, told AFP that “I think the perpetrators of the current Middle East crisis could learn a few lessons from Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel, who are the best of friends here.”

Around 20 Lebanese Muslims protested outside the Los Angeles hotel, where the competition took place, over the participation of Bou Rached, a 1.8 meter tall brunette born in Beirut. Her blonde Israeli counterpart Entin originally came from Ukraine and immigrated to Israel when she was 13. She plans to study psychology at university next year.

TURKISH FORCES AMASS ON IRAQ BORDER

The Turkish-Iraqi border remains on a state of high alert as Turkish forces continue to prepare for a possible invasion of northern Iraq. The Turkish government says it wishes to remove the threat to it from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it describes as a terrorist organization. Turkey claims that terrorist attacks perpetrated on Turkish soil originate from northern Iraq. Some might accuse Ankara of double standards because of its recent criticism of Israel’s offensive against Hizbullah in Lebanon.

AMERICAN COMPUTER GIANT BUYS ISRAELI COMPANY FOR $4.5 BILLION

American computer company Hewlett Packard has announced it will pay $4.5 billion for an Israeli company, Mercury Interactive Corporation, in the largest acquisition in the history of Israel’s hi-tech industry.

UN FORGETS TO DEAL WITH ITS OWN ABUSES

Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian chief has been busy criticizing Israel for its “disproportionate” response to Hizbullah.

The conflict between Israel and Hizbullah has silenced many news stories from around the world in the last two weeks. Among them was the result of an investigation into abuses by UN peacekeepers in East Timor, which Egeland seems to have rather less to say about.

The investigation concluded that UN peacekeepers have abandoned at least 20 babies they have fathered with poverty-stricken women in East Timor. The investigation also uncovered numerous cover-ups, where sex crimes committed by UN staff in the past seven years had been kept quiet by Timorese due to a “fear of shame and embarrassment” in the deeply religious country.

UN peacekeepers in East Timor have previously been accused of child sex abuse, bestiality, and coercing women and children into prostitution. No one has ever been charged.

(For more, see UN’s legacy of shame in Timor, The Age, July 22, 2006.)

-- Tom Gross


Olmert: foreign media biased in Hizbullah coverage (& Arnie for Israel)

July 24, 2006

* “If the Israelis really wanted to inflict civilian casualties from the air, they could kill 30,000 in a few hours as the U.S. and UK did in World War II”

 

CONTENTS

1. “A twisted image is presented”
2. “Perhaps Israel should be congratulated”
3. Some parts of the British media prepared to stand up for Israel
4. Hizbullah “sleeper” terror cells activated outside Middle East
5. Ariel Sharon’s condition deteriorates
6. “Out of disproportion” (By Ben Stein, American Spectator, July 21, 2006)
7. “Jenin massacre syndrome” (By Sever Plocker, Yediot Ahronot, July 23, 2006)
8. “Now isn’t the time for restraint” (By Newt Gingrich, USA Today, July 18, 2006)
9. “Grapes of wrath” (By Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2006)
10. “It all boils down to Iran” (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, July 16, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

“A TWISTED IMAGE IS PRESENTED”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday accused the international media of bias by not properly reporting the attacks by Hizbullah.

“The massive, brutal and murderous viciousness of Hizbullah is unfortunately not represented in its full intensity on television screens outside of Israel,” Olmert told a gathering of reporters. “A twisted image is presented, where the victim is presented as an aggressor.”

At least 38 Israelis have been killed by Hizbullah since the recent round of fighting began. Over 1,300 Israelis have been injured, some seriously, and close to a quarter of a million Israelis have spent much of the last two weeks in bomb shelters. Thousands of Israeli refugees have fled south. There has been very little reporting of this on organizations like the BBC world service, which is increasingly becoming a 24-hour-a-day Hizbullah propaganda tool, as it desperately attempts to prove Israel is committing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”

CNN International, by contrast, is making at least some attempt to report on Israeli suffering, although one or two of its reporters, notably Christiane Amanpour and Ben Wedeman, are still displaying significant anti-Israeli bias.

“PERHAPS ISRAEL SHOULD BE CONGRATULATED”

Yesterday only 90 rockets fell on Israel, and only two Israeli civilians died, as opposed to 180 rockets that fell on Israel on Saturday. Lebanese security forces say a total of 271 people have so far died in Lebanon. Anti-Israel news media, like The Guardian, are desperate to increase the number of Lebanese dead and are claiming that over 430 Lebanese have died.

It is reported elsewhere that nine of the dead last week in Lebanon are Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Egyptian intelligence says their bodies have been transported to Syria and flown on to Teheran for burial.

Anti-Israeli demonstrations have taken place in recent days on the streets of Australia, New Zealand, the United States and across Europe. There was also an “anti-Zionist” demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

Yesterday, Olmert asked Vice Premier Shimon Peres to leave on an urgent tour of the United States and European countries to present Israel’s stance.

THE GOVERNATOR SPEAKS

Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a crowd of 10,000 at a pro-Israel rally yesterday in Los Angeles. The Governor of California and former movie star told the crowd: “We are all here to support the State of Israel. While we all regret the loss of innocent life, there is no doubt that Israel has the right to take all appropriate steps to keep its people safe. There is nothing Israel wants more than to live in peace. That is why I am happy to be here today.” (For more on Schwarzenegger, please see Arnie and the Jews, Aug. 7, 2003.)

Several thousand people, mostly Ukrainian Jews, gathered in central Kiev today to voice support for Israel.

As reader Alastair Albright points out: “In the context of the Middle East, where thousands are killed every day and tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered within recent memory – in Sudan, in Iraq, in Iran, in Syria, in Ethiopia, in Somalia, in Chad – perhaps Israel should be congratulated for the relatively few deaths it has caused, despite the huge material damage inflicted upon Lebanon. A cynic might point out that ‘disproportionality’ only applies when it is Jews who are killing Muslims, albeit in their self-defense.”

HIZBULLAH “SLEEPER” TERROR CELLS ACTIVATED OUTSIDE MIDDLE EAST

Hizbullah “sleeper” terror cells set up outside Lebanon with Iranian assistance have been activated, according to Israeli intelligence sources. They are likely planning attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets throughout the world. In 1992, a Hizbullah organized bomb killed 29 people and wounded 242, in Buenos Aires. And in 1994, Hizbullah killed a further 85 people in a suicide attack on the Buenos Aires Jewish community building.

SOME PARTS OF THE BRITISH MEDIA PREPARED TO STAND UP FOR ISRAEL

Amidst the mass of negative coverage of Israel, there has also been supportive coverage. For example, there are still some parts of the British media that are prepared to stand up for Israel.

The Business, which has a circulation of around 150,000 (mainly businessmen in the greater London area) has an editorial this week strongly supportive of Israel, as does The (UK) Spectator magazine. (Both The Business and The Spectator are part of the Press Holdings Group, which is owned by the Barclay brothers, who also own the (London) Daily Telegraph, which is now less supportive of Israel.)

The Spectator’s editorial this week says: “It is routinely alleged that Israel’s acts of self-defence and the West’s complicity in such self-defence are somehow a recruiting sergeant for Islamism in the region. On that ludicrous basis a sovereign state should never react against incursion lest its response upset the supporters of its attackers. It is just as plausible that any show of weakness by Israel under such intense provocation would be the real recruiting sergeant for the mullahs.”

The Business’s editorial this week says: “First (and less important), those who are so sure Israel’s response has been ‘disproportionate’ (the buzz word of Israel’s critics) are least able to tell us what a ‘proportionate’ response would have been. When a terrorist group too powerful to be destroyed by its host country (Lebanon) and bent on the destruction of another (Israel) kidnaps your soldiers, kills others in the process, then rains down hundreds of rockets indiscriminately on your towns and cities, what exactly is the ‘proportionate’ response?”

I have identified five more pieces sympathetic to Israel and attach extracts from them below. These are presented here as a counterweight to the distorted and anti-Israeli coverage which can be found throughout the mainstream international media.

-- Tom Gross

 

[Additional Note by Tom Gross]

ARIEL SHARON’S CONDITION DETERIORATES

The medical condition of Israel’s former prime minister Ariel Sharon took a serious turn for the worse over the weekend. He has been returned to the emergency hospital unit from the rehabilitation center to which he had been transferred two months ago. Doctors said his kidneys have all but ceased functioning. Sharon’s closest relatives were by his side today.



EXTRACTS

OUT OF DISPROPORTION

Out of disproportion
By Ben Stein
American Spectator
July 21, 2006

… Let’s see. In World War II, the Germans bombed exactly no United States cities or towns. We bombed the hell out of them, day and night, for more than two years, including helping the British with firebombing Dresden, one of the most appalling civilian killings by a free people of all time.

Was it disproportionate? Well, no. The Nazis had bombed our allies, the British, in terror raids for years. They had started a world war. They had created a genocide unspeakable in human history. So, yes, there was horrible killing, but is anyone now saying it was disproportionate? Maybe a few, but not many.

… The Lebanese have admitted the terrorists into dominant positions in their government. In every way, Lebanon has made itself a haven for terrorists bombing civilians day in and day out in Israel. Is Israel finally standing up and saying enough “disproportionate”? Yes, if you think Israel and Jews should be permanent victims who suffer, bleed, and die in silence. No, if you believe Jews have the same rights as other people to defend themselves.

Look, if the Israelis wanted to inflict a lot of casualties from the air, they could. They have the second best air force in the world. Clearly, they are showing restraint. Three hundred dead is a lot, and every human’s death is sad unless he’s a terrorist, but we were killing 30,000 in a few hours in World War II and glorying in it. No news shows were showing German civilians getting fried and saying how sad it was. It was war against butchers and war is horrible, but it’s war, and to defend human decency, sometimes war is necessary. By any historic measure, Israel’s response to a decade of torment is extremely restrained…

(For the full piece, see www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=10117.)

 

“CONTRARY TO WHAT SOME TV STATIONS ARE TRYING TO SHOW, DAMAGE FROM ISRAEL’S BOMBING OF LEBANON HAS BEEN EXTREMELY LIMITED”

Jenin massacre syndrome
Just like the spring of 2002, the international press prefers hype to facts
By Sever Plocker
Yediot Ahronot
July 23, 2006

After a lot of hesitancy and a short-lived attempt to take balanced positions, the worldwide left-wing has returned in full force to the “Jenin massacre syndrome.”*

… It took months for human rights organizations, even the United Nations, to issue their reports refuting Palestinian claims. There was no massacre in Jenin, no ethnic cleansing, no intentional destruction of hospitals. There was a bloody battle in which soldiers died on each side.

The fairytale about the “Jenin massacre” may have died, but were lessons learned? Some were… But in other cases, no lessons were learned. During the second week of fighting, Israel’s military campaign in Lebanon is currently being portrayed as the total destruction of Lebanon, of essential civilian infrastructure, as a human tragedy on the level of the 2004 tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia.

Reading reports from left-leaning field reporters, one gets a picture that Beirut has been destroyed at least as badly as Dresden was during the Second World War. Foreign television channels use one section of footage over and over, showing the destruction of one neighborhood in south Beirut, to “show” what has happened throughout the city.

The most worrying thing about the current anti-Israel wave is its’ global scope: Leaders and opinion makers around Latin America, for example, have denounced Israel in some of the strongest terms imaginable. The UN Human Rights Commission has joined the chorus, as have international law organizations, cinema types, even journalists.

… And where is the truth in all this? The air force’s bombing of Lebanon have caused, as always happens in war, damage and destruction, but this damage has been extremely limited… In Beirut, to date, the airport has been hit, as have several strategic targets and buildings in the Shiite Quarter. That’s a far cry from the descriptions of horror being played out nightly on television screens, and of charges of war crimes.

The situation in south Lebanon is worse because of the planned civilian flight… civilians were forced to flee both southern Lebanon and northern Israel… talk of a humanitarian disaster that any honest person would feel revulsion about, fails to reflect reality. It is no more than horror propaganda that many prefer to believe, including many Israeli journalists. Analysts repeat the claims without verifying the facts, and preach moral lessons and philosophies based on these claims… There is no “destruction of Lebanon,” just like there was no “Jenin massacre.”

(For the full piece, see www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3280038,00.html.)

* For more on the “Jenin massacre syndrome,” see here.

 

“IF NOT NOW, WHEN? IF NOT BY THE ISRAELIS, WHO?”

Now isn’t the time for restraint
By Newt Gingrich
USA Today
July 18, 2006

… When compared with U.S. history lessons, the advice of the Group of Eight industrial nations to Israel is wrong. The communique says the No. 1 priority is a cease-fire that would effectively leave Hezbollah in possession of all its rockets. We’d never accept such advice for ourselves. The Israelis should not accept it for the same reasons: It would not end the threat.

Israel, a fellow democracy, has the same duty and right to protect its citizens from enemy attack. It is doing so while making every effort to avoid civilian casualties. The Israeli response is wholly justified based on a history where Israeli concessions to the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas terrorist alliance have consistently resulted in their enemies preparing for the next attack. The terrorists have been attacking with increased capability, brutality and violence aimed at civilians. This is only the latest cycle in an ongoing 58-year campaign to destroy Israel.

In 2000, the Israelis withdrew from southern Lebanon, creating an opportunity for peace. Instead of peace, for six years Iran, Syria and Hezbollah moved more than 10,000 missiles into the vacated area. More recently, the Israelis withdrew from Gaza to provide another circumstance for peace and an opportunity for a self-governing Palestinian people to work toward creating a place of prosperity, but instead Hamas created a place of terror. Now Israel is the target of more than 1,000 missiles from both Gaza and southern Lebanon in the past week alone.

… United Nations Resolution 1559, supported by the European Union, called for Hezbollah to be disarmed. If not now, when? If not by the Israelis, who?

… Finally, Iran and Syria must be forced to cease their support of Hezbollah and Hamas by the United States communicating to them such dire consequences that they could not sustain the relationships. And then we should be prepared, if necessary, to impose those consequences.

(For the full piece, see www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2006-07-18-gingrich-mideast-conflict_x.htm.)

 

ISRAEL HASN’T BEEN SO UNITED SINCE 1967

Grapes of wrath
Israel hasn’t been so united since 1967
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
July 22, 2006

Bret Stephens reported on a tour of rocket-ravaged communities in northern Israel, and then went on to observe:

Tel Aviv may be the economic and cultural capital of Israel, Jerusalem its political and symbolic capital. But the Galilee is where Israelis come to play, the forested and breezy getaway from the sweltering coast and the incessant dramas of everyday life in this region. Israelis were prepared to give up sandy Gaza and might also have been prepared to do the same with the rocky West Bank, if only the Palestinians would behave themselves. Yet places make a nation as much as principles do, and the Galilee was one place no Israeli could part with if his country was still going to be worth living in.

So even as terror-stricken residents of the north flee, the rest of the country is prepared to fight, whatever the cost: A recent poll found that 80% of Israelis support the present military operations, and three-quarters of those would be prepared to launch a full-scale invasion of Lebanon if that is what it takes to defeat Hezbollah. No similar consensus has existed among Israelis since the 1967 Six Day War.

(For the full piece, see www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008692.)

 

“WILL WE MUSTER THAT RESOLVE BEFORE – OR ONLY AFTER – THE MULLAHS GET THE BOMB?”

It all boils down to Iran
By Jeff Jacoby
Boston Globe
July 16, 2006

Opening a security conference in Tehran on July 8, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad exhorted the Islamic world to mobilize against Israel and “remove the Zionist regime.” People in the region are growing furious, he said. “It will not be long before this intense fury will lead to a huge explosion.”

Four days later, Hezbollah terrorists staged a raid across Israel’s northern border, kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and killing eight more. Over the next day, more than 120 rockets rained down across northern Israel. [Tom Gross adds: since then, about 2000 more rockets have hit Israeli civilian areas.]

… The top Hamas mastermind held a press conference in a Damascus ballroom last week, where he extolled the Syrian regime that shelters him. Syria is in turn protected by Iran, with which it signed a military cooperation pact in June. So it came as no surprise when Ahmadinejad warned Israel not to extend its military offensive to Syria, and threatened “a crushing response” if it did.

… “No one should have any lingering doubts about what’s going on in the Middle East,” writes Michael Ledeen, an expert on terrorism and Iran. “It’s war, and it now runs from Gaza into Israel, through Lebanon and thence to Iraq via Syria. There are different instruments, ranging from Hamas in Gaza to Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon and on to the multifaceted ‘insurgency’ in Iraq. But there is a common prime mover, and that is the Iranian mullahcracy, the revolutionary Islamic fascist state that declared war on us 27 years ago and has yet to be held accountable.”

Twenty-seven years ago was 1979, the year that Islamist radicals loyal to the Ayatollah Khomeini invaded the US embassy in Tehran and held dozens of American diplomats hostage for the next 444 days. Washington’s response was weak and feckless, as it would be time and again in the years that followed. Only after 9/11 did the United States finally acknowledge that it was in a war with militant Islam and began fighting back in earnest. But not against Iran, which continues, unscathed and unrepentant, to stoke the terrorist fires. Its goals, unchanged since Khomeini’s day, are to become the dominant power in the Middle East, to create Islamist regimes worldwide, to annihilate Israel, and to kill Americans… Regime change in Tehran will require American resolve. Will we muster that resolve before – or only after – the mullahs get the bomb?

(For the full piece, see
www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/07/16/it_all_boils_down_to_iran/.)


Israel’s next war has begun, the one with Iran

July 19, 2006

Among today’s breaking news so far from Israel:

* Israeli security forces catch Palestinian suicide bomber in Hod Hasharon, near Tel Aviv
* Two children killed in Hizbullah strike on Nazareth
* Massive wave of rockets strikes Haifa, Galilee, Carmiel, Tiberias, Safed, and elsewhere
* Two Israeli soldiers killed in fighting with Hizbullah
* 37 year old killed in Nahariya, northern Israel

 

CONTENTS

1. Today, it is the mainstream western media that is silencing Arab moderates
2. “It is not only Israel who is fed up with this situation”
3. “Israel against genocidal Islamism”
4. Most Arabs fear Iran, not Israel
5. “This chorus of condemnation actually encourages the terrorists”
6. “Israel’s next war has begun” (By Yossi Klein Halevi, New Republic, July 12, 2006)
7. Iran against the Arabs (By Michael Rubin, Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2006)
8. “No to Syria, Iran agents” (By Ahmed Al-Jarallah, The Arab Times, July 15, 2006)
9. “Thank you, Israel” (Lebanese Foundation for Peace, July 16, 2006)
10. “Arithmetic of pain” (By Alan Dershowitz, Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach a number of articles relating to the current situation, with some notes and extracts first.

TODAY, IT IS THE MAINSTREAM WESTERN MEDIA THAT IS SILENCING ARAB MODERATES

On Monday, on “Larry King Live” on CNN, Larry King interviewed Ibrahim Mousawi, the chief foreign news editor of Al Manar TV (Hizbullah’s own television channel). Al-Manar TV is known for its genocidal incitement against Jews, Americans and others. Al-Manar was recently banned in France for its 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. (See www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/000184.html.)

While it is perhaps appropriate to interview Ibrahim Mousawi, we must also ask why mainstream media such as CNN are not inviting journalists from the Arab world who are critical of Hizbullah, Syria and Iran? (In much the same way Yossi Beilin, a left-wing Israeli MK, regularly appears on the BBC in order to denounce Israeli policy.)

One such candidate might be Ahmed Al-Jarallah. In the article I attach below, al-Jarallah, the editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti-based Arab Times, argues that the “People of Arab countries, especially the Lebanese and Palestinians, have been held hostage [by militant groups] for a long time in the name of ‘resisting Israel.’… Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of ‘these irregular phenomena’ is what Israel is doing. The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community.”

In the past, before the Bush administration instituted a policy of encouraging democratization in the Arab world, opinions such as those voiced by Ahmed Al-Jarallah would be muffled by Arab governments. Today, it is the mainstream western media that is silencing them.

“IT IS NOT ONLY ISRAEL WHO IS FED UP WITH THIS SITUATION”

As was noted in the dispatch, Israel, Lebanon, Hizbullah: 14 more observations on the situation (July 17, 2006), many Lebanese voices in support of Israeli actions against Hizbullah have not been heard in the mainstream media. The fourth article attached below, titled “Thank you, Israel,” reports on the support offered to Israel by The Lebanese Foundation for Peace, an international group representing thousands of Lebanese Christians.

The writer, Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese Christian, says: “It is not [only] Israel who is fed up with this situation, but the majority of the silent Lebanese in Lebanon who are fed up with Hizbullah and are powerless to do anything out of fear of terror retaliation.”

“No matter how much the west avoids facing the reality of Islamic extremism of the Middle East, the west cannot hide from the fact that the same Hamas and Hizbullah that Israel is fighting over there, are of the same radical Islamic ideology that has fomented carnage and death through terrorism that America and the world are fighting.”

“ISRAEL AGAINST GENOCIDAL ISLAMISM”

“The next Middle East war – Israel against genocidal Islamism – has begun,” says Yossi Klein Halevi, writing in The New Republic. “Israel cannot coexist with Iranian proxies pressing in on its borders. In particular, allowing Hamas to remain in power – and to run the Palestinian educational system – will mean the end of hopes for Arab-Israeli reconciliation not only in this generation but in the next one too.”

“The ultimate threat, though, isn’t Hizbullah or Hamas but Iran. And as Iran draws closer to nuclear capability – which the Israeli intelligence community believes could happen this year – an Israeli-Iranian showdown becomes increasingly likely. Israel is still hoping that an international effort will stop a nuclear Iran; if that fails, then Israel is hoping for an American attack. But if the Bush administration is too weakened to take on Iran, then, as a last resort, Israel will have to act unilaterally.”

MOST ARABS FEAR IRAN, NOT ISRAEL

Michael Rubin, who works at the American Enterprise Institute, and is also editor of the Middle East Quarterly, writes in an article (attached below) titled “Iran against the Arabs” that: “Most Arabs perceive Israel as small. Egypt – home to one of every three Arabs – has enjoyed a cold peace with Israel for more than a quarter-century. Gulf states, on the whole, would rather make money than directly fight Israel. While they do not like Israel’s existence, Jerusalem presents no threat. Not so Tehran. A giant with 70 million people, Iran is no status quo power. Its ideological commitment to export revolution is real. Across Lebanon and the region, Arab leaders see Hizbullah for what it is: An arm of Iranian influence waging a sectarian battle in the heart of the Middle East.”

“An old Arab proverb goes, ‘Me against my brother; me and my brother against our cousin; and me, my brother and my cousin against the stranger.’ Forced to make a choice, Sunni Arabs are deciding: The Jews are cousins; the Shiites, strangers. U.S. diplomats may applaud the new pragmatism, but the reason behind it is nothing to celebrate.”

“THIS CHORUS OF CONDEMNATION ACTUALLY ENCOURAGES THE TERRORISTS”

Alan Dershowitz, a professor of law at Harvard, writing in The Wall Street Journal, criticizes the international community for its disapproval of Israel’s recent actions. He argues that the “chorus of condemnation (against Israel) actually encourages the terrorists to operate from civilian areas.”

Dershowitz sums up the problem: “It is possible for an enemy to attack Israeli military targets without inflicting ‘collateral damage’ on its civilian population. Hizbullah and Hamas, by contrast, deliberately operate military wings out of densely populated areas. They launch antipersonnel missiles with ball-bearing shrapnel, designed by Syria and Iran to maximize civilian casualties, and then hide from retaliation by living among civilians. If Israel decides not to go after them for fear of harming civilians, the terrorists win by continuing to have free rein in attacking civilians with rockets. If Israel does attack, and causes civilian casualties, the terrorists win a propaganda victory: The international community pounces on Israel for its ‘disproportionate’ response.”

I attach five articles below.

Alan Dershowitz and Michael Rubin are both subscribers to this email list.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

“ISRAEL CANNOT COEXIST WITH IRANIAN PROXIES PRESSING ON ITS BORDERS”

Israel’s next war has begun
Battle plans
By Yossi Klein Halevi
The New Republic
July 12, 2006

www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w060710&s=halevi071206

The next Middle East war – Israel against genocidal Islamism – has begun. The first stage of the war started two weeks ago, with the Israeli incursion into Gaza in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and the ongoing shelling of Israeli towns and kibbutzim; now, with Hezbollah’s latest attack, the war has spread to southern Lebanon. Ultimately, though, Israel’s antagonists won’t be Hamas and Hezbollah but their patrons, Iran and Syria. The war will go on for months, perhaps several years. There may be lulls in the fighting, perhaps even temporary agreements and prisoner exchanges. But those periods of calm will be mere respites.

The goals of the war should be the destruction of the Hamas regime and the dismantling of the Hezbollah infrastructure in southern Lebanon. Israel cannot coexist with Iranian proxies pressing in on its borders. In particular, allowing Hamas to remain in power – and to run the Palestinian educational system – will mean the end of hopes for Arab-Israeli reconciliation not only in this generation but in the next one too.

For the Israeli right, this is the moment of “We told you so.” The fact that the kidnappings and missile attacks have come from southern Lebanon and Gaza – precisely the areas from which Israel has unilaterally withdrawn – is proof, for right-wingers, of the bankruptcy of unilateralism. Yet the right has always misunderstood the meaning of unilateral withdrawal. Those of us who have supported unilateralism didn’t expect a quiet border in return for our withdrawal but simply the creation of a border from which we could more vigorously defend ourselves, with greater domestic consensus and international understanding. The anticipated outcome, then, wasn’t an illusory peace but a more effective way to fight the war. The question wasn’t whether Hamas or Hezbollah would forswear aggression but whether Israel would act with appropriate vigor to their continued aggression.

So it wasn’t the rocket attacks that were a blow to the unilateralist camp, but rather Israel’s tepid responses to those attacks. If unilateralists made a mistake, it was in believing our political leaders – including Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert – when they promised a policy of zero tolerance against any attacks emanating from Gaza after Israel’s withdrawal. That policy was not implemented – until two weeks ago. Now, belatedly, the Olmert government is trying to regain something of its lost credibility, and that is the real meaning of this initial phase of the war, both in Gaza and in Lebanon.

Still, many in Israel believe that, even now, the government is acting with excessive restraint. One centrist friend of mine, an Olmert voter, said to me, “If we had assassinated [Hamas leader] Haniyeh after the first kidnapping, [Hezbollah leader] Nasrallah would have thought twice about ordering another kidnapping.” Israel, then, isn’t paying for the failure of unilateral withdrawal, but for the failure to fulfill its promise to seriously respond to provocations after withdrawal.

Absurdly, despite Israel’s withdrawal to the international borders with Lebanon and Gaza, much of the international community still sees the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as a legitimate act of war: Just as Israel holds Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners, so Hamas and Hezbollah now hold Israeli prisoners. One difference, though, is that inmates in Israeli jails receive visits from family and Red Cross representatives, while Israeli prisoners in Gaza and Lebanon disappear into oblivion. Like Israeli pilot Ron Arad, who was captured by Hezbollah 20 years ago, then sold to Iran, and whose fate has never been determined. That is one reason why Israelis are so maddened by the kidnapping of their soldiers.

Another reason is the nature of the crimes committed by the prisoners whose release is being demanded by Hezbollah and Hamas. One of them is Samir Kuntar, a PLO terrorist who in 1979 broke into an apartment in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, took a father and child hostage, and smashed the child’s head against a rock. In the Palestinian Authority, Kuntar is considered a hero, a role model for Palestinian children.

The ultimate threat, though, isn’t Hezbollah or Hamas but Iran. And as Iran draws closer to nuclear capability – which the Israeli intelligence community believes could happen this year – an Israeli-Iranian showdown becomes increasingly likely. According to a very senior military source with whom I’ve spoken, Israel is still hoping that an international effort will stop a nuclear Iran; if that fails, then Israel is hoping for an American attack. But if the Bush administration is too weakened to take on Iran, then, as a last resort, Israel will have to act unilaterally. And, added the source, Israel has the operational capability to do so.

For Israelis, that is the worst scenario of all. Except, of course, the scenario of nuclear weapons in the hands of the patron state of Hezbollah and Hamas.

 

“HOW LONG WILL THE ARABS CONTINUE TO FIGHT ON BEHALF OF IRAN?”

Iran against the Arabs
By Michael Rubin
The Wall Street Journal
July 19, 2006

After Hamas kidnapped 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25, Israeli forces launched an assault on Gaza to win his release. Arab condemnation was swift. Saudi Arabia’s pro-government al-Jazira daily called Israel “a society of terrorists.” Egypt’s state-controlled al-Gumhuriyah condemned Israel’s “heinous crimes” in Gaza. Following a July 8 meeting in Tehran, foreign ministers from countries neighboring Iraq denounced the “brutal Israeli attacks.”

The crisis escalated four days later when Hezbollah terrorists infiltrated Israel’s northern border and kidnapped two soldiers. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the raid “an act of war,” and directed the military to launch an all-out assault on Hezbollah and targets throughout Lebanon. Neither Lebanese nor regional reaction to the opening of a second front was what Hezbollah expected. On July 14, Hezbollah’s al-Manar called upon “all Lebanese people to rally behind the Islamic resistance” and to fight Israel’s “flagrant aggression.”

They didn’t. No longer subject to Syrian occupation, Lebanese officials spoke freely. The Middle East Media Research Institute translated many reactions. “Lebanon... is not willing to be the spearhead of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” former President Amin Gemayel said. “Hezbollah will have to explain itself to the Lebanese,” Druze leader Walid Jumblatt told Le Figaro. The independent Beirut daily Al-Mustaqbal quoted Lebanese Communications Minister Marwan Hamada saying, “Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara gives the commands, Hezbollah carries them out, and Lebanon is the hostage.”

Nor did the wider Arab world rally in unanimity toward Hezbollah. “A distinction must be made between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures undertaken by elements [without]... consulting and coordinating with Arab nations,” the official Saudi Press Agency opined. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit included Hezbollah rocket attacks in his condemnation of terrorism. Even the Arab League, which seldom misses an opportunity to denounce Israel, offered only muted criticism. True, League Secretary General Amr Moussa condemned Israel’s “disproportionate attack,” after the July 15 meeting, but rather than just slam the Jewish state, Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, chided Hezbollah’s “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts.” Delegates from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE backed Mr. al-Faisal. Ahmed al-Jarallah, editor of Kuwait’s Arab Times, condemned both Hezbollah and Hamas in an editorial that same day, writing, “Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of ‘these irregular phenomena’ is what Israel is doing.”

It may be tempting to think that acceptance of Israel is in the air. But such optimism is unfounded. There is no change of heart in Riyadh, Cairo or Kuwait. Saudi princes still finance Palestinian terror. Rather, the recent Arab tolerance toward Israel’s predicament and condemnation of Hezbollah signal recognition of a greater threat on the horizon. Wadi Batti Hanna, a columnist in Iraq’s Arab nationalist al-Ittijah al-Akhar daily, put it bluntly when, on July 15, he asked, “How long will the Arabs continue to fight on behalf of Iran?”

The Iranian menace is rising. Condoleezza Rice’s May 31 announcement that the Bush administration would engage Iran signaled U.S. weakness across the Middle East. “Why don’t you admit that you are weak and your razor is blunt?” Iranian Supreme Leader asked rhetorically four days later, as assembled crowds in Tehran called for America’s death. An Iranian Revolutionary Guards boat recently unveiled a banner reading, “U.S. cannot do a damn thing,” as it sailed past a U.S. navy ship in the Persian Gulf. Tehran’s confidence is high.

Even as Arab states routinely condemn U.S. foreign policy, they embrace the American umbrella. John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt, respectively of the University of Chicago and Harvard, may argue that “the Israel Lobby” perverts U.S. interests; but Arab leaders understand that the only countries the U.S. military has fought to protect in the Middle East were Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The tiny Gulf emirates are defenseless without U.S. protection. There is hardly a state on the Arabian Peninsula that does not train with the U.S. military or welcome a small U.S. presence. But with U.S. congressmen proclaiming the defeat and vulnerability of U.S. troops in Iraq, and the Islamic Republic drawing closer to its nuclear goals, Tehran’s stock is rising at U.S. expense.

The signs of Arab unease have been growing over the last 18 months. Jordan’s King Abdullah II first raised alarm. In a Dec. 12, 2004 interview with Chris Matthews, he warned that the rise of Iranian-backed Shiite parties in Iraq could give rise to a Shiite “crescent” stretching from Iran to Lebanon. Abdulaziz Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, called Abdullah’s comments “ridiculous,” but the remarks resonated in Arab countries. True, the Shiites might account for only 10% of the world’s Muslims, but in the volatile region stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to Iran, the Sunnis and Shiites are near parity. That Shiites predominate in the oil-producing regions not only of Iran and Iraq but also in Saudi Arabia accelerates the fears. Satellite stations throw fuel on the fire. A July 12 political cartoon in the Iraqi daily al-Mutamar depicted a man pouring gasoline labeled sectarianism into a satellite dish.

The power of satellite stations to inflame sectarian passion is extraordinary. I was in Sweileh, Jordan, as news broke last November that Iraqi Shiite militias had tortured Sunni prisoners in detention. Al-Jazeera replayed the footage in gory detail. Cafes hushed and men shouted abuse at the TV screens. More recently, al-Jazeera amplified Osama bin Laden’s July 1 Internet message blaming “the people of the [Shiite] south” for violating Sunni cities like Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul. The situation worsened when Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen rampaged through the mixed Hay al-Jihad neighborhood on July 9, demanding identity cards and killing anyone with a Sunni name.

Most Arabs perceive Israel as small. Egypt – home to one of every three Arabs – has enjoyed a cold peace with Israel for more than a quarter-century. Gulf states, on the whole, would rather make money than directly fight Israel. While they do not like Israel’s existence, Jerusalem presents no threat. Not so Tehran. A giant with 70 million people, Iran is no status quo power. Its ideological commitment to export revolution is real. Across Lebanon and the region, Arab leaders see Hezbollah for what it is: An arm of Iranian influence waging a sectarian battle in the heart of the Middle East.

An old Arab proverb goes, “Me against my brother; me and my brother against our cousin; and me, my brother and my cousin against the stranger.” Forced to make a choice, Sunni Arabs are deciding: The Jews are cousins; the Shiites, strangers. U.S. diplomats may applaud the new pragmatism, but the reason behind it is nothing to celebrate.

 

“THE OPERATIONS OF ISRAEL IN GAZA AND LEBANON ARE IN THE INTEREST OF PEOPLE OF ARAB COUNTRIES AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY”

No to Syria, Iran agents
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
The Arab Times
July 15, 2006

www.arabtimesonline.com/arabtimes/opinion/view.asp?msgID=1242

People of Arab countries, especially the Lebanese and Palestinians, have been held hostage for a long time in the name of “resisting Israel.” Arab governments have been caught between political obligations and public opinion leading to more corruption in politics and economics. Forgetting the interests of their own countries the Hamas Movement and Hezbollah have gone to the extent of representing the interests of Iran and Syrian in their countries. These organizations have become the representatives of Syria and Iran without worrying about the consequences of their action.

Recently Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier and bombed Israeli settlements with locally manufactured missiles. Soon Hezbollah followed suit, kidnapping two Israeli soldiers. Both these organizations claimed they had kidnapped Israeli soldiers to exchange them for Arab prisoners who are being held in Israeli jails. The fact that Hamas and Hezbollah gave the same reason for kidnapping Israeli soldiers gives us a glimpse their agenda, which is similar to the one followed by Syria and Iran in their conflict with the United States.

While the people of Palestine and Lebanon are paying the price of this bloody conflict, the main players, who caused this conflict, are living in peace and asking for more oil from Arab countries to support the facade of resisting Israel. With the Palestinian Authority close to collapse and the Lebanese government beginning to give up responsibility for what is happening in its territory, Saudi Arabia has been forced to come out of its diplomatic routine and indirectly hold Hezbollah responsible for what is happening Lebanon.

Without mentioning Hezbollah by name Saudi Arabia blamed certain “elements” inside Lebanon for the violence with Israel and said “it is necessary to make a distinction between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures adopted by certain elements within Lebanon without the knowledge of legal Lebanese authorities.” While reiterating its support for Palestinian and Lebanese resistance against Israeli occupation, Saudi Arabia has clearly said it is against irresponsible adventures undertaken by certain elements in the region without consulting the legal authorities putting all Arab nations at risk. The Kingdom has also said “these elements must take responsibility for their irresponsible actions and they alone should end the crisis created by them.” This angry response from Saudi Arabia has politically isolated Hezbollah and Hamas besides holding them responsible for their actions.

This attitude of Saudi Arabia, which has been doing all it can to protect the Arab world from Israeli aggression, is enough to unmask the adventurers, who have violated the rights of their own countries and tried put their people under the guardianship of foreign countries like Iran and Syria. A battle between supporters and opponents of these adventurers has begun, starting from Palestine to Tehran passing through Syria and Lebanon. This war was inevitable as the Lebanese government couldn’t bring Hezbollah within its authority and make it work for the interests of Lebanon. Similarly leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has been unable to rein in the Hamas Movement.

Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of “these irregular phenomena” is what Israel is doing. The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community.

 

“THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TURN A BLIND EYE TO EVIL FOR DECADES, HOPING IT WILL GO AWAY”

Thank you, Israel
By Brigitte Gabriel
The Lebanese Foundation for Peace
July 16, 2006

www.free-lebanon.com/LFPNews/2006/July/July16/July16a/july16a.html

For the millions of Christian Lebanese driven out of our homeland, “Thank you, Israel,” is the sentiment echoing from around the world. The Lebanese Foundation for Peace, an international group of Lebanese Christians, made the following statement in a press release to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert concerning the latest Israeli attacks against Hezbollah:

“We urge you to hit them hard and destroy their terror infrastructure. It is not [only] Israel who is fed up with this situation, but the majority of the silent Lebanese in Lebanon who are fed up with Hezbollah and are powerless to do anything out of fear of terror retaliation.”

Their statement continues, “On behalf of thousands of Lebanese, we ask you to open the doors of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to thousands of volunteers in the Diaspora willing to bear arms and liberate their homeland from [Islamic] fundamentalism.

We ask you for support, facilitation and logistics in order to win this struggle and achieve together the same objectives: Peace and Security for Lebanon and Israel and our future generations to come.”

The once dominate Lebanese Christians responsible for giving the world “the Paris of the Middle East” as Lebanon used to be known, have been killed, massacred, driven out of their homes and scattered around the world as radical Islam declared its holy war in the 70s and took hold of the country.

They voice an opinion that they and Israel have learned from personal experience, which is now belatedly being discovered by the rest of the world.

While the world protected the PLO withdrawing from Lebanon in 1983 with Israel hot on their heals, another more volatile and religiously idealistic organization was being born: Hezbollah, “the Party of God,” founded by Ayatollah Khomeini and financed by Iran. It was Hezbollah who blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in October,1983 killing 241 Americans and 67 French paratroopers that same day. President Reagan ordered U.S. Multilateral Force units to withdraw and closed the books on the marine massacre and US involvement in Lebanon February 1984.

The civilized world, which erroneously vilified the Christians and Israel back then and continues to vilify Israel now, was not paying attention. While America and the rest of the world were concerned about the Israeli / PLO problem, terrorist regimes in Syria and Iran fanned Islamic radicalism in Lebanon and around the world.

Hezbollah’s Shiite extremists began multiplying like proverbial rabbits out-producing moderate Sunnis and Christians. Twenty-five years later they have produced enough people to vote themselves into 24 seats in the Lebanese parliament. Since the Israeli pull out in 2000, Lebanon has become a terrorist base completely run and controlled by Syria with its puppet Lebanese President Lahood and the Hezbollah “state within a state.”

The Lebanese army has less than 10,000 military troops. Hezbollah has over 4,000 trained militia forces and there are approximately 700 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. So why can’t the army do the job? Because the majority of Lebanese Muslims making up the army will split and unite along religious lines with the Islamic forces just like what happened in 1976 at the start of the Lebanese civil war.

It all boils down to a war of Islamic Jihad ideology vs. Judeo Christian Westernism. Muslims who are now the majority of Lebanon’s population, support Hezbollah because they are part of the Islamic Ummah-the nation. This is the taboo subject everyone is trying to avoid.

The latest attacks on Israel have been orchestrated by Iran and Syria driven by two different interests. Syria considers Lebanon a part of “greater” Syria. Young Syrian President Assad and his Ba’athist military intelligence henchmen in Damascus are using this latest eruption of violence to prove to the Lebanese that they need the Syrian presence to protect them from the Israeli aggression and to stabilize the country. Iran is conveniently using its Lebanese puppet army Hezbollah, to distract the attention of world leaders meeting at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Apocalyptic Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the ruling Mullah clerics in Tehran want to assert hegemony in the Islamic world under the banner of Shia Mahdist madness. Ahmadinejad wants to seal his place as top Jihadist for Allah by make good his promise to “wipe Israel off the map.

No matter how much the west avoids facing the reality of Islamic extremism of the Middle East, the west cannot hide from the fact that the same Hamas and Hezbollah that Israel is fighting over there, are of the same radical Islamic ideology that has fomented carnage and death through terrorism that America and the world are fighting. This is the same Hezbollah that Iran is threatening to unleash in America with suicide bomb attacks if America tries to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapon. They have cells in over 10 cities in the United States. Hamas, has the largest terrorist infrastructure on American soil. This is what happens when you turn a blind eye to evil for decades, hoping it will go away.

Sheik Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, is an Iranian agent. He is not a free actor in this play. He has been involved in terrorism for over 25 years. Iran with its Islamic vision for a Shia Middle East now has its agents, troops and money in Gaza in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Behind this is this vision that drives the Iranian President Ahmadinejad who believes he is Allah’s “tool and facilitator” bringing the end of the world as we know it and the ushering in of the era of the Mahdi. He has a blind messianic belief in the Shiite tradition of the 12th or “hidden” Islamic savior who will emerge from a well in the holy city of Qum in Iran after global chaos, catastrophes and mass deaths and establish the era of Islamic Justice and everlasting peace.

President Ahmadinejad has refused so far to respond to proposals from the U.S., EU, Russia and China on the UN Security Council to cease Iran’s relentless quest for nuclear enrichment and weapons development program until August 22nd. Why August 22nd? Because August 22nd, coincides with the Islamic date of Rajab 28, the day the great Salah El-Din conquered Jerusalem.

Ahmadinejad’s extremists ideology in triggering Armageddon gives great concerns to the intelligence community.

At this point the civilized world must unite in fighting the same enemies plaguing Israel and the world with terrorism. We need to stop analyzing the enemies’ differences as Sunni-Hamas or Shiite-Hezbollah, and start understanding that their common bond in their fight against us is radical Islam.

 

ARITHMETIC OF PAIN

Arithmetic of pain
By Alan M. Dershowitz
The Wall Street Journal
July 19, 2006

There is no democracy in the world that should tolerate missiles being fired at its cities without taking every reasonable step to stop the attacks. The big question raised by Israel’s military actions in Lebanon is what is “reasonable.” The answer, according to the laws of war, is that it is reasonable to attack military targets, so long as every effort is made to reduce civilian casualties. If the objectives cannot be achieved without some civilian casualties, these must be “proportional” to the civilian casualties that would be prevented by the military action.

This is all well and good for democratic nations that deliberately locate their military bases away from civilian population centers. Israel has its air force, nuclear facilities and large army bases in locations as remote as anything can be in that country. It is possible for an enemy to attack Israeli military targets without inflicting “collateral damage” on its civilian population. Hezbollah and Hamas, by contrast, deliberately operate military wings out of densely populated areas. They launch antipersonnel missiles with ball-bearing shrapnel, designed by Syria and Iran to maximize civilian casualties, and then hide from retaliation by living among civilians. If Israel decides not to go after them for fear of harming civilians, the terrorists win by continuing to have free rein in attacking civilians with rockets. If Israel does attack, and causes civilian casualties, the terrorists win a propaganda victory: The international community pounces on Israel for its “disproportionate” response. This chorus of condemnation actually encourages the terrorists to operate from civilian areas.

While Israel does everything reasonable to minimize civilian casualties – not always with success – Hezbollah and Hamas want to maximize civilian casualties on both sides. Islamic terrorists, a diplomat commented years ago, “have mastered the harsh arithmetic of pain.... Palestinian casualties play in their favor and Israeli casualties play in their favor.” These are groups that send children to die as suicide bombers, sometimes without the child knowing that he is being sacrificed. Two years ago, an 11-year-old was paid to take a parcel through Israeli security. Unbeknownst to him, it contained a bomb that was to be detonated remotely. (Fortunately the plot was foiled.)

This misuse of civilians as shields and swords requires a reassessment of the laws of war. The distinction between combatants and civilians – easy when combatants were uniformed members of armies that fought on battlefields distant from civilian centers – is more difficult in the present context. Now, there is a continuum of “civilianality”: Near the most civilian end of this continuum are the pure innocents – babies, hostages and others completely uninvolved; at the more combatant end are civilians who willingly harbor terrorists, provide material resources and serve as human shields; in the middle are those who support the terrorists politically, or spiritually.

The laws of war and the rules of morality must adapt to these realities. An analogy to domestic criminal law is instructive: A bank robber who takes a teller hostage and fires at police from behind his human shield is guilty of murder if they, in an effort to stop the robber from shooting, accidentally kill the hostage. The same should be true of terrorists who use civilians as shields from behind whom they fire their rockets. The terrorists must be held legally and morally responsible for the deaths of the civilians, even if the direct physical cause was an Israeli rocket aimed at those targeting Israeli citizens.

Israel must be allowed to finish the fight that Hamas and Hezbollah started, even if that means civilian casualties in Gaza and Lebanon. A democracy is entitled to prefer the lives of its own innocents over the lives of the civilians of an aggressor, especially if the latter group contains many who are complicit in terrorism. Israel will – and should – take every precaution to minimize civilian casualties on the other side. On July 16, Hasan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, announced there will be new “surprises,” and the Aska Martyrs Brigade said that it had developed chemical and biological weapons that could be added to its rockets. Should Israel not be allowed to pre-empt their use?

Israel left Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005. These are not “occupied” territories. Yet they serve as launching pads for attacks on Israeli civilians. Occupation does not cause terrorism, then, but terrorism seems to cause occupation. If Israel is not to reoccupy to prevent terrorism, the Lebanese government and the Palestinian Authority must ensure that these regions cease to be terrorist safe havens.


The French love bombing (but not by Israel)

July 18, 2006

* This is an update to previous dispatches on the ongoing situation involving Israel and Lebanon

 

CONTENTS

1. Robert Fisk, quote of the day
2. French lose world cup soccer, but win world cup for hypocrisy
3. The French love bombing
4. The Vatican also condemns Israel
5. “France assured Israel it would prevent terror”
6. “Europe’s disproportionate criticism” (Wall Street Journal Europe, July 17, 2006)


[Note by Tom Gross]

ROBERT FISK, QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I travel the roads of southern Lebanon every two weeks and there are no such [Hizbullah] missiles, as the UN force there will confirm… Hizbollah resistance… missiles are a myth.”

-- Robert Fisk, Chief Middle East correspondent of The (London) Independent newspaper, writing in The Independent on April 15, 2003.

(Fisk was writing after Shimon Peres, who was then Israel’s foreign minister, said Iran had already supplied Hizbullah with at least 8,000 missiles capable of hitting Israeli cities. Since then, Iran has delivered some 6,000 more missiles, as barely reported in the western media for the last four years.)

Over 2,000 Hizbullah rockets have been fired at northern Israel from south Lebanon since last Wednesday. Last night Hizbullah fired more than 50 rockets, including one which hit the hospital in Safed, injuring patients. Another missile hit a synagogue, injuring worshippers.

Robert Fisk is the most beloved Middle East reporter among the international left. His articles are reproduced on left-wing websites throughout the world, as well as on a number of neo-Nazi websites. With his cult following, despite having a record of bias and “mistakes” second to none, he is the Noam Chomsky of reporting, the Edward Said of journalism.

On April 29, 2004, when The Independent asked Hitler-admiring historian David Irving for a quote about his plans for a lecture tour of Britain, Irving replied: “I will be happy to assist any journalist on the newspaper that publishes Robert Fisk.”

In April 2003, Fisk was described by the New York Times as “probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain.”

For more on Fisk, see previous dispatches including:
* Osama Bin Laden praises Fisk (& other items) (Nov. 4, 2004).
* “The dangers of Fisking” (Nov. 14, 2003).
* Al Aqsa leader: American Jewish teens are our ideal target (& Fisk on Walt) (May 1, 2006).

FRENCH LOSE WORLD CUP SOCCER, BUT WIN WORLD CUP FOR HYPOCRISY

France lost the World Cup soccer final to Italy a few days ago, but their president wins the world cup for hypocrisy.

* This is President Jacques Chirac on how France would respond to terrorism against French citizens:

Chirac: Nuclear Response to Terrorism Is Possible
By Molly Moore
Washington Post
January 20, 2006

PARIS, Jan. 19 -- President Jacques Chirac said Thursday that France was prepared to launch a nuclear strike against any country that sponsors a terrorist attack against French interests. He said his country’s nuclear arsenal had been reconfigured to include the ability to make a tactical strike in retaliation for terrorism.

“The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would envision using… weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part,” Chirac said during a visit to a nuclear submarine base in Brittany. “This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.”

* And this is President Chirac on Israel’s response to terrorism against its citizens:

Chirac: Israel has gone too far
By Associated Press
July 14, 2006

French President Jacques Chirac castigated Israel for its military offensive in Lebanon on Friday, calling it “totally disproportionate,” while he and other European leaders expressed fears of a widening Middle East conflict that could spiral out of control.

(With thanks to M.A. for drawing attention to the above articles. Longer extracts can be found here.

In December 2001, the former French Ambassador to London called Israel a “shitty little country.” For more, see this article.

THE FRENCH LOVE BOMBING

In 1999, in the heart of Europe, in a 72-day air war against Yugoslavia, dozens of NATO bombs and missiles hit Serbian bridges, communications grids, power plants and a television station, killing at least 498 civilians, including many children, and decapitating a village priest.

Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine reports that French fighter pilots flew more than 1,100 of the war’s air strikes, or about 11 percent of NATO’s missions.

Last week, France was among 10 UN Security Council members voting to condemn Israel for “disproportionate use of force.”

The 25-nation European Union, which includes other countries that participated in NATO’s air war, such as Britain and Denmark, also condemned Israel’s “disproportionate” response.

Meanwhile, the BBC was so busy in recent days scrutinizing what its chief Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen called Israeli “war crimes,” that it forgot to report in any detail that on Saturday British troops led the raids in Afghanistan that killed 35 people.

THE VATICAN ALSO CONDEMNS ISRAEL

The Vatican has joined Chirac, strongly deploring Israel’s strikes on Lebanon. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano told Vatican Radio that “the Holy See deplores right now the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation, and assures its closeness to these people who already have suffered so much to defend their independence.”

“FRANCE ASSURED ISRAEL IT WOULD PREVENT TERROR”

The recent EU criticism of Israel is particularly ironic, as Gerald Steinberg notes in the Wall Street Journal Europe (article attached below). In early 2000, prior to Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, “The French foreign and defense ministers pressed Israel to return its military forces to the international border… In detailed talks that took place at the French ambassador’s residence in Jaffa, the Europeans assured [Israel] that once Israel retreated, Hezbollah would lose its raison d’etre as a ‘militia’ and transform itself into a political party. France and its partners would send peacekeepers to prevent terror and missile attacks against Israel, help the Lebanese army take control of the border, and disarm Hezbollah.”

Steinberg, who is a subscriber to this email list, questions the recent condemnation of Israel: “Beyond the rhetoric, European officials offer no framework for a proper and ‘proportionate’ level of force in response to mass terror aimed at the ultimate goal of ‘wiping Israel off the map.’”

He concludes that “if European leaders are serious about preventing instability and promoting their own economic and security interests, they will also have to share the costs of containing terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas… By tying further economic assistance to an end to terror attacks, Europe can actually help create the basis for long-term stability. And of course, it must pressure Tehran and Damascus. Instead of reflexively labeling Israel’s belated use of force as ‘disproportionate,’ the leaders of the EU must learn to make their own security policies proportionate and realistic.”

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLE

EUROPE’S DISPROPORTIONATE CRITICISM

Europe’s disproportionate criticism
By Gerald M. Steinberg
The Wall Street Journal Europe
July 17, 2006

In early 2000, the European Union was an enthusiastic supporter of unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the security zone in southern Lebanon. Paris was about to take over the EU presidency in July and played a dominant role in the discussions. The French foreign and defense ministers pressed Israel to return its military forces to the international border. In detailed talks that took place at the French ambassador’s residence in Jaffa, in which I participated as an academic consultant, the Europeans assured us that once Israel retreated, Hezbollah would lose its raison d’etre as a “militia” and transform itself into a political party. France and its partners would send peacekeepers to prevent terror and missile attacks against Israel, help the Lebanese army take control of the border, and disarm Hezbollah.

In May that year, the Israeli military left Lebanon. The United Nations certified that the withdrawal was complete. But Europe did nothing. Hezbollah’s leaders celebrated a great “military victory,” and Iranian “advisers” provided intelligence, training and thousands more of missiles, some with ranges of 75 kilometers and more that could penetrate deep into Israeli territory and for the first time hit Haifa, Israel’s third biggest city.

Instead of the promised transformation, Hezbollah took positions right across Israel’s border and prepared for the next round of the war. Fearing international and particularly European condemnation, Israel did nothing to prevent this dangerous buildup. Emboldened by Israeli restraint, Hezbollah staged the first cross-border attack and kidnapping only five months after Israel’s withdrawal, in October 2000.

Europe’s reaction back then was limited to repeating the usual mantras, calling on Israel to “act with restraint” and to “give diplomacy a chance.”

Now, after steady escalation and attrition to which Israel is particularly vulnerable, Hezbollah triggered a full-scale confrontation by firing another round of missiles at Israeli cities and staging a kidnapping attack, in which eight Israeli soldiers were killed. In tandem with Palestinian assaults from Hamas-controlled Gaza, which also featured missiles and kidnapped soldiers to be traded for terrorists, this opened a two-front war.

This time, though, Israel moved quickly to finally dismantle the strategic threat in Lebanon. No state can simply stand by while its citizens are being killed and abducted, its cities routinely shelled, and part of its population forced to live in fear and sleep in bomb shelters. Hezbollah erroneously thought its missiles and the support from Iran and Syria would allow it to continue attacking Israel with impunity.

Europe’s role, once again, is limited to repeating the same old tired phrases. The EU called Israel’s response and attacks on Beirut and in Gaza “disproportionate” and violations of international law. France in particular was outraged. “For several hours, there has been a bombardment of an airport of an entirely sovereign country, a friend of France... this is a disproportionate act of war,” French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said. It may have escaped the minister that the initial act of war originated from Lebanon and that the target of this unprovoked aggression is supposedly also a “sovereign country” and “friend of France.”

The knee-jerk condemnation of their country was not lost on Israelis who recall the broken promises from 2000 and the visceral antipathy toward them when they had to fight Arafat’s terror war. Beyond the rhetoric, European officials offer no framework for a proper and “proportionate” level of force in response to mass terror aimed at the ultimate goal of “wiping Israel off the map.”

Few in Europe probably realize that the EU’s failure to act in response to Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts, and the three years that were wasted in negotiations while Iran began enriching uranium, only strengthened Israel’s decision to act forcefully against the terror threats posed by Hezbollah and Hamas, who act as Tehran’s proxies.

Israel’s strategy is twofold. The immediate goal is to remove Hezbollah’s acute threat by crippling its military capabilities and driving their troops from the border zone. Attacks on Lebanese infrastructure are designed to prevent the resupply of Hezbollah and to pressure the Lebanese government to establish full sovereignty over the country. It is Lebanon, not Israel, that is in violation of international law as Beirut still has not implemented U.N. resolution 1559, which demands that Hezbollah be disarmed.

At the same time, and this is Israel’s medium-term goal, going forcefully after Iran’s prodigy in Lebanon sends a powerful message to Tehran. It restores Israel’s deterrence capability, a crucial move in preventing future confrontations with Iran on a much larger scale. But many idealistic European policy makers cannot see that a small war stopped prematurely now may only pave the way for a much larger war later. In order to understand Israel’s military actions, it is imperative to consider the two powers standing behind Hezbollah. The larger strategic threat to Israel is the Damascus-Tehran axis. To view Israel’s actions in Beirut and Gaza as “disproportionate” means ignoring the radical Islamic regime in Tehran, which threatens to destroy Israel and is bent on acquiring the weapons to actually carry out its threat.

At the same time, Europe – particularly France – has invested heavily in the reconstruction of Lebanon and the international isolation of the Syrian regime. From this perspective, the damage to Beirut’s airport and infrastructure and the strain on the Lebanese government are justifiably worrying.

But if European leaders are serious about preventing instability and promoting their own economic and security interests, they will also have to share the costs of containing terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. To help resolve the immediate crisis and prevent further damage to Lebanon’s fragile economic and political structure, Europe’s leaders can stiffen Beirut’s backbone by conditioning aid to the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Cease-fire initiatives must lead to Hezbollah’s disarmament. By tying further economic assistance to an end to terror attacks, Europe can actually help create the basis for long-term stability. And of course, it must pressure Tehran and Damascus. Instead of reflexively labeling Israel’s belated use of force as “disproportionate,” the leaders of the EU must learn to make their own security policies proportionate and realistic.


Israel, Lebanon, Hizbullah: 14 more observations on the situation

July 17, 2006

CONTENTS

1. Rockets fired at Haifa were Syrian-made
2. Missing Israeli soldiers “held at the Iranian embassy in Beirut”
3. Iranian revolutionary guards attacked Israeli boat
4. Al-Sharq al-Awsat: Hizbullah have been receiving training in Iran
5. Iranian weapons “started conflict”
6. Sharansky: “A unique moment of unity”
7. G8 supports Israel
8. BBC shows its partiality
9. Reuters cameraman hit by Hizbullah
10. Israel also has a tourist industry
11. Ahmadinejad compares Israel to Nazis
12. “Why is this Arab-Israeli war different from all other Arab-Israeli wars?”
13. Saudi Arabia, Egypt & Jordan criticize Hizbullah
14. “Curse you Hizbullah to hell and back”



[Note by Tom Gross]

ROCKETS FIRED AT HAIFA WERE SYRIAN-MADE

The rocket that yesterday killed eight Israeli civilians at a train station in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, was manufactured in Syria, said Israeli Transport Minister and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. “The metal from the missile shows that it was made in Syria. We know that over the last few years, Syria has transferred ammunition to Hizbullah and that is what they used today,” Mofaz said after touring the site of the attack. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz today confirmed that Fajar missiles fired at Haifa were made in Syria.

So far today, Katyushas have been fired by Hizbullah at the western Galilee villages of Julis, Abu Snaan, and Kfar Yasif as well as at Safed, Acre, Kiryat Shmona, Tiberias and elsewhere. Another barrage of rockets hit Haifa this afternoon. One landed on an apartment building, severely damaging the top two floors, and injuring at least 11 people. In the most far-reaching missiles yet launched, Katyushas have also landed in Afula and near Nazareth, well inside Israel.

Approximately 1,400 rockets have been fired at northern Israel since last Wednesday. A number of rockets continue to be fired each day into southern Israel by Hamas. At least 10 have been fired from Gaza so far today. Additionally, a 25-year-old Palestinian man was caught with a 5-kilogram bomb in downtown Jerusalem today. The man was intercepted at a major intersection between Jerusalem’s old and new cities. Israeli police sappers successfully removed the device from the area.

MISSING ISRAELI SOLDIERS “HELD AT THE IRANIAN EMBASSY IN BEIRUT”

The website of the Lebanese government in exile (www.free-lebanon.com) reports that intelligence sources inform them that Hizbullah have transferred the two Israeli soldiers they kidnapped in Israel last week (Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev) from Southern Lebanon to the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, where they are being held under the direct supervision of Iranian security guards.

Separately, Israeli foreign ministry officials have voiced concerns in recent days that the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah may have already been transferred to Iran.

IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS ATTACKED ISRAELI BOAT

It now appears that the Israeli ship hit off the coast of Lebanon on Friday, killing four Israeli sailors, was struck by an Iranian-provided C-802 shore-to-sea missile.

Military sources tell me that these radar-guided high-tech weapons may have never seen battle before. These missiles are armed with a strong anti-jamming capability, which give them a 98% chance of avoiding interception.

It has also been reported that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were involved on some level in the missile strike that badly damaged the Israeli boat.

AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT: HIZBULLAH HAVE BEEN RECEIVING TRAINING IN IRAN

The London-based, Saudi-owned daily, al-Sharq al-Awsat, reported yesterday, citing military sources “close to the leadership of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” that between 150 and 250 Iranian Revolutionary Guards are currently in charge of Hizbullah’s training. (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, is a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard.)

Al-Sharq al-Awsat added that part of the training takes place in Iran, and includes shooting missiles, firing cannons, flying unmanned aerial vehicles and gliders, marine warfare, driving speed boats and other basic war skills. Some 3,000 Hizbullah operatives are said to have undergone such training during the last two years. Iran has also trained some 50 Hizbullah pilots.

In addition to equipping Hizbullah with mobile bases, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have also established 20 missile bases in the Bekaa valley and near the Lebanese-Israeli border, according to the Saudi newspaper. The full article can be read in Arabic here:
aawsat.com/details.asp?sectionfiltered=1&issue=10092&article=373285.

IRANIAN WEAPONS “STARTED CONFLICT”

Israeli army officers have said in recent days that the weapons used by Hizbullah to attack Israel came from Iran. Rockets provided by Iran are thought to have been used in the initial diversionary attack that preceded the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers last Wednesday. The anti-tank weapon that destroyed an Israeli Merkava tank on the same day is also thought to have been provided by Iran.

The Iranians were directly involved in creating the network of control towers and monitoring stations along the border between Lebanon and Israel which enabled Hizbullah to launch its attack.

Con Coughlin, writing in the Daily Telegraph, asks “For the ayatollahs in Teheran trying to find a way out of their nuclear difficulties, what better way to divert the world’s attention from their nuclear-enrichment programme than to provoke a fresh Middle East crisis between Israel and its neighbours?” (His article can be read here.)

Over the past year, three relatively advanced weapons supplied by Iran to Hizbullah have been used: UAVs that have flown over northern Israel, extended-range artillery rockets, and now anti-ship cruise missiles.

SHARANSKY: “A UNIQUE MOMENT OF UNITY”

Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident, has urged Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to utilize the upcoming days. Sharansky said that Israel may only have a few days as “the moment Israel starts becoming successful, the world will tell us to stop.”

Sharansky asserted that “This is a unique moment of unity” as Ehud Olmert with his current center-left coalition is the only leader capable of a forceful response to Hamas and Hizbullah which almost everyone in Israel agrees is necessary. “Ariel Sharon would not have responded this strongly because he was so concerned with changing his image, and while Bibi would have done exactly the same thing as Olmert is, half of the country would have been protesting about what the ‘monster’ is doing.”

The entire Israeli public except for a far left fringe is supportive of Olmert’s military response.

G8 SUPPORTS ISRAEL

World leaders at the G8 (Group of Eight) meeting in St Petersburg have released a joint message calling for the Israeli soldiers abducted in Gaza and Lebanon to be released unharmed and for the shelling of Israeli territory to end.

Even though they also called for Israeli military operations to cease, Israeli forces to withdraw from areas they have entered in Gaza, and for arrested Palestinian ministers and legislators to be released, the G8 statement marks a significant move to support Israel’s argument that it has been acting in self-defense.

The statement placed the blame for the start of the current crisis on Hamas and Hizbullah, which were mentioned by name. It did not call for a release of Arab prisoners held in Israel – which the terrorist groups have been trying to achieve – and expressed support for disarming Hizbullah.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters “We do not want to let terrorist forces and those who support them have the opportunity to create chaos in the Middle East… Therefore we place value on clearly identifying the cause and effect of events... the relevant UN resolutions regarding the south of Lebanon must also be implemented.”

Since the conservative leader Merkel assumed power in Berlin last September, German positions have been significantly more supportive of Israeli and U.S. ones than when her left-leaning predecessor Gerhard Schroeder was in power.

BBC SHOWS ITS PARTIALITY

The BBC’s correspondent in Lebanon, who has spent many hours on air since Hizbullah began this conflict, is Kim Ghattas. She has been markedly partisan in her reporting, although not to the same hysterically anti-Israeli extent that Orla Guerin and Barbara Plett were during the Palestinian Intifada.

Ghattas has been both emotive in her language and at the same time has refused to explain Israeli aims, as if Israel didn’t have any. For example, this morning on BBC World News, Ghattas said “it is quite unclear what the Israeli strategy is.” She also informed viewers that the strikes on Beirut are “heartbreaking.”

Ghattas was born in Lebanon, but her official BBC biography only makes clear she is Lebanese in the final paragraph.

The chances of the BBC employing a pro-Israeli Israeli Jew as their main correspondent in Israel are next to none.

REUTERS CAMERAMAN HIT BY HIZBULLAH

A Reuters cameraman working in Israel was wounded in the leg last Thursday in a rocket attack by Hizbullah. Rami Amichai, an Israeli, was filming in the coastal city of Nahariya when the rocket struck nearby, sending shrapnel flying into his lower leg. He was taken to hospital for treatment.

Reuters is yet to formally complain about this to the government of Lebanon. Had he been wounded by a rocket fired from Israel, Reuters would almost certainly have complained to the Israeli government.

ISRAEL ALSO HAS A TOURIST INDUSTRY

The BBC and others have made repeated references to the difficulty being experienced by the Lebanese tourist industry and the fact there are foreign nationals in Lebanon caught up in the fighting.

At the same time, almost no international media have made mention of the tourist industry in the north of Israel which has been greatly harmed by the Hizbullah attacks. The months of July, August and September are the peak season for both domestic and incoming tourism and the violence taking place is likely to set the tourism industry back to its lean years of 2001-2.

Whilst the mainstream media has rushed to condemn the Israeli bombing of Hizbullah strongholds in Beirut (“the Paris of the Middle East”), with the BBC showing extensive footage of foreign tourists vacating Beirut, there has been little sympathy for the Israeli hotels, tourism companies, tourist agencies, restaurants and cafes which have been affected in northern Israel. In Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee, close to the spot where Christians believe Jesus walked on water, a hotel was hit by a Hizbullah rocket on Saturday afternoon. I have not seen this mentioned once on international media.

In 2002, the peak year of the Intifada, only 862,000 tourists visited Israel. By 2005 the figure had risen to 1.9 million, and 2.5 million tourists were expected in Israel during 2006, more than in 2000, the peak year before the Intifada. In recent months, some airlines, including Lufthansa and British Airways, added seats to their Israel route, and Continental and other airlines added flights.

AHMADINEJAD COMPARES ISRAEL TO NAZIS

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has compared Israel’s military strikes on Gaza and Lebanon to tactics used by Adolf Hitler against Jews during World War II.

Speaking in Tehran, he said “Their methods resemble Hitler’s. When Hitler wanted to launch an attack, he came up with a pretext… Zionists say they are Hitler’s victims, but they have the same nature as Hitler.”

Since becoming President in June 2005, Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and described the Holocaust as a “myth”.

Agence France Presse (AFP) have also used World War Two terminology to describe Israel’s actions. An AFP article on July 15 was titled “Scores dead as Israel steps up Lebanon blitz.” AFP used similar terminology in its heading of June 30: “Israeli jets blitz Gaza.”

“WHY IS THIS ARAB-ISRAELI WAR DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER ARAB-ISRAELI WARS?”

William Kristol, writing in The Weekly Standard, says: “Why is this Arab-Israeli war different from all other Arab-Israeli wars? Because it’s not an Arab-Israeli war. Most of Israel’s traditional Arab enemies have checked out of the current conflict. The governments of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are, to say the least, indifferent to the fate of Hamas and Hizbullah. The Palestine Liberation Organization (Fatah) isn’t a player. The prime mover behind the terrorist groups who have started this war is a non-Arab state, Iran, which wasn’t involved in any of Israel’s previous wars.”

Kristol argues that this “is a new and different threat. One needs to keep this in mind when trying to draw useful lessons from our successes, and failures, in dealing with the threats of the 20th century… Islamism became really dangerous when it seized control of Iran – which then became, as it has been for the last 27 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

His full article can be read here.

SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT & JORDAN CRITICIZE HIZBULLAH

Many Arab governments reacted with relative restraint to Israel’s offensive, condemning Israeli attacks on civilians but criticizing Hizbullah too.

Saudi Arabia accused Hizbullah of “uncalculated adventures” which could lead to “an extremely serious situation which could subject all Arab nations and its achievements to destruction.”

A Saudi official quoted by the state Saudi Press Agency said “The kingdom sees that it is time for those elements to alone shoulder the full responsibility for this irresponsible behavior and that the burden of ending the crisis falls on them alone.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have also criticized Hizbullah for harming Arab interests. In a joint statement, published by the Petra news agency, the two leaders warned of “the region being dragged into ‘adventurism’ that does not serve Arab interests.” They urged the Lebanese government “to establish its authority over all of Lebanese territory,” and also called for an immediate halt to any Israeli military escalation.

On Saturday, as 18 Arab foreign ministers gathered for an emergency meeting in Cairo, the Saudi representative called the Hizbullah attacks “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible… These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we cannot simply accept them.” The Saudi stance was supported by Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, and even the Palestinian Authority.

By contrast, Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa said “Israel is behind all that is happening.”

(A missile fired from Lebanon on Saturday missed its target and hit an Egyptian boat. The crew of 12 survived. MENA, Egypt’s state news agency reported incorrectly that the ship was hit by Israeli fire.)

“CURSE YOU HIZBULLAH TO HELL AND BACK”

Lebanese critics of Hizbullah have been strangely conspicuous from much of the international TV and newspaper coverage of the recent clashes. One Lebanese blogger has written about the anger directed towards Hizbullah:

“And tomorrow when I will see the destroyed bridge linking my home town of Saida to Beirut, I will only say from the bottom of my heart: Enough! Enough wars, death and destruction! Curse you Hezbollah to hell and back! For all this destruction, for all this death! No it is not Israel fault! It is your own! Curse you!”

“I want peace with Israel! NOW! I do not care for your ideologies, or your lines drawn on maps!”

To read this blog entry in full, see
lebanonheartblogs.blogspot.com/2006/07/peace-now.html.

-- Tom Gross


At least 8 killed in rocket attack on Haifa; Over 100 Iranian agents in Lebanon aiding Hizbullah

July 16, 2006

HAIFA HIT AGAIN; IN BEIRUT, NASRALLAH SAID TO BE INJURED

[Note by Tom Gross]

* There will be a fuller dispatch on the Middle East crisis tomorrow. I attach below a short dispatch now, at Sunday lunchtime (Israel and Lebanon time), because various online international media have still failed to report properly on the attack on Haifa almost four hours after it occurred

* At least eight killed, and dozens wounded as Hizbullah rockets fired from Lebanon hit train depot in Haifa this morning

* The rescue of the injured was delayed after Katyushas rained down on vehicles in Haifa making it impossible for rescue services to reach Rambam hospital with the injured

* Over 24 Israelis now killed by Hizbullah in recent days. BBC and other main news agencies continue to fail to state this, only reporting prominently on Lebanese deaths

* Patriot missiles deployed in Haifa failed to stop incoming rockets

* Rocket barrage also fired at Nahariya, Kiryat Bialik, Akko, and Rosh Hanikra this morning

* Iranian revolutionary guards in Lebanon helped Hizbullah fire the missile that almost destroyed an Israeli warship on Friday night

* The missile was an Iranian-made, radar-guided C-102

* Over 100 Iranians in Lebanon guiding Hizbullah

* It should be emphasized in the media (and it is not) that Israel is trying to do everything to avoid civilian casualties in both Lebanon and Gaza despite the fact both Hamas and Hizbullah are deliberately using civilian areas and private houses to fire rockets into Israel. By contrast Hamas and Hizbullah are trying to murder Israeli civilians

* Israel’s Channel Two television, citing Lebanese sources, reported today that Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah was injured overnight after Israel bombed a building concealing his command bunker. Hizbullah has issued a denial but there was no immediate statement broadcast by Nasrallah

* Leader of Druze in Lebanon says Israel’s war is with Iran, not Lebanon

* In first-time move, Saudi government criticizes Hizbullah for starting crisis


Grandmother and her 7-year-old grandson become the latest Israelis to die

July 14, 2006

THE ROCKETS CONTINUE TO RAIN DOWN

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a shorter dispatch than usual because it is late on Friday night as I write.

I attach the editorial from today’s Wall Street Journal, below.

Before that, let me mention a few of the casualties on the Israeli side today. I mention these because certain European and international media are continuing to report on this conflict as if it was purely one-sided and are not mentioning attacks on Israel at all.

* A woman and her 7-year old grandson became the latest Israelis to die on Friday evening (Israel time), when a Hizbullah rocket landed on their home in Moshav Meron.

* Dozens of other Israelis have been wounded today. Israeli civilians have been injured in Yesod Hama’alah, Peki’in, Hatzor Haglilit, Kiryat Shmona, Kibbutz Baram, Majdal Qrum, Zirit, Kibbutz Kabri, Acre, Nahariya, Carmiel, Rosh Pina, Safed, Kfar Szold and Kibbutz Hulata.

* Some 220,000 Israelis have been ordered into bomb shelters this evening as rockets continue to rain down.

* In the south of Israel, five Qassam rockets fired from Gaza hit Sderot today, causing fires and light injuries.

* An Israeli (Rami Amichai) working as a Reuters cameraman was wounded by a rocket fired from Lebanon into Israel yesterday. He had been filming in the coastal city of Nahariya and shrapnel from the rocket was embedded into his leg. Reuters is yet to formally complain about this to the government of Lebanon.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLE

SYRIA, IRAN AND THEIR PROXIES WAGE WAR ON ISRAEL

States of Terror: Syria, Iran and their proxies wage war on Israel
The Wall Street Journal
Editorial
July 14, 2006

www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008658

Israel’s military invasion and naval blockade of Lebanon is being denounced in European capitals and at the United Nations as a “disproportionate” response to the kidnapping this week of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah. Israel’s decision late last month to invade Gaza in retaliation for the kidnapping of another soldier by Hamas was also condemned as lacking in proportion. So here’s a question for our global solons: Since hostage-taking is universally regarded as an act of war, what “proportionate” action do they propose for Israel?

In the case of Hamas, perhaps Israel could rain indiscriminate artillery fire on Gaza City, surely a proportionate response to the 800 rockets Hamas has fired at Israeli towns in the last year alone. In the case of Hezbollah, it might mean carpet bombing a section of south Beirut, another equally proportionate response to Hezbollah’s attacks on civilian Jewish and Israeli targets in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s.

We aren’t being serious, but neither is a feckless international community that refuses to proportionately denounce the outrages to which Israel is being subjected. That goes also for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who says “all sides must act with restraint.” But Israel’s current problems result in part from an excess of restraint in responding to previous Hamas and Hezbollah provocations.

Now Israel is confronted with a war on two fronts with proxy terrorists armed and financed by Syria and Iran. Yesterday, medium-range Hezbollah rockets hit civilian targets across northern Israel. Any of those rockets might easily hit the port city of Haifa’s oil refineries and chemical plants, causing horrific damage that would give Israel cause, and perhaps the self-preservation necessity, to strike Damascus and Tehran.

So far, Israel is limiting its military activities to Lebanon alone, out of the same abundance of restraint that has governed its behavior throughout the crisis. The democratic Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora bears its share of the blame, since it has failed to police its side of the border with Israel and failed to disarm Hezbollah, as required by Security Council Resolution 1559 and the 1989 Taif Accords that ended the Lebanese civil war. Senior Israeli military sources also claim that Lebanon tolerates the presence of hundreds of Iranian military personnel in Lebanon, again in violation of U.N. resolutions.

But Mr. Siniora’s failings owe to weakness, not malfeasance, particularly in the face of Syria’s continued meddling in Lebanese affairs following the departure of its army last year. A larger problem has been the failure of the Bush Administration to press Damascus harder when it had the opportunity to do so in the wake of last year’s Cedar Revolution. The U.N. investigation into the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in which all evidence points to the involvement of senior associates and relatives of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, seems to have disappeared in a black hole. Nor has the U.S. exacted any price for Syria’s ongoing support for the insurgents in Iraq.

Critics of the Bush Administration will surely find a way to blame it for the current crisis, on the theory that this is what happens when you push for change in the Middle East. But the real problem is the growing perception among Arab regimes and terrorist frontmen that the U.S. is so bogged down in Iraq, and so suddenly deferential to the wishes of the “international community,” that it has lost its appetite for serious reform. This has created openings for the kind of terror assaults on American allies we are now witnessing.

Israel can and will handle the immediate military threats on its two borders. But ultimately there will be no resolution in Lebanon and Gaza until the regimes in Syria and Iran believe they will pay a price for the wars they are waging through their proxies. The referral this week of Iran’s nuclear file to the U.N. Security Council is a start, although we have little confidence it will lead anywhere. The White House has cited Syria and Iran as the culprits behind this week’s events, but more forceful words and action are called for. The Middle East stands on the cusp of its worst crisis in a generation, and this is no time for formulaic statements calling for “restraint from both sides.”


Israel, Lebanon, Hizbullah: 12 points about the situation

July 13, 2006

CONTENTS

1. Israeli soldiers killed and kidnapped
2. An attack “inside the territory of the state of Israel”
3. At least 90 Israeli civilians wounded in rocket attacks; second woman dies
4. Getting it wrong: BBC Arabic world service radio
5. Lebanese media and blogger reaction
6. Arab voices against Hizbullah
7. Syrian press praises Hizbullah
8. Iran and Syria in alliance together
9. Other Arab media reaction
10. Israeli media reaction
11. Beirut airport
12. UN Resolution 1559, and The New York Times



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach a variety of points about the ongoing fighting across the Israeli-Lebanese border. These points have not been properly reported in much of the international media. I also attach analysis of the Arabic language media coverage, which has been translated and compiled specially for this list/website.

ISRAELI SOLDIERS KILLED AND KIDNAPPED

Most Western news organizations today do not mention the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers until half way down their reports. For example, a story by the Associated Press, republished in many news outlets worldwide, does not mention the kidnapping until the ninth paragraph.

Many news organizations also neglect to mention that eight Israeli soldiers were killed. Almost none give their ages (which were 20, 20, 19, 19, 22, 21, 24, 27).

Sweets were handed out to children in Hamas and Hizbullah strongholds in Gaza city and Beirut to – in the words of one Hamas leader – “celebrate the death of the 8 Jews.” Almost no media outside Israel mention that one of the dead Israeli soldiers, Sergeant Wissam Nazal, 27, from Jat-Yanuch, was in fact Muslim.

The two soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah are Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

AN ATTACK “INSIDE THE TERRITORY OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL”

The vast majority of the international media are guilty of misleading their readers by not mentioning clearly where the Hizbullah raid yesterday took place.

The attack took place inside the sovereign and internationally recognized territory of the state of Israel. Most newspapers have gone out of their way this morning to make sure their readers are uninformed of this fact. The Guardian, for example, says Hizbullah attacked “Israeli border positions.” CNN.com stated yesterday that Hizbullah “abducted two Israeli soldiers along the border.”

The BBC has been particularly vague in its reporting, going out of the way to avoid mentioning that Hizbullah started the fighting, and that the Hizbullah attack on Israel was completely unprovoked. (Hizbullah means “Party of God.”)

AT LEAST 90 ISRAELI CIVILIANS WOUNDED IN ROCKET ATTACKS; SECOND WOMAN DIES

Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon landed in communities throughout northern Israel on Thursday afternoon, including in the towns of Karmiel, Rosh Pina, Hatzor, and Majd el-Kurum. The college and marketplace in the holy Jewish city of Safed were among those bombed today by Hizbullah. One woman in Safed was killed by the rockets and 21 others injured, some with serious shrapnel wounds. At least 90 Israeli civilians have been wounded since Hizbullah launched its attacks yesterday.

Earlier, on Thursday morning, one woman was killed and 29 were wounded when Katyusha rockets landed in central Nahariya. The woman died while sitting on her fifth-floor balcony. A rocket hit a floor above, cut through the ceiling and killed her. As a result of the attacks, Israeli refugees began leaving Nahariya en masse this morning and are making their way south to avoid further Hizbullah attacks. Nahariya was originally established in the 1930s by refugees fleeing Nazi Germany.

A Hizbullah spokesman told Reuters Beirut office this afternoon that Haifa, Israel’s third largest town, would soon be hit. In response, the Israeli army has warned Lebanon to evacuate all residents from a southern Beirut neighborhood where it believes Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah lives.

GETTING IT WRONG: BBC ARABIC WORLD SERVICE RADIO

The BBC Arabic-language World Service radio, which has been running special coverage on its radio broadcasts of events in Lebanon throughout the day, said yesterday’s Hizbullah attack took place on Lebanese soil. For example, Adel Malik, a London-based journalist and commentator on Lebanese issues, said that the kidnapping took place on “occupied Lebanese soil” and the BBC presenter Mahmoud Murad replied “these issues are known.”

LEBANESE MEDIA AND BLOGGER REACTION

The banner headline on the front-page today of the website of the Beirut Daily Star is “Lebanon under attack.” The lead article, titled “Lebanese brace for Israel’s signature strategy: collective punishment,” is very anti-Israel, and it is difficult to find any criticism of Hizbullah in the paper. The Star’s publisher and editor in chief, Jamil Mroue, is a Shiite Muslim who was educated in America and Europe. His daily paper is published in cooperation with the New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune.

Al-Nahar, another Lebanese daily, has the headline today: “Gaza spreads to Lebanon” (www.annaharonline.com/HTD/OLA060713-1.HTM).

It has been left to Lebanese bloggers to vent their anger at Hizbullah. In a letter to Hizbullah chief Sheikh Nasrallah, one Lebanese blogger says: “You have killed, maimed, and destroyed lives. Yet you continue in your self-declared righteous path. People have been killed because of you. People have killed because of you. You offer no solution but death, and the option you bring to the table is the most outdated and cliched one. There is no honor in murder, no dignity in crime, yet you insist on slicing through our lives.”

ARAB VOICES AGAINST HIZBULLAH

In one liberal London-based online news bulletin, Elly al-Hajj writes that Hizbullah has made a great mistake in its calculations (www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/Politics/2006/7/162364.htm).

Al-Hajj says Hizbullah will pay a great price for this mistake, referring mainly to the Israeli governmental decisions to move Hizbullah 20 kilometers from its borders.

He then goes on to say that the even bigger mistake Hizbullah has made is that by attacking Israel, it also puts itself in confrontation with the international community, including several Arab countries, portraying itself as the side which declared war on Israel and dragged the whole of Lebanon into it.

In the eyes of the Americans and the EU, says al-Hajj, the Israeli war on Hizbullah and Hamas is now perceived as part of the international war on terrorism, a war of self defense and an open cold war with the Iranian-Syrian axis. It also shows, he says, the lack of ability of Lebanese decision-making and [taking] international responsibility.

Al-Hajj concludes his article by saying “July 12 is a turning point. Nothing will be the same after it, and the internal situation in Lebanon is not far from a dangerous crumple. God help Lebanon.”

SYRIAN PRESS PRAISES HIZBULLAH

Official newspapers in Syria have praised the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers. The government-run al-Thawra newspaper said that the attack was “a message that the arms arsenal would not protect Israel.” The newspaper added that the “culture of resistance is liable to spread because it has proven its merit.”

The al-Baath newspaper of the ruling Baath party also welcomed the abductions.

IRAN AND SYRIA IN ALLIANCE TOGETHER

On June 16, 2006, the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that a few days earlier (secular) Syria and (Islamist) Iran signed a military cooperation pact to attack Israel. The Syrian defense minister stated at the time that the two countries “are establishing a joint front against Israel... [since] Iran regards Syria’s security as its own.”

At the beginning of this month the editor of the conservative Iranian daily Kayhan Hossein Shariatamadari, a confidant of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, told the Iranian news agency Mehr, that the Muslim world should see to it that “no Zionist feels secure anywhere in the world.”

Yesterday morning, July 12, concurrently with the Hizbullah attack on Israel, the Iranian daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami, which is affiliated with the religious seminaries of Qom, published a speech given by Hizbullah leader Nasrallah on May 23, 2006 at a conference on “The Culture of Resistance.”

Nasrallah said: “All of Israel is now within the range of our missiles. Its seaports, bases, industrial plants and everything else are all within our range... I repeat and say that our stockpile of weapons is significant, both in quantity and in quality... Another advantage that I wish to mention is the geography of Lebanon and Palestine. Most of Israel’s vital areas are concentrated in the northern [half] of occupied Palestine, while the south is uninhabited and desolate. More than two million Jews live in the north of occupied Palestine, which contains the recreation centers and [tourist] resorts, the industrial plants, the agricultural [areas] and the important military airports and bases... Our presence in South Lebanon, in proximity to the north of occupied Palestine, is our greatest advantage...”

(Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), jomhourieslami.com/1385/13850421/index.html)

OTHER ARAB MEDIA REACTION

In general, the Arabic media fail to denounce Hizbullah for its unprovoked attack yesterday and instead assail Israel.

Abd al-Wahab Badr Khan, deputy editor of the popular international London-based, Saudi-owned daily al-Hayat, writes that the Hizbullah attack was “the best, expected and required answer to the Israeli terrorism and savagery in Gaza.” (www.daralhayat.com/opinion/07-2006/Item-20060712-63cc930f-c0a8-10ed-01ce-4de8c7e9037f/story.html)

Abd al-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based, Palestinian-owned daily al-Quds al-Arabi, writes today that he cannot understand the requests of many, including Arabs, to release the Israeli soldiers. He says the requests to release Israelis are “racist” because they are not asking to release the prisoners Israel holds (who he neglects to mention have of course been convicted of serious offenses, including murder). (Abd al-Bari Atwan is a frequent guest commentator on the BBC.) (www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=2006\07\07-13\z29.htm&storytitle=ffعملية%20تحرج%20النظام%20العربيfff)

ISRAELI MEDIA REACTION

Sever Plocker, a regular commentator for Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s highest selling newspaper, writes today under the headline “A war Israel must win”: “If Hamas, Hizbullah win war they have declared, the Zionist project will near the end of its days.”

The Jerusalem Post writes in an editorial today: “The international community must choose whether it wants, by refusing to speak out forcefully and unequivocally against aggression by Hizbullah and Hamas, to lay the groundwork for endless and escalating rounds of attacks. An international community that has continually demanded that Israel take risks for peace must do its part to ensure that Israel’s security is increased, not decreased, as a result.”

Two international leaders, President George Bush of the United States and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, came out clearly in support of Israel today. Britain and France also condemned Hizbullah’s actions and appealed for calm.

By contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has not hesitated to wipe out one quarter of Grozny’s population in recent years, attacked Israel today, despite Israel’s careful selection of targets which kept civilian casualties to a minimum.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, also known for his bias against Israel, today criticized Israel again.

And the leader of Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement: “I congratulate the Lebanese Islamic resistance, which managed to capture two Zionists.”

Hizbullah holds three posts in the Lebanese cabinet of President Lahoud.

BEIRUT AIRPORT

The Israeli airforce bombed a runway at Beirut airport overnight (No one was injured since Israel was careful to avoid hitting anyone). Some media have made great play of this airport runway bombing, failing to explain that Beirut airport is a central hub for the transfer of weapons and supplies to Hizbullah, and thereby giving the false impression that Israel just likes to bomb airport runways without reason.

RESOLUTION 1559, AND THE NEW YORK TIMES

Almost no media today mention United Nations Security Council 1559 which calls on the Lebanese government to disband all militias, including Hizbullah, on its territory. For example, the New York Times does not mention this resolution in any of its own reporting today.

-- Tom Gross


The truth comes out, courtesy of AP; but Jews attack Israel

July 11, 2006

CONTENTS

1. The Washington Post as a Hamas mouthpiece
2. The NY Times, Guardian, BBC and others discover “terrorism”
3. Wrongly blaming Israel for Palestinian-on-Palestinian deaths
4. Jews against Israel from the left
5. And from the right
6. Egyptian security officials “visited Shalit”; Israel “ready to agree deal”
7. The truth comes out... courtesy of AP
8. More democracies back Israel at the UN
9. Arab states ignore Nestle boycott
10. Iran predicts oil income of $54 billion this year
11. Egyptians and Jordanians don’t believe 9/11 was an Islamist operation
12. Al Jazeera journalist shot by Palestinian gunmen
13. Neo-Nazis in U.S. military
14. German neo-Nazis burn “Diary of Anne Frank” after World Cup match
15. Wimbledon first for Israel



[Note by Tom Gross]

THE WASHINGTON POST AS A HAMAS MOUTHPIECE

Whereas the Arab media are increasingly telling the truth about Hamas (see today’s earlier dispatch titled Saudi Columnist: “Hamas is acting like a terrorist organization”), the Washington Post today prints a comment piece by Hamas leader Ismail Haniya replete with so many falsities that one would hardly know where to begin in criticizing it.

Perhaps the Post will now follow the lead of the British paper, the Guardian, which a few years ago gave op-ed space to Osama Bin Laden.

THE NY TIMES, GUARDIAN, BBC AND OTHERS DISCOVER “TERRORISM”

The same news outlets that refused (and still refuse) to use the word terrorist to describe Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists readily used the word today in connection with the death yesterday of Chechen leader Shamil Basayev. Among those using the word “terrorist” were both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

And the main banner headline in the International Herald Tribune today is: “Chechen terrorist killed by Russians” (www.iht.com/pdfs/frontpagepdf/europefrontpage.pdf).

The Guardian repeatedly used the word “terrorism” in its story today, headlined “Chechen politician seeking independence through terrorism.” Jonathan Steele (who is one of the Guardian’s most anti-Israeli journalists) writes Basayev was guilty of “brutal terrorist actions” and so on (www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,1817414,00.html).

The Guardian website also uses the word “terrorism” to describe today’s commuter bomb blasts in Mumbai, India. (“The blasts ripped through passenger compartments in choreographed terrorist attacks on several different trains at separate sites”: www.guardian.co.uk/india/story/0,,1817999,00.html). The Guardian has almost never described the murder of Israeli commuters as terrorism.

And on the BBC today, correspondent Barbara Plett who famously cried for Yasser Arafat, repeatedly used the word “terrorism” in her report on Pakistani reaction to the Mumbai bombs. Plett is now a correspondent for the BBC in Islamabad, Pakistan.

WRONGLY BLAMING ISRAEL FOR PALESTINIAN-ON-PALESTINIAN DEATHS

Many newspapers have lumped together all Palestinians killed by other Palestinians with those killed in armed clashes with Israel, and given the false impression that Israel killed all these people.

Among the Palestinians killed by other Palestinians in the last few days, according to the pro-Palestinian “Palestinian Center for Human Rights”:

* Two members of the armed wing of Hamas were killed in an explosion in a house in the densely-populated Zaitun quarter of Gaza City, after they accidentally detonated an explosive device they were preparing.

* A 12-year old Palestinian girl was killed Thursday in an armed clash within the Abu M’hadi clan in Nuseirat in Gaza.

* A top Hamas official in Gaza, Dr. Hussein Abu Ajwa, 44, was shot dead by masked Palestinian gunmen as he got out of his car outside his home last Thursday. Abu Ajwa was a leading promoter of religious and political reform in Hamas.

JEWS AGAINST ISRAEL FROM THE LEFT

I noted in the dispatch earlier today (Saudi Columnist: “Hamas is acting like a terrorist organization”), that a growing number of Arab commentators are attacking Hamas. At the same time, some prominent extreme left-wing Jews are increasingly speaking out for Hamas.

A few days ago, over 300 British Jews, for example, paid almost $20,000 to take out a full page-ad in the Times of London denouncing Israel’s “terrorizing an entire people” and its attempt “to topple the democratically elected government of the Palestinians.” They urged Times readers to bombard the Israeli embassy with protests.

Among the signatories were the current Nobel laureate, Harold Pinter, award-winning film director Mike Leigh, Marxist historian Professor Eric Hobsbawn, and psychotherapist Susie Orbach (who is best known for being the therapist and confider of secrets of the late Princess Diana).

Also in Britain, the Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, last week made a ferocious attack on Israel and what he called “Jewish terrorists” in the British House of Commons. Kaufman was memorably written about in 2004 in the New Statesman as such: “Veteran MP, Gerald Kaufman, regularly attacks Israel in attention-seeking missives billed as ‘Well-known British Jew attacks Israel,’ when they should be headlined: ‘British Jew well known only for attacking Israel attacks Israel again!’”

Kaufman has since been knighted by the English Queen for his efforts and is now Sir Gerald Kaufman.

In a separate development in Britain, the charity “War on Want” which is supposed to help poor people in the UK and elsewhere with the millions of pounds it raises annually, may have its charitable status removed after using its donated funds to “put Israel on trial.” The UK Charity Commission is investigating complaints that a War on Want “People’s Tribunal to expose the corporations behind Israeli occupation” breached the organization’s charitable status. Star speakers at the tribunal were a number of radical Jews and members of the family of the anti-Israeli activist Rachel Corrie. Justifying the tribunal, a spokesperson for War on Want said: “We have to look at the structures and organizations in the world that create poverty.”

Similarly, radical Jews in the U.S., Canada, France and in Israel itself have been at the forefront of vicious and selective denunciations of the Jewish state and the so-called “Jewish lobby”.

Of course in the long history of anti-Semitism, there have often been groups of Jews who have publicly egged on the enemies of their own people, most notably Jews who supported the Spanish inquisition, those Communist Jews who encouraged Stalin to eradicate Jewish culture, and even a small group of nationalistic German Jews in the early and mid-1930s who published statements in support of Hitler.

Most British Jews are strongly supportive of Israel, and were shocked last week when a high school they funded and sponsored in the Israeli city of Ashkelon was hit by a Qassam rocket fired from Gaza.

AND FROM THE RIGHT

Another Jew who specializes in attacking Israel, extreme rightist Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, was also in the news in recent days.

Zhirinovsky, who visited Israel late last week to pay respects at the grave of his father, Volf Eidelstein, says he will sue Israeli doctors for failing to save his father, who was critically wounded in a car accident in 1983 in Tel Aviv. Unlike Zhirinovsky, his father was not an anti-Semite. Eidelstein, who fled to Israel from Kazakhstan in 1949, is buried in Holon.

Zhirinovsky also said he will sue Germany for killing his family during WWII. Almost all of Zhirinovsky’s family were murdered following the Nazi invasion of Kostopol, in Ukraine, in 1941.

Although Zhirinovsky, the leader of Russia’s ultra nationalist Liberal Democratic party and a deputy speaker of the Duma, the lower chamber of parliament, has acknowledged that his father was Jewish, he refused to observe a minute’s silence in the Duma for the Nazi’s Jewish victims. In the past, he has referred to Jews as “enemies” of Russia and a “degenerated nation.”

EGYPTIAN SECURITY OFFICIALS “VISITED SHALIT”; ISRAEL “READY TO AGREE DEAL”

Egyptian security officials and a Palestinian doctor visited kidnapped Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit at the “location where he is being held,” according to the London-based Arabic daily newspaper Al-Hayat. The visit came as part of the failed Egyptian effort to mediate a solution to the crisis. Shalit is said to have suffered three shrapnel wounds.

Meanwhile, Al-Hayat yesterday reported Egyptian sources as saying that Israeli officials have offered to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, stop targeted killings, and release Hamas MPs and prisoners in exchange for Cpl. Gilad Shalit’s safe release and an end to the rocket attacks on Southern Israel.

THE TRUTH COMES OUT... COURTESY OF AP

An Associated Press report on July 6 from an AP correspondent (Slobodan Lekic) at AP’s Brussels bureau (which covers the European Union) let slip what this list/website has argued for years but European governments and media have almost never admitted: that in the past the EU has been automatically critical of Israel’s actions whatever they may be.

In his report, titled “EU tones down criticism of Israel,” Lekic writes: political analysts “believe the Europeans are seeking to move closer to the US position. [and] that means not being automatically critical of Israel’s actions.”

For those who want to read the whole piece, it was carried in several leading publications, here, for example, in the Washington Post:
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/06/AR2006070600205.html.

As AP notes, European governments – having finally begun to wake up to the threat of radical Islam, as embodied by Hamas – have toned down criticism of Israel. The EU formally denies any policy shift, but it is in fact very noticeable for those who follow the region carefully, such as myself.

MORE DEMOCRACIES BACK ISRAEL AT THE UN

The supposedly new and reformed UN Human Rights Council in its very first session last week chose to gang up on – guess who? – Israel, with a completely one-sided motion condemning the Jewish state. However, several council members voted against the resolution. In the past, only the U.S., Australia and Micronesia have sided with Israel. This time Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom voted against the resolution that one-sidedly condemned Israel.

Nevertheless the actions of all those other countries voting in a knee-jerk way against Israel shows that the UN Human Rights Council has not been reformed in the way it promised it would be.

The Council did not pass specific resolutions on, for example, the ongoing mass murder of Black Africans by Arab militia in Sudan, but it did also pass a resolution raised by Saudi Arabia condemning the purported anti-Muslim Danish cartoons.

New York-based Human Rights Watch, but not London-based Amnesty International, noted the one-sided nature of the UN Human Rights Council.

“The council’s singling out the Occupied Palestinian Territories for special attention is a cause for concern,” Human Rights Watch’s Peggy Hicks said in a statement. “The human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories deserves attention, but the new council must bring the same vigor to its consideration of other pressing situations.”

On the other hand, Amnesty International, according to a statement on its Web site, “welcomes the Council’s decision to convene a Special Session on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and calls for concrete action to address the gross human rights abuses currently taking place there.”

ARAB STATES IGNORE NESTLE BOYCOTT

Despite the Arab League’s decision to boycott Swiss food giant Nestle because it maintains investments in Israeli food companies, many League member states are likely to ignore it, according to Agence France Presse (AFP). Nestle was last week added to the Arab League list of companies to be boycotted.

The Damascus-based Arab League Central Boycott Office informed Nestle that a boycott would be implemented, but the Lebanese government has told Nestle they will ignore it. Other states are expected to follow the Lebanese lead.

Nestle has issued a press release saying that it had no intention of capitulating to the Arab boycott. The company also invests heavily in Arab countries.

IRAN PREDICTS OIL INCOME OF $54 BILLION THIS YEAR

The Iranian economic daily Jahan-e Eqtesad says Iran will earn about $54 billion from the export of 900 million barrels of oil in the year to March 21, 2007. The newspaper based its report on remarks by Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, executive director of international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Company. Iran, OPEC’s second-largest producer, pumped 3.83 million barrels per day in June. Previously Iran pumped 2.35 million bpd.

EGYPTIANS AND JORDANIANS DON’T BELIEVE 9/11 WAS AN ISLAMIST OPERATION

A new poll carried out by the Pew Research Center found that a majority of Egyptians and Jordanians don’t believe that the September 11 terror attacks were carried out by Muslims. Egypt and Jordan are two supposedly moderate states, both of whom receive considerable U.S. aid. On a brighter note, the pollsters report that in Jordan, Pakistan and Indonesia, the number of people who support suicide bombings is decreasing.

Iranians became the latest victims of suicide bombers last Friday when a suicide car bomber blasted two coaches carrying Iranian pilgrims outside a Shiite Muslim shrine near the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, killing 12 people and wounding 41. Three of the dead were women, and children were among the wounded. Iran has strongly encouraged and financed the suicide bombing of Americans, Israelis and others.

AL JAZEERA JOURNALIST SHOT BY PALESTINIAN GUNMEN

A journalist and a driver from Al Jazeera television were wounded when their car was fired upon by Palestinian gunmen in Beit Hanoun who believed they were undercover Israeli agents.

NEO-NAZIS IN U.S. MILITARY

Neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other fascists are infiltrating the ranks of the U.S. military, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a watchdog group that tracks racist and right-wing militia groups in the U.S. This trend has been made possible by recruiting shortfalls resulting from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, says the group.

The group says that thousands of racists have recently signed up, primarily in the ground forces, and they constitute a threat to American internal security. “Commanders have relaxed standards designed to prevent the recruitment and enlistment of extreme racists to the military service,” the head of the group wrote to Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, in a letter asking him to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on the matter.

A spokesman from Rumsfeld’s office said in response that “the military is dealing with this issue.”

GERMAN NEO-NAZIS BURN “DIARY OF ANNE FRANK” AFTER WORLD CUP MATCH

The governor of an eastern German state has condemned the burning of a copy of Anne Frank’s diary by three members of a far-right group, in the town of Pretzien, near Magdeburg, in celebration of a World Cup soccer match last week. The group shouted pro-Hitler chants during the burning.

Anne Frank wrote her famous diary while she and her German-Jewish family hid in an Amsterdam attic for 25 months. They were eventually betrayed by Dutch Nazi collaborators, and she died aged 15 in Bergen-Belsen in 1945, just weeks before the British army liberated the camp.

The World Cup, which ended Sunday with a victory for Italy, was largely free of the racist and other violence which many had feared.

WIMBLEDON FIRST FOR ISRAEL

Andy Ram became the first Israeli to win a grand slam tennis title when he and partner Vera Zvonareva of Russia triumphed in the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles on Saturday. They beat Americans Bob Bryan and Venus Williams 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Following Ram’s victory, and with Jerusalem teenager Shahar Pe’er having reached the fourth round at the French Open last month, and with several other young Israeli players moving up the rankings, the Jerusalem Post predicts a golden age of Israeli tennis could be near.

-- Tom Gross


Saudi columnist: “Hamas is acting like a terrorist organization”

CONTENTS

1. “You have lost”
2. Saudi columnist: “Hamas is acting like a terrorist organization”
3. Just one of many
4. “Intentionally committing crimes in order to be returned to prison”
5. Remembering Anat Rosenberg, and Mike’s Place
6. “Dear Brethren, the War With Israel Is Over” (By Y. Ibrahim, NY Sun, July 7, 2006)
7. “Hamas can’t let Israel go” (Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2006)
8. “7/7: In memory of Anat Rosenberg” (By J. Spyer, Guardian Blog, July 7, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

“YOU HAVE LOST”

I attach three pieces below.

The first is by Youssef M. Ibrahim, an Egyptian-born American reporter who for over two decades has served as a Middle East regional correspondent for The New York Times. He writes an open “letter to the Palestinian Arabs from their Arab friends” pointing out that “as Israel enters the third week of an incursion into the same Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a few months ago, a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading through commentary by Arab pundits, letters to the editor, and political talk shows on Arabic-language TV networks. The new views are stunning both in their maturity and in their realism.” He tells his “Palestinian Arab brethren: The war with Israel is over. You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children.”

He says the Palestinians should give up on their “criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government [that] continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win” and advises them not to have “another cheating, conniving, leader [like] Yasser Arafat, [who] sold you a rotten bill of goods more pain, greater corruption, and millions stolen by his relatives while your children played in the sewers of Gaza.”

I recommend reading Ibrahim’s piece in full. It is a matter of regret, though not surprise, that even though Ibrahim has reported for the New York Times for 24 years, the anti-Israel NY Times would not run his comment piece and it was left to the pro-Israel New York Sun to do so instead.

(For an overview of The New York Times’s reporting on Israel, see All The News That’s Fit To Print?)

SAUDI COLUMNIST ON SOLDIER’S KIDNAPPING: “THIS IS A DESPICABLE ATTACK BY HAMAS, WHICH IS ACTING LIKE A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION”

Not specifically mentioned in Ibrahim’s article is a comment piece by Saudi columnist Yusuf Nasir Al-Suweidan in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa (on June 27), titled “The crime at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.” Al-Suweidan strongly condemns the June 25 attack at the Kerem Shalom crossing, in which Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit was taken hostage.

“When Vietcong fighters dug underground tunnels in order to reach the American Danang base in South Vietnam... they did so inside the borders of their homeland. Now they used the Palestinian border to penetrate into Israel – an independent, sovereign, U.N. member state... and perpetrate the crime of murdering two Israelis, kidnapping a third, and wounding others, with all the dangerous consequences that [such a] despicable attack has caused and will cause to the Palestinian side.” (Note he uses the word “kidnap” but the BBC won’t.)

It should be pointed out that not all Arab commentators are coming round to this way of thinking. For example, a columnist in Al-Hayat compares Israel’s incursion into Gaza with the Nazi Holocaust saying “there are obvious similarities between the two.”

And indeed, as noted in today’s other dispatch (to be sent later), while a growing number of Arab commentators are attacking Hamas, a large number of prominent extreme left-wing Jews, such as current Nobel laureate Harold Pinter, are now loudly speaking out in defense of Hamas.

JUST ONE OF MANY

Writing in Al-Ahram (Egypt), Salama A. Salama, says: “The Palestinians must be aware by now that they can no longer count on Arab help, economically, politically, or militarily. Arab nations have had enough of this endless tragedy. They’ve had enough of the slogans and rhetoric that gets us nowhere... The Palestinians have no hope of winning U.S. sympathy or Europe’s support. And they have lost Arab backing, both on the official and non-official levels. Arab nations are simply too disappointed to react. In a region that is drowning in conflicts, from Iraq to Lebanon and from Sudan to Iran, the Palestinian problem is becoming just one of many.”

While this is the view of some Arab commentators, it is not the view of anti-Israel western organizations like the BBC that still obsessively and out of all proportion report on, and report negatively on, Israel.

“INTENTIONALLY COMMITTING CRIMES IN ORDER TO BE RETURNED TO PRISON”

In the second piece below, Alan Kaufman, writing in the Los Angeles Times, argues that nearly ten months after Israel withdrew every last soldier, settler, nail, and bucket from Gaza, the Hamas-led Palestinians can’t seem to let go. Hamas literally needs an occupier-enemy, just as released convicts who can’t seem to make it on the outside intentionally commit crimes in order to be returned to prison, where they feel safer and better understand the rules, says Kaufman. “You would think that the very last thing the Palestinians would want to import to Gaza is precisely the emblem of their former occupation: a soldier.”

“Hamas, like a jilted homicidal lover, will not rest until Israel is destroyed... Unfortunately, Israel cannot take out a restraining order against Hamas.”

REMEMBERING ANAT ROSENBERG, AND MIKE’S PLACE

In the third piece below, Jonathan Spyer, a research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, writes a heartfelt tribute to Anat Rosenberg, an Israeli woman who died in the July 7 London bombings. By a twist of fate, Jonathan Spyer (who is a longtime subscriber to this email list) met Anat Rosenberg at Mike’s Place, a bar in Jerusalem that later moved to Tel Aviv and in 2003 was hit by British suicide bombers, Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Mohammed Hanif, working with Hamas.

Spyer’s piece is carried on the Guardian “Comment is Free blog” and it is hardly surprising (given the kind of readers the Guardian attracts) that in the words of David Hirsh to another Guardian comment leaver on the Guardian website: “You’re just embarrassing. A Jew is murdered in London by Jew-haters and her friend remembers her. You call him a Nazi.”

Tonight a BBC documentary (on BBC2) will “reveal links” between the mastermind of the July 7 attacks in London, Mohammad Sidique Khan, and the British Muslims who carried out the Mike’s Place suicide attacks in Tel Aviv.

The BBC say they will “reveal” (their word) that Khan went on a reconnaissance mission to Tel Aviv before the Mike’s Place bombs. In fact I already wrote about this connection a year ago in an article for the Jerusalem Post (see www.tomgrossmedia.com/LondonShooting.html) but it is welcome that the BBC will finally report on the connection, even if it still insists that suicide murder of random civilians at a Tel Aviv bar is not terrorism.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

“THE WAR WITH ISRAEL IS OVER. YOU HAVE LOST”

Dear Brethren, the War with Israel Is Over
By Youssef Ibrahim
New York Sun
July 7, 2006

www.nysun.com/article/35606

As Israel enters the third week of an incursion into the same Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a few months ago, a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading through commentary by Arab pundits, letters to the editor, and political talk shows on Arabic-language TV networks. The new views are stunning both in their maturity and in their realism. The best way I can think of to convey them is in the form of a letter to the Palestinian Arabs from their Arab friends:

Dear Palestinian Arab brethren:

The war with Israel is over.

You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children.

We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause and the “eternal struggle” with Israel.

Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine, but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness.

At the moment, brothers, you would be lucky to secure a semblance of a state in that Gaza Strip into which you have all crowded, and a small part of the West Bank of the Jordan. It isn’t going to get better. Time is running out even for this much land, so here are some facts, figures, and sound advice, friends.

You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention of leaving Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem. You shoot old guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing virtually no harm to Israel while bringing the wrath of its mighty army down upon you. You fire ridiculously inept Kassam rockets that cause little destruction and delude yourselves into thinking this is a war of liberation. Your government, your social institutions, your schools, and your economy are all in ruins.

Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of foreigners, including America and the United Nations. Every day your officials must beg for your daily bread, dependent on relief trucks that carry food and medicine into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win. In other words, brothers, you are down, out, and alone in a burnt-out landscape that is shrinking by the day.

What kind of struggle is this? Is it worth waging at all? More important, what kind of miserable future does it portend for your children, the fourth or fifth generation of the Arab world’s have-nots?

We, your Arab brothers, have moved on. Those of us who have oil money are busy accumulating wealth and building housing, luxury developments, state-of-the-art universities and schools, and new highways and byways. Those of us who share borders with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, have signed a peace treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon. Those of us who are far away, in places like North Africa and Iraq, frankly could not care less about what happens to you.

Only Syria continues to feed your fantasies that someday it will join you in liberating Palestine, even though a huge chunk of its territory, the entire Golan Heights, was taken by Israel in 1967 and annexed. The Syrians, my friends, will gladly fight down to the last Palestinian Arab.

Before you got stuck with this Hamas crowd, another cheating, conniving, leader of yours, Yasser Arafat, sold you a rotten bill of goods more pain, greater corruption, and millions stolen by his relatives while your children played in the sewers of Gaza.

The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

 

“HAMAS LITERALLY NEEDS AN OCCUPIER-ENEMY”

Hamas can’t let Israel go: Ten months after the Gaza withdrawal, the terror group still devours Israeli soldiers to fuel its hate
By Alan Kaufman
The Los Angeles Times
July 6, 2006

www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-kaufman6jul06,0,5840035.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

Nearly 10 months after Israel withdrew every last soldier, settler, nail and bucket from Gaza, the Hamas-led Palestinians can’t seem to let go.

There is something psychologically profound about Hamas abducting to Gaza and holding hostage an Israeli soldier, 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit. You would think that the very last thing the Palestinians would want to import to Gaza is precisely the emblem of their former occupation: a soldier.

And yet, on a psychological plane, this seemingly senseless political act may be symbolically important. Perhaps without the soldier in their midst, the Palestinians in and of themselves feel no existential purpose. Perhaps they have no way to establish their own sense of destiny without the perpetual agony of conflict with Israel.

Hamas literally needs an occupier-enemy, just as released convicts who can’t seem to make it on the outside intentionally commit crimes in order to be returned to prison, where they feel safer and better understand the rules.

How else to explain the barrage of Kassam rockets from Gaza at Israel’s populated areas even after Israel has evacuated the Palestinians’ land? How else to fathom the pointless murder of a West Bank settler, 18-year-old Eliyahu Asheri, killed almost immediately following his abduction? Each rocket, each murder, is a painful tap on Israel’s shoulder from a frustrated former marriage partner who cannot let go and is threatening homicide. I’m still here, proclaims each explosion. Take me back, each murder demands.

Unfortunately, Israel cannot take out a restraining order against Hamas.

To some Americans, Israel’s unfolding military strike on the Gaza Strip in response to Shalit’s kidnapping may seem like an overreaction, no less irrational than the behavior of the other side. After all, Americans may think, it’s just one soldier. Four and sometimes eight times as many U.S. soldiers die in Iraq and Afghanistan each day, their deaths hardly noted.

But in Israel, the loss by death or abduction of a single soldier is an utterly devastating national event. As a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces who served extensively in the Gaza Strip, I remember how – strolling Jerusalem’s streets on leave from my military service – I saw the glow of a television set in every window. I heard the same newscaster’s voice – multiplied and amplified throughout the city – as he read the roll call of the day’s casualties. Israelis sat huddled and still, with hands over mouths, suppressing shock. Occasionally there were actual cries, as though some mother, in her flat, felt the loss of the soldiers as her very own children.

This is an aspect of Israel that is rarely talked about, a side not portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s and Tony Kushner’s cynical film, “Munich.” Its source is a deeply Jewish perspective that holds that the loss of a single Jewish life is equal to that of an entire universe – the code of a people who, to this day, remember the anonymous graves of 6 million Jews, including 1 million children, killed in the Holocaust.

Where is Shalit? Is he alive? Today, not only Israelis but Jews everywhere, from San Francisco to Paris to Tel Aviv, are praying for his safe return. And there is anger in our prayers, reflected in the Israeli response, which reflects our deep sense of betrayal over the refusal by the Hamas-led Palestinian government to accept the existence of the Jewish state. It has become abundantly clear since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and the advent of the Hamas government, that not even disengagement is enough.

Hamas, like a jilted homicidal lover, will not rest until Israel is destroyed.

 

WRITING ABOUT A DEAD FRIEND IS NOT EASY

7/7: In memory of Anat Rosenberg
By Jonathan Spyer
The Guardian’s Comment is Free blog
July 7, 2006

commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/jonathan_spyer/2006/07/in_memory_of_anat_rosenberg.html

Writing about a dead friend is not easy. It is made doubly hard when that friend was murdered, in political circumstances. One wants to pay tribute to a face, a smile, remembered words. And one is conscious of the possibility of the cheapening and coarsening of such things, if enlisted to the banner of a particular cause. On the third hand, it feels wrong to be intimidated by this. Since to abandon context, to forget who the killers were and why they killed, would be a betrayal. Of the dead, and of those of us that are left and must continue.

I met Anat Rosenberg in 1997, in a bar in Jerusalem called Mike’s Place. It was about one in the morning, in the late summer. Afterwards, we were friends for a while, before she left for England. Anat had jet-black hair and a white, fine-boned face which made her look severe when she wasn’t smiling. This was misleading, however, since anyone who met her became quickly aware that they were in the presence of one of the warmest-hearted people they would ever meet.

After Anat was murdered, I read in the British press that she had left Israel because of the suicide bombings and violence that engulfed our country in late 2000. This seemed a pleasingly symmetrical story – Israeli Jewish woman leaves her country because of bus bombings, only to die in a bus bombing herself. It is simplistic, and not entirely true, however. Anat’s reasons for leaving Israel were complex. She was very patriotic, with a deep, vivid and strong connection to Jewish history, and the Jewish story of destruction and rebirth which is Israel. At the same time, she loved courtesy, cultural pursuits, dance, theatre. It isn’t hard to understand why such a person might find life trying in harsh, rocky Jerusalem. Nor why they might be attracted to London, with its kalaedoscopic mix of cultures, and the possibility of living a life engaged in the here and now, not recruited and weighed down by history and graves and longing. These, I think, are the real reasons she came to Britain.

At Anat’s funeral, at Har Hamenuhot in Jerusalem, I saw my friend for the first time in seven years, and for the last time ever. She was covered by black velvet, with gold Hebrew inscription on it. On the stretcher with which they carry you to burial in Israel. As they laid her in the dry, red earth, in the blazing July sun, I realized that Anat’s quest had failed. She had sought to escape that harsh, unforgiving legacy. To live her life in a different place, a place that believed in tolerance, irony, and blessed privacy. It had found her, all the same.

The people who murdered Anat and the others who died on July 7th were adherents to the same creed and belief system as the people and organisations who have spread mayhem and murder in the cities of Israel over the last six years. This creed has a name. Its name is militant Islam, or Islamism. It is not the majority creed in the Muslim world, but it is adhered to by a very significant minority. This creed, and its battle with the free democracies of the west will define the time in which we are living. This creed, and its adherents are engaged in the business of robbing other people’s lives.

They are robbers of memories, too. In the service of their cause. Mike’s Place is no longer the name of a bar in Israel. Now it is a name on a list of sites of terror attacks. Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Mohammed Hanif, British Muslims, came to visit wearing explosive belts in 2004. Anat Rosenberg, my friend, is no longer someone who I met and shared some sweet moments with and is out there somewhere in England living her life. Hasib Hussein has turned her into a face on the monument for July 7, 2005.

So be it. They forced her back into their play. Without consent asked. All the same, the adherents to the creed of Hussein, Sharif and Hanif were right to see Anat as their enemy. So her death, though a horrific crime, was no targeting error on their part.

They hate free women above all things, it seems, so they were right to hate her. And they hate Jews and wish to destroy the Jewish sovereignty into which Anat was born and in which she believed, so no mistaken identity there either. They are also the enemies of the questioning mind, and of the society that allows a person to explore their own path, to take their private journey in search of beauty and meaning. Hasib Hussein and the others want to end all that – so free, searching, Israeli Jewish women are certainly their enemy and would certainly be among those they would wish to destroy.

The creed of militant Islam, with its parties, its armed organisations, its apologists, and its fellow travellers, is with us still, is young and virile, and will strike again. The war against it is only just beginning, and has not yet reached its height. May the remembrance of the lives consumed by this idea be a sustaining presence in the days to come. Anat Rosenberg, my friend, was cruelly murdered on July 7th, 2005, at Tavistock Square, in London. May her memory be a blessing.


Donald Trump invests $300 million in Israel (& more Islamic gay-bashing)

July 05, 2006

Also:
* BBC’s internal use of the word “terrorists” for those who threaten the BBC
* Mona Eltahawy on the difficulty of being an Arab journalist
* Reporters Without Borders: Following Hamas pressure, Palestinian press freedom is slipping to the bottom of the world league, behind “free-er” countries like Afghanistan, and is now as bad as Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea

 

CONTENTS

1. BBC’s internal use of the word “terrorists” for those who threaten the BBC
2. Britain’s Channel 4 possibly worse than the BBC
3. Donald Trump to build tallest building in Israel
4. Pope Benedict XVI to visit Israel in the first half of 2007
5. Red Cross admits Israel, ending long exclusion
6. Egypt: Al-Azhar Ulema says suicide bombers “are condemned to hell”
7. Director General of PA TV: “We are going to be a new Somalia”
8. Qaradawi: “Kerry was supported by homosexuals and nudists”
9. Iranian film shows plight of transvestites and transsexuals
10. “A perilous dance with the Arab press” (By Mona Eltahawy, IHT, June 19, 2006)
11. “Power and the press” (Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2006)
12. “Palestinian terrorist sues UK government” (Associated Press, June 21, 2006)
13. “Pakistan’s blasphemy laws used to persecute non-Muslims” (S. Telegraph, June 25, 2006)


[Additional Note by Tom Gross]

BBC’S INTERNAL USE OF THE WORD “TERRORISTS” FOR THOSE WHO THREATEN THE BBC

As a follow up to Monday’s dispatch (Israeli soldier kidnapped? Not on the BBC), in which I noted that the BBC senior management had again rejected recommendations that they use the word “terrorists” for groups that place bombs in Israeli buses and markets, please note that in this internal BBC email (below), sent to everybody at the BBC, the word “terrorists” was used for those people who may threaten the BBC. (I have removed the BBC’s internal phone number and replaced it with 000 so no one outside the BBC can use it.)

From: Safety and Security Information
Sent: 05 June 2006 10:37
Subject: Extra Security In The Current Situation
Importance: High

This is going to everyone

Recent events have shown that the BBC remains a target for protest groups, and we should always be alert to the possibility that activists are likely to consider direct action against the media in general particularly where ‘live’ broadcasting is involved.

Additionally, the threat to the UK from terrorists remains high. We have heightened security in many BBC buildings and we’re reviewing this regularly in close consultation with the police and security services.

We are also asking all BBC staff and the staff of our partners to be vigilant. In particular, if your building has any form of access control system it’s important that no one “tailgates” behind you as you are entering. Intruders can gain access by closely following you before the door or barrier has closed. Please be careful not to let anyone in this way – on foot or by car. If you see this happening, alert a member of security or your line manager immediately; don’t tackle the intruder yourself.

Our additional security level means:
You must wear your ID badge visibly when on all BBC premises. Visitors must be collected and escorted at all times
Parcels must be verified by the recipient on arrival, or the delivery will be rejected
BBC Clubs will allow access to club membership card holders only. Guests or visitors can be admitted if accompanied (at all times), and signed in, by a member
We cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to co-operate if we are to maintain the level of security the police advise – in the end it is for our own safety.
Finally, a reminder about the BBC’s 000 emergency information system. Ring 000 to keep up to date with any current incidents and how you should respond. If you have a mobile, add this number to your phone book.

Thank you for your continued support.
Jeremy Nordberg John Smith
Acting Director, BBC People Chief Operating Officer

BRITAIN’S CHANNEL 4 POSSIBLY WORSE THAN THE BBC

Jon Snow, the highly respected anchor of Britain’s Channel 4 news, outdid himself in an astonishing assault on an Israeli diplomat. It is virtually inconceivable that a leading a journalist would treat a diplomat from any other country with this degree of disrespect.

Among the statements Snow made during the “interview,” he says of the Qassam rockets hitting the Israeli town of Sderot and elsewhere “Rockets – pretty pathetic things, nobody gets injured.” This misinformation has also been repeated in the print press in recent days, including in The Guardian. For photos of some of those Israelis murdered in Sderot by Qassam rockets, see the foot of this page (Dorit Aniso, age 2 and Yuval Abebeh, 4).

You can watch Snow’s “interview” at anti-Israeli websites like these which are trumpeting it (and also provide email addresses): www.mpacuk.org/content/view/2294/1/

-- TG

 

[Note by Tom Gross]

DONALD TRUMP TO BUILD TALLEST BUILDING IN ISRAEL

Following the recent decision by Warren Buffett, the world’s second richest man, to choose the Israeli economy for his first large-scale non-American investment, another American billionaire, Donald Trump, has announced plans to enter the Israeli market. Trump (who, for the record, like Buffett, is not Jewish) is to build a $300 million, 70-story luxury apartment building in Ramat Gan, next to Tel Aviv.

The new tower, with 73,000 square meters (785,765 square foot), is set to be the tallest building in Israel, and the average price for each apartment will be $1 million. The luxury building is expected to be called Trump Tower Israel.

At the unveiling of the development last week, Trump said that the real-estate project would become a “landmark for future luxury apartment buildings in Israel.” Trump added that he is “certain Israel is on the right track.”

POPE BENEDICT XVI TO VISIT ISRAEL IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2007

Pope Benedict XVI will visit Israel in early 2007 following an agreement between the Papal nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, and Israel’s Minister of Tourism Isaac Herzog.

The visit is seen as significant both politically and economically as the Pope will bring with him a large entourage of pilgrims. The visit is also expected to encourage other pilgrims to visit Israel later in the year.

The late John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Israel in 2000; he visited sites sacred to Christianity, including the Mt. of the Beatitudes, overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). On this last papal visit, John Paul II was accompanied by 60,000 pilgrims, who spent 420,000 hotel nights in Israel.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, 800,000 Christian pilgrims visited Israel in 2005. 400,000 Christian pilgrims visited Israel in 2004.

RED CROSS ADMITS ISRAEL, ENDING LONG EXCLUSION

The International Red Cross Federation has admitted Israel’s Magen David Adom along with the Palestine Red Crescent, following nearly 60 years of asking by the Israeli society.

An optional new emblem has been adopted so Israel can retain its red star of David instead of having to adopt the red cross or crescent used by the 184 other societies in the global movement. The emblem, dubbed the “red crystal,” was approved over Muslim objections last December.

At a recent International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, a resolution was passed setting up the legal basis for Israel’s admission and making an exception to the rule that societies have to be under a sovereign state so that the Palestinians could join as well.

Magen David Adom had sought membership of the movement since the 1930s but was refused entry on the grounds that it did not use one of the approved symbols.

At the conference an amendment by Muslim states to block Israel joining the Red Cross was defeated. Most other states in the world voted for Israel’s admission, following American lobbying.

“At last Israel has been admitted. This is an extraordinarily exciting evening,” said Bonnie McElveen Hunter, chairman of the American Red Cross. “MDA is a world-class emergency response organization and has a great deal of expertise to offer other National Societies and the world during critical times of need,” she added.

EGYPT: AL-AZHAR ULEMA SAYS SUICIDE BOMBERS “ARE CONDEMNED TO HELL”

In a welcome development, the ulema of Cairo’s al-Azhar university, the highest seat of Sunni Muslim learning, last Thursday renewed their criticism of suicide bombers, this time underlining how many Islamists confuse “suicide” with “martyrdom” in defense of ones faith of country. In Islam, they explained, those who commit suicide “are condemned to hell.” In this case they are not considered “true Muslims” even if they are pushed to this dramatic gesture by religious motivations.

DIRECTOR GENERAL OF PA TV: “WE ARE GOING TO BE A NEW SOMALIA”

Egyptian writer Mona Eltahawy (who is a subscriber to this email list) has written an important article in the International Herald Tribune, in which she says that “Writing for an Arab newspaper is like playing hopscotch in a minefield.” She points out that “Few newspapers in the Arab world are truly independent. Most are state-controlled or state-owned, or owned by persons very close to the state.” (The article is attached below.)

The second article below examines the situation of the Palestinian media and the current pressure Palestinian journalists are facing from both Hamas and Fatah. Muhammad Dahudi, director general of Palestine TV, forecasts a bleak future for Palestinian media, predicting “We are going to be a new Somalia.”

The third article reports that Palestinian terrorist leader Ahmed Saadat, has filed a lawsuit against the British government alleging that his human rights were violated. For more on Saadat, see “Possibly the most maligned country on the planet is in the news again” (March 16, 2006).

QARADAWI: “KERRY WAS SUPPORTED BY HOMOSEXUALS AND NUDISTS”

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian Sunni cleric who lives in Qatar, and who is a close ally of London mayor Ken Livingstone and other European leftist leaders, said in an interview on Al-Jazeera TV that “homosexuals should be punished like fornicators.” He added that John Kerry, who ran for president in 2004, “was supported by homosexuals and nudists.”

Qaradawi, who supports the suicide bombing of Jews, says homosexuals “must be punished.” “The schools of thought disagree about the punishment. Some say we should throw them from a high place. Some say we should burn them. There is disagreement. The important thing is to treat this act as a crime.”

Livingstone and other Western far-leftist politicians, remain close to Qaradawi mainly because of his views against Israel.

IRANIAN FILM SHOWS PLIGHT OF TRANSVESTITES AND TRANSSEXUALS

In spite of Qaradawi’s remarks, there are some divergent opinions in Islamic societies about homosexuality. AFP reports that a new Iranian documentary about the plight of transvestites and transsexuals has been screened before an invited audience of 100 people in Teheran.

Ayatollah Khomeini, the late revolutionary leader, passed a little known religious edict ruling that such operations were an acceptable last resort for patients whose self-image was irreconcilably at odds with their birth sex.

The director of the film, Sharareh Attari, has been praised for her “courage and determination” and she hopes her film will inspire more established filmmakers to tackle sensitive subjects.

For more, please see:
english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/B75D9B55-DDAF-44FA-88C5-0E08D31F8373.htm.

The final article in this dispatch takes another look at Christians in Pakistan, who continue to suffer widespread persecution (as barely reported in The New York Times or on the BBC). This email list has for years detailed the persecution of Christians, most recently the article in the dispatch of May 22, 2006, titled “Much of Europe prefers a traditional Muslim woman who keeps her mouth shut.”

I attach five articles below, with summaries first for those that do not have time to read them in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

“YASSER ARAFAT SYNDROME”

“A perilous dance with the Arab press” (By Mona Eltahawy, International Herald Tribune, June 19, 2006)

Writing for an Arab newspaper is like playing hopscotch in a minefield.

From January 2004 until early this year I played my game of hopscotch in a weekly column on the opinion pages of Asharq al-Awsat, the London-based, Saudi-owned newspaper that is read across the Arab world.

And then I stepped on a mine. Without warning or notice, fewer and fewer of my columns made it into print. Then my articles stopped appearing altogether. I had been banned.

Nobody tells you that you’re banned from an Arab paper – especially a paper that is supposedly the liberal home of writers banned from other papers, which is how Asharq al-Awsat portrays itself…

Before my ban, Asharq al-Awsat launched a Web site in English. Designed to show Western readers how liberal it was, the site suffered from Yasser Arafat syndrome. Just as the late Palestinian leader’s statements in Arabic and in English were sometimes contradictory, the newspaper in Arabic would abide by the red lines that govern criticism of Arab leaders while in English it ran roughshod over those very same lines…

A column I wrote tearing into the Egyptian regime for allowing its security forces to beat peaceful protesters and to sexually assault female journalists and demonstrators was spiked from the Arabic newspaper and Web site but appeared in its entirety on the English Web site.

Few newspapers in the Arab world are truly independent. Most are state-controlled or state-owned, or owned by persons very close to the state; Asharq al-Awsat is published by a nephew of the Saudi king…

 

“IN GAZA THE SWORD IS MIGHTIER THAN THE PEN”

“Power and the press” (By Matthew Gutman, The Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2006)

… In Gaza, where the sword is mightier than the pen, the media have become the latest battleground in the struggle between the Islamic Hamas and nationalist Fatah parties. So far, no journalists have been seriously hurt in the war to win the hearts and minds of Palestinians, but intimidation compelled some media outlets like al-Hurriya to slash news broadcasts, and has sufficiently frightened some writers enough to cause them to lay down their pens.

In Gaza’s mosques, Hamas clerics are denouncing some media as traitorous, and though Hamas leaders in turn denounce the threats, they have taken no action to stop them. They openly accuse independent and Fatah-related media of courting civil war and in recent weeks, journalists or media outlets deemed to have an anti-Hamas bent have not been merely subjected to phoned or e-mailed death threats. On June 4, assailants sacked the Palestine TV bureau in Khan Yunis, torching expensive satellite equipment…

But intimidation of the Palestinian press is hardly new. Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004, clapped in jail dozens of journalists and prominent dissidents who dared speak their minds.

Back then, the rules were clear. “You ran into trouble when you wrote about [Arafat],” says Arabeed…

In 2005, the Palestinian territories ranked 132 in the RWF Worldwide Press Freedom Index, a ranking of press freedoms in 167 countries. That ranking put the West Bank and Gaza ahead of Sudan and Mexico but behind “free-er” countries like Afghanistan.

This year, the Palestinian ranking will slide further down towards the bottom, snugly near Iran, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea, says Reporters Without Borders (RWF)…

“I was getting 50-70 death threats a day for three weeks,” says al-Hurriya’s Arabeed. Four of his 32 staffers quit because of the threats, he adds, most of whom received threats of the “I know-where-you-live” variety on their mobile phones.

So in May, after six years of continuous live news coverage, he directed his staff to broadcast only the headlines ripped from news wires…

He is not alone. Muhammad Dahudi, director general of Palestine TV, says he gets 20 calls a day from people calling themselves Hamas militants. They threaten to knee cap, dismember and plug him full of lead for his station’s allegedly biased reporting. When his wife heard a sermon on the radio fulminating against him last week, he realized it was time to change his telephone numbers…

On June 4, gunmen raided the Palestine TV bureau in Khan Yunis, firing off rounds into TV equipment and beating two of the employees, according to news reports…

Many of the 33 Palestinian TV stations, 20 radio stations and 19 or so newspapers have been threatened. It’s not clear exactly how many. The staff at Fatah-affiliated Shabab radio in Gaza is also flooded with death threats, according to its director, Hamza Abu Reisha…

Most Palestinians get their news from al-Jazeera, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Still, with 29% using it as their primary news source, Palestine TV is no small prize…

Fatah is also not above pressuring the media. Following an assassination attempt on the Palestinian general intelligence chief on May 20, Fatah members prevented foreign and local crews from filming the intelligence headquarters and even stole some crews’ film at gunpoint. The Foreign Press Association of Israel and the Palestinian territories issued an official complaint… Then on May 22, three cars parked in the al-Jazeera lot in Ramallah were torched by Fatah…

 

AHMED SAADAT SUES UK GOVERNMENT

“Palestinian terrorist sues UK government” (Associated Press, June 21, 2006)

A Palestinian terrorist leader held by Israel filed a lawsuit against the British government for pulling wardens out of a West Bank prison that was later stormed by Israeli forces, his lawyer said.

Attorney Kate Maynard said she had filed papers on behalf of Ahmed Saadat alleging his human rights had been violated…

Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claims his human rights were violated by the March withdrawal of British wardens from a prison in Jericho where he was held…

Saadat was accused by Israel of masterminding the 2001 assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi…

 

“KERRY WAS SUPPORTED BY HOMOSEXUALS AND NUDISTS”

“Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Homosexuals should be punished like fornicators but their harm is less when not done in public” (MEMRI, June 5, 2006, www.memritv.org/Transcript.asp?P1=1170)

Following are excerpts from an interview with Dr. Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on June 5, 2006. (For space reasons, there is no full article.)

Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Kerry, who ran against Bush, was supported by homosexuals and nudists. But it was Bush who won [the elections], because he is Christian, right-wing, tenacious, and unyielding. In other words, the religious overcame the perverted. So we cannot blame all Americans and Westerners.

But unfortunately, because the Westerners – Americans and others – want to flatter these people on account of the elections, a disaster occurs. In order to succeed and win the elections, he flatters these people, rather than saying to them: No, you are sinning against yourselves, against society, and against humanity. This is forbidden. Instead of leveling with them, people flatter them to win their votes. This is the disaster that has befallen humanity…

Interviewer: How should a homosexual or a lesbian be punished? We mentioned the story of the people of Sodom and how Allah punished them, but how should someone who commits this abomination be punished today?

Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: The same punishment as any sexual pervert – the same as the fornicator… The schools of thought disagree about the punishment… Some say we should throw them from a high place, like God did with the people of Sodom. Some say we should burn them, and so on. There is disagreement… The important thing is to treat this act as a crime.

Interviewer: For homosexuals and lesbians – the punishment for a woman who favors women, and for a man who favors men.

Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Lesbianism is not as bad as homosexuality, in practical terms…

Interviewer: Should a man be punished for having homosexual tendencies?

Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Yes, he should.

Interviewer: Or maybe he should be punished only for committing this sin?

Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: He should be punished just like a fornicator. What is fornication? It is a sexual perversion. A perversion cannot possibly be innate…

Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: This is the calamity of societies. When sin and abomination are concealed, they don’t cause much harm… But the calamity becomes widespread, when it stops being a secret and becomes public… We are not hostile towards these people. On the contrary, we pity them. But we do not want to give them an opportunity, like the Westerners, who consider this a normal phenomenon, and it has become widespread, I’m sad to say.

 

“PAKISTAN IS BECOMING A FUNDAMENTALIST STATE”

“Pakistan’s blasphemy laws used to persecute non-Muslims” (By Massoud Ansari in Lahore and Michael Hirst, The Sunday Telegraph, June 25, 2006)

By rights, the Pakistani Christians Asif Masih and Amjad Masih should be celebrating. Released from prison last month after their life sentences for blasphemy were overturned by Pakistan’s supreme court, they are enjoying their first taste of freedom for seven years. But in the country’s increasingly fundamentalist climate, the two feel as imprisoned now as they ever did, forced into hiding for fear of attacks by Muslim extremists.

The two cleaners from Jhang district, 300 miles south of Islamabad, were jailed by a Faisalabad court in 1999 under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws, having been wrongly accused of burning a copy of the Koran. Because the law can be invoked on the word of just one witness, it is frequently manipulated by Muslims to settle scores or rouse religious tensions…

Amjad’s story is all too familiar for Pakistan’s vulnerable Christian minorities, who make up less than three per cent of the predom-inantly conservative Muslim population of 160 million. Unlike Christian communities in the Middle East, who are generally prosperous, Pakistani Christians are mainly poor – most trace their ancestry back to the “untouchable” Hindu Chuhra caste.

In many areas, they have suffered violence orchestrated against them and their churches. In February, 400 people attacked a church in the southern city of Sukkur after accusations that a Christian had set fire to a Koran. In 2002, Muslim hardliners threw grenades into a church on Christmas Day, killing three girls…

… Despite calls for reform, Ajaz-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s religious minister, has insisted that even if 100,000 Christians lost their lives, the blasphemy law would not be repealed.



FULL ARTICLES

“WRITING FOR AN ARAB NEWSPAPER IS LIKE PLAYING HOPSCOTCH IN A MINEFIELD”

A perilous dance with the Arab press
By Mona Eltahawy
International Herald Tribune
June 19, 2006

www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/19/opinion/edelta.php

Writing for an Arab newspaper is like playing hopscotch in a minefield.

From January 2004 until early this year I played my game of hopscotch in a weekly column on the opinion pages of Asharq al-Awsat, the London-based, Saudi-owned newspaper that is read across the Arab world.

And then I stepped on a mine. Without warning or notice, fewer and fewer of my columns made it into print. Then my articles stopped appearing altogether. I had been banned.

Nobody tells you that you’re banned from an Arab paper – especially a paper that is supposedly the liberal home of writers banned from other papers, which is how Asharq al-Awsat portrays itself.

Sadly, my experience is not unique. When I told a veteran Egyptian journalist that I had not been officially notified of my ban, he reminded me that he found out about his removal as editor of a newspaper in Egypt when he read about it in another newspaper.

Another Egyptian journalist told me he’d been “lucky”: The editor of a newspaper he used to write for actually confessed to him that the Egyptian regime had called the Saudi prince who publishes the paper and requested that my friend be banned.

That is probably what happened in my case. Since Egypt’s parliamentary elections last year, which left President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party in firm control of the legislature, the Egyptian regime has been settling scores with opponents, particularly those who support a small but vocal reform movement that has organized unprecedented street protests in Cairo.

I had moved back to Cairo from New York last year for four months to document and to take part in that reform movement, and devoted many of my weekly Asharq al-Awsat columns to it.

At the end of my stay, just before I left Egypt to return to New York, I was summoned to State Security because of an article I wrote criticizing the fraud and violence in the parliamentary elections. The summons was intended as a “we are watching you” warning.

Over the past two months, the Egyptian regime has brutally cracked down against democracy activists and journalists, beating and imprisoning many of the men and women I wrote about. Several of the detainees have accused security forces of torturing them in jail.

The trouble with Asharq al-Awsat, beyond its disturbing acquiescence to Arab regimes, is that it claimed a liberalism that was patently false.

Before my ban, Asharq al-Awsat launched a Web site in English. Designed to show Western readers how liberal it was, the site suffered from Yasser Arafat syndrome. Just as the late Palestinian leader’s statements in Arabic and in English were sometimes contradictory, the newspaper in Arabic would abide by the red lines that govern criticism of Arab leaders while in English it ran roughshod over those very same lines.

A column I wrote tearing into the Egyptian regime for allowing its security forces to beat peaceful protesters and to sexually assault female journalists and demonstrators was spiked from the Arabic newspaper and Web site but appeared in its entirety on the English Web site.

Few newspapers in the Arab world are truly independent. Most are state-controlled or state-owned, or owned by persons very close to the state; Asharq al-Awsat is published by a nephew of the Saudi king.

The major red lines at Asharq al- Awsat could be quite simple – in descending order they were the Saudi royal family, Saudi Arabia’s allies in the Gulf (Qatar, a rival, was considered fair game) and then Saudi Arabia’s other Arab allies.

Within such a hierarchy of red lines, the Egyptian regime can indeed pull rank and demand that Asharq al- Awsat silence a critic.

So why did I even bother writing for Asharq al-Awsat? After I left news reporting and switched to opinion writing after the attacks of September 11, 2001, I didn’t want to address just a Western audience. When it comes to reform and the fight against religious militancy, the primary conversation must be among us Arabs and Muslims – hence the need to wade into the minefield that is the Arab press.

It is gratifying to know that Arab regimes and compliant newspapers consider some of us annoying enough to ban, but equally sad to consider the many gatekeepers that stand between us and our fellow Arabs.

 

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN MEDIA OUTLET”

Power and the press
By Matthew Gutman
The Jerusalem Post
June 22, 2006

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885828068&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Throughout his 20 years in journalism, Majdi Arabeed’s only weapon was his mouth. But these are hard times for Palestinian journalists, both courted and condemned as the war for public support intensifies. So Arabeed, the owner and manager of Gaza’s al-Hurriya Radio, has bought a gun, he says, plunking an AK-47 on his desk as evidence.

Death threats from militants claiming to represent the Islamic group Hamas strong-armed Arabeed to order al-Hurriya’s reporters off the streets, arm himself and hire the two most mountainous bodyguards money can buy.

Hamas may have won the January elections, but it is currently locked in a power struggle with the former ruling party, Fatah, which has left about 20 people dead – including a dazzling array of top Palestinian security commanders – and dozens wounded in the past two months.

In Gaza, where the sword is mightier than the pen, the media have become the latest battleground in the struggle between the Islamic Hamas and nationalist Fatah parties. So far, no journalists have been seriously hurt in the war to win the hearts and minds of Palestinians, but intimidation compelled some media outlets like al-Hurriya to slash news broadcasts, and has sufficiently frightened some writers enough to cause them to lay down their pens.

In Gaza’s mosques, Hamas clerics are denouncing some media as traitorous, and though Hamas leaders in turn denounce the threats, they have taken no action to stop them. They openly accuse independent and Fatah-related media of courting civil war and in recent weeks, journalists or media outlets deemed to have an anti-Hamas bent have not been merely subjected to phoned or e-mailed death threats. On June 4, assailants sacked the Palestine TV bureau in Khan Yunis, torching expensive satellite equipment.

But intimidation of the Palestinian press is hardly new. Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004, clapped in jail dozens of journalists and prominent dissidents who dared speak their minds.

Back then, the rules were clear. “You ran into trouble when you wrote about [Arafat] or national security, that’s all,” says Arabeed.

Arafat’s bullying of the press sought to check criticism against him. He used the state-run media to tighten his white-knuckle grip upon his triumphant return to the West Bank and Gaza as part of the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords. For over a decade the Palestinian press was the sole domain of the Fatah party, and many media outlets are still headed by secular or Fatah-affiliated journalists or Fatah technocrats. They all became experts at navigating the group’s hierarchy and maneuvering around the shoals of the PA’s various intelligence branches.

During Arafat’s time, says Lynn Tehini, the Middle East desk officer for Reporters Without Borders, a journalists’ rights watchdog, reporters knew the risks. They also knew their adversaries: the IDF and Arafat’s intelligence forces.

A 1996 Palestinian law sought to protect journalists and enshrine the rights of free speech but did little to prevent self-censorship, says Basem Ezbidi, a political science professor at Birzeit University in the West Bank. And a 10-year-old piece of toothless legislation passed by a lame duck Palestinian parliament does little to protect journalists now feeling their way through a new, Hamas-dominated government.

Reporters Without Borders say they fear unsanctioned violence against reporters could erupt spontaneously; and the situation is only getting worse.

In 2005, the Palestinian territories ranked 132 in the RWF Worldwide Press Freedom Index, a ranking of press freedoms in 167 countries. That ranking put the West Bank and Gaza ahead of Sudan and Mexico but behind “free-er” countries like Afghanistan.

This year, the Palestinian ranking will slide further down towards the bottom, snugly near Iran, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea, says Tehini. As opposed to those countries, where the government strangles freedom of expression and the press reports only official government propaganda, in the Palestinian territories, control is too diffuse, explains Tehini.

“Here, you have little gangs and each thinks about his own interests,” Tehini continues. “Hamas does not control the gangs that threaten journalists… There is anarchy there and the situation is very volatile.”

Hamas’s wresting control of the media mirrors Arafat’s tactics, but its strategy is long term, says Ezbidi. Controlling the content of information beamed to Palestinians is part of the crusade to Islamicize them.

The three ingredients for control of the Palestinians are guns, the media and money, says Muhammad Yaghi, an expert in Palestinian politics and a columnist for the Palestinian al-Ayyam newspaper. Hamas has guns and is smuggling more in, is fortifying its presence in the media. But it lacks cash – the United States, Israel and other nations have boycotted Hamas and frozen the government’s funding. For its part, Israel refuses to release tens of millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenue to the Hamas government, depriving it of a key source of power.

Ghazi Hamid, the Hamas government spokesman, says the threats are the work of “troublemakers, ” not genuine Hamas militants. However, in an interview in his Gaza office, he accuses “those media of trying to increase the hatred” between the factions. To solve the impasse, he says his government is working on a document to set out reporting guidelines for editors.

Mediation with the Hamas government may be too late for some.

“I was getting 50-70 death threats a day for three weeks,” says al-Hurriya’s Arabeed. Four of his 32 staffers quit because of the threats, he adds, most of whom received threats of the “I know-where-you-live” variety on their mobile phones.

So in May, after six years of continuous live news coverage, he directed his staff to broadcast only the headlines ripped from news wires.

“It would be irresponsible to keep reporters in their beats,” he explains.

Known for their eye-witness coverage, his reporters had covered Hamas-Fatah clashes too zealously, and are now all paying the price, he says.

On June 1, al-Hurriya’s reporters returned to the airwaves, but something was different. Arabeed ordered them to omit any mention of Hamas. So if Prime Minister Ismail Haniya holds a press conference announcing a government decision, al-Hurriya will note the decision but won’t report where it came from. Arabeed concedes that this is bad reporting, but contends it’s the only way to continue reporting and avoid more trouble.

When advertising flags, Arabeed helps shoulder al-Hurriya’s $300,000 a year running costs. He doubles as a cameraman for Israel’s Channel 10 and also owns an advertising agency. An FM station, al-Hurriya is broadcast in the West Bank and Gaza and is the second most popular station in the West Bank and Gaza after the Voice of Palestine, according to a poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center.

But these days, the station feels more like a speakeasy than a major news organization. A visitor rides an elevator to the 13th floor in one of downtown Gaza’s few skyscrapers. He buzzes an intercom. Through a peephole, a guard gruffly demands the purpose of the visit. The door creaks open – there is no door handle. Inside, aimless reporters hang around and smoke. Sound technicians – the only people working – twist dials and slide levers on a huge sound board, cross-fading one jaunty pop song into another.

Arabeed concedes that morale is low. Lines are etched deeply on his brow – in person he looks older than his 40 years. He has filmed countless demonstrations and dozens of clashes between Israel and the Palestinians and has nine bullet wounds to show for it. The last shooting was captured on Channel 10 news in January 2005.

“But I never thought the next bullet might come from a Palestinian,” he says.

He is not alone. Muhammad Dahudi, director general of Palestine TV, says he gets 20 calls a day from people calling themselves Hamas militants. They threaten to knee cap, dismember and plug him full of lead for his station’s allegedly biased reporting. When his wife heard a sermon on the radio fulminating against him last week, he realized it was time to change his telephone numbers.

Two days after the violence erupted on Gaza’s streets in early May, Dahudi gathered his 57 reporters for a talk.

“I reminded them of the first rule of journalism – stay alive. Then I told them to be extra sure there’s no bias in their work.”

The talk proved futile. On June 4, gunmen raided the Palestine TV bureau in Khan Yunis, firing off rounds into TV equipment and beating two of the employees, according to news reports.

Palestine TV is a branch of the Palestinian Authority Information Ministry – a body now controlled by Hamas. Complaints to his superiors at the ministry were met with advice that he should be more favorable to Hamas, says Dahudi. He then dialed PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to complain. The president told him to keep his head down; there wasn’t much else Abbas could offer.

Many of the 33 Palestinian TV stations, 20 radio stations and 19 or so newspapers have been threatened. It’s not clear exactly how many. The staff at Fatah-affiliated Shabab radio in Gaza is also flooded with death threats, according to its director, Hamza Abu Reisha.

Unlike al-Hurriya’s Arabeed, Dahudi refuses to change Palestine TV’s programming, arguing that his satellite station gives all Palestinians a chance to be heard. Crinkling his nose, he says “that would be bad journalism.”

His phone began ringing day and night after Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Dahudi’s Palestine TV of fomenting civil war in an interview with the Qatar-based Arabic satellite channel, al-Jazeera.

“I called [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] to complain,” says Dahudi. “He just told me to be careful.”

Most Palestinians get their news from al-Jazeera, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Still, with 29% using it as their primary news source, Palestine TV is no small prize.

“This is the big game,” says Hazen Abu Shanab, a communications lecturer at Gaza’s Al Azhar University. “Both parties want to control the media.”

Abu Shanab, a Fatah-affiliated academic who frequently writes op-ed articles, has reduced his own writing by 90%.

“I prefer to be killed fighting the occupation, not publishing an article,” he adds.

Gaza’s atmosphere is dense with the rhythmic popping of assault rifles punctuated by the thunder of a grenade or IDF artillery battering Kassam launch positions in Gaza’s north.

Caught in the churning violence and intrigue, the Palestinian audience’s appetite for news has grown. Some are beginning to notice the diluted news broadcasts.

One of them is Mahmud al-Hozandar, who owns one of Gaza City’s renowned humous spots.

“We listen every half hour. We need to know what’s going on.” Hozandar listens to the secular al-Hurriya and the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa radio stations to hear both sides. “That’s the only way you can know the truth,” he says.

But with al-Hurriya hobbled, he feels cheated out of a major source of news.

“But then again, there is no such thing as an independent Palestinian media outlet,” he says.

Abu Shanab agrees, saying Gaza feels more like Baghdad these days. But unlike many others, he hasn’t been threatened.

Neither has Muhammad Abu U’un, director of the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa radio. In a telephone interview, he seems astonished by the threats to his colleagues.

“We have had no intimidations. We are doing very well in Gaza these days,” he says. “Who would threaten us,” he wonders aloud.

Fatah is also not above pressuring the media. Following an assassination attempt on the Palestinian general intelligence chief on May 20, Fatah members prevented foreign and local crews from filming the intelligence headquarters and even stole some crews’ film at gunpoint. The Foreign Press Association of Israel and the Palestinian territories issued an official complaint.

Then on May 22, three cars parked in the al-Jazeera lot in Ramallah were torched. Fatah members claimed revenge for the satellite channel’s failure to cover one of its rallies, according to wire reports.

Dahudi forecasts a bleak future ahead for the Palestinian press.

“We are going to be a new Somalia,” he predicts. “Welcome.”

 

PALESTINIAN TERRORIST SUES UK GOVERNMENT

Palestinian terrorist sues UK government
The Associated Press
June 21, 2006

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885821626&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

A Palestinian terrorist leader held by Israel filed a lawsuit against the British government for pulling wardens out of a West Bank prison that was later stormed by Israeli forces, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Kate Maynard said she had filed papers on behalf of Ahmed Saadat alleging his human rights had been violated.

The Foreign Office said it was aware the legal claim had been lodged. A High Court judge will decide whether the case can proceed.

Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claims his human rights were violated by the March withdrawal of British wardens from a prison in Jericho where he was held.

British and US monitors supervised the prison under an unusual 2002 agreement.

Minutes after the monitors withdrew, 1,000 Israeli troops stormed the prison, seizing Saadat and four of his alleged accomplices in the 2001 assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister. The raid left three Palestinians dead and sparked reprisals against foreigners in the Palestinian territories.

Britain’s then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said at the time that the 14 British and U.S. monitors had been withdrawn because of threats to their security.

Maynard accused the British government of acting “with complete disregard for the lives of Mr. Saadat and the other prisoners by giving (Israel) advance notice of their withdrawal and then telling them as they left.”

Saadat was accused by Israel of masterminding the 2001 assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi. He was arrested by Palestinian police, though never charged, but was held in the Jericho jail anyway, partly to protect him from being targeted by Israel.

Four men seized with Saadat are being tried by Israel for Zeevi’s murder, but the attorney general Mazuz ruled there was insufficient evidence charge Saadat. He is awaiting trial by an Israeli military court on several other terrorism-related charges.

 

THE CONTINUING PERSECUTION OF PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws used to persecute non-Muslims
By Massoud Ansari in Lahore and Michael Hirst
The Sunday Telegraph
June 25, 2006

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/06/25/wpak25.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/06/25/ixnews.html

By rights, the Pakistani Christians Asif Masih and Amjad Masih should be celebrating. Released from prison last month after their life sentences for blasphemy were overturned by Pakistan’s supreme court, they are enjoying their first taste of freedom for seven years. But in the country’s increasingly fundamentalist climate, the two feel as imprisoned now as they ever did, forced into hiding for fear of attacks by Muslim extremists.

The two cleaners from Jhang district, 300 miles south of Islamabad, were jailed by a Faisalabad court in 1999 under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws, having been wrongly accused of burning a copy of the Koran. Because the law can be invoked on the word of just one witness, it is frequently manipulated by Muslims to settle scores or rouse religious tensions.

Asif, 30, and Amjad, 36, who are not related – Masih is a generic term used to describe Christians in Pakistan – said police made the Koran-burning allegations after the pair refused to pay bribe money in 1998. Their first appeal was rejected on May 23, 2003, and they were finally freed last month.

Amjad’s wife, Kausar, said: “It has been a tough period for my family, but I am afraid the real tough time starts now, as the extremists can attack Amjad or somebody else from the family.”

In jail, the two men were kept in solitary confinement for their own safety, following the murder of another blasphemer in a women’s prison in 2003. Meena Munir, a local human rights activist, claimed they were just as much at risk having been released.

“Once a person is charged with blasphemy, he is considered condemned even if he is acquitted,” she said. The families of the two men now face poverty, as employment prospects are bleak for anyone remotely associated with an alleged “blasphemer”.

Amjad, his wife and their four children are now being looked after by the Bishop John Joseph Shaheed Trust, a charity set up in memory of a clergyman who committed suicide outside a court to protest against the blasphemy laws.

Amjad’s story is all too familiar for Pakistan’s vulnerable Christian minorities, who make up less than three per cent of the predominantly conservative Muslim population of 160 million. Unlike Christian communities in the Middle East, who are generally prosperous, Pakistani Christians are mainly poor – most trace their ancestry back to the “untouchable” Hindu Chuhra caste.

In many areas, they have suffered violence orchestrated against them and their churches. In February, 400 people attacked a church in the southern city of Sukkur after accusations that a Christian had set fire to a Koran. In 2002, Muslim hardliners threw grenades into a church on Christmas Day, killing three girls.

Worsening the situation for indigenous Christians is the perceived link between them and the Western world that is now demonised by extremists.

“Pakistan is becoming a fundamentalist state,” Nasir Saeed, the London director for the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), a Pakistani charity, told The Sunday Telegraph. Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace, a Roman Catholic human rights body, has criticised the authorities for failing to prosecute Muslim militias, whom it claims have murdered at least 23 alleged blasphemers.

But defending those facing blasphemy charges is dangerous in itself. Joseph Francis, the co-ordinator for CLAAS in Lahore, said he had received death threats from al-Qaeda-linked groups for taking up such cases in the courts.

Although President Pervez Musharraf promised in 1999 to restrict the application of the blasphemy law, he withdrew, under pressure from fundamentalist groups, settling instead on various rhetorical statements deploring religious intolerance.

In another case, Ranjha Masih was jailed for life for allegedly knocking over a board with Koranic verse. His wife, Rasheeda, said, “We always respect all the prophets of God and would not disrespect religious scripts.”

Despite calls for reform, Ajaz-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s religious minister, has insisted that even if 100,000 Christians lost their lives, the blasphemy law would not be repealed.

Israeli soldier kidnapped? Not on the BBC

July 03, 2006

* Also: BBC announces it will reject Independent enquiry’s recommendation to use the word “terror” when Israelis are bombed

 

CONTENTS

1. Israeli soldier kidnapped? Not on the BBC
2. BBC rejects recommendation to use the word “terror”
3. BBC hides important information about a terrorist
4. BBC appoints another reporter for the Palestinian cause
5. BBC “enhances” the role of Jeremy Bowen
6. BBC still unsure about Osirak bombing
7. “We have a right to expect more honesty from the BBC”
8. “A culture of bias”
9. BBC to expand and rebrand
10. Guardian editor declines to meet Olmert
11. “Bias at the Beeb” (By Michael Gove & Mark Dooley, Prospect, June 2006)
12. “Bowen Middle East role ‘enhanced’” (BBC News, June 19, 2006)
13. “BBC to create single news brand” (Guardian, June 12, 2006)
14. “BBC channels £90m profit in pursuit of global domination” (Times, June 29, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to previous dispatches on the BBC and to Saving Corporal Shalit (June 28, 2006).

ISRAELI SOLDIER KIDNAPPED? NOT ON THE BBC

Some parts of the media which are traditionally relatively unsympathetic to the Jewish state, most notably the editorial writers at the Washington Post, have in recent days shown more understanding.

But at the same time the most hostile sections of the media have stepped up their demonization of Israel. This is particularly so with the BBC, the world’s biggest international broadcast network, which continues unabated with its manipulative, untruthful coverage and obsessive bashing of Israel of a kind likely to whip up anti-Semitic feelings among BBC listeners and watchers worldwide.

The BBC broadcasts in dozens of languages, on TV, radio and online. Its radio service alone attracts over 163 million listeners. Although much of the domestic BBC TV programming contains spiteful misinformation – one BBC TV guest Conservative MP said Israel had been “carpet bombing” Gaza last week – its world service radio broadcasts are considerably worse.

It would take dozens of pages to outline the full extent of the BBC’s distortions in its coverage of recent days. So I shall stick to a single example, one which the BBC itself admits to.

The BBC has decided not to use the term “kidnap” in relation to the story of Corporal Gilad Shalit. The corporation instead says he has been “captured”. And Hamas cabinet members picked up by the Israeli army were “detained” rather than “arrested”.

The BBC’s foreign editor, Jon Williams, explains the decision in the BBC editors’ blog:

“Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry value judgments. Our job is to remain objective. By doing so, I hope we allow our audiences on radio and television to make their own assessment of the story. So we try to stick to the facts. Civilians are ‘kidnapped’; Cpl Shalit was ‘captured’. Since troops don’t usually make ‘arrests’, the politicians were ‘detained’. Doubtless some will disagree. But that’s, in essence, the heart of the story.”

To say that Corporal Shalit was merely “captured” is, of course, nonsense. He was abducted while near a kibbutz in the middle of a night in a carefully planned kidnap operation that was worked on for months and cost Hamas considerable money. And he is being held as a hostage by a terrorist group. If this is not a kidnapping, what is?

BBC REJECTS RECOMMENDATION TO USE THE WORD “TERROR”

Separately, last week the BBC announced it would reject a recommendation made by an independent panel set up by the BBC’s board of governors to study charges of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In general, and to the surprise of many, the panel backed the BBC’s reporting, even suggesting it was pro-Israeli. But in one respect it said the BBC should change its editorial policies: to allow the use of the word “terrorism” to describe suicide bomb and other attacks on Israeli civilians. The panel had recommended the use of the word “terrorism” since it “is the most accurate expression for actions which involve violence against randomly selected civilians.”

The panel noted that “If it appears to adopt one policy in covering terrorist attacks in London, or Madrid, the BBC must expect to face questions if it appears to take a different line in Israel.”

But in rejecting this recommendation last week, BBC management argued that to use the word “terrorist,” would “oblige journalists to make ‘the very value judgments’ [about Palestinian terror groups] they are asked to avoid making under the BBC’s editorial guidelines.”

For more on the BBC governors’ report, see “The BBC pro-Israeli? Is the Pope Jewish?” (May 15, 2006).

BBC HIDES IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT A TERRORIST

Following the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit last week, the BBC ran an article on their “award-winning” website focusing on a Palestinian man, Walid al-Houdaly, who claimed that his wife and 18-month old son are being held in an Israeli prison. Separately, BBC correspondents have said Israel is taking an “exceptionally hard line” in refusing to talk about releasing these Palestinian prisoners.

The article, which reads like a propaganda statement for Islamic Jihad, is guilty of omitting some very important facts.

It states that al-Houdaly’s wife “headed a women’s organisation dedicated to providing health services for poor Palestinians.”

In fact, according to Palestinian media reports and pro-Palestinian campaigners for prisoner releases, Walid al-Houdaly’s wife is a member of Islamic Jihad, and was jailed for 10 years for attempting to detonate a car bomb in Jerusalem. These facts are simply omitted from the BBC’s report.

BBC APPOINTS ANOTHER REPORTER FOR THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE

The BBC already obsessively covers Israel. In one bulletin last Friday evening, for example, the BBC devoted the first 21 minutes to bashing Israel (which had killed no one that day), going straight after that to a report on the soccer world cup, leaving no time in the program to mention that British troops had shot dead Afghans that day. Now the BBC has announced it will add yet another member to their news team to “expose Israel.” The BBC says it will “appoint a dedicated West Bank reporter to complement its existing correspondent in Gaza.” (In fact the BBC already employs several reporters in and around Gaza. Amazingly none bothered to tell us about the only civilian Palestinian casualties last week – two Palestinians, including a one year old girl, were killed and another seven, including a baby, wounded when Hamas accidentally exploded a grenade in Khan Yunis last Wednesday.)

As Melanie Phillips, a longtime subscriber to this list, notes on her website: “If you think the BBC is already hopelessly biased against Israel, you ain’t seen nothing yet… A news organisation which already views the Middle East impasse through a distorting lens of poisonous prejudice against Israel; which routinely decontextualises Israeli defensive military actions by failing to report the scale and ferocity of the Palestinian attacks that provoke it (witness the largely unreported barrage of rockets still being fired daily from Gaza at Sderot); which jumps to the worst possible conclusions about Israel’s behaviour while uncritically regurgitating the lies and propaganda of the Palestinians (see the Gaza beach scandal), is now to have another correspondent based in a closed society where lies are routinely told in a language western journalists don’t understand, and where reporters face threats ranging from a withdrawal of information to violence against themselves if they try to tell the truth.”

BBC “ENHANCES” THE ROLE OF JEREMY BOWEN

To “strengthen” the BBC’s reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the corporation has “enhanced” the role of its biased Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen.

Bowen is to be given a larger role “in helping to formulate the BBC’s overall coverage strategy.” For more on this, please see the second article below.

In 2002 Bowen described the biblical account of Moses and the Exodus as a “fanciful tale... the stuff of fairy tales.” In the same documentary Bowen questioned “the religious justification for the State of Israel” as simply a matter of faith.

For more on this, see the dispatch Hatred in the air: The BBC, Israel and anti-Semitism (Aug. 20, 2003).

BBC STILL UNSURE ABOUT OSIRAK BOMBING

To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Israeli bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor site at Osirak, the BBC is still unsure if it was a good move that Israel prevented Saddam Hussein from gaining nuclear weapons.

The BBC have invited viewers to “have your say” on whether Israel’s “destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor” was “justified.”

As noted on this list/website, even the Saudi government has recently welcomed the destruction of the Osirak nuclear reactor. For more, see Iranian regime swoops on universities to crush dissent, cracks down on blogs (April 11, 2006).

“WE HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT MORE HONESTY FROM THE BBC”

Michael Gove, a British Conservative MP and columnist for the London Times, and Mark Dooley, a columnist for the Sunday Independent, have written a damning verdict on the recent BBC governors’ report to determine whether the BBC is biased in its reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In their piece for the monthly magazine “Prospect” (attached below), Gove and Dooley note the importance of the BBC since “its guaranteed public funding gives it a dominant position in British broadcast journalism,” “but also because the historic achievements of the World Service have won the organisation the trust of millions.”

“Any truly objective assessment of the BBC could never conclude that its coverage of the middle east conflict is ‘fair, accurate and impartial,’ let alone that it is biased in favour of Israel,” they write.

“A CULTURE OF BIAS”

The report argued that the BBC gives greater coverage to Israeli deaths than Palestinian deaths. Gove and Dooley explain this is “because the savage tactics of the Palestinian suicide squads are aimed directly at Israeli civilians. This means that even the BBC can’t choose to ignore them.”

Gove and Dooley assert that “the reason the Thomas Report fails is because it draws its conclusions by ‘counting minutes of airtime.’” They quote the Irish commentator Eoghan Harris who once wrote that a “culture of political bias cannot be countered by counting minutes of airtime. It is not susceptible to internal change because it is the ambient air that broadcasters breathe.”

Their article concludes that “The only way this bias that affects the BBC can be tackled is through genuine openness rather than inquiries run by people who share the same perspective. That means an honest public acknowledgement of what so many in the BBC will freely, privately, confess. A soft left worldview influences too much of what the corporation produces.”

Michael Gove is a longtime subscriber to this email list.

BBC TO EXPAND AND REBRAND

The BBC is planning to rebrand all its domestic news outlets, including its “News 24 channel,” under the BBC News name. The move is an attempt to create a uniform brand across all the corporation’s output on TV, radio and online.

The commercial arm of the BBC is to expand its international activities. The corporation believes it can boost its profits by selling British television, magazines and new media to the world.

The new channels will be in English, but the BBC is also exploring further foreign language channels, in addition to the World Service’s planned Arab news service.

The BBC says it will seek to expand its influence to countries such as the United States, India, Argentina, Brazil, Japan and if it can overcome draconian regulations, China.

For more on BBC rebranding and its international expansion, please see the final two articles below.

RECORD PROFITS

BBC Worldwide announced last week that it has enjoyed a second consecutive year of record profitability, with pre-tax profit up 62% to £89.4m (approx. $165m). The corporation’s commercial arm’s improved profitability was helped by an 11% increase in revenues, to £784.4m (approx. $1,500m), for the 12 months to March 31.

GUARDIAN EDITOR DECLINES TO MEET OLMERT

BBC news staff have said that the newspapers which they most like to read for news and inspiration, are The Independent (the newspaper of Robert Fisk) and The Guardian. The Israeli media reported that during Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s recent trip to London, the editor of The Guardian refused to meet with Olmert. So much for open-mindedness.

And here is an example of how Independent readers think, in this case a letter from Dr. Jenny Tonge, the former British MP for the Liberal Democrat party and now a member of the House of Lords, blaming Israel for terrorism in Iraq:

Roots of suicide bombing in Iraq
Letters
The Independent
June 8, 2006

Sir: It should come as no surprise to anyone that suicide bombers in Iraq are Palestinians (“Iraq: the face of the enemy”, 7 June). Israel’s security wall is forcing them to export themselves to another arena to fight in this ridiculous “war” against terrorism being waged by the donkeys who lead us in the West.

The injustices to Palestinians, following the creation of the state of Israel and the subsequent brutal occupation by that country lies at the very roots of the causes of terrorism and the ideology of Osama bin Laden. In desperate attempts not to be accused of anti-Semitism, our leaders refuse to accept this and carry on supporting the USA and its military base in the Middle East called Israel.

If someone in power does not do something to restore Palestine, even if only to acknowledge that Israel must withdraw to the pre 1967 borders, and allow the Palestinians to form a viable country, we shall have no peace.

BARONESS JENNY TONGE
HOUSE OF LORDS

(The Guardian has described Dr Tonge as “a veteran community doctor” and “a pragmatic liberal.” For more on Tonge, see For and against: the British MP who would be a suicide bomber (Jan. 26, 2004).)

I attach four articles below.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

BBC COVERAGE OF ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT RIDDLED WITH BIAS

Bias at the Beeb
The BBC’s coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict is riddled with bias
By Michael Gove & Mark Dooley
Prospect Magazine
June 2006

www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=7483

The BBC enjoys a privileged position in our cultural life. It is paid for by a compulsory flat-rate tax on all television users. It enjoys a near monopoly over public service broadcasting. And yet it escapes rigorous scrutiny. Its governors and senior management are appointed without any of the open external oversight one might expect for individuals who spend billions of public money and dictate the shape of our cultural landscape.

It matters enormously what the BBC says, not only because its guaranteed public funding gives it a dominant position in British broadcast journalism, but also because the historic achievements of the World Service have won the organisation the trust of millions. And of all the issues which the BBC covers, few matter more than its approach to the politics of the middle east. The conflict which has blighted the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians is much more than a territorial struggle between two peoples: it is the front line of a broader ideological conflict between Islamism and the west. For any institution or individual covering this conflict, it is vital that a commitment to objectivity or balance does not descend into a posture of moral equivalence in which democrats who practice self-defence are placed on the same plane, or even judged more harshly, than combatants who set out to kill indiscriminately in the service of a totalitarian ideology.

The BBC seemed to appreciate the need to take particular care in reporting on the middle east when it recently appointed its own panel to examine recent coverage of the conflict. In the aftermath of the Gilligan affair, there was a growing sense of disquiet that our principal broadcaster was too willing to put the west in the dock, and unduly inclined to favour a casual, leftish, anti-American, anti-Israeli agenda.

But the report which was eventually published, drawn up by Quentin Thomas, the civil servant who masterminded the Northern Ireland peace process, draws four remarkable conclusions. First, it states that “apart from individual lapses, sometime of tone, language or attitude, there was little to suggest systematic or deliberate bias; on the contrary there was evidence… of a commitment to be fair, accurate and impartial.” Second, it maintains that, “one side is wholly under the occupation of the other and, however reluctantly, necessarily endures the indignities of dependence.” Third, the report asserts, “that Israeli fatalities generally receive greater coverage than Palestinian fatalities,” thereby proving a “disparity in favour” of Israel at the BBC. And lastly, Thomas believes that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be distilled into “two rival narratives.”

Any truly objective assessment of the BBC could never conclude that its coverage of the middle east conflict is “fair, accurate and impartial,” let alone that it is biased in favour of Israel. Take, for example, the BBC’s coverage of the late Yasser Arafat. In one profile broadcast in 2002, he was lauded as an “icon” and a “hero,” but no mention was made of his terror squads, corruption, or his brutal suppression of dissident Palestinians. Similarly, when Israel assassinated the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in 2004, one BBC reporter described him as “polite, charming and witty, a deeply religious man.” This despite the fact that under Yassin’s guidance, Hamas murdered hundreds. And what of Orla Guerin’s editorialising? On one occasion, she accused Israel of cynically manipulating “a Palestinian youngster for propaganda purposes.” The “youngster” was a child suicide bomber.

If the Thomas Report were genuinely independent and objective, it would directly challenge the BBC’s moral equivalence. But instead, it tries to justify it by saying that Israel and Palestine “are not on equal terms,” and that this “asymmetry is most strikingly manifested in the fact of occupation.” “Balance,” it continues, is best achieved “where the parties to a dispute are on equal footing.”

In other words, the BBC can be forgiven for showing bias in favour of the Palestinians, even when they murder innocent civilians, because they can’t match Israel’s “defence and intelligence capability.” They are, according to Thomas, “frequently in the position of challenger,” whereas “the Israelis are necessarily in the position of authority.” Indulging Palestinian terrorists who target innocent Israelis, on the basis that they are “challengers,” is morally reprehensible. It is like saying that al Qaeda is justified in flying civilian planes into buildings because it doesn’t have the defence capability of the US, or that the IRA was justified in blowing up Earl Mountbatten because it couldn’t match the sophistication of British military intelligence. That sort of moral equivalence one expects from George Galloway or Noam Chomsky. It is not, however, what you would expect from an “independent panel.”

Worse still is Thomas’s claim that while “both sides suffer death and injury… in recent years the figures show it has fallen disproportionately on the Palestinians.” He adds that the BBC gives greater coverage to Israeli deaths than Palestinian deaths. Contrary to what Thomas implies, that is not because the BBC is partial towards Israel. Rather, it is because the savage tactics of the Palestinian suicide squads are aimed directly at Israeli civilians. This means that even the BBC can’t choose to ignore them. But unlike Hamas, the Israeli Defence Forces do not target innocent civilians. The majority of Arabs killed are either those murdered by fellow Arabs in internecine disputes, armed militia who have initially fired on the IDF or attacked Israel, or terror ringleaders targeted individually by the IDF. At no point in the conflict has Israel indiscriminately murdered Palestinian civilians. But since 1987, the Palestinians have slaughtered 1,500 Israelis in terror operations.

That is why Thomas’s “independent” panel is wrong to present the conflict in terms of “two rival narratives.” The phrase “rival narratives” implies that there is no objective standard with which to judge the respective experiences of Israelis and Palestinians. So, once again, we are in the realm of moral equivalence when moral clarity is demanded. But if Thomas and the BBC sought such clarity, they would readily admit that, since its creation, Israel wanted peace with its Arab neighbours. The totalitarian regimes that surround it, however, quest longingly for Israel’s extinction. Except for Jordan and Egypt, the rest of the Arab world still refuses to acknowledge Israel’s UN-mandated legitimacy. It is that basic struggle for survival, in the face of virulent and violent antisemitism, that forced Israel to adopt the defensive measures it has throughout its history.

The Irish commentator Eoghan Harris once wrote that a “culture of political bias cannot be countered by counting minutes of airtime. It is not susceptible to internal change because it is the ambient air that broadcasters breathe.” The reason the Thomas Report fails is because it draws its conclusions by “counting minutes of airtime.” And so it finds bizarrely, that because Israel received more “talk time” between August 2005 and January 2006, there is a general “disparity in favour of Israelis” at the BBC. The reason we hear more from Israelis, including critics of the government, than from Palestinians, is because Israel’s democracy makes it easier for all voices, including dissident voices, to be heard, while the PA, even before the Hamas election victory, was a territory in which free media inquiry has been, to put it politely, hampered by the Palestinian leadership.

The only way this bias that affects the BBC can be tackled is through genuine openness rather than inquiries run by people who share the same perspective. That means an honest public acknowledgement of what so many in the BBC will freely, privately, confess. A soft left worldview influences too much of what the corporation produces. We have a right to expect more honesty from the broadcasting service we are being asked to pay for. It is about time we got it.

 

BBC WANTS ITS JOURNALISTS TO AVOID USING THE WORD “TERROR”

Bowen Middle East role ‘enhanced’
BBC News
June 19, 2006

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/5096050.stm

The role of BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen is to be “enhanced” as the corporation strengthens its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The move forms part of a plan by BBC managers to address criticisms made in a recent report.

The BBC will also appoint a dedicated West Bank reporter to complement its existing correspondent in Gaza.

But the corporation has rejected the report’s recommendation to install an extra layer of editorial management.

In its response to the report, commissioned by the Board of Governors in October 2005, the BBC said: “We recognise the need to build further on the quality and depth of our journalism.”

‘Incomprehension’

Bowen, who was appointed Middle East editor in June 2005, will have a greater role “in helping to formulate the BBC’s overall coverage strategy”.

He will also be asked to explain background and context to big stories more fully on high-profile programmes such as Today and the Ten O’Clock News.

And he will report to the corporation’s news editorial board meetings on previous and forthcoming stories.

The BBC has accepted the report’s recommendation that more should be done to “explain the complexities of the conflict” and tackle the audience’s “high level of incomprehension”.

The BBC News website is to trial a new series, Undercurrent Affairs, to explore the background and context of the long-running conflict.

This will take the form of audio and video “explainers” that may be available to podcast.

In addition, a shorter version of the BBC’s style guide, issued to journalists in 2005, will be published to clarify the use of language and terminology.

‘Value judgements’

But managers have stopped short of adopting the “Guiding Hand” the panel proposed to provide “more secure editorial planning, grip and oversight”.

“BBC News already has in place a firm structure for planning and overseeing our coverage of the conflict,” the corporation said.

An extra layer of management, it said, “could undermine the independence and accountability of BBC editors”.

Managers also questioned the use of the word “terrorism” as defined in the independent report, chaired by British Board of Film Classification president Sir Quentin Thomas.

In the report, “terrorism” was described as “the most accurate expression for actions which involve violence against randomly selected civilians with the intention of causing terror”.

Such a definition, executives argued, “would exclude attacks on soldiers” and oblige journalists to make “the very value judgements” they are asked to avoid making under the BBC’s editorial guidelines.

 

“THE WHOLE BRAND WILL JUST BE KNOWN AS BBC NEWS”

BBC to create single news brand
By Leigh Holmwood
The Guardian
June 12, 2006

media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,,1794299,00.html

The BBC is looking to rebrand all its domestic news outlets, including its News 24 channel, under the BBC News name.

News 24 and the BBC News website will take the first step towards the change by adopting the same updated maroon and grey colour scheme given to the main BBC1 news bulletins at the beginning of May.

One BBC news source said plans to “tweak” the website had already been signed off with the new look set to go live soon.

It is also thought News 24 will be given a new on-air look within the next few months.

“News 24 will have a rejig to bring it into line [with the rest of BBC news] while the website will also have a little tweak to bring the whole brand together,” the source said.

“The news website used to be called BBC News Online but it is just known as BBC News now. The whole brand will just be known as BBC News.”

In the longer term, the News 24 name is expected to be dropped and the channel retitled BBC News as part of a move to create a uniform brand across all the corporation’s output on TV, radio and online.

The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, is understood to have let slip in a recent meeting with senior managers that News 24 would be renamed BBC News as part of the move to create a uniform brand.

However, it may be more than a year before the change is fully implemented, as BBC News executives work through the practical implications arising from Mr Thompson’s Creative Future plan for the corporation’s output to be available “any time, any place, anywhere” – the so-called “Martini media” strategy.

The BBC’s domestic rolling news channel has been branded News 24 since it launched in November 1997.

News 24 initially attracted criticism for being inferior in quality to the BBC’s established TV news bulletins.

But it has improved markedly in the past few years and won the Royal Television Society news channel of the year award this year, breaking arch rival Sky News’ domination of the category.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We are looking at branding in general terms, but there is nothing imminent.”

 

BBC IN PURSUIT OF GLOBAL DOMINATION

BBC channels £90m profit in pursuit of global domination
By Dan Sabbagh
The Times (of London)
June 29, 2006

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2248439,00.html

The BBC’s commercial arm is planning an expansion of its international activities, which could lead to it starting as many as six channels in countries such as the United States and India.

It believes that it can boost last year’s trading profits of £89.4 million by selling British television, magazines and new media to the world, providing a top-up to its £2.9 billion licence-fee income.

John Smith, the chief executive of BBC Worldwide, the commercial business, said that there was scope for “five BBC branded channels, in addition to news in any major market” offering a mix of content from the BBC and other British broadcasters.

The idea represents a change of strategy in the BBC’s commercial arm, which has spent the past couple of years restructuring, cutting losses in children’s merchandising, and selling off its books and education businesses to boost profits.

It is likely to generate controversy overseas because, although BBC Worldwide is a free-standing operation, it relies on the BBC brand and use of BBC properties, which have been funded by the licence fee.

The new channels will be funded by advertising and will initially be in English. But the BBC is interested in offering foreign language channels – an echo of the World Service’s planned Arab news service – because, insiders say, “that will help to bring the service closer to the local market”.

The BBC does provide news services internationally, through BBC World, and a patchwork of other channels mostly through joint-ventures. However, the progress of these ventures has been mixed.

It runs a children’s channel in Canada, which is ranked number four among the under-11s in that market, and a food channel across Europe, although this is due for a relaunch with the intention of broadening its appeal.

Its most successful non-news service to date is BBC America, which is available in 45 million homes and transmits entertainment from all British broadcasters, including ITV and Channel 4, ranging from Little Britain to the Benny Hill Show. Footballers’ Wives, which was on ITV, is a cult hit.

The new thinking, however, is to try to develop a portfolio of channels in key markets.

Mr Smith said that he wanted to introduce channels covering general entertainment, pre-school children, lifestyle – meaning “cookery, gardening and car programmes” – and knowledge, offering documentaries and science programmes.

The fifth service would be in high-definition, offering a mix of programming in the crystal-clear format. The BBC is desperate to secure the transmission of a children’s channel in the United States, but Mr Smith said that he “hopes to get something done this year”.

He conceded that it was difficult to secure distribution arrangements in the US, because there was so much choice available in the country. That is likely to leave the BBC looking elsewhere.

Already it is active in India, a country in which the World Service has been operating for 75 years. Last year the corporation, in partnership with Mid Day Multimedia, won seven FM radio licences in cities including Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore.

Mr Smith said that India was “looking interesting” but added that there were “three or four parts of the world where we are putting our focus”.

He named Argentina and Brazil, countries where the BBC has had little presence, but it is also likely to look at Japan and, if it can overcome draconian regulation, China. However, the extra activity is unlikely to help to hold down the level of the licence fee. Last year the BBC’s international channels arm earned £6.9 million on sales of £165.4 million. If that sum was used to reduce the cost of the licence fee it would reduce the annual cost of £126.50 by 28p.