Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Building the biggest bridge in the world: A Bin Laden project (& Iran’s American hostages)

July 26, 2007


1. Finally, America gets a female President... on “24”
2. It’s Hurry Potter: Newspaper editors employ speed-readers to review book
3. Al-Jazeera commentator: “Most of the Turks here are drug dealers”
4. Ahmadinejad praises Islamist victory in Turkey
5. Economist launches audio version of entire magazine
6. Building the biggest bridge in the world: A Bin Laden project
7. UK’s Gordon Brown won’t rule out military action in Iran
8. Peres: International community does have power to make Iran back down
9. “What? You haven’t heard about them?”
10. “BBC to teach its stars honesty” (Daily Telegraph, July 25, 2007)
11. “VisionTV gives Islamic radical more air time” (National Post, July 23, 2007)
12. “Haleh Esfandiari” (By Mark Steyn, New York Sun, July 23, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch includes some “lighter” items first, followed by some more serious ones. It also includes a number of items about the media itself which are not directly related to the Middle East.


Sources tell the Hollywood Reporter that a female (to be played by “Ocean’s 12” actress Cherry Jones) is likely to be U.S. President in the upcoming season of the hit Fox show “24”.

Hillary Clinton will no doubt be watching very closely.

“24” has already had two African-American presidents.


The seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter series was released at one minute past midnight, local time, on Saturday, and in an age of instant reaction and online blogs, newspapers in the highly competitive British market (which received no advance copies of the 608-page book*) wanted a review in time for editions the same morning, reports Reuters from London.

Britain’s bestselling daily Sun tabloid employed speed-reading champion Anne Jones to write its review. She took just 47 minutes and one second to read the book but still had time to conclude:

“Without being too critical, the plot does seem to be a bit complicated, but I would not change a word. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ is a real page-turner.”

It was certainly a page-turner for her.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” sold 8.3 million copies in its first 24 hours worldwide, breaking all records. Borders, the second-largest U.S. book chain, said it sold about 1.2 million copies on the first day, the highest of any title in its history. (This compares to the 850,000 copies Borders sold when the sixth book in the Harry Potter series was released in 2005.)

(*The American version has 759 pages, the British has 608.)


Commenting on the Turkish elections held on Sunday, Hani Al-Sibai, a London-based Islamist commentator on al-Jazeera gave this criticism of Turkish secularism:

“What has become of Kemal Ataturk’s Turkey? Go to Europe, and you will see. Most of the Turks here are drug dealers, outcasts. Moreover, the English here have a custom. On Christmas, they eat what they call ‘turkey.’ Imagine, they call it ‘turkey,’ and they serve it as food at the table. This shows the kind of hatred that is deeply rooted in the West – they serve the Turkish, Ottoman, Muslim man as food at the table, for entertainment and as a sign that they have slaughtered him. What has become of Turkey?”


Meanwhile Iran’s hardline, Holocaust denying president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has congratulated Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the Islamist victory in Turkey. In Arabic here.

Erdogan’s (moderate) Islamist Justice and Development Party received about 340 of the 550 seats.


The Economist is launching a downloadable online audio version of its entire magazine, to fit the needs of subscribers it says have no time to read.

The London-based weekly – which claims a worldwide print circulation of 1.2 million – says it will be the first leading international publication to offer a full audio edition every week.

From this week listeners will be able to scroll through the Economist online and download audio versions of articles by section or in its entirety. The audio service is free to subscribers, and costs £4 ($8) for non-subscribers.

Previously the magazine had sold “This week in the Economist,” a five-minute podcast of selected stories.


Osama Bin Laden’s elder half-brother is lobbying investors to build a 17-mile bridge that would be the longest in the world, connecting the continents of Asia and Africa.

Sheikh Tarek Mohammed Bin Laden, 60, says he hopes that the project would rehabilitate his family name.

Known as “the bridge of the century,” it would stretch between Yemen and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa and include a freeway and rail links. Two new luxury cities would be built on either side of the Red Sea.

Sheikh Bin Laden – who runs the Saudi-based Bin Laden Group, a construction conglomerate which manages Mecca’s holy sites, among other interests – has already won pledges of land from the presidents of both countries after shuttling between the capitals in his private jet to outline his plans in recent weeks.

At present, the longest suspension bridge in the world is the 2.4 mile Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, which opened in 1998 and has a center span of more than 1.2 miles. Bin Laden’s proposed bridge would be more than three times as long with a center span of 3.1 miles, allowing even oil tankers to sail underneath.


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday he would not rule out military action against Iran, but believed a policy of sanctions could still persuade Teheran to drop its disputed nuclear program.

“I firmly believe that the sanctions policy that we are pursuing will work, but I’m not one who’s going forward to say that we rule out any particular form of action,” Brown told a news conference, when asked if he would rule out a military strike against Iran.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions since December on Iran for failing to halt uranium enrichment, a process which can produce fuel for power plants or material for warheads. A third sanctions resolution is being considered. Many believe that Iran’s activities are aimed at producing nuclear bombs.


Separately, Israel’s new president, Shimon Peres, told the French newspaper Le Figaro on Monday that unified international pressure could force Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Peres said that “Iran only has power when the world is divided,” and as proof cited North Korea, South Africa, Libya and Ukraine, saying that each of these nations gave up their nuclear programs in the face of international pressure.


I attach three articles below. The first, from the Daily Telegraph, reports that 16,000 members of the BBC will be sent “on a mandatory new training programme to teach honesty to BBC staff.”

The article adds that “The Safeguarding Trust course is being set up as part of the damage limitation exercise by the corporation after the revelation that six children’s and charity television programmes had misled viewers.”

As I mentioned on this website/email list last week, many of the BBC’s UK-based staff (such as Andrew Neill, who is cited in the Daily Telegraph article, are thoroughly professional and objective) but when is the BBC going to teach its foreign affairs reporters and analysts to be objective?

The second article, from the Canadian paper, the National Post, reports that “A day after saying it regretted broadcasting a lecture by a Pakistani preacher who says Muslim scripture advocates violent holy war and the ‘extermination’ of Jews, VisionTV put him back on the air again this weekend.”

(VisionTV calls itself “Canada’s Multifaith, Multicultural Television Network”.)

Mark Steyn, in the final article attached below, writes about the American hostages currently being held in Iran. “No, not the guys back in the Seventies, the ones being held right now. What? You haven’t heard about them?” This situation is put into perspective when one recalls the enormous fuss made by the media over Alan Johnston (as previously detailed in several dispatches on this website/email list).

Steyn continues, “It would be nice to think the press has ignored these hostages out of concerns that they might inflame the situation… Or maybe the media figure that showing American prisoners on TV will only drive Bush’s ratings back up from the grave to the rude health of intensive care.”

-- Tom Gross



BBC to teach its stars honesty
By Andrew Pierce
The Daily Telegraph
July 25, 2007

John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman will be required to join Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, on a mandatory new training programme to teach honesty to BBC staff.

The Safeguarding Trust course is being set up as part of the damage limitation exercise by the corporation after the revelation that six children’s and charity television programmes had misled viewers.

Mark Byford, the deputy director general, giving evidence to a Commons Culture Select Committee yesterday, said all employees, no matter how senior or famous, would have to attend the course if involved in making programmes.

Mr Byford, who was giving evidence with Caroline Thomson, the chief operating officer, said: “Everyone must be reminded about what the BBC stands for and what trust is.”

But the BBC may find some presenters more resistant than others. Andrew Neil, who presents the Daily Politics show on BBC2 and This Week on BBC1, was contemptuous.

“All 16,000 of us are going to be sent to re-education camps, a bit like Pol Pot’s Cambodia,” he told his viewers.

Philip Davies, a Tory MP on the select committee, also questioned the need for the course as he thought the requirement for honesty ought to be obvious.

Mr Byford, standing in for Mr Thompson who was on a delayed family holiday, acknowledged that further deceptions might come to light. “We cannot be 100 per cent certain that we have captured everything. Some investigations are still going on,” he said.

Michael Grade, the chairman of ITV, also giving evidence to the committee, gave a hint that production company RDF, which has been suspended while the inquiry into wrongly edited footage of the Queen for the BBC is ongoing, might not work for him again.

“If anyone is found to have deceived or lied to viewers, we won’t do business with them. Anyone who wants to make programmes for me should be aware that if you are caught deceiving the public it is one strike and you are out,” he said.

ITV is awaiting the outcome of an audit ordered after allegations against GMTV and shows including The X Factor, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Soapstar Superstar.

Channel 4, in partnership with Five, will publish an Independent Producer’s Handbook that will provide a guide to the regulatory rules governing the making and broadcast of programmes and will also beef up its own training programme.



VisionTV gives Islamic radical more air time
Jewish groups outraged; Vision backpedals on ‘regret’ to air preacher
By Stewart Bell
The National Post
July 23, 2007

A day after saying it regretted broadcasting a lecture by a Pakistani preacher who says Muslim scripture advocates violent holy war and the “extermination” of Jews, VisionTV put him back on the air again this weekend.

A leading Jewish organization said yesterday it would launch a formal complaint with Canadian broadcast regulators after Vision aired another hour-long talk by fundamentalist Israr Ahmad on Saturday.

The preacher’s reappearance on Canadian television came as a surprise to some, since VisionTV had issued a statement on Friday expressing regret for broadcasting Mr. Ahmad’s lecture on violent jihad on July 14.

But despite the statement, Vision aired another lecture Saturday afternoon by Mr. Ahmad, who compares Jews to “parasites,” describes the Holocaust as “divine punishment” and calls Jews “condemned.”

“It is most troubling that VisionTV made a calculated decision to re-broadcast a segment featuring a radical Imam, whose words have the potential to incite hatred and violence,” Frank Dimant of B’nai Brith Canada said yesterday.

“It is a complete abdication of their responsibility to knowingly give a platform to this individual whose calls for jihad can clearly be interpreted by his supporters as a call to engage in terrorism. B’nai Brith Canada will be launching a formal complaint with the CRTC calling for a full investigation of this matter.”

Canadian Jewish Congress spokesman Len Rudner said he was “deeply concerned that Vision continues to provide a podium from which Israr Ahmad can speak and gain credibility.

“It’s fair to say that we know what Mr. Ahmad stands for, the question now is whether or not VisionTV wishes to associate itself in any manner with an individual who holds such a hateful agenda.”

Vision, which is available in 7.8 million Canadian households, has a strict code of ethics that forbids the broadcast of programs that could incite violence, overseas conflicts or strife between religions. Vision could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Last week, a Vision executive, Mark Prasuhn, described “Dr. Ahmad” as a religious scholar – he is a medical doctor – and in a recent interview the preacher acknowledged that he was not welcome in Canada. “I had no official information about a ban [from entering Canada] but I understood that I was not in the good books of the U.S. and the West, especially after 9 /11, due to my concept of radical Islam; which demands a Muslim to struggle against the prevailing corrupt and exploitative system in the world,” he said.

Mr. Ahmad heads a self-described “revolutionary” organization called Tanzeem-e Islami, which wants to turn Pakistan into a fundamentalist Islamic state and a launch pad for the global domination of Islam.

Although he is a popular speaker in Pakistan, Mr. Ahmad’s theories about a Jewish conspiracy to secretly rule the world through banking institutions have given him little credibility outside the Muslim world.

The controversy comes as Canadian authorities are struggling to deal with a growing number of Islamist extremists who support terrorism against the West. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says many youths have been influenced by radical spiritual leaders.

Mr. Ahmad’s followers in Canada include terror suspect Qayyum Abdul Jamal, arrested last summer for his alleged role in a plot to detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto.



Haleh Esfandiari
By Mark Steyn
The New York Sun
July 23, 2007

How do you feel about the American hostages in Iran?

No, not the guys back in the Seventies, the ones being held right now.

What? You haven’t heard about them?

Odd that, isn’t it? But they’re there. For example, for two months now, Haleh Esfandiari has been detained in Evin prison in Tehran. Ms. Esfandiari is a U.S. citizen and had traveled to Iran to visit her sick mother. She is the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, which is the kind of gig that would impress your fellow guests at a Washington dinner party. Unfortunately, the mullahs say it’s an obvious cover for a Bush spy. Among the other Zionist-neocon agents currently held in Iranian jails are an American journalist, an American sociologist for a George Soros-funded leftie group, and an American peace activist from California, Ali Shakeri, whose capture became known shortly after the U.S. and Iran held their first direct talks since the original hostage crisis.

Two months in an Iranian jail is no fun. Four years ago, a Montreal photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, was arrested by police in Tehran, taken to Evin prison, and wound up getting questioned to death. Upon her capture, the Canadian government had done as the State Department is apparently doing – kept things discreet, low-key, cards close to the chest, quiet word in the right ears … By the time Zahra Kazemi’s son, frustrated by his government’s ineffable equanimity, got the story out, it was too late for his mother.

Still, upon hearing of her death, the then Foreign Minister of Canada, Bill Graham, expressed his “sadness” and “regret,” which are pretty strong words. But then, as Reuters put it, this sad regrettable incident had “marred previously harmonious relations between Iran and Canada.” In his public pronouncements, Mr. Graham tended to give the impression that what he chiefly regretted and was sad about was that one of his compatriots had had the poor taste to get tortured and murdered on to the front pages of the newspapers. With an apparently straight face, he passed on to reporters the official Iranian line that her death in jail was merely an “accident.” The following year, Shahram Azam, a physician who’d examined Ms. Kazemi’s body, fled Iran and said that she had broken fingers, a broken nose, a crushed toe, a skull fracture, severe abdominal bruising, and internal damage consistent with various forms of rape. Quite an accident.

The longer American prisoners are held in Evin, the more likely it is they’ll meet with a similar accident. It would be nice to think the press has ignored these hostages out of concerns that they might inflame the situation. (To date, only National Review, Bill Bennett on his radio show and various doughty Internet wallahs have made any fuss.) Or maybe the media figure that showing American prisoners on TV will only drive Bush’s ratings back up from the grave to the rude health of intensive care. Or maybe they just don’t care about U.S. hostages, not compared to real news like Senate sleepovers to block unblocking a motion to vote for voting against a cloture motion on the best way to surrender in Iraq.

But I’ll bet the mullahs wouldn’t really care if everyone put Haleh Esfandiari on the front pages 24/7. It’s only a few months since they seized a bunch of Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines in international waters (an illegal act) and paraded them all over Iranian TV (in breach of the Geneva Conventions) and dressed up the female sailor in Islamic garb (another breach).

And the U.N. and the EU and all the other transnational arbiters of global order sent a strong message: “Whoa, you guys really need to tamp things down, de-escalate, defuse the confrontation…” Er, but for some reason, they sent the strong message to the British government, not the Iranians. And, with the sailors’ humiliation all over the media, the British public was inclined to agree. Almost to a man, they rose up and told Tony Blair: “This is all your fault for getting us into Iraq.”

But outrage at Iran? There was none. The ayatollahs figure that’s how it usually goes with a plump, complacent western world that just wants to be left alone and wishes these crazies would stop trying to catch its eye. Officially, Iran is “negotiating” with the European Union over its nuclear program. If this were a real negotiation, instead of a transnational pseudo-negotiation, the Iranians would be concerned to stop any complicating factors coming into play. Instead, every week they gaily toss new provocations into their EU chums’ laps: In recent days, they’ve stoned to death various fellows for adultery and homosexuality, two activities to which Europeans are generally very partial. But why let a few stonings throw your negotiations off track? And, if the Americans are so eager to get a seat at the negotiating table, why not remind them of the rules of the game? Last week, the Iranians paraded their U.S. hostages all over TV as they confessed to engaging in espionage, along the way fingering the Woodrow Wilson Centre and George Soros as key elements in the plot to overthrow the ayatollahs. If only.

The week before, Iran captured 14 spies near the Iraqi border whom it claimed were agents of American and British intelligence equipped with surveillance devices. The “spies” in question were squirrels – as in small furry animals very protective of their nuts (much like the Democratic Party re Mr. Soros). I’m prepared to believe that a crack team of rodents from NUTS (the Ninja Undercover Team of Squirrels) abseiled into key installations in Iran and garroted the Revolutionary Guards, but not that the U.S. and British governments had anything to do with it. If they have any CIA or MI6 training at all, they must be rogue squirrels from the Cold War days who’ve been laid off and gone feral.

In America, public opinion is in no mood for war with Iran. In Washington, Congress is focused on finding the most politically advantageous way to lose in Iraq. In Europe, they’ve already psychologically accepted the Iranian nuclear umbrella. In the western world, where talks are not the means to the end but an end in themselves, we find it hard despite the evidence of 30 years to accept that Iran talks the talk and walks the walk. Once it goes nuclear, do you think there will be fewer fatwas on writers, stonings of homosexuals, kidnappings in international waters, forced confessions of American hostages, and bankrolling of terror groups worldwide? These latest hostages are part of a decades-old pattern of behavior. The longer it goes without being stopped, the worse it will be.

Hamas thanks Jimmy Carter, its “useful idiot” (& Syria occupies Lebanon. Again.)

July 25, 2007

* “Israel is paying former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya’s salary”
* Hamas and Fatah students shoot each other during classes yesterday at Nablus university. No Western academic boycott of Palestinian universities proposed.

* This dispatch concerns Palestinian affairs, apart from the last article by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal which starts: “As of this minute, Syria occupies at least 177 square miles of Lebanese soil. That you are now reading about it for the first time is as much a scandal as the occupation itself.”



1. Hamas thanks Jimmy Carter, its “useful idiot”
2. Palestinian rocket smashes through baby’s crib
3. Dozens wounded following Hamas-Fatah clashes at An-Najah University
4. Hamas asks IRNA to open branch office in Gaza
5. Three sisters stabbed to death in Gaza
6. Canada announces resumption of direct aid to Palestinian government
7. New Fatah terror group “to target Israel”
8. Presidential Guard attacks Barghouti’s children
9. “Israel pays Haniya’s salary” (Yediot Ahronot, July 24, 2007)
10. “Syria occupies Lebanon. Again.” (By Bret Stephens, Wall St Journal, July 24, 2007)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


While much of the rest of the world is shunning Hamas for the murderous organization that it is, and ever more Palestinians (according to Palestinian opinion polls*) are despairing at its increasingly repressive rule in Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya on Sunday thanked former U.S. President Jimmy Carter “for his intervention in the Palestinian domestic crisis.”

Carter had spoken out on behalf of Hamas against the secular Fatah party at the very time that Hamas thugs were throwing Fatah members to their deaths from Gaza rooftops last month.

Haniya’s comments were passed on during a meeting with Carter Center director Scott Caster at Haniya’s office in Gaza City, according to the Palestinian-run Ma’an news agency.

Kayhan, one of the most hardline Iranian government dailies, which supports Iran’s Holocaust-denying president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had also previously endorsed Carter’s pro-Hamas comments.

* (For polls showing a drop in Hamas’s support among Gazans, see item 5 here.)

(The first article below reports that funds transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority have been used to “fill the bank account of former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.”)



Virtually unreported outside Israel, attacks on Israeli civilians continue almost every day. For example a rocket fired from Gaza yesterday afternoon hit a baby’s crib. The baby was on the other side of the room at the time but was still injured by flying shrapnel. Her mother and grandmother also required medical treatment for shock at Barzilai hospital.

The target was a kibbutz near Ashkelon – in other words while some western newspapers are full of “sensation stories” warning of a “humanitarian” crisis in Gaza and claiming that Gaza is a “gigantic prison” from which nothing is getting in and out, Hamas is in fact continuing to bring ever more costly and sophisticated weaponry in.

Several other Qassam rockets have been launched at Israel in recent days, and at least one other woman was injured as a result.

Some of those few media outlets that report this use the word “claim”: “Israel claims that rockets fired from Gaza…” It is puzzling why they do this since Islamic Jihad’s Gaza branch have proudly claimed responsibility for the attacks.



Also virtually unreported yesterday evening or today in Western media are the vicious clashes that occurred yesterday afternoon between supporters of Hamas and Fatah on the campus of An-Najah University near the West Bank city of Nablus.

According to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, the clashes involved hundreds of students, dozens were injured, and some are said to be in a critical condition. Chairs, computers, classroom equipment, metal and wooden objects and fists were used, as well as guns. At least one student was shot in the head, several were shot in their legs, and others received severe beatings.

Both pistols and Kalashnikov assault rifles were used during the fighting, which was described as one of the worst ever on a Palestinian campus in the West Bank.

The university’s administration has temporarily closed the campus, the largest on the West Bank. University President Rami Hamdallah said Hamas students had been responsible for starting the fighting.

Another West Bank university, Bir Zeit, was also closed down earlier this month following severe violence between Hamas and Fatah supporters.

Many western academics were no doubt too busy organizing their boycotts of Israel to notice what is happening on Palestinian universities (which incidentally Israel built for the Palestinians during the more peaceful initial years after the Six Day War).

And of course even though the BBC has near hourly reports on how awful Israel is, it didn’t mention these clashes even once in any of its many reports on the Middle East on its website yesterday and today.



Hamas’s ambassador to Teheran, Abu Osama Abdolmoti, on Sunday called on the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) to open a branch office in Gaza.

In a meeting with IRNA Chief Jalal Fayyazi, Abdolmoti “thanked IRNA for reflecting the heroic resistance of the oppressed Palestinian nation and informing the world of their innocence.”

He said “IRNA’s support for Hamas would encourage the group to ceaselessly continue its campaign against the occupiers.”

IRNA is one of the propaganda tools of the Iranian regime.

In a separate development, gunmen stormed the offices of a senior Fatah lawmaker in Gaza on Monday, wounding several office workers, Reuters reported.



This news was barely reported.

That’s because the sisters – 16-year-old Nahed Hija, 19-year-old Suha and 22-year-old Lina – were not killed by Israel but were murdered by fellow Palestinians, probably in some perverse Islamic “honor killing.”

They were found dead on Monday, each with multiple stab wounds. In February, three unrelated woman were killed within a 24-hour period in the Gaza Strip. At the time, there were concerns that vigilante “Islamic morality” groups were behind the murders.



Canada announced yesterday that it is resuming the granting of direct aid to the Palestinian Authority after it suspended aid in 2006 following Hamas’s formation of a government.

Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement: “Given the commitment of the new Palestinian government to renounce violence, recognition of Israel and commitment to agreements signed previously, including opportunities to move the peace process forward, Canada will offer assistance to the new Palestinian government.”

MacKay said the money would be “tracked” to make sure it wasn’t misused.

Canada was the first country to announce the suspension of direct aid to the Palestinian government in 2006 after the victory of Hamas in the legislative elections.

Senior Hamas leader and former Palestinian Authority foreign minister Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar yesterday unveiled a number of documents seized last month from the PA security apparatuses which he said implicated a number of former PA officials and Fatah leaders in embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from PA money. He said Fatah had “stolen the international aid money meant for the Palestinian people.”



Sources tell me that radicals from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party have in the past few days organized a new terrorist cell in the northern West Bank to commit attacks against Israel. The group will be called the Abu Ammar Brigades.

The move comes a few days after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert granted an amnesty to the senior leadership of Fatah’s declared military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, after they signed a document pledging to refrain from terrorism.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has carried out dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians since it was established by Yasser Arafat after he launched his Intifada in the fall of 2000.

Arafat was also widely known among Palestinians as Abu Ammar, and the new terror group is apparently named in his “honor”.



Palestinian security forces in Ramallah assaulted the children of former Fatah Secretary-General Marwan Barghouti, the Al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper reported yesterday.

The Palestinian Authority launched an investigation into the alleged attack on Monday night of Qassam and Ruba Barghouti by members of Mahmoud Abbas’s Presidential Guard.

The incident is said to have taken place when a Presidential Guard patrol stopped Ruba Barghouti’s car as she was driving home from the Bir Zeit University.

Rafik al-Husseini, Abbas’s chief of staff, visited the family home later on Monday night and promised a thorough, speedy, inquiry into the matter.

Marwan Barghouti is serving multiple life terms in Israel for the murder of Israeli civilians and of a Greek monk who was mistaken for an orthodox Jew. In spite of this some in the international community and on the Israeli left have suggested that Barghouti should be released and enter Palestinian politics. A few in the media have even compared him to Nelson Mandela, which is of course a grave insult to Mandela.

-- Tom Gross



Israel pays Haniya’s salary
Funds transferred by Jewish state to Palestinian Authority used by Prime Minister Fayyad to pay wages of government workers, including dismissed Hamas ministers
By Ronny Shaked
Yediot Ahronot
July 24, 2007,7340,L-3429088,00.html

When Israel decided to unfreeze $600 million it owed the Palestinian Authority, it did not intend for the money to be used to fill the bank account of former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.

After receiving the funds from Israel and additional aid from the United States and European countries, the Palestinian Finance Ministry decided to pay the monthly salaries of government members, including dismissed Hamas ministers and the group’s representatives in the Legislative Council.

Each of these officials received on Monday NIS 12,000 (about $2,836) from Palestinian Prime Minister and Finance Minister Salam Fayyad’s treasury. One of the people to receive this sum was former Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of Hamas’ most radical members.

Young Fatah members slammed the move, saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was “using double standards against Hamas – he declared war on them, but pays their wages and helps them stabilize their government in Gaza.”



Syria occupies Lebanon. Again.
A land grab proportionally equivalent to a foreign power occupying Arizona.
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
July 24, 2007

As of this minute, Syria occupies at least 177 square miles of Lebanese soil. That you are now reading about it for the first time is as much a scandal as the occupation itself.

The news comes by way of a fact-finding survey of the Lebanese-Syrian border just produced by the International Lebanese Committee for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, an American NGO that has consultative status with the U.N. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, the authors have requested anonymity and have circulated the report only among select government officials and journalists. But its findings cannot be ignored.

In meticulous detail – supplemented by photographs, satellite images, archival material and Lebanese military maps predating Syria’s 1976 invasion (used as a basis of comparison with Syria’s current positions) – the authors describe precisely where and how Lebanon has been infiltrated. In the area of the village of Maarboun, for instance, the authors observed Syrian military checkpoints a mile inside Lebanon. In the Birak al-Rassass Valley, they photographed Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. On the outskirts of the village of Kossaya they found a heavily fortified camp belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in violation of U.N. resolutions and Lebanese demands.

This is a story to which I can contribute my own testimony. In May 2005 I paid a visit to Lebanon, just a month after Syria had announced that it had fully withdrawn its 14,000 troops from Lebanon in compliance with Resolution 1559. The rumor in Beirut was that a company of 200 or so elite Syrian soldiers remained encamped within Lebanon near the Druze village of Deir al-Ashaer. I decided to have a look. After a long drive over rutted roads, I found it.

Or rather, what I found was a hillside outpost that I was able to enter without crossing any apparent international border. The man in charge was a Syrian intelligence officer who “invited” me into a sweltering tent while he phoned his commanders for instruction. After a few tense minutes of silence with the soldiers inside, the officer reappeared, explained that the camp was 50 yards inside Syrian territory, and ordered me to go. From there I went to the village, where the mayor insisted the camp was several hundred yards inside Lebanon.

Who was right? Inclined as I was to believe the mayor, it was hard to sort out contending claims over remote parcels of land. A week later, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the U.N. had “verified all [Syrian military units] had withdrawn, including [from] the border area.” It seemed that was the end of the story.

I should have known then that anything “verified” by the U.N. must be checked at least twice. I should have known, too, that anything to which Mr. Annan devoted his personal attention would inevitably become worse. Last September, Mr. Annan paid a visit to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad after the latter had declared he would treat any attempt by the U.N. to deploy peacekeepers along the Lebanese-Syrian border as a “hostile act.” To defuse the impasse, Mr. Annan simply accepted Mr. Assad’s assurances that Syria would police its border and prevent arms smuggling. “I think it can happen,” said the diplomat at a press conference. “It may not be 100%, but it will make quite a lot of difference if the government puts in place the measures the government has discussed with me.”

What happened, predictably, was the opposite. In May, Fatah al-Islam, a terrorist group whose leadership was imported from Damascus, attacked Lebanese army outposts outside the Palestinian refugee camps of Nahr El-Bared and Biddawi, causing a bloody standoff that continues till this day. In June, current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report citing numerous instances of arms smuggling from Syria to Hizbullah and the PFLP. Yesterday, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasted that he once again has missiles that can reach Tel Aviv – missiles he could only have obtained via Syria. Israel confirms his claims.

Mr. Ban’s report is notable for its clarity and seriousness. Taken together with the border report, it paints an alarming picture. Though the land grabs are small affairs individually, they collectively add up to an area amounting to about 4% of Lebanese soil – in U.S. terms, the proportional equivalent of Arizona. Of particular note is that the area of Syrian conquest dwarves that of the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms. The farms, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967 and which amount to an area of about 12 square miles, are claimed by Hizbullah as belonging to Lebanon – a useful pretext for it to continue its “resistance” against an Israeli occupation that ended seven years ago.

Needless to say, Hizbullah – which purports to fight for Lebanese sovereignty – makes no similar claims against Syria. For his part, Mr. Assad refuses to agree to a demarcation of his border with Lebanon, just as he refuses to open an embassy in Beirut. The ambiguity serves him well: He can seize Lebanese territory without anyone appearing to take notice, supply terrorist camps without quite harboring the terrorists, and funnel arms to Hizbullah at will – all without abandoning the fantasy of “Greater Syria” encompassing Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Israel itself.

It would, of course, be nice to see the Arab world protest this case of illegal occupation, given its passions about the subject. It would also be nice to see the media report this story as sedulously as it has the controversy of the Shebaa Farms. Don’t hold your breath on either score. In the meantime, the only countries in a position to help Lebanon are France and the U.S. They could strike a useful blow by closing their embassies in Damascus until such time as Damascus opens an embassy – with all that it implies – in Beirut.

“Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo” (& Giuliani’s girls vs. Obama’s girls)

July 19, 2007

* For once, an article in the liberal press tells it as it is: “Arabs pile into Darfur to take land ‘cleansed’ by Janjaweed”
* Policeman jailed for 16 years for raping Holocaust survivor



1. “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo”
2. Not so peaceful Nobel Prize winners
3. Italian ambassador treats wounded troops to Mediterranean hospitality
4. For once, an article in the liberal press tells it as it is: “Arabs pile into Darfur to take land ‘cleansed’ by Janjaweed”
5. The BBC and the Arab League: jointly silent on Darfur
6. Policeman jailed for 16 years for raping Holocaust survivor
7. Has Red Ken met his match?
8. Has President Ahmadinejad met his match?
9. UK Conservatives to make serious efforts to oust “Red Ken”
10. Which major newspaper will be the first to kill its print edition?
11. Giuliani’s girls go head to head with Obama’s girls on YouTube
12. Oprah Winfrey is the latest “Obama Girl”

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach items written by myself for the National Review in recent days. These can also be accessed at the National Review website.





(July 16, 2007)

According to the Qatari daily Al-Watan, Iran has let it be known that it has missiles capable of reaching 600 targets in Israel, which it says it would use if Iran is attacked by the United States. The Arabic link is here. (The article was not published by the paper in English.)

Meanwhile, the balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favor of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the British paper The Guardian reports today:

“The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: ‘Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.’”

Vice President Dick Cheney, who has long favored the possible use of military action against Iran, has apparently won the president’s support over Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, both of whom are said to oppose considering military action against Iran.



(July 13, 2007)

Following up on the item about Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner turned-would-be George Bush killer Betty Williams, one should remember that some Nobel Peace Prize winners have actually ordered the murder of representatives of the American government.



(July 17, 2007)

It is rare that one comes across a story about European generosity to American troops, so this piece, from the American Forces Press Service, provides a welcome change to all those negative stories about European attitudes to America.

Too bad it hasn’t appeared in the mainstream media. Here are some highlights:

WASHINGTON – A busload of wounded service members [many with limbs amputated] brought their appetites to the Italian Embassy here July 13 as the ambassador and his staff transformed the building into Washington’s most authentic Italian restaurant.

Italian Ambassador Giovanni Castellaneta hosted them for an evening of dinner and entertainment ... Guests dined on world-class Italian cuisine – lasagna, prosciutto and melon and salami skewers among the offerings – all prepared by the ambassador’s personal chef and served buffet-style.

... Tenor Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Guiliano, a member of the Army Band, presented a vocal performance in pitch-perfect acoustics. As he sang, musical notes composed by Puccini bounced off embassy walls adorned with Renaissance-era paintings and Etruscan artifacts...



(July 18, 2007)

For four years now, the left-liberal media has strenuously avoided mentioning that the perpetrators of the genocidal ethnic cleansing against the indigenous non-Arab population of Darfur are Arabs.

Papers like the New York Times and the Guardian and networks like the BBC and CNN have gone out of their way to ignore or downplay the fact that Arabs are behind the genocide. Of course, they wouldn’t dream of obscuring the facts like this if any other group were behind the attacks on Black Africans (Serbs, Israelis, Americans, or Europeans, for example).

This piece in the normally glaringly anti-western newspaper the Independent of London (the paper of which the notorious Robert Fisk is one of the chief foreign correspondents) therefore stands out:

Arabs from Chad and Niger are crossing into Darfur in “unprecedented” numbers, prompting claims that the Sudanese government is trying systematically to repopulate the war- ravaged region.

An internal UN report, obtained by The Independent, shows that up to 30,000 Arabs have crossed the border in the past two months. Most arrived with all their belongings and large flocks. They were greeted by Sudanese Arabs who took them to empty villages cleared by government and janjaweed forces.

One UN official said the process “appeared to have been well planned”. The official continued: “This movement is very large.”

Just to be clear, before the attacks started in 2003, Darfur was home to seven million people, mainly from three African tribes, Fur, Marsalit, and Zargahwa. Darfur literally means “Land of the Fur.” Some 2.5 million have now been forced to flee after attacks by Arab militia backed by Sudanese troops and warplanes. At least 200,000 non-Arabs have been killed and countless women and young girls raped.

The 22-member-state Arab League has done its best at the UN and other international bodies to ensure nothing is done to stop these crimes.

Where are the demonstrations by the so-called Western human-rights groups outside the offices of the Arab League?

** For more on the way left-liberal media has avoided mentioning who the perpetrators of the crimes in Darfur are, see the relevant paragraphs here.

** and this piece “Silence on the Arab Street” by Kamel Labidi, a courageous Tunisian journalist, which is the sixth item here.



(July 19, 2007)

Updating my earlier story on how the BBC and the Arab League together cover up what is going on in Darfur, I just watched the BBC program “HardTalk” in which presenter Stephen Sackur interviews – for almost 30 minutes – Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League.

Sackur didn’t ask Moussa about Darfur once, and instead just concentrated on allowing him to bash Israel. What a surprise.

(The BBC likes its anti-Israel programs, of which there are many, and the 30-minute interview with Moussa has now been broadcast seven times in the last 24 hours.)

Meanwhile, the BBC has just apologized and ordered an internal enquiry after it was caught repeatedly lying in its entertainment programs – see here and here. But when is it going to apologize for all the lying it does in its news and current affairs programs?



(July 15, 2007)

The Haifa District Court in Israel today sentenced Ahmed Hindawi, a 23-year-old Arab-Israeli policeman, to 16 and a half years in prison for raping and sodomizing a 70-year-old Holocaust survivor:

Hindawi had been driving along a highway north of Haifa, he noticed the victim walking along the side of the road. He stopped the car and demanded she enter the vehicle. The victim refused and crossed over to the other side of the road. Hindawi then exited his car and grabbed her, throwing her over the railing on the side of the road. The woman tried to push Hindawi off, but he struck her on the head until she released her grip on the railing. He then pulled her into a thorny bush and raped her.

Hindawi then urinated on her in order to humiliate her, and left her there with injuries all over her body.

His victim, who had rebuilt her life in Israel after surviving the Holocaust, is now a mental and physical wreck, according to the judge.

Hindawi’s short sentence – 16 years – was apparently based on the fact he had made a full confession and pleaded guilty. Nevertheless this utterly despicable crime surely deserved a life sentence. (There is no death penalty in Israel.)



(July 13, 2007)

My friend and former colleague, Boris Johnson, former editor of Britain’s Spectator magazine and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, is to challenge the truly awful “Red” Ken Livingstone for the position of Mayor of London.

The highly charismatic Boris, who is also a Conservative MP, is expected to electrify the race and pose the most serious challenge to Livingstone’s hopes of winning a third term.

Livingstone has made many enemies as mayor, not least through his anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.

Among other things, Livingstone reacted to an entirely inoffensive question from a Jewish reporter for the local London paper the Evening Standard by telling him he was like a Nazi concentration camp guard; called the American ambassador to London, Robert Tuttle, a “chiselling little crook”; and told two British Jewish businessmen (who are not of Iranian origin) “go back to Iran” and live “under the ayatollahs.”

Many Londoners think it is Livingstone who is the “chiselling little crook” and will be hoping for a Boris victory.



(July 13, 2007)

Following up my earlier post today on the Mayor of London, “Has Red Ken met his match?,” we now have to ask whether the former Mayor of Teheran (President Ahmadinejad) has met his match?

Maybe it is a scene for Oliver Stone’s new movie?



(July 16, 2007)

Following up my posting from Friday morning, “Has Red Ken met his match? ” within the last hour Boris Johnson has officially declared himself to be a candidate for mayor of London.

He used today’s edition of the British capital’s main newspaper, the Evening Standard, to officially announce his candidacy.

To add to what I wrote previously on Livingstone: at the same time as repeatedly calling for a boycott of Israeli companies, Livingstone has just signed a contract with a Chinese firm to take over one of London’s rail networks. China has brutally occupied Tibet since 1950, and is a key arms supplier to the Arab tribes committing genocide against the indigenous non-Arab African population in the Darfur region of Sudan. Not that the far Leftist London mayor would care about that.



(July 14, 2007)

Which major American newspaper will be the first to throw up its hands and say “Stop the Press! We’re only publishing online”?

Jon Fine of BusinessWeek is predicting that the San Francisco Chronicle may be the first to dispense with the paper, the presses, the trucks, and the mail rooms. He gives it another 18 to 24 months to survive as a printed product.



(July 16, 2007)

First, Temple University senior Leah Kauffman’s risquι video “I Got a Crush on Obama,” generated over 2.3 million views on YouTube.

Now, having seen the pro-Obama video featured in serious media like The Economist (“It is hard to envisage any other candidate inspiring anything similar,” opined the lofty weekly), Rudy’s girls are fighting back with their joint release today (with Obama’s girls) of a Giuliani v. Obama “political debate song” on YouTube.



(July 18, 2007)

The girls of the YouTube videos may need to step aside. The most important “Obama girl” is now likely to be talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who has announced she is to hold a fundraiser for Democratic hopeful Barack Obama at her palatial home near Santa Barbara, California, on September 8.

Obama already has the support of Hollywood moguls David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Winfrey’s fundraiser will be a chance for him to gain even more California showbiz money. Forbes magazine estimates that Winfrey is worth $1.5 billion. Obama has so far raised over $58 million for his White House bid.

Links in the item above:

-- Tom Gross

Palestinians given yet another chance. Will they take it?

July 17, 2007

* More money and guns for Fatah

* List of 256 prisoners Israel agrees to release this Friday said to include a leader of the terror group that murdered the Israeli tourism minister at the Jerusalem Hyatt hotel in October 2001, and the leader of the group responsible for the 1974 Ma’alot school massacre in which 22 young Israeli schoolchildren were murdered – including some thrown out of school windows by the Palestinian terrorists

* With Israel getting nothing tangible in return, outraged Israelis turning against Olmert



1. Fatah terrorists supposedly renounce use of violence
2. Organizers of Ma’alot school massacre allowed to roam free
3. Palestinians given yet another chance. Will they take it?
4. Likud’s popularity rises in Israel
5. Hamas’s support drops in Gaza
6. Terrorist convicted for preparation of suicide belt in hospital
7. “4,000 British citizens or residents trained at terror camps”
8. Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel...
9. ... But Israeli humanitarian aid keeps flowing
10. Egyptian al-Qaeda chief “flees to Gaza”
11. Other al-Qaeda related attacks in recent days
12. “They don’t need more guns, militias and Force 17s”
13. “Back to the Oslo illusion” (Yediot Ahronot, July 15, 2007)
14. “What to do now about the Palestinian Authority?” (By Khaled Abu Toameh, JCPA)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Scores of Fatah gunmen in the West Bank have signed a pledge renouncing attacks against Israel in return for an Israeli promise to stop pursuing them.

The Israeli government led by Ehud Olmert is to grant amnesty to 178 wanted members of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who will then join the official Palestinian security forces, and Israel will remove them from its lists of wanted terrorists, according to an agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has carried out scores of suicide and other deadly attacks on Israeli civilians since Yasser Arafat established the group in 2000.

The Israeli cabinet committee headed by Olmert also officially announced this morning that it will release 256 Fatah prisoners this coming Friday, July 20.

The list of those to be freed is said to include Abdelrahim Malluh, the deputy leader of the terror group that murdered the Israeli tourism minister at the Jerusalem Hyatt hotel in October 2001.



And in a further concession, Israel agreed to Abbas’ request to allow Nayef Hawatmeh to return to the West Bank without being arrested. Hawatmeh heads the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a PLO faction best known for seizing a school in the northern Israeli town of Ma’alot in 1974, and then massacring 24 Israelis there, 22 of them young schoolchildren – some thrown out of school windows by Hawatmeh’s group.

Media reports of Olmert’s presumed agreement to allow Hawatmeh not to be arrested have been met with outrage in Israel. Hawatmeh has until now never expressed remorse for his deeds.

Israelis are shocked at the number of known perpetrators of terror who are being “let off” while Israel’s captive soldier remains in Palestinian hands.

The editorial of Israel’s most popular newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, noted that the vast majority of terrorists who were released in previous exchange deals returned to their old ways despite signing pledges not to do so. The paper urges against a return to “the illusions of Oslo,” and advocates having as little to do with Palestinian affairs as possible.

For more criticism of the deal, see the first article below, titled “Back to the Oslo illusion”.



The Jerusalem Post discusses the risks Israel is taking in exchange for the chance of peace with the Palestinians. “Ultimately, the Palestinians must decide if they want the state they claim to have been fighting for, or not. If so, they will have to begin waging peace rather than war, and will have to focus inward on building, rather than outward on attacking. As usual, all of us will lose if they make the wrong choice.”

In a televised speech yesterday, U.S. President George Bush announced the holding of an international conference this fall as part of a renewed drive for peace in the Middle East. And he said that the U.S. would be providing $190 million of aid for the Palestinians in the 2007 fiscal year, which ends on 30 September, and also specified that the U.S. would be making a contribution of $80 million for the Palestinian security services. Olmert’s spokeswoman welcomed this.

Washington is hoping to persuade Arab nations without diplomatic relations with Israel, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to attend the conference.



In the latest poll conducted for Ha’aretz, the support for the Kadima-Labor center-left coalition in Israel is falling again, and the opposition Likud party led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would surpass the 30-seat mark if elections were held today.



A phone survey of 408 randomly selected adult Palestinians in the Gaza Strip conducted between 10-12 July by Near East Consulting, shows a fall in support for Hamas in Gaza since the group seized power last month.

Although Palestinians said there was now less street crime, 56% of Gazans said that since Hamas took power, they felt unable to voice their opinion freely in public and 69% of Gazans said that the way Hamas had taken control last month was wrong.

63% of Gazans said they most trusted Fatah’s Abu Mazen (President Abbas) while 37% said they most trusted Hamas’s leader in Gaza Ismail Haniya.

If elections were held today, 45% of Gazans would vote for Fatah, and 22% would vote for Hamas, with the rest saying they would refuse to support either faction.

Strikingly, if Fatah reformed itself, 60% of Hamas supporters in Gaza said they would then support Fatah.



It is not only in Britain that terror attacks are being formulated in hospitals.

Yesterday Palestinian terrorist Murad Abu Rob was convicted in Israel under terrorism laws for the preparation of a suicide belt in a Nablus hospital as part of a suicide car bombing in March last year that killed four Israeli civilians in Kedumim.

Abu Rob had prepared the suicide belt, complete with screws and nails to maximize injuries to the victims, at a hospital in Nablus and transported the belt to the suicide bomber. In addition, Abu Rob together with other operatives produced the film of the suicide bomber prior to the attack. Abu Rob also housed the terror operative for a week before the attack took place. The sentencing hearing will take place on September 9, 2007.

No doubt President Abbas will campaign, and the international media will soon write, sympathetic stories demanding Abu Rob’s release.



Up to 4,000 Islamic extremists have attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan or on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border before returning to Britain, many in the pre 9/11 period, reported the Sunday Telegraph, citing security sources.

Concerns over “sleeper cells” have been heightened since the failed “doctors’ plot” attacks in London and Glasgow two weeks ago.

Terrorists who are believed to have trained in Afghanistan include Richard Reid, from Bromley, Kent, and Saajid Badat, from Gloucester, who were both jailed for plotting to blow up aircraft with shoe bombs.

Andrew Rowe, a Londoner of Jamaican origin serving 15 years for terrorist offences, trained at one such camp in Afghanistan.

Dhiren Barot, brought up in London and now serving 30 years for plotting a “dirty bomb” attack in Britain, trained in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Others believed to have trained in Pakistan include Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the July 7, 2005 London transport bombers; Muktar Said Ibrahim, the leader of the failed July 21 transport bomb plot, and most members of the “Operation Crevice” plot to blow up nightclubs or shopping centers with fertilizer bombs.

It was only last year that the British introduced counter-terrorism laws making it illegal to attend a terrorist training camp.



Virtually unmentioned in the European and North American media, Hamas is continuing to fire Kassam rockets at Israeli civilians. Three hit Israel yesterday evening, including one that destroyed part of a residential home in Sderot. No casualties have been reported although several people have been treated for shock.



Contrary to false reports in several prominent western media, the Israeli army is continuing its efforts to help the humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip. In the latest aid on Sunday:

* Approximately 8880 tons of food, medical supplies, dairy products, flour, sugar, reproductive eggs, rice, cooking oil, straw and animal feed, raw food materials and construction supplies, were delivered to Gaza across the Sufa Crossing.

* Approximately 1050 tons of food, medical supplies, dairy products, meat products, fruit, cooking oil and reproductive eggs were delivered across the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

* Approximately 4180 tons of wheat seed were delivered across the Karni Crossing.



Agence France Presse, citing the Egyptian independent daily Al Masry Al Youm, reported that the head of al-Qaeda in Egypt, Khaled Mahmoud Ahmed, has fled the country for the protection of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

In recent days, Cairo’s metro system has been on high alert after a bomb threat against one of the stations, with bomb squads and sniffer dogs deployed and metal detectors installed at stations.



Suicide bombers killed more than 50 people in three attacks in Pakistan at the weekend, after Islamic extremists called for holy war following a deadly army raid on a pro-Taliban mosque in Islamabad, which resulted in over 100 deaths.

On Sunday, the Algerian army halted an attack by around 50 al-Qaeda radicals on police stations and killed four in the troubled north eastern Kabylie region, the El Watan and Liberte dailies reported.

There were a number of bomb attacks on civilians in Iraq, including two car bombs which killed at least 80 people in a busy commercial area in the northern city of Kirkuk yesterday. Among other buildings, the blast destroyed the offices for the Kurdish Olympic committee. (Will the IOC condemn this? For more on the double standards in sport, see Football killing fields: International soccer singles out Israel.)

Also yesterday, a bomb rocked a market in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing several civilians.

In Lebanon yesterday, the death toll for the number of Lebanese soldiers killed in the battle for the Nahr Al-Barid camp with al-Qaeda inspired fighters reached 100.

A new al-Qaeda videotape posted Sunday on a radical website featured a short, undated clip of a weary-looking Osama bin Laden praising martyrdom. Bin Laden glorified those who die in the name of jihad saying even the Prophet Muhammad “had been wishing to be a martyr.”

Bin Laden was last heard from in a July 1, 2006 audiotape in which he voiced support for the new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and warned nations not to send troops to fight the Islamic regime that had recently seized power in Somalia.



Attached as the second item below is a piece by Khaled Abu Toameh, titled “What to do now about the Palestinian Authority?”

Abu Toameh – who is a Palestinian journalist born in Tulkarem in the West Bank (and a longtime subscriber to this email list) – says the “Palestinians need good governance, better media, freedom and democracy, and to rebuild their civil institutions. They don’t need more guns, militias, and Force 17s. This is what I hear in the Palestinian street.”

He concludes: “The Palestinians need to get their act together and find a way to resolve their problems, and then Israel can talk with them. But under the current circumstances, if I was Israel I wouldn’t pull out from one inch of land because there is no strong and reliable partner on the other side.”

Abu Toameh’s piece below is based on his presentation at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem on May 24, 2007 – before the Hamas takeover of Gaza in mid-June.

For more on Abu Toameh see When was the last time you saw Khaled Abu Toameh interviewed on BBC or CNN? (Jan. 4, 2006).

-- Tom Gross



Back to the Oslo illusion
Israel’s immunity gesture will restore terror infrastructure in West Bank
By Guy Bechor
Yediot Ahronot
July 15, 2007,7340,L-3425515,00.html

The Palestinian terror infrastructure in the West Bank has been embroiled in an existential ordeal for at least a year: The IDF’s successful nightly targeted killings, which employed the element of surprise, have completely impeded its operations.

Instead of plotting terror attacks against Israel or against Israelis, Fatah activists, particularly those operating within the ranks of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, as well as Jihad activists (Hamas is not particularly prominent in these activities) are busy seeking refuge, escaping and living underground in constant fear of the IDF. This is one of the IDF’s key successes in the war against terror that has completely shattered what has remained of the Palestinian Intifada.

The collapse of the terror infrastructures was very perplexing for the Palestinians because albeit it being originally established against Israel, it also represented Fatah’s strength against Hamas. Fatah demanded a truce from Israel that would also include the West Bank (and in exchange guaranteed progress in the Gilad Shalit affair – although it has no control over his destiny) and in any case asked for immunity for hundreds of persecuted activists.

Now Fatah activists will get what they wanted from the Israeli government. The West Bank will once again become an immune paradise; anti-Israel terror will be restored without interference and will pose a serious threat to Israeli society, which has experienced relative stability and calm in recent years.


True, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants to bolster Fatah and the nationalist stream vis-ΰ-vis Hamas, yet these very same people also perpetrate terror acts against Israel. The IDF knows from the experience it gained in prisoner release deals with Ahmed Jibril and Hizbullah that 80 percent of released Palestinians, all of whom had made a commitment not to be involved in terror, immediately resumed their terror acts against Israel.

In 2005, for example, a few prominent prisoners were released as a gesture to Mahmoud Abbas – yes, that very same Abbas. Within a month they were apprehended for preparing the infrastructure for firing rockets at Israeli communities in the West Bank, no less. They even climbed a rung in their acts of terror.

Why does this happen? For released prisoners, terror is livelihood, a way of life, their honor and self determination. Moreover, those released within the framework of a prisoner deal must prove that they have not changed; they must reaffirm their status, and the only way to do so is by means of perpetrating terror acts against Israel.

Perhaps the Israeli government has still not internalized the disengagement mentality that is required here, because any involvement in Palestinian issues on our part always ends in a big bang. What we think bolsters Mahmud Abbas usually serves to weaken him and vice versa. Moreover, will one immunity deal or another change the face of the huge conflict raging between the nationalist stream and political Islam in the Arab world?

As we are not familiar with the rules and as real risks to Israel’s security are at stake, such gestures should be avoided as should involvement in the Palestinian world - which is entirely delusional as far as we are concerned.

Should Israel worry about convening the Palestinian national council? Should it bring Naif Hawatmeh here? What’s going on? Have we returned to the delusional years of Oslo? These are delusions whose time has passed, and the Israeli government would do well to avoid the self-deception, the involvement and the ensuing disappointment that will inevitably occur when it all explodes in its face.

Israel would do well to announce it will no longer interfere in Palestinian life. Not in punishing Hamas nor in compensating Fatah; not in unnecessary targeted killings nor in delusional prisoner releases.

We should disengage from the Palestinian world, for better or for worse, and focus on ourselves alone.



What to do now about the Palestinian Authority?
By Khaled Abu Toameh
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
July 12, 2007

• Within a few months after Abbas came to power, Palestinians started realizing that he was not delivering. Instead of fighting corruption, he surrounded himself with the same Arafat cronies. There was a decrease of perhaps 30-40 percent in the level of corruption but an upsurge in internal violence.

• The January 2006 election that brought Hamas to power was mostly about: “Let’s punish these Fatah thieves.” Hamas was building schools and kindergartens and clinics, while the PLO was building a casino and villas for its leaders. I believe some 30-35 percent of the Palestinians who voted for Hamas did so as a vote of protest because they were unhappy with the way the Palestinian Authority was running the show.

• Let Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO and Fatah start rebuilding their institutions, reform themselves, get rid of the corruption, and come up with a new list of candidates. Then run in another free and democratic election and offer the Palestinians a better alternative to Hamas.

• The Palestinians do not need more guns and military training. If the U.S. has $86 million and wants to help the Palestinians, then help them build civil institutions, help them build freedom, educate them about good things. What’s the point in taking 200 Presidential Guards to Jericho to train them? Who are they going to fight at the end of the day? In Gaza they were defeated.

• What should Israel do at this stage? Nothing. There is no one to deal with on a serious basis on the Palestinian side. Abbas doesn’t even have control over his own Fatah militias. Israel should just sit and wait. Don’t repeat the mistake of unilateralism, when Israel left Gaza to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.

• It is ironic that the West is supporting the guys who are suppressing the moderates and people who want democracy. The West is actually undermining its own goals.


In the post-Arafat era there was a lot of hope among the Palestinians that the Palestinian Authority would become a better body. There was much talk of reforms and democracy, good governance, and an end to financial corruption. Mahmoud Abbas’ 2005 election campaign was about ending financial corruption and building good institutions. Palestinians saw Abbas’ agenda as aimed at repairing all the damage that Arafat had done.

Within a few months after Abbas came to power, however, Palestinians started realizing that he was not delivering. Instead of fighting corruption, Abbas surrounded himself with the same Arafat cronies. There was a certain decrease in the level of corruption, but it wasn’t enough.

Instead of bringing democracy and restoring law and order in the Palestinian areas, there was an upsurge in internal violence in 2006. For the first time, the number of Palestinians killed in internal fighting was even higher than the number of Palestinians killed in fighting with the Israelis. If a judge can’t issue an order because he’s afraid or if a Palestinian security commander can’t return a stolen bicycle, what kind of an authority is this?


In January 2006 – at the request of the United States, the Europeans, and the international community – there were parliamentary elections and Hamas decided to run for the first time. Hamas actually copied the platform of Mahmoud Abbas from a year earlier and promised the Palestinians reforms and democracy. Hamas’ list was called Change and Reform, and Hamas fielded a very impressive list of candidates that included university professors, doctors, and engineers. If I were living in Gaza back then, I would have also voted for Hamas, not because I support suicide bombings and want to eliminate Israel, but because the January 2006 election was mostly about: “Let’s punish these thieves.” I know Christians, secular Palestinians, and PLO people who voted for Hamas because they were unhappy with the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinians felt they did not have much to lose by voting for Hamas. It is true that Hamas is a terrorist organization and a very dangerous ideological, religious, fanatic group. It’s true that Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Yet when I go to the West Bank and Gaza, I and most Palestinians still see the other side of Hamas, providing a vast network of social, economic, education, and health services. I have seen Hamas doing what the Palestinian Authority should have been doing with the international aid. Hamas was building schools and kindergartens and clinics, while the PLO was building a casino and villas for its leaders. So this is one reason why Hamas won the hearts and minds of many people in the election campaign.

But not all of those who voted for Hamas did so as a protest vote. Of course Hamas has its own supporters, especially in Gaza. There are many who really believe in Hamas’ ideology and that Israel can be eliminated. However, I believe that 30-35 percent of the Palestinians who voted for Hamas did so as a vote of protest against Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.

It is amazing that Condoleezza Rice did not see what any Palestinian child could see on the eve of the elections, namely, that Hamas was going to win. One day before the January 2006 election, I was asked by the Wall Street Journal to write a small op-ed about the elections and I wrote that the Palestinians were headed toward a regime change. Everyone here knew that Hamas was going to win.

So Hamas came to power and again there was some hope among the Palestinians. Maybe the Islamists would succeed where the secular PLO had failed? Maybe the Islamists would at least bring good governance?


Yet the election created tensions between Fatah, who refused to give up power, and Hamas. I am confident that if we held another free and democratic election tomorrow in the Palestinian areas, Hamas would win again, and this time by a larger majority, because the man on the street is saying that no one gave Hamas a chance to rule. Besides, why should any Palestinian vote for the same Fatah people he voted out of office 18 months ago?

Immediately after the elections, the international community should have come to Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah and told them they lost the election because they are thieves, because their people don’t trust them anymore, because they failed to deliver. Let them start rebuilding their institutions, reform themselves, get rid of the corruption, and come up with a new list of candidates. Then run in another free and democratic election and offer the Palestinians a better alternative to Hamas.

This remains the main issue for the Palestinians: reforms and good governance – even more than ending the occupation. There is a feeling that members of the Palestinian security forces are responsible for a lot of the anarchy and chaos on the Palestinian street and this also applies to Gaza.


The Palestinian Authority continues to be the largest employer in the Palestinian areas. Many institutions are continuing to function including the Ministry of Health and the Foreign Ministry. The Palestinians have 79 ambassadors around the world – much more than Israel. The real problem with the Palestinian Authority is not the civilian aspect as much as the security and judicial systems. This is where we have seen a near total collapse. The Palestinian security forces behave more like militias. Their loyalties are not known. In the fighting in Gaza, many Palestinian security officers refused to participate and there are reports that hundreds defected to Hamas during the fighting.

We didn’t have this under Arafat because he was a strong and charismatic figure who brought the Palestinians together. There was a feeling back then that you don’t mess around with the Palestinian Authority because Arafat is ruthless. But today you have Abbas who is very hesitant and weak and unwilling to carry out serious decisions. So people no longer relate to the Palestinian Authority in a serious fashion.

If the U.S. really wanted to help, the Palestinians do not need more guns. Everyone has guns, there are too many guns on the streets. The Palestinians don’t need more military training. If the U.S. has $86 million and wants to help the Palestinians, then help them build civil institutions, help them build freedom, improve their education system, teach them something positive. What’s the point in taking 200 Presidential Guards to Jericho to train them? Who are they going to fight at the end of the day? In Gaza they were defeated. Palestinians need good governance, better media, freedom and democracy, and to rebuild their civil institutions. They don’t need more guns, militias, and Force 17s. This is what I hear in the Palestinian street.

Arafat used to tell the international community: “Give me more millions and I will kill Hamas and Islamic Jihad; I will prevent all the suicide bombings.” He took the money and under him Hamas became even stronger. Hamas is in power today because of Arafat and Abbas. Giving Abbas guns and more millions of dollars is not going to help. Indeed, just by announcing that the West is going to give Abbas money, this is backfiring and causing him a lot of damage on the Palestinian street. It makes him look like a puppet and makes Hamas even more popular.


In Gaza we are seeing attempts by some Palestinians to imitate al-Qaeda more than the actual penetration of al-Qaeda. Various groups in Gaza are operating al-Qaeda-style. One is the Army of Islam, another is the Righteous Swords of Islam. Yet there is no real evidence that al-Qaeda itself is in Gaza, but some of these groups may be funded by al-Qaeda-linked organizations or global Jihad institutions. In the past six months over fifty Internet cafes have been bombed in Gaza. Women have had acid thrown in their faces. Four women were killed by Islamic groups in Gaza in the past four months. There is reason to worry because the border with Egypt is practically open and there are all these elements coming in and out.

Some of the reports about the presence of al-Qaeda bases are exaggerated. We saw how Fatah lied when it said it raided the Islamic University in Gaza and claimed that it found an Iranian general there. Some of these reports are being spread by Fatah as part of the war against Hamas and to frighten the West – “If you don’t give us money, look what you’re going to get in Gaza.”


We hear about Iranian money coming into Gaza, but we don’t see any Shi’ite influence. There were individuals in Gaza and even in the West Bank who tried to establish Shi’ite groups, but we don’t see any impact.

Hizbullah is also involved, but most of the people taking money from Hizbullah are from Fatah in the West Bank. According to Hamas literature, Hamas doesn’t like Shi’ites and doesn’t like Hizbullah either, so Hamas is not taking money from Hizbullah. But I’ve interviewed several armed Fatah groups, especially in Nablus, and most of them were on the Hizballah payroll and said it openly. So money plays a very important role.


What should Israel do at this stage? Nothing. Israel should stay away from the internal affairs of the Palestinians. There is no one to deal with on a serious basis on the Palestinian side. Abbas doesn’t even have control over his own Fatah militias, so what are you going to talk to him about? Israel should just sit and wait. Don’t repeat the mistake of unilateralism, when Israel left Gaza to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.

I’m one of those who argued before Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza that this would send the wrong message to the Palestinians and empower Hamas. Hamas came to power a few months after the unilateral disengagement because the man in the street was saying: “This is wonderful. Hamas has managed to drive the Jews out of Gaza with rockets and bombs, while the PLO has been negotiating with the Jews and they didn’t get as much. Look at what Hizbullah did in Lebanon. Kill them and they’ll give you more.” This is what worries me. Israel’s unilateral disengagement undermined the moderates throughout the Arab world.

I also don’t see any Arab country willing to send forces to maintain order in Gaza. The feeling in the Arab world is to try to disengage from the Palestinians.

The Palestinians need to get their act together and find a way to resolve their problems, and then Israel can talk with them. But under the current circumstances, if I was Israel I wouldn’t pull out from one inch of land because there is no strong and reliable partner on the other side.

PFLP chief: “Arafat died of AIDS” (& suicide bomb making factory in Syria)

July 12, 2007


1. “The war on Britain’s Jews?” now on YouTube
2. Anti-Semites on British left attack program’s presenter
3. PFLP chief: “Arafat died of AIDS”
4. 200 suicide bomb vests captured in truck from Syria
5. Israeli peace activists hang Syrian flags by the Knesset
6. Israeli websites close down to mark year since IDF soldiers abducted
7. Arab League envoys postpone Israel visit
8. Last refugees start fleeing Lebanon battle camp
9. Leader of group holding Red Mosque killed by Pakistani forces
10. Israel allows fruit, vegetables into Gaza
11. Palestinian “collaborator” brutally tortured in Hamas prison

[Note by Tom Gross]


The Richard Littlejohn program titled “The War On Britain’s Jews?,” which aired on British TV on Monday night and was featured in Monday’s dispatch, can now be seen online in six parts.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Due to the nature of YouTube, these links may be taken down in the coming days. If you intend to watch it I would advise watching it as soon as possible.

To remind readers, the BBC shelved this program when they heard it would focus on British anti-Semitism, and it was instead shown on Channel 4.


While some mainstream reviewers in the British media welcomed Littlejohn’s program, some on the left were extremely nasty about it. No doubt they felt uncomfortable having their anti-Semitism pointed out to them and tried to change the subject. One reviewer in the Guardian for example, started talking about “Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians” – an interesting remark given the fact he was meant to be writing about British anti-Semitism – and called the subject of anti-Semitism “tedious”.

On British radio, George Galloway, MP dismissed the program by saying: “Richard Littlejohn is a driveling guttersnipe who long ago fell out of the gutter into the sewer. This man is a moron.”

As Littlejohn (a leading British journalist, and a long-time subscriber to this email list) is finding out, when non-Jews condemn anti-Semitism, they can themselves become the target of anti-Semites.

One of the problems is that the mainstream media just don’t report many anti-Semitic attacks in the UK, which are only mentioned in the Jewish media. For example, a British ultra-orthodox Jew was thrown into a river in north London by a gang making anti-Semitic remarks two weeks ago. They smashed his glasses on the ground before doing so, so that he wouldn’t be able to see clearly once in the water. He was rescued by a couple that walked past shortly after.

Still, anti-Semitism in Britain remains below that of other countries. For example, in Ukraine yesterday, there were three anti-Semitic attacks in a single day. No serious injuries were sustained.

* The latest prominent international personalities to sign a petition condemning the proposed British academic boycott of Israel are the Dalai Lama and Mikhail Gorbachev.

* The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed a resolution criticizing the proposed British academic boycott of Israel. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D- Pennsylvania) is the resolution’s prime sponsor.


Ahmad Jibril, Secretary-General of the PFLP General Command, told Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV on July 5, 2007 that Yasser Arafat died of AIDS.

“To be honest, the French gave us the medical report that stated that the cause of Abu Ammar’s death was AIDS,” Jibril said. (Arafat’s nomme de guerre was Abu Ammar.)

Click here for more on Arafat.


Somewhere in Syria, there’s a factory mass-producing suicide bomb vests.

The Associated Press reports that Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf confirmed that 200 explosive belts were captured in a truck crossing into Iraq from Syria yesterday. There is no doubt they were designed to murder as many ordinary Iraqis as possible.

Today marks the first anniversary of Hizbullah’s attack on Israel that triggered last summer’s Hizbullah-Israel war.

We know that Syria is also resupplying weapons (some originating in Iran) to Hizbullah as fast at it can so they can once again be aimed at civilians throughout northern Israel.


Activists from Israel’s “Peace Now” group hung dozens of Syrian and Israeli flags across the entrance of western Jerusalem on Tuesday – from the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road to the Knesset (Parliament) building. The demonstration was part of a campaign to pressure Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government to open talks with the Assad dictatorship in Syria.

Organizers said that they would also hold a rally today in Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel to mark one year since the start of the Hizbullah-Israel War and to call for political negotiations as the best way to ensure security for Israel’s northern towns, which were hardest hit by Hizbullah rockets during the 34-day war.

In related news, Olmert said in an interview with the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based al-Arabiya news channel that he has sent messages to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asking him to restart the negotiations and that he is ready to meet him anywhere Assad chooses.


Israel’s major websites shut down for five minutes at 9.05 this morning, to mark the exact hour at which two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were kidnapped last year.

The homepage of each site was replaced with a message reading “This soldier cannot be found,” a play on the standard Internet error message “This page cannot be found.”

In London next Monday (at 6.30 pm), British Jews (noting the enormous coverage afforded the now released Alan Johnston and contrasting it with the almost complete lack of coverage about Israel’s kidnap victims) are planning to hold a demonstration outside the Syrian Embassy in Belgrave Square. Syria and Iran are the de facto controllers of Hamas and Hizbullah, the two kidnap organizations.

They are also protesting other Israelis missing and believe held by Syria or Iran – including Ron Arad, Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz, Zvi Feldman, and Guy Hever whom they say “the international community have allowed to virtually disappear into oblivion. For their families, not knowing what happened to their loved ones is a daily nightmare.”

* In its annual report last week, the BBC acknowledged that they received more than 5,000 complaints from UK viewers objecting to their bias against Israel in their coverage of last year’s war, and complaining that the BBC had breached its legal obligation to report impartially. The BBC report admitted “we did not give our audiences enough information about Hizbullah and its aims.” This was the largest number of formal complaints about any single subject the BBC has ever received.


What would have been the first ever official visit to Israel by Arab League envoys has been postponed, Egyptian and Israeli officials said.

The foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan had been scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other officials today. The visit may proceed later this month instead.

The Arab League has softened its hardline stance toward Israel in recent months in efforts to counter a growing Islamic fundamentalist threat in the Middle East, as represented by Iran and al-Qaeda.


The Lebanese army is moving in hard in what it says is its final assault on Islamic extremists holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon. According to news reports from Lebanon this morning, between five and 10 shells were slamming into the camp every minute and heavy machine gun fire could be heard.

The differences between this and Israel’s 2002 operation in Jenin is that the Lebanese army are trying to kill as many people as possible, whereas in Jenin Israel tried to capture and disarm militants, the government of Lebanon is keeping CNN and others away from filming what is going on, CNN and other stations are not mentioning the lack of media access, and the Islamic extremists in the north Lebanon camp (unlike those in Jenin) are not responsible for murdering hundreds of men, women and children in dozens of suicide attacks.

Lebanese troops have been battling the radicals at Nahr al-Bared camp for nearly eight weeks now. Several thousand Palestinians remain trapped in the camp but the BBC and CNN don’t seem too interested in their fate.

Humanitarian organizations have been unable to deliver supplies into the camp since June 20, forcing remaining residents to scavenge for food and water in abandoned houses.

For more on Jenin, see here.


The Pakistani government says Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the leader of the group that took over Islamabad’s Red Mosque last Tuesday, was killed when Pakistani troops stormed the mosque. Pakistan says it has killed about 80 Islamic fighters there. The true number is believed to be higher. Many women and children are believed to have been trapped inside or held as hostages.

The western media’s coverage of this siege has been completely different to its highly sympathetic coverage of Islamic militants holed up in Bethlehem’s Church of The Nativity in 2002 – and Israel didn’t storm the church and kill anyone. (Following European Union pressure, it allowed all the Palestinian militants to go free save for the 13 most wanted killers who were instead allowed to resettle in EU countries.)


Contrary to reports in some prominent western media, Israel is allowing supplies into Hamas-controlled Gaza. For example, yesterday the Israeli army delivered trucks carrying 300 tons of fruit and vegetables, including bananas, apricots, plums and avocados, into Gaza.

Meanwhile, Hamas continues firing rockets into southern Israel.

Also, in an ambush this morning, Hamas killed one Israeli soldier (a 21-year-old a dog-handler) and injured two others.

Egyptian officials said there is no chance that Fatah and Hamas will resume talks any time soon. On Tuesday Egypt deployed hundreds of reinforcements for its forces along its border with Gaza.

The European Union will donate a further 80 million euros ($110 million) in aid to the Palestinians, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said yesterday. The European Union has already given the Palestinians hundreds of millions of euros in the last few months. The EU says it will try to ensure none reaches Hamas.


Khaled Abu Toameh reports today that “A Palestinian man detained by Islamic Jihad members in the Gaza Strip last week on suspicion of ‘collaboration’ with Israel has been found dead in a Hamas-controlled prison.”

According to an unnamed Palestinian journalist, the supposed “collaborator” Fadel Duhmush, was handed over to Hamas a few days after he was captured by Islamic Jihad. The journalist added that “I heard from people who saw the body that he had been brutally tortured in the Hamas prison.”

The body has been transferred to Shifa Hospital because the victim’s family refused to bury him out of fear for their lives.

-- Tom Gross

American “Rachel Corrie” judge compares Israel to Nazis (& Stoned to death in Iran)

* “Johnston’s kidnappers received $5 million and a million Kalashnikov rifle bullets”
* Osama bin Laden’s surprising new daughter-in-law



1. American “Rachel Corrie” judge compares Israel to Nazis
2. AFP surprised after Sarkozy calls Hizbullah terrorists
3. Stoned to death in Iran
4. Iranian regime following 2008 U.S. presidential campaign with interest
5. Alan Johnston update: BBC finally admits to having relations with Hamas
6. Melanie Phillips on the BBC (By Melanie Phillips, July 9, 2007)
7. Jane Felix-Browne, a 51-year-old grandmother and parish councillor from Cheshire, England, marries Osama bin Laden’s 27-year-old son

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach items written by myself for the National Review in recent days (and one item by Melanie Phillips.) (These can also be accessed at the National Review website.)

I am glad to report that these items are increasingly being linked to by various mainstream media around the world. For example, here’s The Times of London’s world web round-up yesterday.



(July 10, 2007)

The death of the pro-Hamas American activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003 is continuing to stir controversy.

The latest comes from American judge Michael Hawkins (of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) who yesterday in court outrageously compared Israel to Nazi Germany:

Judge Michael Hawkins asked Justice Department lawyer Robert Loeb to consider the hypothetical case of a U.S. oven manufacturer during World War II: “If the company continued selling ovens to Germany, knowing they were being used to kill Jews, would there be legal grounds to go after the company?” he asked.

Don’t believe much of the rest of the AP piece linked to above either, about what AP refers to as the “peace” activist Corrie. Instead, see the photos of Corrie, Corrie’s parents, and the child victims of those arms smugglers Corrie did so much to defend, at the foot of this page.



(July 10, 2007)

The Paris-based international news agency Agence France Presse has been taken aback by the fact that new President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday called Hizbullah a “terrorist group.”

“Questioned as to whether the president had described Lebanon’s Hizbullah as ‘terrorist,’ as Jewish organization officials escorting the families claimed, Elysee spokesman David Martinon said: ‘Yes,’” say a shocked AFP at the top of a story which is meant to be about developments in the Middle East.

Sarkozy’s approach to terrorists is certainly different to that of his predecessor Jacques Chirac. See, for example, the final photo here.



(July 10, 2007)

Jafar Kiani, from the village of Aghche Kand in Qazvin province, was buried up to his waist, after which the crowd hurled stones at him until he was dead.

No this isn’t a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

It happened. Today. In Iran. Under the regime’s Islamic law.

The woman with whom Kiani (may he rest in peace) supposedly committed adultery is also waiting to be stoned to death.

It will be even more horrific for her. Under the Islamic punishment of stoning, a male victim is buried up to his waist with his hands tied behind his back, whereas a female is buried up to her neck with her hands also buried.

And the Iranian regime still has its defenders in the West.



(July 12, 2007)

The Iranian state media this morning headlines Hillary Clinton’s call to bring the troops home.

Meanwhile President Ahmadinejad says that centrifuge installation will continue.



(July 10, 2007)

That Hamas and the BBC have close relations isn’t exactly a revelation. See here and here, for example.

But finally the BBC, the world’s biggest broadcaster, has itself admitted to being in touch with Hamas – the group that unlike other Islamic terror groups, has made a habit of deliberately targeting children (in school buses, bat mitzvah birthday parties, pizzerias filled with kids and so on).

A senior BBC executive has confirmed that the BBC held private meetings with Hamas – whose gunmen usually wear ski masks to hide their identity – in the days leading up to the release of reporter Alan Johnston.

In a new posting on the blog of the BBC News website, BBC Middle East bureau editor Simon Wilson confirms that he held meetings with Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus to discuss Johnston’s fate. In his piece, titled “The Joy of Alan,” Wilson hints he was ordered to do so by more senior officials at the BBC.

Wilson also reveals that he and several colleagues were nearly kidnapped themselves on one of their outings to Gaza:

“One grim day, a group of masked and armed men apparently looking for a hostage turned up 20 minutes after one of my colleagues had just left a building in Gaza City. Shortly afterwards, a contact in a western intelligence service gave us chilling and compelling evidence that our every move was being followed by a car full of armed gang members.”

The BBC isn’t the only organization apparently now cooperating with Hamas. Yesterday in an interview with Italy’s RAI TV, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Gaza’s Hamas rulers were forging ever-closer ties with al-Qaeda and inviting al-Qaeda operatives to enter Gaza. “Thanks to the support of Hamas, al-Qaeda is entering Gaza,” Abbas said.

Would Wilson and other BBC officials also now like to comment on this report in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida – especially located by my sources in Gaza – that Jaysh Al-Islam (the so-called Army of Islam group who were holding Johnston) received $5 million and a million Kalashnikov rifle bullets in the deal to release Johnston?

I think British TV license-payers are entitled to know what is done with their money.



By Melanie Phillips
July 9, 2007

The BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, reporting on the aftermath of Alan Johnston’s release (in which he placed Hamas’s stated, documented and constantly reiterated genocidal intentions in metaphorical quote marks by saying merely that this was what ‘Israel believes’), gushed thus:

“To get the mood in Gaza, I rang the BBC’s excellent Fayed Abu Shamala, our senior journalist there. No-one worked harder to get Alan Johnston out. He gave a vivid account of the last few days in Gaza, which I think is worth quoting at length. … Israel may not like it, but there are signs that some people in influential positions in the West are changing their view of Hamas after everything it did to release Alan Johnston.”

According to Tom Gross in 2004, however, ‘the BBC’s excellent’ Fayed abu Shamala is actually rather close to Hamas:

“Some of the foreign BBC staff are quite open about their sympathies for Hamas. The senior BBC Arabic Service correspondent in the Gaza Strip, Fayad Abu Shamala, told a Hamas rally on May 6, 2001, (attended by the then Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin) that journalists and media organizations in Gaza, including the BBC, are ‘waging the campaign [of resistance/terror against Israel] shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people.’ The best the BBC could do in response to requests from Israel that they distance themselves from these remarks at the time, was to issue a statement saying, ‘Fayad’s remarks were made in a private capacity. His reports have always matched the best standards of balance required by the BBC.’ Indeed, today, three years later, the BBC is continuing to use Abu Shamala as much as ever. He was, for example, one of the BBC reporters in Gaza last month, who contributed to the BBC’s highly slanted reporting (on both the BBC English and Arabic services) of Israel’s operation to root out Hamas bomb-makers in Rafah in the southern Gaza.”

Abu Shamala was by Johnston’s side when he came out of Gaza. Shouldn’t the BBC acknowledge that their ‘excellent’ senior Arabic service correspondent in Gaza who reports on Hamas is a close associate of Hamas? Indeed, shouldn’t the BBC’s senior Arabic correspondent in Gaza have no such affiliation at all? Or to put it another way, why should the British TV licence-fee payer subsidise a Hamas supporter broadcasting propaganda about Hamas under the guise of objectivity and detachment?

Hello, BBC trustees? Anyone still actually alive in there?



(July 11, 2007)

Yes, it’s true, according to today’s Times of London:

A British woman has married a son of Osama bin Laden after a holiday romance and is to apply for a visa so that he can visit Britain.

Jane Felix-Browne, a 51-year-old grandmother and parish councillor from Cheshire, has until now kept her marriage to Omar Ossama bin Laden, 27, secret from everyone apart from her immediate family and close friends. But she has now agreed to speak about her relationship with bin Laden’s fourth eldest son.

“It would be nice if, like any other married woman, I could stand up and say this is my husband and this is his name, but I have to be realistic about things,” she told The Times. “I hope people don’t judge me too harshly. I married the son, not the father.”

… “I just married the man I met and fell in love with – to me he is just Omar. He is the most beautiful person I have ever met. His heart is pure, he is pious, quiet, a true gentleman, and he is my best friend.”

Mrs Felix-Browne, who has been married five times previously, met the young bin Laden in Egypt in September. They were married in Islamic ceremonies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

She was aware before her marriage that her new husband already had another wife and a two-year-old child. “I haven’t seen her but I have spoken to her for about an hour on the telephone,” she said. “She is fine about it.”

Osama Bin Laden has at least 17 children.

Mamma Mia! It’s “Tony Blair: The Musical!” (& Syria blocks hotmail)

July 10, 2007

* “Al-Qaeda infiltrate UK police”
* “Alan Johnston personally thanks Khaled Meshal”
* Israeli government launches Persian-language website
* Is jogging right-wing?



1. Mamma Mia! It’s “Tony Blair: The Musical!”
2. Jihadi humor at its sickest
3. Al-Qaeda have infiltrated the British police, says UK press
4. Syria intensifies Internet crackdown, and also blocks hotmail
5. Israeli government launches Persian-language website to counteract Iranian lies
6. Is jogging right-wing?
7. Michael Moore invited to show “Sicko” in Teheran
8. Oliver Stone to make a film on Ahmadinejad?
9. “Alan Johnston called Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus to thank him in person”

[All notes below by Tom Gross]

I attach some of the items written by myself for the National Review website in recent days. Not all are about the Middle East.



(July 8, 2007)

He’s only been out of office for a week and already we are expecting “Tony Blair: The Musical!” later this month.

It debuts July 18 at the York Theatre Royal.

Will it win any Tonys?



(July 8, 2007)

Kafeel Ahmed, the young Indian Muslim who burnt most of his skin off last weekend while trying to murder passengers at Glasgow International Airport, had told his family:

“I am involved in a large-scale confidential project. It is about global warming. I cannot reveal the details.”



(July 7, 2007)

While investigations are still under way about the British doctor’s plot – as many as 45 Muslim doctors and medical staff are involved according to the Daily Telegraph – al-Qaeda supporting extremists have infiltrated the U.K. police too, according to a report in today’s Daily Mail.

The paper says it has seen a secret dossier drawn up by MI5 which has so far identified eight police officers and civilian police staff suspected of links to extremist groups including al-Qaeda. Some are believed to have attended terror training camps in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

The Mail adds: “Astonishingly, many of the alleged jihadists have not been sacked because – it is claimed – police do not have the ‘legal power’ to dismiss them: We can also reveal that one suspected jihadist officer working in the South East has been allowed to keep his job despite being caught circulating Internet images of beheadings and roadside bombings in Iraq. He is said to have argued that he was trying to ‘enhance’ debate about the war.”

Meanwhile, I wonder whether the British National Health Service, employer of most of the medical terror suspects, now regrets these kind of ads they put up on the NHS website:

“There are numerous careers in over 70 professions within the NHS – this means there is something for everyone. The NHS is also anxious to reflect the local population it serves. To this end, it actively encourages applicants from a range of backgrounds, regardless of gender, age, religion or race, to apply for jobs. Applications are particularly welcome from professionally qualified Healthcare staff from outside the UK.”

It seems like al Qaeda have been reading the NHS website.



(July 9, 2007)

Syria has stepped up its muzzling of the Internet, blocking access to websites critical of the Assad regime, including some run by the more moderate Arab dailies, a human-rights group said yesterday.

The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria said that sites blocked by firewalls within Syria include the Saudi-owned, pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat (The Middle East), and the Beirut newspaper Al Mustaqbal (The Future), owned by the family of the murdered former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Popular e-mail provider Hotmail has also been blocked, the group said.

The crackdown comes ahead of possible conflict feared in Lebanon following next week’s U.N. Security Council decision on whether to station international monitors on the Lebanese-Syrian border to crack down on the transport of arms by Syria and Iran to Hizbullah, and a UN discussion on the inquiry into the assassination of Hariri.



(July 9, 2007)

The Iranian government’s English language propaganda website IRIB today carries another interview with a leading Holocaust revisionist*, this time the despicable Mark Weber. (* Link removed because we don’t want to publicize this dangerous “article”.)

Meanwhile as part of its effort to bring the truth to the Iranian public, the Israeli Foreign Ministry today launched a Persian-language website. The site went live at noon local time. Named Hamdami – which in Persian means “camaraderie” – it is located at:

The Israeli government said it is an attempt to counteract the “hateful, distorted and deceptive information by the Iranian regime.”



(July 6, 2007)

Apparently so, according to the French (though trying telling that to Presidents Carter, Clinton and others).

In Paris, what has come to be known as “Le jogging du Prιsident” is getting “Speedy Sarko” in trouble.

The Times of London reports:

“President Sarkozy has fallen foul of intellectuals and critics who see his passion for jogging as un-French, right-wing and even a ploy to brainwash his citizens. Attacks on Mr Sarkozy’s pastime, which he has made a symbol of his presidency, began on the internet as soon as he bounded up the steps of the Elysιe Palace in shorts when he took office in May. The grumbling has now moved to television and the press.

‘Is jogging right wing?’ wondered Libιration, the left-wing newspaper. Alain Finkelkraut, a celebrated philosopher, begged Mr Sarkozy on France 2, the main state television channel, to abandon his ‘undignified’ pursuit. He should take up walking, like Socrates, Arthur Rimbaud, the poet, and other great men, said Mr Finkelkraut.

‘Western civilisation, in its best sense, was born with the promenade. Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging is management of the body. The jogger says I am in control. It has nothing to do with meditation.’”

What really irks Sarko’s critics though is that he wore his favorite NYPD T-shirt when out jogging at recent European summits in Belgium and Germany and he says he is looking forward to doing so again at a bonding jog with Josι Socrates, the Prime Minister of Portugal, which took over the European Union presidency this week.

[UPDATE: The Washington Post and several other papers followed this lead in the days after the above item was posted in the National Review media blog, and ran similar stories.]



(July 5, 2007)

The Iranian Mehr News Agency reported on July 2 that Michael Moore has been invited to Iran for a screening of his new film Sicko at the Teheran documentary film festival. The festival is set to take place from October 15-19. Mehr’s story was in Persian, but can also be read in English here.

If Moore is lucky he might get to meet the biggest sicko of them all, President Ahmadinejad.



(July 5, 2007)

While Michael Moore may soon get to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it seems that Oliver Stone is trying to make a docudrama about him.

The Iranian Mehr news agency reports that Ahmadinejad has refused a request by Stone to cooperate. Mehdi Kalhor, the Iranian President’s media advisor, stated that Stone is “part of the Great Satan.”

Stone may go ahead in any case. But he has already made a film called Natural Born Killers, so he will have to think of another title.



(July 5, 2007)

My contacts in Gaza have directed me to a report today on the influential Hamas website, Palestine-info, stating that freed BBC reporter Alan Johnston called Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus to thank him in person. The call was made yesterday evening when Johnston was at the British consulate in east Jerusalem, according to the report.

Hamas is credited with freeing Johnston, though Fatah claims the whole thing was staged by Hamas and Johnston’s Islamist kidnappers to fool gullible western diplomats. (Hamas has long collaborated with the Army of Islam, the “institutional” name taken on by the bandit Dughmush clan who were holding Johnston. For example, Hamas used the Dughmush gunmen as contract killers against Fatah when murdering Mousa Arafat and others.)

Hamas received many accolades yesterday from the British government and others, only two weeks after the Islamic terror group was throwing fellow Palestinians to their deaths from Gaza rooftops.

Even though by British law, the publicly-funded BBC has an obligation to be objective, Johnston, like many others at the BBC, is known for his pro-Palestinian views.

In his almost hour-long press conference at the British consulate in east Jerusalem yesterday, Johnston went out of his way to thank almost everyone – he named Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian people, the BBC, the UK Foreign Office, international journalists, the European Union and the UN, among others – but noticeably avoided thanking the government of Israel, who had been aiding the British in all kinds of ways behind the scenes to secure his release.

He also brushed aside questions about the young Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit who is still being held by Hamas in Gaza. By contrast others, such as German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, specifically called for Shalit to be let go when welcoming Johnston’s release.

This afternoon, Johnston paid a courtesy visit to Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

“Just around the corner from Tony Blair’s new home, I was able to buy a copy of Mein Kampf”

July 09, 2007

* Also revealed: Terrorist jailed for his involvement in a bomb attack on the Paris Metro – which killed eight people and wounded 80 – now works as a traffic cop in England.

* Will UK unions protest the British “occupation” of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Falklands, Gibraltar, Kosovo, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Diego Garcia, Belize, Brunei and various other parts of Africa and Asia?



1. The BBC refused to show this film
2. Britain of geo-strategic importance
3. “Sounds like a plan to me!”
4. Now the transport union votes to boycott Israel
5. The terrorist who became a London traffic warden
6. “The new anti-Semitism: How the Left reversed history to bring Judaism under attack” (By Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail, July 6, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


I attach an article by Richard Littlejohn, who is one of Britain’s best-known newspaper commentators. (He is formerly lead columnist for the Sun, Britain’s best-selling daily paper, and is now a star columnist for the highly influential mid-market paper, the Daily Mail.)

The article previews a TV documentary that Littlejohn has made and will be broadcast tonight.

Littlejohn was originally asked to make the program by the BBC, but when the BBC found out that Littlejohn (who is not Jewish) had decided to concentrate on the sharp rise in British anti-Semitism, and moreover point out that this was coming overwhelmingly from the left allied with Muslim extremists, the BBC buried the project.

Britain’s Channel 4 (to their credit, since Channel 4 news also veers leftwards) has, however, decided to broadcast the program (8 pm local time).


Although the vast majority of recipients on this email list don’t live in the UK, it is worth reading his piece since for various geo-strategic reasons Britain is a particularly important country in the fight for global freedom and democracy.

Littlejohn is a long-time subscriber to this email list, as are most of the people he mentions in his article. He brings together several themes already familiar to recipients of this list, but it is noteworthy that such an influential journalist has done so in such a prominent way.

The comments on the Daily Mail website from ordinary members of the British public (as opposed to the leftist elites who dominate the British media, academia and much of the foreign policy-making establishment) are encouraging.


I have yet to see the program, but two other British journalist friends of mine (neither of whom, for the record, are Jewish) have told me the following:

Chas Newkey-Burden: “I have seen an advance screening of Littlejohn’s program and even for those well-versed in the rise of anti-Semitism in Britain, it is required viewing. I’ve never witnessed such a thorough, courageous and eloquent indictment of anti-Jew hatred in modern Britain – from far-right bully-boys and Muslim extremists to dinner-party left-wingers.”

Julie Burchill: “A few months back a Sunday Times columnist claimed that ‘Muslims are the new Jews.’ On this showing, it’s far more to the point that Islamists are the new Nazis – and the leftist bully-boys of Britain who back them are the new Mosleyites. As Jessica Mitford said of the original Mosley and her sister who married him ‘Throw them in jail, throw away the key and let them rot.’ Sounds like a plan to me!”

* For more from Newkey-Burden see The Six Day Phwoar (Israel: A new gay icon?) (Jan.8, 2007).
* For more on Burchill see Julie Burchill follow-up; and ‘Great Britain stands indicted’ (Dec. 2, 2004).
* For more from Littlejohn, see:
Senior British politician steps up attacks on “Jewish cabal” (May 6, 2003), and
“Evening, infidels! Here is the news from the BBC...” (Oct. 18, 2006).


Not uncoincidentally, Britain’s 800,000-member Transport and General Workers’ Union has become the latest British union (following the Journalists union, the University teachers’ union, and the Public Services union UNISON) to call for a boycott of Israeli-made products based on what the TGWU termed the “crimes of Israel.”

I need hardly point out that they haven’t called for the boycott of any other country and indeed continue to help fuel the British “occupation” of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Falklands, Gibraltar, Kosovo, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Diego Garcia, Belize, Brunei and various other parts of Africa and Asia. (The British embassy in Israel issued a response this morning saying “the British government opposes boycotts of any kind.”)


Also today, The Daily Mail reveals that a terrorist jailed for his involvement in a bomb attack on the Paris Metro – which killed eight people and wounded 80 – has been working as a traffic cop in England.

Mustapha Boutarfa, 32, was arrested by Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist squad in 1996 and extradited from Britain to France two years later. He stood trial for his auxiliary role in the 1995 attack on the St Michel station by a notorious Islamic militant group and was given a two-year prison sentence.

But after his release, Boutarfa, who held dual French and Algerian nationality, managed to get back into the UK with his wife and children – and secured the job as a parking attendant in Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey.

-- Tom Gross



The new anti-Semitism: How the Left reversed history to bring Judaism under attack
By Richard Littlejohn
The Daily Mail
July 6, 2007

On the side of St George’s Town Hall in the East End of London, there’s a mural commemorating the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when tens of thousands of Jews and local trades unionists fought side by side to halt a march by Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.

They poured out of the docks, factories and sweat shops to repel the Blackshirts, who were being given an official police escort. Their banners read: They Shall Not Pass.

By the end of the day, the police were forced to withdraw and Mosley’s thugs had been routed. It was a crushing defeat, from which the Far Right never really recovered and was pivotal in preventing the cancer of Fascism and anti-Semitism then sweeping Continental Europe from establishing a meaningful foothold in this country.

In my previous incarnation as a young labour and industrial correspondent, I used to drink in the Britannia pub, in Cable Street, with an old friend, Brian Nicholson, former chairman of the transport workers’ union, who lived a couple of doors down.

From the public bar, a few yards across the square from the old Town Hall, I watched with fascination as the mural was being painted. It took 17 years from conception to completion in 1993 and more than once suffered the indignity of being vandalised by moronic Mosley manques in the National Front and the BNP.

A couple of years ago when the BBC approached me to make what they called an ‘authored documentary’ on any subject about which I felt passionate, I proposed an investigation into modern anti-Semitism to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Cable Street last October.


My thesis was that while the Far Right hasn’t gone away, the motive force behind the recent increase in anti-Jewish activity comes from the Fascist Left and the Islamonazis.

It was an idea which vanished into the bowels of the commissioning process, never to return. Eventually the Beeb told me that they weren’t making any more ‘authored documentaries’.

I couldn’t help wondering what might have happened if I’d put forward a programme on ‘Islamophobia’. It would probably have become a six-part, primetime series and I’d have been up for a BAFTA by now.

But I persevered and Channel 4 picked up the project. You can see the results on Monday night.

When some people heard I was making the programme, their first reaction was: ‘I didn’t know you were Jewish.’

I’m not, but what’s that got to do with the price of gefilte fish? They simply couldn’t comprehend why a non-Jew would be in the slightest bit interested in investigating anti-Semitism.

If I had been making a film about Islamophobia, no one would have asked me if I was Muslim.

The Labour MP John Mann told me that he experienced exactly the same reaction when he instigated a parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism.

‘As soon as I set it up, the first MP who commented to me said: “Oh, I didn’t know you were Jewish, John.”’ He isn’t, either.


But the implication was plainly that the very idea of anti-Semitism is the invention of some vast Jewish conspiracy.

Mann’s inquiry reported: ‘It is clear that violence, desecration and intimidation directed towards Jews is on the rise. Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to attack than at any time for a generation or longer.’

That certainly bears out my own findings. After three months filming across Britain, I reached the conclusion: It’s open season on the Jews.

Ever since 9/11 I’ve detected an increase in anxiety among Jewish friends and neighbours in my part of North London. As I’ve always argued: just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

When I went to address a ladies’ charity lunch at a synagogue in Finchley, I was astonished at the level of security. You don’t expect to see bouncers in black bomber jackets on the door at a place of worship.

I soon discovered this wasn’t unusual. Nor is it confined to London. The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Mike Todd, took me out on patrol with his officers and members of the Community Security Trust, which provides protection for the Jewish community.

These patrols are mounted every Friday night following a series of unprovoked attacks on Jews on their way to synagogue. We passed a care home surrounded by barbed wire.

At the King David School, there are high fences, floodlights, CCTV cameras and fulltime guards. It was the kind of security you associate with a prison.

They’re even installing bombproof windows in many prominent Jewish institutions and running evacuation drills.


This sounded to me like Cold War panic. Surely it’s all a bit over the top? Far from it, said Todd.

‘We know that people carry out hostile reconnaissance. You do know that there will be attacks potentially and so what we’re trying to do is make it a hostile environment to those people who want to engage in anti-Semitic attacks.’

In the past two years, Manchester police reported a 20 per cent rise in anti-Semitic incidents. I visited a Jewish cemetery in the north of the city which has been repeatedly desecrated – headstones and graves smashed, swastikas daubed on memorials. It was heartbreaking.

That type of cowardly vandalism is almost certainly the handiwork of Far Right skinheads. But the more serious threat comes from Islamist extremists.

Police and the security services say they have uncovered a series of plots by groups linked to Al Qaeda to attack Jewish targets in Britain.

As Channel 4’s own Undercover Mosque documentary exposed earlier this year, anti-Jewish sermons are routinely preached in Britain. Anti-Semitic hatred is beamed in on satellite TV channels and over the internet.

On London’s Edgware Road, just around the corner from the Blairs’ new Connaught Square retirement home, I was able to buy a copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, translated into Arabic. It was on open sale alongside the evening paper and the Kit-Kats.

You don’t even have to be Jewish to find yourself on the end of anti-Semitic hatred. I met a Jack the Ripper tour guide in East London who was beaten up by a group of Muslim youths, who took one look at his period costume – long black coat and black hat – and assumed he was an Orthodox Jew and therefore deserving of a kicking. They didn’t want ‘dirty Jews’ in ‘their’ neighbourhood.


During the 2005 General Election, anti-war activists targeted Labour MPs who supported the invasion of Iraq. Fair enough, that’s a legitimate enough ambition in a democracy.

But in the case of Lorna Fitzsimons, the member for Rochdale, the campaign to unseat her took a sinister turn.

An outfit calling itself The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) – basically two brothers above a kebab shop – published leaflets ‘accusing’ her of being Jewish, even though she’s not.

‘They said I was part of the world neo-Con Zionist conspiracy. I think it’s deeply insidious and worrying that they felt there was so much anti-Semitism in the local community that it would galvanise the vote.’ In the event, she lost her seat by a few hundred votes and is certain the MPAC smear campaign swung it.

Opposition to the war and loathing of Israel has led the selfstyled ‘anti-racist’ Left to make common cause with Islamonazis. And ‘anti-Zionism’ soon tips over into straight- forward anti-Semitism.

When The Observer columnist Nick Cohen – who has always considered himself of the Left and, despite the surname, isn’t Jewish either - wrote a piece defending the toppling of Saddam he was deluged with hate mail.

‘It was amazing anti-Semitism, you know – you’re only saying this because you’re a Jew.’

Cohen has also noticed the casual anti-Jewish sentiment around Left-wing dinner tables and in the salons of Islington.

He is appalled by the way in which his old comrades-in-arms have embraced terrorist groups like Hezbollah, one of the most anti-Semitic organisations on Earth.

Check out the way the National Union of Journalists singles out Israel for boycott, even though it has the only free press in the Middle East. Or the academic boycott of Israel by the university lecturers, which as the lawyer Anthony Julius and the law professor Alan Dershowitz argue, goes way beyond legitimate protest. The sheer ferocity and violence of the arguments is nothing more than naked anti-Semitism.

Under the guise of ‘anti-Zionism’, anti- Semitism is rife on British university campuses. But still the Government refuses to ban groups such as Hizb ut-Tahir, motto: ‘Jews will be killed wherever they can be found.’


Then there is self-proclaimed ‘anti-racist’ Ken Livingstone, who said to a Jewish reporter, Oliver Finegold, who approached him outside County Hall: ‘What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?’

When Finegold explained that he was Jewish and was deeply offended by the remark, Livingstone compared him to a ‘concentration camp guard’.

Attempting to justify himself, Livingstone put on his best Kenneth Williams ‘Stop Messing About’ voice and protested that he wasn’t being anti-Jewish since he was rude about everyone. That was his Get Out Of Jail Free gambit.

Funny how that excuse didn’t work for Bernard Manning.

But under the Macpherson code to which Livingstone subscribes, a racist incident is one which anyone perceives as racist – intended victim or onlooker. It’s curious how in multi-cultural, diverse, inclusive, anti-racist Britain, the rules don’t seem to extend to the Jews. Livingstone would never have dreamed of being that offensive to a Muslim, or Jamaican, journalist.

Any Tory who made similar remarks would have been hounded from office – and Livingstone would have been leading the lynch mob.

Blaming Israel is the last refuge of the anti-Semite. Livingstone insists he’s not anti-Jewish, he just opposes the policies of the Israeli government.

So perhaps he can explain what the hell the conflict in the Middle East has to do with calling a Jewish reporter a German war criminal and a concentration camp guard? Where exactly does the Palestinian cause fit into that equation?

‘If you have people like the Mayor of London crossing the line, then making a half-apology, and stumbling through that, then it gives a message out to the rest of the community. That is why anti-Semitism is on the rise again – because it’s become acceptable,’ says John Mann, whose parliamentary inquiry team was shocked at the scale and nature of what it unearthed.

‘Every single member of our committee was stunned at some of the things they found out. It wasn’t a Britain that they recognised. It’s almost as if it’s a throwback. We thought these were things we’d seen in the past, and we hoped had gone.’


As a Labour MP he’s appalled at the way many on the Left have become almost casually and routinely anti-Semitic. ‘We wouldn’t have seen this ten or 15 years ago. This idea that in some way there’s a conspiracy of Jews running the world goes back to the Elders of the Protocols of Zion (a long since discredited book, though still popular in the Muslim world) in the last century. We’ve seen this before, and now it’s resurgent.’

Seventy years after Cable Street, we’ve gone full circle. The Left who once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jews against the Blackshirts are now in the vanguard of the new anti-Semitism.

The Britannia has long since closed and the Jewish community has moved on, but the mural remains. The synagogues have been replaced by mosques.

Where the East End was once a hotbed of Far Right extremism, these days it’s the stomping ground of George Galloway’s Respect Party, a grubby alliance of Islamic extremists and the old Socialist Workers Party – at the heart of the new ‘We Are All Hezbollah Now’ activism.

While we were shooting the final sequence of next Monday’s film in front of the mural, a scruffy-looking bloke wandered out of what used to be the Britannia and now seems to have been turned into some kind of glorified squat.

He recognised me, identified himself as a member of Respect, objected to what I was saying to camera and tried to disrupt us.

Outnumbered, he shuffled away again, shouting. He did not pass.

The Second Battle of Cable Street, it wasn’t.

• The War On Britain’s Jews? is on Channel 4 on Monday at 8pm.

Abbas aide says rescue of Alan Johnston was staged by Hamas

July 04, 2007


1. Abbas aide says rescue of Alan Johnston was staged
2. Hamas scores a propaganda victory and the British fall for it
3. Anyone for justice?

I attach three items posted by myself today on the National Review website concerning the release early this morning of kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston. For previous dispatches on Johnston, please see here.



[Notes below by Tom Gross]

Ha’aretz reports:

A senior aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston in the Gaza Strip was “a movie” staged by Hamas, who took credit for securing the release.

Yasser Abed Rabbo said that Hamas’ release of the Briton, held in Gaza for nearly four months by the custody of militant group Army of Islam, had been staged, as the two groups were in league with each other. He said Hamas staged the rescue in order to “appear as if [Hamas] respects international law.”

“We’re watching a movie, where the thieves in Gaza fall out and one of them claims to be honest and brave, and the other is the bad guy. This Hamas game fools no one,” Rabbo said…



[Note by Tom Gross]

We can all be extremely pleased that BBC journalist Alan Johnston has been released safe and well after being held hostage for over 3 and half months in the Gaza Strip.

Less heartening is that David Miliband, the new British Foreign Secretary (minister) who only assumed office last Friday, in virtually his first public statement in the job, has gone out of his way to praise Hamas:

“I fully acknowledge the crucial role Hamas have played in securing this happy outcome,” Miliband said this morning.

The BBC has also been featuring interviewees all morning that praise Hamas.

* This is the same Hamas who only two weeks ago were throwing fellow Palestinians from Gaza rooftops and dismembering the bodies of others they had murdered.

* This is the same Hamas which are world leaders in the art of the Islamist suicide bomb, an “art” which almost killed unknown numbers in Britain this past weekend.

The Guardian, never a newspaper to shy away from giving Hamas plenty of publicity and taking their statements at face value, quotes Mahmoud Zahar, the Hamas “foreign minister,” this morning as saying:

“Every kidnapping, every illegal behavior, we will fight with all our force, the force of law, the force of moral principles.”

Yet it is Hamas who have been holding 20-year-old kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit in a hole in the ground ringed by explosives in a densely populated area of Gaza City for over a year now.

When interviewing Hamas spokesmen this morning about Johnston’s release, the anchors for CNN International and for the British network Sky News at least had the professionalism to ask them if they would now release the young Shalit. The BBC interviewers didn’t even mention Shalit but instead kept on repeating (wrongly) that Johnston was the longest held captive in Gaza. But then anyone who actually wants objective and accurate information about the Middle East long ago stopped relying on the BBC.



[Note by Tom Gross]

Unlike the BBC and the British government, The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has been forthright in calling on the:

“Palestinian authorities to see that those responsible are located and swiftly brought to justice. As long as those who abduct journalists continue to enjoy impunity, journalists will remain increasingly vulnerable to future attacks.”

At least 16 journalists have been abducted in the Gaza Strip since 2004. None of those responsible for abducting journalists have been brought to justice.

Meanwhile the BBC website is quoting Johnston as saying:

“I was in Gaza for three years, and I know very well what Palestinian culture is, and the extraordinary warmth and hospitality – especially of Gaza. I knew that the handful of people that kidnapped me were a complete aberration – something completely other. My memories of Gaza will be very much of the best kind, despite what happened to me.”

The Docs of War (& Did irresponsible journalism lead to murder?)

July 03, 2007

* Hamas TV: We have “proof of homosexual relations between Fatah officials”

* I attach six entries of mine from recent days from the media blog of the National Review, America’s most read opinion news website. (Some subscribers to this list have been sent some of these already in recent days.) Not all entries concern the Middle East; some concern the media in general. After the six entries I attach in full some of the articles linked to in those six blog entries.



1. Doctors as terrorists is nothing new
2. Update: It’s now seven doctors of death
3. Hamas TV: We have “proof of homosexual relations between Fatah officials”
4. Did irresponsible journalism lead to murder?
5. In what many are calling a final act of spite, BBC cut off Blair’s final speech
6. Mrs Murdoch takes the wheel at MySpace China
7. Ratings boon – Paris Hilton triples Larry King’s audience
8. “Seven NHS doctors held over al-Qa’eda campaign” (Daily Telegraph, July 3, 2007)
9. “Hamas-Fatah struggle moves from street to TV” (Yediot Ahronot, July 2, 2007)
10. “Top Palestinian journalist seeks asylum in Norway” (Jerusalem Post, July 1, 2007)
11. “Ex-Mossad head: Israeli reports led to death of Egyptian agent” (Ha’aretz, June 30, 2007)
12. “BBC apologises for Blair ‘mistake’” (Guardian, June 27, 2007)
13. “Mrs. Murdoch takes the wheel at MySpace China” (Forbes, June 28, 2007)
14. “3.2 million pay a visit to Paris via CNN” (Washington Post, June 29, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


(By Tom Gross, National Review, July 2, 2007)

After the revelation that two of the terror suspects arrested in Britain over the weekend are doctors, much nonsense is being spouted by “experts” on British television saying that for terrorists to be educated and middle class is “virtually unprecedented” and that the average terrorist is motivated by such things as “poverty,” “opposition to Zionism,” and so on.

In fact many, possibly most, terrorists and suicide bombers have been educated and middle class – just like many leading communists and Nazis were.

Among several of the more prominent terrorist doctors of recent years:

* Dr Abdel al-Rantissi (who succeed Sheikh Yassin as leader of Hamas): He studied pediatric medicine and genetics at Egypt’s Alexandria University, graduating first in his class and was a certified physician.

* Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri (the No. 2 in Al Qaeda). He studied behavior, psychology and pharmacology at Cairo University, graduating in 1974, and earning a Masters degree in surgery in 1978.

* Dr. George Habash, founder of the notorious PFLP, which gained world notoriety after a string of high-profile airplane hijackings and mass murders.


Since this item was published, it has now been revealed that the total number of doctors involved in the UK terror plot is seven. For more details, see the article from today’s Daily Telegraph, whish is the first article below in the Full Articles section.


(By Tom Gross, National Review, July 2, 2007)

The Hamas-Fatah power struggle has moved from the street to the TV.

The rival Palestinian factions are now engaged in a war of words through their respective media. A Fatah-run TV station has condemned Hamas’ “dark coup” in the Gaza Strip and Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV says the organization “liberated” Gaza from “Fatah occupation.”

The Hamas network added that they have “proof of homosexual relations between Fatah officials.” For more see the Yediot Ahronot article attached in the full articles section.

Meanwhile, a prominent Palestinian journalist from Gaza has sought political asylum in Norway. Seif al-Din Shahin, the correspondent for the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, has fled Gaza together with his family, after receiving death threats. (Fifth article attached below.)

A campaign is also apparently being waged by Fatah against Al-Arabiya’s rival, Al-Jazeera. Fatah leaders have called for closing down the Al-Jazeera offices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, accusing the Qatari-owned TV station of serving as “a mouthpiece for Hamas” and other radical Islamic groups.

“Al-Jazeera is openly biased in favor of Hamas,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Fatah figure. “This station must be banned from working in the Palestinian territories.”

(The above item has been linked to by several prominent commentators including Andrew Sullivan.)


(By Tom Gross, National Review, June 30, 2007)

The former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Zvi Zamir, has said that reports by irresponsible Israeli journalists about Dr. Ashraf Marwan, the Egyptian Mossad agent who tipped Israel off about the pending outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, may have led to his death.

Marwan, 63, was found dead outside his home in London’s upscale Mayfair neighborhood on Wednesday. Scotland Yard has opened an investigation into his mysterious death, which they have called “suspicious”.

As son-in-law of the late Egyptian President Gamal Abd el-Nasser, Marwan was one of the best-connected agents Israel has ever had in Egypt. Nasser had made him a roving ambassador after which Marwan began dabbling on his own in arms deals. By the time of his death last week, Marwan had reportedly become a billionaire.

His tip-off to the Mossad is credited with helping spare Israel’s destruction after the surprise attack by several Arab armies on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

Marwan was first identified as an Israeli agent by the Vanity Fair writer Harold Bloom in his book “Eve of Destruction,” in 2004. But Blum’s allegations were confirmed in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz two weeks ago following a libel case between two former Mossad agents, and then reprinted in Arab media after that.

“I have no doubt that reports published about him in Israel caused his death,” Zamir said yesterday. “There will also now be serious concerns about our ability to recruit quality sources in the future,” the spymaster added.

Marwan’s friends are blaming “Egyptian elements” for his death.

(For more, see the Ha’aretz article attached below.)


(By Tom Gross, National Review, June 29, 2007)

Attacking him to the last, the BBC cut off British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s final speech to the House of Commons on Wednesday. The BBC – which as a state-funded organization is meant to be impartial – has never forgiven Blair for Iraq. No wonder Blair recently called the British media a “feral beast”.

(For more, see the Guardian article in the full articles section.)


(By Tom Gross, National Review, June 29, 2007)

Wendi Deng, the Chinese wife of Rupert Murdoch, appears for the first time to have been elevated to an official post within News Corp.: chief of strategy for MySpace’s China operation, reports Forbes magazine. (Article attached below.)

The new role would provide the 39-year-old Deng with her first chance to prove her mettle in the succession battle with Murdoch’s children for control of the sprawling family-run media empire.

Critics fear Murdoch may be quick to submit to the wishes of Chinese authorities if he acquires The Wall Street Journal, the same way he has cooperated with China’s heavy Internet censorship to obtain the relatively fast launch of MySpace China.


(By Tom Gross, National Review, June 29, 2007)

“Larry King tripled his audience by lobbing softball questions at a vacant-looking Paris Hilton on Wednesday. After which, the son of Gloria Vanderbilt more than doubled his usual Anderson Cooper 360 crowd with his neo-ironic performance of a journalist holding his nose and whining about having to analyze King’s interview with the privileged child of a gillionaire,” writes Lisa de Moraes in the Washington Post.

(The Washington Post article is the final full article attached below.)

-- Tom Gross



Seven NHS doctors held over al-Qa’eda campaign
By Duncan Gardham, Nigel Bunyan, Auslan Cramb and Richard Edwards
The Daily Telegraph
July 3, 2007

The suspected al-Qa’eda terrorists behind the attempted car bomb attacks on Britain were almost all foreign doctors working in the NHS, it can be disclosed today.

In a development that will raise questions over the vetting procedures for medics from abroad, it emerged that five of the seven suspects held by police are young Middle Eastern men employed at British hospitals.

One is Mohammed Asha, a “brilliant” neurosurgeon from Jordan. Another being questioned over both the London and Glasgow attacks is Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi junior doctor who was a passenger in the car that rammed Glasgow airport.

The driver of the Jeep Cherokee –who suffered 90 per cent burns after setting himself on fire in the attack – is said to be a locum doctor working at the hospital where he is now being treated. Two of his colleagues at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, Renfrewshire, were also arrested yesterday and another junior doctor is understood to have been the man police arrested in Liverpool.

Disclosures of the suspected terrorists’ backgrounds – which came as the hunt for any others who may have been connected to the terrorist incidents continued – surprised detectives and the intelligence services.

Five men have been arrested, while a sixth, the Jeep driver, is under police guard in hospital. He was operated on yesterday but doctors said his chances of survival were slim. He has not been officially arrested because detectives are waiting for him to recover and do not want to trigger the 28-day maximum time limit for detaining him as a terrorism suspect.

The seventh person arrested is Dr Asha’s wife.

Last night Scotland Yard said an eighth person was arrested at an undisclosed location, believed to be in Britain, in connection with the London and Glasgow attacks. Meanwhile inquiries were also taking place overseas and there were reports of another arrest overseas.

As Britain remained on its highest state of alert, information emerged on how the suspects were tracked down through their mobile phones and the number plates on their cars.

Clues were gathered from mobiles which were meant to act as detonators in the London car bombs. The bombers called twice to the mobile in a Mercedes parked outside Tiger Tiger nightclub in Haymarket and another in a car parked 200 yards away four times. The devices failed because of technical problems and detectives tracked the calls to identify suspects.

Dr Asha and his wife were stopped by police on the M6 in Cheshire on Saturday in an operation involving up to 15 unmarked police cars. An alert had been put out on his vehicle and it was clocked by Automatic Numberplate Recognition cameras as it headed north.

The focus of an ever widening investigation yesterday centred on the Paisley hospital.

The men arrested yesterday, aged 25 and 28, lived in the block attached to the occupational health unit. Police said they were “not of Scottish origin” but refused to elaborate. The arrests were followed by a series of controlled explosions on a blue Vauxhall car in the hospital car park. Police were searching the building and grounds.

A white BMW was blown up the day before and both vehicles are thought to belong to men who worked at the hospital. Two others are believed to have been living in staff accommodation, while two others, who are suspected of launching the attacks in London and Glasgow, were renting a semi-detached house in the village of Houston.

Sources confirmed that Abdulla qualified in Baghdad in 2004 and registered with the General Medical Council in August last year.

Sources said the man arrested in a vehicle near Lime Street Station in Liverpool, who had lived in the city, was also a junior doctor.

One of the Liverpool man’s colleagues told a Muslim website yesterday that the suspect, who is 26, was a post-graduate trainee from Bangalore in India.

He said he believed it was a case of mistaken identity involving another associate from a hospital in the city, who went abroad a year ago.

He said the suspect, who began work at the hospital just under a year ago, may have been detained because he had mobile chip of the former associate and was using his internet account.

He was said to have been travelling home from Penny Lane Mosque late on Saturday night when he was arrested.

Medical sources said the men were probably recruited by the NHS or applied directly to the hospitals.

From 2006 foreign applicants had to have a visa allowing them to work in Britain – normally associated with working at a given hospital.

It is understood that the suspect in intensive care had been working as a locum at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Police sources said last night they hoped they had the main figures in the suspected cell.

Officers are trying to ascertain the real identities of the men and believe one may be a British citizen. Another arrest was made at Stansted airport last night.



Tom Gross adds:

For space reasons I am not including the other full articles on this subject linked to in the media blog, but they can be read at the following URLs:

(1) Two more arrested over ‘doctors terror plot’
The Daily Mail (London), July 2, 2007

(2) Two terror suspects are hospital doctors
Sky News, July 1, 2007



Hamas-Fatah struggle moves from street to TV
Palestinian rival factions continue war through media as Fatah-run TV station condemns Hamas’ ‘dark coup’ in the Gaza Strip; Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV says the organization liberated the Strip from Fatah occupation
By Ali Waked
Yediot Ahronot
July 2, 2007,7340,L-3419913,00.html

Palestinian infighting has moved from the streets to the TV set, as rival factions Fatah and Hamas carry out smear campaigns against each other through their local channels in the West Bank and Gaza.

Hamas has been using its official television station al-Aqsa TV in the Gaza Strip to broadcast documents and tapes allegedly found in the PA’s headquarters.

Hamas sources claim that such documents are proof of “corruption, collaboration with Israel and a total lack of morals, including homosexual relations between officials.”

The official Palestinian TV station is run by Fatah in the West Bank, and is being used to serve the party’s interests and condemn “Hamas’ dark coup and the acts of murder and execution that were carried out by the organization.”

On the channel’s broadcasts Fatah members call the Hamas organization a satellite state controlled by Iran and Syria, saying Hamas men are greedy gold diggers disguised as religious men.

On Sunday, Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV took cameras into the PA security staff’s investigation facilities.

The reporter, who visited the facility accompanied by a Hamas operative who was previously held there, described the “disgraceful conditions in which prisoners of the Islamic resistance (Hamas) lived.”

In a dramatic tone, the reporter entered interrogation rooms saying, “Here, the best of the Palestinian people and the Hamas movement were tortured.”

The program reached its peak when the reporter approached a noose which, according to the report, was supposed to be used to execute two Hamas men from Rafah. The reporter explained that “the execution was prevented when Rafah residents rose up and prevented it.”

The Hamas TV station gave emotional descriptions of the torture methods, the emotional and physical stress and the difficult conditions under which “Hamas’ Mujahideen” were held. The program also depicted how Muhammad Dahlan’s deputy, Rashid Abu Shbak of Fatah overlooked the oppression of the prisoners and thier protests.

According to al-Aqsa TV, Hamas liberated the Gaza Strip from Fatah occupation in the summer of 2007.



Top Palestinian journalist seeks asylum in Norway
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
July 1, 2007

A prominent Palestinian journalist from the Gaza Strip has sought political asylum in Norway, Palestinian journalists said Saturday.

Seif al-Din Shahin, the correspondent for the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel network, left the Gaza Strip together with his family, they said, noting that he had received many death threats over the past few months.

Shahin’s request has yet to be approved by the Norwegian government. Several other Palestinian journalists are also reported to have fled the Gaza Strip out of fear for their lives.

Earlier this year, masked gunmen set fire to the offices of Al-Arabiya in Gaza City, causing heavy damage to furniture and equipment. Although no group claimed responsibility, Palestinian journalists blamed members of Fatah’s armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

The group was also responsible for beating Shahin in two separate incidents in 2001 and 2004. The second assault followed Shahin’s live broadcast of a rally held on Fatah’s anniversary. The report angered Fatah leaders who had instructed Shahin and other journalists to report that tens of thousands had participated.

In 2003 he was arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces because of his reporting. Al-Arabiya’s offices in Ramallah have also been attacked by Fatah gunmen on a number of occasions.

Shahin’s brother, Muhammad, confirmed that his brother had left the Gaza Strip, but said he was unaware of the reports that he had asked for political asylum. “My brother left for personal reasons,” he said.

Shahin’s decision to seek political asylum in Norway comes amid a campaign that is being waged by Fatah against Al-Arabiya’s rival, Al-Jazeera.

Fatah leaders have even called for closing down the Al-Jazeera offices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, accusing the Qatari-owned TV station of serving as a mouthpiece for Hamas and other radical Islamic groups.

“Al-Jazeera is openly biased in favor of Hamas,” said a senior Fatah leader. “This station must be banned from working in the Palestinian territories.”

Muhammad Dahlan, the former Fatah security commander in the Gaza Strip, is said to be spearheading calls for banning Al-Jazeera. Last week he told Palestinian journalists that Al- Jazeera had been doing everything to drive a wedge and encourage schism among Palestinians. “This station has become an organ for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official closely associated with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, accused Al-Jazeera of endorsing Hamas and its terrorists. “Al-Jazeera is a partner in the crimes that are being perpetrated by the terrorists of Hamas’s armed wing against our people,” he said.

Muhammad Hourani, a senior Fatah operative in the Gaza Strip, said Al-Jazeera was no longer an independent and objective source for news. “They are a party to the conflict [between Hamas and Fatah],” he said. He said that Al-Jazeera had refused to cover atrocities committed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip over the past few weeks and was providing a platform for Fatah’s enemies.

Two weeks ago, Fatah militiamen set fire to the home of Hassan al-Titi, the Al-Jazeera correspondent in Nablus. One of the station’s correspondents in the Gaza Strip, Hiba Akileh, came under fire from Fatah for allegedly ignoring the fact that Fatah gunmen had participated in the fighting against the IDF last week.

Fatah gunmen have also torched two vehicles belonging to Al-Jazeera in Ramallah. The attack came after Al-Jazeera ignored demands to cover a Fatah rally in the city.



Ex-Mossad head: Israeli reports led to death of Egyptian agent
By Yossi Melman
June 30, 2007

Former Mossad head Zvi Zamir has said that reports in Israel about Dr. Ashraf Marwan, Israel’s Egyptian agent who warned of the pending outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, led to his death.

“I have no doubt that reports published about him in Israel caused his death,” Zamir told Haaretz Thursday, in response to Marwan’s mysterious death in London on Wednesday.

The real damage, said Zamir, concerns the implications the case has for the future.

“There are serious concerns about our ability to recruit quality sources in the future,” the spy master said.

Zamir, who questioned Marwan during a secret meeting held in London on the Friday on the eve of the 1973 war, said he had no idea whether the Egyptian had committed suicide or had been assassinated.

“This is a matter to be investigated by the British police. But it is clear that the reports and the exposure of his name by Eli Zeira [who was head of Military Intelligence in 1973] have led to his death,” Zamir said.

Four years ago, Zamir and two retired senior Military Intelligence officers – Brigadier General Amos Gilboa and Colonel Yossi Langotsky – had asked Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to initiate an investigation against Zeira. Mofaz refused the request and directed the three to the Attorney General’s office. The group filed a complaint with Menachem Mazuz but nothing came of it.

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Theodore Or ruled in arbitration over a law suit Zeira had filed against Zamir for slander. Or ruled that Zeira had indeed leaked the name of the agent to the press.

Zamir insisted that “the attorney general should indict Zeira. He has our complaint and he also has the evidence from the ruling of the arbitrator [Or].”

The former Mossad chief also said that, “The tragedy of this case is that the defense and intelligence establishment, including the defense minister and the law enforcement bodies, have proven to be impotent.”

Meanwhile, British police investigating Marwan’s death have described the circumstances surrounding it as “suspicious.” Marwan’s body was found on the sidewalk near his apartment in Carlton House Terrace in London.

At the time, he was in the apartment with his housekeeper who told police that she had not heard a thing. At approximately 4 P.M., she heard a knock on the door and someone told her Marwan’s body had been found on the sidewalk.

A gag order has been imposed on the investigation and investigators noted the testimonies of neighbors and acquaintances.

Marwan’s friends told Arab media that the 63-year-old had been upset in recent weeks, after Justice Or’s ruling had linked his name directly with Israeli intelligence. “He believed that there were official Egyptian sources behind this media campaign against him, and that behind it all there were plans to harm him,” the friends said.

During the past few years Marwan was busy writing his memoirs and said that the book would be titled “October 1973 – What took place.” His book was expected to shed light on his activities in the Egyptian leadership and on the claims that he was a Mossad agent. If he did address this issue in his memoirs, he probably denied the charges. The British police are likely to try to locate the manuscript.

A well-to-do businessman, Marwan had lived in London since the late 1970s. He was married to the daughter of the late Egyptian President Gamal Abd el-Nasser.


Tom Gross adds:

For space reasons I am not including the other full articles on this subject linked to in the media blog, but they can be read at the following URLs:

(1) UK to probe Yom Kippur spy death
By Abraham Rabinovich and Jonny Paul,
The Jerusalem Post, June 29, 2007

(2) Death plunge of Egyptian billionaire who ‘spied for Israel’
By Charlotte Gill
The Daily Mail (London), June 28, 2007

(3) London police probe death of Yom Kippur War Mossad agent
By Yossi Melman and Yoav Stern
Ha’aretz, June 28, 2007



BBC apologises for Blair ‘mistake’
By Stephen Brook
The Guardian
June 27, 2007,,2112989,00.html

The BBC has apologised for cutting off the prime minister’s final speech to parliament today, saying it made the “wrong decision”.

“It was an operational mistake and we would like to apologise to the viewers,” the BBC said in a statement. “There are often difficulties when live events do not run according to schedule but we recognise that this was the wrong decision under the circumstances.”

The BBC’s decision to end the BBC2 Daily Politics live special before Mr Blair’s final PMQs performance had finished meant terrestrial TV viewers missed the climax of his last speech at the despatch box, which drew a standing ovation from the government and opposition benches.

Instead, BBC2 viewers saw trailers for the dramas Rome and Jekyll before the network’s Wimbledon coverage commenced.

“The Daily Politics was scheduled to finish at 12.35 today, at which point BBC2 would go to Wimbledon and a special news programme would start on BBC1,” the BBC said in a statement.

“This should have given more than enough time to come out of prime minister’s questions at its usual finishing time of 12.30 and allow a short studio summing up by Andrew Neil before the end of the Daily Politics,” the corporation added.

“Unexpectedly Tony Blair’s last PMQs overran by five minutes and as a result the Daily Politics came off the air a minute before the end of PMQs.

A row is understood to have occurred inside the corporation over the decision to cut away early from the coverage.

“I think it’s disappointing that the final historic remarks of the prime minister and his historic standing ovation were not broadcast live on terrestrial television,” said Andrew Neil, the presenter of The Daily Politics. “I was very disappointed. I sympathise with viewers who feel that this was a wrong decision.”

Mr Blair’s final PMQs was shown live in full on digital channels BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament – but both draw tiny audiences compared with BBC2.

The Daily Politics was due to end at 12.35pm to allow for PMQs overrunning. But it is understood that because the programme went to air at 11am, it was ordered to come off air at 12.34pm.



Mrs. Murdoch takes the wheel at MySpace China
By Shu-Ching Jean Chen
June 28, 2007

Wendi Deng, the young Chinese wife of Rupert Murdoch, appears to have finally been elevated to an official post within News Corp: chief of strategy for MySpace’s China operation.

News of the impending appointment was confirmed by unnamed sources separately in media in China and the U.S., as well as in Australia. The new title, plus a seat on the board of MySpace China, would bring her into the glare of the public eye for the first time after an important backstage role setting up the venture.

MySpace China, which aspires to duplicate the success of the pioneering U.S. social-networking Web site, debuted in April as a trial site. It is a locally incorporated company that News Corp. has only a minority stake in, alongside U.S. venture capital firm International Data Group and China Broadband Capital Partners, an investment company founded by Edward Tian, the former head of China Netcom.

An official role at MySpace China would provide the 39-year-old Deng with her first chance to prove her mettle in the succession battle with Murdoch’s children for control of the sprawling family-run media empire.

By appointing Deng as an executive with management responsibility, Murdoch is also attempting to take a more hands on approach with MySpace China, a venture that is increasingly complicating Murdoch’s bid for Dow Jones, the parent company of The Wall Street Journal.

Critics fear Murdoch would be quick to submit to the wishes of Chinese authorities once he acquires The Wall Street Journal, the same way he has cooperated with China’s heavy Internet censorship to obtain the relatively fast launch of MySpace China.

By choosing to set it up as a Chinese company that is majority owned by Chinese interests, the site has come to incorporate much heavier self-censorship and content controls than if it had chosen to operate from outside China’s borders, critics say.

Seven of the Journal’s China reporters sent a letter to Dow Jones shareholders in May accusing Murdoch of cozying up to the regime in the past to advance his business interests.

An article about Deng that was recently spiked by the Australian magazine Good Weekend is also providing ammunition to Murdoch’s opponents over The Wall Street Journal bid. The magazine is owned by Fairfax, in which News Corp. has a minority stake. The highly regarded journalist Eric Ellis spent three months working on the 10,000-word profile of Deng, only to have it killed, arousing speculation of intervention from above.

A native of China born in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, Deng has been the locomotive behind Murdoch’s long push into the country, serving first as his personal interpreter at News Corp., then a mistress and an intimate adviser on China after their eventual marriage in 1999.

Deng has made frequent trips to China since News Corp.’s acquisition of MySpace early in 2006 to lay the political and business groundwork to launch MySpace China.

In a management role, she would be working alongside Luo Chuan, a former head of Microsoft’s MSN Internet service in China. They face a formidable challenge to gain traction in China’s fast-growing Internet sector, which has long favored established domestic players. No major foreign Internet company has yet been able to make much headway, except Google to a limited extent.

Since its April trial launch, MySpace China has been faulted as dull and criticized for its less than impressive Chinese name, which translates as “Befriend you, befriend me.”

Besides Deng, the other two News Corp. representatives on MySpace China’s board are expected to be MySpace founders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson.



3.2 million pay a visit to Paris via CNN
By Lisa de Moraes
The Washington Post, TV review
June 29, 2007

Larry King tripled his audience by lobbing softball questions at a vacant-looking Paris Hilton in her first TV chat since her release from jail early Tuesday.

After which, the son of Gloria Vanderbilt more than doubled his usual “Anderson Cooper 360°” crowd with his neo-ironic performance of a journalist holding his nose and whining about having to analyze King’s interview with the privileged child of a gillionaire. In so doing, Cooper joined all those media columnists who for weeks had been sniffing about journalism embracing tabloid instincts in re the Paris story, only to stick their own greedy snouts into the trough holding the juiciest pop-culture gruel served up in ages.

And Barbara Walters sat bolt upright on her Disney Throne of Principles, mumbling “tawdry” while dialing Lionel Richie on his private line to say “Hi!”

Hilton’s Wednesday night chat on “Larry King Live”– her first since being sent to the slammer for about 23 days with only bologna sandwiches and a Bible to comfort her – clocked about 3.2 million viewers. They came to hear her declare she had emerged from the ordeal a new, improved Paris Hilton, one dedicated to raising money for kids and to fight breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, one determined not to let her voice get really high when she gets nervous, one who will never again be sent to prison for driving with a suspended license and violating probation on an alcohol-related reckless-driving charge but who will instead call the family driver to take her to In-N-Out Burger.

Nearly 2 million of those viewers were 50 and older, which is par for King’s course, but not exactly the demo Paris presumably was targeting when Mommy and Daddy were trying to sell their little girl to the highest bidder at a broadcast network.

(Babs Walters had had the inside track – simpering on her daytime show “The View” June 11 about having chatted up Momsie on the phone the day before and even receiving a collect call from Incarcerated Paris herself. Only then Daddums reportedly called to say another network that starts with N-B-C was talking about tacking another zero onto the $100,000 ABC had agreed to pony up for use of the family photo album and home videos. Word of the negotiations mysteriously leaked to the media, scuttling the negotiations and paving the way for King to land the “get.”)

Cooper’s post-interview “360” telecast clocked nearly 2 million viewers – a big jump from his calendar-year average of just 812,000.

To put these numbers in perspective, Paris got nowhere near the crowd who’d tuned in to King’s show in 2005 when a JetBlue plane had to make an emergency landing with its landing gear on the fritz. Nearly 5 million were glued to his coverage that night. Because we don’t just love tabloid journalism – we also love tragedy, or the possibility of seeing it.

And speaking of Walters, when Star Jones went on King’s show two days after she ambushed Walters on “The View” and announced she was leaving before Walters could announce she’d given Star the hook, “LKL” logged 3 million viewers, nearly matching Paris’s numbers.

But, of course, all these stats combined can’t match that “LKL” telecast in 1993 when Al Gore went mano a mano with Ross Perot, attracting a morbid 16.8 million viewers – the biggest number of all time for an ad-supported cable telecast.

On boycotts and reality: Opposing the British boycott from Austria to India

July 02, 2007

* While academics from Britain, Norway and elsewhere campaign for boycotts
* Israel incorporates Darfur refugees, provides eye treatment for Sudanese
* Arab students graduate from Israeli universities



1. Another Jordanian graduate in Israel
2. Nobel laureates opposing an academic boycott of Israel
3. International aid: Some of this week’s examples
4. Israel sends aid to Cyprus to put out fires
5. Iraqi woman receives catherization in Israeli hospital
6. Israel to provide eye treatment for Sudanese refugees in Kenya
7. “Jordanian student receives Israeli MA” (Yediot Ahronot, June 21, 2007)
8. “From Darfur to Eilat: Refugees’ new life” (Yediot Ahronot, June 17, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch is a follow up to Chai Shalom, 13, suffered from cerebral palsy... (& Israel rescues Gazan baby).


While European and some American journalists continue to malign Israel, and many British academics are being urged to take part in a blanket boycott, Arab students from neighboring countries such as Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority continue to quietly study at Israeli universities.

For example, Dana Rassas, a young Jordanian woman, graduated last week with a Masters degree from Ben Gurion University in southern Israel.

Rassas, a Jordanian-Palestinian, was trained by the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in the Negev, and then went on to study the Israeli water desalination program at the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies at BGU. She will now become active in trying to solve Jordan’s water problems.

If the boycotters had their way, her studies might not have been possible. For more, see the first full article below.


Meanwhile, an increasing number of senior university figures are joining the 24 Nobel Prize winners (from Elfriede Jelinek, the Austrian winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, to Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov, the eminent winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics) who have harshly criticized the proposed British boycott.

Among recent anti-boycott statements:

* Statement by Concordia University President, Claude Lajeunesse, “concerning the proposed boycott of Israeli universities by the United Kingdom’s University and College Union (UCU)”.

* Statement by Tom Traves, President and Vice-Chancellor, Dalhousie University: “An open exchange of ideas.”

* Statement by UC President Robert C. Dynes “in response to British faculty union’s proposed action against Israeli universities”.

* UNESCO’s Japanese director-general Koοchiro Matsuura expresses concern over British boycott of Israeli academics.

* Thousands of academics join Nobel Prize winners and 15 university presidents (including Rajendra Prasad, Rector of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) in criticizing the British boycott.


Every week, as unreported in western media, Israel continues with a program of international aid unequalled by any other country Israel’s size in the world.

Here are four examples (among many) from the last week: aiding Iraqis, operating on Sudanese refugees, sending relief planes to Cyprus and providing employment to refugees from Darfur. (With thanks to Shachar Zahavi and Michael Horesh for some of this information.)


At the request of the government of Cyprus, Israel sent two fire-extinguishing airplanes and 33 tons of fire extinguishing materials on Thursday morning (June 28, 2007) to assist in extinguishing fires that broke out in the Troodos Mountains last week.

The relief team, which included seven personnel, among them fire fighters and physicians, have been working alongside local officials to contain the fire during the weekend.

The forest fire that broke out in the Troodos Mountains threatened villages, homes, churches and summer camps. The villages of Pelendri, Saitas, Trimiklini, Kato Amiantos and Dimes have been evacuated.

According to the Forest Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, the fire was caused by high-tension cables of the Cyprus Electricity Authority.


The online news media Walla reports that a 30-year-old Iraqi woman last week arrived at Rambam hospital in Haifa for catheterization.

The woman’s identity cannot be revealed due to security concerns for her family in Iraq. She lives in an insurgent stronghold there.

The Iraqi woman was able to reach Israel with the help of “Shevet Achim,” a Christian organization that assists citizens from Arab countries to be treated in Israeli hospitals. This program is meant to improve Israeli-Arab relations.

During the catheterization, which was preformed by Dr. Avraham Lurber, a hole in her heart was repaired and next week the woman will be able to return to her family in Iraq.


The Israel Foreign Ministry’s Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV) has sent experts to Nairobi where they are assisting Sudanese refugees residing in Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya.

The Kakuma camp, near the town of Kakuma, is located in Kenya on the road to Sudan, west of Lake Turkana and about 50 kilometers from the Sudanese border. The camp, which has been in existence for 15 years, holds about 75,000 people, mostly South Sudanese refugees.

Dr. Yosef Baratz, MASHAV’s project coordinator in Africa, has set up a temporary eye clinic in the camp with equipment supplied by Israel. The clinic will enable Israeli eye doctors (who are due to arrive there today, July 2) to operate on dozens of patients there. The physicians will also provide consultation to local doctors.

The second and final article below reports how refugees from Darfur who crossed into Israel from Egypt (which rejected them) are being incorporated into Israeli society, albeit by the private sector.

-- Tom Gross



Jordanian student receives Israeli MA
Dana Rassas becomes the first student from Jordan to complete degree at Ben Gurion University
By Yaakov Lappin
Yediot Ahronot
June 21, 2007,7340,L-3415378,00.html

A Jordanian student has made history by completing her Master’s degree at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev this week.

Dana Rassas studied in the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research and examined the effect of Israel’s new desalination program, the university said in a press statement.

“She examined a range of environmental challenges associated with desalination and made concrete suggestions as to what must be done if desalination is to be sustainable,” the university added.

Speaking to Ynetnews, Rassas said her Palestinian origins actually made studying in Israel easier.

“At the beginning it was a little bit hard because I was the only Jordanian one there,” she said. “It was a little bit easier later on because others came too,” she added.

“It’s also easier for me because I’m a Jordanian-Palestinian so in my family it’s not as a big a taboo to come to Israel,” Rassas said.

She added that her friends and family in Jordan had “no problem” with the fact that she was studying in Israel. When it came to looking for work in Jordan, however, Rassas said she would have to be “selective of where I’d work” due to her Israeli degree.

“I didn’t tell everyone... But in general, in my close circle, it wasn’t an issue. It’s a well acclaimed program and it gives me a chance for the future,” Rassas said.

Asked whether she thought Israeli students could comfortably study in Jordanian universities, Rassas replies: “Sure, why not? There are great programs in both countries. The best thing is to benefit from them both.”

Professor Alon Tal, one of Rassas’ thesis advisors, described her as a “uniquely talented woman that showed significant personal courage in coming to Israel as a graduate student in order to acquire the knowledge and skill sets that she will need for her professional future.”

“Dana’s work is among the very first efforts to understand the implications of this new era into which we have entered – where Israel and its neighbors can now utilize the sea for providing domestic water needs.

“There is no doubt that desalination is going to be an important part of our region’s water infrastructure, and it is particularly valuable to have research conducted by a Jordanian about Israel’s experience in this area,” he added.



From Darfur to Eilat: Refugees’ new life
About 400 Sudanese refugees who crossed border into Israel from Egypt are working in Dead Sea and Eilat hotels, while 170 of them, including 40 toddlers, live in southern Kibbutz Eilot. Due to lack of official policy on refugee problem, hotels and kibbutzim turn into improvised absorption agencies
By Tamar Dressler
Yediot Ahronot
June 17, 2007,7340,L-3413031,00.html

Six months ago, Dafna Bar had no idea where Darfur was. Yet today, Bar, a member of Kibbutz Eilot, is quite familiar with it. Bar, who is in charge of the kibbutz’s program for absorption of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, is now in charge of the wellbeing of the 17 Sudanese refugees residing and working in Eilot.

“I knew nothing about Sudan, maybe just that it was in Africa, but when they arrived I immediately decided to volunteer and help with their absorption,” Bar says.

The group of 17 refugees Bar works with has recently grown to 170 people. Most came to Eilot days after infiltrating into Israel from Egypt. They were sent to the kibbutz by the IDF or the border guards after they were caught crossing the border.

At the kibbutz, they met with representatives of the UN who awarded them with the official refugee status that allows them to work.

For some of the refugees, the kibbutz provided a relief after they spent extended periods of time – at times, over a year – in Israeli prisons.

Improvised absorption agency

Lately Bar works around the clock. This week she organized a bus to take all of the refugees’ children to a doctor in Eilat. The Health Ministry, she says, helped as well by opening the doctors’ offices especially for them. She also sent the pregnant women to have an ultrasound in the town’s hospital.

“Everybody calls me ‘the one with the Sudanese,’” she smiles.

About 40 children of all ages and several pregnant women are among the dozens of refugees that reside in Eilot. Due to the lack of an official policy, the kibbutz has turned into an improvised absorption agency.

The Fattal hotel chain helps as well, contributing supplies. Three times a day, the chain’s vehicle delivers trays of hot meals, dairy products and diapers to the kibbutz.

“We at the kibbutz plan to host another 40 refugees. The help and good will of the kibbutz members on one hand and the unusual residents’ adjustment, give great satisfaction,” Bar added. “Seeing the Sudanese children happily playing is not a trivial thing. You must remember these kids came here with severe wounds and injuries after the arduous journey through the desert.”

Meanwhile in Eilat

Over 300 African and Sudanese refugees are working in hotels in Eilat. They have become a part of the town’s environment. Their absorption is the responsibility of the Hotline for Migrant Workers and the UN Refugee Agency in Israel. Together they worked to have the refugees released from prison and to find housing and employment for them.

“We feel that helping, especially in areas that the authorities neglect, is of the utmost importance,” says Shimon Levi, VP of Human Resources at the Fattal hotel chain. “We hire the refugees to work in our hotels at the Dead Sea and provide them with housing.”

Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi announced recently that “we will not allow any unsupervised absorption of refugees.”

In a letter to several ministers he wrote, “Sadly, due to demographic and other circumstances, the city of Eilat will not be able to absorb this population without proper mechanisms of supervision and control. The city deals with many issues and can not provide for its poor. Certainly it can not take upon itself the responsibility for hundreds of refugees.”