Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

BBC forced to remove Jesus “bastard” slur (& CrackBerrys “bad for the soul”)

August 23, 2007

* BBC staff show their true colors on Wikipedia
* Scent of a scandal at the New York Times?



1. The BBC is terrified of radical Muslims
2. BBC forced to remove Jesus “bastard” slur from its website, but anti-Semitic comments remain
3. BBC cuts F-word from Thatcher drama
4. BBC staff show their true colors on Wikipedia
5. Indian Muslim delegation flees Palestinian rocket attack in Israel
6. Scent of a scandal at the New York Times?
7. “World's oldest human footprint” found in Egypt
8. “Harry Potter” author spotted in Scottish cafés working on a new mystery novel
9. Mobile email gadgets: “Bad for relationships, bad for work, and bad for the soul”

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are some of the recent entries I have posted on the National Review’s Media Blog. Several of these entries concern the BBC.

Additionally, since a number of items below concern the UK, you may wish to read this new report, Britain remains a major source of publishing and distribution of Hamas incitement, compiled by The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

The authors state: “Despite increasing public awareness of the threat posed by radical Islam, the British authorities do not stop the distribution of hateful propaganda against Israel and the West and publications glorifying suicide terrorism.”



(August 20, 2007)

Apparently terrorism works. Or at least Islamic terrorism works. The BBC had no such compunction during the years of IRA bombings, when they portrayed Irish terrorists in fictional dramas.

The Evening Standard, London’s main citywide newspaper, reports today:

“The BBC has dropped plans to show a fictional terror attack in an episode of Casualty to avoid offending Muslims.

“The first show of the hospital drama’s new series was to have featured a storyline about an explosion caused by Islamic extremists.

“Now the bomb will be set off by animal rights campaigners instead.”

Sounds like the BBC has no qualms maligning animal rights campaigners. I don’t recall the last time they blew up a London tube train.



(August 21, 2007)

While regularly censoring criticism of Islamic extremism (see, for example, the post above), the BBC allows highly offensive slurs about Christians and even more so about Jews, to remain on its website for weeks at a time, points out the (London) Daily Mail.

But now, after a campaign by the Daily Mail and its sister newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, “The BBC has been forced to remove statements from its website referring to Jesus as a ‘bastard’.”

The remarks about Jesus were left as part of a discussion about the death of the Archbishop of Paris.

However, the BBC editors have allowed anti-Semitic comments posted by the same person who wrote the Jesus “bastard” remarks, to remain. Among those still up by him on the BBC’s publicly-funded, award-winning website are “The jews in much remembered concentration camps had even better qualitity of freedom that these palestinians have”.

The Daily Mail wanted to test whether the BBC would disallow remarks critical of Muslims, while allowing anti-Semitic remarks. So one Daily Mail reader posted: “No one can surpass the Muslims for denial of their role in Terrorism and Suicide bombing.” The post was “almost immediately deleted by the BBC,” reports the Mail.

The Mail points out that the BBC has, by contrast, allowed “anti-Semitic posts” to remain on its website for over a month now. Among these is: “Zionism is a racist ideology where jews are given supremacy over all other races and faiths. This is found in the Talmud... which allows jews to lie as long as its to non-jews.”

Even after the official Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote a polite letter to the BBC pointing out that the comment had been lifted from a notorious 19th Century anti-Semitic text, “The Talmud Unmasked,” which is still sold by neo-Nazi booksellers in London, the BBC has refused to remove it, citing freedom of speech.

The Daily Telegraph today runs a lead editorial criticizing the week-long refusal of the BBC to remove the Jesus “bastard” remark and says that the BBC’s continuing refusal to make public the independent Balen Report (which is widely rumored to reveal anti-Israel bias verging on anti-Semitism in some BBC Mideast coverage) is “disgraceful”.



(August 22, 2007)

The BBC has ordered the writer of a new television drama about the young Margaret Thatcher to drop a scene that depicted her using the F-word, reports The Daily Telegraph.

In the forthcoming program, “The Long Walk to Finchley,” the future Prime Minister screams “F***ing establishment!”

After protests from supporters of Baroness Thatcher, the BBC has decided to remove the offending passage. They maintained she never used expletives even when under huge pressure as prime minister.

One said: “Ladies of that generation simply did not use words like that. Ever. I have never ever heard Lady Thatcher utter a profanity even when I have heard her get cross. Very cross.”

Thatcher’s daughter Carol added that her mother did not use bad language even if the BBC writer claimed she did. Carol has also written an article in The Daily Mail titled “How the BBC disgraced my mother”.

Filming on the drama, which will be broadcast next year, has already started but the disputed scene has not yet been shot.

The BBC is now on the defensive about their biopic. “The film is a positive portrait, not negative. It makes clear right from the start that Margaret Thatcher, a trained barrister, chemist and mother of twins, is a phenomenon,” the BBC’s controller of fiction, Jane Tranter, told the Daily Telegraph.



(August 21, 2007)

Little Green Footballs readers have located some telling edits on Wikipedia, by someone using an IP computer address belonging to the BBC. For example, here is the entry for George W. Bush, where it is almost certainly an anonymous BBC employee who changed the W as shown in this illustration.

Then we have the entry for D-9 Caterpillars, where a BBC employee changed the word “terrorists” to “freedom fighters”.

[The second illustration from Wikipedia is on the same link as above.]



(August 21, 2007)

A delegation of Indian Muslims, on a rare visit to Israel yesterday to see for themselves why the Jewish state so often says it has security concerns, came under fire themselves from a Hamas rocket attack.

They had to flee for their lives while visiting the working class southern Israeli town of Sderot, which is regularly bombarded by Palestinian Qassam rockets, some of which have killed and injured Israeli women and children. The delegation was rushed to shelters until the danger had passed. There were no injuries.

Yahoo News India adds:

“We heard a warning shot which was followed by a siren. We were immediately rushed to take shelter behind the mountains where we heard the sound of another rocket attack which hit the city,” Maulana Umair Ilyasi, leader of the delegation, told the Press Trust of India after the attack which took place yesterday.

“Rockets were fired from the Hamas-controlled territory,” Ilyasi, General Secretary of the All India Organisation of Imams of Mosques, said.



(August 21, 2007)

Apparently, it pays to write a rave review in The New York Times.

The New York Post reports:

The New York Times’s perfume critic, Chandler Burr, admits accepting free samples of a French fragrance to which he’d given a 5-star writeup last year – and then giving the perfume to patrons of a $200-a-head dinner he hosted this month.

Burr, author of the best-selling book, “The Emperor of Scent,” hosted a six-course “Scent Dinner” – pairing various fragrance scents with gourmet entrees – beginning with one on Aug. 6 at the Carlyle Hotel, with more to follow at other Rosewood Hotel properties around the country.

At the end of the meal, Burr’s diners received swag bags that included the fragrance he’d been given without charge, which led one fuming journo to write us: “Has Mr. Burr recused himself from ever critiquing those fragrances in the Times? … As a journalist, it outrages me that Mr. Burr is permitted to prostitute himself and the New York Times in this manner.”

In his maximum five-star review in the Times’s style magazine, T, last December 3, Burr calling Sel de Vetiver “riveting… as unearthly as a god born in the cold under an eerily bright star.”

He later got the free samples.



(August 22, 2007)

Egyptian archaeologists have found what they believe might be the oldest human footprint in history. They discovered the footprint, imprinted on mud and then hardened into rock, while exploring a prehistoric site in Siwa, a desert oasis in the west of the country.

“This could go back about two million years,” speculated the head of Egypt’s antiquities council, Zahi Hawass. “It could be the most important discovery in Egypt.”

Previously, the earliest human archaeological evidence from Egypt dated back around 200,000 years, Reuters reports.

Archaeologists said it is even possible that the footprint could date back further than the 3.2 million year-old fossil Lucy, the partial skeleton of an ape-man, which was unearthed in Ethiopia in 1974.



(August 20, 2007)

J.K. Rowling has been spotted in cafés in the historic Scottish city of Edinburgh working on a detective novel, The Sunday Times of London reports.

The paper quoted Ian Rankin, a fellow author and neighbor of Rowling’s, as saying the creator of the Harry Potter books is turning to crime fiction.

“My wife spotted her writing her Edinburgh criminal detective novel,” Rankin said at the Edinburgh literary festival.

Rowling may be entering a genre dominated by some of Scotland’s greatest storytellers, including Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Rowling famously penned initial drafts of her first Harry Potter book in Edinburgh cafes in the early 1990s. She was then a struggling single mother who wrote in cafes to save on the heating bill at home.

Now she’s Britain’s richest woman – worth $1 billion, and ahead of the Queen, according to Forbes magazine – and her seven Potter books have sold more than 340 million copies worldwide.

For more on the Potter success, see: “It’s Hurry Potter: Newspaper editors employ speed-readers to review new Potter book,” and the note “Harry Potter is a Zionist agent” on this dispatch.



(August 23, 2007)

Email, it seems, is the scourge (and blessing) of our age.

Nice article from my friend Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian on BlackBerrys. He writes:

The first casualty is home life. The BlackBerry user is never really at home. He may be in the room, but his mind is at work.

… Nor, strangely enough, is portable email much good for your work. BlackBerrys encourage the instant, brief response, when often a longer, more considered answer is required.

… Above all, these machines are bad for your soul. I came to that admittedly extreme conclusion on a recent night at the theatre. At the end of each scene, a double glow appeared from the row in front: a couple were checking their BlackBerrys. No matter what emotional depths were plumbed on stage, these two could not be reached. The gadget was a barrier to their hearts.

Users boast that once you have a BlackBerry no time is dead time. Ten minutes waiting for a train are no longer lost, but used to plough through the email backlog. I asked one Crackberry head how he would spend those minutes in the past, before he was hooked. “Watching the crowd go by,” he said, wistfully.

… Yet now we are living in what the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls the “age of interruption”, in which we “interrupt each other or ourselves with instant messages, email, spam or cellphone rings. Who can think or write or innovate under such conditions?”

… The line you almost never hear is “my employer makes me carry this thing”. The truth is, we’re doing it to ourselves and this is surely the BlackBerry’s most pernicious feature.

-- Tom Gross

Dutch Catholic Bishop tells Christians to call God “Allah” (& A “Muslim Jesus” on British TV)

August 21, 2007

* On British TV, an Islamic Jesus: “There was no manger, Christ is not the Messiah, and the crucifixion never happened”
* Dutch Bishop tells TV viewers: “Shouldn’t we all say that from now on we will call God ‘Allah’?”
* Scottish non-Muslim hospital staff ordered not to eat at desks during Ramadan
* Osama Bin Laden, the musical, premieres at Edinburgh



1. Brussels bans 9/11 protest against Islam
2. “Muslim Jesus” to get primetime billing on British TV
3. Dutch Catholic Bishop tells Christians to call God “Allah”
4. Scottish hospital staff ordered not to eat at desks during Ramadan
5. Online Islamist forum hosted in Texas posts guide for kidnapping Americans
6. In an interview on al-Jazeera, Gadaffi’s son admits jailed medics were tortured
7. Osama Bin Laden, the musical, premieres at Edinburgh
8. A subtle distinction between religions

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are some of the recent entries I have posted on the National Review’s Media Blog. These entries mainly concern Islam.


(August 20, 2007)

From the latest edition of The Muslim Weekly:

“Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans has banned a planned protest against the so-called ‘Islamisation of Europe’ on September 11, the 6th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States.”

“Thielemans said that the planned September protest would alienate Muslims in the city. ‘The danger to public order is too high,’ to allow the Brussels protest to go ahead, said the mayor's spokesman Nicolas Dassonville.”

At least The Muslim Weekly (a British-based publication) uses the word “terrorist” – unlike their colleagues in London at the BBC, Reuters and elsewhere.



(August 19, 2007)

ITV, which is Britain’s second largest broadcaster after the BBC, is to bring us the following program, presented by (Lord) Melvyn Bragg, one of the leading lights of British television:

“There was no manger, Christ is not the Messiah, and the crucifixion never happened. A forthcoming ITV documentary will portray Jesus as Muslims see him. With the Koran as a main source and drawing on interviews with scholars and historians, the Muslim Jesus explores how Islam honors Christ as a prophet but not as the son of God.

“... The one-hour special, commissioned and narrated by Melvyn Bragg, is thought to be the first time the subject has been dealt with on British television… He denies the program will divide communities. Raised as an Anglican, he describes the documentary as thoughtful and well researched. ‘I hope it will provoke among Muslims the feeling they are included in television.’”

As Patrick Sookhdeo, an Anglican canon, said of the program: “How would the Muslim community respond if ITV made a program challenging Muhammad as the last prophet?”



(August 20, 2007)

In a related story to the above posts, in an interview with Dutch TV, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the southern Dutch town of Breda has called on Christians to refer to God as “Allah”.

“Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn’t we all say that from now on we will call God ‘Allah’?” Bishop Martinus Petrus Maria Muskens asked television viewers in the Netherlands, which is still a majority Christian country.

“If Muslims and Christians address God with the same name, this contributes to harmonious living between both religions,” added a statement on the website of his Diocese.

Muskens is known for previous controversial remarks including a suggestion that the poor should steal bread.



(August 15, 2007)

Just a month after British-based Muslim doctors (some of whom worked at Scottish hospitals) attempted to carry acts of terrorism, including one at Glasgow airport, the Edinburgh Evening News reports that hospital staff in the Scottish region of Lothians have been told not to eat at their desks to avoid offending Muslim colleagues during Ramadan.

The NHS (National Health Service) in Lothian has advised doctors and other health workers not to have working lunches during the 30-day fast, which begins next month.

The health service’s Equality and Diversity Officer sent an e-mail to all senior managers, giving guidance on religious tolerance. This includes ensuring Muslim staff are given breaks to pray, and time off to celebrate Eid at the end of Ramadan.

It is understood they also advised hospital managers to move food trolleys away from areas where Muslims work.

Looks like Londonistan has spread northwards to Scotland.



(August 18, 2007)

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) located the following:

The popular Islamist-jihadist internet forum, hosted by RealWebHost in Texas, U.S., has in the last few days posted an anonymously written document from 2003 titled “The Excellent Summary of the Rules of the Art of Kidnapping Americans.”

The 60-page guide describes each stage of the kidnapping, explaining how to select the target and then how to follow him, seize him, transport him to a safe location, and hold him there, as well as how to conduct negotiations. The guide also explains how to execute the hostage should negotiations fail.

Among the details:

In the section dealing with selecting a target, the guide recommends choosing someone of importance to the enemy (such as a high-ranking military officer or a prominent businessman). However, he should not be a physically strong person who can put up significant resistance. In order to ensure that the operation goes smoothly, it is recommended that he be knocked out with tranquilizers.

Tom Gross adds: I am glad to say that since I last checked two days ago, the site has been suspended.



(August 10, 2007)

The son of Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi has admitted that the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor who were imprisoned for eight years and sentenced to death on trumped up charges of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with HIV, were tortured while in detention.

In an interview with Arab satellite station al-Jazeera, Saif al-Islam al-Gadaffi said the medics were tortured using electricity and told that “their family members would be targeted”.

The medics were released last month after the European Union agreed to give Libya $460m and Bulgaria forgave $56.6m in debt owed by Libya. France also offered Libya a lucrative arms deal.

Ashraf al-Hazouz, the Palestinian doctor who was given Bulgarian citizenship, said in an interview with Dutch television after his release that the Libyan authorities attached electrodes to his genitals and feet, set dogs on him, drugged him, and tied his hands and legs to a metal bar and spun him. He also strongly criticized the Arab League for not lifting a finger to stop the torture.

What a nice new ally the west has in Mr. Gadaffi.



(August 7, 2007)

This just in:

A musical featuring OSAMA BIN LADEN has premiered at a Scottish comedy festival. Jihad: The Musical has amused audiences at this month’s (August 2007) Edinburgh Fringe Festival with its comedic portrayal of the Al Qaeda terrorist. Inspired by Mel Brooks’ musical-within-a-musical Springtime For Hitler (from The Producers), the play features the lyrics, “I wanna be like Osama/Wear designer clothes beneath a robe/I want to kill people round the globe,” among others. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival runs until 27 August, 2007.



(August 11, 2007)

Glen McCoy has a cartoon for our age:

-- Tom Gross

U.S. presidential politics 2008 (& Cannibal tribe apologizes for eating Methodists)


1. BBC’s FM broadcasts knocked off the air in Russia
2. Proceeds from O.J. Simpson book to benefit foundation
3. Want to know who is giving how much to whom?
4. Bill Gates no longer world’s richest man
5. Being paid to read Maureen Dowd
6. Bloomberg rules out White House bid, says Dan Rather
7. Cannibal tribe apologizes for eating Methodists

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are a few of the recent entries I have posted on the National Review’s Media Blog. These entries mainly concern Media and Politics, and are not specifically related to the Middle East. By separate email dispatch in a few minutes I am sending items related to Islam, the media, Europe and the Middle East.


(August 19, 2007)

From the Associated Press:

“The BBC has said that its Russian-language FM broadcasts have been taken off the air by its Moscow distributor, which said its programs were ‘foreign propaganda.’

“The decision by Bolshoye Radio leaves the BBC’s Russian-language services available only on medium and shortwave broadcasts, the BBC said in a press release.”

So it is Putin vs. the BBC. Talk about a battle of the propagandists.



(August 15, 2007)

A literary agent for the family of stabbing victim Ron Goldman has made a deal to repackage and publish O.J. Simpson’s canceled If I Did It book about the slayings of Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

Sale proceeds will go to the “Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice.”

The planned release last year of If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened, in which Simpson creepily explains how he might have committed the 1994 killings, was canceled following worldwide public outrage.

Last month a federal bankruptcy judge awarded rights to the book to Goldman’s family to help satisfy a $38 million wrongful-death judgment against the former football star. Simpson was, to many people’s great surprise, acquitted of the murders of Nicole and Ron in 1995. He then lost the wrongful-death civil suit in 1997.



(August 8, 2007)

If you want to check on which 2008 presidential candidates your friends and colleagues are contributing to, and how much, here it all is, in a new site launched yesterday, courtesy of The Huffington Post:

A dangerous site perhaps?

There is also a section where you can search entire zip codes. For example, among rich Upper East Siders with 10021 addresses, Hillary appears to be twice as popular as Rudy.



(August 8, 2007)

With nearly $60 billion, Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has overtaken Microsoft founder Bill Gates for the title of the world’s richest person, Fortune magazine reports in its latest edition, due to hit newsstands shortly.

Gates, who is now in second place, had held the title for at least a decade.

The strong performance by Slim’s holdings on the Mexican stock exchange in recent months (his companies make up one-third of the Mexican stock market) have pushed him into top spot. “His net worth has jumped $12 billion this year alone,” Fortune reports.

Mexican financial website Sentido Comun estimates that the 67-year-old Slim (who is of Lebanese origin) is in fact even richer, with a personal fortune at almost $68 billion.

It seems that Gates has been too busy working on charitable issues with his wife Melinda to add to his fortune recently. Slim, however, once derided Gates and fellow philanthropist and investment guru Warren Buffett for giving away so much of their wealth, reportedly saying: “Poverty is not solved with donations... Building businesses does more for society than going around like Santa Claus.”



(August 8, 2007)

The New York Times’s paid online subscription service for its op-ed writers, TimesSelect, is soon to be no more.

Even though The New York Times charged less than $8 per month to read the likes of Thomas Friedman and co., there were few takers.

Indeed there are those of us who think the Times should pay us, not the other way round, for having to read Maureen Dowd’s pieces through to their tortuous end.



(August 18, 2007)

Has New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unequivocally ruled out running for the presidency in 2008? Dan Rather, the former CBS anchor who quit in disgrace after being exposed for being less than honest by bloggers and now hosts a news program at HDNet, thinks so.

The City Room blog reports:

Mr. Rather, during a taping of “The Chris Matthews Show,” told Mr. Matthews this afternoon that the mayor had stated he would not run for president. NBC released a partial transcript of the conversation between Mr. Rather and Mr. Matthews, which will be broadcast at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday):

Mr. Rather: “Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, told me that he was not going to run for president. In a direct answer to a direct question, would he run under any circumstances, he danced around a bit and finally said ‘No.’ Furthermore, he said he wasn’t open to even considering running as a vice presidential candidate with anybody, and he wouldn’t take a place in anybody’s cabinet.”

Mr. Matthews: “Is he going to run against Spitzer for governor next time?”

Mr. Rather: “I wouldn’t bet against it.”



(August 17, 2007)

It’s about time.

From today’s London Daily Telegraph:

A tribe in Papua New Guinea has apologized for killing and eating four 19th century missionaries under the command of a doughty British clergyman.

The four Fijian missionaries were on a proselytising mission on the island of New Britain when they were massacred by Tolai tribesmen in 1878. They were murdered on the orders of a local warrior chief, Taleli, and were then cooked and eaten.

The Fijians – a minister and three teachers – were under the leadership of the Reverend George Brown, an adventurous Wesleyan missionary who was born in Durham but spent most of his life spreading the word of God in the South Seas.

Thousands of villagers attended a reconciliation ceremony near Rabaul, the capital of East New Britain province, once notorious for the ferocity of its cannibals. Their leaders apologised for their forefather’s taste for human flesh to Fiji’s high commissioner to Papua New Guinea.

‘We at this juncture are deeply touched and wish you the greatest joy of forgiveness as we finally end this record disagreement,’ said Ratu Isoa Tikoca, the high commissioner.

Cannibalism was common in many parts of the South Pacific – Fiji was formerly known as the Cannibal Isles – and dozens of missionaries were killed by hostile islanders.

-- Tom Gross

Arafat’s widow expelled from Tunisia (& Poland criticizes EU’s anti-Israel bias)

August 16, 2007

* Rwandan children reach Israel for treatment



1. Arafat’s widow expelled from Tunisia
2. Poland pulls out of EU anti-Israel conference
3. Abbas issues decree excluding Hamas from elections
4. Cash-rich Hamas announces formation of a navy
5. Fatah legislator convicted for sending bomber to Tel Aviv cafe in 2002
6. “British and American academic cooperation in jeopardy”
7. UK blocks Israel arms deals
8. First group of Rwandan children reach Israel for treatment
9. Netanyahu re-elected Likud leader

[Note by Tom Gross]


The Tunisian president has revoked Suha Arafat’s Tunisian citizenship following rumors of an affair with the president’s married brother-in-law, and business disputes with her Tunisian partners.

Suha Arafat is the widow of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat. She is said to have fled to Malta in recent days.

Yasser Arafat was worth almost a billion dollars at the time of his death, thanks to European donations to the Palestinian Authority which he pocketed and various other criminal and terrorist activities he engaged in. Suha has kept much of the money.

According to the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali withdrew Suha Arafat’s naturalized status in a special decree last week, after it was found out that she was having an affair with the president’s married brother-in-law, Belhassen al-Trabulsi.

For more on Suha Arafat, see Suha Arafat “remarries” (& anti-Hizbullah comment starts W. Bank wedding riot) (Aug. 20, 2006).

For more on Yasser Arafat, see Arafat appears on “Forbes” world’s richest list (Feb. 28, 2003).

(When Forbes originally placed Arafat on its rich list in 2003, it did so at $300m, but it then transpired that Arafat was worth over three times that amount.)



Defying the anti-Israel (and in the case of some anti-Semitic) sentiment among European politicians, Poland has announced it is withdrawing from an anti-Israel conference due to be held at the European Parliament at the end of this month.

The conference has been organized by the EU in conjunction with a United Nations body called “The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,” which is infamous for its diatribes against Israel. Working groups include one on “how to increase the resistance against Israel”.

Resistance is the term used by Palestinian terror groups to describe suicide attacks on Israelis.

The president of the Israeli Knesset, Dalia Itzik, has sent a letter to the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, asking that the European Parliament not host the conference but Poettering has not replied to it.

Meanwhile Polish MEPs from all Poland’s main political parties have said they will boycott the conference and called on the event to be cancelled.

“I have seen the materials prepared by the organizers and I will not take part in such a biased, anti-Israeli event,” said one Polish MEP, Bronislaw Geremek.

Konrad Szymañski, another Polish MEP, said: “Israel’s objections are fully justified. According to most of the extremists from this UN committee Israel and its people should disappear. I am astonished that the European Parliament is allowing such activity to be placed in its building.”

Israel has welcomed the decision by Poland, which historically has a record of anti-Semitism.



Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas yesterday issued a decree that effectively excludes Hamas from participating in the next Palestinian elections. The decree makes changes to electoral law, including requiring candidates in presidential and legislative elections “to respect the political program of the PLO”.

The move comes at the very time that pro-Hamas politicians in Britain and elsewhere are calling for the European Union to open talks with the Islamist extremist group.



Hamas, which according to false reports appearing several times a week in papers like the New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune, is desperate for funds, announced on Saturday that it will set up an expensive new naval unit. The force will number 150 “sailors” and will soon begin patrolling the Mediterranean coast.

Meanwhile, an anti-Hamas protest held by 300 brave citizens of Gaza was viciously broken up by Hamas security personnel swinging clubs and rifle butts. The demonstrators were protesting against Hamas’ arrest of people at a wedding party last Friday night.

The Hamas security officers confiscated the camera of Abu Dhabi TV’s Muhammad Sawalha, and severely beat him after he filmed the protests.



A Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council was convicted yesterday of having been an accomplice in a deadly suicide bombing in Tel Aviv five years ago.

According to the verdict, the suicide bomber that blew himself up in a Tel Aviv coffee shop in March 2002 made his way to Israel from the Nablus home of PLC member Jamal Tirawi.

Rachel Charhi, an Israeli woman, died in the attack and many others were injured. (For more on her, see “The Forgotten Rachels”)

Tirawi was arrested three months ago by IDF special forces in Nablus along with three members of Fatah’s terrorist wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade.



A leading member of the British University and College Union has warned that the UCU’s call for an academic boycott of Israel could seriously damage working relationships between UK and U.S. universities, reports Jonny Paul, the Jerusalem Post’s London correspondent (who is also a subscriber to this email list).

Prof. Mark Pepys, head of the University of London’s Department of Medicine, made his statement after 300 presidents of U.S. academic institutions declared their solidarity with Israeli institutions of higher learning in a full-page advertisement in The New York Times.

The American university and college presidents described the British boycott of Israel as “intellectually shoddy and politically biased.”

Indicating that they would not work with institutions engaged in a boycott of Israeli academics, the advertisement said: “Boycott Israeli Universities? Boycott Ours, Too.

“This is a matter of grave concern,” said Pepys. “The robust position of 300 U.S. institutions in defense of the universally recognized principle of academic freedom cannot be ignored. American academia, with its depth, breadth and scale, has enormous impact in the UK at all levels of academic life.”

So far, only two British universities, the London School of Economics and Oxford University, have officially announced their refusal to join the boycott.

The New York Times advertisement comes after the director of a $150 million science foundation declared that applications from British researchers would no longer be accepted.

Dozens of Nobel Prize winners have joined over 10,000 other leading academics from around the world in signing a statement slamming the British teachers’ union’s prejudice against the Jewish state.

For more background, see here.



The British government has blocked almost one third of British military exports to Israel this year, citing “fears the equipment might facilitate human rights violations”.

The value of British military sales to Israel has declined by 75 percent since 2005.

Some British politicians have called for a complete arms boycott to Israel, a small democracy in the Middle East surrounded by totalitarian or authoritarian regimes.

At the same time, Britain continues to increase its arms exports to some of the most repressive regimes in the world, such as Saudi Arabia.



The Israeli humanitarian organization, Save A Child’s Heart, yesterday welcomed its first group of children from Rwanda to be operated on in Israel at Tel Aviv’s Wolfson Medical Center.

The children, who range from just a few months old to 15 years old, landed at Ben-Gurion airport, accompanied by a Rwandan nurse as well as by two of their mothers.

The children suffer from heart disease requiring treatment. Save A Child’s Heart has brought over 1700 children from 27 countries (including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zanzibar, Moldova, Vietnam, China, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Iraq) to Israel over the last 12 years for heart surgery.

Israeli hospitals have some of the world’s leading medical pioneers.

For more, see



Benjamin Netanyahu has been re-elected leader of Israel’s Likud party by a large margin.

He gained 73.2 percent of the vote, while Moshe Feiglin, a far right candidate gained 23.4% and the third candidate, Danny Danon, 3.4%, in results officially announced yesterday.

-- Tom Gross

One year on, Hizbullah remains a threat (& Reuters’ Titanic error)

August 13, 2007

* Hizbullah’s yellow flags again on Israel’s border
* 13-year-old schoolboy from Finland catches Reuters deceiving readers: Reuters used photos from the 1997 Oscar-winning movie “Titanic” and said they were of last week’s Russian North Pole expedition



1. A year later
2. Lessons for media as relevant as ever
3. Titanic error: Reuters gets that sinking feeling
4. “Les médias lancent leurs missiles” (Par Tom Gross, Jerusalem Post edition, française 8 août, 2006)


[Note by Tom Gross]

This week marks one year since the end of last summer’s Hizbullah-Israel war.

Last week, I visited various spots on the Lebanon-Israel border. Hizbullah have now placed their yellow “Party of God” flags (complete with images of guns) at different points right up on the Israeli border, just yards from Israeli homes.

UN troops were seen by myself and my companions standing by those flags doing nothing.

According to yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph (of London), Hizbullah has recently taken over “large tracts of land owned by Christians and other non-Shias in southern Lebanon.”

Hizbullah is rearming fast and, reports the Telegraph, “The Lebanese army seems to be turning a blind eye to Hizbullah activities.”


Conflict may break out again at any time. For this, and other reasons, I would urge readers to reread my “Media Missiles” article complete with introduction and pictures, here.

The article has general lessons for the way the media operates which remain very important today in understanding how the public is so often mislead by biased anti-Israeli, anti-American journalists who have deliberately falsified information, photographs and film footage. (Many people have joined this list during the last year, so will be reading it for the first time.)

I am glad to report that from all the many articles written on the war, the article is cited first on the “Media Controversy” section of the entry about the 2006 Lebanon war on the much-read online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Also, below, is the French version of the article, which I have not sent out before. It was published in the French edition of the Jerusalem Post and translated into French by the paper’s editor, Chantal Osterreicher. A growing number of French journalists and political advisors have joined this email list lately.

The article was also published in Hebrew on the front of the magazine section of Ma’ariv, Israel’s second best-selling daily, and can be read here.

You can also see a selection of relevant photos and cartoons here.


As mentioned in the “Media Missiles” article, during the war Reuters and other news agencies were caught out by vigilant bloggers, who proved that they had fraudulently photoshopped pictures from Lebanon to make it look as though Israel was responsible for death and damage that never occurred.

Now one year later, Reuters has been caught out again – this time by a 13-year-old schoolboy from Finland who spotted that two of the four Reuters photos of the Russian North Pole expedition last week, were actually photos from the 1997 Oscar-winning movie “Titanic”.

As The Guardian of London reports:

“News agency Reuters has been forced to admit that footage it released last week purportedly showing Russian submersibles on the seabed of the North Pole actually came from the movie Titanic.

“The images were reproduced around the world – including by The Guardian and Guardian Unlimited – alongside the story of Russia planting its flag below the North Pole on Thursday last week.

“But it has now emerged that the footage actually showed two Finnish-made Mir submersibles that were employed on location filming at the scene of the wreck of the RMS Titanic ship in the north Atlantic some 10 years ago. This footage was used in sequences in James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster about the 1912 disaster.

“The deception was only revealed after a 13-year-old Finnish schoolboy contacted a local newspaper to tell them the images looked identical to those used in the movie.”


It is too bad that The Guardian doesn’t reveal all the times that Reuters has misled people around the world with its false reports from the Middle East. For more on Reuters, see

-- Tom Gross



Les médias lancent leurs missiles
Par Tom Gross
Le Jerusalem Post édition française
8 août, 2006

De nombreux médias internationaux ne se contentent pas de faire de la désinformation sur le conflit au Liban. Ils attisent aussi les flammes.

La BBC World fait partie des plus vilains. Elle devient un outil de propagande virtuel du Hezbollah en s’acharnant notamment à prouver qu’Israël est coupable de “crimes de guerre” et de “crime contre l’humanité”.

Les présentateurs déclament des “commentaires du public” minutieusement sélectionnés. Parmi eux, celui selon lequel “l’attaque contre le Liban” servira la cause “du large recrutement pour al-Qaïda à travers le monde”. Mais s’il y a quelque chose qui peut bien faire gagner de nouvelles recrues à Ben Laden et ses compères, ce ne sont pas les actions défensives d’Israël - qui sont bien moins dommageables que le monde occidental veut bien le dire -, mais plutôt la manière provocatrice et désespérément unilatérale dont elles sont présentées par les organes de presse.

Si les commentaires partiaux et les interviews sont d’un niveau lamentable, le degré de distorsion de l’image est bien pire. La façon dont les chaînes de télévision montrent Beyrouth laisse présager que la ville est devenue les Dresde et Hambourg d’après les raids aériens de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Les chaînes de télévision internationales ont utilisé les mêmes images de Beyrouth encore et encore, montrant la destruction de quelques bâtiments isolés, de telle sorte qu’elles suggèrent que la moitié de la ville a été rasée.

Un examen attentif des photos prises par satellite aérien des zones visées par Israël montre que certains bâtiments spécifiques aux commandes du Hezbollah dans des centres des banlieues sud de la ville ont été ciblés. Le reste de Beyrouth a plutôt été épargné, hormis quelques sites stratégiques comme des pistes de l’aéroport utilisées pour transporter des hommes et des armes du Hezbollah à l’intérieur et en dehors du Liban.

Etant donné l’imagerie déformée, les récits de témoins sélectionnés et l’exagération ininterrompue du nombre des victimes (1), on vous pardonnera de penser que le niveau de morts et de destruction atteint celui de Darfour, où les milices arabes massacrent des centaines de milliers de non-Arabes, ou celui du tsunami de 2004 qui a tué un demi-million de personnes dans l’Asie du Sud-Est.

En fait, Israël a pris grand soin d’éviter de tuer des civils - même si cela s’est révélé extrêmement difficile et souvent tragiquement impossible puisque les membres du Hezbollah, le “parti de Dieu”, se sont délibérément installés dans leurs demeures.

La BBC – grâce aux impôts du contribuable britannique, qui font d’elle le plus grassement alimenté de tous les organes de presse - ne révélera évidemment jamais combien ses rapports sont sélectifs. Cela pourrait entacher sa campagne pour diaboliser Israël et ceux qui la soutiennent. Mais un journaliste britannique, qui travaille pour un autre organisme, a laissé échapper à quel point la manière dont ce média couvrait les informations du Moyen-Orient était tronquée.

Le “grand reporter international” de la CNN Nic Roberston a admis que son reportage anti-israélien de Beyrouth du 18 juillet sur le nombre des victimes au Liban, avait été monté du début à la fin par le Hezbollah. Il a révélé qu’il avait été lourdement influencé par l’“officier de presse” du Hezbollah et que le Hezbollah avait des “dispositifs médiatiques très sophistiqués”.

Quelques jours plus tard, quand on a exigé du programme CNN des “sources fiables”, Robertson a admis que les militants du Hezbollah avaient ordonné à l’équipe de tournage de CNN où et quoi filmer. Le Hezbollah a “le contrôle de la situation”, a dit Robertson. “Ils indiquent les endroits où ils se rendent, et nous n’avons pas du tout le temps d’aller dans les maisons ou de soulever les décombres pour voir ce qui se trouve en dessous.”

Robertson a ajouté que le Hezbollah avait un “excellent contrôle des zones du sud de Beyrouth. Ils nient que les journalistes y ont accès, mais vous n’y entrez pas sans leur permission”.

Ainsi, les “sources fiables”, présentées par Howard Kurtz du Washington Post, ne sont disponibles qu’à la version américaine de CNN. Ceci afin que les spectateurs de CNN International dans le monde entier n’aient pas l’opportunité d’apprendre du correspondant de CNN que les images qu’il voyaient de Beyrouth étaient soigneusement sélectionnées pour eux par le Hezbollah.

Un autre journaliste a vendu le pot aux roses. En écrivant sur son blog pendant qu’il rendait compte de la situation au Sud Liban, le journaliste du magazine Time Christopher Allbritton, a mentionné en milieu de dépêche : “Au Sud, au long de la côte, le Hezbollah lance des Katioucha, mais je ne suis pas disposé à en dire plus. Le parti de Dieu a une copie des passeports de tous les journalistes, et ils ont harcelé plusieurs d’entre nous et en ont menacé d’autres.”

Robertson n’est pas le seul journaliste à avoir montré les images de Beyrouth sélectionnées par le Hezbollah. Richard Engel de NBC, Elizabeth Palmer de CBS et de nombreux autres reporters de réseaux de presse européens ont également été amenés par les cerveaux de la milice sur les zones endommagées. Elizabeth Palmer a déclaré dans son reportage que “le Hezbollah est très déterminé à ce que les étrangers ne voient que ce qu’ils veulent leur montrer”.

L’honnêteté de Palmer est louable. Mais elle n’empêche pas les dommages causés par les organismes comme la BBC.

D’abord, la BBC a donné l’impression qu’Israël avait détruit la meilleure partie de Beyrouth. Pour appuyer sa couverture partiale, son site Internet donne de nombreux détails sur les points de rassemblement pour une marche anti-Israël qui devait se dérouler à Londres, sans insister sur une manifestation pro-israélienne qui avait lieu un peu plus tard dans cette même ville.

Des supporters loyaux de la BBC de Londres ont eu l’air embarrassé par la couverture de la guerre de leurs reporters – dans des conversations privées, pas publiquement, malheureusement.

S’il ne s’agissait que d’un problème britannique, ce serait seulement dommage, mais c’est bien plus que cela. Aucune autre chaîne ne diffuse aussi largement qu’elle dans des dizaines de langues, sur la télé, la radio et Internet.

Sa radio seule attire plus de 163 millions d’auditeurs. Elle est la 4e radio la plus écoutée dans presque toutes les langues du Moyen-Orient: le pachto (2), le perse, l’arabe et le turc.

Ce n’est pas juste le fait que les supposés crimes d’Israël sont complètement exagérés, mais aussi que le traitement de cette guerre à deux visages (commencée, évidemment par le Hezbollah) est totalement tronqué. Ainsi, malgré les centaines d’heures d’images diffusées par des dizaines de journalistes de la BBC et par les présentateurs de studio, le téléspectateur ne sait pas vraiment que des centaines de milliers d’Israéliens vivent dans des abris depuis plusieurs semaines (3), qu’ils sont fatigués et apeurés; qu’une grand-mère et son petit-fils de sept ans ont été tués par un Katioucha pendant un repas de shabbat; que des enfants israéliens sont morts.

On n’a pas non plus une idée claire de ce que cela fait d’avoir plus de 2 000 roquettes syriennes et iraniennes qui tombent sans discrimination sur des villes, des villages et des fermes sur un tiers du pays, visant des civils.

On comprend difficilement que le Hezbollah, loin d’être une pauvre milice, est une division des gardes révolutionnaires iraniens, avec des armes relativement sophistiquées (les véhiculés aériens téléguidés qui ont volé sur le nord d’Israël, les roquettes d’artillerie de longue portée, les missiles de croisière), qu’il a pour but le terrorisme global, et qu’il a déjà d’ailleurs tué 114 personnes en Argentine.

La BBC et consort ont parlé des dommages causés à l’industrie touristique au Liban, sans évoquer le tourisme israélien, même si au moins un hôtel de Tibériade a été touché sur la mer de Galilée par une roquette. Des communiqués évoquent les enfants libanais qui ne savent pas dans quelle école ils iront à la rentrée; rien sur les enfants israéliens.

La diffusion acharnée des attaques israéliennes comprend un antisémitisme explicite dans les médias. Il était déjà présent dans des journaux de gauche comme The Guardian, qui a conduit, par sa couverture du Moyen-Orient, à répandre des idées proches de l’antisémitisme. Depuis peu, le quotidien britannique le plus vendu et de meilleure qualité, le Daily Telegraph, plutôt conservateur, est entré dans l’arène. Il était pourtant l’un des seuls journaux en Europe à bien couvrir l’information sur Israël. Sur la page des analyses de samedi 29 juillet dernier, on trouvait deux scènes identiques de dévastation. Sur celle du haut était écrit: “Varsovie, 1943”. Sur celle du bas: “Tyr, 2006”.

En politique, le conservateur Sir Peter Tapsell a déclaré à la Chambre des communes que le Premier ministre Tony Blair conspirait avec le président américain George Bush en permettant à Israël de commettre un crime de guerre “rappelant une grave réminiscence de l’atrocité nazie sur le ghetto juif de Varsovie”.

N’oublions pas le Premier ministre espagnol José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero qui a porté un foulard arabe pendant un événement durant lequel il a condamné Israël, mais pas le Hezbollah. Apparemment, il ne pense pas qu’on devrait les empêcher de continuer de tuer des Juifs.

Mais le tableau n’est pas entièrement noir. Des politiciens britanniques et européens, de gauche et de droite, soutiennent Israël. Ainsi que certains magazines, comme le Spectator, et de nombreux commentateurs de journaux.

Néanmoins, la couverture antisémite et des dessins de presse se répandent autour du globe. Le troisième plus important journal norvégien, le quotidien d’Oslo Dagbladet a publié un dessin qui comparait le Premier ministre Ehoud Olmert à l’infâme commandant S.S. Amon Goeth qui assassinait des Juifs en leur tirant dessus de son balcon, joué par Ralph Fiennes dans La Liste de Schindler de Steven Spielberg. Un mois plus tôt, le Dagbladet avait publié l’article “La troisième tour” qui se demandait si les musulmans étaient les véritables responsables des attaques du 11 septembre.

Antonio Leri Licon du journal mexicain El Economista a dessiné un soldat nazi avec des étoiles de David sur son uniforme. Le “soldat” était entouré d’yeux qu’il avait apparemment arrachés.

Un dessin de presse du journal sud-africain Sunday Times représentait Ehoud Olmert avec un couteau de boucher couvert de sang. Dans l’important quotidien australien The Age, un dessin montrait un verre rempli de sang en train d’être bu dans une scène évoquant la fameuse calomnie médiévale.

On peut d’ores et déjà prévoir que cette violente distorsion médiatique conduira à l’attaque de Juifs, voire à des assassinats, comme c’est arrivé déjà au centre communautaire de Seattle.

Quand ce ne sont pas les Juifs vivants qui sont visés, ce sont les morts. En Belgique, l’urne contenant des cendres d’Auschwitz a été profanée au mémorial de Bruxelles commémorant les 25 411 Juifs belges déportés dans les camps d’extermination nazis. Elle a été fracassée et couverte d’excréments. Le silence des officiels belges sur cette profanation est éloquent.

D’autres Juifs continuent d’être tués en Israël sans que cela soit mentionné par les médias. Jeudi 27 juillet dernier, par exemple, le Dr Daniel Yaakovi, 60 ans, a été assassiné par les Brigades des martyrs d’al-Aqsa, le groupe terroriste du Fatah que Yasser Arafat a monté il y a cinq ans en utilisant l’argent de l’Union européenne. Mais ce n’est pas seulement une question juive.

Les journalistes internationaux semblent trouver cela amusant ou excitant de livrer les Juifs en appât. Ils ne comprennent pas encore que le Hezbollah est la branche d’un mouvement islamiste radical qui a des projets, et pas des plus sympathiques, pour tous ceux - musulmans, chrétiens, Hindous et Juifs - qui ne se plient pas à leurs souhaits.

(L’auteur de cet article est un ancien correspondant du Sunday Telegraph.)

(1) Sur les 54 morts déclarés par la Croix-Rouge libanaise, Human Rights Watch et des officiels libanais lors de l’attaque sur l’immeuble de Cana, l’organisme de presse AP a revu le chiffre à la baisse pour en décompter 28. Ndlr.
(2) Le pachto est parlé notamment en Afghanistan et au Pakistan, ndlr.
(3) Environ un million en réalité, ndlr.

(Traduit par Chantal Osterreicher pour le Jerusalem Post édition française.)

Harry Potter is a Zionist agent (& Irish UN official: Bush’s goal is genocide)

August 06, 2007

* “Moderate” Abbas to name convicted murderer Barghouti as his successor
* A new “Salman Rushdie” in Italy?
* Iranian intelligence recruiting Hebrew speakers
* Iran has just carried out the largest wave of executions since 1984
* Hamas kidnaps Palestinian Christian professor, forces her to become Muslim



1. A summer’s day in Teheran
2. Harry Potter is a Zionist agent
3. Former senior United Nations official: Bush’s goal is genocide
4. Iranian intelligence recruiting Hebrew speakers
5. Abbas to name jailed Barghouti his successor
6. A new “Salman Rushdie” in Italy?
7. “To this day I remain under the suspicion of my country’s security services”
8. Christopher Hitchens: Why are we so scared of offending Muslims?
9. Hamas kidnaps Palestinian Christian professor, forces her to become Muslim
10. “What use were all the wars?” (By Mona Eltahawy, Wash. Post, July 28, 2007)
11. “Hamas forced professor to convert” (By Khaled Abu Toameh, Jer. Post, Aug. 5, 2007)
12. “Domestic terror in Iran” (By Amir Taheri, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 6, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]

The first four short items relate to Iran, and the remainder to fundamentalist Islam and Arab despair at the “terrorist methods” of the “Palestinian cause”.


These pictures, from the official Iranian Fars news agency, are not pleasant, but are a reminder of what kind of regime runs Iran.

Public hangings in downtown Teheran, August 2, 2007:


In other photos I have seen of Iranian executions this past week, parents have taken young girls, aged about 7 or 8, to watch the bodies as they hang.

Also today, leading Middle East commentator Amir Taheri writes in the Wall Street Journal about the wave of public hangings sweeping Iran. (See last article below.)

It is the largest wave of executions since 1984.

Over the past six weeks, at least 118 people have been executed (many live on television), and four have been stoned to death. According to Saeed Mortazavi, the chief Islamic prosecutor, at least 150 more people, including five women, are scheduled to be hanged or stoned to death in the coming weeks.

The campaign of terror also includes targeted “disappearances” designed to neutralize trade union leaders, student activists, journalists and even mullahs opposed to the regime. In addition, to intimidate the population, the authorities also have carried out mass arrests on spurious grounds.

By last week, 40,000 were still in prison. Of these, 20,363 men and women are held on charges related to violating the Islamic Dress Code. According to the Deputy Chief of Police Gen. Hussein Zulfiqari, an additional 6,204 men and women are in prison on charges of “sexual proximity” without being married.

Why isn’t the New York Times, BBC and CNN covering this?



In an editorial, the Iranian daily Kayhan, which takes orders from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, criticized Iran’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry for approving the distribution of the new book in the “Harry Potter” series.

The paper said that “Harry Potter” was a “Zionist project” aimed at undermining young Muslims.

(For more on the new Harry Potter book, see the second note on the dispatch Building the biggest bridge in the world: A Bin Laden project (& Iran’s American hostages) and for more, see Fans flock to Harry Potter’s grave in Israel & Coming soon: Arafat-Park.)



Former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday tells the propagandist Iranian government radio that President George W. Bush’s “goal” is for “millions of Iraqis to die”:

This interview tells us much about the political extremes of UN officials under the past corrupt regime of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Halliday, who is Irish, was appointed by Annan in 1997, and went on to personally oversee the highly corrupt “Oil for Food” Program in Iraq.

Halliday originally joined the UN in 1964 and went on to serve as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management of the United Nations, based in its New York Headquarters and was in charge of 15,000 UN staff world-wide.

In his interview with Iranian government radio, he also says patronizingly: “Many Americans are not literate. They don’t have access to good media, they don’t hear the truth from Al Jazeera or BBC.”



Israeli intelligence sources warn that Iranian intelligence is increasing its efforts to recruit Hebrew speakers to its ranks.

The Iranian regime needs Hebrew speakers to work as translators, intelligence agents and as part of its propaganda machine against Israel. The main source of Hebrew speakers they are recruiting are Israeli Arab students studying abroad or Palestinian terrorists sent for military training in Iran and Lebanon.

One of the most prominent centers for Hebrew studies is located at Iran’s embassy in Beirut, where Hizbullah members learn Hebrew at the Islamic Culture and Education Center. The embassy owns a vast library of Hebrew newspapers and books, including even children’s books. It was there that Hizbullah had trained, with the aid of Palestinians, a large group of fighters who were placed in charge of tapping Israeli communication systems, in a bid to collect intelligence on the “Zionist enemy” before and during the war with Israel last summer.

Last month, a young Israeli Arab woman who was studying dentistry in Jordan was arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing on suspicion of collaborating with Hizbullah. The woman admitted she was contacted by the group’s agents in Amman and offered to serve as its agent in Israel.



In a move likely to despair all those who think terrorism and murder is a bad thing, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (wrongly repeatedly described as a moderate by papers like The New York Times) has announced he will not run for re-election and will name jailed Fatah Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti to succeed him.

Barghouti is serving five consecutive life sentences for participating and organizing terrorist murders, including the Bat Mitzvah massacre aimed at kiling 12-year-old Israeli girls.

The Bat Mitzvah of Nina Kardashova, age 12, held in the events hall in the Israeli town of Hadera in January 2002, was attacked by a Fatah gunman with an M16, who shot into the crowd.

Six people were shot dead before the gunman, sent (by his own admission) on Barghouti’s orders, was shot by a nearby security guard. Nina Kardashova’s life was saved by the photographer at her Bat Mitzvah who threw himself on top of the dancing girl, in order to shield her.



Magdi Allam, 55, the Egyptian-born deputy chief editor of Italy’s most influential newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, has received a wave of death threats following the publication of his book, Viva Israele (Long Live Israel).

The Jordanian-based pan-Arab publication Al-Bawaba reports:

Viva Israele is the tale of his life ever since his youth under the republican regime of late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. According to Allam, Nasser is responsible for having turned Egypt – and the rest of the Arab world – into the cradle of the ‘ideology of death’. Allam claims Nasser brought about an aggressive pan-Arabic dream based on the denial of Israel’s right to exist. The need for the destruction of Israel is the dominant theme that, Allam states, made death and destruction the core values of a once liberal Islamic culture.

“Thus, the new book defends the existence of Israel and terms armed Palestinian groups as ‘dangerous terrorist threats.’” In addition, Allam wrote that during their operations in the Palestinian territories, Israeli forces have been trying to avoid hitting Palestinian civilians and only aim to defend Israeli citizens…

Allam added that the main cause for the Israeli – Palestinian dispute stems from the Palestinian terror… Allam also slams the Arab calls for the killing of Jews.”

Allam, who was raised as a Muslim and attended the Italian school of Cairo, was previously an enthusiastic activist for the Palestinian cause, but changed his mind following a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat:

“Arafat was responsible for Palestinian terrorism,” he wrote, and that “the predication of the ideology of death eventually hit and harmed the Palestinians themselves.”

Al-Bawaba says that Saudi media reported that following threats to Allam’s life, and Italian Muslims denouncing him as the new “Salman Rushdie,” the Italian police have intensified his round-the-clock security escort.



Below, I attach a piece from another Egyptian Muslim, Mona Eltahawy, who is a longtime subscriber to this email list. She is also a former staff member at Reuters’ Jerusalem bureau.

Writing in The Washington Post, Eltahawy says: “occupation doesn’t explain the reckless and often corrupt leadership that seems to be the curse of the Palestinians… The Palestinians are led by the dangerously impotent combination of a weak president and a prime minister who is a religious zealot.”

“My country, Egypt, fought four wars against Israel between 1948, when the Jewish state was created, and 1979, when Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Two of my uncles were rocket engineers during the 1973 war, the last conflict between the two countries.

“Has Egypt or Jordan logged better records on human rights or political freedoms because of those treaties [with Israel]? Has development or progress taken the place of war? Ask the thousands of political prisoners and the silenced dissidents of both countries.

“Egypt has been at peace with Israel for 28 years. For the past 25 years, we have had the same president, who has never visited Israel – just the tip of the iceberg known as the ‘cold peace’ between the two countries, which Egyptian officials usually blame on negative public opinion of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

“… I visited Israel for the first time in September 1997. Soon after, I moved to Jerusalem as a correspondent for Reuters. I wanted to see things for myself and not have to rely on the ‘official’ narrative given by our media. To this day I remain under the suspicion of my country’s security services.

“… Why has time stood still for the Arab world? The Syrian town of Quneitra is exactly as it was when it was destroyed after the 1967 war with Israel, untouched so that we never forget. Yet how many German cities, almost leveled during World War II, have been rebuilt and are thriving again? … Looking around the Arab world today, we must ask: What were they all for? It’s time to move on.”



Christopher Hitchens spells it out in Slate:

“As one who has occasionally challenged Islamic propaganda in public and been told that I have thereby ‘insulted 1.5 billion Muslims,’ I can say what I suspect – which is that there is an unmistakable note of menace behind that claim. No, I do not think for a moment that Mohammed took a ‘night journey’ to Jerusalem on a winged horse. And I do not care if 10 billion people intone the contrary. Nor should I have to. But the plain fact is that the believable threat of violence undergirds the Muslim demand for ‘respect.’

“... Islamists are the current leaders in the global book-burning competition. After the rumor of a Quran down the toilet in Guantanamo was irresponsibly spread, a mob in Afghanistan burned down an ancient library that (as President Hamid Karzai pointed out dryly) contained several ancient copies of the same book.

“Not content with igniting copies of The Satanic Verses, Islamist lynch parties demanded the burning of its author as well. Many distinguished authors, Muslim and non-Muslim, are dead or in hiding because of the words they have put on pages concerning the unbelievable claims of Islam. And it is to appease such a spirit of persecution and intolerance that a student in New York City has been arrested for an expression, however vulgar, of an opinion. This has to stop.

“... The enemies of intolerance cannot be tolerant, or neutral, without inviting their own suicide. And the advocates and apologists of bigotry and censorship and suicide-assassination cannot be permitted to take shelter any longer under the umbrella of a pluralism that they openly seek to destroy.”



The second article attached below, Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post, reports that “Professor Sana al-Sayegh, who teaches at Palestine University in Gaza City, was kidnapped by Hamas militiamen who forced her to convert to Islam against her will. The officials said the president of the university, Dr. Zaher Khail, had assisted Hamas in kidnapping the professor.”

The authors of these three pieces below, Khaled Abu Toameh (a Palestinian journalist), Mona Eltahawy (an Egyptian journalist) and Amir Taheri (an Iranian journalist), are all long time subscribers to this email list.

-- Tom Gross



What use were all the wars?
By Mona Eltahawy
The Washington Post
July 28, 2007

If turning 40 isn’t challenging enough, try preparing for this milestone when you’re as old as one of the worst defeats Arab armies ever suffered at Israeli hands. Wars mark time and generations in the Middle East, so it’s difficult not to take the humiliation personally.

My birth at the end of July 1967 makes me a child of the naksa, or setback, as the Arab defeat during the June 1967 war is euphemistically known in Arabic. There was no Summer of Love for us in 1967. We Children of the Naksa were born not only on the cusp of loss but also of the kind of disillusionment that whets the appetite of religious zealots.

My parents’ generation grew up high on the Arab nationalism that Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser brandished in the 1950s. By 1967, humiliation was decisively stepping into pride’s large, empty shoes.

As the region marks the 40th anniversary of the Arab-Israeli war, it’s been a relief to be watching from another country, one where the stain of wars and defeat have marked several generations. But no relief or distance can silence this question: Is this what we fought all those wars with Israel for?

My country, Egypt, fought four wars against Israel between 1948, when the Jewish state was created, and 1979, when Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Two of my uncles were rocket engineers during the 1973 war, the last conflict between the two countries.

Watching the Palestinians’ whiplash descent into civil war in Gaza this summer, it is difficult not to question the past. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land has caused no end of misery, poverty and frustration for the Palestinians. It has even scarred the Israeli people’s conscience. But occupation doesn’t explain the reckless and often corrupt leadership that seems to be the curse of the Palestinians.

You might think society would have evolved differently in the two countries that have peace treaties with Israel – Egypt and Jordan – or that their treaties have rendered conflict out of the question. Think again.

Has Egypt or Jordan logged better records on human rights or political freedoms because of those treaties? Has development or progress taken the place of war? Ask the thousands of political prisoners and the silenced dissidents of both countries.

Egypt has been at peace with Israel for 28 years. For the past 25 years, we have had the same president, who has never visited Israel – just the tip of the iceberg known as the “cold peace” between the two countries, which Egyptian officials usually blame on negative public opinion of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

We have subsumed so much into the Palestinian cause, channeling efforts that should have gone into development into a near obsession with Palestine, for little apparent good. Egypt boasts that it can talk to both the Israelis and the Palestinians, but even that has done little for its influence in halting intra-Palestinian fighting in Gaza.

I visited Israel for the first time in September 1997. Soon after, I moved to Jerusalem as a correspondent for Reuters. I wanted to see things for myself and not have to rely on the “official” narrative given by our media.

To this day I remain under the suspicion of my country’s security services. When I returned to Egypt after my year in Israel, a state security officer – whose nom de guerre was Omar Sharif – held up a thick file that he said was full of orders to have me followed and my phone tapped.

My generation, sadly, might be lost to defeat and humiliation. If so, the best gift we can offer those coming behind us is clear advice: Don’t walk in our footsteps, and know that the best way you can help Palestinians is to help your own countries.

The Arab leaders of the 1967 era are gone, replaced in Jordan and Syria by their sons; preparations for a similar handover are underway in Egypt. The Palestinians are led by the dangerously impotent combination of a weak president and a prime minister who is a religious zealot.

And still there is no Palestine.

Why has time stood still for the Arab world? The Syrian town of Quneitra is exactly as it was when it was destroyed after the 1967 war with Israel, untouched so that we never forget. Yet how many German cities, almost leveled during World War II, have been rebuilt and are thriving again?

The 1967 war was one of the many conflicts with Israel that bookend our ages. Looking around the Arab world today, we must ask: What were they all for? It’s time to move on.



‘Hamas forced professor to convert’
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
August 5, 2007

Fatah officials in Ramallah claimed over the weekend that Professor Sana al-Sayegh, who teaches at Palestine University in Gaza City, was kidnapped by Hamas militiamen who forced her to convert to Islam against her will.

The officials said the president of the university, Dr. Zaher Khail, had assisted Hamas in kidnapping the professor.

They added that senior officials in the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh played a major role in forcing her to convert to Islam.

“She was forced to convert to Islam against her will,” the Fatah officials said. “She was kidnapped and held for two weeks during which time she was not allowed to contact her family.” Sayegh is the dean of the Science and Technology Faculty at Palestine University. She has represented the university at numerous conferences around the world over the past few years and is considered one of the most prominent experts in her field.

According to the Fatah officials, she went missing in late June. When her family’s attempts to find her failed, they sought the help of Haniyeh’s office.

Two weeks later the family was summoned to a meeting with some of Haniyeh’s aides, who were accompanied by the professor.

At the meeting, which was held at the home of Hamas official Rafik Makki, the family was told that the professor had converted to Islam and married a Muslim man.

When the professor’s stunned mother asked her if this was true, she nodded her head, murmuring: “Yes, God has guided me through the right path.” The mother later claimed that her daughter made the statement under threats from Hamas gunmen who were in the room.

The Hamas officials are also reported to have shown the family a document signed by the professor indicating that she had converted to Islam and married a man named Izz al-Arab Awur.

But the family claims that the man told them that he never married the professor.

Several attempts by the family to arrange a meeting with Haniyeh to find out the truth failed. At one point, said a relative, they found the professor’s car parked outside Haniyeh’s office.

“When we told them that we wanted to see her, we were ordered to leave immediately,” he recounted. “We were told that we could take her car and go away. But we told them that we didn’t come to get the car, but Professor al-Sayegh.” Leaders of the tiny Christian minority in Gaza City who requested a meeting with Haniyeh to solve the problem were also turned down.

Some 3,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip. Following the Hamas takeover of the Strip, many of them have expressed their desire to leave.

The board of directors of Palestine University confirmed Sunday that Sayegh had converted to Islam, but denied that the university was linked to the case in any way.

“We won’t allow anyone to exploit our name in political disputes,” it said in a statement, referring to the Hamas-Fatah power struggle. “The case of Professor al-Sayegh is a personal one and does not reflect the policy of the university.”

Hamas officials strongly denied that they had forced the professor to convert to Islam and accused Fatah of spreading lies designed to undermine Hamas’s credibility. The officials said that Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar met with Sayegh, who told him that she had converted out of her own will to marry her colleague, Awur.

Ala Aklouk, a senior Muslim cleric in Gaza City who was entrusted by the Haniyeh government to look into the case, said the professor converted to Islam of her free will. “She was too afraid to inform her family that she had converted to Islam,” he said. “So she asked me and other officials to inform her family. She also made it clear that she had no intention to return home unless all her family members converted to Islam.”

Aklouk claimed that the professor did not convert because she wanted to marry a Muslim man, but because she “really believed in Islam.”

“If you sit with her, you will feel as if you are sitting with a devout Muslim woman and not a Christian,” he said. “She abandoned a good and easy life for the sake of Islam. She challenged everyone and did what she was supposed to do – become a devout Muslim.”

Hanan Matar, a female activist working for the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said she met with the professor over the weekend and heard from her that her decision to convert to Islam was not related to her marriage to a Muslim man. She said the professor was wearing the hijab and “behaved like any religious Muslim woman would.”



Domestic terror in Iran
Iran has just carried out the largest wave of executions since 1984
By Amir Taheri
The Wall Street Journal
August 6, 2007

It is early dawn as seven young men are led to the gallows amid shouts of “Allah Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) from a crowd of bearded men as a handful of women, all in hijab, ululate to a high pitch. A few minutes later, the seven are hanged as a mullah shouts: “Alhamd li-Allah” (Praise be to Allah).

The scene was Wednesday in Mashad, Iran’s second most populous city, where a crackdown against “anti-Islam hooligans” has been under way for weeks.

The Mashad hangings, broadcast live on local television, are among a series of public executions ordered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month as part of a campaign to terrorize an increasingly restive population. Over the past six weeks, at least 118 people have been executed, including four who were stoned to death. According to Saeed Mortazavi, the chief Islamic prosecutor, at least 150 more people, including five women, are scheduled to be hanged or stoned to death in the coming weeks.

The latest wave of executions is the biggest Iran has suffered in the same time span since 1984, when thousands of opposition prisoners were shot on orders from Ayatollah Khomeini.

Not all executions take place in public. In the provinces of Kurdistan and Khuzestan, where ethnic Kurdish and Arab minorities are demanding greater rights, several activists have been put to death in secret, their families informed only days after the event.

The campaign of terror also includes targeted “disappearances” designed to neutralize trade union leaders, student activists, journalists and even mullahs opposed to the regime. According to the latest tally, more than 30 people have “disappeared” since the start of the new Iranian year on March 21. To intimidate the population, the authorities also have carried out mass arrests on spurious grounds.

According to Gen. Ismail Muqaddam, commander of the Islamic Police, a total of 430,000 men and women have been arrested on charges related to drug use since April. A further 4,209 men and women, mostly aged between 15 and 30, have been arrested for “hooliganism” in Tehran alone. The largest number of arrests, totaling almost a million men and women according to Mr. Muqaddam, were related to the enforcement of the new Islamic Dress Code, passed by the Islamic Majlis (parliament) in May 2006.

Most of those arrested, he says, spent a few hours, or at most a few days, in custody as “a warning.” By last week, 40,000 were still in prison. Of these, 20,363 men and women are held on charges related to violating the Islamic Dress Code. According to the Deputy Chief of Police Gen. Hussein Zulfiqari, an additional 6,204 men and women are in prison on charges of “sexual proximity” without being married.

The wave of arrests has increased pressure on the nation’s inadequate prison facilities. At a recent press conference in Tehran, the head of the National Prisons Service, Ali-Akbar Yassaqi, appealed for a moratorium on arrests. He said Iran’s official prisons could not house more than 50,000 prisoners simultaneously while the actual number of prisoners at any given time was above 150,000. Mr. Yassaqi also revealed that each year on average some 600,000 Iranians spend some time in one of the 130 official prisons.

Since Mr. Ahmadinejad ordered the crackdown, work on converting 41 official buildings to prisons has started, with contracts for 33 other prisons already signed. Nevertheless, Mr. Yassaqi believes that, with the annual prison population likely to top the million mark this year, even the new capacities created might prove insufficient.

There are, however, an unknown number of unofficial prisons as well, often controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or militias working for various powerful mullahs. Last week, human rights activists in Iran published details of a new prison in Souleh, northwest of Tehran, staffed by militants from the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah. According to the revelations, the Souleh prison is under the control of the “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenehi, and used for holding the regime’s most “dangerous” political foes.

The regime especially fears the growing free trade union movement. In the past four months, free trade unionists have organized 12 major strikes and 47 demonstrations in various parts of the country. They showed their muscle on International Labor Day on May 1 when tens of thousands of workers marched in Tehran and 18 provincial capitals. The regime retaliated by arresting scores of trade unionists and expelling many others.

According to Rajab-Ali Shahsavari, leader of the Union of Contractual Workers, 25,795 unionists have been fired since April. He estimates that now over 1,000 workers are losing their jobs each day, as the regime intensifies its crackdown.

Worse still, the number of suspicious deaths among workers has risen to an all-time high. According to Deputy Labor Minister Ibrahim Nazari-Jalali, 1,047 workers have died in “work-related accidents” since April. Labor sources, however, point out that none of the accidents have been investigated and, in at least 13 cases, the workers who died may have been killed by goons hired by the regime.

The biggest purge of universities since Khomeini launched his “Islamic Cultural Revolution” in 1980 is also under way. Scores of student leaders have been arrested and more than 3,000 others expelled. Labeling the crackdown the “corrective movement,” Mr. Ahmadinejad wants university textbooks rewritten to “cleanse them of Infidel trash,” and to include “a rebuttal of Zionist-Crusader claims” about the Holocaust. Dozens of lecturers and faculty deans have been fired.

The nationwide crackdown is accompanied with efforts to cut Iranians off from sources of information outside the Islamic Republic. More than 4,000 Internet sites have been blocked, and more are added each day. The Ministry of Islamic Orientation has established a new blacklist of authors and book titles twice longer than what it was a year ago. Since April, some 30 newspapers and magazines have been shut and their offices raided. At least 17 journalists are in prison, two already sentenced to death by hanging.

The regime is trying to mobilize its shrinking base by claiming that the Islamic Republic is under threat from internal and external foes. It was in that context that the four Iranian-American hostages held in Tehran were forced to make televised “confessions” last month about alleged plots to foment a “velvet revolution.”

Over 40 people have been arrested on charges of espionage since April, 20 in the southern city of Shiraz. Khomeinist paranoia reached a new peak last week when the authorities announced, through the Islamic Republic News Agency, the capture of four squirrels in the Western city of Kermanshah and claimed that the furry creatures had been fitted with “espionage devices” by the Americans in Iraq and smuggled into the Islamic Republic.

Mr. Ahmadinejad likes to pretend that he has no worries except “Infidel plots” related to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions. The truth is that, faced with growing popular discontent, the Khomeinist clique is vulnerable and worried, extremely worried. The outside world would do well to carefully monitor and, whenever possible, support the Iranian people’s fight against the fascist regime in Tehran.

Iran today is not only about atomic bombs and Iranian-American hostages. It is also about a growing popular movement that may help bring the nation out of the dangerous impasse created by the mullahs.

Reuters runs false report, says AP (& Newspapers to offer free bibles)

August 05, 2007

* Disney stubs out its last cigarette
* BBC credibility slipping fast in UK



1. Reuters runs false report of Afghan rescue operation, says AP
2. Newspaper subscribers divided over plan to offer free bibles
3. Condé Nast expanding into India
4. BBC credibility slipping fast
5. Taliban in first heat-seeking missile attack
6. Oprah tops list of highest-paid TV stars
7. Advertising falls at NY Times, Tribune
8. Disney stubs out its last cigarette
9. NY Times, NBC to collaborate on election coverage

[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch contains recent items about the media in general – most are not specifically connected to the Middle East – written by myself and published in the last few days on the National Review’s media blog. The National Review is the most read online opinion publication in America.

These are likely to be of interest to the large number of journalists who subscribe to this list.


(August 4, 2007)

The Reuters news agency issued a report at 7:42 a.m. EDT Wednesday that an operation aimed at rescuing the South Korean hostages held by the Taliban in Afghanistan was under way.

A full-length story on the rescue was put out by Reuters at 7:51 a.m. Both stories quoted Khowja Seddiqi, a district chief in the area, as the source.

At 9:31 a.m., Reuters sent notice that “the official quoted in the story did not make the comment reported.”

It takes the Associated Press (whose own foreign coverage is far from exemplary) to take a critical look at its rival:

An erroneous report Wednesday that an operation was under way to rescue 21 South Korean hostages in Afghanistan played widely in the media, raising questions about whether reporting such maneuvers in real time might put the operation itself at risk.

... CNN’s Kiran Chetry, at 8:29 a.m., said that Reuters had reported that a rescue operation had started. Fox News Channel’s Steve Doocy said there were “some wire reports today that the army over there is dropping leaflets on towns saying, you know, you better get out because we are about to launch an operation to try to liberate these people.”

ABC News ran the Reuters report on its Web site, although spokesman Cathie Levine said the network had – incorrectly, it turned out – confirmed the report. It was couched on “Good Morning America,” where it was reported that a rescue operation “may be getting under way.”

A report on BBC News was led: “Fighting has erupted in the area where a group of South Korean hostages are being held by the Taliban, suggesting an operation has begun to free them.”

... Reuters declined to address the issue [of why they had got it so wrong], other than to note that its original report had been sourced to an Afghan official.

For more on Reuters, see here.



(August 3, 2007)

Everything from detergent to DVDs are packaged with the Sunday newspaper. So why not Bibles? A Christian ministry aims to deliver New Testaments to newspaper subscribers around America as part of an effort to find innovative ways to spread its Christian message. But to its surprise some Christians have joined non-believers in objecting.

The Associated Press reports:

The Colorado-based International Bible Society-Send the Light is planning on spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to distribute Bibles with 11 newspapers during 2007 and 2008. New Testaments would be packaged in pouches on the outside of newspapers, much like soap or other sample products.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram announced in May it would deliver more than 200,000 New Testaments the last Sunday of the year. David House, the newspaper’s reader advocate, said he received about 70 e-mails split between backers and those opposed to packaging the scriptures with newspapers.

... Some of the outcry has come from one of the least likely sources – Christians. Bob Ray Sanders, the Star-Telegram’s vice president and associate editor, said some worried that the Bibles tossed on the lawn with the newspaper would be thrown away because most people already own a Bible.



(August 3, 2007)

Condé Nast, which is to launch an Indian edition of the high-end fashion magazine Vogue on September 22, has announced plans to follow this up in India with other titles: Glamour, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, Vanity Fair and Wired.

The magazine group is attempting to tap into India’s growing affluence, in a country where many still living in dire poverty.

The print run for Vogue will be 50,000 copies. Rival Elle already has an Indian edition.

In China, Vogue broke even in its first year.



(July 28, 2007)

The BBC is finally beginning to admit that some of its programming is full of untruths. But it has yet to fully acknowledge the extent of the problem in its foreign news coverage. This cartoon from the Daily Telegraph, Britain’s highest circulation quality daily paper, sums up the problem.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Philip Davies asks: “Is funding a training programme to tell your staff not to lie and cheat viewers a good use of license-fee payers’ money? Perhaps you need to look at your recruitment process if you have to train them on such fundamentals as not lying or cheating?”



(July 28, 2007)

This is clearly a dangerous development.

The (London) Daily Telegraph reports:

Taliban militants have used a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile to attack a Western aircraft over Afghanistan for the first time.

The attack with a weapon believed to have been smuggled across the border with Iran represents a worrying increase in the capability of the militants which Western commanders had long feared.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the Taliban attempted to bring down an American C-130 Hercules aircraft flying over the south-western province of Nimroz on July 22. The crew reported that a missile system locked on to their aircraft and that a missile was fired.

It closed in on the large C-130 aircraft, pursuing it as the pilots launched a series of violent evasive manoeuvres and jettisoned flares to confuse the heat sensors in the nose of the missile. Crew members said that they saw what they believe was a missile passing very close to the aircraft. The C-130 was not damaged in the attack.

NATO officials, however, are keeping their silence:

“If there was such an incident of the type you describe in Nimroz it is classified,” said a NATO spokesman. “I can’t release it, if in fact it did occur.”



(July 26, 2007)

Talk is not cheap when it comes to Oprah Winfrey.

Winfrey earns an estimated $260 million a year according to a list of the highest paid TV stars in TV Guide magazine’s latest issue.

Music producer Simon Cowell, the British judge of American Idol, came a distant second on the list, at a mere $45 million.

Among other high earners: Courtroom chief Judge Judy (Judith Sheindlin, $30 million), CBS News anchor Katie Couric ($15 million), NBC “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer ($12 million) and his co-anchor Meredith Vieira ($10 million), and “Scrubs” actor Zach Braff ($6.3 million).

For more on Oprah Winfrey, see the final entry in the dispatch “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo” (& Giuliani’s girls vs. Obama’s girls).



(July 26, 2007)

The Associated Press reports:

Newspaper publishers New York Times Co. and Tribune Co. reported lower advertising revenues for the second quarter on Wednesday as the industry struggled with deep losses in several categories, especially classified.

The Times, which also owns The Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune and a group of regional newspapers, posted a 6.9 percent decline in newspaper advertising in the period, while Tribune’s fell 11.2 percent.

Maybe some papers will move to purely online editions quicker than we previously thought?



(July 26, 2007)

The Walt Disney Co. says it will kick the cinematic smoking habit.

It also said it would “discourage” (though not ban) lighting up in the more adult movies made by its Touchstone and Miramax labels.

“A villain can be bad without smoking,” Disney Chief Executive Robert A. Iger said yesterday. “Heroes can be cool without smoking.”

Disney’s move follows Universal Pictures, which initiated a policy in April aimed at reducing or eliminating smoking by characters in films rated for young people.

Research by the Dartmouth Medical School found that 74% of over 500 recent box-office hits, many of them rated PG-13, contained smoking. The study also found that German teenagers who had seen a lot of smoking in Hollywood movies were nearly twice as likely to take up smoking as those who hadn’t.



(August 5, 2007)

The New York Times has announced it will collaborate with NBC News/ on 2008 presidential election coverage. The agreement will allow The New York Times to use NBC’s political videos on its Web site, while will be able to use national political content from on its site.

NBC News and The New York Times will both have first access to breaking news from one another. (Of course, The New York Times is usually last with the news, not first.)

Meanwhile, Business Week’s Jon Fine has some wise advice to The New York Times’s publisher:

“Memo from Jon Fine to Arthur Sulzberger: Understand that no matter which road you take, the next few years will be awful. They will expose you, your family and your paper to scrutiny and criticism as never before... You can stay today’s course, toughing out investor dissent and market disgust and, eventually, land the Times on some currently unknown safer terrain. (That’s the best-case scenario, by the way.) Or swallow hard, sell a bunch of properties, find a billionaire angel or two, make an offer for the 81 percent of the common shares your family does not own, and go private.”

Now it is Hamas vs. Islamic Jihad (& From Russia to Gaza with love?)

August 02, 2007

* This dispatch contains underreported events this week concerning the Palestinians



1. Now it is Hamas vs. Islamic Jihad
2. Hamas bombs West Bank jail
3. It must be love
4. Hamas bans Palestinian TV from Gaza
5. Hamas clamps down on distribution of newspapers
6. Palestinians have right “to resist,” says new “moderate” Palestinian PM
7. Palestinian intelligence officer murdered
8. Jail term halved for Jordanian who killed daughter
9. Here is the news from the BBC

[Note by Tom Gross]


In June it was Hamas vs. Fatah.

Now it is Hamas and Islamic Jihad who are beginning a bloody round of clashes in the Gaza Strip. Yet this news is barely being reported in the western media (if Israel isn’t to blame, they are not interested), and we haven’t heard even a murmur of condemnation from all the various self-styled Palestinian “solidarity groups” dotted around Europe, but the Arab media is following events with interest.

For example, Al Bawaba reports:

“Two Palestinians died today in Gaza City as Hamas and Islamic Jihad continued their violent clashes over the right to fire weapons in public.

“Islamic Jihad said its men were ambushed early Thursday by Hamas activists, dragged out of a mosque and shot in the legs. Another man, Nidal al-Daya, was shot in the head, Islamic Jihad said.

“A bystander, Salah al-Amoudi, who happens to be a Fatah official, was shot dead by masked gunmen shortly after as he was making his way home from the mosque, witnesses and hospital officials said.

“... The clashes started Tuesday night, when Islamic Jihad gunmen fired in the air in celebration during a wedding. On Wednesday, Hamas’ Executive Forces fired a rocket at a house in Gaza City and traded fire with Islamic Jihad gunmen inside, wounding 10 people. One Hamas man later died of his wounds.”



Is the Palestinian terror group so respected by Jimmy Carter beginning to run out of other targets?

Yediot Ahronot reports: “An explosive device was detonated Tuesday in a Palestinian Authority prison in Nablus... No injuries were reported in the blast at Jenaid prison. Palestinian sources said the event is considered a ‘warning sign’ to the PA, to stop its arrests of Hamas operatives.”



From Russia with love?

Apparently Israel has been so successful at preventing Palestinian suicide bombers that Hamas operatives have had to try and lose their virginity elsewhere.

Palestinian journalist Ali Waked reports that one young would-be bomber has met the woman of his dreams via a Russian website. Following Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in mid-June, she was smuggled into the Strip, where the two have wed, shortly after meeting for the first time.

His new wife has converted to Islam, and they were married in a traditional Muslim ceremony.

As one young Israeli said of the story: “Please Hamas, smuggle brides, not kalashnikovs! May their children not grow up to be suicide bombers!”



Hamas yesterday banned the official Palestinian Authority television from making or broadcasting any programs in the Gaza Strip. PATV has been under the control of PA President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas for the past year.

PATV received a letter from the Hamas Information Ministry informing it that Hamas was “banning production or broadcast of television programs from the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas had accused the TV station of being critical of it.

The Palestinian journalists’ union, based in Ramallah in the West Bank, slammed the decision. “We condemn with the utmost severity the terrorism of the government ... and the repression organized against journalistic freedoms,” it said in a statement.

Journalist unions and media organizations in the West are too busy criticizing Israel to notice.

The remaining television station in Gaza (al-Aqsa) and radio stations (Sawt al-Aqsa and Sawt al-Quds) are both strongly Islamist.

Sawt al-Quds had broadcast a sermon praising the London terrorist attacks. See here.



Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh (who is a longtime subscriber to this email list) reports that on Monday Hamas militiamen prevented the distribution of three Fatah-affiliated newspapers in the Gaza Strip and briefly detained the local distribution agents of the dailies.

This is the first time that the newspapers published in the West Bank, were prevented from distribution in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian journalists said thousands of copies of the three newspapers were seized by Hamas’s paramilitary Executive Force on the Palestinian side of the Erez border crossing.

According to the journalists, six Palestinians working for the newspapers were detained for questioning by Hamas. Two of them, Hatem Kishawi and Samir Jaber, work for the Fatah-controlled Al-Ayyam. The other four work for the PA-funded Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Al-Quds, a pro-Fatah newspaper owned by a family from east Jerusalem.

The three newspapers had been critical of Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June.



Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad – repeatedly described as a moderate by newspapers like The New York Times – has said Palestinians have “a legitimate right to resist Israeli occupation, even if the phrase does not appear in his new government program.”

Fayyad made the remarks in Arabic to reporters in Cairo on Monday.

“Resistance” is a euphemism for suicide and other terror acts on Israelis.

At the insistence of the Bush administration, the platform of the new Palestinian government in the West Bank had for the first time omitted the phrases “armed struggle” and “resistance”.



The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (an independent organization run from Ramallah by Palestinians who subscribe to this email list) reports that a Palestinian General Intelligence officer has been “tortured and killed in Rafah” (in the Gaza Strip).

The body of Palestinian intelligence officer Ismail El-Mashoukhi was found in the Mawasi area to the west of Rafah on Monday. The body bore signs of severe torture and beating. El-Mashoukhi had been kidnapped the day before.

The PCHR “calls on the Palestinian Attorney-General to prosecute those responsible and for the Palestinian civilian police force to return to work in the Gaza Strip in order to protect the security interests of the civilian population.”



A Jordanian court has halved the jail term of a man who beat his daughter to death, because she visited her estranged mother without his permission, a judicial source said.

The criminal court initially jailed the man for 15 years’ hard labor after the killing, but then reduced it to seven-and-a-half years “to give him a chance to improve himself”.

The 41-year-old father clubbed his daughter to death January 23 last year, because she left home without his permission to visit her mother, who had left the family home after a dispute with her husband.

According to court papers, the victim “insulted her father” when he slapped her before he then beat her to death.



Here is a satirical cartoon on the BBC that I was sent.

-- Tom Gross