Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Jane’s: Syria building chemical weapons plant (& Dubai bans novel with gay characters)

February 19, 2009

* Shimon Peres: Gaza disengagement was a mistake
* Hamas steals seven tons of weaponry from UN warehouse
* Syria allows import of Israeli apples

* Rupert Murdoch orders Wall Street Journal to pull sponsorship of tennis tournament after Dubai bans Israeli player
* But other sponsors (Barclays, Rolex, Sony Ericsson and The Washington Post Co.’s Newsweek) continue to pay for tournament
* African-American Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia say they will quit next year’s tournament if Israeli Jews are excluded

[Some of the items below are follow-ups to other recent dispatches on this email list. Previous dispatches can be read at:]



1. Jane’s: Syria building chemical weapons plant
2. Peres: I was wrong about Gaza disengagement
3. Handshake of the day
4. Attacks on Jews and Israelis continue worldwide
5. European media continue to promote anti-Semitism
6. Howard Jacobson’s article dismissed as “adolescent”
7. Hamas rockets continue, unreported
8. Palestinian Authority continues to glorify terrorist murderers
9. More footage of the ongoing executions by Hamas

10. Hamas steals seven tons of weaponry from UN warehouse
11. EU announces additional 41 million euro for UNRWA
12. Norwegian Muslims blast sheikh’s Holocaust remarks
13. The Wall Street Journal drops Dubai tennis sponsorship
14. Some African-American and east European players speak out
15. Swedish police to ban fans from Davis Cup matches
16. Dubai bans British novel because it has a gay character
17. Export of apples from Israel to Syria

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


The well-informed defense analyst group Jane’s reported yesterday that Syria has been conducting extensive construction work on a chemical weapons facility in the country’s northwest. Jane’s said it had obtained satellite images of the facility at al-Safir.

It reported that DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1 satellite had shown that extensive construction has taken place at the facility, as well as at an adjacent missile base. Jane’s said “the images showed that the site contained a number of the defining features of a chemical weapons facility.”

The al-Safir base already houses many of Syria’s long-range Scud D ballistic missiles that have a range of 700 kilometers and can hit most of Israel. Al-Safir is reported to have several dozen underground fortified bunkers where the launchers and the missiles are stored.

In September 2007, Israel was reported to have destroyed Syria’s clandestine nuclear reactor. There are reports that Syria has since secretly restarted its nuclear program with Iranian and North Korean assistance.



In a remarkable about-face, Israeli President Shimon Peres said yesterday that he had erred in supporting Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

“What will happen in the future, we shall not repeat the wrongs we did in leaving Gaza,” Peres said. “It should have been done otherwise. I was for leaving Gaza. I consider myself as one of the persons mistaken.”

The president, who has long been a champion of territorial withdrawals to attain peace, added that “lessons must be drawn” from the Gaza pullout, and “democratic considerations” must be taken into account in future.

Peres, previously a leader of the Israeli left, appeared to support the long-held position of the Israeli center-right that Israel can’t attain peace by withdrawing from territory unless there is first a peaceful and democratic Palestinian party to hand that territory to.



The Iranian ambassador to Turkey tries his best to avoid shaking hands with women. From yesterday’s Iranian media.



A package containing caustic or poisonous materials was sent to the Israeli embassy in Oslo. Two employees were injured.



Anti-Semitism is continuing to sprout up in European media.

For example, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo this month published an openly anti-Semitic piece by columnist Antonio Gala, titled “Chosen People,” which blamed “Jewish greed” for the persecution of Jews throughout history.

Referring to Israel, Gala wrote: “Unless it puts a stop to avarice and false accounts, the Jewish people will succumb once more [to pogroms]. Wouldn’t this people do right to ask itself why it always goes through the same thing? Or is it maybe the rest of the world that is mistaken?”

Spanish law prohibits anti-Jewish hate speech and attempts to justify the Holocaust.

For more on anti-Semitic media coverage of Israel, including in the Spanish newspaper El País, please see the dispatch from earlier this week: Denmark – no Jews at our schools please (and “anti-Semitism in London’s theatreland”).


While Spaniards admonish Israel, readers of yesterday’s International Herald Tribune might have noticed a single paragraph at the foot of an article mentioning that 21 African migrants, many of them children, drowned to death just meters off the coast of Spain’s Canary Islands on Tuesday, while sunbathers looked on.

(See also my item from last year: Roma girls dead on a beach in Italy, ignored by sunbathers... )



Yesterday, The Independent of London (one of the most anti-Israeli newspapers in the world) published a long essay by Howard Jacobson in which he took up some of the themes and points already written about on this website. For example, he writes of “a new hate-fuelled little chamber-piece by Caryl Churchill.”

He talks of “the hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, on our campuses, in our newspapers, on our radios and televisions, and now in our theatres.”

Jacobson’s piece, titled “Let’s see the ‘criticism’ of Israel for what it really is,” can be read here.

While several people have written to me saying that it’s “amazing that The Independent published this piece,” in fact The Guardian, Le Monde, The Independent, the BBC, and their like, do occasionally publish pieces sympathetic to Israel. They then point to these to demonstrate that they are not anti-Semitic while they continue to publish daily diatribes and misinformation about Israel, many of which verge on the anti-Semitic.

Only last week The Independent’s chief Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk compared Palestinian children in Gaza to Jewish children “on the back of a lorry in Auschwitz.”

Personally, I have mixed feelings about Jacobson’s piece. It is very rare for a left-wing paper such as The Independent to give an entire double page spread to explain why so much of the anti-Israel invective these days is anti-Semitic, but (while it is generally a good piece) I’m not sure that Jacobson has used the space provided in the most effective way. For example, he hasn’t sufficiently indicated the glaring factual inaccuracies in the reporting of Israel’s operation in Gaza.


There has been a furious reaction to Jacobson’s article in the online readers’ comments section and in today’s printed letters column of The Independent. The paper chooses to print blatant lies by its readers, such as “no Hamas missile had fallen in Israel for six months before Operation Cast Lead” and other letters using that old racist trick – blaming the victims of racism (in this case Jews) for causing the racism themselves.

The main letter The Independent selected for publication today just dismisses Jacobson’s article as “adolescent” and says “He really should grow up or else leave the floor to more reasoned commentators.”



Yet more Kassam rockets were fired at Israel early this morning, to add to the mortar shell that was fired into Israel yesterday. Over 40 rockets have been fired by Hamas since it declared a ceasefire less than a month ago. The international media (so obsessed with covering any Israeli defensive actions) have barely mentioned these.

A Palestinian terrorist was also apprehended this morning as he tried to plant a bomb on the Israel-Gaza border. He was lightly wounded in an exchange of fire and has been taken to hospital in Israel for treatment.

(For background articles on the many people who don’t understand why Israel stopped its operation against Hamas last month before it had been completed, please see previous dispatches on this list including: “Dear Palestinian Arab brethren…” (& “Israel refuses to win”)



It is not only Hamas that continues to promote terrorism, but the supposedly more moderate Palestinian group Fatah too. Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority, which is lavishly funded by western governments.

The official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida yesterday (Feb. 17) praised Thaer Hamed, the terrorist who murdered three Israeli civilians in a 2002 ambush, and is presently in prison in Israel.

The article, written by the paper’s editor-in-chief, Hafez Barghouti, said Hamed “is a hero of the Intifada... doing what tens of brigades and platoons, and hundreds of missiles and heroic stories, failed to do,” according to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch.

The article also praised the kidnapping by Hamas of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and called on Palestinians to view Hamed as a top priority for release in any future prisoner exchange. The article also noted how willing the present Israeli government has been to release Palestinian prisoners, adding that “while the Kadima and Labor parties are still in government desperate to get back Shalit they will release Hamed too if we insist.”

Glorifying terrorists is a regular practice in Palestinian society on the part of both the Fatah and Hamas leadership. The PA continues to honor terrorists as role models for children by naming schools, summer camps and sports facilities after some of the most heinous killers.

It is doubtful there will ever be peace in the Middle East until western governments make aid to Fatah conditional on their stopping this mass incitement of an entire generation of Palestinian schoolchildren.



Hamas execution of Fatah members in Gaza.

Please see recent previous dispatches on this list for other film clips of executions of Palestinians by Hamas in Gaza. The international media barely mention these killings. Instead many news organizations continue, dishonestly, to add the Palestinians killed by Hamas onto statistics they provide for Palestinians killed by Israel.



Following the recent theft of aid supplies in Gaza by Hamas (see previous dispatches on this list for details), on Tuesday evening Hamas stole seven tons of weaponry and ammunition in Gaza.

The material had been stored in UN warehouses and was slated to be destroyed by sappers. Senior UN officials said they were “outraged.”

Hamas will no doubt try to use these weapons to murder more Israeli Jews and moderate Palestinians.



The European Commission yesterday announced an additional contribution of 41 million Euros to support the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

This is despite the theft by Hamas that had taken place the evening before (see item above), and accusations of continued collusion between UNRWA and Hamas.



The Islamic Council of Norway on Tuesday took the rare step of publically distancing itself from the leading Sunni Islamic scholar, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who gave a speech broadcast on al-Jazeera in January saying the Holocaust had been “a divine punishment against the Jews.”

Criticism of the Qatar-based al-Qaradawi, who has been hugged and embraced by left-wing European politicians such as former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, is rare among Muslims.



The Wall Street Journal Europe revoked its sponsorship of the Dubai women’s tennis tournament, one of the world’s richest tennis tournaments, after the United Arab Emirates refused to allow an Israeli player to participate. The Journal is owned by News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch.

Israel’s Shahar Pe’er had already qualified and been placed in the woman’s draw. Last year, Pe’er participated in the tennis tournament in Doha, Qatar without incident. In 2007 Pe’er reached the quarter-finals of two grand slam events, the Australian Open and the U.S. Open.

The Journal Europe said in a statement that “The Wall Street Journal’s editorial philosophy is free markets and free people, and this action runs counter to the Journal’s editorial direction.”

The paper also said it will cancel a special tennis-themed advertising section scheduled for Monday and is withdrawing its sponsorship of a related men’s tennis tournament beginning next week in Dubai.

The other sponsors of the women’s Dubai event, including Barclays PLC, Rolex, Sony Ericsson and Washington Post Co.’s Newsweek, said they will continue with their sponsorship.

The Washington Post Co. said in a statement that: “If Israeli player Andy Ram is not permitted to enter Dubai to play in the men’s tournament, which begins Monday, Newsweek will withdraw from sponsoring the event.” (Andy Ram is ranked No. 7 in the world in doubles.)

The Tennis Channel, which owns the U.S. broadcast rights to the tournament, said it won’t televise the event. The channel’s chairman and chief executive said “If the State of Israel were barring a citizen of an Arab nation, we would have made the same decision. But it doesn’t.”



Wimbledon champion Venus Williams (from the United States), and reigning French Open champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia made forceful statements in support of Pe’er and offered to withdraw from the tournament but Pe’er said they should stay. They said they won’t play next year if Pe’er is excluded.

Dinara Safina, the Russian world No 2, said: “It’s pretty disappointing she’s not playing here. She’s a great player and a great athlete. I hope she will have many more chances. I hope the WTA [Women’s Tennis Association] is doing its best for her.” French player Amélie Mauresmo also criticized the Dubai decision.



Officials in Sweden have decided to keep the 4,000-seat Malmo arena empty when Swedish and Israeli tennis players compete in first-round Davis Cup matches next month. Only tennis officials and select journalists will be allowed to watch.

Amazingly, the police in supposedly free and democratic Sweden say they can’t guarantee that the Israeli players won’t be harmed and instead have given in to intimidation by anti-Semitic and pro-Hamas elements in the country.



Dubai is not only banning Israeli tennis players. Yesterday it also banned a book by British author Geraldine Bedell because it contained a gay character.

Geraldine Bedell’s book “The Gulf Between Us” was greeted with enthusiasm by the first International Festival of Literature in Dubai – but then immediately banned once it was discovered that a minor character was a homosexual.

“It calls into question the whole notion of whether the Emirates and other Gulf states really want to be part of the contemporary cultural world,” Bedell said. “You can’t ban books and expect your literary festival to be taken seriously.”



Apples grown by Israeli apple growers in the Golan Heights were exported to Syria this week, via the Kuneitra crossing. The Kuneitra crossing is usually used only by UN personnel and forces.

The shipment will continue over the next few weeks. More than 20 truckloads of apples are scheduled to cross every day. Most of the Israeli apple farmers are Druze. Such trade is very unusual between two countries still officially at war.

-- Tom Gross

Denmark – no Jews at our schools please (and “anti-Semitism in London’s theatreland”)

February 15, 2009

* Anti-Semitism rises in Asia, even though few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew

* Modern-day Denmark: “Barbed-wire fences and security guards are a regular part of many Jewish children’s school day, while Jews are excluded from regular Danish schools”

* Chavez-controlled Venezuelan government website demands that citizens “publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park” and calls for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish property and a demonstration at Caracas’s largest synagogue

* Tom Gross: Wave of attacks on Jews from Austria to Zimbabwe triggered by sensational and inaccurate media coverage of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza

[This dispatch concerns anti-Semitism. As a New York Times news story put it the other day, the continued existence of anti-Semitism worldwide complicates the search for Middle East peace.]



1. Survey: 31% of Europeans blame global economic crisis on Jews
2. “Anti-Semitic books read in the highest Chinese government circles”
3. With George W. Bush gone, Venezuela’s dictator has found new enemies
4. Denmark – no Jews at our schools please
5. Rise in anti-Semitic attacks “the worst recorded in Britain in decades”
6. “Anti-Semitism in London’s theatreland”
7. More from Spain, Norway, Holland, Brazil, Greece, S. Africa, Germany, Scotland, Sweden, Slovenia and France
8. “Asia’s Jewish myths” (By Ian Buruma, The Australian, Feb. 11, 2009)
9. “Mr. Chávez vs. the Jews” (Washington Post, editorial, Feb. 12, 2009)
10. “Poll: 31% of Europeans blame Jews for global financial crisis” (Ha’aretz, Feb. 11, 2009)
11. “British Jews’ safety fears grow” (The Observer, Feb. 8, 2009)
12. “Europe reimports Jew hatred” (By Daniel Schwammenthal, Wall Street Journal Europe)
13. “Yes, it’s anti-Semitism” (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe)

[Notes below by Tom Gross]


According to a poll conducted in seven European countries by the Anti-Defamation League, 40 percent of Europeans believe “Jews have too much power” and 31 percent blame “Jews in the financial industry” for the current global economic crisis.

The poll was conducted between December 1 and January 13 among 3,500 adults in seven European countries: Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

(I attach a story about this from Ha’aretz in the “full articles” section below.)



In a comment piece in The Australian last week (which was also republished in The International Herald Tribune), Ian Buruma writes:

“A Chinese bestseller titled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the present crisis.

Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews is to See the World Clearly, The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols and I’d Like to Apologise to the Japanese – A Jewish Elder’s Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which the Japanese came across after defeating the tsar’s army in 1905.

… Unlike European or Russian anti-Semitism, the Asian variety has no religious roots. No Chinese or Japanese has blamed Jews for killing their holy men or believed that their children’s blood ended up in Passover matzos. In fact, few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew, unless they have spent time abroad…

(The full article is below.)



In a staff editorial, The Washington Post writes that:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who says he intends to remain in office for decades to come, has mounted a propaganda and intimidation campaign of a ferocity rarely seen in Latin America since the region returned to democracy 25 years ago. Pro-Chávez rhetoric dominates the national airwaves, from which opposition voices have been almost entirely excluded…

Venezuela’s Jewish community seems to have replaced George W. Bush as Chávez’s favorite foil. One television host close to Chávez blamed opposition demonstrations on two students he said had Jewish last names.

On a pro-government website, another commentator demanded that citizens “publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park” and called for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish-owned property and a demonstration at Caracas’s largest synagogue. On Jan. 30 the synagogue was duly attacked by a group of thugs ...

The oil-based economy is crashing; inflation, at over 30 percent, is the highest in Latin America, and shortages of basic goods are common. Venezuela ranks 158th out of 180 countries in a global corruption index, and its murder rate has tripled under Chávez… If Chávez loses the referendum… apparently, he’s already decided whom to blame.

(The full article is below.)


Tom Gross adds: Chavez has employed anti-Semitism before. See, for example, the dispatch of Jan. 2, 2006: Venezuelan President Chavez: “The descendants of the Christ-killers” control the world. It seems, however, that Chavez’s anti-Semitism – as well as his alliance with the Islamic regime in Iran – may now be growing. One of Chavez’s mentors was the Argentine fascist Norberto Ceresole.



The Associated Press adds: “As President Hugo Chavez intensifies his anti-Israel campaign, some Venezuelans have taken action, threatening Jews in the street and vandalizing the largest synagogue in Caracas – where they stole a database of names and addresses. Now many in Venezuela’s Jewish community fear the worst is yet to come.

“Venezuela’s Jewish leaders, the Organization of American States and the U.S. State Department say Chavez’s harsh criticism has inspired a growing list of hate crimes, including a Jan. 30 invasion of Caracas’ largest synagogue.”

15,000 Jews remain in Venezuela. Others have left.



(This item is from last month but I held back from mentioning it at the time because of the large number of other dispatches on this website in January.)

The Copenhagen Post reports:

Barbed-wire fences and security guards are a regular part of many Jewish children’s’ school day.

A number of school administrators have come forth in recent days to confirm that they recommend Jewish children should not enroll at their schools.

According to school administrators, law enforcement officials and social workers, the on-going conflict in Gaza has led to heightened tensions between Jews and Arabs here in Denmark.

And although few headmasters of schools have faced the situation, most of those at schools with a high percentage of children of Arab descent say they try to prevent Jewish parents from enrolling their children there.

On Monday, headmaster Olav Nielsen of Humlehave School in Odense publicly admitted he would refuse Jewish parents’ wish to place their child at his school.

The comments were made following an incident last week in which two Israeli citizens were shot and wounded at a city shopping centre.

Other headmasters have now come forth to support Nielsen’s position, adding that they are putting the child’s safety first.

At Caroline Jewish Skole in Copenhagen’s Østerbro district, video cameras watch over the playground and entrances of the school, which is surrounded by a 2.5 meter-high barbed-wire fence.

One parent whose child goes to the Jewish school said thinking about the extra security can be disturbing at times, but she felt it was necessary.

[The story can be found here.]


As one of The Copenhagen Post’s readers writes on the paper’s comments section:

“So much for the Danes teaching their Muslim children that violence isn’t an acceptable means of attaining goals or resolving problems; that hating an entire group of people and lashing out at them because of what some of that group are doing in another part of the world is not acceptable.”

Tom Gross adds:

The schools story is all the more regrettable because Denmark was one of the very few countries to help Jews during the Holocaust. The vast majority of Danish Jews were smuggled into Sweden by the collective efforts of the Danish population (although a number of German Jewish refugees who had sought refuge in Denmark were turned over to the Gestapo in 1942 at a time when it was already clear what their fate would be).



The Observer (the Sunday sister paper of Britain’s Guardian) reports:

Police patrols have been stepped up in Jewish neighborhoods following the most intense period of anti-Semitic incidents to have been recorded in Britain in decades. Safety fears are so acute, with anti-Semitic incidents running at around seven a day this year, that reports have emerged of members of Britain’s Jewish community fleeing the UK …

Scotland Yard is understood to have placed prominent Jewish communities on heightened alert, while the Association of Chief Police Officers’ national community tension team is responding to intelligence by issuing weekly patrol directives to chief constables instructing them of threats to Jewish communities in their areas.

Incidents include violent assaults in the street, hate emails and graffiti threatening “jihad” against British Jews. One disturbing aspect involves the targeting of Jewish children. A Birmingham school is investigating reports that 20 children chased a 12-year-old girl, its only Jewish pupil, chanting “Kill all Jews” and “Death to Jews”.

(The full article is below.)


Tom Gross adds: Among 88 violent assaults on Jews was the random stabbing to death of a Jewish man in Manchester by an attacker shouting anti-Semitic slurs. The incident was the first anti-Semitic killing in Britain in over a quarter century.



Commenting on the wave of invective directed against Israel in recent weeks, veteran British Jewish director and actor Steven Berkoff said: “England is not a great lover of its Jews. Never has been.”

Berkoff, whose production of “On The Waterfront” opens this month at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, points out that journalists and academics are not the only intellectuals in Britain stirring up anti-Semitism, but some among the theatrical establishment too.

“There is an inbuilt dislike of Jews,” he said. “Overt anti-Semitism goes against the British sense of fair play. It has to be covert and civilized. So certain playwrights and actors on the Left wing make themselves out to be stricken with conscience.

“They say: ‘We hate Israel, we hate Zionism, we don’t hate Jews.’ But Zionism is the very essence of what a Jew is. Zionism is the act of seeking sanctuary after years and years of unspeakable outrages against Jews. As soon as Israel does anything over the top it’s always the same old faces who come out to demonstrate. I don’t see hordes of people marching down the street against Mugabe when tens of thousands are dying every month in Zimbabwe.”


London’s esteemed Royal Court theatre – the same theatre at which the notorious piece of agitprop “My name is Rachel Corrie” was given its premiere – is again being accused of promoting anti-Semitism with its new 10 minute play about Gaza by Caryl Churchill called “Seven Jewish Children”.

The website of The Spectator magazine has already termed it “a ten-minute blood-libel.” The play is also said to be replete with historical inaccuracies about Israel and the Palestinians.

The play has even been compared to so-called “mystery plays” of the Middle Ages, which portrayed the Jews as Christ-killers and helped fuel pogroms against European Jews.

John Nathan, the mild-mannered theatre critic of the Jewish Chronicle (a paper which is often quite critical of Israel) writes:

“As if sensing this, Cooke [the director] has recruited Jews for his cast. Not, it appears, to bring Jewish insight to their roles but to provide crude cover against criticism. It won’t work. For the first time in my career as a critic, I am moved to say about a work at a major production house that this is an anti-Semitic play.”

Another objector, Jonathan Hoffman, said “It draws on several anti-Semitic stereotypes, from the blood libel through to the ‘chosen people’ trope. It is a grotesque parody of Jewish history.”

The Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington, who has been criticized before in his reviews for presenting Palestinian propaganda as it were fact, wrote: “Caryl Churchill’s 10-minute play, Seven Jewish Children, typifies what the stage does best: address the world as it is right now… Churchill also shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the ‘otherness’ of Palestinians and how, for generations to come, they stand to reap the bitter harvest of the military assault on Hamas.” (It is in fact the Palestinian education curriculum that is designed to show the otherness of Jews. The Israeli curriculum is more inclusive than almost any other school curriculum in the world. Billington doesn’t know what he is talking about.)

Responding to accusations that Churchill’s play was anti-Semitic, a spokeswoman for the Royal Court angered critics even more by saying: “The Stone, which is currently running before Seven Jewish Children, asks very difficult questions about the refusal of some modern Germans to accept their ancestors’ complicity in Nazi atrocities.”




Jewish leaders have criticized Trine Lilleng, the first secretary at the Norwegian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, who sent out a mass email saying: “The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany.”

Accompanying her text were photos seeking to juxtapose images of the Holocaust with the recent Israeli military operation in Gaza.

Jewish leaders have also have criticized a local city official in Barcelona who told the leading Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia that “marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right.”

Yad Vashem has launched a YouTube Channel in Spanish, to combat growing anti-Semitism in the Spanish-speaking world: (English, Hebrew and Arabic channels were launched last year.)



Dutch integration minister Eberhard van der Laan said that Arabs needed to learn about the Holocaust. The comments came after Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende met with Jewish leaders, who told him they were concerned about a rise in anti-Semitism in Holland and asked for additional security from police.

Three synagogues in the Netherlands were attacked by arsonists earlier in January.



Jewish leaders also issued a strong protest to the leading Spanish newspaper, El Pais, over the publication of a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon about the conflict between Hamas and Israel. The cartoon featured a grotesque caricature of a Jewish man with a prominently hooked nose.

A Brazilian newspaper published two cartoons – one of Hitler wearing an armband emblazoned with the Star of David and swastika, saluting, “Heil Israel!”; the other of a Star of David casting a shadow in the form of a swastika over the Gaza Strip.

A Greek newspaper ran a banner headline “Holocaust,” referring to Israel’s alleged actions in Gaza.



The South African Jewish Board of Deputies has lodged a complaint with the country’s Human Rights Commission against South African Deputy Foreign Minister Fatima Hajaig for anti-Jewish hate speech. Addressing a pro-Palestinian rally two weeks ago, she said “The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money.”



In an unprecedented move, the leaders of the Jewish community in Germany decided to boycott the state ceremony marking International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27. The service, which was held in the Bundestag in Berlin, was attended by the German president and chancellor, and most government and parliament members. Community leaders said they were protesting the growing anti-Semitism in Germany in recent years and the failure of the government to take sufficient measures to combat it.

During Israel’s offensive in Gaza, attacks on Jews in the country rose exponentially, without a proper response by the authorities, they said. A televised debate on the Mideast conflict which aired on the public network ARD last week was also filled with blatant anti-Semitism, Jewish leaders said.

Among other incidents, a police employee guarding a synagogue in the Berlin district of Mitte was beaten by a man with an iron bar.



In January, Israel protested comments by the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Minister Cardinal Renato Martino, in which he compared the Gaza Strip to a Nazi concentration camp.

Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson, infamous for his anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, has also been in the news recently. Elie Wiesel, the death camp survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner, said Pope Benedict had given credence to “the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism” by rehabilitating Williams. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel broke off official ties with the Vatican in protest over the pope’s decision to reinstate a known Holocaust denier, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the unusual step of severely criticizing the German-born pope for playing with fire by rekindling anti-Semitism.



A Scottish group hosted what it claimed to be a Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration on January 27 by inviting a Hamas supporter who justifies suicide bombings.

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign hosted an event titled “Resistance to Genocide: from Europe in the 1940s to the Middle East Today” to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Speaking at the event at the University of Glasgow was Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter who calls for the destruction of Israel. Tamimi is also regularly invited to write comment pieces for The Guardian.



The burial chapel in the Jewish cemetery in Malmö, Sweden, has been fire bombed. It is the third time the chapel has been attacked in recent weeks, according to a report in Sydsvenska Dagbladet. Emergency services managed to put the fire out.



Even in Slovenia, where almost no Jews have lived since Jews were expelled at the end of the 15th century, a historic medieval synagogue in Maribor that was renovated in 2001 and now serves as a cultural center, was daubed with slogans saying “Juden Raus” and “Israel must die.”


There were reports in France yesterday that a young Jewish man who was attacked last month has lost his sight in one eye.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]



Asia’s Jewish myths
By Ian Buruma
The Australian
February 11, 2009

A CHINESE bestseller titled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the present crisis.

Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews is to See the World Clearly, The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols and I’d Like to Apologise to the Japanese - A Jewish Elder’s Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which the Japanese came across after defeating the tsar’s army in 1905.

The Chinese picked up many modern Western ideas from the Japanese. Perhaps this is how Jewish conspiracy theories were passed on as well. But Southeast Asians are not immune to this kind of nonsense either. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed has said that “the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” And a recent article in a leading business magazine in The Philippines explained how Jews had always controlled the countries they lived in, including the US today.

In the case of Mahathir, a twisted kind of Muslim solidarity is probably at work. But, unlike European or Russian anti-Semitism, the Asian variety has no religious roots. No Chinese or Japanese has blamed Jews for killing their holy men or believed that their children’s blood ended up in Passover matzos. In fact, few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew, unless they have spent time abroad.

So what explains the remarkable appeal of Jewish conspiracy theories in Asia? The answer must be partly political. Conspiracy theories thrive in relatively closed societies, where free access to news is limited and freedom of inquiry curtailed. Japan is no longer such a closed society, yet even people with a short history of democracy are prone to believe that they are victims of unseen forces. Precisely because Jews are relatively unknown, therefore mysterious, and in some way associated with the West, they become an obvious fixture of anti-Western paranoia.

Such paranoia is widespread in Asia, where almost every country was at the mercy of Western powers for several hundred years. Japan was never formally colonised, but it too felt the West’s dominance, at least since the 1850s, when American ships laden with heavy guns forced the country to open its borders on Western terms.

The common conflation of the US with Jews goes back to the late 19th century, when European reactionaries loathed America for being a rootless society based only on financial greed. This perfectly matched the stereotype of the rootless cosmopolitan Jewish moneygrubber. Hence the idea that Jews run America.

One of the great ironies of colonial history is the way in which colonised people adopted some of the same prejudices that justified colonial rule. Anti-Semitism arrived with a whole package of European race theories that have persisted in Asia well after they fell out of fashion in the West.

In some ways, Chinese minorities in Southeast Asia have shared some of the hostility suffered by Jews in the West. Excluded from many occupations, they too survived by clannishness and trade. They too have been persecuted for not being “sons of the soil”. And they too are thought to have superhuman powers when it comes to making money. So when things go wrong, the Chinese are blamed not just for being greedy capitalists, but also, again like the Jews, for being communists, as both capitalism and communism are associated with rootlessness and cosmopolitanism.

As well as being feared, the Chinese are admired for being cleverer than everybody else. The same mixture of fear and awe is often evident in people’s views of the US and, indeed, of the Jews. Japanese anti-Semitism is a particularly interesting case.

Japan was able to defeat Russia in 1905 only after a Jewish banker in New York, Jacob Schiff, helped Japan by floating bonds. So The Protocols of the Elders of Zion confirmed what the Japanese already suspected: Jews really did pull the strings of global finance. However, instead of wishing to attack them, the Japanese, being a practical people, decided they would be better off cultivating those clever, powerful Jews as friends.

As a result, during World War II, even as the Germans were asking their Japanese allies to round up Jews and hand them over, dinners were held in Japanese-occupied Manchuria to celebrate Japanese-Jewish friendship. Jewish refugees in Shanghai, though never comfortable, at least remained alive under Japanese protection.

This was good for the Jews of Shanghai. But the very ideas that helped them to survive continue to muddle the thinking of people who really ought to know better by now.

(This article was edited and distributed by Project Syndicate)



Mr. Chávez vs. the Jews
With George W. Bush gone, Venezuela’s strongman has found new enemies
The Washington Post (Editorial)
February 12, 2009

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who says he intends to remain in office for decades to come, lost a referendum 14 months ago that would have removed the constitutional limit on his tenure. When he announced another referendum in December, the first polls showed him losing again by a wide margin. Yet, as Sunday’s vote approaches, his government is predicting victory – and some polls show him with a narrow advantage.

How did Latin America’s self-styled “Bolivarian revolutionary” turn his fortunes around? Not through rational argument, it is fair to say. Mr. Chávez’s regime has mounted a propaganda and intimidation campaign of a ferocity rarely seen in Latin America since the region returned to democracy 25 years ago. Pro-Chávez rhetoric dominates the national airwaves, from which opposition voices have been almost entirely excluded. Pro-government thugs have targeted student demonstrations, the home of an opposition journalist and the Vatican’s embassy, which gave shelter to one student leader.

Then there is the assault on Venezuela’s Jewish community – which seems to have replaced George W. Bush as Mr. Chávez’s favorite foil. After Israel’s offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip last month, the caudillo expelled Israel’s ambassador and described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocide.” Then Mr. Chávez turned on Venezuela’s Jews. “Let’s hope that the Venezuelan Jewish community will declare itself against this barbarity,” Mr. Chávez bellowed on a government-controlled television channel. “Don’t Jews repudiate the Holocaust? And this is precisely what we’re witnessing.”

Government media quickly took up the chorus. One television host close to Mr. Chávez blamed opposition demonstrations on two students he said had Jewish last names. On a pro-government Web site, another commentator demanded that citizens “publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park” and called for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish-owned property and a demonstration at Caracas’s largest synagogue. On Jan. 30 the synagogue was duly attacked by a group of thugs, who spray-painted “Jews get out” on the walls and confiscated a registry of members. Mr. Chávez denied responsibility; days later, the attorney general’s office said that 11 people detained in connection with the attack included five police officers and a police intelligence operative.

It is fair to infer that Mr. Chávez doesn’t care to dwell on more mundane domestic issues in Venezuela. The oil-based economy is crashing; inflation, at over 30 percent, is the highest in Latin America, and shortages of basic goods are common. Venezuela ranks 158th out of 180 countries in a global corruption index, and its murder rate has tripled under Mr. Chávez, making Caracas one of the most dangerous cities in the world. If Mr. Chávez loses the referendum, he could very well join the country’s eclipse, which appears likely to accelerate in the next year or two. Apparently, he’s already decided whom to blame.



Poll: 31% of Europeans blame Jews for global financial crisis
By Natasha Mozgovaya
February 11, 2009

A recent survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League found that anti-Semitic attitudes in seven European countries have worsened due to the global financial crisis and Israel’s military actions against the Palestinians.

Some 31 percent of adults polled blame Jews in the financial industry for the economic meltdown, while 58 percent of respondents admitted that their opinion of Jews has worsened due to their criticism of Israel.

The ADL, a Jewish-American organization polled 3,500 adults - 500 each in Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom - between December 1, 2008 and January 13, 2009.

According to the survey, 40 percent of polled Europeans believe that Jews have an over-abundance of power in the business world. More than half of the respondents in Hungary, Spain and Poland agreed with this statement. These numbers were 7 percent higher in Hungary, 6 percent higher in Poland and 5 percent higher in France than those recorded in the ADL’s 2007 survey.

Nearly half of the respondents in each of the countries said that Jews were more loyal to Israel than to their home country. Twenty-three percent said that their opinion of Jews was influenced by Israel’s military and political activities.

Another 44 percent of respondents said it was “probably true” that Jews reference the Holocaust too much, while 23% said that they still blame Jews for the death of Jesus.

“This poll confirms that anti-Semitism remains alive and well in the minds of many Europeans,” said Abe Foxman, the National Director of Anti-Defamation League. “In the wake of the global financial crisis, the strong belief of excessive Jewish influence on business and finance is especially worrisome.”

Late last year, the ADL reported a major upsurge in the number of anti-Semitic postings on the Internet relating to the financial crisis engulfing the United States.

The Jewish-American organization cited hundreds of posts regarding the bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers and other institutions affected by the subprime mortgage crisis.

The messages railed against Jews in general, with some charging that Jews control the U.S. government and finance as part of a “Jew world order” and therefore are to blame for the economic turmoil.

The arrest of Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff, who allegedly swindled $50 billion from investors, prompted an outpouring of anti-Semitic comments on mainstream and extremist Web sites, according to the ADL.

The ADL said some of the posts on the highly trafficked sites spread conspiracy theories about Jews stealing money to benefit Israel and suggest that, “Only Jews could perpetrate a fraud on such a scale.”

These and other anti-Jewish tropes about Jews and money have appeared on popular blogs devoted to finance, in comment sections of mainstream news outlets and in banter among users of Internet discussion groups, according to the ADL.

“Jews are always a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis, but the Madoff scandal and the fact that so many of the defrauded investors are Jewish has created a perfect storm for the anti-Semites,” Foxman said last year, following news of the Internet hate messages.



British Jews’ safety fears grow after Gaza invasion
The Observer (News item)
8 February 2009

Police patrols have been stepped up in Jewish neighborhoods following the most intense period of anti-Semitic incidents to have been recorded in Britain in decades. Safety fears are so acute that reports have emerged of members of Britain’s Jewish community fleeing the UK with anti-Semitic incidents running at around seven a day this year. Around 270 cases have been reported in 2009, according to figures compiled by the Community Security Trust (CST), the body that monitors anti-Jewish racism, with most blamed on anti-Israeli sentiment in reaction to hostilities in Gaza. Attacks recorded during the first Palestinian intifada of the late 1980s averaged 16 a month.

Scotland Yard is understood to have placed prominent Jewish communities on heightened alert, while the Association of Chief Police Officers’ national community tension team is responding to intelligence by issuing weekly patrol directives to chief constables instructing them of threats to Jewish communities in their areas.

Incidents recorded by the CST include violent assaults in the street, hate emails and graffiti threatening “jihad” against British Jews. One disturbing aspect involves the targeting of Jewish children. A Birmingham school is investigating reports that 20 children chased a 12-year-old girl, its only Jewish pupil, chanting “Kill all Jews” and “Death to Jews”. In another incident a Jewish schoolgirl reported being bullied at a non-Jewish school because of the Gaza conflict.

CST spokesman Mark Gardner said the current fear of persecution was so profound that some members of the Jewish community were seeking to emigrate to countries where they felt more secure, such as Israel, the United States or Australia. “I know two families, one of which has already moved and the other which is in the process of moving, who don’t see the point of putting up with this,” he added.

This week the CST will publish its annual report on anti-Semitic incidents for 2008, which will reveal that around 550 were recorded in the UK last year, slightly less than the record of 594 in 2006, when Israel and Lebanon waged a brief but bloody war.

Veteran director and actor Steven Berkoff recently explained the anti-Israeli reaction over Gaza by saying: “England is not a great lover of its Jews. Never has been”.

Some within Britain’s 350,000-strong Jewish community accuse the government of not doing enough to condemn the increase in anti-Semitism. However, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said it had recently received a letter from the communities minister, Hazel Blears, stating that she was “deeply concerned about the dramatic rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the UK”.

Mark Frazer, spokesman for the Board of Deputies, said: “We are seeing an unprecedented level of attacks directed at the Jewish community, both physical and verbal. It is incumbent upon us all to isolate and marginalize those who would derail the legitimate political debate with an extremist and hateful ideology.” Recorded attacks have centered on the Jewish communities of Golders Green and Hampstead Garden Suburb in north London.



Europe reimports Jew hatred
By Daniel Schwammenthal
Wall Street Journal Europe
January 13, 2009

Give Giancarlo Desiderati credit for his unintellectual honesty. While most left-wing detractors of Israel claim their animosity toward the Jewish state has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, the head of a small Italian union, Flaica-Uniti-Cub, wasted no time with such sophism. Having long called for a boycott of Israeli goods, Mr. Desiderati last week made the logical next step. “Do not buy anything from businesses run by the Jewish community,” his group’s Web site urged Italians.

Jews around Europe are increasingly under attack since Israel decided two weeks ago to defend itself after years of rocket fire at its civilian population. There have been arson attempts on synagogues in Britain, Belgium and Germany. Police last week arrested Muslim protesters who wanted to enter the Jewish quarter in Antwerp. Several Danish schools with large Muslim student bodies say they won’t enroll Jewish kids because they can’t guarantee the children’s safety. In France, a group of teenagers attacked a 14-year-old girl last week, calling her “dirty Jew” while kicking her.

At rallies in Germany and the Netherlands over the past two weeks, protesters shouted, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas.” In Amsterdam, Socialist lawmaker Harry van Bommel and Greta Duisenberg, widow of the first European Central Bank president, marched at the front of one such “peace” demonstration. They didn’t join in the background chorus calling for another Holocaust. Instead, they chanted, “Intifada, Intifada, Free Palestine.” Mr. Van Bommel later insisted this wasn’t a call for Jewish blood but for “civil disobedience” – a laughable defense given that terrorists during the last intifada murdered more than 1,000 Israelis.

Most of the anti-Jewish violence and protests in Europe come from immigrants. In what may have been a Freudian recognition of the changing face of Europe, CNN two weeks ago used footage of anti-Israeli protesters in London in a report about the growing anger in the “Arab and Muslim world.” The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid.

After a burning car was rammed into a gate outside a synagogue in Toulouse last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement that was as morally confused as his judgment of Israel’s Gaza offensive. Mr. Sarkozy, who condemned both Hamas terror and Israel’s attempt to stop it, also blurred the distinction between the victims and perpetrators of anti-Semitism in France.

His country “will not tolerate international tensions mutating into intercommunity violence,” he warned, suggesting that the violence in France comes not only from French Muslims but Jews as well. Mr. Sarkozy’s comments also suggest that the fighting in Gaza is the cause for attacks on Jews in France – that is, that the Mideast conflict is fueling anti-Semitism in Europe. It is exactly the other way around.

The rage against the Jews that is exploding in Europe has been carefully nurtured; it is not spontaneous sympathy for fellow Muslims in Gaza. How else to explain the silence when Muslims in other conflicts, from Darfur to Chechnya, are being killed?

The depth of anti-Semitic propaganda in Palestinian and other Muslim societies is one of the most underreported facts about the Middle East. It is this anti-Semitism that predisposes Muslims in Europe to attack Jews and fuels the Mideast conflict. The hatred predates Israel’s creation. To illustrate this point: The Palestinian leader during World War II, Hajj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, conspired with Hitler to bring the Holocaust to Palestine. Luckily, the British stopped the German troops in Africa. The Mufti spent the war years in Berlin and was later indicted for war crimes but with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood escaped to Egypt. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas and other Islamists continue what the Mufti had helped to start: a blend of European anti-Semitism and Islam-inspired Jew hatred. The rejection of Israel’s right to exist is what drives their attacks. The media, though, largely ignores Hamas’s ideology and its crimes of hiding its leaders and weapons among its own civilian population, and demonizes Israel’s attempt to protect its citizens.

Hamas and other Islamists are not even trying to hide their ideology. Just read the Hamas charter or check out Hamas TV, including children’s programs, for a nauseating dose of murderous anti-Semitism. Last week, the French broadcasting authorities banned Hamas TV for inciting violence and hatred. Unfortunately, just like Hezbollah TV, which is also banned in Europe for its anti-Semitic and jihadi content, audiences here can still receive these programs due to Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat and Egyptian satellite provider Nilesat.

The Islamist variation of Jew hatred is now being reimported to Europe. Muslims in Europe, watching Hamas and Hezbollah TV with their satellite dishes, are being fed the same diet of anti-Semitism and jihadi ideology that Palestinians and much of the Middle East consume.

This brings a unique challenge to the difficult integration of Muslims in Europe. When it comes to issues like Shariah law and terrorism, one can expect a true “clash of civilizations.” There is no Western tradition that would justify “honor killings.” Anti-Semitism, on the other hand, is not alien to Europe’s culture – to the contrary, the Continent once excelled at it and many still share the feeling.

A Pew study from September shows 25% of Germans and 20% of French are still affected by this virus. In Spain, 46% have unfavorable views of Jews. Is there really no connection between this statistic and the fact that the Spanish media and government are among Europe’s most hostile toward the Jewish state? Is it just a coincidence that Europe’s largest anti-Israel demonstration took place Sunday in Spain, with more than 100,000 protesters?

A 2006 study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution based on the survey in 10 European countries suggests otherwise. Yale University’s Edward H. Kaplan and Charles A. Small found “that anti-Israel sentiment consistently predicts the probability that an individual is anti-Semitic, with the likelihood of measured anti-Semitism increasing with the extent of anti-Israel sentiment observed.”

With little hope that the media coverage will become more balanced and the incitement of the growing Muslim community will abate, the Jews in Europe are facing uncertain times.



Yes, it’s anti-Semitism
By Jeff Jacoby
Boston Globe
January 8, 2009

Criticizing Israel doesn’t make you anti-Semitic: If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times. Yet somehow that message doesn’t seem to have reached the hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who turned out last week to protest Israel’s military operation in Gaza. As their signs and chants made clear, it isn’t only the Jewish state’s policies they oppose. Their animus goes further.

Demonstrators chanted “Nuke, nuke Israel!” and carried placards accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and bearing such messages as: “Did Israel take notes during the Holocaust? Happy Hanukkah.” To the dozen or so supporters of Israel gathered across the street, one demonstrator shouted: “Murderers! Go back to the ovens! You need a big oven.”

The Arab-Israeli conflict induces strong passions, and the line that separates legitimate disapproval of Israel from anti-Semitism may not always be obvious. But it’s safe to assume the line has been crossed when you hear someone urging Jews “back to the ovens.”

The Danish website Snaphanen posted a photo the other day of a pamphlet being distributed in Copenhagen’s City Hall Square. On one side it proclaimed: “Never Peace With Israel!” and “Kill Israel’s People!” On the other side: “Kill Jewish people evry where in ther world!” The leaflet’s spelling left something to be desired, but its message of genocidal anti-Semitism couldn’t have been clearer.

Likewise the message in Amsterdam on Saturday, where the crowd at an anti-Israel rally repeatedly chanted, “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the gas.” And the message in Belgium, where pro-Hamas demonstrators torched Israeli flags, burned a public menorah, and painted swastikas on Jewish-owned shops.

Only marginally less vile is the message that has been trumpeted at demonstrations from Boston to Los Angeles to Vancouver: “Palestine will be free/ From the river to the sea” – a restatement in rhyme of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be “wiped from the map.”

Let’s say it for the thousand-and-first time: Every negative comment about Israel is not an expression of bigotry. Israel is no more immune to criticism than any other country. But it takes willful blindness not to see that anti-Zionism today – opposition to the existence of Israel, rejection of the idea that the Jewish people are entitled to a state – is merely the old wine of anti-Semitism in its newest bottle.

The hatred of Jews has always been protean, readily revising itself to reflect the idiom of its age. At times, it targeted Jews for their religion, demonizing them as Christ-killers or enemies of the true faith. At other times, Jews have been damned as disloyal fifth columns to be suppressed or expelled, or as a racial malignancy to be physically exterminated.

In our day, Jew-hatred expresses itself overwhelmingly in national terms: It is the Jewish state that the haters are obsessed with. “What anti-Semitism once did to Jews as people, it now does to Jews as a people,” the British commentator Melanie Phillips has written. “First it wanted the Jewish religion, and then the Jews themselves, to disappear; now it wants the Jewish state to disappear.”

The claim that anti-Zionism isn’t bigotry would be preposterous in any other context. Imagine someone vehemently asserting that Ireland has no right to exist, that Irish nationalism is racism, and that those who murder Irishmen are actually victims deserving the world’s sympathy. Who would take his fulminations for anything but anti-Irish bigotry? Or believe him if he said that he harbors no prejudice against the Irish?

By the same token, those who demonize and delegitimize Israel, who say the world would be better off without it, who hold it to standards of perfection no other country is held to, who extol or commiserate with its mortal enemies, who liken it to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, who make it the scapegoat not only for crimes it hasn’t committed, but for those of which it is a victim – yes, such people are anti-Semitic, whether they acknowledge it or not.

Criticize Israel? Certainly. But those who so loudly denounce Israel in its war against Hamas are siding with some of the most virulent Jew-haters on earth. They may tell themselves that that doesn’t make them anti-Semites. But it does. “When people criticize Zionists,” Martin Luther King said in 1968, “they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.”

Israel votes (& Washington Post latest to report IDF didn’t hit Gaza school)

February 09, 2009

* Israeli election polls show Kadima, Likud now almost neck and neck
* A Likud-Kadima-Labor government: better for Israelis and Palestinians alike
* Senior British diplomat arrested in London after saying Jews and Israelis “should be wiped off the face of the earth”



1. Washington Post latest to report that Israel didn’t hit Gaza school
2. Time magazine finally reports about Hamas’s summary executions
3. Why mainstream Israelis should vote
4. Too many parties, not conducive to good governance
5. Here today, gone tomorrow
6. The benefits for Israelis and Palestinians of national unity
7. A Kadima-Yisrael Beitenu coalition?
8. Netanyahu: a workable two state solution, not a phony one
9. But won’t that cause a humanitarian catastrophe?
10. A key election issue: did war end too soon?
11. Livni vs. Livni
12. Holocaust survivors’ party teams up with pro-marijuana offshoot
13. Senior British diplomat arrested over anti-Semitic gym tirade
14. A long list of parties

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


This is an update to previous dispatches on this list.

On Saturday, The Washington Post became the latest paper to acknowledge that its reporting on Gaza in January was incorrect.

Its story on Saturday, by Middle East correspondent Griff Witte, was headlined “U.N. Says School in Gaza Where 43 Died Wasn’t Hit by Israeli Fire.”

To his credit, Witte actually went to the scene, and seems to have talked to a number of different people.

However, the story was hidden on the paper’s inside pages of the Saturday edition, which is by far the least read edition of the week. I don’t recall the original incorrect coverage of the Jan. 6 incident, which was highly unfair to Israel, being tucked away on the inside pages of The Washington Post.


As previously reported on this website, leading news publications in Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany and elsewhere have already informed readers that media coverage of events in Gaza in January grossly misrepresented Israel’s actions.

Readers of papers like The New York Times and The Guardian and viewers of broadcasters like BBC and CNN International have yet to be told this.

(The BBC’s most prominent channel, BBC One (which usually has entertainment programs), is broadcasting what I have been told will be yet another viciously anti-Israeli program on its prime time schedule tonight: ‘Gaza: Out of the Ruins’ by its notoriously biased Chief Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen at 8.30pm. The BBC has been heavily promoting the program in advance. Please see also the item further down this dispatch about greatly increased anti-Semitism in Britain generated at least in part by highly inaccurate British media coverage of Israel.)



Also on Saturday Feb. 7, Time magazine posted on its website the news that Hamas is “punishing [political opponents] by summary execution or shooting off their kneecaps.” That news was reported on this website over a month earlier. However, the Time article still stated that “over 1,300 Palestinians” died in the war without mentioning that many impartial observers say that the Hamas figure of 1,300 is a substantial exaggeration.

Also over the weekend, the independent Palestinian-run Ma’an news agency confirmed the reports outlined in my dispatches of last month. Ma’an wrote: “Hamas has used hospitals and clinics in Gaza as interrogation and detention centers, where medical staffers have been expelled.”


The Palestinian-run Centre for Human Rights reported in a press release yesterday (February 8) that yet another Palestinian has been tortured to death by Hamas in a Gaza hospital. The PCHR named him as Jameel Shafiq Shaqqura, 51, from Khan Yunis.

So-called human rights groups in the West, as well as the Red Cross, seem to have nothing to say about the fact that Gaza hospitals they helped fund are being used as torture centers by Hamas.



Tomorrow, Israel holds general elections.

Hundreds of Israelis subscribe to this email list, and thousands more visit this website (according to data provided by the server).

This is the fifth time in a decade that Israelis have been asked to go to the polls, and the gaps in policy positions between the three main parties (Likud, Kadima and Labor) are much narrower than they used to be. So it is understandable that as many as 30 percent of potential voters have been telling pollsters that they have yet to decide which party to support, and record numbers may in the end stay home and abstain.

I would urge them not to. Even if they can’t decide which of the main three more centrist parties (Likud, Kadima and Labor) to support, it is well worth voting for one of them in order to keep smaller special interest parties from gaining too many seats.



Groups supporting special-interest parties (such as the religious, or pensioners, or settlers, or far left or far right parties, or the ethnically Sephardi Shas party) are much more likely to turn out and vote.

Israel’s overly-democratic electoral system makes it easy for small parties to gain entrance to parliament. If centrist “mainstream” Israelis don’t turn out, these smaller parties will again gain a disproportionate allocation of seats, meaning it will be all the more difficult for whoever wins the election to govern efficiently and effectively.

The winner will have to build an even wider coalition, pandering to the demands of small interest groups, and making it very difficult to concentrate on getting anything of major importance done – whether tackling the economy, dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat, trying to achieve a lowering of tensions and greater peace and coexistence with the Palestinians, or engaging in long-term infrastructural projects such as building a train system in Tel Aviv.

An unstable Israeli government is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians, and bad for the region.

An array of 33 parties will compete for 120 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. I attach that complete, extraordinarily long list at the end of this dispatch. There are even three rival green parties.



The present system allows small parties to come and go with ridiculous speed.

For example, in the 2003 Israeli election, a party called Shinui (the Hebrew word for “change”) surged in the polls and gained 15 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament. (Shinui was standing on one issue only, to reduce the influence of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties.)

It didn’t last long. In the next election, Shinui all but disappeared. Israel’s undecided voters moved on to the latest fashionable cause: young people voted in huge numbers for a party claiming to represent pensioners.



If mainstream voters turn out in force tomorrow, then a centrist coalition may well emerge with only three parties in it: Likud, Kadima and Labor, the very same three parties that have an interest in changing Israel’s electoral system to make it much harder for small parties to gain parliamentary representation.

(Small parties should then form interest or lobby groups as they do in other democracies instead of actually holding Knesset seats and making it extremely difficult for larger parties to govern.)

In the past, smaller parties have made budgetary and policy demands that have torpedoed Israeli coalitions, including Netanyahu’s previous administration in 1999.

The current system leads to chronic instability and governments that don’t complete their terms and constantly have to do deals with smaller parties to hang on to power.

My own prediction is that if the Likud wins, its leader Benjamin Netanyahu will form a coalition with Labor and Kadima and he will invite Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to stay on as foreign minister and Labor leader Ehud Barak, who is intimately knowledgeable about the Iran issue, to stay on as defense minister.

Netanyahu, from what I can tell, would prefer to form a centrist coalition rather than a rightist one. He does not want to clash with U.S. President Barack Obama, especially since the Iranian nuclear issue is the gravest threat Israel has faced in decades. He also wishes to stabilize the economy, which is best served by national unity.

My hope is that he would choose a non-politician as finance minster, such as the internationally respected governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer. (Fischer was formerly Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and has been a candidate for head of the World Bank.)



Polls show the anti-establishment Yisrael Beitenu party, or “Israel Is Our Home” party, led by Moldovan-born Avigdor Lieberman, has been gaining strong ground.

Polls suggest Yisrael Beitenu could replace Labor as Israel’s third-largest party.

Yisrael Beitenu is generally viewed as a right-wing party (though some of its policies are left-wing). It formed part of the previous coalition under Kadima’s former leader Ehud Olmert.

If Kadima wins tomorrow’s election, Tzipi Livni may well once again invite Yisrael Beitenu – rather than Likud – into government.

This would be unwise in my opinion, not least because Netanyahu is far and away the most able politician in Israel regarding the economy.



As part of their Israeli election coverage I was asked to provide a quote on Netanyahu for ConservativeHome, the influential website of choice for Tory Members of Parliament and policy-makers in Britain and America.

The following was published:

Tom Gross, the former Jerusalem correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph, says “Netanyahu is often vilified in the media as being against a two-state solution. In fact he is open to the creation of a Palestinian state but only if it is a durable state that will live peaceably with Israel. And for this, Netanyahu argues, you can’t simply wave a magic wand at some fancy signing ceremony on the White House lawn and say ‘hey presto’ – which is exactly what leftist politicians tried to do at the Oslo signing ceremony in 1993.

“First the Palestinians need to do the hard work of building institutions that would allow such a state to succeed – a functioning economy, the rule of law, and so on. And Netanyahu is very willing to offer Israeli assistance in building such mechanisms.”



In general, the war in Gaza has given a bigger lift to Israel’s right wing parties than to those in power.

Almost completely unreported by the international media, Palestinian rockets and mortars continue to be fired daily into Israel. Among the rockets yesterday was another large grad that hit Ashkelon.

With one million Israelis still under the threat of Hamas rockets, many are angry with Livni and Barak for bowing to international pressure and ending the war too soon before the rockets had stopped and before the IDF had been given time to destroy the arms-smuggling tunnels.

Also yesterday, an American college student was knifed by three Palestinians in the old town of Jerusalem after he asked for directions.

The Egyptian newspaper al-Gomhuria reports this morning (Monday) that a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas is expected to be signed within the next 48 hours.



Tzipi Livni’s brother Eli Livni has surprised the Kadima leader by meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu and then announcing “I’m with the Likud.”



Sometimes smaller parties have joined together for campaigning purposes. For example, here is a joint advertisement for the Green Leaf (pro-Cannabis) Graduates party, and the Holocaust Survivor’s party.

Personally, I find it offensive to link a generally trivial issue such as whether to legalize cannabis in Israel, with the needs of Holocaust survivors. It is demeaning and lowers the Holocaust to cheap kitsch. But at any rate both these groups should be pressure groups in Israeli society, not separate political parties that take votes away from serious parties of government.

The Green Leaf Graduates split from another larger political party known for its advocacy of the legalization of cannabis.

The Holocaust survivors party accuses the government of misappropriating funds, donated by Germany, that were supposed to be given to Holocaust survivors to help them in their old age. The survivors’ party alleges that these funds were instead used to ease the government’s pension burden.

Yaakov Kfir, the party’s leader, said he joined forces with the Green Leaf Graduates to attract more attention to the survivors’ cause.

“The fact that I am being interviewed by so many media outlets indicates that the decision to hook up with the Green Leaf Graduates was smart,” Kfir said.

Michelle Levine, a spokeswoman for the Green Leaf Graduates, voiced strong support for Kfir’s cause. She described the government’s failure to address the concerns of Holocaust survivors as a “national disgrace” and hoped that younger voters drawn to the party would be given additional incentive to vote in order to support the survivors’ cause.



On Friday UNRWA said it was suspending all aid to Gaza after armed Hamas militia seized a shipment of 300 tons of supplies, the second theft of its kind in three days.

Sunday’s planned transfer of 40 truckloads of humanitarian supplies was canceled.

Israeli officials said the announcement by UNRWA constituted de facto “UN agreement with Israel’s position that Hamas was using the Palestinian population in Gaza cruelly and cynically and was solely responsible for the hardships there.”



A high-ranking diplomat at the British Foreign Office has been arrested after witnesses said he launched a foul-mouthed anti-Semitic tirade, reports today’s (London) Daily Mail.

Middle East expert Rowan Laxton, 47, was watching distorted BBC coverage of the supposed humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza as he used an exercise bike at the London Business School’s gym on January 27.

Other gym members said they were then surprised to hear him shouting “F**king Israelis, F**king Jews… They should be wiped off the face of the earth.” The gym staff called security and asked him to leave.

Laxton has been arrested for inciting religious hatred and bailed until next month. The maximum penalty for inciting religious hatred is a seven-year prison term or a fine or both.

Laxton, who is still working normally, is head of the South Asia Group at the Foreign Office, on a salary of around £70,000. He has worked extensively in the Middle East and has been deputy ambassador to Afghanistan. Laxton, an Oxford University graduate, also ran the British High Commission in Pakistan for three years.

Next week, Britain is hosting an international summit on combating anti-Semitism, with politicians from 35 countries attending. Last week, a British bishop who denies the Holocaust became the center of an international row.

The Israel page of the Foreign Office website says: “The Government has a shared responsibility to tackle anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism and prejudice.”

There have been daily reports of attacks on Jews in Britain recently, many of which are being reported only in the Jewish press, not in the national media. For example, a 12-year-old Jewish schoolgirl (the only Jew in her class) was assaulted in Birmingham by a mob screaming “this is for what you did to the Palestinians.”

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


A record 43 parties registered with the Israeli parties registrar, compared to 31 for the 2006 elections, although in the end, “only” 33 parties submitted a list of candidates. They are:

* Kadima
* Labor Party
* Shas
* Likud
* Yisrael Beiteinu
* Gil (Pensioners)
* United Torah Judaism
* Meretz-New Movement
* The Jewish Home
* Hadash
* United Arab List-Ta’al
* Balad
* National Union
* Green Movement-Meimad
* Tzomet
* Yisrael HaMithadeshet
* Da’am
* LaZuz
* Yisrael Hazaka
* Koah Lehashpi’a
* HaYisraelim
* Leeder
* Ahrayut
* Tzabar
* Ale Yarok
* Or
* Lehem
* Koah HaKesef
* The Greens
* Lev LaOlim
* Holocaust survivors & Ale Yarok
* Brit Olam
* Man’s Rights

Major Australian paper latest to attack UN for disseminating “lies” about Gaza

February 05, 2009

* Headline in yesterday’s The Australian: “UN disseminates lies and a willing media swallows them”

* Major Australian paper joins leading Canadian, Italian and German publications doubting the CNN/BBC/NY Times/Hamas/UN version of events

* Even France 2 (the TV station of al Dura fame) in a special report last night begins to doubt the Hamas/UN claims

* In a newly published report, UNRWA’s former chief lawyer James Lindsay admits that an UNRWA driver accused of carrying weapons in an ambulance, and a Gaza headmaster employed by UNRWA who was also an explosives experts for Islamic Jihad, may have been terrorists

[Below is a further dispatch about the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel. These items follow up the 11 previous dispatches on this subject since December 28. For background please read those other dispatches .]

[Please can I remind journalists that if they are using my exact words from these dispatches in their own pieces, please can they acknowledge that I wrote them.]



1. Video of Hamas throwing political opponents from Gaza rooftops
2. Palestinian Ma’an news agency names 181 Palestinians shot by Hamas last month
3. Major Australian paper attacks UN for its “lies” about Gaza
4. Where are the BBC and CNN? Where is the NY Times correction?
5. What the UN said: then & now
6. The EU should apologize to Israel, says leading Dutch politician
7. UNRWA’s senior lawyer admits UN may have hired terrorists
8. UN says Hamas seized Gaza food aid and blankets
9. New Gaza study finds “extreme anti-Israel bias” by NGOs
10. Even France 2 TV begins to doubt the Hamas/UN version of events
11. Wall Street Journal makes correction concerning UN truck incident
12. What ceasefire?
13. The list of 181 Palestinians shot by Hamas last month

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Here is a 44-second film of Hamas throwing political opponents, with their hands bound and in some cases blindfolded, off Gaza rooftops. (Warning: it is disturbing viewing.)

The film was posted on the internet on February 3, 2009 but may date from a previous period. Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. It is not the same incident as when Hamas threw Fatah supporters from much taller, 16-story buildings, in Gaza in June 2007.


And I also attach this video since YouTube has banned it:

Hizbullah leader Nasrallah’s call to extinguish Israel (and presumably her people) made last month in Beirut.



Several times since December this website has reported that many of the Palestinian dead and injured in Gaza were Palestinians targeted by Hamas. Yet papers like The New York Times have carried misleading statistics suggesting that Israel killed or injured them.

Now the Palestinian-run Ma’an news agency has published three lists of names, totalling 181 Palestinians, shot by Hamas in Gaza since December 27, 2008. I attach the full list from Ma’an at the end of this dispatch.

The Ma’an news agency, which publishes in Arabic and English, is as close as the Palestinians have to an independent and objective news outlet.

This information has not been reported in prominent international media to my knowledge, even though Ma’an, which is based in Bethlehem and Gaza City, is a respected source.

Ma’an also runs nine local Palestinian TV and radio stations.

Ma’an Network TV stations: Al-Amal TV (Hebron), Amwaj TV (Ramallah), Bethlehem TV, Farah TV (Jenin), Nablus TV, Qalqilia TV, Al-Quds Educational TV (Ramallah), Al-Salam TV (Tulkarem), and Wattan TV (Ramallah).

Ma’an Network radio stations: Al-Balad Radio (Jenin), Amwaj Radio (Ramallah), Farah Radio (Jenin), Kul Al-Nas Radio (Tulkarem), Marah Radio (Hebron), Radio Mawwal (Bethlehem), Nablus FM, Nagham Radio (Qalqilia), and Al-Qamar Radio (Jericho).



Yesterday, the influential daily The Australian severely criticized the UN and specifically its UNRWA agency, for misleading the international media during the recent Gaza conflict by backing up Hamas claims about Israelis hitting schools and UN trucks – claims which have not stood up to scrutiny.

The headline of reporter Jason Koutsoukis’s story in yesterday’s Australian was: “UN disseminates lies and a willing media swallows them.”

The Australian is one of Australia’s leading newspapers.

This follows on from criticism of UNRWA’s misinformation in the leading Canadian paper The Globe and Mail, which was outlined in a dispatch on this list earlier this week. It also reinforces criticism by one of Italy’s most experienced war correspondents, working at one of Italy’s foremost newspapers, Corriere della Sera, who after a thorough investigation in Gaza concluded that the overall Palestinian death toll was less than half that claimed by The New York Times and other media. (See here.)

The respected German news magazine Der Spiegel and other news media have also disputed the anti-Israeli stories viewers have seen and heard on other news outlets.



Here are some headlines from recent days.

“United Nations disseminates lies and a willing media swallows them” – The Australian
“UN backtracks on claim that deadly IDF strike hit Gaza school” – Ha’aretz
“Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutiny” – Globe and Mail

But where are the major news broadcasters correcting their stories? Where is the contrition from CNN and BBC for their hundreds of hours of inflammatory anti-Israel coverage? Where are the corrections from The Times of London, which has run particularly vicious news items, with utterly untrue headlines such as “Israeli soldiers: we were told to fire on anything.”

Palestinian doctors and schoolteachers interviewed by German, Italian and Canadian media are giving reports that greatly contradict the sensational UN/Hamas claims.

For example, The Globe and Mail quotes a teacher in the school, as saying 12 people were wounded in the building and no one was killed.

Eyewitnesses say the Palestinians killed near the school appear to be victims of secondary explosions ignited when Israel fired back at Hamas rocket crews that had fired at them.

Yet today The New York Times website still has the headline: “Israeli Shells Kill 40 at Gaza U.N. School




John Ging, UNRWA’s operations director in Gaza, condemned the supposed targeting of a UN school as “horrific” and suggested Israel knew it was targeting a UN facility.

“We have provided the GPS co-ordinates of every single one of our locations,” he told the BBC on January 7. “They are clearly marked with UN insignia, flags flying, lights shining on the flags at night. It’s very clear that these are United Nations installations.”

In another interview, Ging said:

“We have established beyond any doubt that the school was not being used by any militants. They were innocent people. The reason they were in the school is because the Israelis had told them to go there. They were doing exactly as they had been told. To ensure there was no confusion about the school’s location, the UN had given specific GPS co-ordinates to Israeli commanders.”


This week however, after being told that investigations by The Globe and Mail and Corriere della Sera found that reports that Israel had hit a school didn’t hold up to scrutiny, Ging acknowledged that “no one was killed in the school.”

“Look at my statements. I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made any such allegation,” he said.


This is what was written on The New York Times’s daily news round-up which was emailed to myself and millions of others on January 8, 2009:


“There is no safe haven.”JOHN GING, chief of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, on the conflict in Gaza.


Maxwell Gaylord, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem, also admitted to Ha’aretz on Monday that the IDF mortar shells did not hit the UNRWA school or its compound.


Tom Gross adds: War reporting is not easy. Journalists make mistakes, and so do UN and government officials. Yet what we see when Israel is concerned is something more than mere mistakes. In every conflict that has involved Israel, in Jenin in 2002, in southern Lebanon in 2006, in Gaza last month, there is a pattern of UN officials making outrageous and exaggerated claims of a kind they don’t make in any of the world’s 130 other ongoing conflicts. And there is a pattern of media in countries where many journalists are anti-Israel (and some are blatantly anti-Semitic) lapping up these exaggerations, even adding to them, as a way of beating up on Israel.

It is not a coincidence, as I pointed out previously, that anti-Semitic incidents should have risen particularly dramatically last month in countries like Britain, France, Greece and Scandinavia, where the media is most hostile to Israel.

For example, after the alleged school incident, The Independent (of London)’s columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown asked: “How many Palestinian Anne Franks did the Israelis murder?”

The headline of a news report in The Independent was: “Massacre of innocents as UN school is shelled.”

And in The Guardian, Ahdaf Soueif wrote that Israel was engaged in “a war of extermination.”



A prominent Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Paul van Buitenen, has submitted a parliamentary question, based on the dissemination of falsehood that UNRWA’s John Ging now admits.

Van Buitenen points out that the EU is UNRWA’s single largest donor and that it wrongly condemned Israel for attacking the UN school:

Van Buitenen asks:

Is the EU prepared to apologize to Israel for wrongly condemning it without checking the facts on the ground?

Is the EU prepared to investigate how it was possible that Mr. Ging apparently spread misleading information concerning the supposed attack on this UNRWA school and whether this was politically motivated?


Tom Gross adds:

Paul van Buitenen is a Member of the European Parliament for the Netherlands. He has a long record of exposing the corruption, fraud and lies of the EU.

His whistle blowing in December 1998 indirectly led to the resignation of the European Commission presided by Jacques Santer (the former prime minister of Luxembourg) and the fall of prominent European politician and former Prime Minister of France, Edith Cresson.

For this, van Buitenen was suspended, had his salary halved and faced disciplinary action. He fought on and the combination of his exposures with the public indignation at his treatment by the Commission triggered the collapse of Jacques Santer’s Commission. Among its members, Edith Cresson was particularly criticized.

Van Buitenen has been named “European of the Year” by Reader’s Digest magazine and the Australian Broadcasting Commission.



As I mentioned in a previous dispatch, UNRWA employs more than 24,000 staffers, 99% of whom are Palestinians.

In a newly published report, the former chief lawyer for UNRWA, James Lindsay, said the organization does little to check whether its staff are terrorists.

Lindsay writes:

“UNRWA has taken very few steps to detect and eliminate terrorists from the ranks of its staff or its beneficiaries, and no steps at all to prevent members of terrorist organizations such as Hamas from joining its staff.”

Lindsay cites many past examples of UNRWA staff being accused of helping terrorists, including a 2002 report I wrote about at the time on this website about an UNRWA driver accused of carrying weapons in an ambulance, and a Gaza headmaster employed by UNRWA who was also an explosives experts for Islamic Jihad. The headmaster was killed by Israeli forces last year.

“UNRWA has no preemployment security checks and does not monitor off-time behavior to ensure compliance with the organization’s anti-terrorist rules,” Lindsay wrote. “Evidence of area staff members who have had second jobs with Hamas or with other terrorist groups does occasionally come to light,” he added.

Why is Lindsay’s report getting front page treatment in the Israeli media but being ignored by media in Europe, North America and elsewhere?

See also the more recent item on this list “Hamas using UNRWA school buildings and hospitals as torture centers” in the dispatch of Jan. 22, 2009.



UNRWA is perhaps beginning to feel the pressure of international scrutiny. Yesterday, for the first time, UNRWA confirmed long-standing Israeli accusations that Hamas seizes international aid shipments in Gaza.

In a press release, UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said Hamas police raided a UN warehouse in Gaza City on Tuesday evening and stole 3,500 blankets and more than 400 food parcels. The aid was due to be distributed to needy families in the area, he said.

Anti-Israel NGOs like Oxfam and Christian Aid have consistently said that Hamas does not seize aid, despite much evidence to the contrary over many years. Selling this aid helps Hamas to buy the arms that it uses to kill Israelis.



The leading watchdog, NGO Monitor yesterday released a comprehensive new report analyzing NGO coverage of the recent Gaza conflict. The report, titled “The NGO Front in the Gaza War,” documents over 500 statements by over 50 NGOs in the month covering the fighting and its immediate aftermath.

NGO Monitor says: “These statements are characterized by overwhelming condemnation of Israel, devoting minimal attention to Israeli human rights and casualties or to Hamas complicity in Palestinian casualties.”

NGO Monitor writes of “the consistent manipulation of international law by NGOs in their statements on Gaza. False accusations of Israel’s ‘illegal’ ‘collective punishment’ and ‘disproportionate response’ have been refuted by legal experts, yet were consistently employed by numerous groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Oxfam even called for political action, declaring ‘The international community must not stand aside and allow Israeli leaders to commit massive and disproportionate violence against Gazan civilians in violation of international law’. These same groups were markedly hesitant to condemn the widespread and illegal use of human shields by Hamas.”

The report continues: “NGOs such as B’tselem, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and Oxfam published unverified ‘eyewitness’ evidence and unaccountable casualty figures throughout the conflict, which have since been refuted. These claims helped create an assumption of Israeli guilt and were repeated and amplified by the media, influencing the conflict itself.

“Human rights NGOs maintain a long-standing overwhelmingly hostile attitude towards Israel. This includes vilification of Israel over the Second Lebanon War, the Jenin ‘massacre’ and Gaza itself. In 2008 alone, NGOs issued over 300 statements in condemnation of Israel’s policy regarding Hamas-controlled Gaza. This contrasts with a handful of statements condemning the thousands of rockets fired on Israel from Gaza since the Disengagement in 2005.”


The full report can be read here.

(By way of disclosure, I should mention that I serve on NGO Monitor’s International Advisory Board. The other members of the board include Elie Wiesel, Prof. Alan Dershowitz, Sir Martin Gilbert, R. James Woolsey, Michael Gove MP, and Douglas Murray.)



Yesterday on its prime time evening news, France 2 TV ran a report in which it went back and investigated certain details about the recent Israeli operation in Gaza.

My French journalist contacts in Paris who subscribe to this email list tell me that this is unprecedented. They have never before seen France 2 or any French media go back and re-evaluate a report on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

(This “second look” was not reported by Charles Enderlin, the lead France 2 correspondent, infamous for his role in the Mohammed al Dura controversy.)

Among the items in yesterday evening’s broadcast:

* France 2 now says they have “discovered” that Hamas did in fact use human shields.
* France 2 reports that anyone who tells the truth about Hamas is in grave danger (in the France 2 report an ambulance crewman who let it be known that there were Hamas combatants in the hospital that was bombed is reprimanded by his handlers and ushered out).
* A lone man standing in a Gaza street staring straight into the camera says: “We are not free here. We cannot speak out.”
* Most of the faces of the Palestinians interviewed were obscured for their own protection.
* France 2 gave a long shot of a graveyard. “Many of the people buried here were not killed by the Israelis but by Hamas,” says one of the Palestinians interviewed.
* France 2 showed that a Hamas official deliberately lied about the number of people killed when a house was bombed.
* France 2 opened its report with a disclaimer: “We aren’t trying to minimize what the Israelis did, but...”


I noted in a dispatch last month that France 2 was forced to apologize to viewers after it used footage shot in 2005 of Palestinians which Hamas had killed to illustrate a report on the current Gaza conflict. Le Figaro newspaper pointed out that France 2 had wrongly claimed they were killed by Israel.



On January 12, The Wall Street Journal reported in its news section (by correspondent Charles Levinson) a claim by UNRWA that Israel fired on and killed a UN worker without pointing out that an Israeli investigation showed the driver had been killed by bullets fired by Palestinian gunmen.

In a correction, The Wall Street Journal has now acknowledged that it was wrong not to have let readers know that independent investigators did not concur with the UN spokesman’s allegations that the shots were fired by Israel.



Since the supposed Hamas ceasefire on January 18, over 30 rockets and mortars have now been fired at Israel, injuring several Israelis and killing one.

Last night Gaza militants fired a mortar shell at the western Negev. The day before a long-range Grad rocket was fired at the Israeli city of Ashkelon. It landed in the middle of a residential center, destroying several cars and half a commuter bus, and damaging a number of buildings. By sheer luck only one woman was injured since the bus was near empty. A number of other people suffered severe emotional trauma and were hospitalized.

Lebanese security forces also found five Katyusha rockets hidden on the Lebanese border close to Israel yesterday, a senior official from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said. Rockets from Lebanon were fired into Israel on two occasions last month.

This morning, Thursday, February 5, an Israel Navy force intercepted, boarded, and took control of a cargo boat which was bearing the flag of Togo and was illegally attempting to enter the Gaza Strip. The boat, which sailed from the Tripoli port in Lebanon a few days ago, was believed to be carrying arms.

Among those on board was Hilarion Cappuci – a former Greek Catholic bishop who in 1974 was caught smuggling weapons bound for Palestinian terrorists in the trunk of his official church vehicle while entering Israel from Lebanon.

Israel says that if any humanitarian goods are found on the boat they will be transferred to Gaza.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]



February 2, 2008

Ramallah – Ma’an – A senior leader within Fatah slammed what he called “Hamas crimes against patriotic people” in the Gaza Strip Monday.

The comments come after a string of reports of human rights violations committed by Palestinians against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the Israeli war on Gaza.

The Undersecretary of the caretaker government’s Ministry of Prisoners Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein spoke out against the rights violations and accused Hamas of “terrorism,” and said they were preventing media outlets in Gaza report on their crimes.

“Our people badly need a free press capable of protecting the truth,” he said, noting that the truth was all that could counter the “terrorist procedures against patriotic Palestinians.”

Abu Ein also published a list of names and neighborhoods of those in Gaza who were killed, maimed, beaten or tortured during the Israeli war on Gaza.

He encouraged aid organizations inside Gaza to check the list and contact those who have given testimony and prove the truth of the list of 181 names. Abu Ein also called on the Arab League to send a fact-finding mission to Gaza and uncover the reality behind the shocking information.

Abu Ein said he held the current caretaker government responsible for initiating the proper legal procedures against those responsible for the crimes and anyone who gave the directives for murder or torture. These people must be brought to justice in front of Palestinians and the Arab world, he said.

The list provided from Abu Ein is as follows:

Names and locations of those executed by Palestinians :
the list includes jobs or affiliations as appropriate

1) Nasser Muhanna- Northern Gaza Strip
2) Hisham Najjar- Sheikh Radwan neighborhood (Gaza City)
3) Kifah Al-Masri- Khan Younis
4) Hasan Hijazi (National security services) - Northern Gaza Strip
5) Ahmad Shaqura- Khan Younis
6) Sahir As-Silawi- Rafah
7) Atif Abu Jazar- Rafah
8) Ibrahim ‘Atif Abu Jazar- Rafah
9) Ahmad Abu Shamla- Al-Maghazi
10) Osama Atallah- Ad-Daraj neighborhood (Gaza City)
11) Younis Abu Amrah- Gaza City

Names and locations of those shot in the feet or legs:

1) Wisam Abu Jalhoum- Jabalia
2) Tayseer Duheini- Nuseirat
3) Abdul-Hay Hassanein- Northern Gaza Strip
4) Muhammad Abu safiyya- Northern Gaza Strip
5) Mahmoud Al-Akhras- Rafah
6) Muhammad Qishta- Rafah
7) Isma’il Abu Ghazal- Al-Maghazi camp
8) Jasir At-Talla’- Sheikh Radwan
9) Ahmad Sa’d- Al-Bureij camp
10) Ramzi Abdul-Hamid Da’ur- Northern Gaza Strip
11) Ahmad Ash-Sha’ir- Khan Younis
12) Farid Musallam- Khan Younis
13) Samir Asfour- Abasan
14) Fayiq Asfour- Khan Younis
15) Mamdouh Ghazzawi- Zaytoun neighborhood
16) Abdul-Hamid Hussein- Northern Gaza Strip
17) Tariq Talluli- Northern Gaza Strip
18) Mahmoud Kishku- Zaytoun neighborhood
19) Raed Abu Habl- Northern Gaza Strip
20) Muhammad Al-Hasanat- Gaza City
21) Ahmad Judah- Rafah
22) Khalid Awwad (Colonel in National Security Forces)- Khan Younis
23) Ammar Ulwan- Tuffah neighborhood
24) Osama Al-Aydi- Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood
25) Abd Ar-Rahman Al-Gharabli- Nassr neighborhood
26) Muhammad Abu Seif + his father- Taffah neighborhood
27) Ibrahim Abu Nahl- Gaza City
28) Mother of Raed Abu Seif- Gaza City
29) Riham An-Najjar (infant)- Sheikh Radwan
30) Ahlam An-Najjar (infant)- Sheikh Radwan
31) Salih An-Najjar- Sheikh Radwan
31) Taha An-Najjar- Sheikh Radwan
32) Badran An-Najjar- Sheikh Radwan
33) Zakiyya An-Najjar (Senior Citizen)- Sheikh Radwan
34) Ramzi An-Najjar - Sheikh Radwan
35) The wife of Rami An-Najjar - Sheikh Radwan
36) Nafith Abu Ubeid- Northern Gaza Strip
37) Sabir Yasin- Zaytoun neighborhood
38) Abed Al-Gharabli- Sheikh Radwan
39) Osama Ad-Dayah- Al-Bureij camp
40) Shadi Abu Sirriyya- Zaytoun neighborhood
41) Raed Al-Maghari- Brazil neighborhood of Rafah
42) Ali Ghazzawi- Zaytoun neighborhood
43) Hatim Abu Jabal- Tel Al-Hawa
44) Zuheir Al-Aydi- Tel Al-Hawa
45) Faysal Al-Hilou- Tel Al-Hawa
46) Ahmad Abu Musamih- Gaza City
47) Walid Subih- Khan Younis
48) Abdul-Karim Abu Marahil- Sheikh Radwan
49) Osama Uweida- Zaytoun neighborhood
50) Muhammad Al-Qirm- Khan Younis
51) Fathi Abu Rawwagh- Northern Gaza Strip
52) Hamadah Al-Qirm- Khan Younis
53) Muti Abid- Northern Gaza Strip
54) Ahid Shamali- Shuja’iyya neighborhood
55) Raed Habbub- Northern Gaza Strip
56) Iyad Abid- Northern Gaza Strip
57) Adil Sharab- Khan Younis
58) Yousif Al-Hazin- Central Gaza Strip

Names and locations of people whose legs were broken:

1) Ramzi Killab- Rafah
2) Walid Abu Udah- Khan Younis
3) Samir Karim- Gaza City
4) Nasser Abu Marsa- Gaza City
5) Sa’id Al-Khatib- Sheikh Radwan
6) Khalid Jahjouh- Ash-Shati camp
7) Muhammad Nofal- Sheilh Radwan
8) Nidal Shehada- Sheikh Radwan
9) Jum’ah Abu Habl- Jabalia
10) Raed Abu Habl- Jabalia
11) Wasim Ubeid- Ash-Shati camp
12) Mahmoud Amir- Khan Younis
13) Hazim Khawaja- Sheikh Radwan
14) Nasser Khadra- Sheikh Radwan
15) Hamdan Al-Umsi- Ad-Daraj neighborhood (Gaza City)
16) Muhammad Abu Sharkh- Sheikh Radwan
17) Muhammad Al-Ghoul- Sheikh Radwan
18) Fuad Namnami- Sheikh Radwan
19) Safwat Hassanein- Sheikh Radwan
20) Omar Sa’d- Al-Bureij camp
21) Muhammad Zumar- Gaza City
22) Bassam Kloum- Gaza City
23) Saddam Asfour- Abasan
24) Raed Ma’lawani- Khan Younis
25) Muhammad Hneidiq- Khan Younis
26) Raafat Ash-Sha’ir- Khan Younis
27) Ramadan Barbakh- Khan Younis
28) Basil Zu’rub- Khan Younis
29) Mahmoud Amir- Khan Younis
30) Riyad Al-Khawwas- Khan Younis
31) Muhammad Wadi- Khan Younis
32) Ahmad Abdul’al- Khan Younis
33) Yasser Abdul’al- Khan Younis
34) Khalid Dihleiz- Rafah
35) Bilal Abu Shirbin- Rafah
36) Jihad Timraz- Rafah
37) Ahmad Ash-Shalabi- Sheikh Radwan
38) Ahmad Al-Bayyumi- Rafah
39) Khamis Al-Minawi- Ash-Shati camp
40) Jum’a Abu Habl- Northern Gaza Strip
41) Nidal Shehadah- Northern Gaza Strip
42) Hussein Abu Zor- Zaytoun neighborhood
43) Abdullah Hasab Allah- Zaytoun neighborhood
44) Tayseer Al-Jamal- Northern Gaza Strip
45) Ahid Al-Uruqi- Ash-Shati camp
46) Ayman Killab- Khan Younis
47) Ashraf Killab- Khan Younis
48) Jabir Killab- Khan Younis
49)Wisam Killab- Khan Younis
50) Abd Ar-Rahman Killab- Khan Younis
51) Shakir Killab- Khan Younis
52) Ali Al-Bashiti- Khan Younis
53) Bassam Mas’ud- Kahn Younis
54) Faysal Kawari- Khan Younis
55) Issa Issa- An-Nasr neighborhood
56) Abed Abdul-Majid- An-Nasr neighborhood
57) Alaa Al-Umsi- An-Nasr neighborhood
58) Darwish Al-Asali- An-Nasr neighborhood
59) Amjad Al-Ajrami- An-Nasr neighborhood
60) Riyad Abu Marahil- An-Nasr neighborhood
61) Talab Hasab Allah- Zaytoun neighborhood
62) Uthman Samuni- Zaytoun neighborhood
63) Majdi Dahlan- Khan Younis
64) Hani Thiab- Gaza City
65) Nadhmi Rafati- Tuffah neighborhood
66) Muhammad Muqbil- Tuffah neighborhood
67) Iyad Dhahir- Tuffah neighborhood
68) Muhammad Al-Qassas- Khan Younis
69) Muhammad Abu Jami (Professor of Islamic thought) - Khan Younis
70) Khamis Al-Meidana- Shuja’iyya neighborhood
71) Nidal Abu wadi- Northern Gaza Strip
72) Imad Dahlan- Khan Younis
73) Muhammad Shukri Ahmad- Gaza City
74) Khalil Shamlakh- Gaza City
75) Aziz Shamlakh- Gaza City
76) Idris Sha’lan- Khan Younis
77) Ziad Abu Lihya- Khan Younis
78) Salah Ar-Ruqab- Khan Younis
79) Adnan As-Suri- Khan Younis
80) Kamil Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
81) Ramzi Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
82) Alaa Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
83) Mazin Shahin- Khan Younis
84) Shawqi Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
85) Sheikh Bahjat Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
86) Faris Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
87) Raed Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
88) Ayman Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
89) Khalid Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
90) Ashraf Al-Akhras- Khan Younis
91) Muhammad Subih- Khan Younis
92) Nizar Subih- Khan Younis
93) Wael Subih- Khan Younis
94) Jibreel Abu Shammala- Rafah
95) Muhammad Sharab- Khan Younis
96) Ashraf Uweida- Zaytoun neighborhood
97) Samir- Kishku- Zaytoun neighborhood
98) Mahmoud Jadallah- An-Nasr neighborhood
99) Nidal Al-Astal- Khan Younis
100) Bayan Al-Agha- Khan Younis
101) Samir Dawwas- Northern Gaza Strip
102) Alaa Tafish- Northern Gaza Strip
103) Rizq Al-Bayyari- Gaza City
104) Muhammad ‘Ulayyan- Beit Lahiya
105) Nael Al-Attar- Beit Lahiya
106) Nabil Abu Dayyah- Beit Lahiya
107) Bassam Al-Bayyari- Gaza City
108) Mahmoud Matar- Rafah
109) Jihad Abu Sharaf- Beit Lahiya
110) Iyad Qdeih- Khan Younis
111) Samih Intheir- Tuffah neighborhood
112) Mahmoud Abu Shahin (Colonel in National Security Forces)- Central Gaza Strip

Investigation by Canada’s leading paper finds: No Palestinians killed in the UN school in Gaza

February 02, 2009

* Investigation by Canada’s leading paper finds that no Palestinians were killed in the UN school in Gaza despite world jumping to believe UNRWA’s pro-Hamas staff

* NY Times, Toronto Sun, Canadian TV all acknowledge anti-Israel errors in their reporting
* Prominent German, Australian media start to tell truth about Gaza
* But British, French press won’t admit their mistakes, and continue to slander Israel
* The Guardian’s cartoonist suggests Israelis wants to exterminate all Arabs

[The first five items below relate to media coverage of Israel and Hamas. The remaining items are on other Middle East-related matters.]



1. Globe and Mail: No Palestinians killed inside UN school
2. New York Times admits quote was invented
3. Toronto Sun and Canadian TV apologize for anti-Israel reporting
4. The Guardian’s cartoonist: Israel wants to exterminate all Arabs
5. Der Spiegel (Germany) and The Age (Australia) report the truth about what went on in Gaza
6. Saudi Arabia re-arrests ex-Guantanamo inmates
7. FBI cuts ties with Council on American-Islamic Relations
8. Israeli patriotism grows
9. Confidence about Israeli economy
10. Huge gas reserves discovered off Haifa
11. Kuwaiti FM: Economic crisis has so far cost Arab nations $2.5 trillion
12. “Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutiny” (Globe and Mail, Jan. 29, 2009)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


After conducting a thorough investigation in Gaza, The Globe and Mail reports that contrary to the sensational headlines on the BBC, CNN and elsewhere, no Palestinians were killed in the UNRWA school or school compound in January. (The Globe and Mail is one of Canada’s most important dailies and traditionally a left-leaning liberal newspaper.) Palestinians did die nearby as a result of an exchange of fire between Hamas and Israel, concludes the newspaper, but the rest of the world’s media have – once again – been taken in by “UN sources” (i.e. Palestinians working for UNRWA, Hamas-approved Palestinians working for Reuters and AP in Gaza, and so on).

The piece, by The Globe and Mail’s Middle East correspondent, Patrick Martin, is headlined “Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.” It begins:

JABALYA, GAZA STRIP — Most people remember the headlines: Massacre Of Innocents As UN School Is Shelled; Israeli Strike Kills Dozens At UN School.

They heralded the tragic news of Jan. 6, when mortar shells fired by advancing Israeli forces killed 43 civilians in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The victims, it was reported, had taken refuge inside the Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys, a facility run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The news shocked the world and was compared to the 1996 Israeli attack on a UN compound in Qana, Lebanon, in which more than 100 people seeking refuge were killed. It was certain to hasten the end of Israel’s attack on Gaza, and would undoubtedly lead the list of allegations of war crimes committed by Israel.

There was just one problem: The story, as etched in people’s minds, was not quite accurate. Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.


I attach Patrick Martin’s full article at the end of this dispatch.

Naturally bigoted papers in Britain, France and elsewhere have not reported this but continue (even over a week after a ceasefire took effect) to run sensational headlines about “Israeli war crimes.” With such anti-Israeli hysteria generated by the BBC and other sections of the British media, it is no accident that Britain more than almost any other country saw a record increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the month of January.


John Ging, UNRWA’s operations director in Gaza, who went on BBC and other channels to accuse Israel of shelling an UNRWA school on January 6, has now acknowledged that all three Israeli mortar shells landed outside the school and that “no one was killed in the school.”

Yet at last month’s emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, ambassadors from all over the world lined up to attack Israel for “targeting a U.N. school.” Canada alone voted in opposition to the utterly one-sided motion.


Reminder: The dispatch of January 22, 2009, outlined the results of an investigation in Gaza by Italy’s leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, which concluded that the overall Gaza death toll was 500 to 600, mostly fighters, not 1,300 as other media have claimed. In spite of the investigation by Corriere della Sera, many anti-Israel publications, TV networks and organizations calling themselves “charities” continue to unquestioningly report Hamas’s higher claim as to the Gaza death toll, as if this were irrefutable fact.



The New York Times has admitted that a quote attributed to the former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon was fabricated.

The quote appeared in an editorial on January 8 (one of three anti-Israel pieces that dominated The New York Times’s editorial page that day) by former PLO spokesman and now senior Columbia University professor, Rashid Khalidi. It took over three weeks for The New York Times to admit the error.

Khalidi’s diatribe against Israel was also published in The New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune, which to my knowledge has yet to print a correction as the Times did over the weekend.



The Toronto Sun has apologized after it incorrectly described Hamas rocket attacks as being directed at Israeli “settlements,” when in fact all its attacks have been on Israeli cities, towns and villages. The Toronto Sun has now acknowledged to its readers that Israel had withdrawn from all its settlements in Gaza in 2005.

At the same time, Toronto Sun columnist Eric Margolis is refusing to apologize for writing on his website that Israel was carrying out a “final solution” in Gaza. Margolis, who is Jewish, has long been criticized as an anti-Semite.


Canada’s publicly-funded TV network, CBC, has issued an on-air correction after it wrongly implied that then president-elect Barack Obama had only expressed concern about the loss of civilian lives in Gaza, whereas in fact he had expressed concern for the loss of civilian life in Israel as well.

If only the BBC and CNN would offer on-air corrections.



Meanwhile the most outrageous lies and coverage about Israel continue to appear in several newspapers, including The Guardian and (surprisingly) in the news pages of The Times of London.

For example, this cartoon from The Guardian last week implies that the Israelis take joy in killing Arabs. It even has a tombstone saying “Arabs 1948-2009” (with Hebrew writing) as if the entire population has been exterminated.



Some publications are printing more honest accounts of what went on in Gaza.

For example, here are reports from Der Spiegel (Germany) and The Age (Australia) about how Hamas gunmen operating among civilians were responsible for their deaths.

Here is an extract from Jason Koutsoukis’s report from Gaza in The Age:

Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

His first day of work at the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war.

“Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected,” Mr Shriteh told The Age. “We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us.”

Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety. He claims Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital’s fleet of ambulances during the war.


Tom Gross adds:

Why are British and French papers incapable of reporting this?

Why are British NGO activists continuing to spread false information about Israel?



The Saudi-based daily Arab News reports that the Saudi authorities have arrested nine Saudis formerly detained at the American-run Guantanamo detention center in Cuba.

Lt. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Interior, confirmed the arrests, saying the kingdom had reason to believe the men were soon to take part in terrorist activities.

Last week, another former Saudi Guantanamo detainee, Abu Sufyan Al-Azdi Al-Shihri, released a video on the Internet taunting the Americans, saying he had rejoined Al-Qaeda, and had been promoted to the senior ranks of Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch.

The U.S. Defense Department said that as many as 61 former Guantanamo detainees – about 11 percent of 520 detainees released from the detention center – are believed to have taken up arms against the U.S. after being released.

At its peak, there were 759 inmates at Guantanamo; the Pentagon has freed more than 500 of them over the past seven years.



The FBI has announced it will sever ties with all local branches of the controversial but influential Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Islamic advocacy group.

The FBI previously enjoyed close ties with CAIR, but is fed up with CAIR’s links to a support network for Hamas. In December several Hamas fundraisers were convicted at a trial where CAIR itself was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator. The U.S. government has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

This is being viewed as a major policy shift at the FBI, which has appeased the notoriously litigious CAIR since the 9/11 attacks.



It is quite common for international media to grant publicity to some vociferous anti-Zionist Israeli academics, playwrights and film directors, leaving western (and Arab) audiences with the false impression that many Israelis oppose the continued existence of a Jewish state.

In fact, polls indicate that patriotism among Israelis is on the increase.

In a comprehensive new survey, the number of Israelis who said they consider themselves “patriotic” has grown from 61 percent to 71 percent from a year earlier.

88 percent said they were “proud” or “very proud” to be Israeli, compared to 81 percent last year.

81 percent said they would encourage their children to live in Israel.

There was a significant rise in Israeli Jews’ willingness to fight for their country – from 84 percent last year to 95 percent in 2009.



The much respected Governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Stanley Fischer, said last week: “Israel can deal with the current global economic crisis. We have a flow of dollars and euros because we sell more than we buy, which gives us stability on the financial side, which others lack.”

International orders continue to come in steadily for Israeli companies, which remain world leaders in hi-tech innovation. For example, Chinese phone makers ZTE, Tianyu, CEC Telecom and MP3/4 giant AIGO have all announced that they will use the Israeli-made MS1180 receiver chip to power mobile TV. The Chinese Broadcasting Authority reported that Israeli company Siano will be the CMMB chip provider for up to 30 million handsets and 10 million MP3 and MP4 players annually. The deal is estimated to be worth between $50-100 million in sales.

And despite the increased tension between Jerusalem and Ankara, Israeli company Aztek Technologies Ltd. has just been awarded the multimillion dollar contract to market Microsoft products to the Turkish market.



Last month, largely unreported internationally because of the fighting in Gaza and southern Israel, three massive gas reservoirs were discovered 80 kilometers off the coast of Haifa in northern Israel.

Yitzhak Tshuva, owner of the Delek Group, one of the owners of the well, claimed the discovery was “one of the biggest in the world,” and that the find represented a historic landmark in the economic independence of Israel.

An ecstatic Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer also said that the discovery was “historic” and could “change the face of Israeli industry.”

Following the announcement of the discovery, shares of Delek Drilling rose by 80 percent, while shares of Isramco Negev 2 skyrocketed 120 percent. The rest of the Tel Aviv stock market also saw large gains, with the TA-Index 100 climbing nearly 4 percent.

The approximate worth of the field is said to be $15 billion, and if the extent of the reserve is verified, it could supply all Israel’s energy needs for years.



The Kuwaiti foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Saba, has said that so far the global economic crisis has cost Arab nations an estimated $2.5 trillion.

Speaking to reporters in Kuwait City, Al-Sabah said 60 percent of development projects underway or planned for the Gulf states have been cancelled. The losses were caused by a combination of plunging stock markets and falling oil prices.

According to Al-Sabah, the $2.5-trillion loss was incurred within a period of four months.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]



Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutiny
By Patrick Martin
Globe and Mail (Canada)
January 29, 2009

JABALYA, GAZA STRIP — Most people remember the headlines: Massacre Of Innocents As UN School Is Shelled; Israeli Strike Kills Dozens At UN School.

They heralded the tragic news of Jan. 6, when mortar shells fired by advancing Israeli forces killed 43 civilians in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The victims, it was reported, had taken refuge inside the Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys, a facility run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The news shocked the world and was compared to the 1996 Israeli attack on a UN compound in Qana, Lebanon, in which more than 100 people seeking refuge were killed. It was certain to hasten the end of Israel’s attack on Gaza, and would undoubtedly lead the list of allegations of war crimes committed by Israel.

There was just one problem: The story, as etched in people’s minds, was not quite accurate.

Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.

Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate.

While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers.

The teacher who was in the compound at the time of the shelling says he heard three loud blasts, one after the other, then a lot of screaming. “I ran in the direction of the screaming [inside the compound],” he said. “I could see some of the people had been injured, cut. I picked up one girl who was bleeding by her eye, and ran out on the street to get help.”But when I got outside, it was crazy hell. There were bodies everywhere, people dead, injured, flesh everywhere.”

The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: “Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead.”

“Three of my students were killed,” he said. “But they were all outside.”

Hazem Balousha, who runs an auto-body shop across the road from the UNRWA school, was down the street, just out of range of the shrapnel, when the three shells hit. He showed a reporter where they landed: one to the right of his shop, one to the left, and one right in front.

“There were only three,” he said. “They were all out here on the road.”

News of the tragedy travelled fast, with aid workers and medical staff quoted as saying the incident happened at the school, the UNRWA facility where people had sought refuge.

Soon it was presented that people in the school compound had been killed. Before long, there was worldwide outrage.

Sensing a public-relations nightmare, Israeli spokespeople quickly asserted that their forces had only returned fire from gunmen inside the school. (They even named two militants.) It was a statement from which they would later retreat, saying there were gunmen in the vicinity of the school.

No witnesses said they saw any gunmen. (If people had seen anyone firing a mortar from the middle of the street outside the school, they likely would not have continued to mill around.)

John Ging, UNRWA’s operations director in Gaza, acknowledged in an interview this week that all three Israeli mortar shells landed outside the school and that “no one was killed in the school.”

“I told the Israelis that none of the shells landed in the school,” he said.

Why would he do that?

“Because they had told everyone they had returned fire from gunmen in the school. That wasn’t true.”

Mr. Ging blames the Israelis for the confusion over where the victims were killed. “They even came out with a video that purported to show gunmen in the schoolyard. But we had seen it before,” he said, “in 2007.”

The Israelis are the ones, he said, who got everyone thinking the deaths occurred inside the school.

“Look at my statements,” he said. “I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made any such allegation.”

Speaking from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as the bodies were being brought in that night, an emotional Mr. Ging did say: “Those in the school were all families seeking refuge. ... There’s nowhere safe in Gaza.”

And in its daily bulletin, the World Health Organization reported: “On 6 January, 42 people were killed following an attack on a UNRWA school ...”

The UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs got the location right, for a short while. Its daily bulletin cited “early reports” that “three artillery shells landed outside the UNRWA Jabalia Prep. C Girls School ...” However, its more comprehensive weekly report, published three days later, stated that “Israeli shelling directly hit two UNRWA schools ...” including the one at issue.

Such official wording helps explain the widespread news reports of the deaths in the school, but not why the UN agencies allowed the misconception to linger.

“I know no one was killed in the school,” Mr. Ging said. “But 41 innocent people were killed in the street outside the school. Many of those people had taken refuge in the school and wandered out onto the street.

“The state of Israel still has to answer for that. What did they know and what care did they take?”

“We didn’t run away. It was an orderly walk backwards.”

* “British police cede streets of central London to Hamas supporters”
* Norway’s pro-Israel opposition leader under 24-hour guard
* “Zionist terrorists started operating in the days of Jesus” (says leading Norwegian paper)



1. Restaurants in Pakistan’s Quetta stop serving women
2. British police: “We didn’t run away from Gaza protestors. It was an orderly walk backwards”
3. San Francisco, city of love, understanding and tolerance?
4. Norway’s pro-Israel opposition leader under 24-hour guard
5. Rocket barrages from Gaza into Israel continue
6. Israel asks Cyprus to impound Iranian weapons
7. Jimmy Carter: Hamas can be trusted
8. Turkey’s PM gets hero’s welcome for slurring Israelis
9. “Only dogs can enter: no Armenians or Jews!”
10. But close relations between Turkey and Israel likely to continue
11. Iraqi shoe-thrower honored with statue

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


The Pakistani newspaper The Daily Times reports from Lahore that an increasing number of restaurants in Quetta have stopped serving women following pressure by Islamic radicals in the region.

Residents of Quetta told The Daily Times that Islamists “believe that if men and women have the ability to socialize, ‘immoral behavior’ will result.”

Restaurants have begun to display boards saying, “For men only, No women allowed,” reports the paper.

A number of girls’ schools have also been destroyed in the region, and video, DVD and CD shops as well as Internet cafes have been bombed by extremists recently. (As I noted on this email list last year, such shops and cafes have also been bombed by Islamists in Gaza.)



I sent the amateur video below to various people, including journalists, a week ago, and some have now written about it, including a story in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday.

For those who haven’t seen it, it is quite an extraordinary ten minutes of footage as the police run away from a pro-Hamas mob and allow traffic cones and other items to be thrown at them on some of London’s grandest streets. At one point in the video, one can see St James’s Palace, the Ritz hotel and the Wolseley restaurant on Piccadilly. The police appear outnumbered and too intimidated to make any arrests.

Chants of “Allah Akbar” (Allah is Greatest) can also be heard. Two orthodox Jews were severely assaulted after the demonstration, including a student who is a co-chair of a Jewish-Muslim friendship society at Oxford University.

As I mentioned in a dispatch last month, a policeman protecting the Israeli embassy was beaten unconscious following one of these demonstrations.


One demonstrator in the video shouts: “Run, run, you cowards. Run, you poof. Allah Akbar.” His use of the word “poof” (homosexual) is interesting because in the item below from San Francisco, demonstrators held up banners saying “Gays for Palestine.” As I have pointed out many times over the years, the attitude of Islamist movements, including Hamas, towards homosexuals is not exactly enlightened.

Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Broadhurst yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that his force’s rapid retreat in the face of pro-Hamas protestors was “not running away” but “going backwards in an orderly manner.”

You need to watch the full ten minutes to see just how disturbing this “protest” was.



A photo essay here.

Reminder: The Nazis dehumanized the Jews over many years before killing them. That is not to say that Jews will be killed in San Francisco, but these protestors should know better. If they want to criticize Israeli policies against Hamas, they could have done so without resorting to such anti-Semitic incitement.



Siv Jensen, chairwoman of the main opposition Progress Party in Norway, remains under 24-hour police guard after she received a slew of death threats following her appearance at a pro-Israel rally in Oslo on January 8.

“I have never experienced this kind of hatred in Norway,” said Dr. Asle Toje, foreign policy adviser to the Progress Party, who was present at the demonstration. “There were people throwing stones at and spitting on rally-goers. Afterward, people carrying Israeli flags were randomly attacked in the streets.”

The Socialist Party, which is part of the governing coalition, has proposed a number of boycotts against Israel since the government was formed in 2005.


Israeli/Nazi comparisons and anti-Semitic incidents are now commonplace, particularly on the Norwegian left, Toje said.

Last month, Trine Lilleng, a senior Norwegian diplomat in Saudi Arabia sent out a mass email, saying: “The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany.”

As reported at the time on this email list, in August 2006, Jostein Gaardner, Norway’s most famous living writer (author of the book “Sophie’s World,” which has been translated into 53 languages and sold 26 million copies), wrote an article for the leading Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten saying Israel should be dismantled.

“Zionist terrorists started operating in the days of Jesus,” he wrote, among other anti-Semitic slurs.



In spite of Israel’s campaign against Hamas last month, Qassam rockets and mortar shells continue to be fired at civilians in southern Israel. Yesterday three Israelis were wounded. In response the Israeli Air Force attacked a number of arms-smuggling tunnels in Gaza. There were no Palestinian casualties.

Despite rocket fire against Israel, Kerem Shalom, Karni, Nahal Oz and Erez crossings remain open, enabling large quantities of humanitarian aid, fuel, and other supplies to enter Gaza from Israel.



An Iranian ship that remains docked in the Cypriot port of Limassol is at the center of a diplomatic row. The vessel’s cargo reportedly includes mortar shells and tank ammunition.

It was originally intercepted a week ago by a United States ship but the crew decided it did not have the legal right to impound the Iranian craft. The U.S. believes the cargo was bound for either Hamas in Gaza or Hizbullah in Lebanon.

The ship then made its way to Cyprus and has been docked there since. Cyprus is investigating whether the Iranian cargo violates a UN Security Council resolution that bans Iran from selling arms.



In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show last week, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said that Hamas can be trusted. Carter claimed, to the amazement of many, that Hamas had not fired any missiles during last year’s six-month ceasefire agreement. In fact, Hamas and its proxy militias in Gaza regularly fired missiles at Israel throughout the so-called ceasefire.

But Carter did admit during the interview that “Hamas did bad things. I’m not defending them.”



The key strategic regional relationship between Turkey and Israel has become strained following recent outbursts at Jews and Israel by Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The latest was at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week where Erdogan called Israel a “savage” country which “committed a crime against humanity” and should “not be let through the gates of the UN.”

(Erdogan had little to say about Turkey’s appalling human rights record towards millions of Kurds, its continuing military occupation of northern Cyprus, its refusal to admit the true nature of the World War I massacres of Armenian civilians, and so on.)

Erdogan’s behavior at Davos prompted a furious rebuttal by the usually restrained Israeli president and elder statesman, Shimon Peres. Speaking with a raised voice and pointed finger, Peres questioned what Erdogan would do if rockets were fired at Istanbul every night. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and many world leaders were in attendance.

Erdogan received a hero’s welcome from thousands of jubilant supporters who had gathered at Istanbul airport when he returned home on Friday. Many were waving Turkish and Palestinian flags. However, several leading Turkish newspapers criticized Erdogan for his comments and loss of temper, saying “they could lead to a serious downturn in support for Turkey internationally on several key issues.”

Ankara’s criticism of Israel has become more vocal since the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002. Erdogan faces reelection soon.

CNN reported that Hamas had praised Erdogan for his stance. Red and white Turkish flags were quickly manufactured by Hamas and placed next to green Hamas banners at rallies throughout Gaza City on Friday.



There is increasing anti-Semitism in Turkey. Rallies across Turkey in December and January contained ugly references to the Nazis, which is particularly unfortunate because Turkey is one of the very few countries that helped protect Jews during World War II, and the Ottoman Sultans famously opened their doors to Jews fleeing from Christian persecution in Spain over 500 years ago.

Last month, for example, members of a nationalist group in the western city of Eskisehir brandished placards that read, “Only dogs can enter: no Armenians or Jews!”

Israel was particularly exasperated by a Turkish education ministry circular telling Turkish schoolchildren to observe a minute’s silence “in solidarity with Palestine.” (Some Israelis have suggested having a minute’s silence in Israeli schools in memory of victims of the Turkish genocide of Armenians in response.)

Last year a Pew Global Attitudes survey found that anti-Jewish sentiment in Turkey had risen: 76 percent said they had negative views of Jews, whereas only 7 percent said they looked kindly on them.

“Prime Minister Erdogan’s tantrum at Davos throws gasoline on the fire of surging anti-Semitism,” American Jewish Committee Director David Harris said in a statement.



Radical Turkish Islamists have long tried to stir up anti-Semitism, for example claiming that the secular founder of modern Turkey Kemal Ataturk was “really a Jew and that “Jewish capital” was trying to take over the country. In recent years leftists have joined in with this anti-Jewish chorus, accusing Israel of plotting “to set up an independent Zionist-Kurdish state in northern Iraq that will aim to take large chunks out of south-eastern Turkey” and so on.

Similar rows have occurred before. In 2004 Erdogan infuriated Israel by calling it a “terrorist state” after it killed Hamas’s founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Erdogan then invited Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’s present leader, to visit Turkey. At the time Israeli-Turkish relations were mended after some careful diplomacy by the Bush administration, and military co-operation continued uninterrupted.

In 1948, Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Israel. Under a military co-operation deal signed in 1996, Israeli pilots have been training in Turkish skies for over a decade. In 2007, bilateral trade rose to $2.7 billion.

Following Erdogan’s outburst, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told Turkey’s NTV television that “The relations between Turkey and Israel are strategic and would continue.”



Reuters reports from Tikrit that the town has unveiled a giant monument of a shoe in honor of the journalist who threw his footwear at outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush.

The two-meter (six-foot) high statue, unveiled on Thursday in former dictator Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit, depicts a bronze-colored shoe, filled with a plastic shrub.

The Arabic inscription honors journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who hurled his shoes at Bush and called him a “dog” at a news conference during the former president’s final visit to Iraq.

The one-and-a-half-ton monument by artist Laith al-Amiri was titled “Statue of glory and generosity”.

I am glad to see Iraqis are now able to exercise free expression of a kind that was unimaginable under Saddam and still remains unimaginable in much of the Arab world.

-- Tom Gross