Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Swiss government requisitions 40 lavish hotel rooms for Ahmadinejad (& Elie Wiesel abused at Durban II)

April 23, 2009

* Mubarak invites Avigdor Lieberman to Cairo: “This is the start of a beautiful friendship”
* Egyptian paper: Hizbullah leader Nasrallah is “an Iranian agent and a Dracula”
* EU freezes upgrade of relations with Israel
* Israel improves relations with India and Russia as U.S. and EU begin to scale back Israel ties
* Obama bundles further $200m. Palestinian aid into emergency Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental, while he is set to reduce military help for Israel
* Elections reveal that Gaza’s UNRWA branch is dominated by Hamas

* After giving his speech in Geneva, Ahmadinejad moved on to his lavish hotel up the road, to attend a dinner for some 500 guests, including his entourage, for whom the Swiss government requisitioned some 40 hotel rooms
* Elie Wiesel abused by Ahmadinejad’s official delegation (video below)
* UN today expels Jewish student groups for wearing clown outfits

(Several of the items below are follow-ups to previous dispatches on this list; in order to understand the full context of them, please refer to past dispatches here.)

 

CONTENTS

1. Robert Fisk: How can you trust the cowardly BBC?
2. Confrontation at “Durban II”: Libyan chair silences torture victim
3. More on the UN’s anti-anti-racism conference
4. Buenos Aires Jewish cemetery defaced
5. Letter by Shlomo Avineri to The New York Times
6. Elections reveal that Gaza’s UNRWA branch dominated by Hamas
7. IDF releases new video on Gaza op
8. Hamas PM, senior commanders hid in hospital during Gaza operation
9. IDF: no war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza
10. Human Rights Watch finally acknowledges that Hamas killed Palestinians in Gaza

11. Olmert, Livni may face war crimes charges in Norway
12. Netanyahu meets Egyptian Intelligence chief
13. Omar Suleiman meets Avigdor Lieberman
14. Egypt state daily: Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah tried to overthrow Mubarak
15. Jordanian court sentences three Hamas spies to five years in prison
16. Hamas bomb factory found in West Bank mosque
17. Masked Palestinian Gunmen burn Palestinian child and family care center in Khan Yunis
18. Obama bundles $200m. Palestinian aid into emergency Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental
19. Palestinian anger as Abbas’s son revealed to have made millions
20. Independent Palestinian group reports rampant corruption among PA


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

ROBERT FISK: HOW CAN YOU TRUST THE COWARDLY BBC?

This weblist has long provided examples of anti-Israeli bias by various BBC correspondents, including the BBC’s veteran reporter and current Chief Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen. (See, for example: Revealed: UNRWA spokesman who lied about Israel’s shelling of a school previously worked at the BBC with Jeremy Bowen.)

Last week, the independent BBC Trust (which oversees complaints to the British state broadcaster) agreed that Bowen had been biased against Israel. After a lengthy legal battle waged by a London lawyer, it ruled that Bowen had breached BBC guidelines as to accuracy in an online article in June 2007 about the Six-Day War, and in a radio broadcast about an Israeli settlement made by Bowen in January 2008. In both cases, the BBC Trust found Bowen had skewered information so as to portray Israel in an unfair light.

Amazingly, various British newspapers actually reported the decision. For example:

The Times (Page 9): BBC’s Jeremy Bowen breached editorial guidelines, says BBC Trust
Daily Mail (Page 11): BBC’s Jeremy Bowen breached editorial guidelines, says BBC Trust
The Daily Telegraph: BBC’s Jeremy Bowen breached guidelines on accuracy in Israel reports

And this is how The Independent’s award-winning chief Middle East “news reporter” Robert Fisk dealt with the story:

First the headline:

How can you trust the cowardly BBC? The BBC Trust is now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby which abused Bowen, reports Robert Fisk

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Fisk’s piece starts:

The BBC Trust’s report on Jeremy Bowen’s dispatches from the Middle East is pusillanimous, cowardly, outrageous, factually wrong and ethically dishonest.

But I am mincing my words.

The trust – how I love that word which so dishonours everything about the BBC – has collapsed, in the most shameful way, against the usual Israeli lobbyists who have claimed – against all the facts – that Bowen was wrong to tell the truth…

***

Tom Gross adds: The BBC Trust report is only the tip of the iceberg. Both Bowen, and to a much greater extent various other BBC News reporters, have a long track record of anti-Israel bias. Several years ago, after sustained criticism, the BBC conducted its own investigation into whether the network held an anti-Israel bias. The resulting report by senior BBC news editor Malcolm Balen has been suppressed by the BBC despite many legal efforts by the Taxpayers’ Alliance and other groups to make it public. Balen is believed to have concluded that the BBC has a systematic bias against the state of Israel despite being under a legal obligation as a publicly-funded corporation to attempt to be balanced.

As for Robert Fisk, he is one of the few journalists who can lay claim to repeatedly saying things as idiotic as New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.

 

CONFRONTATION AT “DURBAN II”: LIBYAN CHAIR SILENCES TORTURE VICTIM

[This item was first published on NRO on Monday, April 20, 2009]

By Tom Gross

Representatives of a host of European countries and Jordan walked out of the UN’s “anti-racism” conference (known as Durban II) in Geneva, Switzerland, today after the world’s most prominent racist – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – predictably launched an anti-Semitic tirade.

“It is hard to find an explanation as to why exactly the Swiss, hosting the ‘Durban II’ anti-racism convention in Geneva, opted to make its guest of honor Iran’s strong man Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” wondered a producer for the British-based satellite broadcaster Sky News.

Earlier, Swiss federal agents escorted Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz away from the Geneva hotel where Iranian dictator Ahmadinejad and Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz were meeting, after he announced plans to challenge the Iranian leader over his views on the Holocaust.

This farce of a conference – organized by the UN, a farce of an organization – is being chaired by one of the world’s worst perpetrators of racism, discrimination, and human rights abuses: Libya.

In the clip below, a representative of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi – Mrs. Najjat al-Hajjaji, who chaired the Durban II Preparatory Committee for the past two years, and was elected chair of the Durban II Main Committee – silences the Palestinian medical intern who (together with five Bulgarian nurses) was tortured by Libya in order to confess to trumped up charges of spreading the AIDS virus in Libya.

The video clip was recorded by UN Watch.

 

MORE NOTES ON THE UN’S ANTI-ANTI-RACISM CONFERENCE

Whereas Jordan joined European countries in walking out during Ahmadinejad’s tirade against Israel and the Jews at Durban II on Monday, by contrast, Syrian Foreign Minister Dr. Faysal Mekdad, addressing the conference on Tuesday, launched various slanders against Israel.

Former gulag prisoner Natan Sharansky said the spectacle of an anti-racism conference run by some of the world’s worst human-rights violators was an absurdity that reminded him of Soviet show trials.

And Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel said “What does Ahmadinejad know about Jewish suffering? He wants to enter the history of Islam as the first and only Islamic leader who succeeds in annihilating the Jews, and who outdoes Hitler.”

After giving his speech in Geneva, Ahmadinejad held a press conference at the UN. He then moved on to his lavish hotel up the road, to attend a dinner for some 500 guests, including his entourage, for whom the Swiss government requisitioned some 40 hotel rooms.

Here are members of the official Iranian government delegation barracking and harassing elderly Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace prize winner Elie Wiesel in the corridor outside the Durban II conference center in Geneva.

UN spokesman Rupert Colville today announced that two Jewish groups (the French Union of Jewish Students, and Coexist) were being expelled from the remainder of the Durban II conference for disrupting the speech of Iranian President Ahmadinejad by wearing clown outfits.

***

On the day after Ahmadinejad gave his speech, the official Iranian news agency IRNA ran a long piece explicitly denying the Holocaust.

It stated: “Many linguists believe that the word holocaust, which is a Greek word – holo means all and caust meaning ‘to burn to ashes’, was originally coined to refer to a criminal incident in ancient Yemen committed by Jews who burnt alive a large group of chained and handcuffed men, women and children for their adherence to teachings the Jesus Christ.

“The bitter historical irony is that the word was later exploited by Zionists to establish a regime by building on the false claim that over six million Jews had been killed. The world-famous historian Professor Robert Faurisson has exposed these Zionist lies…”

 

BUENOS AIRES JEWISH CEMETERY DEFACED

Three feet-high red swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were painted on the walls of the oldest Buenos Aires Jewish cemetery in Argentina on Holocaust Remembrance Day, early on Tuesday morning, a few hours after President Ahmadinejad addressed the UN “anti-racism” conference.

 

LETTER BY SHLOMO AVINERI TO THE NEW YORK TIMES

The following is the text of a letter sent by the distinguished Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri to The New York Times:

Hamas and the Jews
April 15, 2009

In his article “The changing face of Hamas” (New York Times, April 13) Paul McGeough mentions that for all the changes he saw in Hamas, its leader Khalid Mishal answered “No chance” when asked if his organization would consider changing its charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction.

What McGeough did not mention is that Hamas views all Jews, and not just Israel or Zionism, as its enemies. Its charter goes to some length (Article 22) to state its views on this. According to Hamas, the Jews (together with the Masons) were responsible for the French and Communist revolutions; they instigated World War I in order to destroy the Ottoman Caliphate; they instigated World War II in order to make money out of trade in war materials; they control world finance and the media; and they have established numerous secret organizations (like Rotary and B’nai B’rith) in order to achieve world domination.

Some of this is straight out of the anti-Semitic literature of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and some of it – especially the references to the two World Wars – is the original contribution of Hamas ideologues. Compared to this, Austria’s Jörg Haider and France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen, or even the Ku Klux Klan, are moderates. If any organization in Europe or the U.S. used such language in its founding document, it would be viewed universally as beyond the pale.

Such views cannot be part of any political discourse, and these are the issues which have to be raised with Hamas leaders by anyone who cares for peace in the Middle East. It is regrettable that McGeough chose not to do it.

Shlomo Avineri, Jerusalem

 

ELECTIONS REVEAL THAT GAZA’S UNRWA BRANCH DOMINATED BY HAMAS

Hamas has won control of nearly two thirds of the Gaza branch of the UNRWA’s employees union, in elections:

www.alqassam.ps/english/?action=showdetail&fid=1570

This raises further doubts about the validity of UNRWA’s reports during Operation Cast Lead and in other circumstances.

As I have stated before, the UN agency UNRWA has become a “closed shop” dominated by Hamas, from which moderate Palestinians are forced out. The U.S. and other Western governments should proceed with care before they give billions of extra dollars to UNRWA this year, if they don’t want to see their aid money go to buying arms and to indoctrinating Palestinian children to become anti-western Jihadists.

 

IDF RELEASES NEW VIDEO ON GAZA OPERATION

The IDF released this video yesterday. While it clearly looks at things from the Israeli point of view, Hamas admits to much of what is contained in the video, including the smuggling of long-range rockets into Gaza and firing of them at civilians in Israel.

I am not including any pro-Palestinian videos because one can watch these on a regular basis masked as news reports on channels such as the BBC and France 2.

Following pressure on Israel, partially generated by fake media reports about “massacres” of Palestinians in schools and hospitals, Israel aborted its Gaza operation before it had accomplished it goals. Yesterday, Israeli military intelligence said that Hamas is still operating about 160 smuggling tunnels beneath the Sinai-Gaza border and has smuggled in longer range rockets, anti-tank missiles and perhaps even anti-aircraft missiles.

 

HAMAS PM HID IN HOSPITAL DURING GAZA OPERATION

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other senior Hamas commanders took over a ward of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and operated a command and control center there throughout the Gaza operation in January, the IDF said yesterday. Senior Hamas commanders also set up a command center in a Red Crescent clinic in Khan Yunis and used it as a detention center where political opponents were held and some were tortured.

An IDF investigation discovered that out of seven medical personnel claimed to have been killed by the IDF, five were Hamas operatives, including a nephew of a Hamas government minister.

 

IDF: NO WAR CRIMES COMMITTED BY ISRAEL IN GAZA

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also announced yesterday that a thorough internal investigation has determined that no civilians were deliberately harmed by IDF troops during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

The inquiries were performed by five IDF colonels who were not involved in the fighting. They carefully examined reports by journalists and human rights groups of alleged attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, medical personnel and facilities, and UN facilities. Not one allegation of civilians being deliberately harmed was found to be substantiated. There were a few isolated cases of civilians killed by mistake, according to the IDF.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that the army’s willingness to probe itself (unlike almost any other army in the world) “once again proves that the IDF is one of the most moral armies in the world.”

Various “human rights” groups, who have a long track record of singling out Israel for attack, criticized the army’s investigation as flawed.

The UN has said it still intends to launch an investigation into supposed Israeli “war crimes”. Israel has indicated it will not cooperate with any such investigation since past UN investigations had been “utterly biased against Israel”.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGES HAMAS KILLED PALESTINIANS DURING AND AFTER GAZA OP

This week, over three months after this news was reported on this website, The International Herald Tribune, The Guardian and other newspapers finally reported that Hamas murdered Palestinian civilians during and after Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in December and January.

The figures given, based on a Human Rights Watch report released on Monday, were that 32 Palestinians had been summarily executed by Hamas, and about a hundred others had had their legs and arms broken after they were heard criticizing Hamas. As previously indicated on this website, various intelligence sources indicate that the true number of Palestinians murdered by Hamas during Israel’s three week operation was over 100.

“Of particular concern,” the Human Rights Watch report said, “is the widespread practice of maiming people by shooting them in the legs, which Hamas first used in June 2007, when it seized control of the Gaza Strip.”

 

OLMERT, LIVNI MAY FACE WAR CRIMES CHARGES IN NORWAY

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni may face war crimes charges in Norway over their role in Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza, AFP reported on Wednesday.

The news agency said that six Norwegian lawyers announced plans to formally accuse the pair, and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, of the “crimes.”

Under the Norwegian penal code, courts may hear cases involving war crimes and other major violations of human rights. The lawyers released a statement quoted by AFP accusing Israel of “massive terrorist attacks” in Gaza.

 

NETANYAHU MEETS EGYPTIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday for two hours with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. Mossad Director Meir Dagan and National Security Council Director Uzi Arad attended much of the meeting; the rest was held in private, with only Netanyahu and Suleiman in the room. Suleiman is Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s most trusted confidant on security matters.

The Egyptians are understood to be as concerned as Israel is about what they consider to be the high degree of naivety of the Obama administration with regard to Iran.

 

OMAR SULEIMAN MEETS AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman also met Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem last night. This contradicts Western press reports that the Egyptian government intended to boycott Lieberman.

Both sides said the meeting was constructive and held in “a warm and friendly atmosphere.” Lieberman expressed his respect and appreciation for “Egypt’s leading role in the region” and his “personal respect for President Mubarak.” Suleiman invited Lieberman to visit Cairo.

Last week, Lieberman met with Russian Deputy FM Alexander Saltanov. Israel and Russia discussed strengthening bilateral relations. Israel and India are also improving ties. The Indians are particularly fearful of the Obama administration’s growing “understandings” with the governments of Iran and Pakistan.

 

EGYPT STATE DAILY: IRAN, HAMAS, HIZBULLAH TRIED TO OVERTHROW MUBARAK

A lengthy piece published on Saturday in Egypt’s Al-Ahram – the official mouthpiece of the Egyptian government – attacked Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah, accusing them of attempting to overthrow the government of President Hosni Mubarak.

The most recent evidence of this, said the paper, was the uncovering of a Hizbullah espionage ring in the Sinai. Last week Egyptian police also discovered 900 kilograms of TNT hidden in 18 sacks near the border with Gaza.

Meanwhile an editorial published in the Egyptian daily El Gomhoria on Friday, signed by the paper’s editor-in-chief, called Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah an “Iranian agent, a funeral profiteer, and a Dracula.”

“Nasrallah is worse than Israel since he is trying to undermine the same Egyptians who supported him during the 2006 Lebanon War,” the paper said.

 

JORDANIAN COURT SENTENCES THREE HAMAS SPIES TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON

A Jordanian court has sentenced three Jordanians to five years in prison for conducting espionage on behalf of Hamas. They were accused of collecting information about Jordanian military and government installations, as well as spying on military posts along the Israeli border and on the Israeli embassy in Amman.

 

HAMAS BOMB FACTORY FOUND IN WEST BANK MOSQUE

AFP reports that Palestinian security officials have found a Hamas bomb-making factory underneath a mosque in the West Bank town of Qalqiliya near the Israeli border.

 

MASKED PALESTINIAN GUNMEN BURN PALESTINIAN CHILD AND FAMILY CARE CENTER IN KHAN YUNIS

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has reported that “the Child and Family Care Center in Khan Yunis in Gaza has been set alight by unknown persons.”

The Center was established by the Canaan Institute of New Pedagogy in cooperation with the al-Fukhari Association for Rural Development.

There is an ongoing pattern of attacks in Gaza on institutions that don’t submit to Hamas control.

 

OBAMA BUNDLES $200 MILLION PALESTINIAN AID INTO EMERGENCY IRAQ/AFGHANISTAN SUPPLEMENTAL

U.S. President Barack Obama has released his FY 2009 supplemental request to fund ongoing military, diplomatic and foreign assistance activities, and quietly bundled an additional $200 million for the Palestinians into it. The relevant paragraph reads:

* $600 million to purchase four new F-22 fighter jets;
* $400 million for a new Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund;
* $3.6 billion to train and equip Afghanistan Security Forces;
* $806.2 million to upgrade the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Pakistan; and
* $200 million for budget support to the Palestinian Authority.

At the same time, Obama looks set to reduce help for Israel. Israel’s Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile may be one of the first victims of Obama’s defense spending cuts, informed sources told the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot on Monday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Arrow-3 program was vital to protect Israeli population centers from missile attack.

 

PALESTINIAN ANGER AS ABBAS’S SON REVEALED TO HAVE MADE MILLIONS

It was revealed in a financial magazine in Dubai last week that Yasser Abbas, the 46-year-old son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has recently become a millionaire.

The report raised eyebrows in Ramallah, where one PA official described it as “scandalous and harmful.”

Yasser Abbas, who is a Canadian national, strongly denies he had gained money through corrupt activities or through using his father’s position to his advantage.

Reuters reports today that construction and public relations firms run by Tarek Abbas and Yasser Abbas, sons of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, have received over $2 million worth of U.S. government aid contracts to repair roads in the Palestinian territories since 2005.

 

INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN GROUP REPORTS RAMPANT CORRUPTION AMONG PA

Meanwhile a report released yesterday by Aman (the Palestinian Coalition for Accountability and Integrity) found that “corruption is still rampant in Palestinian society.”

“Despite some positive reforms in the area of public fund management, there is still a general weakness in the system of combating corruption,” it said.

In the West Bank, “many forms of favoritism, nepotism, misappropriation of public money and abuse of public position continues to impact on many sectors of Palestinian society,” the report said, adding that the level of corruption was also bad in Gaza.

Aman commissioner Azmi Shueibi said the Palestinian public in general believes that corruption increased in 2008.


“By the time the Soviet Army reached Auschwitz, my father was no longer there”

April 20, 2009

On the tracks to Auschwitz today

 

* “From 1942 to 1944, the train platform in Birkenau was the busiest railway station in Europe. It held that distinction despite the fact that, unlike every other train station in the world, it saw only arrivals. No passengers ever left.”

* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided this morning to recall Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland after the Swiss government welcomes Iran’s Holocaust-denying president at the start of the “Durban II U.N. World Conference Against Racism” in Geneva today, and Swiss president hosts Ahmadinejad for dinner last night.

* The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Poland withdraw from the Durban II conference in Geneva as a result of the anti-Semitic atmosphere surrounding it, but disappointment as Britain and France decide to attend.

* Israeli President Shimon Peres: “I feel deeply hurt and ashamed that on the eve of a day of commemoration for the Holocaust, a racist conference organized by the United Nations is opening in Geneva today with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the keynote speaker. There must be a limit, even to the neutrality of Switzerland.”

* See also: This farce of a conference - organized by the UN, a farce of an organization...

 

CONTENTS

1. Holocaust Remembrance Day begins in Israel
2. The site of the greatest mass murder in recorded history
3. “My mother remembers the day she saw through the camp wire that her school friend from Amsterdam, Anne Frank, had arrived”
4. “A factory for death’ (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe)
5. “Israel acts because the world won’t defend it” (By Daniel Finkelstein, Times of London)
6. Statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the Durban II Conference
7. Summary of editorials on Durban II today from the Israeli press
8. The six candle lighters at this evening’s ceremony at Yad Vashem


HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY BEGINS IN ISRAEL

[All notes below by Tom Gross]

This evening, in a few hours from now Israeli time, Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day commences. The whole of Israel will come to a standstill for two minutes at 8pm, when the 5.5 million Israeli Jews commemorate the six million Jews that were murdered in the Holocaust and those that survived. (Some Israeli Arabs also choose to take part in Holocaust remembrance events.) Most television and radio stations will suspend broadcast for 24 hours and all places of entertainment in Israel will be closed.

Another dispatch on this list, relating to Middle East politics, will follow in a few days, but this dispatch concentrates on Holocaust remembrance, and the lack thereof. This website primarily concerns Mideast politics and the media, but I occasionally include items concerning anti-Semitism because they can be relevant to the way in which government policies towards the Arab-Israeli dispute are formulated, and to the mindset and prejudices of those reporting on the conflict.

With Holocaust revisionism, denial, indifference, distortion and perhaps worst of all Holocaust inversion – in which anti-Semites in Europe and elsewhere try to invert the victims (Jews) and turn them into perpetrators (“new Nazis”) – running at record levels, the widespread failure to properly address the Holocaust complicates efforts to achieve Middle East peace. Among other things, it makes Israelis very wary of relying on international security guarantees.

 

THE SITE OF THE GREATEST MASS MURDER IN RECORDED HISTORY

I attach two articles below which I have run on this weblist before. Both are by friends of mine and longtime subscribers to this email list: Danny Finkelstein, an associate editor of The Times of London, writes about his mother and aunt, survivors of Belsen; and Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for The Boston Globe, writes about his father, an Auschwitz survivor.

Jeff Jacoby’s piece, written on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, was first carried on this website in January 2005. Jacoby writes: “Auschwitz was a vast factory of death, the site of the greatest mass murder in recorded history. Even now, two generations later, it is almost impossible to grasp the scale on which the Nazis committed homicide there. It is suggested by a detail: From 1942 to 1944, the train platform in Birkenau was the busiest railway station in Europe. It held that distinction despite the fact that, unlike every other train station in the world, it saw only arrivals. No passengers ever left.”

 

“MY MOTHER REMEMBERS THE DAY SHE SAW THROUGH THE CAMP WIRE THAT HER SCHOOL FRIEND FROM AMSTERDAM, ANNE FRANK, HAD ARRIVED”

I previously attached Danny Finkelstein’s piece as recently as last January, but it was buried as item 16 in a dispatch in a week when (because of the Gaza conflict) there were five dispatches, so you may not have seen it then.

He writes: “It was strictly forbidden to have a notebook in Belsen, but my Aunt Ruth had one anyway. Just a little pocket diary – an appointment book with one of those tiny pencils. And in it, in the autumn of 1944, she noted that Anne Frank and Anne’s sister, Ruth’s schoolfriend Margot, had arrived in the concentration camp.

“My mother and my aunt had been watching through the camp wire when the Franks arrived. Mum remembers it well, because they had been excited to spot girls they knew from the old days in Amsterdam. They had played in the same streets, been to the same schools and Ruth and Margot attended Hebrew classes together. The pair had once been pressed into service to act as bridesmaids, when a secretive Jewish wedding had taken place at the synagogue during their lesson time.

“But Ruth and Margot did not grow up together. Because while Ruth and my mother lived, Margot and Anne never left Belsen. They died of typhus.

“I am telling you this story because I want you to understand Israel…

“…Israel has made many mistakes. It has acted too aggressively on some occasions, has been too defensive on others. The country hasn’t always respected the human rights of its enemies as it should have done. What nation under such a threat would have avoided all errors?

“But you know what? As Iran gets a nuclear weapon and so the potential for another Holocaust against the Jews and world opinion does nothing, I am not so sure that the errors of world opinion are so much to be preferred to the errors of Israel.”

***

I dedicate this dispatch to my friend Henry Orenstein, who is one of the oldest subscribers to this email list. Henry, now 85, is a survivor of five concentration camps and of the Sachsenhausen death march. He is the author of “I Shall Live,” published in 1987, with a foreword by filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, director of “Shoah.”

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES AND OTHER ITEMS

BY THE TIME THE SOVIET ARMY REACHED AUSCHWITZ

A factory for death
By Jeff Jacoby
Boston Globe
January 27, 2005

By the time the Soviet Army reached Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945 – 60 years ago today – my father was no longer there. Ten days earlier, the Nazis had evacuated about 67,000 of the death camp’s inmates, dispatching them on brutal forced marches to the west. My father, then 19, was in a group sent into Austria. He ended up at the concentration camp in Ebensee, near Mauthausen. Liberation there didn’t come until May 9, with the arrival of U.S. soldiers from the 80th Infantry Division.

My father had entered Auschwitz the previous spring, together with his parents, his two brothers, and two of his three sisters. They, too, were gone by the time the camp was liberated. Unlike my father, they didn’t leave on foot. They “left” through the chimney. For the overwhelming majority of the more than 1.1 million Jews who were sent to Auschwitz, there was no other way out.

Jews were not the only victims. Nearly 75,000 Poles, more than 20,000 Gypsies, 15,000 Soviets, and 10,000 members of other nationalities were murdered at Auschwitz as well. The Nazis first used the camp, in fact, as a prison for Polish dissidents, and Birkenau, the huge 1941 addition that became the main Auschwitz killing center, was originally designed to hold Soviet POWs.

But beginning in the spring of 1942, Auschwitz became first and foremost a slaughterhouse for Jews. From every corner of Europe, Jews were sent there – from France in the west to Ukraine in the east, from as far north as Norway and as far south as Greece. Many, like my father and two of his siblings, were forced into slave labor in the expectation that the ghastly conditions and starvation rations would kill them soon enough. But most of the Jews entering Auschwitz – like my father’s parents and his youngest brother and sister – were murdered as soon as they arrived.

Auschwitz was a vast factory of death, the site of the greatest mass murder in recorded history. Even now, two generations later, it is almost impossible to grasp the scale on which the Nazis committed homicide there. It is suggested by a detail: From 1942 to 1944, the train platform in Birkenau was the busiest railway station in Europe. It held that distinction despite the fact that, unlike every other train station in the world, it saw only arrivals. No passengers ever left.

SHOES, SHIRTS AND DRESSES

But Auschwitz was not only a place of murder. It was also a place of theft. Jews were robbed of everything they owned – the luggage they came with, the clothes on their backs, the hair on their heads, even the gold in their teeth. The stolen goods were stored in 35 warehouses, where they were sorted and packed for shipment to Germany. Before fleeing in January 1945, the Nazis burned 29 of the warehouses, but in the six that remained, the Soviets found 348,820 men’s suits, 836,255 dresses, and 43,525 pairs of shoes. There were seven trainloads of bedding, waiting to be shipped. And 7.7 tons of human hair. And that was merely what remained at the very end.

The very worst thing about Auschwitz was – what? The staggering death toll? The gas chambers disguised as showers, in which thousands of naked Jews went daily to agonizing deaths? The endless cruelty and torture? The diseases that ravaged those the Nazis didn’t kill first?

Was it the inhuman medical experiments carried out by doctors like Josef Mengele, such as the deliberate destruction of healthy organs or the sadistic abuse of twins and dwarfs? Was it the willing exploitation of Jewish slave labor by German corporations? The tens of thousands of murdered children and babies?

No. The very worst thing about Auschwitz is that, for all its evil immensity, it was only a fraction of the total. Even if it had never been built, the Holocaust would still have been a crime without parallel in human history. It would still have been something so monstrous that a new word – genocide – would have had to be coined to encompass it. Never before and never since has a government made the murder of an entire people its central aim. And never before or since has a government turned human slaughter into an international industry, complete with facilities for transportation, selection, murder, incineration. And none of it as a means to an end, but as an end in itself: The reason for wiping out the Jews was so that the Jews would be wiped out.

In the end, 6 million of them were killed. But only one-sixth died at Auschwitz.

 

“I AM TELLING YOU THIS STORY BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL…”

Israel acts because the world won’t defend it
The scenes from Gaza are heartbreaking. But the whole conflict could be avoided if the Palestinians said one small thing
By Daniel Finkelstein
The Times (of London)
January 7, 2009

It was strictly forbidden to have a notebook in Belsen, but my Aunt Ruth had one anyway. Just a little pocket diary – an appointment book with one of those tiny pencils. And in it, in the autumn of 1944, she noted that Anne Frank and Anne’s sister, Ruth’s schoolfriend Margot, had arrived in the concentration camp.

My mother and my aunt had been watching through the camp wire when the Franks arrived. Mum remembers it well, because they had been excited to spot girls they knew from the old days in Amsterdam. They had played in the same streets, been to the same schools and Ruth and Margot attended Hebrew classes together. The pair had once been pressed into service to act as bridesmaids, when a secretive Jewish wedding had taken place at the synagogue during their lesson time.

But Ruth and Margot did not grow up together. Because while Ruth and my mother lived, Margot and Anne never left Belsen. They died of typhus.

I am telling you this story because I want you to understand Israel. Not to agree with all it does, not to keep quiet when you want to protest against its actions, not to side with it always, merely to understand Israel.

There are two things about the tale that help to provide insight. The first is that all these things, the gas chambers, the concentration camps, the attempt to wipe Jews from the face of the Earth, they aren’t ancient history, and they aren’t fable. They happened to real people and they happened in our lifetime. Anne and Margot Frank were just children to my aunt and my mother; they weren’t icons, or symbols of anything.

The second is that world opinion weeps now for Anne Frank. But world opinion did not save her.

The origin of the state of Israel is not religion or nationalism, it is the experience of oppression and murder, the fear of total annihilation and the bitter conclusion that world opinion could not be relied upon to protect the Jews.

Israel was the idea of a journalist. Theodor Herzl was the Paris correspondent of the Neue Freie Presse when he witnessed anti-Semitic rioting against the Jewish army captain Alfred Dreyfus who had been falsely accused of espionage. Herzl was then among the small corps of journalists who in 1895 witnessed the famous ceremony of disgrace in which Dreyfus was stripped of his epaulettes.

The experience led Herzl to abandon his belief in assimilation. He became convinced that Jews would only be safe if they had their own national home. Herzl became the first leader of modern Zionism. For many years many Jews resisted Herzl’s conclusion. My grandfather was among them. But the experience of Jews all over the world in the first half of the 20th century – not just in Europe but in the Middle East too – rather bore out Herzl.

So when Israel is urged to respect world opinion and put its faith in the international community the point is rather being missed. The very idea of Israel is a rejection of this option. Israel only exists because Jews do not feel safe as the wards of world opinion. Zionism, that word that is so abused, so reviled, is founded on a determination that, at the end of the day, somehow the Jews will defend themselves and their fellow Jews from destruction. If world opinion was enough, there would be no Israel.

The poverty and the death and the despair among the Palestinians in Gaza moves me to tears. How can it not? Who can see pictures of children in a war zone or a slum street and not be angry and bewildered and driven to protest? And what is so appalling is that it is so unnecessary. For there can be peace and prosperity at the smallest of prices. The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have.

Yet they will not say it. And they will not mean it. For they do not want the Jews. Again and again – again and again – the Palestinians have been offered a nation state in a divided Palestine. And again and again they have turned the offer down, for it has always been more important to drive out the Jews than to have a Palestinian state. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the feeling that Hamas and Hezbollah don’t want to kill Jews because they hate Israel. They hate Israel because they want to kill Jews.

There cannot be peace until this changes. For Israel will not rely on airy guarantees and international gestures to defend it. At its very core, it will not. It will lay down its arms when the Jews are safe, but it will not do it until they are.

And if you reflect on it, doesn’t recent experience bear this out? Just as Herzl was borne out? A year or so back I met a teacher while I was on holiday and fell to talking with him about Israel. He was a nice man and all he wanted was for fighting to stop and to end the suffering of children. And he had a question for me.

Why, he asked, doesn’t Israel offer to give back the West Bank and Gaza? Why doesn’t it just let the Palestinians have a state there? If the Palestinians turned it down, he said, then at least liberal opinion would be on Israel’s side and would rally to its assistance.

So I patiently explained to this kind, good man that Israel had, at Camp David in 2000, made precisely this offer and that it had been rejected out of hand by Yassir Arafat, not even used as the basis for negotiation. I told him that Israel was no longer in Gaza, having withdrawn unilaterally and taken the settlers with it. The Palestinians had greeted this movement with suicide bombs and rockets. Yet the teacher, with all his compassion, wasn’t even aware of all this. And liberal opinion? Sad to relate, my new friend’s faith in it was misplaced. It has turned strongly against Israel.

Israel has made many mistakes. It has acted too aggressively on some occasions, has been too defensive on others. The country hasn’t always respected the human rights of its enemies as it should have done. What nation under such a threat would have avoided all errors?

But you know what? As Iran gets a nuclear weapon and so the potential for another Holocaust against the Jews and world opinion does nothing, I am not so sure that the errors of world opinion are so much to be preferred to the errors of Israel.

 

STATEMENT BY ISRAELI FM AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN ON THE DURBAN II CONFERENCE

Statement by Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman on the Durban II Conference
April 19, 2009

Israel cannot ignore the fact that the conference, which is hosting a serial Holocaust denier, is taking place precisely on the day in which Jewish people commemorate the six-million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, murdered in Europe by Nazi Germany and its followers.

Israel has decided to boycott the international conference supposedly promoting the struggle against racism, which will open tomorrow (April 20, 2009) in Geneva, because it reached the regretful conclusion that instead of discussing issues regarding the international struggle against racism and xenophobia, the conference will once again serve as a platform to denigrate Israel and single it out for criticism. This was the case with the first Durban Conference in 2001, during which the real issues on the international agenda were ignored in favor of unfettered attacks against the State of Israel.

An international conference, in which Ahmadinejad – a racist known for his constant preaching of Israel’s destruction – is not only invited to participate, but is welcomed as a central speaker, clearly demonstrates the forum’s true goals and character.

Israel cannot ignore the fact that the conference, which is hosting a serial Holocaust denier, is taking place precisely on the day in which Jewish people commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, murdered in Europe by Nazi Germany and its followers.

The State of Israel expresses its gratitude to those countries who have already announced that they will boycott this conference of hypocrisy opening tomorrow in Geneva, and calls on other countries to follow their example.

 

SUMMARY OF EDITORIALS ON DURBAN II TODAY FROM THE ISRAELI PRESS

Ma’ariv writes that: “At the 1938 Evian Conference, the world refused to stand alongside the Jews and allowed Hitler to murder them. In 2009, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a single voice is rising from Washington, Canberra, Berlin, Rome, Ottawa and Jerusalem: Never again.”

Yisrael Hayom writes that: “Those who seek ill for Israel, who are gathering in Switzerland for the Durban II Conference with the participation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and which is symbolically being held on Holocaust Remembrance Day, understand very well that the way to eliminating the ‘Zionist entity’ starts with eroding the memory of the Holocaust.”

The Jerusalem Post vigorously attacks Swiss President Hans Rudolf Merz for “shamelessly hosting serial Holocaust denier and Iranian President Ahmadinejad for dinner last night, on the eve of the Durban II conference and Holocaust Memorial Day… While Swiss leaders shamelessly fete Ahmadinejad, we Israelis are heartened by the decision of the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Italy to boycott the Durban II circus, along with its various sideshows.”

 

THE SIX CANDLE LIGHTERS AT THIS EVENING’S CEREMONY AT YAD VASHEM

The six child Holocaust survivors chosen to light the six torches, each representing a million murdered Jews, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem this evening are:

* Identical twin sisters Judit Barnea and Lia Huber from Transylvania, who suffered the infamous medical experiments of Josef Mengele at Auschwitz.
* Mirjam Schuster from Moldova, who was imprisoned with her family at Balki, where out of more than 10,000 inmates, only a few hundred survived.
* Esther Debora Reiss-Mossel from Holland, who was sent to Bergen-Belsen at age six.
* Solomon Feigerson from Latvia, who survived numerous execution operations and labor camps.
* Shimon Greenhouse from Belarus, whose father, Yekutiel, dragged his young son down with him as Jews were shot in a death pit one by one, and Shimon remained beneath his dead father, dazed and covered with blood, for a full day.
* Lea Paz from Poland, who was pushed by her mother, Gusta, out through a narrow opening in the side of a train carriage carrying them to the Belzec death camp.


Obama to host Passover seder in the White House (& French supermarket Intifada)

April 08, 2009

* U.S. President Barack Obama will celebrate the second night of Passover Thursday with staff and friends in what is believed to be the first White House Seder attended by an American president. Key Jewish donors to Obama’s presidential campaign have also been invited. At the same time press reports in Israel today claim Obama is preparing for a major clash with the Israeli government about policy towards Iran and the Palestinians
* Obama to visit Israel and Palestinian areas in June
* U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden on CNN yesterday: “Netanyahu would be ill-advised to hit Iranian nuclear sites”

* Indians now more sympathetic to Israel than Americans are

* Israeli female politicians ranked among world’s most beautiful
* Two of Avigdor Lieberman’s 14 Knesset members make world’s most beautiful female politicians list

* New York Times/Washington Post’s “anti-Semitic” cartoon becomes Hizbullah propaganda

 

CONTENTS

1. Indians now more sympathetic to Israel than Americans are
2. Israeli female politicians ranked among world’s most beautiful
3. Supermarket Intifada
4. Obama to visit Israel, Palestinian areas in June
5. Mubarak invites Netanyahu to Egypt
6. Norwegian poll: Palestinian majority opposes two-state solution
7. Abbas becomes first Palestinian leader to visit post-Saddam Iraq
8. New York Times’s “anti-Semitic” cartoon now used by Hizbullah
9. Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution hails Hugo Chavez
10. Tel Aviv celebrates its 100th birthday
11. Rare film footage of Tel Aviv in 1913
12. “Telling lies about Israel”: a short film
13. A Happy Passover with Fred Astaire
14. Other items


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

INDIANS NOW MORE SYMPATHETIC TO ISRAEL THAN AMERICANS ARE

A new study has found that Israel is liked more in India than in any other major country. By a margin of 58 to 56 percent, Indians edged out Americans as being “most sympathetic to Israel.” The survey of thousands of people, commissioned by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, tested 13 of the world’s most important nations. Russia (52 percent favorable), Mexico (52 percent) and China (50 percent) responded with positive readings.

Israel was the least popular in Spain (23 percent), France (27 percent) and the U.K. (34 percent), all countries where there has also been a sharp increase in anti-Semitism recently.

A 2007 Gallup poll of Americans found that 58 percent sympathized with Israel over the Palestinian Authority.

 

ISRAELI FEMALE POLITICIANS RANKED AMONG WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL

In the first international survey of its kind, 54 politicians were chosen by a Spanish newspaper as “the world’s most beautiful women in public office,” and Israel was proportionately represented more than any other country, with four Israelis making the “most beautiful list.”

Two are members of the Knesset from Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party: former Moroccan-Israeli model Orli Levy, and Russian-born Israeli former model Anastasia Michaeli. Both entered the Knesset in February’s elections. (The other two Israeli politicians on the list are Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham and Pnina Rosenblum. Former foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik did not make the list.)

The list, voted on by tens of thousands of Spaniards and based on a selection of thousands of online photos of female politicians, was topped by 30-year-old Member of the Peruvian Parliament, Luciana Leon.

SARAH PALIN, HILLARY CLINTON

Other prominent politicians who made the list are Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko in 8th place and Alaskan governor and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at 24th place. Also representing the United States, Hillary Clinton was ranked at 34th place. At 61, she is the oldest woman on the list.

Just two slots after Clinton is Segolene Royal, who ran for the French presidency in 2007 against Nicolas Sarkozy. Sealing off the list in 54th place is Afghan politician, Malalai Joya.

Among those absent from the list are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

 

SUPERMARKET INTIFADA

A taste of things to come... appearing soon at a supermarket near you?

Recently several French supermarkets have been invaded and any produce suspected of originating from Israel has been destroyed.

Here is one example at Carrefour:

Where are the police?

UPDATE

A journalist in Paris who subscribes to this email list tells me that the organization of boycotts is illegal in France, that the destruction of Israeli products deprived some Orthodox Jews of the opportunity to buy kosher products and they subsequently went hungry (almost all processed kosher foods sold in France come from Israel), and that the prime organizer behind the organized destruction of Israeli food in France was an extreme leftist French Jewish woman.

 

OBAMA TO VISIT ISRAEL, PALESTINIAN AREAS IN JUNE

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that he will make a quick visit to Israel and the Palestinian-run territories after his visit to France in June. The trip is designed to drive home Obama’s commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a White House spokesperson said.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been invited to visit Obama in Washington sometime prior to Obama’s Middle East trip.

There is some concern in Israel after the White House said President Obama expressed support for the Arab peace initiative when he met Saudi King Abdullah at the G20 summit in London last week. That plan demands, among other things, a “right of return” for the descendants of Arabs who left Israel when it became an independent state in 1948.

Israeli governments far to the left of the new Netanyahu coalition, that were willing to address the Arab initiative, nevertheless said the so-called right of return issue was an unacceptable demand that would signify the end of Israel.

Meanwhile, The Guardian (in competition with its fellow British daily The Independent to see who can defame Israel more) yesterday had a top-of-the-page headline on its world news page reading: “Israel created ‘terror without mercy’ in Gaza.”

***

U.S. GIVING PALESTINIAN SECURITY FORCES TOP-LEVEL TRAINING

Ha’aretz reveals today that the United States has been training senior Palestinian security officials in an advanced officers’ course in Ramallah. These include commanders from the Palestinian National Security force, which has 15,000 members, tasked with policing borders, providing military intelligence and military police services. Let us hope their intentions are peaceful. The last time the U.S. trained Palestinian forces, in the 1990s, they ended up turning their guns on Israelis.

***

Jews were this week portrayed as blood drinkers in an anti-Semitic drama aired on Hamas TV. “Impoverished” Hamas receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in diverted Western aid.

 

MUBARAK INVITES NETANYAHU TO EGYPT

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has invited new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Egypt. The two leaders spoke by phone this week and both committed to continue and strengthen bilateral relations. The relationship between the two countries, although generally a “cold peace,” remains a crucial one. Egypt feels as threatened by the rise of the Islamic fundamentalist movement Hamas as Israel does.

 

NORWEGIAN POLL: PALESTINIAN MAJORITY OPPOSES TWO-STATE SOLUTION

A new poll by Norway’s Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies, which sponsored the initial 1993 Oslo Framework Accords, has found that a majority of Palestinians (53 percent) oppose a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

33 percent of those polled said they wanted to see Israel annihilated, and 20 percent said they favor a united Israeli-Palestinian state where Jews can live as an eventual minority.

This is not particularly welcome news for those of us, including myself, who would like to see a two-state solution.

 

ABBAS BECOMES FIRST PALESTINIAN LEADER TO VISIT POST-SADDAM IRAQ

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has become the first Palestinian leader to visit Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. Iraq’s Palestinians were among the closest supporters of Saddam and his brutal dictatorship, and as a result are now despised in Iraq.

Following the fall of Saddam, many of Iraq’s Palestinians were attacked, and others have been protected by American forces in a special neighborhood of Baghdad. After his meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Monday, Abbas said that he had received assurances that Palestinians living in Iraq would be protected after the eventual withdrawal of American troops.

 

NEW YORK TIMES’S “ANTI-SEMITIC” CARTOON NOW USED BY HIZBULLAH

The much criticized “anti-Semitic” syndicated Pat Oliphant cartoon that appeared on The New York Times and The Washington Post websites last month, has since been reproduced on neo-Nazi websites worldwide.

Jewish groups and others criticized the March 25 cartoon as “hideously anti-Semitic” and slammed mainstream American papers for running it. Oliphant depicted a woman carrying a baby being pushed off a cliff by a goose-stepping headless figure holding a Star of David with sharp fangs.

It has also now been reproduced, with the caption “Zionist Nazism,” on the website of the Lebanese terrorist group, Hizbullah. It is the second-from-top cartoon here.

 

SUPREME LEADER OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION HAILS HUGO CHAVEZ

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, lavished praise on visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Tehran last weekend.

Photos and English text here from the official Iranian government Fars news agency.

Khamenei congratulated Chavez for cutting off relations with Israel. The Iranian and Venezuelan regimes also decided to solidify their alliance in opposition to the United States.

 

TEL AVIV CELEBRATES ITS 100TH BIRTHDAY

Hundreds of thousands of people jammed into Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary. Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic started the festivities. They were followed by dozens of other performers playing rock and other kinds of music. Disco music went on well into the night. The mass-celebration was the first of many events commemorating the founding of Israel’s largest city.

 

RARE FILM FOOTAGE OF TEL AVIV IN 1913

On a more historical note, here is some vintage footage of what Tel Aviv looked like in 1913.


 

“TELLING LIES ABOUT ISRAEL”: A SHORT FILM

Usually I don’t draw attention to these kinds of videos but this one, produced by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), is better than most. (It also draws on some of the material included on this list/website earlier in the year about the Gaza conflict and uses examples I researched for my 2002 article “Jeningrad”.)

 

A HAPPY PASSOVER WITH FRED ASTAIRE

As many as a quarter of subscribers to this email list may be Jewish. Tonight is the Passover seder, and this song is kind of fun.


It is sung to the tune of Irving Berlin’s “cheek to cheek,” which was first beautifully performed by Fred Astaire in the 1935 movie “Top Hat”. In case you haven’t seen it, here is a clip.

 

OTHER ITEMS

For other items of mine, not connected to the Middle East, please see here.

These include:

• Weeks after attack, Russian media owner comes out of coma
• CNN in third place in prime time for first time
• U.S. reporters detained in North Korea face up to 10 years forced labor
• New study: Growing up with a sister makes people more balanced

And finally, here are some Passover tips from Japan.


What Avigdor Lieberman actually said (& When Amish met Heimish)

April 03, 2009

* The New York Times point out that one reason there is such a large discrepancy between the figures given by Israel (259 Palestinian civilian dead) and Palestinians groups (who say that most of the total 1,166 Palestinian dead were civilians), is that Palestinian groups have counted as civilians the 250 Hamas officer graduates who were killed by an Israeli airstrike on the first (and by far the bloodiest) day of Operation Cast Lead. The Palestinian groups argue that because they were not fighting at the time they should be included in the figures for non-combatants. And the Times points out that 400 people die through natural causes every month in Gaza and many of these names also appear to have been added on to the list of "Palestinian civilian dead" during the conflict.

* The Washington Post makes rare criticism of PA President Mahmoud Abbas for his particularly warm embrace of wanted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

 

CONTENTS

1. 13-year-old dies in axe attack
2. More on the discrepancy in the figures for Gaza casualties
3. Sweden punished for Israel Davis cup lockout
4. The seven stages of anti-Semitism
5. BBC rejects “Seven Jewish Children” play
6. The next time Abbas talks of “double standards”…
7. Today, it is difficult to imagine Nathan Zuckerman lasting even eight days in England

8. Muslim leaders offer to guard Scottish synagogue
9. What Avigdor Lieberman actually said
10. First wheelchair-bound MK makes maiden Knesset speech
11. When Amish met Heimish

12. “An avant-garde play revives an ancient hatred” (By Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal)
13. “An Arab summit embraces the butcher of Darfur” (Washington Post, editorial)
14. “Pox Britannica: English anti-Semitism on the march” (By Howard Jacobson, New Republic)
15. “Avigdor Lieberman’s brilliant debut” (By Daniel Pipes, Front Page Magazine)
16. “NYC ultra-orthodox Jews give Amish walking tour” (Associated Press)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

13-YEAR-OLD DIES IN AXE ATTACK

I attach five articles below from recent days, with a few brief notes first by myself. I suggest you read the articles in full if you have time.

The 13-year-old Israeli boy killed in an axe attack by a Palestinian in a settlement south of Jerusalem yesterday has been named as Shlomo Nativ. A 7-year-old Israeli boy was also seriously wounded. The Palestinian, shouting “Allah Akbar,” fled the scene after being chased by Israeli adults.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman called it a “senseless act of brutality against innocents.” The Israeli right have already blamed Netanyahu’s “conciliatory statements” towards the Palestinians the day before for encouraging the attack. “Bibi must understand that talk of appeasement and concessions just encourages more violence,” said one.

A murky group calling itself the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh claimed responsibility for the attack in an e-mail sent to the Associated Press. It has claimed responsibility for a number of other deadly attacks recently, including the murder of two Israeli traffic cops, but Israeli defense officials believe it is merely a name used by a Fatah-related group to avoid Israeli reprisals.

 

MORE ON THE DISCREPANCY IN THE FIGURES FOR GAZA CASUALTIES

There has been much misreporting about the numbers and nature of Palestinian civilian deaths during the Gaza conflict in January, misreporting to an extent that one doesn’t see in virtually any other conflict in the world. Some Western media have reported every rumor from left-wing Jewish anti-Zionist campaigners, or from Hamas spokesmen, as if they were fact.

For example, on one day I looked at The Guardian homepage last week (March 24), all six of the main stories on the home page concerned Israel rather than any other international or British issue. All six slandered Israel, and one article even compared the IDF to the war criminals of Darfur. The Guardian was partially basing its claims on allegations – now disproved – that a woman and her two children were killed by an Israeli sniper.

DEATHS FROM NATURAL CAUSES

Although it was buried inside a news report, unlike the European media, The New York Times has at least been honest enough to point out that one reason there is such a large discrepancy between the figures given by Israel (259 Palestinian civilian dead) and Palestinians groups (who say that most of the total 1,166 Palestinian dead were civilians), is that Palestinian groups have counted as civilians the 250 Hamas officer graduates who were killed by an Israeli airstrike on the first (and by far the bloodiest) day of Operation Cast Lead. The Palestinian groups argue that because they were not fighting at the time they should be included in the figures for non-combatants. And the Times points out that 400 people die through natural causes every month in Gaza and many of these names also appear to have been added on to the list of “Palestinian civilian dead” during the conflict.

Danny Zamir, the far-left Israeli activist who started the rumors, is no innocent bystander. His 2004 book attacking the state of Israel was, for example, endorsed by Noam Chomsky, the doyen of anti-Western academics.

 

SWEDEN PUNISHED FOR ISRAEL DAVIS CUP LOCKOUT

[This is an update to a dispatch last month.]

The Swedish city of Malmo was banned from hosting Davis Cup tennis matches for five years yesterday after its decision to stage Sweden’s World Group clash with Israel behind closed doors. The Swedes will now be forced to guarantee to the International Tennis Federation that every Davis Cup series in the country will be open to fans.

 

THE SEVEN STAGES OF ANTI-SEMITISM

The first article below takes up the theme of Caryl Churchill’s play, Seven Jewish Children, which I wrote about in two dispatches in February when it debuted in London. Besides its bigotry and false facts, it is unprecedented for a play to be performed at one of London’s most prestigious theaters less than a month after it was written, it is unprecedented to be put on for free at such a theater, and it is unprecedented for a play to cross the Atlantic and be performed in New York and Washington only a month later. Even the best plays in the world are not awarded that honor. Many people have remarked that there is only one reason this play has done so: anti-Semitism.

The article, by Bret Stephens, in The Wall Street Journal, begins:

Here’s a sketch for a racist play about “moral decline” in black America since the civil rights era.

Act I: Heroic protestors gather at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965 to march in defiance of a segregationist state. Act II: The scene moves to San Francisco in the early 1970s, where the radical politics of the Black Panthers quickly give way to robbery and murder. Act III: A New York City crack house, circa 1985. Act IV: the trial of O.J. Simpson. Act V: The present, in which a black man on a prison furlough goes on a murder spree.

Appalled? I hope so.

Now substitute the word “Jewish” for “black” and change the scene to Europe and Israel and you have, roughly, the plot of celebrated British playwright Caryl Churchill’s “Seven Jewish Children” …

(Full article below.)

***

BBC REJECTS PLAY “SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN”

The Guardian reports: The BBC has declined to broadcast a radio version of Caryl Churchill’s controversial new stage play about Israeli history, Seven Jewish Children, claiming it needed to remain impartial.

In an email seen by The Guardian, BBC Radio 4’s drama commissioning editor Jeremy Howe said that he and Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer thought Churchill’s play was a “brilliant piece”.

Howe wrote: “It is a no, I am afraid. Both Mark [Damazer, Radio 4 controller] and I think it is a brilliant piece, but after discussing it with editorial policy we have decided we cannot run with it on the grounds of impartiality – I think it would be nearly impossible to run a drama that counters Caryl Churchill’s view. Having debated long and hard we have decided we can’t do Seven Jewish Children.”

In a letter sent to The Daily Telegraph in February a number of prominent British Jews condemned the Royal Court Theatre for showing Churchill’s play which they said portrayed Israeli parents as “inhuman triumphalists.”

Christopher Hart in The Sunday Times attacked what he called “the play’s ludicrous and utterly predictable lack of even-handedness.”

 

THE NEXT TIME ABBAS TALKS OF “DOUBLE STANDARDS” …

In the second article below, The Washington Post takes up the themes I made in the dispatch earlier this week, titled “Israel’s Sudan strike targeted weapons capable of hitting Tel Aviv and Dimona.”

The Post’s editorial, titled “In Defense of Genocide: An Arab summit embraces the butcher of Darfur,” also makes criticism of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It is extremely rare for the mainstream media, including the Post, who are constantly berating and chastising Israeli leaders in editorials and opeds, to criticize Abbas.

The Post writes:

“We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir,” said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Abbas is hoping that the Obama administration will pressure Israel to stop building “illegal” settlements in the West Bank; the next time he utters the phrase “double standard” in the presence of a U.S. diplomat, we suggest a query about Mr. Bashir.

***

Tom Gross adds:

Sudanese President Bashir traveled on from the Arab Summit in Qatar to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. The hundreds of thousands of non-Arab Muslims Bashir has ordered to be slaughtered and raped in Darfur won’t have that opportunity. Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi Foreign Minister, said Bashir, who is wanted for murder by the International Criminal Court, was a welcome guest in his country.

Saudi Arabia also announced that it will not be contributing to the $750 billion fund agreed by members of the G-20 in London yesterday.

 

TODAY, IT IS DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE NATHAN ZUCKERMAN LASTING EVEN EIGHT DAYS IN ENGLAND

The third article below, By Howard Jacobson in the new issue of The New Republic, starts off by mentioning Philip Roth’s The Counterlife, which was written in 1987. By coincidence I have just re-read The Counterlife and was going to refer to it myself in a forthcoming article (though I won’t now).

Jacobson writes:

England’s made a Jew of me in only eight weeks,” says Nathan Zuckerman on the last page of Philip Roth’s The Counterlife. It is not meant to be a compliment. What makes a Jew of Zuckerman is the “strong sense of difference” the English induce in him, a “latent and pervasive” anti-Semitism, rarely rampantly expressed except for a “peculiarly immoderate, un-English-like Israel-loathing.”

… Twenty years on, it is difficult to imagine Nathan Zuckerman lasting eight days in England, let alone eight weeks.

It is important not to exaggerate. Most English Jews walk safely through their streets, express themselves freely, enjoy the friendship of non-Jews... And yet, in the tone of the debate, in the spirit of the national conversation about Israel, in the slow seepage of familiar anti-Semitic calumnies into the conversation – there, it seems to me, one can find growing reason for English Jews to be concerned.

… Such allusions to a pro-Israel conspiracy of influence and wealth, usually accompanied by protestations of innocence in regard to Jews themselves--”I am sick of being accused of anti-Semitism,” Baroness Tonge has said, “when what I am doing is criticizing Israel”--have become the commonplaces of anti-Israel discourse.

… The distinguished British film director Ken Loach dismissed a report on the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe as designed merely to “distract attention” from Israel’s military crimes… Robert Fisk, writing in The Independent a few weeks ago, nonetheless argued that “a Palestinian woman and her child are as worthy of life as a Jewish woman and her child on the back of a lorry in Auschwitz”… The Daily Mirror has taken this imputation of callousness a stage further, writing of the “1,314 dead Palestinians temporarily sat[ing] Tel Aviv’s bloodlust”… Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children declares itself to be a fund-raiser for Gazans and finishes almost before it begins in a grotesque tableau of blood-soaked triumphalism… Let us no longer deny the Holocaust, let us rather redistribute the pity. If there is a victim of the Holocaust today, it is the people of Gaza.

(Full article below.)

***

Tom Gross adds: it is important to emphasize, once again, how British anti-Semitism has an effect on the rest of the world, especially through its media with a global reach. The BBC, The Guardian and The Financial Times have all been particularly irresponsible in spreading untruths about Israel, as have a number of individual British journalists living and working in the United States.

 

MUSLIM LEADERS OFFER TO GUARD SCOTTISH SYNAGOGUE

Tom Gross adds further: It should be pointed out that while there is increasing anti-Semitism among the (supposedly) liberal elites that dominate the British media, education and the arts, many millions of ordinary Britons are neither anti-Semitic nor hostile to Israel, nor do they necessarily believe the invective about Israel which the British media are trying to ram down their throats all the time.

For example, the leaders of a Scottish Muslim community in Edinburgh, last week offered to protect the town’s Jews following an anti-Semitic attack on an Edinburgh synagogue.

Ken Imrie, chairman of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, wrote to Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation’s Rabbi David Rose to express his group’s “revulsion and horror” at the attack, which two Muslim individuals have confessed to. Imrie added in his letter, “We trust you have adequate security arrangements in place, in line with places of worship across the country. If not, such is our strength of feeling on this matter, we would wish to physically guard the synagogue ourselves.”

The Edinburgh Jewish community can be traced back to 1691, and the present synagogue to 1825. Its numbers were boosted by Jews fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s.

 

WHAT AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN ACTUALLY SAID

I don’t agree with certain aspects of the style and policies of Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s new foreign minister. But then again, I don’t agree with certain aspects of most politicians, Israeli and otherwise.

However, the false information, caricatures, and selective reporting about Lieberman, may well break new records for slander by the international media.

For example, Lieberman did not (as reported by the BBC and other media) reject a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in his maiden address as foreign minister on Wednesday. On the contrary, he explicitly endorsed the Road Map, an internationally sanctioned document from 2003 that is designed to lead to a two-state solution. (The formal name of the Road Map is “A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”)

I attach an article below by Daniel Pipes pointing this out, and the other actual beliefs of Lieberman rather than the misinformation reported in the Western media. Lieberman’s actual positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not “ultranationalist” or “Fascist”; they are actually closer to the center ground, and his statements are far less incendiary than statements regularly made by “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and even by some Israeli Labor party politicians. It is just that the Western press doesn’t bother to report those.

Headlines such as the one in The Los Angeles Times, “Foreign minister says Israel not bound to follow two-state path,” are misleading.

***

FIRST WHEELCHAIR-BOUND MK MAKES MAIDEN KNESSET SPEECH

Lieberman’s party also has one of the most diverse Knesset lists of any Israeli political party. It includes several women, Druze, converts to Judaism, former models, a former ambassador to Washington, and Israel’s first wheelchair-bound member of the Knesset, MK Moshe Matalon, who has now given his first speech to the Knesset plenum.

Matalon expressed the hope that just as the Knesset adapted its facilities (including installing new wheelchair ramps) to accommodate a disabled member, all Israeli public institutions would do so. “It is a historic privilege to be here today and to tell hundreds of thousands of disabled people that the sky is the limit,” Matalon said.

Addressing the disabled community, he added, “Don’t give up, clench your teeth and ignore the pain. That is the only way you could achieve your goals.”

 

WHEN AMISH MET HEIMISH

The final article below, from The Associated Press, describes the walking tour given by New York City’s ultra-orthodox Jews to Amish from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania this week.

Ultra-orthodox leaders at the Chassidic Discovery Center in Brooklyn said the two communities are naturally drawn to each other with a commitment to simpler lifestyles. “The Amish are also living their lives as the Bible speaks to them,” said one rabbi.

While ultra-Orthodox Lubavitchers refrain from turning on electricity or driving cars on the Sabbath, the Amish often travel around in a horse and buggy, living off the land.

Some of the words used by the Amish speaking Pennsylvania Dutch, a dialect of the German of their ancestors, were understood by the Yiddish-speaking Jews in Brooklyn.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


FULL ARTICLES

ANTI-SEMITISM ON STAGE

The Stages of Anti-Semitism: An avant-garde play revives an ancient hatred
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
April 1, 2009 (European edition)

Here’s a sketch for a racist play about “moral decline” in black America since the civil rights era.

Act I: Heroic protestors gather at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965 to march in defiance of a segregationist state. Act II: The scene moves to San Francisco in the early 1970s, where the radical politics of the Black Panthers quickly give way to robbery and murder. Act III: A New York City crack house, circa 1985. Act IV: the trial of O.J. Simpson. Act V: The present, in which a black man on a prison furlough goes on a murder spree.

Appalled? I hope so.

Now substitute the word “Jewish” for “black” and change the scene to Europe and Israel and you have, roughly, the plot of celebrated British playwright Caryl Churchill’s “Seven Jewish Children,” which debuted last month to some controversy and much acclaim at London’s Royal Court Theater. It is now in the U.S., playing in small but respectable venues to sophisticated audiences that – judging from the performance I attended in New York last Thursday – are overwhelmingly disposed to like it.

Ms. Churchill’s short play unfolds over seven scenes, beginning, dimly, sometime during the Holocaust and concluding, sharply, with Israel’s war with Hamas. Characters appear as parents or older relatives of an offstage child, and the dialogue revolves around what the girl should or should not know about her political circumstances as they unfold over the decades.

So, for the first scene we have the line, “Don’t tell her they’ll kill her” – the “they” presumably referring to Nazis. Yet by the final scene the tables have turned. Now it’s the Jews who behave like Nazis: “Tell her,” says one of the play’s Zionist elders, “I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out … tell her we’re BETTER HATERS, tell her we’re CHOSEN PEOPLE, tell her I look at one of their CHILDREN COVERED IN BLOOD and what do I feel? Tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.” (My emphases.)

Just what is this supposed to mean? Michael Billington of the Guardian grasped Ms. Churchill’s point when he wrote that the play captured “the transition that has overtaken Israel, to the point where security has become the pretext for indiscriminate slaughter.” Ms. Churchill herself has written that she “wanted [the play] in some small way to reflect the shock and enormity of what happened in Gaza. I think it does that RELATIVELY MILDLY.” (My emphasis again.)

All this makes perfect sense – provided you’re willing to reduce the Arab-Israeli conflict to caricature, magnify it to the exclusion of all others, assign blame (and moral agency) wholly to one side, and suppose that Israelis use the memory of the Holocaust cynically or neurotically as an alibi for gratuitous and wanton bloodletting.

In other words, if you’re prepared to manipulate history as dishonestly as our vile little “play” about black America does, then it’s easy to draw a damning moral. And if you’re clever enough to cast the indictment as a story about SOME blacks or SOME Jews, or as one of generational decadence, then you might also acquit yourself of charges of racism or anti-Semitism, since you can point to a few Jews or blacks worthy of your considered respect.

Of course Ms. Churchill does just that, even as she mocks Jewish claims to statehood (“Tell her her great great great great lots of greats grandad lived there”). Of course she cites the authority of Israel’s many internal dissenters and Jewish critics as another method of self-justification, thereby using Israel’s own openness as a club with which to bludgeon it. Yet if you say, for instance, that Israel is a fascist state and cite the testimony of Israelis who freely argue as much, then you have done nothing except instantly disprove your own premise.

But logic is not the issue here, nor, really, are the facts: Try arguing either with someone determined to ignore them. The issue is about taboo – a word easy to mock until you realize it often upholds what is best in society. Racism has become taboo in American society, and that’s a very good thing. Anti-Semitism used to be taboo, but that’s been eroded by an obsessive criticism of Israel that seems to borrow freely from the classic anti-Semitic repertoire (“tell her they’re filth”) while adopting the brilliant trick of treating Jewish victimization as a moral ideal from which modern Israel has sadly deviated.

Readers may wonder why Ms. Churchill’s trite agitprop, a cultural blip on the vast American stage, deserves a column. Maybe it doesn’t; maybe it’s best ignored. But I’m reminded of what a better Churchill – Winston – wrote about the German decision in 1917 to put V.I. Lenin on a sealed train to Petersburg, “in the same way you might send a phial containing a culture of typhoid or cholera to be poured into the water supply of a great city.” Something foul has now gotten into our water, too.

 

IN DEFENSE OF GENOCIDE

In Defense of Genocide: An Arab summit embraces the butcher of Darfur
Washington Post, editorial
April 1, 2009

FOR DECADES, summit meetings of the Arab League have resounded with rhetoric about the alleged “double standards” of the West in enforcing U.N. resolutions or respecting international law. No communique of the group – including the one issued from its summit this week in Doha, Qatar – has been complete without a demand that conflicts be resolved “within the framework of international legitimacy.”

So it was interesting to see what else was in the latest statement issued by the kings, princes and authoritarian presidents of the Middle East and North Africa. First there was a call on “the international community to prosecute those responsible” for alleged “war crimes” committed by Israel in its recent offensive in Gaza. Then came an ardent defense of Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir – who was welcomed to the Doha summit despite an outstanding arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court on multiple war crimes charges.

“We stress our solidarity with Sudan and our rejection of the decision” of the ICC, said the communique, which Mr. Bashir welcomed in a bombastic address to the summit plenary. Leader after leader declared fealty. “We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir,” said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Abbas is hoping that the Obama administration will pressure Israel to stop building “illegal” settlements in the West Bank; the next time he utters the phrase “double standard” in the presence of a U.S. diplomat, we suggest a query about Mr. Bashir.

To be sure, some human rights groups have alleged crimes by Israeli forces in Gaza. But, according to Palestinian accounts, 1,409 people were killed during the offensive, of whom a substantial number were armed Hamas fighters. In contrast, the United Nations has reported more than 300,000 civilian deaths in Darfur as a result of the genocidal campaign sponsored by Mr. Bashir. Scores of villages have been systematically burned, and thousands of women systematically raped. Mr. Bashir responded to the ICC’s arrest warrant last month by expelling international aid groups from Darfur. The result has been growing food and water shortages and new epidemics, according to the Enough Project.

To their credit, a coalition of Middle East human rights groups urged the summit leaders not to protect Mr. Bashir. “There should be no immunity for those who have committed crimes,” said the Arab Coalition for Darfur. Predictably, the unelected rulers – several of whom could themselves be vulnerable to charges of crimes against humanity – ignored the appeal. If the Obama administration and the rest of the civilized world needed further demonstration of why the promotion of democracy and human rights must be central to any policy for the Middle East, Omar Bashir’s reception in Doha ought to suffice.

 

ENGLISH ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE MARCH

Pox Britannica: English anti-Semitism on the march
By Howard Jacobson
The New Republic
April 15, 2009 edition

“England’s made a Jew of me in only eight weeks,” says Nathan Zuckerman on the last page of Philip Roth’s The Counterlife. It is not meant to be a compliment. What makes a Jew of Zuckerman is the “strong sense of difference” the English induce in him, a “latent and pervasive” anti-Semitism, rarely rampantly expressed except for a “peculiarly immoderate, un-English-like Israel-loathing.”

At the time – The Counterlife was published in England in 1987 – Zuckerman’s account of Anglo-Jewish relations struck an English-born Jew like me as a mite thin-skinned. It was possible that an American Jew detected what we did not, but more likely that he detected what was not there. Whatever the truth of it, a comfortable existence was better served by assuming the latter. We all had our own tales of anti-Semitism to tell – my grandmother’s headstone, for example, had just been defaced with a swastika in a skinhead raid on a Jewish cemetery in Manchester – but mainly they were isolated, low-level acts of idle vandalism or reflexes of minor intolerance, more comic than alarming, and not personal, however you viewed them. Apart, that is, from the Israel-loathing, but then that wasn’t – was it? – to be confused with anti-Semitism.

Twenty years on, it is difficult to imagine Nathan Zuckerman lasting eight days in England, let alone eight weeks. There is something in the air here, something you can smell, but also, in a number of cases, something more immediately affronting to Jews. It is important not to exaggerate. Most English Jews walk safely through their streets, express themselves freely, enjoy the friendship of non-Jews, and feel no less confidently a part of English life than they ever have. Organizations monitoring anti-Jewish incidents in England have reported a dramatic increase after Gaza: the daubing of slogans such as “kill the jews” on walls and bus shelters in Jewish neighborhoods, abuse of Jewish children on school playgrounds, arson attacks on synagogues, physical assaults on Jews conspicuous by their yarmulkes or shtreimels. But, while these incidents ought not to be treated blithely, they are still exceptional occurrences.

And yet, in the tone of the debate, in the spirit of the national conversation about Israel, in the slow seepage of familiar anti-Semitic calumnies into the conversation – there, it seems to me, one can find growing reason for English Jews to be concerned. Mindless acts of vandalism come and go; but what takes root in the intellectual life of a nation is harder to identify and remove. Was it anti-Semitic of the Labour politician Tam Dalyell to talk of Jewish advisers excessively influencing Tony Blair’s foreign policy? Was it anti-Semitic of the Liberal Democrat Baroness Tonge to refer to the “financial grips” that the pro-Israel lobby exerts on the world? Such allusions to a pro-Israel conspiracy of influence and wealth, usually accompanied by protestations of innocence in regard to Jews themselves – ”I am sick of being accused of anti-Semitism,” Baroness Tonge has said, “when what I am doing is criticizing Israel” – have become the commonplaces of anti-Israel discourse in the years since Philip Roth wrote The Counterlife. And, whatever their intention, their gradual effect has been to normalize, under cover of criticism of Israel, assumptions that 50 years ago would have been exclusively the property of overt Jew-haters. The peculiarly immoderate Israel-loathing that Roth remarked upon in 1987 is now a deranged revulsion, intemperate and unconcealed, which nothing Israel itself has done could justify or explain were it ten times the barbaric apartheid state it figures as in the English imagination.

Demonstrators against Israel’s operation in Gaza carried placards demanding an end to the “massacre” and the “slaughter.” There was no contesting this rhetoric of wanton destruction versus helpless innocence. Hamas rockets counted for nothing, Hamas’s record of endangering its own civilian population counted for nothing, Amnesty reports were cited when they incriminated Israel but ignored when they incriminated others. Whatever was not massacre was not news, nor was it germane. The distinguished British film director Ken Loach dismissed a report on the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe as designed merely to “distract attention” from Israel’s military crimes. An increase in anti-Semitism is “perfectly understandable,” Loach said, “because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism.” Scrupulously refusing the Holocaust-Gaza analogy, Robert Fisk, writing in The Independent a few weeks ago, nonetheless argued that “a Palestinian woman and her child are as worthy of life as a Jewish woman and her child on the back of a lorry in Auschwitz” – at a stroke reinstating the analogy while implying that Jews need to be reminded that not only Jewish lives are precious. And a columnist for the populist newspaper The Daily Mirror has taken this imputation of callousness a stage further, writing of the “1,314 dead Palestinians temporarily sat[ing] Tel Aviv’s bloodlust.”

Coincidentally, or not, a ten-minute play by Caryl Churchill – accusing Jews of the same addiction to blood-spilling – has recently enjoyed a two-week run at the Royal Court Theatre in London and three performances at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. Seven Jewish Children declares itself to be a fund-raiser for Gazans. Anyone can produce it without paying its author a fee, so long as the seats are free and there is a collection for the beleaguered population of Gaza after the performance.

Think of it as 1960s agitprop – the buckets await you in the foyer and you make your contribution or you don’t – and it is no more than the persuaded speaking to the persuaded. But propaganda turns sinister when it pretends to be art. Offering insight into how Jews have got to this murderous pass – the answer is the Holocaust: we do to others what others did to us – Seven Jewish Children finishes almost before it begins in a grotesque tableau of blood-soaked triumphalism: Jews reveling in the deaths of Palestinians, laughing at dying Palestinian policemen, rejoicing in the slaughter of Palestinian babies.

Churchill has expressed surprise that anyone should accuse her of invoking the blood libel, but, even if one takes her surprise at face value, it only demonstrates how unquestioningly integral to English leftist thinking the bloodlust of the Israeli has become. Add to this Churchill’s decision to have her murder-mad Israelis justify their actions in the name of “the chosen people” – as though any Jew ever yet interpreted the burden of “chosenness” as an injunction to kill – and we are back on old and terrifying territory. And this not in the brute hinterland of English life, where swastikas are drawn the wrong way round and “Jew” is not always spelled correctly, but at the highest level of English culture.

Again it is important not to exaggerate. Seven Jewish Children has not by any means received universal acclaim. Parodies of it seem to turn up on the Internet almost every day. But there is no postulate so far-fetched that it can’t smuggle itself into even the best newspapers as truth. The eminent Guardian theater critic Michael Billington, for example, took Churchill’s words in the spirit in which they were uttered, believing that she “shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the ‘otherness’ of Palestinians.” Jewish children, note. But then it’s Jewish children whom Caryl Churchill paints as brainwashed into barbarity. Without, I believe, any intention to speak ill of Jews, and innocently deaf to the odiousness of the word “bred” in this context, Billington demonstrates how easily language can sleepwalk us into bigotry.

The premise of Seven Jewish Children is a fine piece of fashionable psychobabble that understands Zionism as the collective nervous breakdown of the Jewish people; instead of learning the humanizing lesson of the Holocaust – whatever that might be, and whatever the even greater obligation on non-Jews to learn it too – Jews vent their instability on the Palestinians in imitation of what the Nazis vented on them. This is a theory that assumes what it offers to prove, namely how like Nazis Israelis have become. Furthermore, it dispossesses Jews of their own history, turning the Holocaust into a sort of retrospective retribution, Jews being made to pay the price then for what Israelis are doing now. Clearly, this exists at a more extreme end of the continuum of willed forgetting than Holocaust denial itself, its ultimate object being to break the Jew-Holocaust nexus altogether. Let us no longer deny the Holocaust, let us rather redistribute the pity. If there is a victim of the Holocaust today, it is the people of Gaza.

Given how hard it is to distinguish Jew from Israeli in all this, the mantra “It is not anti-Semitic to be critical of Israel” looks increasingly disingenuous. But there is no challenging it, not even with such eminently reasonable responses as, “That surely depends on the criticism,” or “Calling into question an entire nation’s right to exist is not exactly ‘criticism.’“ Nor is the distinction between Israeli and Jew much respected where the graffitists and the baby bullies of the schoolyard do their work. But, in the end, it is frankly immaterial how much of this is Jewhating or not. The inordinacy of English Israel-loathing – ascribing to a country the same disproportionate responsibility for the world’s ills that was once ascribed to a people – is toxic enough in itself. The language of extremism has a malarious dynamic of its own, passing effortlessly from the mischievous to the unwary, and from there into the bloodstream of society. And that’s what one can smell here. Infection.

 

AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN’S BRILLIANT DEBUT

Avigdor Lieberman’s brilliant debut
By Daniel Pipes
FrontPageMagazine.com
April 2, 2009

Avigdor Lieberman became foreign minister of Israel yesterday. He celebrated his inauguration with a maiden speech that news reports indicate left his listeners grimacing, squirming, and aghast. The BBC, for example, informs us that his words prompted “his predecessor Tzipi Livni to interrupt and diplomats to shift uncomfortably.”

Too bad for them – the speech leaves me elated. Here are some of the topics Lieberman covered in his 1,100-word stem-winder:

The World Order: The Westphalia order of states is dead, replaced by a modern system that includes states, semi-states, and irrational international players (e.g., Al-Qaeda, perhaps Iran).

World priorities: These must change. The free world must focus on defeating the countries, forces, and extremist entities “that are trying to violate it.” The real problems are coming from “the direction of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq” – and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Egypt: Lieberman praises Cairo as “a stabilizing factor in the regional system and perhaps even beyond that” but puts the Mubarak government on notice that he will only go there if his counterpart comes to Jerusalem.

Repeating the word “peace”: Lieberman poured scorn on prior Israeli governments: “The fact that we say the word 'peace’ twenty times a day will not bring peace any closer.”

The burden of peace: “I have seen all the proposals made so generously by Ehud Olmert, but I have not seen any result.” Now, things have changed: “the other side also bears responsibility” for peace and must ante up.

The Road Map: The speech's most surprising piece of news is Lieberman's focus on and endorsement of the Road Map, a 2003 diplomatic initiative he voted against at the time but which is, as he puts it, “the only document approved by the cabinet and by the Security Council.” He calls it "a binding resolution” that the new government must implement. In contrast, he specifically notes that the government is not bound by the Annapolis accord of 2007 (“Neither the cabinet nor the Knesset ever ratified it”).

Implementing The Road Map: Lieberman intends to “act exactly” according to the letter of the Road Map, including its Tenet and Zinni sub-documents. Then comes one of his two central statements of the speech:

“I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses – I believe there are 48 of them – and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement. No. These concessions do not achieve anything. We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four – dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority. We will proceed exactly according to the clauses. We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side. They must implement the document in full.”

The mistake of making concessions: He notes the “dramatic steps and made far-reaching proposals” of the Sharon and Olmert governments and then concludes, “But I do not see that [they] brought peace. To the contrary … It is precisely when we made all the concessions” that Israel became more isolated, such as at the Durban Conference in 2001. Then follows his other central statement:

“We are also losing ground every day in public opinion. Does anyone think that concessions, and constantly saying ‘I am prepared to concede,’ and using the word ‘peace’ will lead to anything? No, that will just invite pressure, and more and more wars. ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’ – if you want peace, prepare for war, be strong.”

Israeli strength: Lieberman concludes with a rousing call to fortitude: “When was Israel at its strongest in terms of public opinion around the world? After the victory of the Six Day War, not after all the concessions in Oslo Accords I, II, III and IV.”

Comments:

(1) I have had reservations about Lieberman and still do, but this speech has him off to a great start. Put as briefly as possible, he announced that “Israel is back.”

(2) Given that the formal name of the Road Map is “A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” I confess myself puzzled by the news reports (such as the one headlined in the Los Angeles Times, “Foreign minister says Israel not bound to follow two-state path”) declaring that Lieberman has pronounced the end of the two-state solution.

(3) There is much irony in Lieberman now championing the Road Map, an initiative he and many others of his outlook condemned at the time. For an authoritative discussion at the time of its origins, flaws, and implications, see the analysis by Daniel Mandel, “Four-Part Disharmony: The Quartet Maps Peace.”

 

NYC ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWS GIVE AMISH A WALKING TOUR

NYC ultra-orthodox Jews give Amish walking tour
By Verena Dobnik
The Associated Press
April 1, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) – The city’s ultra-Orthodox Jews took the Pennsylvania Amish on a walking tour of their world Tuesday, saying their communities are naturally drawn to each other with a commitment to simpler lifestyles.

“It’s reinforcing to the Amish community to see us Jews living the way the Bible says Jews are supposed to live, and have lived since the time of Moses and Abraham,” said Yisroel Ber Kaplan, program director for the Chassidic Discovery Center in Brooklyn. “The Amish are also living their lives as the Bible speaks to them.”

Dozens of Amish residents from Lancaster County, Pa., toured a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights to learn more about their culture. Rabbi Beryl Epstein called the experience “living Judaism.”

The neighborhood is home to an ultra-Orthodox Lubavitcher sect born about 200 years ago in Russia. Today’s Lubavitchers wear the black hats and beards of their 18th-century forebears, speak Yiddish and refrain from turning on electricity or driving cars on the Sabbath.

The Amish get around in a horse and buggy, living off the land.

However, both groups use one modern amenity – cell phones that kept ringing as they wandered through Crown Heights. And Hasids ironically operate the famed B&H electronics retail store in Manhattan that serves customers from around the world.

At a workshop where a young man was touching up a Torah, a scroll of the holiest Jewish writings, Epstein told the group how a Jew in wartime Germany had rescued the sacred scroll by wrapping it around his midriff under his clothes as he fled to safety.

The Amish listened, commenting to one another in Pennsylvania Dutch, a dialect of the German of their ancestors.

When Epstein, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., had first greeted the Amish with the Yiddish “Zei gazunt!” – “be healthy” – they understood. After all, the expression is derived from the German word “sei gesund.”

As the two groups walked side by side on Brooklyn streets, Crown Heights residents did double-takes; the Amish could be mistaken for Lubavitchers at a quick glance. But their hats are more square and their ruddy complexions from working outdoors contrast with the pale faces of the studious, urban Lubavitchers.

Hasidic children in Crown Heights begin their formal schooling at age 3, and by age 5 are studying many hours a day. At the headquarters on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway each day, dozens of men gather to pore over religious books, with little boys dashing around as their fathers fervently debate fine points of the texts – sometimes sounding more like spirited poker players than religious faithful.

John Lapp and his wife, Priscilla, brought their three children on the tour. John Lapp said the ties to the communities might be more surface than substance.

“In some things we are alike, like our clothing and our traditional beliefs,” he said. Priscilla Lapp added, “And in some things we are not. The biggest thing is that Jesus is our savior.”

The groups also toured a Jewish library and a “matzo factory,” where round, unleavened bread was being made for the Passover holiday.

There, a cross-cultural misunderstanding caused one of the Jewish men to look at the Amish, and ask, repeatedly, “Are you from Uzbekistan?”

An Amish man, also confused, asked, “Afghanistan?”

Finally, as they were leaving, another Amish man announced to the matzo-makers: “We’re from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania!”


Fatah activists threaten to kill Palestinian conductor who played for Holocaust survivors

April 01, 2009

* Fatah, which is primarily funded by Western governments, disbands Palestinian children’s orchestra after it plays for 30 elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors. Fatah thugs yesterday made threats on the life of the Arab-Israeli woman who conducted the concert

* The New Yorker reports that Jimmy Carter is advising Barack Obama on Israel policy

 

CONTENTS

1. Concert for Holocaust survivors is condemned by Fatah
2. Abbas has never properly repudiated his Holocaust denial
3. Israel swears in huge government
4. Netanyahu: Iranian nuclear threat is the number one issue
5. Livni criticized by Israeli foreign ministry staff
6. Palestinian PM stays on despite resignation
7. Seymour Hersh claims Carter is advising Obama on Israel issue


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

CONCERT FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS IS CONDEMNED BY FATAH

Palestinian authorities on Sunday disbanded a youth orchestra from the West Bank town of Jenin after it performed in Israel for a group of Holocaust survivors. This came after The Jerusalem Post and The New York Times reported on the concert, which took place last Wednesday at a center for Jewish Holocaust survivors in the working class Israeli town of Holon, south of Tel Aviv.

The ensemble was made up of 13 children between the ages of 11 and 17 from Jenin. Jenin was previously a hotbed of Palestinian terrorist activity (see “Jeningrad”) but following patient work by the Bush administration and Israeli officials in recent years, it is now a relatively tranquil and prosperous town. (One of the terrorist leaders in Jenin in 2002 had even officially changed his name to Hitler.)

Costs of the hour-long concert, and the Palestinian orchestra’s instruments, were paid for by the American-Israeli billionairess Shari Arison, co-owner of the Carnival Cruise line company, and by the Mormon University of Jerusalem.

Fatah activists in Jenin also banned the orchestra’s director, Wafa Younis, an Israeli Arab woman, from the town, saying that performing at The Holon Holocaust Survivors’ Center was “unacceptable”.

“It was a shock and a surprise to the children and their relatives,” a Fatah leader told The New York Times, adding that Ms. Younis had told the young musicians’ families only that the trip to Holon was “an opportunity for artistic self-expression.”

Younis’s life was threatened by Fatah activists after she attempted to enter Jenin yesterday, The Associated Press and other media reported last night.

 

ABBAS HAS NEVER PROPERLY REPUDIATED HIS HOLOCAUST DENIAL

Fatah is headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Amazingly, many Western journalists can barely write his name without inserting the word “moderate’ before it. At the same time they almost never report that Abbas, widely known in the Middle East by his nom de guerre, Abu Mazen, has written an entire book denying the Holocaust, based on his PhD which he completed in Moscow in 1983. (For more detail, please see this dispatch.)

Leaflets distributed in Fatah-controlled Jenin at the weekend also attacked the Holon concert event and accused the organizers of telling the children about the “so-called Holocaust”.

Ms. Younis, from central Israel, has been traveling to Jenin every week for several years to teach music to children. “They want to destroy this group,” she said. “It’s a shame, it’s a tragedy. What did these poor, elderly people do wrong? What did these children do wrong?”

She said the orchestra, called “Strings of Freedom,” had come “to put love and warmth into people’s hearts.”

Though several residents of Holon have been murdered by suicide bombers from Jenin in recent years, the Palestinian orchestra was warmly welcomed in the town. One would hope that Western governments, which are about to give billions more dollars of taxpayers’ money to the Palestinian Authority, would let its leadership know that banning the orchestra is not conducive towards trying to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict peacefully.

 

ISRAEL SWEARS IN HUGE GOVERNMENT

Binyamin Netanyahu was last night sworn in as Israel’s new prime minister, ten years after he last held the job. The government he oversees will not be the trimmed-down, economically responsible government he wanted to form. Because Kadima leader Tzipi Livni refused to join, Netanyahu has had to cobble together a coalition of many smaller parties, of right and left and of secular and orthodox Jews, making the desperately needed reform of Israel’s electoral system almost impossible to implement.

Netanyahu’s government is reported to contain 30 cabinet ministers as well as six or more deputy ministers. (Several ministers have no portfolios, but merely have the right to vote on cabinet decisions.)

There is fury within Livni’s own Kadima party at her refusal to accept Netanyahu’s offer to form a stable centrist government of only three of four larger parties. For her part, Livni’s first comment as head of the opposition was to call the Netanyahu government “ugly.”

In its editorial yesterday, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv observed that, “The nation wanted the center, and the nation received the center. The paradox is that the most centrist party, Kadima, refused to join the government.”

 

NETANYAHU: IRANIAN NUCLEAR THREAT IS THE NUMBER ONE ISSUE

Netanyahu has said his top priority as prime minister is to stop the threat of Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons. “Iran is seeking to obtain a nuclear weapon and constitutes the gravest threat to our existence since the war of independence,” he said the day President Shimon Peres selected him to form Israel’s next government.

He also promised to remain a “partner in peace” with the Palestinians. “I think that the Palestinians should understand that they have in our government a partner for peace, for security, for the rapid development of the Palestinian economy,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu said that while continuing talks with moderate Palestinians, he would seek “to weave an economic peace alongside the political process” that “gives a stake in peace for the moderate elements in the Palestinian society.”

The plan will include creating “thousands of jobs and the development of infrastructure” and the removal of Israeli roadblocks across the West Bank in order to allow Palestinian movement “without impeding Israeli society.”

Since the Likud party was founded in 1973, its leadership has made security a priority in its negotiations with the Palestinians and Israel’s neighboring Arab countries, he said. The Likud party was responsible for signing Israel’s first peace treaty with an Arab country, Egypt.

 

LIVNI CRITICIZED BY ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY STAFF

Stinging criticism of Tzipi Livni’s performance as Israel’s foreign minister that has been whispered in the Foreign Ministry’s corridors for the last three years, burst into the open at a parting ceremony for her on Monday.

Yaakov Livneh, the head of the diplomatic employees’ committee, made a speech at the ceremony, saying Livni had been “derelict on the job.”

Another senior official said that during Operation Cast Lead (to stop rocket fire from Gaza in January) Livni did not meet even once with the ministry’s senior staff, and “showed no appreciation for the work of the ministry’s employees.”

Livni responded that “I have learned during my three years in the Foreign Ministry that behind every whining workers’ committee are dedicated workers.”

 

PALESTINIAN PM STAYS ON DESPITE RESIGNATION

The resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad was due to become effective at midnight last night, but Fayad now says he’ll stay in the job for the time being.

Fayad, who holds a doctorate from the University of Texas, and previously served as an official of the World Bank and before that worked at the International Monetary Fund, is among the more pragmatic, moderate Palestinian leaders.

 

SEYMOUR HERSH SAYS CARTER IS ADVISING OBAMA ON ISRAEL ISSUE

In an in-depth article in the April 6, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, prominent investigative reporter Seymour Hersh claims that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is advising President Barack Obama on matters concerning the Middle East. Hersh reports that Carter has met with Obama several times and that the administration was aware of Carter’s trip to Syria in December 2008.

Carter has a track record of hostility to Israel in recent years and last year became the first ever former president whom a sitting Israeli prime minister (Ehud Olmert) refused to meet.

For example, Carter said Israel had “no legal or moral” right to retaliate against Hizbullah forces in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006. He has called on the United States to recognize and give monetary support to Hamas, even without Hamas committing itself not to attack Israeli civilians. When Hamas won the election in Gaza in 2006, Carter told CNN’s Larry King in an interview that Hamas would become a nonviolent government. (Since then Hamas has murdered hundreds of moderate Palestinians and Israelis.)

As I outlined at the time on this website, in June 2007 Carter spoke out on behalf of Hamas against the more secular Fatah party at the very time that Hamas thugs were throwing Fatah members to their deaths from Gaza rooftops.

CARTER’S SUPPORTERS ABANDON HIM

In 2007, fourteen members of an advisory group to the Jimmy Carter Center (all of whom were Democrats) resigned over concerns that Carter’s book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” did not represent “the Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support.”

That year, saying he was so shocked by the tone of Carter’s remarks about Israel, Neil Sher, a veteran of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigation, revealed that in 1987 he received a letter from Carter asking him to show “special consideration” to a man proven to have murdered Jews in the Mauthausen death camp in Austria.

Sher decided to go public about Carter’s intervention at that time, he said, because it “always bothered him… here was Jimmy Carter jumping in on behalf of someone who did not deserve in any way, shape or form special consideration. And the things he has now said about the Jewish lobby really exposes where his heart really lies.”


“Israel’s Sudan strike targeted weapons capable of hitting Tel Aviv and Dimona”

* Israeli security sources: one air strike on Sudan, not three

* The only thing the Arab League summit agrees on this week: Embracing Sudanese President Bashir, the architect of a campaign of rape and murder in Darfur. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attends the summit and sits near Bashir, even though Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court this month for crimes against humanity. Western human rights groups are totally silent over the embrace of Bashir by Arab governments

* Arab dictators have a long history of welcoming war criminals, including many senior Nazis, and Ugandan tyrant Idi Amin who lived out his final years surrounded by luxury in Saudi Arabia, something that Bashir also perhaps aspires to

* Libya’s Gaddafi proclaims himself “king of kings”

 

CONTENTS

1. “Israel, not U.S., carried out raid against arms convoy in Sudan”
2. Olmert: “No place is out of Israel’s reach”
3. Strike reportedly obliterates Iranian ship at sea
4. Time magazine: F-16s and F-15s were used, not just drones
5. Sudanese leader receives warm welcome at Arab summit…
6. … while Gaddafi proclaims himself “king of kings”
7. Shin Bet: Nearly 70 tons of explosives smuggled into Gaza since January op
8. Standard of living in Gaza higher than in Egypt; rockets continue to fall on Israel
9. “Palestinians firing Chinese-made rockets”
10. Israel concerned as Damascus set to receive MiG 31E planes
11. Israeli-Turkish relations on the mend?


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

“ISRAEL, NOT U.S., CARRIED OUT RAID AGAINST ARMS CONVOY IN SUDAN”

In the past few days, several international news outlets have made public allegations that in January Israel bombed a major arms convoy in Sudan. The 23-truck convoy was said to be carrying Iranian weapons through Sudan en route to Egypt and on to Gaza for use by Hamas.

The American news network CBS was the first to report last week that it was Israeli and not American forces that destroyed the arms convoy in Sudanese territory in January. According to a report in a Sudanese newspaper, 39 people were killed in the attack which occurred in an unpopulated desert area north of Port Sudan.

A Sudanese government minister has admitted that Iranian arms were destroyed in the incident. According to Israeli sources, the convoy included long range Fajr-3 rockets which, had they reached Gaza, could have been used to strike Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, as well as Dimona, home to Israel’s alleged nuclear facilities.

According to the (London) Sunday Times, Israel used unmanned Hermes 405 drone aircraft to carry out the mission. A number of Iranian Revolutionary Guards were killed, and all the trucks carrying the long-range rockets were destroyed, the paper said.

The attack on the convoy occurred during the 22-day battle between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip. ABC news is reporting that Israel has conducted at least two more air strikes in Sudan since January.

 

OLMERT: “NO PLACE IS OUT OF ISRAEL’S REACH”

The New York Times cites unnamed American security officials as saying that the attacking jets were Israeli even though the Israelis themselves will not comment on the raid.

Israel’s biggest selling daily, Yediot Ahronot, (which is subject to certain reporting restrictions on grounds of national security), commented “Bombing Sudan, if it indeed happened, is but one piece in Israel’s secret war against the smuggling of weapons and money to Hamas.” The paper added, “Iran’s war against Israel is global” in various ways that are not being made public.

Israel’s outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said simply “that no place is out of Israel’s reach.”

“Everyone can use their imagination. Those who need to know, know. There is no place where Israel cannot operate, near and far. Such a place doesn’t exist,” Olmert said.

Israeli agents previously entered the Sudan in the mid-1980s to facilitate the airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in Operation Moses.

“The air force knows eastern Sudan well. It flew at low altitudes there during Operation Moses,” an Israeli official said.

 

STRIKE REPORTEDLY OBLITERATES IRANIAN SHIP AT SEA

The United States and eight other NATO members have in recent days signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel to combat smuggling into Gaza. The NATO counties said they would share intelligence with Israel on the matter.

An Iranian arms ship, the Monchegorsk, was reportedly intercepted recently off the coast of Cyprus. Following American pressure the Cypriots boarded the ship and confiscated its cargo.

The Iranians are continuing to try to smuggle arms via Turkey into Syria and Lebanon and on to Hizbullah.

In a separate incident, American sources say there was an additional airstrike in February, believed to be carried out by Israel, on a ship making its way to Sudan from Iran.

“The second strike was against a ship at sea and it was completely destroyed,” a Sudanese official interviewed by Israel’s Channel 10 news, said.

The Islamist regimes in Tehran and Khartoum enjoy close ties with one another and with Hamas. With the exception of Syria, Sudan is the only Arab government that supports the Iranian regime. The new Sudanese armed forces were trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Up to a quarter of a million non-Arabs have been murdered as a result of the genocidal campaign by Sudan’s Arab-led regime in the country’s Darfur region. The government is trying to drive non-Arab black Africans from the region.

 

TIME MAGAZINE: F-16S AND F-15S WERE USED, NOT JUST DRONES

According to a report appearing yesterday on Time magazine’s website, “two highly-placed Israeli security sources” told Time that while Israeli fighter-bombers, backed by unmanned drones, were responsible for the attack in mid-January, claims by a U.S. television network that a ship and a second convoy were destroyed, were wrong. “There was only one raid, and it was a major operation,” reported Time, adding that “dozens of aircraft” were used, including F-16s and F-15s, not just drones.

Israel never officially admits to carrying out overseas actions against its foes, but it is suspected of sending planes to destroy a Syrian nuclear facility in 2007.

 

SUDANESE LEADER RECEIVES WARM WELCOME AT ARAB SUMMIT…

Although an international warrant for his arrest has been issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was greeted with extraordinary red carpet pomp-and-circumstance, including hugs and kisses from the royal family, when he arrived in Qatar to attend the 22-nation Arab League summit that began on Sunday. The extravagant welcome was seen by some as a poke-in-the-eye for the West. The hugging and kissing of Bashir was led by the emir of Qatar, followed by the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.

Arab dictators have a long history of welcoming war criminals, including many senior Nazis, and Ugandan tyrant Idi Amin who lived out his final years surrounded by luxury in Saudi Arabia, something that Bashir also perhaps aspires to.

Ironically, the conference – the theme of which is Arab unity – is being boycotted by the head-of-state (Hosni Mubarak of Egypt) that is trying to broker unity among Palestinian factions.

Rare and courageous criticism of the Arab dictators’ embrace of Bashir came from Saad al-Ajmi, a former Kuwaiti minister of information. He said: “The leaders’ position is their own self-defense, because they don’t want to open the door to an international tribunal of any kind that will open the file of any crimes they committed against humanity or against their own people. Most of those regimes are actually dictatorships, and most of them have their hands smeared with the blood of their own people.”

 

… WHILE GADDAFI PROCLAIMS HIMSELF “KING OF KINGS”

Indeed supporting al-Bashir, who is pursuing his policy of ethnic cleansing against the non-Arab indigenous Black African tribes of Darfur, is about the only thing the Arab governments seems to agree on.

Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi walked out of the opening session of the summit after lambasting King Abdullah ben Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia and then proclaiming himself “king of kings of Africa”.

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh also walked out after the summit ignored his initiative for setting up “an Arab Union to boost Arab-Arab relations.”

 

SHIN BET: NEARLY 70 TONS OF EXPLOSIVES SMUGGLED INTO GAZA SINCE JANUARY OP

At least 70 tons of explosives have reached the Gaza Strip since the end of Operation Cast Lead, Yuval Diskin, the director of Israel’s domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, said yesterday. In addition to tons of explosives, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, 45 tons of raw materials for the production of weapons, rockets and mortar shells have been reaching Gaza-based terrorists, adding further to the belief by many Israelis that the army stopped the Gaza operation too early as a result of international media pressure, including reports of “massacres” which later transpired not to have occurred.

 

STANDARD OF LIVING IN GAZA HIGHER THAN IN EGYPT; ROCKETS CONTINUE TO FALL ON ISRAEL

In the latest round of rocket fire against Israeli civilians (completely unreported in the very same international media that ignores murderous Palestinian behavior even toward other Palestinians), Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets at southern Israel yesterday afternoon. An IDF soldier was also wounded by gunmen on the Gaza side of the Israel-Gaza border.

Hamas sent a text message to reporters saying the group’s “fighters” had fired 18 rockets at Israel. (In fact they fired three.)

Despite the ongoing attacks Israel continues to provide substantial quantities of aid to Gaza, where the standard of living remains higher than, for example, in neighboring Egypt.

Last week, for instance, Israel transferred 17,385 tons of humanitarian aid, food commodities, medical supplies and medication, to the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings.

2,172,000 liters of heavy duty diesel for the Gaza power station were delivered via the Nahal Oz fuel depot, and 1170 tons of gas for domestic use were transferred to the Gaza Strip. This represents a further increase on the previous week, when 1017 tons of domestic gas were delivered to Gaza.

191,602 tons of humanitarian aid has been delivered to Gaza since Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on January 18, 2009.

 

“PALESTINIANS FIRING CHINESE-MADE ROCKETS”

A growing number of Chinese-made rockets are being smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Sinai and fired at Israel, the deputy head of the Israel Police’s national bomb disposal laboratory, Supt. Kobi Preger, revealed at a press conference yesterday.

He identified at least three types of Chinese-made rockets among those being fired from Gaza: the 107 mm rocket, often called a “Grad,” and two types of 122 mm rockets. He added that one version of the 122 mm rocket had a range of 40 kilometers which, given the small size of Israel, puts a large proportion of southern Israel in range.

Both forms of the 122mm rocket can carry 6.3 kilograms of explosives, Preger said.

 

ISRAEL CONCERNED AS DAMASCUS SET TO RECEIVE MIG 31E PLANES

Damascus will soon take delivery of advanced MiG 31E fighter jets, the outgoing head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt.-Gen. Michael D. Maples, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Russia is to supply the jets. “Recent Syrian contracts with Russia for future delivery include new MiG-31 and MiG-29M/M2 fighter aircraft,” Maples said.

Israel is concerned that any such delivery will impact the balance of power in the region. Some Israelis say that those Israeli defense officials who recommend rapidly pursuing a peace treaty with Syria have not fully comprehended that afterwards the U.S. may arm Syria to the teeth, as it did with Egypt.

 

ISRAELI-TURKISH RELATIONS ON THE MEND?

Israel and Turkey will take part in a joint naval exercise this summer despite months of tense relations between Jerusalem and Ankara. (Please see dispatches from earlier this year for background on the poor state of relations between Israel and its crucial ally Turkey.) Other NATO member countries are expected to join the drill. The Israeli and Turkish navies have enjoyed years of strong ties.